Presented here is Meher Baba’s discourse explaining the difference between an aura and a halo:
The aura and the halo are two different things and people are unable to distinguish between the two. Few people know that an aura and a halo are quite different in their respective natures, despite their close interconnection. No man can ever possess both aura and halo completely developed at one and the same time.
Like their respective shadows, every man, woman, child and baby has an aura, but only a very few individuals have a halo in any of the varying phases of its development, and still fewer possess a full halo. An aura is the reflection of the emotions of an individual mind, just as any physical thing possesses its shadow on the physical plane. The halo begins to appear when the aura begins to disappear.
The difference between a mental reflection (aura) and a physical shadow is tremendous. Shadows depend upon their physical forms, but an individual aura remains unaffected, even when the person concerned drops his physical body. This is because, in spite of physical death, the individual continues to possess the mind and the impressions in it, as well as a subtle body which has a direct connection with the aura.
Every action, significant or insignificant, intentional or unintentional on the part of any person, creates relative impressions (sanskaras ) which get imprinted on the mind of the individual, just as sound is preserved on a phonograph record and images of light and shade are caught on photographic film. As thought is the first direct medium of expression of an impression [sanskara], a deep connection is established between the thoughts and the impressions of an individual.
An aura, therefore, is the mental reflection of the aggregate impressions of thoughts and actions gathered by and stored in an individual mind. As long as the impressions are there an aura is always there, as an envelope of very fine atmosphere comprised of seven colors which remain more or less prominent according to the nature of each individual’s impressions.
No two men are alike in all respects and yet all have common physical features. Similarly, the aggregate of individual impressions differ from one another, both quantitatively and qualitatively, yet every aura is comprised of seven colors common to all. These seven colors of an individual’s aura represent the seven principle categories, corresponding to the aggregate impressions of each.
Thus, every individual aura is the image of a circle of seven colors and each aura differs from the other in proportion to the amount of each of the seven colors, according to the individual’s prominent mental impressions. For example, red would be the most prominent color in the aura of a man whose impressions are predominantly made up of lustful actions. Likewise, each aura also differs in the color formation on the borders between every two prominent colors in it.
The halo begins to develop and an aura begins to disappear only after an individual starts advancing on the path to God-Realization. When the aura begins to get more and more faint, the halo commences to shine more and more, getting brighter in proportion to the progress of the individual’s consciousness on the path. The halo becomes very bright only after an individual aura is on the point of disappearing. This happens in the case of one who wakes up fully conscious in the sixth plane of complete mental illumination.
In the Seventh Plane of Reality, the God-Realized Being is, once and for all, entirely free from each and every impression because the very storehouse of impressions itself, the individual mind, is then annihilated and there remains neither aura nor halo. The Reality of God alone reigns supreme in Self-Consciousness of infinite power, infinite knowledge and infinite bliss, with all illusion ceasing to remain as illusion.
When One who is God-Realized is able to return with his God-Consciousness simultaneously to all the planes of illusion as a Perfect Master (Sadguru or Qutub), his halo is the most bright and infinitely brighter than all the suns of the universe put together. It is out the question for anyone, other than those who have attained the consciousness of the sixth plane, to behold the divine effulgence of the Perfect Master’s halo.
In all other cases, the halo is an expression of individual advancement of the path [subtle and mental planes] and a sign of the dwindling of the individual’s sanskaras or impressions. In such cases, the halo is like a growing bright circle of the mental atmosphere of illumination: colorless throughout and yet, in every phase of its manifestation, far, far richer in spiritual splendor than any combination of colors can ever be.
If, due to love for his Master, a man happens to see what appears to him as the halo of the Master, it is not actually the halo but a part of his own aura as is temporarily reflected by the effulgence of the halo of an illumined one or of a Perfect Master.
Without necessarily being consciously advanced on the path, and merely as a result of deep and sublime emotions, the aspirant may from time to time have glimpses of the reflections of inner sights, reverberations of the echoes of inner sounds, redolences of the inner fragrance and distant shades of the inner ecstasies. All of these are but trivialities connected with the higher illusions of the path [planes]. There are also many techniques and natural causes for the manifestations of such phenomena, which are beyond the faculties of an ordinary man’s mind. A book could be written, especially regarding their potentialities and repercussions, both high and low.
All illusory phenomena – gross, subtle and mental are not only dream-stuff, but everything termed as “false illusion” is made up of dream-into-dream stuff, which has no value at all unless it helps a man to awaken to Reality.
God is the only Reality and all is illusion. The whole of the gross universe is but a part of the huge cosmic illusion containing higher illusions of the spiritual planes of man’s consciousness.
Lord Meher, American ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 15, pp. 5202 – 5204.