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When there is a large opening to the inner or spiritual worlds and states of existence, there results a beguiling and blissful state that Daniel Goleman calls Pseudonirvana (ref) and The Intermediate Zone by Sri Aurobindo.

The Intermediate Zone

Sri Aurobindo in an important letter designates the "Intermediate Zone" , so called because it is the transitional reality between the small physical understanding and the vast and pure Divine state of being.

"This is in fact an intermediary state, a zone of transition between the ordinary consciousness...and the true Yoga [i.e. Divine] knowledge. One may cross without hurt through it, perceiving at once or at an early stage its real nature and refusing  to be detained by its half-lights and tempting but  imperfect and often mixed and misleading experiences; one may go astray in it, follow false voices and a mendacious guidance, and that ends in a spiritual disaster; or one may take up one's  abode in this intermediate zone, care to go no further and build there some half-truth which one takes for the whole truth or become the instrument of the powers of these transitional planes - that  is what happens to many sadhaks [spiritual  practitioners] and Yogis..."

Sri Aurobindo, "The Intermediate Zone", in The  Riddle of this World, pp.36-7 (Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, 1973; [originally written 1932])

Although Sri Aurobindo is here speaking of this reality as one of the hazards faced by the aspirant of the yogic-spiritual path, and all of the above was written specifically in reference to sadhaks at his ashram, these words are universally applicable.  The concept of the "Intermediate Zone" is invaluable for an understanding the nature of psychic, spiritual, and occult reality in general.  I would argue that it is the "Intermediate zone" that is actually the source of most of what are considered genuine "religious" or "spiritual" experiences, and that only very few of those sorts of experiences are genuinely spiritual.  For it cannot be denied that many religionists, especially the younger and more zealous, have experienced something, which they tediously claim to be none other than the Supreme Godhead Itself.  It is when we inquire into the real nature of this "something" that things become interesting.

Many so-called religious experiences occur when the phenomena and forces of the subtle worlds "break in" to the physically embodied human personality, especially when the latter is in a stressed but otherwise more everyday state of consciousness.  This is what happens in the case of the so-called "born-again" Christian, and many of the Guru, religious experiences.  There is an opening to the subtle worlds, and, in response to this, a great  inrush of power from those worlds, which the person, knowing nothing of what is happening, mistakes for "God" or "Jesus" or "Swamiji" or whatever.

We have then a region which is neither totally True nor totally False, but an inextricable mixture of both.  Indeed, this is a situation more dangerous then that of total falsehood, for  when one encounters pure falsehood, or Evil, one automatically recoils in disgust and revulsion, for all beings (except the truly perverted individual) have an innate disgust to what is obviously evil and false.

But when falsehood is cunningly mixed with some truth and goodness, then people, especially the ignorant, see the latter, and so assume that all of the teaching or revelation or whatever must be good and true, because that part which they first experienced is.  This is what happens in the case of born-again Christianity.  A person who first becomes involved in an evangelist Christian movement has a genuine spiritual experience, and therefore foolishly believes that everything associated with that movement is of the same pure nature.

An analogy could be made with a fish which swallows a hook.  The essential truth, a fragment of which is present even in the most misleading teaching, is the bait, the juicy worm.  When someone, being hungry for the deeper spiritual meaning behind  life, swallows the bait, they are caught by the metal hook of lies and falsehood.

The above applies to those people who are genuinely seeking the Truth, but, being not too evolved intellectually, are trapped or waylaid by the False.  But there are also people who have an  actual perverted attraction for the False, and who, on encountering a "mixed" teaching, are attracted not by what is good in it, but by what is bad in it.

How it works is like this: If such people come across a "mixed" teaching, they subconsciously recognise both the true and the false aspects.  When the perverted part of their being (for we all contain good and bad aspects within our overall psyches) is attracted to that bad or false aspect, they can use the fact that there is something which is good in that particular teaching or revelation to justify, or ease their conscience over, their  embracing of the bad.

To return to the classic example of fundamentalist Christianity: Like any religion, even fundamentalist Christianity contains parts which are good - for example the valid aspects of Christ's teachings which have survived the editorial process of the compilers of the Gospels and the New Testament.  When the "lovers of falsehood" come across those parts of their religion which are evil and revolting (intolerance, eternal damnation, etc) and which, because of some perversion in their being, they are attracted to, then they can justify such doctrinal obscenities by citing positive aspects of the Christian teaching.

Thus we see the two ways in which religion succeeds.  Good people are caught by the genuine good in that teaching or revelation, and are therefore persuaded (against their inner intuition) to accept the false as also good.  Many sincere and progressive Christians, who have undergone much soul-searching in attempting to reconcile the negative aspects (or "paradoxes", as they are usually euphemistically termed) of their faith, fall into this category.

Then there are the bad people who embrace the evil, but use the good in the teachings to disguise that fact, both to themselves and to the world.  Religious fundamentalists who all too enthusiastically accept concepts such as eternal damnation for non-believers belong to this second category.  And of course what is said here for Christianity applies to all other religions and ideologies as well.

What I am suggesting here is that religion as it is commonly understood has nothing at all to do with the true Divine reality, but pertains rather to the Intermediate reality.  We have to consider the existence of a pseudo-divine reality, or pseudo-divine powers, which contains powers or forces which claim to be Divine or Absolute, but which are not, and which in some cases are actually opposed to the Divine.  Dogmatic religions, ideologies, and other such powerful human social and experiential movements actually derive the bulk of their power from the Intermediate World, for it is primarily the forces of this region that inspire humans to act as they do, with what many followers of religions calling "God" being actually either a Spiritual (Divine) Truth distorted by the Intermediate Reality, or, what is even worse, a phenomenon totally limited to the Intermediate Worlds, which only appears to be Divine.  Similarly, much that belongs to the "New Consciousness", "New Age", or "New Paradigm" movement, and much of the teachings of the Eastern Gurus who are presently forming an increasingly popular substitute in the West to the arid structures of institutionalised Judaeo-Christianity, likewise originates from this Intermediate Reality.  The same applies even to the bulk of what passes for "Esotericism" or higher occult knowledge and spiritual teachings.  And it is only by distinguishing the True from the False in this way that one is able to progress upon the real Spiritual Path.

Because the "Intermediate Zone" is not spiritual but only pseudo-spiritual, it stands in opposition to the genuine spirituality of the Higher Self.  The Higher Self, as the inner representative of the Divine, is the only true and reliable guide through the misleading Intermediate world regions.

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content by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 16 September 2005