on Miraculous Powers
Now for the Yoga-Sutra's
peculiar Chapter 3 on miraculous powers,
powers like those displayed by
Jesus Christ in Christian lore and which are a commonplace
of Hindu lore, though many people have
experienced or seen them in modern times also. At least according to
the stories. And dontcha know? This whole world and all of life, from a
certain point-of-view, are nothing but stories. And that's the
first thing to know for understanding miraculous-power experiences and
books "Miracle of Love" about the yogi Neem Karoli
Baba, "Autobiography of a Yogi" by Yogananda, or of course the
Testament account of Jesus Christ — are good places to read
accounts about siddhis. We are talking about the multiplication of
food, the walking on water (or floating freely), invisibility,
seeing-at a-distance — and pretty much anything else you
might like to fancy. And there I touched on one of the values of
siddhis -- even stories about them: They expand the mind. One touches
the thought of "all possibilities." One then is touching akasa or
infinite space. Because I grew up Christian and was constantly told
about the miracles of Christ, I was touching akasa and my mind expanded.
The development of siddhis is logical and
also inevitable if one pursues the religious path that is yoga. Many
people already have occult powers naturally, such as intuition or
foreknowledge. They are not really foreign to us. If you get close to
the Omnipotent Power you
naturally would have some of That rub off on you. In Christian terms,
we are His sons and daughters, so we would have our Father's traits.
Jesus Christ, Who according to the account displayed many yogic
siddhis, even spoke of the physical removal of mountains as
a potential within us. How often that's forgotten!
The word siddhi is often
"perfections." Siddhis are occult powers/events that are possessed or
by God-knowers and yogis — and by others worthy to experience them.
The Yoga-Sutra here wants the
reader to walk into a magical, mythical world but without giving much
grounding to let it become real or credible. At the outset I want to tell you two things:
— The one who prosecutes or .enacts siddhis does it in an altered state of consciousness.
ones who observe or witness siddhis are also in an altered state
of consciousness when they observe or witness them.
Not the normal world-besotted state of
consciousness, my friends.
This might be the lessened
body-consciousness that comes from austerities such as fasting!
This might be a consciousness impregnated with the attitude of bhakti and faith!
This difference in consciousness might be an
after-effect of much meditation. It could even be your own closeness to
the sleep state. But miraculous things enacted or seen-enacted, would
largely take place in a more divinized state of consciousness. This
fundamental fact has never been pointed out or raised in other
Yoga-Sutra commentaries on the 3rd chapter on siddhis. Thus now I raise it.
This is clear from facts of the text itself, and my own illustrations will show you this. To
handle this topic I must again add a verse to provide
content missing from
Patanjali's formulation. It will allow critical aspects of the
topic to be raised before we venture into the particular
verses on special powers:
Siddhis, performed or experienced, are a fruit of samskaras or grace.
Miraculous powers, like all phenomena
we can report or testify to, are experiences. This sets the right field for understanding. It will also be helpful to
define them as karmic
experiences. Siddhis are karma. Most people don't have the karma to even see or be close to a miraculous event, let alone enact one.
There is this matter of worthiness; the quality of your karma. Are you worthy to even see another perform a siddhi let alone have a miraculous power of your own?
To really understand the topic,
we have to pose this unposed question:
Does the yogin who experiences
miraculous powers experience them while he/she is in a normal state of
consciousness? Or does he experience them when he
is in samadhi — or some other altered state of consciousness?
This question has to be
pondered to understand why this chapter exists, what it's
pointing to, and to understand the topic of religious
miracles. Plus by pondering this question we can get
real understanding about the nature of the external samsara all-around.
This question of the
practitioner's state of mind, when experiencing a
siddhi, arises by
two factors easily seen in the text itself:
1) According to the
text, many of the
siddhis are the result of successful samyama on various
is the final form of meditation after dharana (simple
concentration) and after the middle state called dhyana (perfect
concentration), which middle item is a thing
few achieve. Can any
individual perform the third phase samyama — the merging with a thing — on any object while remaining
in the normal extravertive state of consciousness?
No, you can't. Samyama
immediately produces samadhi. Recall that in the section listing varied meditation-objects the Sutra
finally opens things up wide, saying the meditation object
to get samadhi can be anything — "whatever appeals to him,"
is, any object
at all can be used for concentration
that effects samadhi!
Thus the effecting of yogic
miracles is, in
this analysis, like the state of going to sleep — for samadhi is going
into the sleep state consciously — then playing in the astral state with a purpose to affect the grosser underworld, then
finding evidence of your doings here upon waking. Or not finding them as the case may be.
Or, finding evidence but in a different form than what you expected.
So, because doing samyama
on anything puts you in an altered state of consciousness, and it could
be argued that even achieving dhyana does that, and since many of the
miracles cataloged below are achieved by performing samyama,
we can infer that prosecuting these miracles — or experiencing them unsought as is often the case — takes place in an altered state of consciousness different than everyday extravertive consciousness.
The exception to this ordering of things would be the situation of a
yogin from whom samadhi
the normal state of consciousness.
That's a situation I will discuss later, one in which there
really are no rules. His whole world has become magical.
2) This same prospect presents itself elsewhere when
we see Patanjali listing drugs as one possible cause of siddhis. We
individuals experience all kinds of unusual, miraculous things
under the influence of drugs. The
drug-user experiences them as totally real, whether it be
the mountains turning blue and singing a song, or a wallpaper fairy
coming to life and floating
through the air and barking out poetry. He not only sees
miraculous things using the drug, he may experience himself as
powers — siddhis indeed — while on the drug. Is
the simple, patent reason Patanjali listed "drugs" as one of
the causes of siddhis? Yet we view these as mere subjective experiences
of that drug-user's private drug-created world, not objectively real.
Are the siddhis listed by Patanjali nothing but private delusions?
answer is: "Yes, but only in the same way that the rest of the
world and all experiences are your private
delusion." The drug user has made his exterior world-projection more
malleable through the drug and its forcible melting of his ego
structure; the religious person or yogin makes his world-projection
more malleable by his/her austerities, contact with the Divine
Magician, and by the ego-melting of samadhi.
Or one other possibility is present in Patanjali's listing of drugs as a source of siddhis:
Maybe was Patanjali referring to drugs that leave you with siddhi power after they have worn off? We have not heard of such drugs. But we know that some people are left insane after a drug has worn off. They are now in an altered state of consciousness, a subjective one, and perhaps still seeing things in their own private world. Did Patanjali list drugs as one of the sources of siddhis because siddhis are a subjective experience and, from his point of view, only subjective experience is real because the entire external world is one's personal projection? Thus is the yogi who experiences miraculous powers in an altered state and having a subjective experience?
Now arises the problem of "others
testifying" — that is, the cases where others also see or experience a
miracle. To lay things out let me use a Sankarian device:
Opponent: But in some cases they are
not experienced only by the yogin alone but by others also, e.g. the stories of
of Christ or disciples witnessing multiplication of food around Neem Karoli Baba.
Those "others" are also part of his subjective experience, just as one
manifests "others" in his nightly dreams -- even multitudes. Having "others testify"
is just another kind of karmic experience different from the
first where he alone witnessed the siddhi.
So in some cases the yogin
will have the karma for "I
experienced this though nobody else saw." At other times
he may own the karma of "I
experienced this, others also saw and testified." At
other times he himself may not experience the siddhi or even intend it,
yet his disciples or companions report to him, "Look, did you know?
Such-and-such happened!" This is, likewise, another
variety of his karma and the others are his projection like the rest.
Once when somebody went to my website, according to their report, they began to have spontaneous yogic kriyas. I didn't see it and didn't will it. I could call it "A miracle others witnessed." But I prefer to categorize it as another personal karmic experience of mine.
To emphasize: The experience: "I turned river water into cream"
is one kind of karmic experience for him. The experience of "Three of my disciples also saw
the river water come back as cream, and the three poured it out, and
served it to 100 people" — is another kind of karmic
experience for the yogin in his transitory world-dream.
Our understanding of the siddhis
chapter must hinge upon the philosophy that all the external is a
projection of one's self, so all is subjective. That is,
a yogin experiences a miracle privately with no witnesses, or he has
100 witnesses saying "This
happened!" — it is all his subjective
karmic experience. Both the miracle and the
witnesses/non-witnessing are his own projection and
manifestations of his own karma.
We have to ask in
passing: Is the
sight of others, or their corroboration, the thing that gives a thing
authority? Even for the average independent-minded philosopher? When
I was at a retreat with the Indian siddha Karunamayi, I
saw blue-white light obviously around her like an aurora, very
steadily through a day and night. Nobody else was seeing it. But
this expanded vision of my eyes was a real experience for me. When I
was in possession of
stone handed to me
the night before during a dream (in sleep) only one other person saw
it, touched it, and later testified to
it. Yet it was a real experience for both of us. For the wise philosopher or
seeker only his own experience matters. He knows
that the others are just himself. Even in the case of reported miracles
it never occurs that "all eyes of the 7 billion" see the thing. How
many corroborating testimonies are required to make a thing true? All
seven billion living beings? What if one of the 7 billion missed it? Or
perhaps a crow or a chipmunk missed it? Or
is it just one hundred people who need to see it? But if it isn't true for you — is it
Most of us only hear stories of miracles. Likewise, we also hear stories of "a world" and "this history" and "that history." We were not there. We can't know any of it as true. Yet the stories have their value for us.
The Viewer/Experiencer of a Miracle (Siddhi) is Also in an Altered State
This leads up to a more
wonderful thing: We will see that the text points to
for a yogin in an altered state of consciousness, that of samyama.
But likewise the occasional others who witness a
saint or yogi's miracles are also in an altered state of consciousness as they see these events.
I note that my experience of the
Philosopher's Stone — the strange green stone with moving pink
that lifted me to the astral plane by touching it — happened in
an altered state of consciousness. Each time I touched
the stone a higher part of me seemed to rise up, a more knowing part of
me than my everyday worldly self. Further, the world around me seemed
to fade and become like tissues of light. Is this the kind of state a
yogi is in when they perform or, more likely, experience many miracles?
The second person, the one I handed the stone to for her examination
and later testified to it after it disappeared with no explanation
— she was a yogic devotee. She was in fact a devotee of my same
that of Yogananda, who also was given an astral object. In the crowded
post office lobby only she and I experienced the thing.
Those witnesses who see miracles — are also in altered states themselves. It is, generally, by deep
attunement with a saint or siddha that one is brought into
of magic. The one who "sees the miracle"
of his guru, that one who sees so he/she can testify — has had his own vision elevated and has been allowed to see
it. This is true whether it's one, three, or thirty persons.
This is the reason why we do not hear about mass crowds of people seeing the same miracle or testifying to it. Just as a yogin is working a miracle, or seeing it, in his own altered state, likewise it is the more satvic and purified of devotees who are allowed to to see it. Their vision has been changed along with their master, and for that reason they see and can witness. They have been allowed, for a moment, entrance into a higher world of magic and grace. Few are devotee-enough to experience miracles. Think here indeed about the very small number of disciples seeing the resurrected Christ. Was their vision elevated in that moment? Is that the real secret and the real destination to which religion points us? Is it one's divine vision, alone, that can see and experience the miraculous?
The question one needs to ask
when pondering the possibility of miracles is really: "Am I worthy to experience or
see such a thing"? Let us say 10 disciples see a miracle
connected with their gurudeva but 90 miss it or don't see it. It was
the ten who were worthy to see it. Do you have the karma to see a
miracle yourself? Do you have the karma to even hear about a miracle
from a reliable witness or authority? These questions bear upon
your own karmic situation. Is the world magical for you? Or not?
Obviously for the yogin who is beginning to experience siddhis,
including those that others experience with him, the world is becoming
very magical for him. Yet it's all his personal karma.
Again the question rises up: Are
you worthy to even hear about a miracle let alone see one yourself? If
you want to hear about a crowd experiencing a miracle, with many people
seeing it the same, this is what's required: A crowd of people
saturated with faith.
Further, such mass-experienced miracles would
be native to holier realms, places that ascetics and saints inhabit. In
the places where masses of people are in elevated states wrought by
austerities, bhakti, and faith -- these are the climes and the times;
these are the places where such phenomena would arise, where such scenes
would be seen, and from which such stories would hail. In brief: It takes a
holy man (or woman) to produce miracles and it takes devotees to be
the seers of them.
Based on this you can understand Christianity
better and also the miracles of the yogis of India. Are you fit to
experience miracles in this life?
Now you have pondered the right thoughts to begin reading the Yoga-Sutra chapter on occult powers. There are even more complex aspects to it, such as the fact that "techniques" involved (such as for invisibility or mind-reading) — are really personal creations of each yogi rather than a hard law. I will bring this out later.
subject of yogic siddhis in Chapter 3 matches to the Christian
idea of the power of prayer.
impacts by prayer is nothing but a kind of siddhi. Because we
our Father Isvara, and have desires and loves, it is natural that we
should want to protect loved ones with prayer, benefit the deserving,
and punish the wicked. This is human and it is also, from the point of
view of Saguna Brahman, a trait of the Divine Lord. Now finally we can
get going with the text:
By samyama on God as apart from creation, i.e. verse 3:35, the faculties of divine hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell arise.
the verse preceding this one, 3:35, refers to meditation on
(Purusha) as contrasted to meditation or engagement with the creation,
using satva as a
symbol for the highest and most pleasing part of the creation. The
subject of that verse was samsaric experience, and it stated that we
suffer this because of the inability to distinguish between creation
and God (Purusha). That verse was followed
by this 3:36 which speaks of
the arising of divine senses by such meditation on God. It was suitable
to remove the first (3:35) to the section on "The Problem," and to let
3:36 remain here. The divine perceptions such as divine sight and
smell have to be called occult powers or siddhis. Perhaps they are
best of them since they are more enjoyable than,
say, understanding the speech of an animal or knowing the locations of
This 3rd chapter on miraculous
powers often consists of formulas 'meditate on this, you get that.' For
example, with samyama
on the moon we are promised knowledge of the locations of stars. Only
this verse refers specifically to samyama on God Itself. Two
verses lower we will learn that all powers are given by
"knowledge of the difference" between God and the creation. But this
knowledge-of-the-difference comes from meditation on God. So in truth
it's simply meditation on God — contacted in truth — that give the
powers. Knowledge-of-the- difference is like a side result yet it is
to siddhis. So we should understand that
samyama on God (Purusha) brings all and any powers such as those listed
Thus it's rather touching
that in this verse occult senses alone are mentioned as a
result. It is as though the verse is given as a guidepost: "When you
sense these things you can have faith that you are contacting God."
These faculties are different
than powers like seeing or hearing things far off.
These powers of seeing things in the world are
brought up later with different methods attached. This verse refers to
perceptions of divine things.
In divine smell, you smell
fragrances similar to incense, and endlessly
that are, as if, of divine
cooking. This delights and comforts the mind as if one subconsciously
feels "Divine Mother is here, she's cooking." Smells like incense but
also like food are part of this. Flowers and scents like roses are also
part of this. Nityananda had this perception and spoke of the camphor
smell with pleasure. I have had the camphor smell many times along with
many others. Most of the divine smells are not quite identifiable.
They can include harsh smells which are like Shiva or
Kali smells associated with God's power of destruction if God is trying
to make you part of his kyastriya force upon the earth. Aum.
taste you sense beautiful flavors pouring onto your tongue, more
satisfying than the flavors of earthly food.
With divine touch you feel
various kinds of touch on your body that are comforting or pleasing.
sight, one of the more powerful developments, you see entrancing
visions of all kinds, from luminous gems and orbs to visions of
landscapes and scenes in higher worlds.
Finally with divine hearing — the most powerful perceptions of all — you hear sounds that are "like"
music except better than the most beautiful music. These sounds
powerfully draw the mind away the world and create disinterest in
externals. These divine sounds are different and distinct from pranava
or the heard Aum. They could be called, in some ways, a higher thing
even than Aum or a satvic distillation of Aum.
There is, perhaps, a secret
message in the fact that the Sutra's one verse on direct God-meditation
only mentions these divine senses as an outcome although all manner of
powers are surely the outcome of samyama
on Purusa Itself. It doesn't point to
flying across the fields, making one's self minute, or getting the
strength of an elephant as an outcome of God-meditation — only these
divine senses. My view is that the
one who gets these divine senses is very satisfied with them and has
little interest in the broad range of siddhis, and perhaps this is the
reason the verse focuses on them. Thus in a sense this
first-listed sutra tells you
enough or represents the listing of a more prime siddhi first.
This verse is closely related
1:36 about getting the
"sorrowless perceptions" or "a radiant perception beyond sorrow." That
verse, handled in its own chapter, referred to the inner seen lights.
It needs to be pointed out that this new verse here, 3:36, deals
with the same topic but expands to the other
senses. The point to understand is that these — all five — are
killers of sorrow; they are sorrowless perceptions.
The Development of the
Among the transcendental perceptions, along with the bindu or radiant jyoti, are divine smells and all five senses in a supernormal form. This from Sankara, continued from his commentary on the "radiant perception":
"There are these sorrowless perceptions... All of them, from the perception of fragrance to I-am-ness, are entirely without sorrow. But the radiant perception is different from the group of five beginning with the experience of fragrance."
Sankara on the Yoga-Sutras, Verse 1:36, Trevor Leggett
Sankara when commenting on the "sorrowless perceptions" verse mentions "fragrance" as part of a "group of five." Nityananda in his utterances speaks of the perception of divine fragrance:
"The head is the seat where the smell of musk, sandal-paste, camphor and concentrated camphor is experienced.
Nityananda, from "The Chidakasha Gita"
Though I have stated that the verse-order of the original Yoga-Sutra leaves something to be desired in terms of coherent presentation, yet there are also likely intentional sequences present in the text, such as the "fourth pranayama" coming late in Chapter Two, immediately followed by two verses on pratyahara which close the chapter, then it suddenly opens out onto Chapter Three on siddhis. Further, some verses start with a "thus," "therefore," ore "thence," obviously connected to the preceding verse. The verse under discussion on radiant perceptions comes in Chapter One, rather early. That could be fitting in that perception of jyoti can come early in the practice of a religious person.
New divine senses as a signpost for "knowledge of the difference"
Five occult perceptions corresponding to the senses are separately listed in Chapter Three on siddhis. The Dvivedi translation calls them "intuitional cognitions." A curious juxtaposition is seen with the intuitional cognitions listed immediately after one of the Sutra's most difficult, lofty, and esoteric verses, that regarding "knowledge-of-the-difference" between satva and Purusha, which must precede kaivalya. I have added the bracketed words to make it more easy to follow:
"Experience [perception of external and internal samsara] results from the utter incapability of differentiation between the conceptions of Satva [the most attractive aspects of Nature and karma] and Purusa which are absolutely apart; true knowledge of the Purusa arises from Samyama [perfect meditation] on the conception of Purusa himself apart from that of the other [as different from satva].
Immediately after this attainment at 3:36 comes this:
3:37 — M.N. Dvivedi
"Thence are produced intuitional (cognitions of) sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell."
"Thence are produced intuitional hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell."
Thence proceed prescience, higher hearing, touch, vision, taste, and smell.
"From that arise supernormal knowledge and hearing, touch, sight, taste and awareness of events."
"Thence (from the knowledge of Purusa) arise pratibha (prescience), sravana (supernormal power of hearing), vedana (supernormal power of touch), adarsa (supernormal power of sight), asvada (supernormal power of taste) and vartha (supernormal power of smell."
Based on Sankara's statement
distinguishing the jyoti
of Sutra 1:36 from "the group of five" supernormal senses, and if we
can at least trust that Sankara was exposed to a lot of yogic lore, we
this same differentiation intended by the separate
appearance of these
verses. These new intuitional cognitions relative to sight must
reference sight-at-a-distance but including the sight
objects or persons, visions of higher worlds and planes, plus
also radiant sorrowless perceptions different than
the inner Sun or "Blue Pearl."
This will become significant in the section on Inner Light as we
see the astounding statements by Yama, the God of Death, relative to
the "sorrowless perception."
It seems counter-intuitive to think that perceiving the difference between Purusha (God) and satva itself would result in new sense experiences. One would think it would bring loss of interest in sense perceptions, and the actual end of such perceptions by absorption in the pure Purusha. Why would should successful meditation on God result in new sense pleasures? How are the two related? We can get insight from Vyasa's commentary:
"These always (inevitably) arise (with the knowledge of Purusa.)"
"Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali," Hariharananda Aranya, Vyasa's commentary on Verse 3:37.
And Hariharananda's comments:
"When the knowledge of Purusa is acquired, these faculties are developed involuntarily, i.e. without the application of Samyama [to these supernormal sense perceptions themselves}."
So these perceptions are a
natural efflorescence enjoyed by those who perceive
knowledge-of- the-difference (between the best of creation and God). As
the religious person concentrates more and more on God-alone
(Purusha) these perceptions arise.
Of course, this refers to the experience of the satvic things within. The yogi has already turned away from the pleasure of the satvic things externally, and even thoughts of pleasant and satvic things in the mind. So here the yogi is renouncing ananda and satva themselves, as found within during the religious quest of God-meditation.
My understanding is that there is not a sudden change as with an on/off switch, at which time supernormal senses start. Rather, as meditation on God-alone increases, these sense perceptions begin to arise gradually. They may flower especially much in in particular periods or windows of time. But they don't come all at once. Such would be very disturbing. In the same way, the perception of Purusha-as-distinct-from ananda and satva also increases gradually.
Metaphysical questions can still
be entertained as
to why these two things should be linked. Is it a simple
corollary of purity in general, or purification of
the nadis in particular? Is it of the nature of a kriya (spiritual
process), as Swami Muktananda probably would have said, and just one
more passing thing? Is it that satva
nearest thing to Purusha and surrounds Him, thus the devotee
cannot help but come into these things as he draws near to the Lord?
Like a person who upon approaching the king's castle begins to see
beautiful gardens; upon entering nearer to the throne room begins to
hear beautiful music and smell incense? Is
it a taste of God's own nature and His Self-subsistence in
He revels in his own bliss?
I think so. Can such things be directed? As forms of prana, energy, or
substance using mind; in other words, are they in themselves one more
set of flowering-fields for siddhis? I believe such is the case.
A fascinating aspect of these divine senses and the pleasures of them is that they are received unsought. It is only the beginning of a great many satvic and auspicious endowments for the devotee, like the multifarious list of God's auspicious qualities in the Tenth Chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita. The reader and religious person may ponder all these.
By getting knowledge-of-the-difference, that is, the difference between God (Purusa) and even the highest aspects of creation (satva), one gets both omniscience and omnipotence over all things.
Two verses have been placed
together here, 3:36 and 3:49, that both reference "knowledge of the
difference" and both reference the arising of siddhis or occult
first promises the divine sense from "knowledge-of-the- difference."
Now 3:49 expands the results quite broadly such that all
siddhis are promised as the result.
At this time we must find out what is meant by "knowledge of the difference" and how it comes about. This "knowledge of the difference" is a key item in the Yoga-Sutra and it is rarely explained. In truth one does not even need to pursue it but rather k-o-d arises naturally with meditation on God (Purusa etc). Certainly the sutras that speak of "knowledge-of-the- difference" and especially "samyama on the difference" have been rendered into English in a way too complex thus the idea presents as some inscrutable technical mystery. For example, here is I.K. Taimni's presentation of 3:36:
"Knowledge of the Purusa results from Samyama on the Self-interest (of the Purusha) apart from another's interest (of Prakriti)."
"The Science of Yoga," I.K. Taimni, Verse 3:36
3:36 can be simplified as:
Knowledge of God (Purusha) results from samyama (perfect meditation) on God Himself distinct from the most enjoyable elements of His creation (satva).
In other words, one
to Purusha alone. From that alone, "knowledge
of the difference"
"knowledge-of-the-difference" is like a woman saying:
most of my time with Christopher. Because of that I can see clearly the
difference between Christopher and Michael."
It's happens naturally like that
and you don't have to understand much about it intellectually.
Kāyendriya-siddhir aśuddhi-kşayāt tapasah.
impurities in the body and
We should look at the verses that deal with siddhis more generally before drilling down into the many interesting and peculiar ones speaking of special powers. Note that this verse has a great similarity to the statement by Jesus Christ, Manifestor of many yogic siddhis, after he cast out some demon in His world-dream. The disciples asked Him why they couldn't manage. He answered, 'This type cometh not out except by prayer and fasting.' In other words, more tapas was required for it. In another sutra tapas is cited itself as one of the givers of siddhis.
Siddhis can arise from birth,
from drugs, mantra, tapas, or samadhi.
The first is saying that some
are born with occult powers. We have seen or heard of this often.
have the gift of reading the thoughts of others from early in life.
This is one of the yogic
siddhis listed below. Or the gift of prescience or knowing
what is going to happen in future. By this fact we can surmise that
siddhis are a karmic development. Karma is individual, so the
development of siddhis will also have individual and unique facets.
This broaches a
big question: When one
experiences a miraculous power is he in ordinary consciousness or an
Certainly we are well-aware that
the influence of drugs feel themselves as gods or having godly powers.
We know that they typically perceive or experience miraculous,
astounding, or impossible things. Perhaps he sees a parade of lizards
floating into his room in single file singing a Bavarian Anthem, or he
sees the mountains around his town rise up and dance a waltz. This is
all known. But have we ever heard of a person developing miraculous
powers because of drug use? That is, after the drug has worn off
retaining cosmic powers?
Does this verse refer to brain
drugs resulting in powers? We have heard of people having accidents,
such as brain or spine injuries, who are given psychic
from them. Could it be that this sutra refers to faculties opened up by
drug use — even damages to the healthy brain — that leave him with
psychic or other powers in the sober state?
To add dimension to the
question, I know that
in one miraculous event in my life — being given a stone in a
and finding it was with me the next day — I was not in
normal consciousness. Whenever I would experience the stone I would be
lifted somehow into a different plane in which the surrounding world
seemed more distant. I experienced it in an altered state of
consciousness just as the drug user experiences strange phenomena in
that state. Are all these miraculous powers something that only happen
in altered states of mind such as samadhi? Are they solitary events
— including the group of 3 dozen who also experienced it since
"others" are self-projections?
The answer is that siddhis
happen in both
states: altered states and ordinary waking states, according to karma.
But the drug reference in this verse is important and can
a lot. If we understand the exterior world as self-projected from the
body just like nightly dreams are self-projected, then impurities in
the body manifest some of the world's oddities, unpleasant qualities,
or bizarre events. Likewise a drug user has introduced an impurity into
his body and he is actually experiencing an altered world, in truth. It
is "his" world — but that is the same for ALL of us. We are all
experiencing a unique world others don't experience in exactly the same
way according to your unique impurities and karma. Likewise when we eat
something wrong before sleeping we have nightmares or dreams having
strange content. It was the impurity manifesting in the projected dream
world. Thus the sutra, by mentioning drugs as a source of siddhis, may
be referring to this self-projection principle and
the fact that for the drug user his siddhis or occult experiences,
under the influence, are real for him. So Patanjali is acknowledging
that you can be a wizard and experience phantasmagorical worlds when
are high: Siddhis arise from drugs. I recommend against it! It's not
the wise path. After the drug is done you are unhappier than you used
to be. The wise path is to develop siddhis, if you are going to develop
them, as a part of your natural functioning consciousness elevated by
meditation, purification, and imbued with the after-effects of samadhi.
Drugs are an ignorant path and they finally block the true path.
Chanting certain mantras in the
right way and with the right attitude can get things done and make
A good example of
siddhis-via-tapas is found in fasting. Most people who do a significant
fast for a particular purpose will get the fulfillment of their desire
or at least movement of the situation even if it was an intractable
situation. Tapas breaks
the tie to the body and opens up the consciousness to the light of the
deity, thus the will becomes empowered. Another way to understand it is
that tapas destroys gross karma thus the negative bodily
samskara-deposits that may have supported a negative outer condition
get destroyed, thus the situation transforms. Further, by freeing the
mind of bodily distractions tapas
gives to the mind a greater power of concentration and visualization.
This allows the religious person to then project his desired outcome
clearly into the external karmic miasma.
Samadhi is the mother-of-all-siddhis and occult powers flower naturally after a religious person dips into samadhi or even approaches the state of samadhi.
We will find out that siddhis are personal, a fruit of one's personal conditioning combined with the faith principle. Siddhis and their techniques are as endless as there are individuals and individual conditioning.Thus the existence of this chapter in the Yoga-Sutra proves one thing: The yogis who compiled it did not understand their own siddhis and why they arise.
The existence of so many published "commentaries" on the siddhis chapter of the Yoga-Sutra proves a second thing: There are an awful lot of fool contenders and brazen poseurs in this world!
Siddhis Are One's Own
are a karmic fruit and a karmic expression. They are an expression of
one's own well-cultivated law, formed by faith
and conditioning in the religious person or yogi, powered by
transcendental power of God or Aum that can power any mental creation
one fancies. They are his own play of the mind, whether they end up
seen by one other, a hundred others, or a thousand.
By samyama on the pit of the
throat, the cessation of hunger and thirst.
This yogi happened to end his hunger and thirst (and get inedia) by perfect meditation on the pit of his throat. Now, he might have instead meditated on a spot within his belly and achieved the same thing, had he had that predilection and faith. But, this particular yogi reasoned to himself, and had faith in the idea, that his samyama on the throat (because it is where food comes in) could feed him. Thus it worked.
He might have meditated on "all the fruits on the sides of the hills of Vrindavan" and that might have worked for him, if he'd had the right mental conditioning. Or "meditation on Divine Mother's breasts." Or "birds eggs" (if the yogi was fond of eggs). If the yogi was partial to barley we hight have ended up with a Sutra verse that said: "Cessation of hunger by samyama on fields of grain." Or meditation on "a luminous orb that satisfies" etc. But this particular yogi's statement made it into the Yoga-Sutra. There is nothing particularly eternal, or woven into the fabric of creation, to this particular yogin's technique. Such is the nature of siddhis. They are personal and they are mind-play. I will give another example:
By samyama (perfect meditation) on the heart, knowledge of the mind (of another).
This is taken to mean the ability to find out the content's of one's own mind (such as past lives), plus the contents of other minds. "Heart" is usually taken to mean the area in the chest, though some yogis such as Nityananda use "heart" to refer to the center of the forehead. But it really doesn't matter, see. If you have faith plus conditioning for ending up knowing thoughts of others by focusing on your chest, that's what will happen. Yogananda developed other conditioning and personal laws: He cultivated his heart as a "reception" area in which he could receive messages from others. That was the siddhi he liked. This fits, in a way, the experience of the yogi who wrote this verse. However, one could develop the knack of reading minds by meditating on some other place, or even some external place — should he have the predilection. For example, another hapless yogi might get the power of reading his mother's mind back in New Hampshire by thinking of her favorite poodle which she thinks of a lot. Another might get a power of knowing the past actions of others by concentrating on their hands, etc. All according to his faith and conditioning for such doings in past lives.
The Great Bodiless is when the yogi's consciousness can exit the body and function outside of it, this real, not imaginary. From this comes destruction of the covering over the light.
This is the Yoga-Sutra's
out-of-body capabilities that are associated with savikalpa samadhi.
Here we can discuss the astral plane in general, and how it is that
interaction with the astral plane through the conscious bodily
separation given by samadhi opens up a realm of powers to the religious
person or yogin.
As has been noted earlier,
samadhi is the
process of going to sleep
while awake, and dying while alive. Just as accomplished
have lucid dreams and
out-of-body experiences, the yogin who has broken through to the
samadhi state likewise can leave his body consciously at will. This is
distinguished from lucid dreaming, as well as real out-of-body journeys
because the world-associated mind (John, Julian, Nick, etc.)
is more conscious and self-aware than in the sleep based
experiences. In this state there is a stilling of the heart and
cessation of the heartbeat, so the separation from the body while
conscious is more profound.
It is worthwhile to note the
fact that the
Yoga-Sutra lists this as a siddhi or occult power, while pondering the
fact that many people have lucid dreams already though not pursuing
yoga, and some have had out-of-body experiences even more vivid and
palpable than lucid dreams. Thus many people are already involved with
experiences and powers that the Yoga-Sutra lists as a miraculous power,
or at least they have experienced the periphery of this siddhi. Thus it
is suitable to list this earlier than it comes in the traditional
Sutra, since so many people already touch it.
It is also suitable to list this
because all people can, in fact, pursue genuine yoga and develop
God-realization by working with themselves in the dreaming state.
Simply writing down the dreams each morning right upon awakening, which
always increases the content remembered and leads soon to
lucid-dreaming, is a kind of yoga that both opens you up to the higher,
more satisfying worlds while awake. Recall that content
experienced in a dream is listed as one of the effective meditation
alambras or objects right in this very text. Working with dreams also
teaches us to recognize the
waking state as a slower-moving, grosser dream. This topic is explored
modernly in the book "The Yoga of Dreams and Sleep" by Tenzin W.
Indeed, to understand the Great
consult your experiences of lucid dreaming and, if you have done
it, astral projection experiences. Those familiar with these
experience or plane to be more real than the conventional worldly
experience. The emotions are stronger and richer and the
seen more vivid. By comparison the physical world seems like a crass
bad dream. Well, the daily waking world is indeed transitory
changing just like the astral experiences, only more crass, less
attractive, and less engaging. Since both are transitory and we return
to each continuously, which is more real? Obviously the one that is
more vivid and where you feel the most.
The truest proof of the
out-of-body experiences is when one is able to
make alterations to the world that are found to be stable on
is where the yogic "Great Bodiless" differs from more common lucid
dreaming and OBE's. The religious person is able, during samadhi, to do
errands and aministrations to this world, should he care to, that are
found to be true and done upon return. Not that the sincere religious
person would always wish to do so, but he can. Indeed, attending to the
gross world while free in the astral plane is comparable to
on vacation to a wonderful lake resort with your happy family but
thinking about some disordered trash in the corner of the garage back
home. One finds it hard to think on the trashy world left behind or to
care about it, when in the highly engaging astral plane. Still, it can
be done. How is it done?
In this waking world we can see
and forms of life. With awakening of spiritual vision these are
perceived to be gross extensions of things that are higher. A woman's
hand may reach down beneath the waters of a lake; the woman is then
seen only very partially by creatures
there, or the bottom of a boat which is an insubstantial thing. Yet up
above the water there is the
woman, and the boat with people on it, and many other things
— a whole
world. In like manner this gross world is laden with things that
intrude down from above, and we only perceive them to be gross or inert
things, not understanding what they are at a higher level of
perception. For example, the sound of a leaf blower or sandblaster
intrudes from above this plane. Higher up, the sound has a more satvic
reality. A stone or piece of wood, likewise, are based on elemental
objects in the next plane that are more powerful and beautiful. They
extend down into this plane.
In like manner when in the
during samadhi, a sage can see objects and items that pertain to this
world left behind, or conditions in this world, and he can make
administrations, adjustments, purifications, etc. This is the way that
yogis and religious persons perform miracles through the agency of
samadhi. For example, the afflicted limb of a crippled person may look,
to him, like a branch covered with astral aphids, etc. He clears them
off with his hand and shoos them away, then back in the physical finds
person healed, etc. The point is that from that plane the things seen
here don't look the same as they do in our earthly eyes here, just as
we don't perceive the true reality of what's just above the objects
here (what's just above a tree, a field, a flower...)
It is fascinating to note how this verse ends: It refers to the dissolving of a covering over the light. This is a repetition of the statement following the 4th Pranayama or cessation of gross breath:2:52 From that [4th pranayama] is dissolved the covering over light.
we hear that going into savikalpa samadhi effects this same destruction
of the covering. We can take it to understand that the process is more
pronounced in the case of samadhi and the "Great Bodiless."
spiritual progress is possible through samadhi and, even in particular,
through going about outside the body!
When the mind's tie to the body is loosened, and he develops knowledge of how his mind moves, he can enter other bodies.
It is highly suitable to place
this Verse 3:38 right after 3:43 on the Great Bodiless. The subject
matter is closely related. Already mentioned above in the
commentary on the "Great Bodiless." A natural power given by
the "great bodiless" state is that of entering into the body
The verse states that this
becomes possible when the tie to the body is
weakened. Dvivedi in his translation refers to the "relaxation of the
cause of bondage." This is the very same process that enables the
"great bodiless." We are talking about one-and-the-same-thing, thus
placing these two verses together is helpful.
The verse refers to his/her
knowledge (Leggett: "awareness") of the how the mind moves; i.e., how
separates from the body and moves from one thing to another,
or one place to another. The reader may think this knowledge refers to
a secret formula or technique that is the same for all.
However, the knowledge and technique here will be personal; personally
developed by the yogi; his own method learned through practice. This
same principle holds for a great many of these sutras dealing with
esoteric powers! His own knowledge of how he separates from the body,
moves about, and enters things — is a karmic inheritance and
of conditioning. For example, Robert Monroe was a modern astral travel
explorer and he wrote books on the subject, later creating an institute
that taught others methods for out-of-body adventures. He had a
particular technique of imagining a point a short distance above his
head, then he would feel this point start to vibrate. This was unique
in the literature about out-of-body experiences and obviously something
that he had cultivated through practice, in this life or others.
Another common principle is to have pre-thought and plans about
destinations, loading these into the subconscious. A technique for
returning to the body from out-of-body is to think about one's own
breath; become aware of it while in the astral state and try to
perceive one's self breathing.
But all these rules are
individually developed according to practice and efficacy. They work
according to the conditioning and practice — and even
ideas — of the individual religionist. This has to be
this section. "Knowledge of how" one's own mind successfully moves
about — is one's own cultivated knowledge.
Now back to the verse: This is
one of the strangest verses to encounter in the Yoga-Sutra, to be sure.
But mind you the yogi is coming to experience all the external
creation as his own projection, including "others." All things become
This entering into the bodies of
others can come through
invitation, supplication, or simply because a body is in a state of
evacuation due to pain, illness, or extreme distress. The yogi may, for
example, enter temporarily into the body of a person suffering in a
hospital. Just as he may give assistance to a beggar, or one crying out
on the street, or one in trouble as he walks about his town, the yogin
who is traveling about outside his body may also respond to the
emotional cries of various jivas that reach him. This may involve
entering into their bodies temporarily. In that time he may correct
problems in that body simply by
the overlaying of his more perfect functioning with hers/his, or merely
through the fact of his contact with them in which he is discharging
some of his own higher merit or more satvic karma. Just as he/she may
bless and assist another in the earthly state by touching them, this
actual entering into the body of another (during samadhi) can perform
great uplift and rectification for one suffering.
This verse verges on a bigger
subject in which the yogi can experience himself present in multiple
bodies at the same time, not just one. Some commentators of India have
discussed this subject at some length relative to this verse, how a
yogi may work through multiple bodies on earth. There are
two ideas there: One is that a yogin may accomplish more in this
life, achieve greater works, by actually operating simultaneously in
more than one person with their various names and locations. The second
idea that floats about in the commentaries is that the yogi may thus
"work out karma" to a vaster extent and more rapidly, via this means.
In the channeled writings of the
personality called "Seth" (the only channeled material I've ever found
interesting), the astral entity speaks a lot about the
multi-dimensional personality; how a given personality can have
adjuncts, other outcroppings, and appearances in multiple times and
places. In this way it is experiencing more and doing more. Meanwhile,
the various outcroppings of that one personality (whether in this world
or others simultaneously) influence and inform each other from across
the root network as it were. This idea relates to the above Yoga-Sutra
verse and that verse relates, as well, to this idea. A king has his
administrators, deputies, and soldiers — all working his will
as giving him information. This Sutra verse implies that with spiritual
development — with the enlargement of being that comes from
the omnipresent Purusha — an individual is given this kind of
range and influence.
By using astrology it is
possible to perceive when this phenomenon is occurring for you. In this
case some friends or associates of yours may experience a powerful
event, good or bad. If you look at their own astrological transits and
there are no appropriate or suitable indicators for the event (in their
chart) — but your
own chart has
many such indicators — and yet nothing comparable is
you, then you you can know you are
having this experience, being given this situation. That
individual or those person is living our your own own personal
transits/karma for you, at least the grosser part.
For example, let's
say your friend or associate has a dire event in which he is threatened
with a crazy person with a gun, is yelled at and cursed, the police are
called, he has to stand with his hands up for a half hour, the police
surround the situation, talk down the aggressor, then jump her and
wrestle her to the ground, and he is shaken, and happy to be alive
— this is an extreme event. There should
be appropriate transits in that friend's chart, such as
Mars-quincunx-Mars or a strong Pluto-dodecile-Mars — or
like. Yet if you see that your friend has none of these, but that you have
plenty such conflict and stress transits in your own chart,
you have lived out a pleasant and uneventful day with only minor
symbolic events — this is proof that the
friend or associate is living your your own karma for you. (This is one
of the ways that one can, indeed, use astrology to track spiritual
development, occult development, and also see the difference between
karma and grace — which is a subject in itself..)
There is no point in crying
about it or
saying it's unjust or exploitative. It is
feature of natural law and one of the ways of grace. It is as
a soldier is experiencing harsh and dire experiences for his king, see?
Does not a good and wise soldier with lesser karma and merit than the
king love to unite himself to his king by sacrificing for him? Thus
discharging his own lower karma plus getting an eternal bond with his
king? And doesn't the more powerful king send resources, supplies,
reinforcements, sustenance, and comfort to his soldiers? Realize that
if the king is no good and has no empathy or caring for his deputies
and soldiers and their experiences; does not
suffer along with his men at the mere thought of their trials
would not be a king for long and he will not have soldiers for long.
His suffering through empathy for his subordinates is part of what
makes him a great king.
king is indeed "the all." In like manner, Purusha suffers with us and
we are living out lives and experiences for Him. God likewise has
entered our bodies and is vicariously living out experiences through
us, plus sends us sustenance.Aum.
So if you can use astrology
skillfully to understand what's happening you can, in time and the
fullness of religious development, see indeed the phenomenon of others
living out pieces of your lives for you. In these cases it is
likely that you have some habitation in that person; or
they have some habitation in you. There is no doubt that in these cases
they have become, as if, bodies of yours. This comes especially by
attunement, karmic affinity and prior involvement, and the
bhakti-principle of guru-devotee, giver-supplicant, father-son,
This brings us to an entirely
distinct theme verged upon by the above verse. We are being informed
that the sage or religious person can inhabit the bodies of others.
However, there is something more, and that is that others come to
One of the Upanishads states
that Brahman is the habitation of all. The sage, yogin, or religious
man becomes this way as well. This is the way that he/she helps others,
and it has a relation to this Sutra verse 3:38. Not only the adept
transmits himself to others, but all the various suffering creatures,
large and small, transmit themselves to others by the power of thought.
They simply have less awareness of it. John, Joan, Mark, and Mary all
think of others constantly — their family members, their
spouse, or to
ones that are attracting them. There is an actual contact set up then
between themselves and the one they think of. Again, they simply don't
have much conscious awareness or evidence.
In the book "Miracle of Love" a
great many siddhis and miraculous events are recounted about the
wandering saddhu Neem Karoli Baba, this by his many devotees both
Indian and western. In some cases the siddha would state "So-and-so is
thinking about me so much" and there would be some sign of
transference of the devotees problems, or their state, to the siddha.
For example, in one case a
chicken pox was suffering, and at a separate time and place spots
appeared an the siddha and he was uncomfortable and agitated. Then they
subsided. He stated that a sick devotee
was thinking strongly of him. Upon investigation it turned out to be
true, the devotee, the chicken pox, the hour, and the thought of Neem
Karoli Baba, and the subsidence of the illness too.
I once knew a person with a
broken kneecap. Sometimes when she
was in the worst of her pain I would myself get a pain in the same
knee. Upon chatting with her it would turn out to be so, that she had
been thinking of me plus hurting. When my mother was dying of cancer of
the kidney I would know when she had me on her mind, because my left
side would hurt. Another time a young woman had skin cancer. For a time
I found strange grayish-blue spots (ugly, strange, and frightful) on my
left arm. Upon
visiting with her a few days later, she stated "My cancer's now in
I raise these stories to
illustrate the theme with some personal authority beyond merely handing
along lore or stories from others. Indeed, almost all people have
experienced siddhis whether in themselves or seen in others. The
main point is that the principle
works in reverse: Others can inhabit the body of a yogi by their strong
thought. If his merit is high, receive some relief and a boon
him or her. This
is an aspect of prayer.
When we direct our minds
likewise to God, the
stainless Purusha, the same effects obtain and bigtime. We come to
inhabit God, the spacious tree that does shelter and feed all, and a
person through strong thought and desire can inhabit a yogi for a time
and be under his wing. In the case of individuals who appear to be
living out one's own karma, one's own transits, they may take
inhabitation in the yogi just as much as he is inhabiting them.
The Yoga-Vasistha has many
entertaining tales that touch on the subject of verse 3:38 and the
inhabitation of bodies. Generally in that long scripture these doings
are fraught with danger and the jiva is led onward in samsara because
he often forgets his old body and gets drawn into the karma and
situation of the newly-inhabited body. The stories suggest that
entering the bodies of others — including the bodies of
demons, and tribesmen as it happens in the book — often has
consequences and the adept can forget who he is, or at least
he was before entering that particular ball of samsara and those
particular dualistic samskaras (of that person, resident in their
body). And isn't that the
problem with jiva in the first place?
Generally speaking the yogi should realize that any time he even thinks of another he is, already, touching that person and entering into them. Meanwhile, it is also true that they enter into you upon thought of you. The question becomes: Who is the stronger and more influential? Who has the most merit to transfuse? And who is more consciously aware of the connection? As you grow in yoga toward samadhi and dharma-megha-samadhi, what will come to pass is that all beings take refuge in you, and you were already in them all along.
By mastering the udana he can
float over water, mud, thorns, the earth, etc.
By samyama on the relationship
between his body and akasa, then merging with the idea of a light and
things like feathers, cotton or dandelion tufts, he can move
This should be taken to mean
your experience in the physical
body and in the physical world, not in fancy, in a dream, or
the Great Bodiless
experience available in samadhi. However, as has been mentioned he will
usually not be in a normal state
of consciousness as is true with most supernatural experiences. Yet it
being seen by "others" or witnesses who report or verify it,
that the yogi experiences it as happening in his earthly world and as
having worldly effects such as "Mr.
Jones, was that you floating past our house last night?"
etc. The yogi Mr. Jones might even answer, "Well, it seemed like I was but
wasn't sure. I meant to. Did you see me? Land o'goshen I guess I really
This is the way a lot of siddhis happen. In other words, there is often
degree of distance between the advanced yogi's siddhi activity and
his lowest earthly conscious state. These are of the
realms of magic.
I placed the two above verses
together because both of them refer to a similar type of siddhi, that
of flying or floating. The first conveys the sense of local movement,
the 2nd refers to space or akasa and suggests a more cosmic movement,
perhaps, we can surmise, including movement like the instantaneous
movement associated with the astral plane and which we hear about in
association with yogis like Lahiri Mahasaya who projected himself
various places while sitting on his tucket.
I will deal with the subject of the phase of prana called udana, a profounder item, at the end of these paragraphs.
Let's take the first
local-sounding siddhi first: Some translations of the "water,
mud, thorns" sutra (3:39) refer to "passing over" these. When people
experience yogis or saints having this siddhi
it seems to sometimes refer to a non-contact, a "being above." For
example, one who was with Babaji is reported that when he
on sand he left no tracks, and when it rained no rain attached to him
or made him wet.
There may be some embarrassment
in the fact that both verses refer to flying, yet they appear in
different places and two different techniques are given. One
that these verses tell
about two techniques with two different results;
that one is about floating
above earthly things locally here in the close atmosphere of earth (it
water and mud) similar to the walking-on-water siddhi shown by Jesus
Meanwhile the second seems to refer to a
cosmic movement, teleportation through the vast
space as is picturesquely described as an activity of sages in
the Yoga-Vasistha. One is
earthly flying, the other space travel, so to speak.
Oddly, note that in
cosmopolitan version the yogi is administering to
himself nevertheless with his earthly conditioning: He
entertains notions of
cotton and air-floatable things and combines these with the thought of
the limitless space (akasa) to move extra terrestrially.The space
cotton! Wouldn't the thought of powerful engines, etc., serve as well
or better? Yes, it would. But the verse reveals that siddhis
involve mental chemistry. This verse also powerfully resonates
with the repeated statements of the Yoga-Sutra that all is "notional."
Now, the "local" sounding method
of yogic flying requires the mastering of udana, one of the pranas. The more
cosmic movement seems to rely only on concentration plus combining
ideas in a mental chemistry.
It could be asked: Are these the only yogic
techniques for floating or flying? Why
doesn't mastering the udana allow the yogi to also fly vast distances
through space. Likewise: Why wouldn't contemplation on
light and floating things allow the yogi to float above the water?
These are good questions.
Is it possible that the mastery
of the udana
(Yes.) Is it possible that these two verses are contributions of
different sages who developed different siddhi techniques that worked
for them? Highly likely.
Let's review the pranas.
The pranas are called prana,
apana, samana, udana, and viyana. The
pranas should be understood as phases
of breath. They can also be understood as movements of breath, but it
is better to also view them as phases or states of the breath
of the mind. The Maitri Upanishad states that the Person (Brahma) first
created the pranas
and from these He created the world. The udana
phase of the pranas
is where the breath is rising
There is a great deal
of confusion in
the scriptures, in the commentaries, and multifarious books
talks — about the pranas
in general. Much scope to become
confused, such that upon reading several sources one may not even know
is as contrasted to apana,
because these are described in various
Before surveying the confusion
and picking up
the worthy strands, get clear that the in-breath is the prana, the
out-breath is apana.
Have no doubt.
As mentioned elsewhere in the
writers including Muktananda refer to prana as the
"upward breath" and apana
as the downward breath. This appears to relate to the idea that
the external air, when breathing in, is moving up in front of
your chest. When breathing out, air goes down in front of your chest.
But the internal experience is the more important, and we experience
the in-breath as air going
our pipe, into our chests, and down into us. Plus most modern people
are aware that
the diaphragm moves upward on the outbreath, and we can even feel this
upward movement when breathing out. We can even feel through long
cultivation of meditation-oriented breathing an upwardness with our
out-breath, a rising of energy up to the head upon the emptying of air.
Thus the words "upward breath" and "downward breath" confuse
things. It's better to hew to the terms in-breath and
Sankara seems to have failed to
sort this out
in his commentary. After the water- and thorns-floating verse, in which
he must deal with the subject of the pranas, he adds to
by speaking of a "forward-going" prana (bold is Sankara, non-bold is
life, controlled by the obligation to fulfill the purposes of Purusa, the
activity is five-fold, differentiated
into prana (forward-going current), apana (downward-going), vyana
(pervading), udana (upward) and samana (equalizing),
pervading all is the vyana (vi-variously) life-current."
Note Sankara uses the confusing
going" for the out-breath. Because udana
will be later assigned an
"upward" role, he seeks to differentiate them with the
term "forward-going" for the prana/in-breath.
It's a novel term
that didn't seem to take since I've not seen it much
literature. Normally "upward" and "downward" are reserved for the two
main breaths familiar to us.
The solution to these confusions
is that nobody experiences the true upward breath called udana until they
arrive at samana.
is the doorway to udana.
The phase of prana called samana ("same") is
when the two breaths become equalized, merge into each other,
and cease. After
this a udana
phase begins, and it is a naturally floating up. A religious person
when his breath stops and he finds that his subtle body wants to
naturally rise up, as if there is a gentle upward draft around him.
Both during samadhi and at death it is the udana phase of
breath that makes our subtle bodies at first rise up. It also does this
unconsciously in all when they go to sleep. Thus few people ever
experience the samana,
and this likely
included Sankaracharya. Again, udana
refers to the gentle upward draft or tendency of the astral body to
float upward upon leaving the body during samadhi, OBEs, and at death.
That gentle tendency upward is the udana.
Mastery of udana means that
the yogi, having passed the phase of samana, can abide
in the state of udana
— stay there, and use it. The yogi who has done this can ride
in the semi-conscious states associated with samadhi, and perhaps float
across the woods to brother Jasper's porch or to pass over the Pumpkin
Competition at The Fair. But is that
all? No, he could jet to a far-away point in space just as well,
because this is the astral condition.
Abiding in udana much purifies
the body as much prana
rushes in, felt first as cool heat then searing heat. As his
is purified and made less gross, this state becomes his in
the physical world and may express at times physically or the
semi-physical state of semi-consciousness..
That is, if he is
suffused in udana while
awake in normal consciousness, he could then
float physically, although he will not be in normal bodily
consciousness and also his projected world is at that time finer.
As has been mentioned earlier, when most siddhis happen he is
in normal earthly consciousness.. Especially it would happen
this was his karma. If he also had
karma for "some observers observed it," then he would have the
experience of others talking about it and testifying to his float time.
This would no doubt be entertaining.
As to the first, clearly the
akasa-contemplation is what makes the yogi a space traveler as
contrasted to a simple Ozarky floater-over-brambles. But in truth, the
techniques are interchangeable: Mastery of the udana sets one up
the space travel. After all, mastery of the udana
is really the portal of entrance into the astral, in which thoughts
bring you wherever with immediacy. Meanwhile, identification with
cotton down and
floating dandelion seeds would assist in floating over the hill to see
yonder Brother's shed or the bumpkins playing down by the creek, and
contemplation of the akasa
local errand as well.
The existence of these two
different techniques for similar siddhis is an indication that the
Yoga-Sutra is, in part, a compilation of the accounts of more than one
yogi. It is also a proof that siddhi techniques are personally
developed and as numerous in their variety as are individual
The second presented verse
mastering the udana,
which is one of the pranas.
There was a particular
yogi who was visited by Paramahansa Yogananda who had a habit of
floating above his meditation tucket to the delight of his disciples.
His name was Bhaduri Mahasaya. It was said that he had this siddhi
because he had mastered the udana.
Only those with fairly pure karma will ever witness such things from yogis and saints. Experience of any siddhis, whether in yourself or seen in others, is always a function of your own karma. How magical is the world you live in? If not much, that's your fault and your grossness.
By samyama (perfect meditation) on the light in the head (bindu), the yogi gets the vision of the Siddhas.
This particular yogi wanted to see the siddhas, so when he mastered penetration of the inner bindu, the jyoti, he saw siddhas. Or, he already had karma or conditioning for seeing siddhas in the bindu. The truth is, anything at all can be seen inside the bindu. But this yogi, somewhere in time, happened to see siddhas there at least once, so he wrote about it, and it became one of the Yoga-Sutras.
By samyama on one's own bodily
form, invisibility, because the connection between light and the body
This is an important sutra
because it touches
on important metaphysical ideas connected to siddhis and to
itself and allows them to be broached.
The verse implies the
visualization of one's own bodily form in the moment. But normally we
can't see ourselves accurately as in a mirror. Rather, we can
entertain a fancy about ourselves. Given the many persons with
varied powers of concentration and the fact that people often do
visualize themselves in mind, if this were the meaning it would
seem many persons would have occasional invisibility
And by what metaphysical principle would entertaining a fanciful image
of ourselves grant us invisibility to others?
The answer is: If one's samyama
imagined image was perfect enough the world would go away, just as it
does with samyama on any
item! Even a man intently concentrating on on a puzzle or a math
problem experiences an isolation and a sense of the world going away
including a degree of pratyahara, or reversal of life-force away from
the world. Because samyama brings samadhi, this sutra may be referring
to the basic phenomenon of world-dissolution common to both samadhi and
to sleep. In this case there are no "others" to see you, because you
have withdrawn them including the power-to-see of all external others.
There is a phenomenon in yoga in
practitioner gets a vision of himself. He sees himself as if looking at
an external person, and realizes "That's me." Does this sutra refer to
that? Or to meditating on such a vision when had? I don't believe so.
Does it refer to a dislocation of the mind/jiva such that he is outside
of his body looking at himself? That is, a new samyama within an
original samyama which put him into samadhi? Is the yogi standing (or
floating) outside of his body here, looking back on it, then commencing
a 2nd samyama so that he may be invisible to persons left behind in the
Now do you understand? All material existence is conditioning and self-hypnosis. Siddhis evolve according to the adept's own mind and predilections.
A great many could have been added to this chapter, as endless as the imagination, and some that are there seem rather arbitrarily included.
Once you start to experience siddhis you understand this. My view is that the yogins who participated in the siddhis compilation in the Yoga-Sutra were unfamiliar with the Non-Dualistic Vedanta understanding of phenomena. According to that understanding, expressed in the Yoga-Vasistha:
"However the mind conceives 'the Order' to be, the order becomes."
That is, however you fancy the metaphysical laws of manifestation to work, if your mind is powerful enough, your conditioning (for it) thick enough, and also connected to the Transcendental Power — 'the order' becomes. They are not necessarily a universal technique for all, but were their personal creations.
Thus it is ignorant to list the Yoga-Sutra siddhi verses and comment on them as if they are some universal law. Many fools have done so. Or just as foolishly, some opine that they are not real experiences in worldly terms, but only metaphorical, etc.
The mind is its own law-giver, this is the real basis of siddhis, so all siddhis have a personal dimension relative to the experiencer of them. There are a few exceptions: The sutra does list some techniques that, should they be practiced by a great many yogins would likely yield their results easily. Siddhis are partly a manifestation of individual conditioning and partly on laws others could follow.
It is interesting that the Sutra left out the siddhi of multiplication of food, the one displayed by Christ. This is such a common miracle in Indian religious life that the power has a name, annapurna. Say "annapurna" to an Indian and they know it means "the miraculous multiplication of food." So what might the Sutra have given us had it listed this particular power?
Again, it would have depended on which yogi happened to report his happenings. Here are some ways it might have been written:
"By performing samyama on the idea of abundance, such as a lobster full of eggs, or a catfish with a swarm of babies, or heavy-laden fruit trees, then that idea merged with a bit of food, multiplication of food is obtained."
On the other hand, a yogi who'd had a fruitful wife who'd had ten children might have achieved the same by performing samyama on her in the pregnant state, combined with the bit of food, etc.
A yogi can invent his own tricks if his own mind and conditioning support them, as all creation is self-hypnosis.
One of the siddhis, in fact, is listed as the fulfillment of "any desire." Thus if one yogi wishes to float through the air by performing samyama on rockets instead of on "light things like cotton down," that's his deal.
The real basis of siddhis is the fact that the world is of the nature of a dream, simply moving more slowly and appearing to be more inert and intractable before the mind. In the end siddhis come down to who has the most influence and control over his particular world-dream. Ego-bound people are of the nature of an unreality. The yogi is contacting the Reality. The Reality has lordship over the unreality.
The Factor of Concentration
This has already been brought out: Samyama or the steady flow of the mind towards one object. This includes clarity of vision.
The Factor of Emotion
All average persons occasionally have occult impact on their surroundings by the power of their emotions. If perfection of concentration is combined with strong emotional feeling, siddhis are inevitable. The entire manifest cosmos is an expression of the unimaginable emotional nature of our Creator, Isvara. So think of how much emotion is there, thus how limitless siddhi power must be.
The Factor of Aum
There are powers inherent in pranava and also inherent in pranayama and kumbhaka. These unfold naturally to the religious person according to his imagination, his creativity, his notions, and his predilection. For example, instead of meditating one one's throat in order to be fed, as one nameless yogi of the past happened to do, one can meditate on various phases or letters of Aum in a particular way. Or, upon smelling the divine smells, they can become as food to the religious person, should he or she wish to receive them in that way. And it goes on.
All this is written here to teach my people the truth and lift them up into the highest yoga, as well as to regenerate Christianity and preserve the beautiful churches, places where our ancestors spent their best for places devoted to God-worship and true bhakti-yoga.
The Factor of the Transcendental, Grace
siddhis happen associated with God-seeking persons outside of their
control or intention. Through the God-seeking person, God likes to
His intuition develops and with it he can know anything.
It's a fact of life that with
religious development the intuition develops. Certainly the more a man
or woman practices meditation the more they get spontaneous accurate
intuition. It is also a facet of the kundalini, so the more that they
practice chastity — keeping the kundalini unoffended and
them — the more their intuition touches. Yogananda referred
natural development often and praised religion-wrought intuition as a
powerful tool. In fact, as one gets bliss through chastity, meditation,
and religious devotion — he is getting that bliss by
intuition. In the
end the yogi intuits God.
This intuition will show itself
in a wide variety of ways as it gradually comes in. It will often come
unsought but on the other hand the yogi can develop conscious
techniques to access it. Such intuition may tell him the contents of
others minds, especially at a key moment. It may cause him to avoid
danger by sensing it before it is seen and causing him to take evasive
action. The development of intuition will give practical advantages
that protect or give profit. A person getting this gift may find an
object or a destination by pure intuition.
It can allow the yogi
to see the life of another person — including their past
and actions. It can let him see back into historical periods and
historic moments. The siddha Neem Karoli Baba would often talk about
the relatives of persons he met — these being grandfathers or
way back in time. Sometimes the statements he made were already known
to the other, or were corroborated later. Sometimes the statements were
a complete surprise to the one hearing it, and could never be
corroborated. This was done by sheer intuition. Jesus Christ showed
forth this siddhi and sometimes made statements that indicated he had
spontaneous knowledge of some of his disciples or persons who were
addressing themselves to Him. He knew by intuition that He was about to
be betrayed and who was to do it.
The yogi may not necessarily
seek out his intuitive perceptions. More often they are simply provided
to him by grace. My own intuition has definitely developed via
meditation and Aum-bhakti. To corroborate the Yoga-Sutra statement and
add a bit of color I will illustrate a few.
person walks behind me, unseen by me, but I immediately know they are
there and who it is, recognizing them by feeling as if I had
suddenly looked upon their face.
The applications of intuition
are endless and they get larger and more significant. It can assist him
in protecting his/her family, or in acquiring wealth. A religious
even a continent man may even uncover scientific discoveries
by intuition, as was the case with Nikola Tesla and Luther Burbank.
Now getting larger, the
intuition enables a continent man to comprehend the scriptures, getting
a clear feeling for what they are really saying. My commentary
on the Chidakasha-Gita of Nityananda, in which many utterances are
arcane and barely coherent — relied much on
But the greatest impact of
intuition is when it gives insight into religious technique itself,
such as meditation. This verse then touches Vyasa's statement that:
"Yoga is to be known by yoga; Yoga goes forward from yoga alone."
This means that the yogi
practitioner will get insights and clues about how to carry on his own
meditation. He will be given his own effective techniques from within.
He will become an intuitive discoverer of his own pathways to samadhi.
In fact, many of the various meditation techniques we may hear about
whether given in books or by a guru mouth-to-ear — are in
guru's own intuitively uncovered techniques. He then shares them. If
there is a good mental link to his students and a bit of bhakti, the
techniques will be found to be fruitful by them. The development of the
breathless state called kumbhaka requires intuition. The yogi figures
it out by instinct. The response he should take to divine perceptions
such as Aum or inner lights — will be wisest if it is
intuitively inspired. The wonderful
statement by Vyasa finds its fulfillment largely in the development of
intuition and how that guides and enlarges the fellow's meditation
practice by spontaneous knowing or discovery.
Notice that this verse makes a
wide open statement that the yogi can know anything at all by
The most simple translations simply say "Anything by intuition,"
meaning that the yogi gets the siddhi in which anything can be known by
that means. Note that this sutra comes after a set of more
particular schemas about how to know particular things —
like the yogi learning the locations of the
stars by samyama on the moon. But this verse kicks
the props out from beneath all of those devices,
that the yogi can get any form of knowledge by straight
intuition alone. In other words, as intuition develops meditation on
the moon is finally not necessary to know the "disposition of
the stars." He may even intuit a completely different method
for the same goal, or require no special method at all.
The development of the intuition
is an unavoidable law of yoga because that religious person is merging
more and more with The Lord of the Universe, who is omniscient. Thus he
himself becomes gradually omniscient. He or she partakes of the Lord's
knowing nature. The development of unerring intuition is certainly
inevitable by contact with heard Aum, as Aum is all time, all space,
all creation, and all knowledge.
When he is established in speaking constant truth his mere words get the power to actualize.
Interpretations of this verse,
in both the Indian and western commentaries, range all over the place.
One translation goes:
'...his words are truth
The Leggett translation says:
"...events confirm his words."
That is, the things he says come
true. Leggett's translation appears to be trying to get a loophole out
of the words-creating-truth idea that is the true import of
verse. He has constructed it to imply successful prediction or
commentators simply say the yogi's words are merely
influential or have
The verse means that whatever the God-merged yogi says is true, or shall be true, becomes true.
Notice the word kriya in the
Sanskrit. I brought out earlier that the word similar to action but closer
It refers to a thing becoming physically true, or actualized, thus I
rendered it that way.
verse from the 2nd chapter and placed it here.In
fact it's one thing to "know" or "find out" of things exterior
including so much you may dislike or find sorrowful! It's another thing
to create truth by your word, that
truth that others and yourself will then come to know as exteriorly
true. It is in fact a siddhi and a more powerful one than that of
gaining knowledge by intuition. Here the God-man makes things true as
speaks them. He creates by both mind and speech the exterior facts that
others find to be "facts."
This siddhi relates to the
creative power of the primordial Word
Aum, which is alive in him. The Creator expressed indeed
this siddhi in
Genesis: He created the world and it's various features by speaking
them into being: "Let
there be light," etc. The siddha Karunamayi
exercised this siddhi on me by saying to me, in response to my request
for samadhi, "Yes, my
son, all these things will come true and very
With a siddha, if you can get them to say it then it shall be true.
Thus it is a fun game to tussle with a siddha
and try to get them to promise the fulfillment of your
desire. Some of the
people who gathered around Jesus Christ understood the nature of this
siddhi, thus they would say:
"Only speak the word, Lord, and
it shall be fulfilled."
It's obvious this verse belongs in the section on siddhis. Because it is one of the more magnificent siddhis, related to the primal power of God, and l rendered it plainly as such and placed it later in this section.
These are obstacles in the way of samadhi, powers when the mind is outward-turned.
Here samadhi refers to samyama
on God as contrasted to other objects. "Outward" has to mean any
attention to created things including things of the astral plane and
up, though they are "inward" from the point-of-view of the
gross everyday world..
Any worldly knowledge or
perceptions are no matter how lovely or pleasurable — and
this includes knowledge and perceptions of higher worlds on up through
7 or 70 planes — is antithetical to nirvikalpa samadhi.
This verse benefits from clarification. The unavailable forms of samadhi due to the momentary phenomena-turned mind can only refer to the higher range of sabija samadhi (asmita/"I am"), and to the highest nirbija samadhi. range The lower forms of samadhi are in fact phenomena-turned states.
"Obstacles in the way of samadhi" means simply that one can't be outward turned or engaged at all and also be in those two levels of samadhi. This is, at least, what it ostensibly means. Thus the verse might just as well say: "Mashing potatoes is an obstacle to samadhi" or "typing a letter is an obstacle to samadhi."
But for the advanced religious person or yogi, esoteric powers and impacts on the gross world are inevitable in the outward-turned state. As long the religious person cares about any created thing, he or she will not be able to avoid impacting his environment. We can take it further and say that as long as the jiva even sees or looks upon any created thing, he cannot avoid impacting those things with his mind. That is, until supreme vairagya is reached and stabilized, men and women will exercise siddhis even despite themselves. And even after that they will continue to impact their environment without their intention, by God's grace. This is the meaning of the state of "dharma-megha-samadhi" mentioned in the Yoga-Sutra, or the "raincloud of virtue." A person established in that state pours blessings out on his environment even while oblivious to that environment. Thus there is no way that a religious person will avoid exercising these occult powers. For example, should they think of another person with anger for a moment, there will be an affect. When they imagine another person with love or positive thoughts, there will be an impact whether they wish it or not.
Now, the the "warning" part of this verse is in the fact that attainment of siddhis makes the world even more interesting than it was before. The religious person may be tempted into further engagement with the samsara as he discovers his powers. This is where the term "obstacles" has a warning and many yogis such as Ramakrishna and Nityananda were very negative towards any conscious expression of siddhis. Ramakrishna considered that an aspirant was fortunate if he never experienced siddhis; that this was a sign of special grace and favor by God. The state of the asura, the wizard, the demigod, etc. can be seen as the great tide pools containing those who got caught up with the possibility of powers in the samsaric world, their journey slowed and complicated.
However, the verse above is probably misleading. The kind of samadhi it refers to — to which siddhis are antithetical — is the highest or nirvikalpa and the higher range (asmita) of savikalpa. This brings me to a more involved explanation of how special powers express. One assumes that the experiencer of siddhis is always in his normal state of consciousness. That is not necessarily true. He may be in an altered consciousness. The verse above also implies there is a strict dichotomy between the state of samadhi and the outward-turned state. This is also not true. When we ponder the following things we will understand siddhis better.
In the movie "Brave Heart" the hero is being tortured before a mob. He begins to die. As he dies, he sees his long-dead wife in the crowd below, coming to him. What was happening was his outward-turned consciousness was becoming mixed with his higher or astral perceptions. He was in both worlds. One commentor on the Yoga-Sutra spoke of death omens. He stated that some see omens that death is approaching. These may appear a year before, a month before, a day before, or an hour before. But they take the form of unusual things and persons, seen in the ordinary world, but which should not be there. What is happening is that his earthly consciousness is being mixed with his astral awareness as the last karmas holding him in the body are being spent. In American automotive terms, his earthly karma is "running on fumes" and his higher vision is starting to open up.
What these sutras pass over is the fact that as a yogi begins to experience samadhi over time, with its vision of the astral planes, he begins to carry some of that awareness forward while in the outward-turned state. He begins to be in both world at the same time. Thus at times some of the siddhis he experiences will be be experienced when he is is this mixed state of being, of seeing both. Just as the approach of death may produce strange, fantastic, and miraculous things in the environment (such as the wife in the audience), habitual samadhi will also give miraculous perceptions while basically outward turned. The yogi will sometimes see things others don't see, etc. In like manner, his siddhis sometimes will happen as he is in those states.
Karmic Experience is Just Karmic
Abridging this, to open the mind up further, we need to discuss Sankara and the nature of karma: You believe there is a downtown, with certain streets and shops, because you went there yesterday. You believe it is there because you have a memory of it. But is it really still there? You are not experiencing it now. Likewise in the dream state, we are utterly convinced that we are experiencing a certain place, then the scene changes, or we wake. Does that place still exist? Or did we just have the karma to experience that much of it, for that much time?
It is no different with the "shops downtown" that you are sure exist. You can reason that at some point in time they will no longer exist. They were not there back in 1750, and some day downtown will be ruins, overgrown with wilds. In that way, at least, you can accept that downtown will at some time no longer exist. But consider that just as with the dream, when you had only temporary karma to be experiencing "the spectral blue waterfall" or the "fields of flowers" — your experience of a "downtown" was also only what your karma allowed. It's there when you are there. But when you are not there, it's really only a memory and a notion. You don't know for sure that it's still there. You merely believe it is.
If you go and check it out (verifying it's still there), and find that it is, that's because you still had some karma for another "downtown" experience. Let's say that you are suddenly swept away, you must leave your town, and end up in a small rural area where there is no downtown. Similar to how you were swept away from the "blue waterfall" or "flower fields" (of dream), your karma for "downtowns" is suddenly exhausted. Yet you still believe that the old downtown, which someday will certainly vanish, is still there. Why do you believe it? Conditioning. Perhaps you get a letter from a friend telling you about his times downtown, and saying "Wish you were here." So you are convinced, "Downtown is still there." However, what you just experienced there was not the downtown, but some different karma: "Friend writes me letter telling me tales about a place I once knew." That's what you experienced, not the downtown. So you don't really know downtown is still there; you are not experiencing it any more, in any case. What you are experiencing is a letter and a friend giving reports. And why are you experiencing that? Conditioning, karma for "letters" and "reports."
Now, all of this is necessary to understand the context in which siddhis happen, which is the context of the world-dream. Siddhis are one more part of the world-dream, they are personally experienced, others may see them but never do all see them, and that is all karmically determined. Further, some happen in the normal state of consciousness and others in a partially in-turned state. My estimation is that the majority of the siddhis mentioned by the Yoga-Sutra would happen in a partially in-turned state.
These ideas should be kept in
reading Patanjali's enumeration of yogic miracles. The central
siddhis listed in the Third Chapter is the perfection of meditation, or
samyama. It is by fully merging with an object or idea, then
transferring that idea to other objects, such that an interaction or
mixing of ideas and objects occurs. A mental alchemy is depicted. We
see it in the "floating" siddhi in which the religious person focuses
on the idea of light and floating things.
Signs of the activation of
Your attitude should be to pray for who you want to pray for, but merging in God should be the number one interest. Once I read in a yoga book that if I concentrated on the tip of my nose, instead of the place where my guru had told me to concentrate, I could smell astral smells and also get contact with devas associated with the earth element. That night I began to try it, and immediately I saw in my mind's eye, as in a vision that looked like a real thing, a strange earth deva. That night falling asleep, however, I had a clear vision of my guru and he was making a very displeased face. I was shocked by the clarity of the vision and I got his message immediately. I stopped messing with meditation on my nose. In the end, I ended up smelling the astral smells and got nectar-of-the-nose anyway. So all things come to those who love the Lord. My guru did not want me playing around with earth devas.
Esoteric powers come to all who love God. One should understand them and when they arise, use them to fuel one's bhakti or devotion for the Lord, unto samadhi. That is, be in thanks, feel worship and delight over them, let them be your inspiration for love-talks to God, for your encouragement on your path, and the confirmation and firming up of your power of faith. That is their value. To seek to become a tinkerer in the messy garage of samsaric dualities is for the ignorant. The best siddhi, which one should pray for and practice austerities for, is samadhi. The second is the power to manifest a general world-upgrade rather than targeting particular things. In other words, can you wake up tomorrow and watch grotesque and dark shadows in this world start to lift through your self-purification? That is, ugly conditions besetting all of your world? There's a siddhi worth attaining. The thing is, your general purification and cleaving to God, with chastity, will bring this about on its own. Watch all holes be filled, all ships rise, and all uglies become beautified. What better siddhis could there be than this? Learn astrology if you want to be able to watch it clearly. But having the mind on even these kind of world-thrills is a crass downgrade from having the mind on God. The religious person, the yogi, understands this. It is all paltry.
Some yogis developed siddhis, not understanding how siddhis actually arise and how personal they are, and decided to write down their experiences. These random happenings of a few impressive yogis writing down their mind-inventions, not having insight into how their mind-inventions became lawful, got passed on into this literature and ended up as the third chapter of the Yoga-Sutra.
Perhaps Patanjali was himself one of these. It is possible to have siddhis yet lack insight into how they arise. Do these miraculous powers exist? Certainly. Almost all have experienced them, whether in his own life or witnessed in the lives of others. Anything is possible in one's world-dream.
The question with siddhis becomes: How much is your mind imbued with the Universal Power of God? If well imbued, you can invent the siddhis you like, which may indeed become usable techniques for others. (Whoever's mind is most with the Ground of Being becomes a lawgiver.)
In some cases the techniques given probably have metaphysical validity for many, such as the meditation on the heart area leading to reception of the thoughts of others. In other cases, it is clear to me that particular yogis have merely reported their own odd mind inventions which did work for them, but which were nonetheless their personal invented techniques."
Once the reality of siddhis is understood, the question arises: Should this chapter have even been written? My view is that the inclusion of the chapter on siddhis, in the Yoga-Sutra, is one of its embarrassing flaws. Not because of any unreality for siddhis, but because it betrays lack of understanding about the true nature of siddhis and had to create confusion.
COPYRIGHT 2011 Julian Lee.
All Rights Reserved.