Religious Knowledge, Spiritual Vision
Julian C. Lee Mickunas


The New Renderings,
New Ordering

The Summary Verses


Now a discussion of yoga.


Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.


So that the Seer, Purusha, comes to know Itself and abide in Its own real, fundamental nature.


 Whereas in the normal state (of human suffering) the Seer is assimilated with the mind, its transformations and products.


Yogic activity consists of purification by asceticism (tapah), japa, and devotion to The Lord.

The Essence of Yoga


The yogic observances are purity, contentment, austerities (tapah, tapas), japa,and devotion to the Lord.


These are practiced for reducing impurities, afflictions, and distractions and acquiring samadhi.


By svadhyaya is produced communion with the deity in the form favored by the devotee.

The Problem


Those who develop wisdom come to see all creation, externals, and perceivables as unsatisfactory, containing inherent suffering (such as anxiety). This on account of constant change, conditioning (karma), and due to the unstable, dualistic nature of the natural forces that underly phenomena and the movement of the mind itself. This is the problem that yoga is pursued to solve.


Samsara (worldly experience) is the result of inability to distinguish between creation and God though they are absolutely separate. By samyama on God (Purusa) as distinct from even the most attractive aspects of creation one gets knowledge of God.


The afflictions/distractions are: Ignorance, asmita (the sense of "I exist"), desire, aversion, and attachment.


Ignorance is the substrate of the other four, whether the four are in a dormant, reduced, controlled, or expanded state.


Ignorance is taking the non-eternal, impure, evil, and non-atman to be eternal, pure, good, and atman.


Asmita, or the sense "I exist," arises when Pure Consciousness, the power-of-knowing, gets associated with a body and its senses.


The afflictions are to be suppressed by meditation.


The suppression of distracting vrittis is attained by abhyasa and non-attachment.


That suffering which has not yet come can be warded off.


The cause of that suffering which should be warded off is the entanglement of the Seer with the seen.

10:1 (A.O.)

The problem is solved by getting established in samadhi, which is liberation.


The seen consists of the elements and the sense organs. It is of the nature of Prakriti. Its purpose is experience and liberation of the jiva.


The seen is for the purpose of serving Purusha.

On Preparation


Vairagya is the self-mastery in which one does not crave for objects, whether seen, unseen, or heard about.


The mind is assisted towards stillness and samadhi by responding with benignity, compassion, delight, and indifference respectively towards these four types of people: The fortunate, the suffering, the virtuous, and the sinful.


"Self-restraints, fixed observances, posture, pranayama, abstraction, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi are the eight limbs of yoga.

"The self-restraints are abstention from harming others, from falsehood, from theft, from incontinence, and from greed."


The necessary virya is obtained when the devotee gets established in continence.

On Meditation


Fixing the mind on one thing is dharana.


Continuous concentration on the object is dhyana.


When the meditator gets true realization of the meditation object, penetrating and knowing the object's real nature, unconscious of himself as mind or knowledge, it is samadhi.


The three taken together are called samyama.


The mind is said to be in the inhibited or intercepted state when moment-by-moment the mind is continuously inhibited (by the meditation object) and a samskara of inhibition is created.


The mind's flow becomes steady by samskaras.


Abhyasa is the effort towards becoming established in that state (of suppression).

Abhyasa becomes firmly-grounded when continued a long time without interruption and with reverence.

Samadhi comes soonest to those who desire it intensely.


Even among the ardent, there is the distinction of mild, medium, or intense means.

By svadhyaya is produced communion with the deity in the form favored by the devotee.

On Meditation Objects


By bhakti for the Lord (samadhi is attained).


Perfection of samadhi is attained by God-devotion.


The Lord God, Isvara, is a particular purusha (individual soul) in His own category, untouched by afflictions, works, the results of actions, or samskaras. 


He is omniscient.


Unconditioned by time. All greatness is His.


His evidence is the pranava, Aum.  


Or meditation on the mind of one who is free of desire.


In general on the dawning of transcendental perceptions the mind can be brought to stillness by fixing the mind on one of those.


Such as meditation on a radiant perception beyond sorrow.


One can meditate on the knowledge of dream or dreamless sleep.

10:2 (A.O.)

Meditation on akasa.


Or even on what appeals to him.


Samadhi is certainly attained by meditation on the richness of the pranava.


By mergence in pranava obstacles are destroyed, the consciousness turns inward.


Pranayama is to sit and cut off the flow of inbreath and outbreath. 


The inbreathing, outbreathing, and held operations, in terms of place, length, and number become progressively longer and more subtle. 


The fourth kind of pranayama is beyond the sphere of internal and external, and comes when the essential acts of puraka and rechaka have been comprehended. 

From that is dissolved the covering over light.


And fitness of the mind for dharana.

On Samadhi

In the highest vairagya, because of contact with Purusha, there is cessation of the least desire for any experience of the created world.


Then pratyahara, in which the senses finally imitate and follow the mind, likewise withdrawing themselves from their objects.


From pratyahara, supreme mastery over the senses.


Sabija samadhi is accompanied by gross thought, subtle thought, bliss, and the sense of "I am."


In sabija samadhi exists thought, knowledge related to words, and based on further sense perception, plus divine knowledge in mixed states and the mind alternates between them.


The other variety is Nirbija samadhi which contains only the subtle impressions (samskaras) of the first.


In one whose citta-vrittis are almost annihilated, fusion and entire absorption in one another of the cogniser, the cognition and the cognised occurs, as a transparent jewel placed near an object takes on that object's colors.


In Nirbija samadhi, all forms have vanished, memory is purified, the essence of the object alone shines forth.


By what has been said, the same two experiences, in the cases of meditation on subtle objects have also been revealed.


The province of subtle objects extends all the way up to the indissoluble level of prakriti.


The purity of Nirbija samadhi being attained, one knows pure light and prasad.


He has direct knowledge of things, different from knowledge based on testimony, inference.


His consciousness is truth- and right-bearing.


The samskaras produced by nirvikalpa samadhi overwrite other samskaras.


With the suppression of even the samskaras of sabija samadhi, one becomes established in Nirbija samadhi.

On Siddhis

10:3 (A.O.)

Siddhis, performed or experienced, are a fruit of either individual karma or grace.


By samyama on God as apart from creation, i.e. verse 3:35,  the faculties of divine hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell arise.

On destruction of impurities in the body and senses by tapas, occult powers arise.


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.


Siddhis can arise from birth, from drugs, mantra, tapas, or samadhi.


By samyama on the pit of the throat, the cessation of hunger and thirst.


By samyama (perfect meditation) on the heart, knowledge of the mind (of another).


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.


When the mind's tie to the body is loosened, and he develops knowledge of how his mind moves, he can enter other bodies.


By samyama on the pit of the throat, the cessation of hunger and thirst.


By samyama (perfect meditation) on the heart, knowledge of the mind.


By samyama on the relationship between his body and akasa, then merging with the idea of a light and floating things like feathers, cotton or dandelion tufts, he can move throughout space.


By mastering the udana he can float over water, mud, thorns, the earth, etc.


By samyama (perfect meditation) on the light in the head (bindu), the yogi gets the vision of the Siddhas.


By samyama on one's own bodily form, invisibility, because the connection between light and the body is disjoined.


His intuition develops and with it he can know anything.


When he is established in speaking constant truth his mere words get the power to actualize.


These are obstacles in the way of samadhi, powers when the mind is  outward-turned.


Siddhis are a fruit of samskaras, are endlessly varied, and are experienced in the realm of karma.

The State of the Sage


When he is a thoroughly discriminating man (knowing always the difference between God and creation), and when, fully contented by God, he no longer seeks even siddhis or any external fulfillment from his meditation, then dawns the samadhi called Raincloud of Goodness.

Metaphysics Of the Yoga-Sutra


The functions of the mind can always be known because of the constant nature of the Seer, the Lord, Purusha.


The transformation into another body (for another incarnation) is effected by the flow of prakritis; the jiva gets the body natural and appropriate to it.


Actions are neither white nor black in the case of sages, in the case of others they are of three kinds.


Having the three kinds of samskaras, they fruit variously as conditions become appropriate.


Even among the samskaras there is relationship
and they affect each other, though they may be
different, and though they may be separated by class, space, or time on account of correspondences.


And samskaras are without beginning because the will to live and desire for well-being are eternal.


But as they are bound together by cause, effect, substratum and support, samskaras are destroyed when those are destroyed.


Introduction |  The YS: Path To God-Knowledge  |  The Summary Verses
Western Confusion About Yoga  |  On Brahmacharya
The Essence of Yoga |  The Problem  |  On Preparation
On Meditation  |   On Meditation Objects |  On Inner Divine Light
On Aum  |   On the 4th Pranayama
 |   On Samadhi  |  On Siddhis |  The State Of The Sage  |  Yoga-Sutra Metaphysics  |  APPENDIXES

   The Yoga-Sutras on Miraculous Powers

Now for the Yoga-Sutra's famously 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 accounts.

The books "Miracle of Love" about the yogi Neem Karoli Baba, "Autobiography of a Yogi" by Yogananda, or of course the Christian New 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 translated as "perfections." Siddhis are occult powers/events that are possessed or experienced 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.

 — The 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:

10:3  (A.O.)

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 these 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 objects. Samyama is the final form of meditation after dharana (simple concentration) and after the middle state called dhyana (perfect continuous 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 chosen to get samadhi can be anything — "whatever appeals to him," that 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 itself is 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 know that individuals experience all kinds of unusual, miraculous things while 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 having amazing powers — siddhis indeed — while on the drug. Is this 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?

The 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 disciples of Christ or disciples witnessing multiplication of food around Neem Karoli Baba.

Answer: 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, whether 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 a 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 really true?

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 siddhis occurring 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 spots 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 lineage, 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 their  plane 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.

This subject of yogic siddhis in Chapter 3 matches to the Christian idea of the power of prayer. Working impacts by prayer is nothing but a kind of siddhi. Because we are like 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.

Originally the verse preceding this one, 3:35, refers to meditation on God (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 among the best of them since they are more enjoyable than, say, understanding the speech of an animal or knowing the locations of stars.

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 key to siddhis. So we should  understand that samyama on God (Purusha) brings all and any powers such as those listed below.

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 wonderful fragrances similar to incense, and endlessly varied scents 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.

With divine 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.

With divine 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 to verse 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 divine senses. The point to understand is that these — all five — are killers of sorrow; they are sorrowless perceptions.

The Development of the Divine Senses

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

The other sorrowless perceptions

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].

M.N. Dvivedi

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."

I.K. Taimni

"Thence are produced intuitional hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell."

Rama Prasada

Thence proceed prescience, higher hearing, touch, vision, taste, and smell.

Trevor Leggett

"From that arise supernormal knowledge and hearing, touch, sight, taste and awareness of events."

Hariharananda Aranya

"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 can infer 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 of higher 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.

As the yogi concentrates more and more on Purusha alone, loving God alone, and also sensing the difference between even ananda, and Purusha-alone, these beautiful divine perceptions arise. Thence pleasant smells of divine food, incense, pleasant smokes, flowers, inner radiant gems and lights, supernal valleys and lands, supernal skies, and other sense perceptions from the Lord.

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 activity or process), as Swami Muktananda probably would have said, and just one more passing thing? Is it that satva itself is the 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 which 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 perceptions. The 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 applies samyama to Purusha alone. From that alone, "knowledge of the difference" arises naturally.

This "knowledge-of-the-difference" is like a woman saying:

"I spend 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.

On destruction of impurities in the body and
senses by tapas, occult powers arise.

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.

From Birth

The first is saying that some are born with occult powers. We have seen or heard of this often. Somebody might 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.

From Drugs

This broaches a big question: When one experiences a miraculous power is he in ordinary consciousness or an altered consciousness?

Certainly we are well-aware that people under 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 damage by drugs resulting in powers? We have heard of people having accidents, such as brain or spine injuries, who are given  psychic abilities 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 dream and finding it was with me the next day —  I was not in totally 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 all "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 teach us 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 acknowledging the fact that for the drug user his siddhis or occult experiences, while under the influence, are real for him. So Patanjali is acknowledging that you can be a wizard and experience phantasmagorical worlds when you 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.

From Mantra

Chanting certain mantras in the right way and with the right attitude can get things done and make impacts.

From Tapas

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.

From Samadhi

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

Siddhis 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 the 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.

Siddhis evolve personally. Thus the technique that works for one might be different for another. The best way to explain this would be to launch right into comments on  a few samples from the siddhis verses. It will become clear.


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 description of 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 sleepers 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 out-of-body 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 early 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. Rinpoche.

Indeed, to understand the Great Bodiless consult your experiences of lucid dreaming and, if you have done it, astral projection experiences. Those familiar with these consider that experience or plane to be more real than the conventional worldly experience. The emotions are stronger and richer and the things seen more vivid. By comparison the physical world seems like a crass bad dream. Well, the daily waking world is indeed transitory and 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 return. This 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 being 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 many objects 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 astral plane, 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 the 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.

Now 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."  Rapid spiritual progress is possible through samadhi and, even in particular, through going about outside the body!

It would be fitting here to lay out some of the states of dreaming to understand how they compare to The Great Bodiless of samadhi:

Ordinary Dreaming

Many experiences, good and bad, which you may remember or not, with a many strong emotions experienced.

Lucid Dreaming

You become conscious of yourself as dreaming, even thinking "I am Robert" or "I am Martha" and I live in a blue house and am in my bed." In lucid dreaming you may be able to consciously and purposely interact with situations, ward off negatives, change and transform what you are seeing, etc. You are usually not fully in remembrance of your earthly identity, put only partly.

Astral Projection or True Out-Of-Body Experiences (OBE)

In these, developed with effort or as the fruit of karma, you often inhabit a world just like or very similar to the waking world. In fact it is a version of the waking world that you are holding together. It is normally seen as cleaner or more streamlined than the normal waking bedlam. Just like in waking life, you see persons, react to them, have agendas, fears and desires. You often find yourself amazed to be passing through walls, or under bodies of water, or flying through wonderful skies of this world. You move as swift as thought. You can sometimes make effects or alterations in the world that leave traces upon waking. One sign of the True OBE is that you wake up profoundly tired, unrested. Another sign of an OBE is that you see creatures or objects that are very strange to you, and you react to them just as you would react to them in the normal waking state. The strangeness of them is apparent to you in that state, and that same strangeness is remembered upon waking. Whereas in lucid dreaming the earth-ego is not fully there so your reactions are not the same and you often cannot register or remember all that you see even though very lucid. So for example, if you are floating in the air outside your house, around the 2nd floor outside the widow (that you just passed through), and you notice a shining coming toward you in the sky riding a bicycle — you would react to it just as you would in waking if you were in a strange place, in the dark, and a shining person began to float toward you — you would usually run or be frightened. (Just as you would if you were in a dark parking lot behind a bar and group started to walk toward you.) In real OBE's you are much more  yourself.  Still, a lot of the things that you do seem, just as in the waking state, subconsciously driven. You can pursue objectives that have their origin in the waking state. But this is mostly accomplished by auto-suggestion or self-programming in advance. The tendency is to forget about the crass world and not care about it, once in the lucid-dreaming or OB state.

The Great Bodiless (OBE associated with samadhi)

You can play and explore in the astral planes consciously, gradually getting to know the territory which is a territory controlled by thought, notion, and allusion. You may or may not pursue missions and agendas. If entertaining a strong desire in the waking state, perhaps to help a loved one or to punish an evil doer, The Great Bodiless allows you to hang onto that objective while passing over, then to do works on the astral plane related to your objective. This is because you are more conscious of being "Mark" or "Stephen who is going into samadhi from his chair in Burlington." The memory of the objective can be retained longer. In the other states it is harder to hold on to worldly objectives. However, experience with the astral planes makes the yogi less and less interested in the problems of the world. Only a strong plea or emotion by another succeeds in directing him toward worldly goals from the higher plane. Experience with the luminous, fantastic, and emotionally rich astral states makes the religious person increasingly disinterested in the gross world and little attracted to anything in it.

Various occult powers flower through samadhi and the associated Great Bodiless. Most of these will happen naturally, with no desire by the yogin, and they are in some measure the fruit of karma — both of past lives or the fruit of the particular sadhana he is doing now. One can't really predict which siddhis he will experience or which ones will interest him, and he will of course be inventing his own constantly.


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 of another.

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 it 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 an aspect 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 creative ideas — of the individual religionist. This has to be emphasized through 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 his.

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 earthly 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 well as giving him information. This Sutra verse implies that with spiritual development — with the enlargement of being that comes from knowing 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 happening to 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 something 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, yet 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 inevitable, a  feature of natural law and one of the ways of grace. It is as if 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 — he 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.

The true 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, mother-son, etc

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 inhabit him.

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 this, some transference of the devotees problems, or their state, to the siddha.

For example, in one case a devotee had 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 remission."

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 from 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 animals, demons, and tribesmen as it happens in the book — often has unforeseen consequences and the adept can forget who he is, or at least who 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 floating things like feathers, cotton or dandelion tufts, he can move throughout space.

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 could involve being seen by "others" or witnesses who report or verify it, i.e. 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 did!" This is the way a lot of siddhis happen. In other words, there is often some 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 walked 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 can propose 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 mentions water and mud) similar to the walking-on-water siddhi shown by Jesus Christ.  Meanwhile the second seems to refer to a more cosmic movement, teleportation through the vast distances of 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 the more 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 enables both? (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 and 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 up.

There is a great deal of confusion in the scriptures, in the commentaries, and multifarious books and talks — about the pranas in general. Much scope to become confused, such that upon reading several sources one may not even know what prana is as contrasted to apana, because these are described in various bewildering ways.

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 text, many 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 down 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 out-breath.

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 the confusion by speaking of a "forward-going" prana (bold is Sankara, non-bold is Vyasa):

"Of that 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 "downward 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 in the 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. 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 experiences udana 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 the udana 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 body 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 not in  normal earthly consciousness.. Especially it would happen if 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.

In brief, abiding in the udana state, or the "I want to float up" state after attaining the equalized breath, you'll eventually have a float while in the body.

As to the first, clearly the element of 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 to do 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 helps with that local errand as well.

The existence of these two verses prescribing 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 lives of yogins..

The second presented verse refers to 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 is disjoined.

This is an important sutra because it touches on important metaphysical ideas connected to siddhis and to life itself and allows them to be broached.

The verse implies the steady 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 only 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 experiences. And by what metaphysical principle would entertaining a fanciful image of ourselves grant us invisibility to others?

The answer is: If one's samyama on that 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.

In sleep....

There is a phenomenon in yoga in which the 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 gross world?

One of the more fanciful Sutra siddhi listings, one looking like a creative technique by some yogi, deals with the power of invisibility. His involved meditation on his own physical form. This yogi got the strong notion that if he imagined his own body clearly enough, as a picture, it would make him invisible, and it worked. Such is the power of samyama. More importantly, he had it worked out in his head, a metaphysics in his head, about why this should work. He probably also had "conditioning" for this going back incarnations (related to his theory). The God-soaked mind empowers whatever notions you give it! Why he managed to give himself invisibility with this method was a function of his own conditioning and karma. The yogi might have effected invisibility by some other plan, such as meditating on himself as clear glass, etc. But this yogi mused that perfect concentration on himself would blot out or interfere with the ability of the sun to touch him, so at some time, in some place, around particular witnesses in his unique karmic world-dream — it worked.

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

Many siddhis happen associated with God-seeking persons outside of their control or intention. Through the God-seeking person, God likes to play.


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 strong in them — the more their intuition touches. Yogananda referred to this 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 situations 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 mothers 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.

— A 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.
— A person looks at me from a distance on the street, I immediately feel them and the things they are thinking.
— I am about to use a food processor to make a fruit smoothie. Something tells me to look inside first, and I see that an ill-behaving neighbor boy has dropped screws and metal objects into the machine waiting to destroy it were I to have turned it on.
— Some one is thinking of me with a lot of emotion and I hear their voice calling my name.
— I turn down a corner and feel the presence of a car containing someone I'd rather avoid. I stop and remain unseen, and presently that very car indeed passes by.
— In my astrology practice I came to find intuition at play. One of the ways this worked is that I know about a person's character by the sound of their voice. I sometimes avoid working with a client because I know intuitively that they will be very difficult or will not have success with the advice.

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 person or 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  intuition.

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 fact that 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 intuition. 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, asserting 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.


  Satya-pratisthayam kriya-phalasra-yatvam.

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 bearing.'

The Leggett translation says:

" 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 the verse. He has constructed it to imply successful prediction or prophecy. Other commentators simply say the yogi's words are merely influential or have impact.

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 to activity. It refers to a thing becoming physically true, or actualized, thus I rendered it that way.

I have removed this 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 he 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 soon." 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 is often interpreted as meaning the conscious exercise of siddhis should be avoided. However, that's not exactly what the verse says. It simply says they are powers when the mind is outward, and that they can't be enjoyed or exercised consciously at the same time that one is in samadhi. The verse does not say it is actually possible to avoid them in the outward state. And I believe that it is, in fact, not possible for an advanced yogi to to avoid having siddhi-impact on his environment when in the normal world-turned state, even should he at times wish  not to have such impact. He has to, in fact, learn to control it. For example, he may have to learn to strenuously avoid entertaining angry thoughts toward anyone he loves — no matter what.

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 Experience

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 mind when reading Patanjali's enumeration of yogic miracles. The central technique behind most 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 kundalini
(baptism by the Holy Spirit)
 — Bliss and devotion at the sight of religious things
 — Bliss and devotion felt in church, or on sight of a priest or nun
 — Bliss and bhakti felt at the sound of religious singing in church or elsewhere
 — Sounds of the bumblebee, the chimes, the vina, the gong, and sounds of knocking in the ears
 — Sight of true things at a distance,
 — hearing of things at a distance
 — intuitive knowledge of true things, including the thoughts of others
 — inner light (bindu)
 — inner sound (nada)
 — movements of the body (kriyas)
 — hot penetrations of the head, feet, and hands
 — sudden bit by a snake on the finger or foot
 — expulsions of the breath
 — spontaneous kumbhaka
 — divine taste and divine smell
 — tongues and languages
 — samadhi or pratyahara taking place spontaneously
 — Visions of the guru or other forms of the Lord, as if looking at a real thing in front of one's self
 — Visions of one's self, as if looking at a real person but seeing that it is yourself
...and other signs.

When they happen, the religious person should take it as a sign of God's pleasure and let it give them confidence they are on the right path. Generally speaking, the incidents should not be shared with anybody but one's guru, close spiritual brother, or suitable family members. However, it is erroneous when "spiritual people" disparage the seeker who notices these things, or brings them up, saying things like "You shouldn't focus on phenomena." One focuses on God alone in meditation, and when talking often discusses absurd and mundane trivialities like what's for dinner. Certainly these developments are some of the most important in one's life, and they are meant to give you encouragement. God wants you to be encouraged by them and genuinely confirmed that you are on the right path. He loves to give you signs and encouragement that you are progressing, exactly like a loving mother and father loves to encourage their striving children by giving them rewards and evidence of progress.

Those posing as your spiritual mentor who demean them or trivialize these phenomena associated with religion (yoga) are in error. Perhaps they are inexperienced or simply jealous. Know who to bring them to!

On the other hand, you should tell about them except for good cause an in the right way. Neem Karoli Baba said: "If you talk about your wealth or your sadhana, both go away." Just as a wife does not tell her friends everything about what happens between herself and her husband on the marriage bed, God does not want you to speak promiscuously about everything that happens between you and He. The best things should be kept private. Some things can be spoken to the sincere to encourage them and give them faith in religion and the eternal path of God-knowledge. The list above was given, in fact, to encourage the yogis and give men and women a new interest in religion and its mysteries. But proceed with caution.


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. 

Introduction |  The YS: Path To God-Knowledge  |  The Summary Verses
Western Confusion About Yoga  |  On Brahmacharya
The Essence of Yoga |  The Problem  |  On Preparation
On Meditation  |   On Meditation Objects |  On Inner Divine Light
On Aum  |   On the 4th Pranayama
 |   On Samadhi  |  On Siddhis |  The State Of The Sage  |  Yoga-Sutra Metaphysics  |  APPENDIXES

COPYRIGHT 2011 Julian Lee.
All Rights Reserved.

The Chidakasha Gita
Of Nityananda and Commentary


The Yoga-Sutra On Kumbhaka and The Breathless State
Julian C. Lee Mickunas



Devotion, love of God, emotional feeling directed to God.
The Yoga-Sutra's word for God or Saguna Brahman, the Supreme Soul, original Person, all-powerful creator of the manifest universes.
Individualized consciousness, all the separate "I"s other than God, like the Christian idea of soul.

Affliction, impurity, taint

Nirguna Brahman
God as pure consciousness, with the only attributes being sat-chit-ananda or being, consciousness, and bliss. Human beings merge with Nirguna Brahman nightly in dreamless sleep, covered by a film of nescience or unconsciousness. Often when "Brahman" us used alone it refers to Nirguna Brahman.

rishi or rsi
Yogic sage, holy man of India, literally "forest sage."

Saguna Brahman
God in a manifested form with other attributes, such as creatorship, etc. Conceptualizations of Saguna Brahman include Vishnu, Shiva, the all western ideas of God, Isvara, etc.
Complete stoppage  of thoughts and absorption in one of the levels of consciousness above waking, while in the waking state. Samadhi can be savikalpa or nirvikalpa. The first is awareness of the dream state while awake. The 2nd is awareness of the bliss of the dreamless state while awake. Mergence in God. Saguna Brahman or Isvara is considered to pertain to the dreaming state; Nirguna Brahman to deep dreamlessness or pure consciousness.

"Impression." A mark on consciousness "This happened, I was this." Similar to memory.

Miraculous power.
Austerities, penances, practices of bodily mortification and renunciation.

The inner energy or  potency that is gained by celibacy. Similar to the concept of ojas built up by chastity. Fundamental inner virtue from celibacy.

Women's American Body Yoguh