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As there are physical senses there are corresponding subtle senses. The physical sense centers and the subtle sense centers are in one sense continuous.

Subtle vision, subtle hearing, subtle smell, etc. are human faculties now not natural to man. To have them and to be able to use them are not necessarily spiritual. As the vision is an instrument so is the subtle vision too. A keen mind if inclined to the Divine can more easily seek than a dull mind; but there is no inherent spirituality in a keen mind. Subtle faculties are as much spiritual as the fingers of one's hand. But when one is endowed with subtle faculties and if he is a seeker these are useful. As a matter of fact in general experience subtle faculties develop in undeveloped persons. That is so because if a person has a tendency in this line and the general energies are not used up in formal education or in cultured living, the energies show up in these areas and the faculties open up. Every village has a couple of ignorant ladies who constantly ‘see' events of the coming week.

Also subtle hearing, seeing, etc. are not to be confused with Divine hearing, seeing, etc. The latter is the direct function of the soul which overcomes the physical barrier and sees and hears as the inner Divine would. Subtle faculties belong to a wider range of living than the ordinary human existence.

EXERCISE: Choose a faculty from seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and tasting. Postulate a wider range of subtle functioning behind this area. If you choose subtle vision, imagine the seeing center in your mind. In ordinary seeing take its incidence to the mind center*. After a little effort one can successfully do it. When you succeed, imagine a "subtle seeing center" behind it. Sit for a while, take an object of sight, take a full look at it and reach in your imagination the seeing center in the mind, and push beyond to the subtle seeing center. You may choose Mother's or Sri Aurobindo's figure for the first exercise. The center will open. When it opens, exercise the newly opened faculty on other items with which you are familiar. Follow up its progress till the faculty is well formed and established.

* "Seeing center in your mind": It is the mind that sees and not the eye, the mind that hears and not the ear, etc. The mind hears through the ear and sees through the eye. Ear and eye are the sense organs whereas only the mind has the capacity to translate the sense perception into sight or hearing, etc. There are centers in the mind that are called seeing centers, hearing centers, etc., i.e. where the nerves from the ear, etc., end in the mind. If by imagination one can focus on this center the physical act of seeing is deepened into a conscious mental act. It is enough one imagines he ‘sees' from this mental center and the results will follow. Later this concentration or focus is still shifted deeper to the subtle center behind. Here too it is enough one imagines and concentrates in imagination. The necessary link with the right centers will emerge.

story | by Dr. Radut