Is It Possible to Attain Yogic Superpowers?

Levitating

Stories of highly devout and enlightened yogis having psychic or physical superpowers are not uncommon in India. The ability to fly, levitate, garner superhuman strength or effect telekinesis are all supposedly attainable abilities if one spends years meditating and practicing yoga. These abilities are described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and are referred to as the Siddhis. While achieving supernatural power sounds enticing, it is precisely for that reason why they are to be approached with caution.

When Siddhis are described by swamis or those who are well-versed in Vedic knowledge, they are spoken of as not actually being magical in any sense. These powers, which seem to be otherworldly, are actually inherent in all human beings and can be accessed with the proper discipline. Some people are even born with these powers, specifically when it comes to psychic abilities.

But these yogic abilities are thought to be a distraction and waste of time for those who are seeking a path to enlightenment. Getting distracted by these powers can lead people to worship the yogi and inflate their egos. Subsequently, it can prevent the yogi from realizing god and oneness with the universe.

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Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

According to the Sutras, once a yogi attains Samadhi or the state of divine union with meditation, there are several ways one can attain Siddhis.

    1. Birth or GeneticsDue to one’s karma they may be born with psychic abilities.

    2. Herbs – Psychedelic drugs like mescaline or peyote can induce Siddhis, however they must be done under the supervision of a spiritual guide or with the proper knowledge.

    3. Mantras – This is the rational and desired method of attaining Siddhis paired with austerity and the repetition of mantras, basic or sometimes esoteric.

 

Through these primary methods, one can gain abilities including:

  • Becoming invisible
  • Becoming as big or small as one desires
  • Becoming as heavy or light as one desires
  • Flying and levitating
  • The power to manifest and control things
  • The power to be in more than one place at once and more.

 

There are also psychic powers associated with Siddhis including telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, and precognition.

While these practices might sound otherworldly, Vedic teachers say they are not as bewildering as they sound. Much like the invisible phenomena in our everyday world, these powers represent realms that are pervasive around us, but not necessarily visible or obvious in our everyday state of consciousness. Because our reality is a product of our consciousness, according to Vedic philosophy, these powers can obviously be manifested by us.

When a yogi reaches the level of attaining these powers, they are said to have reached Samyama. It is a deeply absorbed meditative state where the mind is cleared from wandering thought—a state most people strive to attain just for short periods of time. For advanced yogis this state can be achieved for hours at a time, at which point their mind merges with the mind(s) of other yogis, eliminating the illusion of separation and showing universal oneness. This is the point where yogis can become either distracted by the powers of Siddhis or continue toward a path of enlightenment.



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Did You Psychically Inherit Society's Learned Behavior?

The scientific community is often very rigid in its process and not always open to radical ideas. Rightfully so, that is the nature of science – strict scrutiny and skepticism. But what if it is limiting itself in this approach, in the sense that it has taken on some of the same parochial propensities of religion? Science is supposedly the antithesis of religion and meant to question everything with the goal of new discovery. While it is necessary to maintain skepticism to prevent charlatans from diluting the scientific process, there should be a certain level of tolerance for new ideas.

Rupert Sheldrake is one of those scientists that his community has largely shunned as a heretic. Despite studying at Harvard and graduating from Cambridge with a Ph.D. in biochemistry, the scientific community has dismissed his radical ideas as nonsensical and blasphemous. Sheldrake admittedly started his career in science as an atheist, but eventually had an epiphany about our consciousness that changed his outlook.

Sheldrake has proposed an idea he calls, morphic resonance. Essentially, the idea is that there is a collective consciousness within species that can impact disparate groups of organisms without them having to come into contact with each other. A sort of telepathic connectedness that can influence behavior and can be passed down through immediate generations.

Lamarckian Inheritance

The idea of learned behavior being inherited, or Lamarckian Inheritance, has been shown to be a pretty promising theory, if not proven. Although unsurprisingly, the scientific community doesn’t all agree on this. Regardless, this idea is fundamental in Sheldrake’s theory.

The evidence comes from a study in the 1920s, where rats were tested by being placed in a water maze they had to escape from. The rats were electrically shocked when they chose one of two exits deemed to be the wrong exit. They eventually learned which exit was the correct one over a trial of several hundred tests. As they got better, their offspring were tested, and immediately showed quicker rates of improvement compared to their parents.

This was evidence of Lamarckian Inheritance, the learned behavior of the parent rat was passed on to their progeny. What was more astonishing, according to Sheldrake, was that when these experiments were conducted in labs in other countries and on the other side of the world, rats that had no contact with the original study, essentially picked up where the improved rats left off.

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