Question: Is there any difference in the consciousness that is portrayed in a colour photograph as opposed to a black and white photograph of the same thing?

Sri Chinmoy: There are at least three or four different considerations here. Everything that exists is complex, either in the beginning or at the end. In human life, for example, when we were children we were very simple. But when we grew up, all kinds of complicated things entered into our lives and our lives became complex.

Now, when we see a black and white picture of a person, we immediately enter into simplicity. The source can be very complex, but we start with simplicity. The initial appearance seems very simple; then afterwards, we see that there are many more things involved. But when we see a colour picture, complexity appears right from the beginning. Then, when we enter into it, we may see that the source is very simple. The picture has all kinds of different colours and so forth, but gradually, as we go farther or deeper into the picture, it becomes all simplicity. Then it is not so difficult for us to identify with the picture. So, when a photograph is black and white, from simplicity we enter into complexity, whereas when a picture is in colour, from complexity we enter into simplicity. This is one consideration.

Another thing is that when a photograph is black and white, an occultist can more easily see the person’s soul, life-energy, aspiration and dedication than in a coloured picture. This is because the colour itself subtly tinges or dyes the vital qualities or mental qualities or psychic qualities. Psychic qualities are a little bit difficult to tinge, but the colour will immediately tinge the vital and mental qualities either in a positive or in a negative way. The colour enters into the mind or vital, or the vital and mind absorb the colour. When I look at a picture, sometimes immediately I see that the colour has entered into the vital, or that the mind has been tinged in a better way. So it is like a mixture. You will add something, and it may turn out to be a better representation or a worse one. But in a black and white picture, this does not happen. Immediately the whole image comes before us as it is: this is this, that is that. Here it is all simple, so there is no problem.

When a good occultist looks at a black and white photograph of a person to observe the aura, he will see the aura encircling the entire picture. In a black and white picture the aura can expand — large, larger, largest. It may even extend to the chest. If it is a picture of the person’s entire body, the subtle aura can encircle the whole figure. But if it is a colour picture, the aura will not even come to the heart. It is only around the face, or sometimes it does not even cover the full face. It only goes to the nose. If the occultist uses occult power to expand the aura, he can expand it. But it does not expand naturally.

A black and white picture is just like a child. A child is flexible; he can bend, stretch, run and jump. Similarly, in a black and white photograph, the aura, like a child, can become bigger or smaller. But a coloured picture is fixed, like a man who has reached maturity over the years. There the aura is stationary. You may think that because a child likes different colours, a coloured picture is more childlike. But no, that is not the case.