Can we gain supernatural powers through meditation?
Siddhis, Plural of Siddhi. Siddhis are the extraordinary powers of a yogi. A yogi becomes the master of all forces in nature and can use them according to his will. He is in complete control of the elements. This is called siddhis.
Swami Sivananda on the right way to deal with Siddhis
Yoga aims to control the mind. By practicing yoga methodically, miraculous powers, siddhis, can be attained. The science of yoga promises as the fruit of such practices the attainment of the ability to make oneself invisible, to make oneself infinitely great or infinitely light, to take on other forms, to change the course of nature and to acquire all other miraculous powers.
Jnanins can do whatever they want with their physical bodies through the power of Satsankalpa. Kabir turned his body into roses with the help of his will. It became a rose bush. Tiruvalluvar will force his body to turn into gold. Naikka Vasagar's body became a mass of radiant light. All of these are siddhis.
A yogi immediately grasps the samskaras of his students through his inner eye and knows their weaknesses and faults, and prescribes the right kind of sadhana for them to quickly eradicate them. A jnani can do that too. What a yogi does to siddhis through his yogic samyama or simultaneous dharana, dhyana and samadhi, a jnani can do through the power of his satsankalpa.
A student of Samarth Ramadas transferred his spiritual power to the daughter of a dancer who was very passionate about him. The student looked her in the eye. Her passion evaporated. She became pious and religious. Sakti Sanchar, the transmission of powers, can be practiced by a yogi through gaze, touch, or sankalpa. Transmitting spiritual power is also siddhi.
In the higher stages of spiritual life, speaking has little to do with communication. Telepathic waves can be sent to the mind by merely wanting and thinking. These telepathic abilities belong to the siddhis.
There are nine great powers (riddhis), eight major powers (siddhis), and eighteen minor powers.
The eight major siddhis are:
- Animan: the ability to take on a very small shape;
- Mahiman: The ability to take on immense form;
- Gariman: The ability to get very heavy;
- Laghiman: The ability to become very light;
- Prapti: the ability to realize all desires;
- Prakamya: irresistible will;
- Ishitva: Great refinement;
- Vashitva: mastery of all things.
The word riddhi is used for less great abilities. One should not think too often about these siddhis, psychic powers. Clairvoyance and clairaudience do not need to be acquired, as one can achieve greater enlightenment and deeper peace without them. The desire for strength acts like a gust of wind that extinguishes the lamp of yoga, which it should carefully maintain.
The burning of the flame diminishes when one becomes carefree or indulges in the egoistic desire for spiritual strength. If the little spiritual flame that the student had lit with so much effort goes out, then this pushes him back down into the deep abyss of ignorance. He can no longer rise to the original heights that he had already reached. The temptation has been waiting to overwhelm the careless student. The charm of the astral world and the heavenly minstrels of Gandharva is more powerful than that of the earthly world.
Mental and other forces awaken in the yogi who has learned to control his senses, his breath and his thoughts. But these are obstacles to self-realization, temptations for the student, who should be vigilant and resolutely turn away from these forces as from a worthless triviality.
Regular meditation and concentration make you receptive to mental powers. But these may not be used for base and egoistic purposes in order to gain this or that material advantage. Otherwise our mother, nature will punish us and lead us to fall. Action and reaction correspond as opposites. Every bad deed will trigger a corresponding response.
Power, gender, money, and education are powerful intoxicants. Whoever owns it does not know what he is doing; for his mind is darkened and his understanding obscured. But you will not meet the disciple who is strong in the practice of the yoga virtues and in yama, self-control.
There are no miracles. Only everyday people, who no longer know anything about spiritual things and who have closed themselves to all transcendent knowledge, consider events or facts that fall out of the ordinary to be miracles. To the sage who sees things in the light of yoga, miracles mean nothing. Just as a villager is amazed when he sees an airplane or a sound film for the first time, the everyday person who witnesses a "supernatural" process for the first time is amazed.
Siddhis in legends of saints
The Siddhis of Chang Dev
A yogi named Chang Dev rode a tiger into Alandi, near Poona, where yogi Jnaneshwar lived. He had a snake as a whip in his hand to impress the yogi with his powers and his power over nature. Jnaneshwar was ready to receive him. He and his brothers and sisters climbed the wall that fenced off his house and ordered the wall to carry him towards its visitor, and the wall did as it commanded.
The Siddhis of Manoor
Mansoor was a great and famous SufiBrahma Jnani. He lived in Multan (Pakistan) around 400 years ago. He kept repeating "Analhaq, Analhaq". This corresponds to the “Soham” or “Aham Brahmasmi” of the Vedantins. People said to the badsha at the time that Mansoor was an [[atheist] (kafir) and that he was always reciting "Analhaq, Analhaq". The badsha was quite outraged. He ordered that Mansoor be cut into pieces. And so it was cut into pieces. But even then, the pieces of meat continued to recite "Analhaq, Analhaq". He felt no pain as he was a mature samadhi jnani and fully identified with brahman. It was above body awareness. He was a videha (in reality disembodied). Then they burned the pieces of meat in the fire. Even then they mumbled "Analhaq".
Shams Tabriez - the siddhis of an Islamic mystic
Shams Tabriez was another Brahma Jnani from Multan. He too lived about 400 years ago. He was a Hindu sannyasin. He had one of the ten sannyasi names Puri. Mohammedans gave him the name Shams Tabriez to suit their side. He was also disliked by the Badsha at the time because of his recitation of "Analhaq". One day he was very hungry. Someone gave him a piece of raw meat. He asked a few people for a fire to roast the piece of meat. Everyone refused, because if they helped him, they would be punished by the badsha.
Shams Tabriez then held the piece of meat in his hand out to the sun and said, “Oh sun, come down at once and roast this piece of meat for me. I'm very hungry. ”Immediately the sun came down and roasted his piece of meat. Shams Tabriez ate it with glee. The scorching sun began to burn the people of Multan and the Badsha. The Badsha trembled and knelt in front of Shams Tabriez and said, “Forgive me, sir. Make the sun go back to its original place or we will all die. "
Thereupon Shams Tabriez ordered, “Oh sun, return to your original place.” The sun obeyed the command of the Jnani and returned to its old place. A Jnani is God himself. He can do anything through Satsankalpa (pure will or determination). He is the king of kings even if he has no treasure. What is a pathetic badsha before a sannyasin, the ruler of rulers? Shams Tabriez was skinned on the badsha's orders, and yet he just laughed, he laughed through and through.
Kabir and his siddhis
Kabir's body turned into flowers, half of which were buried by Hindus in Benares and the other half were buried in Maghar. The body of sage Tiruvalluvar turned to gold when he died. The bodies of some saints in South India became a collection of light when they died. Saints can do anything they want.
Siddhis do not prevent a yogi's illnesses
It is true that Buddha died by purifying the body, Shankara died of hemorrhoids, Ramakrishna died of cancer, Vivekananda of diabetes, Ramana Maharshi had cancer, Swami Sivananda suffered from severe diabetes and athritis. Even if a wise man has a physical illness, it does not affect him because he does not identify with the body. There is no body for him in his mind. He doesn't care about his body. For him, the body is a sheathed shell. A developed Hatha Yogi who possesses Kaya Siddhi can never have any disease because he has a steely body.
Siddhis are not really miracles
There is actually no such thing as miracles or siddhis. The normal person just doesn't know anything about higher, spiritual things. He's sunk into oblivion. He is cut off from higher, transcendent knowledge. So he calls an unusual occurrence or occurrence a miracle. To a yogi who understands things in the light of yoga, nothing is a miracle. Only a villager is amazed when he sees an airplane or a cinema for the first time, and just as a worldly person is stunned when he witnesses an extraordinary spectacle for the first time.
Refrain from performing siddhis
Performing siddhis is not a criterion by which to measure a person's level of spirituality. Anyone who displays siddhis for selfish reasons is a very worldly person. Soon he'll fall. Sometimes a yogi may show a student a miracle to convince him of the existence of supernatural things and to encourage him on the spiritual path. Queen Chudalai floated above the ground in front of her husband Sikhidhvaja in the form of Kumbha Muni to instill in him a strong belief in yoga.
A yogi came to Calcutta and performed the feat of drinking pure nitric acid, swallowing nails and chewing pieces of glass in the auditorium of the university. My friend Sri Srinivasa Poddar was there on this occasion. The people were amazed with amazement. He licked up the acid like honey. But he was a purely commercial person. He demonstrated these feats to anyone who could pay 301 rupees. Can there be just a touch, even a spark of spirituality or true yoga where business is done? I leave it up to the reader to judge. The poor yogi died in Rangoon as a result of carelessness with his kriyas. There is really nothing extraordinary about these feats. It is mere Sammohana Vidya, Indra Jalam or Preta Vidya. There are herbs to counteract the negative effects of acids and broken glass.
Do not cling to siddhis
Only an uncultivated person runs after siddhis, miraculous powers. Siddhis have no spiritual value. Worldly people are in love with people who show siddhis and curiously run after them. They succumb to the misconception that people performing siddhis are true mahatmas or jivanmuktas. This is wrong. Patanjali Maharshi also says: "Siddhis are only considered perfection by an undisciplined mind, but are real obstacles to spiritual meditation (Chapter III-37)."
Siddhis have no real place in spiritual life. You must mercilessly ignore them even if they occur in the course of your sadhana. And they are sure to occur. Siddhis and Riddhis dance around the feet of a yogic student who has brought the senses under control and is practicing concentration. You stand with your hands folded to obey the practicing yogi. But he shouldn't pay any attention to them. Only then can he advance on the spiritual path. One can only achieve emancipation if one also drops omniscience and omnipotence as worthless. They are nothing compared to the highest, immortal riches of Moksha or Kaivalya.
Tips for developing siddhis
If you concentrate the mind on the tip of your nose, you will hear supersensible smells (Divya Gandha), if you concentrate it on the tip of your tongue, you will experience supernatural taste; supernatural sound at the base of the tongue; Supernatural color on the palate. These supernatural experiences will give you encouragement and strengthen you in the conviction of the truths of yoga. They will drive you to practice yoga in a disciplined manner in order to attain the highest realization.
A yogi who has controlled his indriyas and prana, and practices concentration and deep meditation, naturally attains different types of siddhis (hidden powers). The siddhis are obstacles on the way to knowledge. A yogi should not bother with these siddhis at all if he wants to get ahead and achieve the highest knowledge and the ultimate goal. Whoever chases after Siddhis will become the greatest worldly minded person, the greatest household man there is. Self-knowledge is the only goal.
Do not let siddhis lead you astray
Whatever siddhis and riddhis you may attain, do not deviate from your spiritual path and from your lakshya (meditation object). Treat them like poison, like dung or straw.
If you meditate regularly, you acquire one or the other supernatural ability, that's for sure. Do not use these forces for lower, selfish purposes, for one or the other material gain. You will only fall. Nature will punish you. Action and reaction are equally strong and face each other. Every wrong act causes a reaction. It will bounce back on you and bring you ruin. Don't make yourself a pimp for psychic abilities. I am warning you in all seriousness. Be careful. Power, the opposite sex, knowledge, they all work like strong drugs. Whoever owns them doesn't really know what they're doing. His mind is clouded. His understanding is obscured. These forces will not be able to seduce you if you are practiced in the practice of yama, self-restraint.
Just as you treat cows, so do devatas treat people and disciples. The devatas put serious obstacles in the way of the seeker. You tempt them. They especially attract the advanced students. Above all, respect the advanced students. Respect them, but ruthlessly reject siddhis or temptations. Only then can you move on along the way. If you give in to their temptations, if you become a slave to the siddhis, you will be hopelessly torn down. Oh seeker, be careful!
Siddhis are definitely detrimental to achieving the ultimate goal in life. One becomes ready for immortality only when one leaves behind all the joys of this world and other worlds, including those of Indra and Brahma. Siddhis tempt the yogi to run into the sensual realms. The motives with which one strives for siddhis in the beginning may be pure, but suppressed desires will suddenly arise and lead the student astray. Constant prayer and a strong belief in God are the medicine for all ailments. Gradually develop passionlessness towards worldly things, including the body. Be careful at all times.
Spiritual experiences and siddhis
Higher spiritual experiences have nothing to do with colors and sounds. It's about inner joy, peace and balance. The mind should be balanced in success and failure, joy and sorrow, honor and shame. The pairs of opposites should be overcome. Raga-Dvesha should go. Cosmic love should rule. The whole world should become the manifestation of the Most High God. There should be freedom from all kinds of fear and pain. That is the true nature of high spiritual experiences.
The word Bhagavan denotes one who possesses the six superhuman powers or six qualities, namely anima (becoming the size of an atom), and an inexhaustible store of righteousness (Dharma), of fame (Yasas), of abundance (Sree), of dispassion (Vairagya) and knowledge (Jnana). In some books you can find aisvarya, vibhuti, siddhis and bala (omnipotence) instead of anima and dharma.
Many people approach the yoga practice with curiosity and expectation to develop powers and awaken Kundalini, and they practice sirshasana and various other yoga practices. Nobody stays with the exercises for long. After three months they stop practicing. This is not good. It takes dedication and perseverance, patience and tenacity to achieve sweeping success and siddhi. Mere emotions are not enough.
The more energy the Sadhaka brings in, the faster the success in yoga.You cannot expect to have siddhis just by opening and closing your nostrils for three to six months. Whoever has mastered Yama and Niyama, whoever has mastered the posture, can practice Pranayama. He will undoubtedly succeed.
Siddhis as obstacles to samadhi
- A lecture by Sukadev Bretz 2020 -
Commentary on the Yoga Sutra by Patanjali, chapter 3, verse 38
Siddhis as Side Effects of Samadhi
"Te samadhavupasarga vyutthane siddhayah"
“For samadhi these (faculties) are obstacles; for the outwardly directed they are supernatural forces "
This verse can of course be interpreted in different ways. There are many different ways of interpreting the third chapter in particular. Sukadev, for interpretation, usually resorts to the comments of his master, Swami Vishnu-devananda. This follows the very classic commentaries of Ishvara, Krishna and Vyasa.
Te = you; samadhi = super consciousness; upasarga = obstacle, side effect; vyutthana = awakening, directed outwards; siddhayah = powers. Patanjali writes "Te samadhavupasarga". Te, it means, the supernatural abilities that are coming.
Uparasaga, can be translated, on the one hand, with side effects. One could understand it in such a way that all the supernatural powers such as clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairaudience, claustrophobia, sensing the needs of others or perceiving other astral planes are side effects of samadhi. So appear automatically as soon as one has achieved the ability to samadhi.
On the other hand, Upasarga can also be translated with an obstacle. Depending on whether you view Upasarga as an obstacle or a side effect, this of course has different implications. So, some commentators on the Yoga Sutra say that all siddhis are nothing more than obstacles.
Siddhis as a way to samadhi
Sukadev sees it differently. Why should Patanjali devote a whole chapter to how to acquire extraordinary skills, only to then dismiss them as obstacles that should not be practiced. This doesn't make any sense. He describes that these skills are something we can develop. He describes them as side effects of samadhi, so if you develop supernatural abilities you may have attained samadhi.
Another possible interpretation is that these are Vyutthana, Siddhayah. This means the following: Siddhayah are on the one hand forces but Siddhi also has something to do with success. That is, something that you have strived for. So you could say, for one thing, these extraordinary abilities come as a side effect of samadhi. On the other hand, you can also cultivate it consciously. Ultimately, it can be said that these vibhutis, these extraordinary abilities, as Patanjali calls them, will ultimately help you. They help you develop more empathy for yourself and for others. They help you to have more compassion and love and they also help you to have better access to intuition and guidance.
So just strive for samadhi and these special skills will come to you all by themselves, as an upasarga, as a side effect. Or you can consciously cultivate it by using samyama. These articles will help you cultivate these skills in a pure and sattvic way. They will help you on your way to more understanding, love, compassion and to experience guidance through a higher reality.
Video - Siddhis as Obstacles
In the third chapter of the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali describes various techniques of concentration and meditation with which different siddhis can be cultivated. In particular, he recommends those types of meditation that cultivate intuition, empathy, love and compassion. But he also warns that siddhis can also become obstacles. Here are two video presentations:
Siddhis as Obstacles - Yogasutra III 38
Subtle beings and angels - temptations through heavenly beings
- A lecture by Sukadev Bretz 2020 -
Commentary on the Yoga Sutra by Patanjali 3rd chapter, verse 52
Patanjali writes: “If heavenly beings invite him, the yogi should avoid pleasure or pride. Because it threatens the revival of the undesirable ”.
Consequences of Connection with Heavenly Beings
Patanjali speaks here of sthanis, heavenly beings, subtle beings. One can be invited by these "upanimandrane". There is a great risk that you will like it and get attached to it, become Sangar and become proud and enjoy it. When that happens, there is prasangat, resuscitation. All of the undesirable, Anichtha, can then be revived, come back to you. Therefore, Akharana, avoid this development. When you release attachments, when you learn to break away from the physical, all sorts of things can happen.
Out of body experiences - perceptions
Patanjali has described techniques how we can go on a out of body experience. How we can hear, feel, taste, smell. How we leave this physical body, how we can master the elements. If we use these techniques, then of course we also get into more subtle worlds and can perceive something there.
Forms of beings
One can perceive very different shtani. There are the Pretas, these are the dead, the earthbound spirits. There are also the various natural beings. Just like the elementals, the gnomes, the earth spirits. Or the fire spirits, the salamanders. There are the air spirits, the elves and the fairies. Then there are the sylphs, which are also forms of the air spirits. There are the mermaids and the undines, those are the water spirits. Then there are the dryads, the tree spirits. There are guardian spirits in certain places. There are the Aegreheri, they are the protective beings for certain regions and peoples or cities. There are the keepers of holy places and so on.
In addition, there are the devas, the beings of light. They take on higher-level tasks. If you control your mind, it can happen more and more often that you find access to the higher worlds. Then it may be that you will be invited somewhere.
Interpretations of the Patanjali verse in two ways
One interpretation would be: do not get involved with subtle beings. The second would be “avoid pleasure, attachment, and pride.” So if you ever perceive subtle beings, don't cling to them. Do not go into the next meditation with the intention of seeing subtle beings again. Don't be proud of it either, don't imagine anything on it. Take note of it and do not feel better than others just because you perceive subtle beings.
Invocation of angels, devas and other subtle beings
There are also yoga directions and other spiritual directions such as shamanic directions, where work is particularly conscious with subtle beings. Where you call on angels, you go to holy places, where you consciously make contact with these beings and ask them to lead you to higher levels. This can be helpful and lead to intense experiences. But one shouldn't be attached to it. Don't even hope to meet her again. And don't feel better than others because you experience them. But one must also be aware of one thing: the subtle beings are subtle beings because they are not God-realized. They can be helpful to you to a certain extent. But they are not God-realized.
Trials of the aspirants by subtle beings
And so the Indian scriptures are also full of the fact that, for example, the Devas, the angelic beings, the light beings, and beginner aspirants help and support them. But then, as the aspirants develop, put obstacles in their way. Sometimes this is interpreted as a test, but sometimes it is also said that they have a certain jealousy. Because the devas did not achieve God-realization. The angels are not God-realized, otherwise they would not be angels and instead God-realized.
An exemplary analogy from everyday working life: suppose you are a simple employee in a company and you run into one of the directors, board members. Maybe you stayed in the office longer, and so did the board member. Typically, he'll be more jovial with you, and if you need simple tip or advice, he may give it to you. But woe, you have then progressed further in the company hierarchy and are on the level below the company board, then you seem to be more of a threat to him. Then he may be more likely to put obstacles in your way.
It is similar with the angelic beings: they will help you get started. But on the “higher levels” you can no longer hope for the help of the angels, but you have to go beyond the angels.
Summary for dealing with the subtle beings
There are two interpretations:
- 1. When you are in contact with subtle beings, avoid attachment and pride
- 2. Be aware that subtle beings can help you to a certain extent. But at some point they become obstacles.
If you want to know more about this topic, you can read my book “The Yoga Wisdom of Patanjali for People of Today”. Or you can go to our website, where you will find extensive comments on every verse of the Yoga Sutra. Likewise the word for word translation and there are also the dates of Raja Yoga seminars. The exercises are always guided in these. You can find information on the Yoga Vidya website.
Video - Temptations by Angels
Temptations by Angels - Yoga Sutra III 52
How to get Siddhis, supernatural powers
- A lecture by Sukadev Bretz 2019 -
Commentary on the first two verses of the Yoga Sutra fourth chapter.
Siddhis are either innate or obtained through herbs, mantras, ascetic practices, or samadhi.
In the third chapter Patanjali spoke about the vibhutis, about the extraordinary abilities, also called the siddhis, the special abilities. And he spoke in particular of samyama, as a source of extraordinary abilities.
But supernatural abilities come not only from samyama and thereby samadhi, but also from other sources. Not every person who has supernatural abilities is therefore advanced on the spiritual path. And so there are people who have their powers through Nisargaja - innate. Maybe they did one of the other things in a previous life and that's why it's innate in this life.
For example, I once knew someone when I met them he was probably around twenty. I myself was of a similar age and he once told me that he grew up in a family of art lovers. The parents were also gallery owners, they often got modern art and pictures and later sold them and they hung in the apartment in between. And sometimes he liked the pictures and sometimes he didn't like them at all. At some point he had discovered that if he wanted to, and stared at a picture that he imagined, a nail would come out of the wall, then that nail would start shaking and then the nail would fall out and then the picture is with the nail fell down. And he was born with this ability and he used it regularly and soon his parents knew they had to ask their son if he liked the picture, because if he didn't like it then it suddenly fell down. And after he told me that he showed me that we were just a few meters away from a log house, there was a thick old rusty iron nail in a tree trunk from which this log house was made, such a Canadian log house, he pointed there and I looked there, and then I saw this nail start shaking, and so out of the blue it wasn't an earthquake but it started shaking, then it slowly went out and fell down.
So he was born with djanmar, that ability. And so there are some other people who have innate abilities. This person was otherwise not so advanced on the spiritual path, on the contrary, he also had various psychological problems. But he had the innate ability to rip nails out of the wall without tools.
Skills through drugs or herbs
The next option is aushadhi. Aushadhi are so-called drugs or herbs. With drugs and herbs, one can move into other levels of consciousness and acquire extraordinary abilities in the process. There are the various shamanic cultures that sometimes use drugs to bring themselves into ecstasy and then make contact with subtle beings, maybe there also ask spirits for help, can heal illnesses and many other things.
I myself come from a certain yoga direction, Yoga Vedanta and we avoid using drugs, mind-altering herbs, etc. It's a dangerous thing and it doesn't strengthen the mind either. Nevertheless, I know that with Yoga Vidya a number of people have come on the spiritual path through drug experiences and changes in consciousness through drug experiences.
But we don't use drugs, also because it's dangerous, also because it messes up the astral body. Also because our goal is not to achieve siddhis. But it is a possibility. If people want to develop extraordinary skills, aushadhi, drugs, would also be possible.
Skills through mantra - sound energy
The third possibility is through mantra, through sound energy. One could also say mantra and rituals. I was also present at extraordinary rituals, where many mantras were used and where people then also demonstrated certain siddhis.
I was at the Global Village Peace Festival in Berlin in 1983, on this occasion Swami Vishnu also flew over the Berlin Wall and that was before the fall of the Wall in an ultralight aircraft as a demonstration for peace. And then at the same time there was the Global Village Peace Festival and then there was, for example, a fire run. And during this fire run, mantras were sung beforehand and puja was done and the priest, he also did a very special sadhana there for some time, but this was combined with a lot of mantras. And then finally the divine mother was invoked, because the fire running ceremony was a ritual to worship the divine mother, the fire was lit, the wood was lit, it burned down until it was glowing charcoal.
Then the priest took some of this charcoal in his bare hands and offered it to the Divine Mother. His hands were neither burned nor broken, but for a few seconds he had these glowing charcoals in his hands, perhaps even half a minute. Then we walked over the glowing charcoal, but not first put our feet in cold water, as is usually done in fire walking ceremonies, and we didn't walk over it either, but we walked slowly over it.
Because I had read a report shortly beforehand, in the then esoteric magazine Esotera by a parapsychologist who said fire-running was not parapsychology at all but just very brief contact of the skin with the glowing coal and therefore nothing would happen. I walked over there very slowly and even stopped for a moment and then went on. And so I know for sure that my feet weren't blistered, it wasn't just a test of courage, it was definitely an extraordinary phenomenon.
The mantras that were chanted were able to protect the body from fire. Or another thing I saw was the so-called Kavadi ceremony. That was also at the Global Village Peace Festival, there was a group of Malaysians who performed a worship ritual for muruga subramania sharabanabhava and then three times a day pujas with special mantras, with special music and finally one of these Malaysians is in ecstasy fell and then he was held by two people and two others then pierced his body with spears. 108 spears that got under the skin, then there was a structure that the spears stayed in, tongue pulled out, knife stuck through, and then also a spear through the cheeks and also one through the forehead. And then, he ran then, two or three hours, or danced through the streets of Berlin in a procession, with music and mantras all the time. No blood flowed and at the end of this ceremony he danced wildly and all the spears were hurled out of him and no spectator was injured, a spear just passed me and then the wounds all healed again.
Typical example of supernatural abilities through mantra and rituals.In this sense, many shamanic cultures do it with drums and music and dancing, put themselves in ecstasy and then many extraordinary things are possible.
Skills through tapas - ascetic exercises
The next possibility is through tapas, through ascetic exercises. For example through long fasting, or through intensive pranayama, or very long holding of the pineapple. Or through other forms and intensive spiritual practices or ascetic exercises, extraordinary perceptions are possible. Contact to subtle worlds, contact also to angels, spirits, astral beings, etc.
Supernatural powers through samadhi
And then there is the fifth, supernatural forces through samadhi through the superconscious state. Whoever is able to put his mind into samadhi has access to all kinds of siddhis.
Actually one should also take a sixth source of the Siddhis, namely contact with subtle beings. For example, I knew a Canadian clairvoyant who had contact with a Spirit Guide, a spirit guide who had the interesting name: Daisy. And she kind of went into a trance and ecstasy and then connected with Daisy and after that she could approach people and tell them things that these people could not possibly know. She said something to these people about deceased grandma, or grandmother, grandfather, father, etc. and I think in this series of lectures I have spoken about it before, which is why I will not expand on it now. Anyway, she said she got her knowledge and skills through her spirit guide Daisy. And now you can of course say how did she get in touch with Daisy? And with her it was through intense spiritual practices plus mantra.
So five sources of extraordinary powers, and whatever that means, if someone has extraordinary powers, it does not mean that he has achieved samadhi, nor does it mean that he is an advanced aspirant.
Exceptional skills don't mean great masters
Sukadev experience in New York
I now had to think of an experience that I had once had in New York, must have been somewhere around 1989, it was my birthday, and wherever I was at the Sivananda Yoga Center, it was not customary to have one Had vacation or days off, one was actually always in seva or sadhana. But on his birthday, there, you could spend the day as you wanted. So I had thought about what I should actually do with a day off, I didn't know the concept, thought OK, I'll just walk through the streets of New York, and somewhere I got a little money in the morning in Satsang, which I did that could also be used somehow for the day off and now I saw somewhere Spiritual edviser so sigh riding so clairvoyant, I thought, I can go there.
And then there was a woman who somehow held my hand, then suddenly started talking wildly and talking in a faster voice, I myself had a little bit more knowledge back then, about finger lines and palmistry and I knew: what she tells me everything now, she couldn't read everything from my hands. But she told me how long I had been in New York and what part of New York I lived in and what I had been through lately and what people were around me, etc.
So within three to four minutes she had described my situation very specifically and in detail. So up to the number of days I was in New York, up to where I lived exactly on which street, she saw everything there. She couldn't have known that, but she did. And then she came out of that state and then she asked me if that was true, I said: yes, I'm a bit amazed.
And then she said, yes, now she had to clean my aura and to do this she would have to light special candles. Each candle would cost ten dollars, it would do that for me, then all the problems in my life would go away. I found that unethical now. She had the ability, she had only taken ten dollars for this riding. She had the ability to see it all, but then used those skills to do very dubious things.
When I went out, I saw how she poured herself a glass of red wine and smoked cigarettes. Which also means that she was dependent on alcohol and cigarettes, she was certainly not a great master, but she had extraordinary abilities.
So if you see someone who has extraordinary abilities, it doesn't mean that they are a great yogi. Another example.
Sukadev's experience in Munich
It was in the early 1980s when I was in Munich, there suddenly was a guru who went to Munich regularly and it was said that he had extraordinary siddhis. And actually, I spoke to some of the close students of our yoga center who went to him and they said that when they went to him for a private session, he immediately told them which mantra they had, said how For a long time they have been practicing yoga, told them what difficulties they had on the way and then he said that now he would cleanse their sushumna, i.e. the subtle spine that opens the chakras and leads them into samadhi.
Well then you actually suddenly felt how the spine got hot and how the whole body started to tremble and how suddenly energy flowed upwards, and how you felt your chakras and that was a really great experience. This guru actually became a great fashion guru of that time.
And then it came out that he was a swami, but a dozen of his students came and said that he had forced them to have sex. That in these private sessions, at the third session, he suddenly talked about red tantra, and when the women weren't on hand quickly enough, he almost began to become violent. And then it came out that this pseudo guru had deposited the money he supposedly received for poor hospitals in India and for poor schools in India in his Swiss account in Switzerland and that he had therefore taken such high fees. It was a big scandal at the time. Just an example, a person with great siddhis, but quite a deceiver, seducer and unethical person.
Patanjali: Siddhis are not a sign of samadhi
And so Patanjali says, Siddhis are just not a sign that someone was in samadhi. There are other sources of siddhis as well. There are certain mantras for siddhis, there are herbs for siddhis, there are special tapas exercises for siddhis and, for example, in some tantric schools special techniques are taught such as how you can almost stop your breath and then let yourself be buried, only to be dug up again a few days later without you dying.
There are techniques to bring you into a kind of hibernation, there are special mantras to satisfy special requests and much more. I don't know these techniques, so no point in asking me about them, luckily I had a satiated guru who normally didn't publicly display siddhis himself, but he certainly had them. But also had no hesitation in inviting others to his ashram who had also shown certain siddhis.
To get us out of an objective, materialistic way of thinking. So be aware that there is more in this world than modern physics, chemistry, biology, psychology can explain, but someone with extraordinary abilities is by no means a master.
Second verse of the Yoga Sutra fourth chapter also says: The transformations of the forms of existence come from the flow of the paktiti. Here Patanjali wants to say again that the supernatural powers are only seemingly supernatural powers. You are in the prakriti plane. So if someone can read minds, if someone can psychokinesis, i.e. can move objects without touching them, if someone can go on a out of body experience, if he can heal, etc. then Patanjali says, that is not supernatural, these are also manifestations of Prakriti, of nature, even if they cannot be explained in a grossly physical way.
Yogis of course have explanatory models for this, it is about Prana, i.e. about energy. It's about thought power. The physical world, prana and thought power are all aspects of prakriti, different degrees of density of the same cosmic energy shakti. And someone who can master the Shakti on one level can also have effects on other levels. In the same way that performing asanas has effects on the mind, the mind also has effects on the body. And just as the air pressure has an impact on our sense of wellbeing, the power of our spirit can also have an influence on the physical world. This is not really a miracle now, these are just mechanisms of action that western physics still does not understand. But maybe someday you will understand. For the Indians this is something quite natural and everyday, at least in spiritual circles.
Video - How to Obtain Siddhis
Causes of Siddhis - Yogasutra IV 1-2
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When siddhis can become obstacles
Siddhis, extraordinary states of consciousness
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