Sri Ramakrishna would often warn his devotees about the dangers of occult powers. He would say that they are extremely alluring and unless one is very careful, one may fall prey to such powers. He used to narrate an incident from his own life to illustrate his point. His nephew, Hridayram, used to serve him during those days and by virtue of his service would try to control him in various ways. Hridayram once asked Sri Ramakrishna to pray to the Divine Mother seeking occult powers.
Sri Ramakrishna was like an innocent and unsuspecting child. He went to the temple and prayed to the Divine Mother. Immediately, he had a vision in which he saw a woman of 30-35 years, completely covered in filth. It was such a nauseating sight that he was shocked. It was revealed to him that occult powers were like that filth. He came back and scolded Hriday, who had made him pray for occult powers. Thus, Sri Ramakrishna would explain to his devotees the pitfalls in sadhana. Spiritual aspirants, i.e. sadhakas, when they intensify their sadhana, are likely to acquire various powers. But only those who are endowed with viveka and vairagya, i.e. discrimination and dispassion, are able to steer clear of all allurements and reach the ultimate goal.
In fact, once Sri Ramakrishna asked Sri Narendranath, later the world famous Swami Vivekananda, whether he would like to acquire occult powers and if he so desired, Sri Ramakrishna would confer such powers on him. Sri Narendranath immediately asked whether such powers would help him realize God and when Sri Ramakrishna replied in the negative, Sri Narendranath refused to accept such powers. That is how he could progress fast in his spiritual life and reach the ultimate goal. So, sadhakas have to be extremely careful about the hurdles in the path of sadhana and be totally focused and goal-minded in their quest for the ultimate goal of life.
By Swami Shantatmananda