“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Many yogis/yoginis, saints and mystics have reported that they could often see their disciples in distant locations when it was called for. In one account, the yogi Neem Karoli Baba suddenly asked for large amounts of food to be brought to him. Those present report that he consumed a mind-boggling amount of food before going into samadhi (yogic meditation). When the yogi came out of meditation, his disciples asked him what had happened. He reported that he had suddenly seen one of his disciples dying in the desert. The last desire of the dying man was to eat. Baba said that the student had reached a level of attainment where there was no further need to reincarnate. But with the desire for food on his mind, he would have been brought back into the wheel of birth and death merely through the power of this one unfulfilled desire! Baba had taken upon himself the task of fulfilling the man’s last wish for food, and using his yogic powers, he transmuted the desire.
When psychic information is received auditorially, the person is called clairaudient. Such persons have subtle impressions of hearing sounds and/or voices. The inner realms of consciousness are filled with sounds and music that are incredibly beautiful. It has been suggested by some that many of the great composers actually heard the music of these realms and that this music of the spheres greatly influenced their compositions.
Some individuals feel things at a very subtle level and these persons are called clairsentients. There is often a fine line between a clairsentient and an empath. Empaths have highly developed sensitivities and often feel other people’s feelings, especially those around them. Clairsentients may also be empathic, but in addition, they receive psychic impressions in the form of subtle feelings, which are often physical.
Clairgnosis is one of the more fascinating siddhis. When you have a hunch about something, but have no idea how you might know such a thing, this is clairgnosis. (That is, if your hunch turns out to be true. If it turns out to be false, we call that delusion.) Some have suggested that clairgnosis is an attribute of pure consciousness which is omniscient and omnipresent. As one rises higher up the ladder of consciousness, one’s own personal awareness takes on some of these qualities and episodes of clairgnosis increase.
The lesser siddhis also include such things as healing abilities and limited powers of prophecy. This class of yogic powers also includes the ability for awareness to become very small or very large, in other words, not confined by the limitations of the body.
The greater siddhis include such things as levitation (in which the body floats or hovers in air). Again this siddhia is not confined to Indian yogis or yoginis as some believe. There are well-documented sightings of St. Francis of Assisi, for one, hovering in the air. St. Francis exhibited other siddhis as well. In fact, his physical remains have spiritual powers even after his death. While visiting his shrine in Assisi, I was transported into the spiritual realms through the emanations from his crypt! I heard a sound like wind blowing through Aspen trees whenever I stood near his body, and when I returned to my hotel room my skin was red, as if I had a mild sunburn.
By the way, if you are ever at Assisi, here’s a little tip. As you enter the main entrance into the Basilica where St. Francis’s remains are kept, turn to your left. Off to both sides there will be stairs that lead down to the crypt, and it is certainly worth visiting. The problem is that there are usually throngs of people milling about, and it is difficult to find a quiet space. If you proceed further, though, on the main floor, past the stairs, you will see a large altar in the distance. It is the only altar in this part of the church. On the floor, in front of the altar, there is a geometric figure. It sits directly above St. Francis’s tomb, and the emanations from this area are very strong. No one seems to know about it, so you can stand directly on the spot and receive the emanations in relative peace.
The greater siddhis also include such remarkable abilities such as teleportation (like the Abbott I mentioned earlier) and bi-location (being in two places at once). There are other abilities that fall under this category, but they are too numerous to list here.
Siddhis or yogic powers are attained as a natural consequence of spiritual development. There is, however, a very real dilemma with the siddhis. If not tempered with wisdom, the premature attainment of yogic powers can lead to karmic entanglements.
A short anecdote about a well-known yogi may help to make this clear.
He is quite an extraordinary being, and many years ago, I had the wonderful experience of studying with him during a weeklong retreat. According to a close disciple of his, whom I came to know, the yogi had gone to India for a spiritual retreat in his early twenties, having attained some of the siddhis. He was resting against a tree listening to the beautiful music of a master musician who was caught up in the fervor of bhakti (Divine Love), and due to the intensity of devotion within the music, our yogi was transported into a deep state of samadhi and experienced great ecstasies and bliss.
The concert abruptly ended when it started to rain and the musician rushed indoors. Using his siddhic powers, the yogi caused the rain to stop, and the musician returned to his kirtans (sacred singing). Very quickly our yogi was transported back into samadhi, but his bliss was rudely ended by an old man kicking him in the side. The man was also a yogi, and in a furor he continued to kick the younger yogi, yelling obscenities at him.
“What are you doing?” he asked. “Don’t you realize this area has been suffering from a drought? And you, you stopped the rains for your own selfish desires.” The ancient yogi raised his staff in the air and pointed it at his younger peer. “Mark my words, if you don’t stop this, you will pay a great karmic debt. You will spend a thousand lifetimes as a sea creature!” The old yogi then kicked some dust in the direction of the young man and left before he could respond.
Immediately the younger yogi went into meditation and through his siddhic powers returned the rains. He fervently prayed to God to take away his siddhis, and miraculously they left him. But over the years they slowly returned to a much wiser and less flamboyant man.
Generally speaking, the siddhis are looked upon, by most people, as being more magical and exotic than practical. Part of this is due, no doubt, to a pervasive misunderstanding about their place among other human abilities, such as the ability to reason and to make language, both of which we take for granted.
The siddhis are inherent human abilities, but they only show up when consciousness has reached a certain level of development. When this level has been attained, the siddhis or yogic powers, spontaneously appear. They are like fruits on a tree.
Although one may have an apple tree in one’s yard, only when it has reached a certain level of maturity and development is it capable of manifesting the fruits of its nature. This is also true of the powers of consciousness. We all possess them, in potential, but not all of us will demonstrate them in actuality.
As one looks at the various internal alchemies of the world, they all have their own version of the siddhis and views on how to attain them. Traditionally, this knowledge has been kept secret, and only those admitted to these esoteric schools or spiritual lineages have been given access to the technology of self-evolution.
Personally, I believe that knowledge of the siddhis is a human birthright, and this technology for the acceleration of self-evolution should be made as widely available as possible.