Not too long ago, someone in the Integral community commented on the part of my biography in which I described communications with angels and other spiritual beings. She said, watch out! That’s the intermediate zone, and it’s dangerous.
She was referring to Sri Aurobindo’s well known caution regarding the stages in the spiritual life known to Integral theory as the para-mind (Indigo) and meta-mind (Violet). Wikipedia summarizes Aurobindo’s teaching like so:
Aurobindo asserted that spiritual aspirants may pass through an intermediate zone where experiences of force, inspiration, illumination, light, joy, expansion, power, and freedom from normal limits are possible. These can become associated with personal aspirations, ambitions, notions of spiritual fulfilment and yogic siddhi, and even be falsely interpreted as full spiritual realisation. One can pass through this zone, and the associated spiritual dangers, without harm by perceiving its real nature, and seeing through the misleading experiences. Those who go astray in it may end in a spiritual disaster, or may remain stuck there and adopt some half-truth as the whole truth, or become an instrument of lesser powers of these transitional planes. According to Aurobindo, this happens to many sadhaks and yogis.
About this, I have a few points to make briefly now, and then I’ll be describing the relationship of Integral Magic to Aurobindo’s philosophy in more detail at a later date.
One. I agree completely with all the associated spiritual dangers of these stages of consciousness, and have experienced some of them myself. These include the Dark Night of the Soul phenomena as it is known to Christian mystics. Aurobindo is completely correct, so far as he goes.
Two. Aurobindo’s map of the higher realms of consciousness are, in fact, largely a product of his insights and realizations AT PRECISELY THESE STAGES IN “THE INTERMEDIATE ZONE”. Yes, Aurobindo had many important things to say which arose from the places he calls “full spiritual realisation”, but the essential evolutionary thrust of his teaching can be seen as an attempt to create maps useful to others to help them to navigate these stages, activity rooted at the lessons of the meta-mind which is part of the so-called “Intermediate Zone”.
Three. There are much, much bigger problems than some spiritual seekers spending too much time talking to angels or spirits or doing other sorts of psychic mediumship and integrative map-making. The most obvious bigger problem is that people aren’t doing ENOUGH of that sort of thing; they are getting stuck in the first-tier or second-tier and never passing through the turmoil that accompanies the so-called Intermediate Zone. A less obvious problem is that folks who think they have passed the Intermediate Zone — perhaps even Sri Aurobindo himself arguably — have “spiritually bypassed” a great deal of the work in the collective consciousness and collective unconsciousness that needs to happen for the health and welfare of our world. Considering the blandness and unoriginality and even banality of much of the teaching of today’s spiritual teachers who focus on the easy-peasy “oneness teachings” that are supposed to rocket the average Joe or Jane into “nondual enlightenment”, spiritual bypassing of the subtle realms is probably a much bigger problem than psychics or integrative map-makers who are wallowing in “half-truths”.
Unfortunately, Sri Aurobindo didn’t resolve all of the challenges of these stages in a way that is useful and necessary for the 21st century, so he didn’t exhaust the need for spiritual explorers to venture into the psychic and subtle realms. It’s no fault of his own that he didn’t solve all the map-making problems relevant to Integralists in the Third Millennium. He did a fantastic job given his time and place in history, and it is upon his shoulders that Integralists stand.
In conclusion, yes, there are in fact dangers in the so-called Intermediate Zone. But these are dangers that more people, the Magicians and Gnostics and Alchemists of the Meta-Mind and the Spiritual Warriors and Heroes and Wheeler Dealers of the Audi-Mind need to step into and face. As we collectively navigate the Third Tier we need to bring back better integrative maps and other spiritual technologies and gift them to the world to make journeys less perilous for the mystics to come.
Given the pivotal time we live in, the greater dangers lie in refusing the difficult spiritual work on the road to Atman and the Uni-Mind/Una-Mind (Supermind). Aurobindo’s priorities were necessarily different than ours, so we need to exercise careful discernment for ourselves and trust others to know when enough is enough, unless of course they ask for our advice.