Powers

Yoga Sutras, Chapter 3 on Raja Yoga (Royal Union).
Today we are going to make a leap and get right to it: paranormal and superhuman powers.

Previously:
Concentration
III:1  Concentration (dharana) is the binding of the mind-stuff (chitta) to one place.

Meditation
III:2  When definitely established with certainty in that one place, concentration (dharana) becomes meditation (dhyana).

Samadhi

III:3  By this (meditation) samadhi is attained, and objects shine forth of their own light, in their own form, void of physical substance.

Samyama

III:4  These three (concentration, meditation and samadhi) bind together as one.

III:5  Having victoriously won that (samyama), one sees with the light of wisdom.

III:6  This progresses by degrees.

III:7  These three (concentration, meditation and samadhi) are inner limbs, and surpass the previous five limbs.

The Highest Samadhi
III:8  Moreover, they (concentration, meditation and samadhi) are external and subordinate limbs as compared to nirbija (without-seed).

The Elevated State
III:9  The cessation of the mind in nirbija overpowers mental impressions and leaves its own impression, and thus an elevated state (vyutthana) ensues.

Today:
Powers

“As the body is composed of five major elements (earth, water, fire, air, and ether), a yogi purifies and conquers them through the practice of yoga. By conquering these elements, one gains extra-ordinary powers. Mastery of the earth element causes all the diseases of the body to vanish. By conquering the water element, one can walk on water, no poison of any kind may cause their death and all sins* are destroyed. One becomes free from the danger of fire by attaining command over the fiery element. Power to move in the air (astral traveling) is attained by conquering the airy element. One attains moksha (liberation) and the power to extract rasa (nectar) by conquering the ether element.” — Swami Kripalu

*Sins: Errors in the use of one’s free will, or power of choice. From the original Greek, the word “sin” means to “miss the mark”. To miss the mark is to act out of sync with one’s own true nature as divine. To have these sins “destroyed” is to have their effects nullified, i.e., one’s karma is neutralized.

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Powers:

Sutras
16    Knowledge of the past and the future

17    Understanding of the meaning of the sounds produced by all beings

18    Knowledge of previous births

19    Knowledge of the mind of another…

20    but only knowing other’s minds, not identifying with the contents.

21    The power to disappear, become invisible

22    Knowledge of death

23    Physical, mental and spiritual strength

24    The strength of elephants, etc.

25    Remote sensing: knowledge of subtle or distant objects

26    Knowledge of the worlds and of the cosmic regions

27    Knowledge of the ordering of the stars

28    Knowledge of the relative motions and positions of the stars

29    Knowledge of the bodily system

30    Cessation of hunger and thirst

31    Steadiness and stability

32    Vision of the adepts, the perfect ones (siddhas)

33    All-knowingness—knowledge of everything

34    Knowledge of the mind

35    Knowledge of Purusha (soul) as spectator of Prakriti (nature).

36    Extrasensory perceptions of sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell

37    These are siddhis [powers] of samadhi vyutthana (the Elevated State).

This is how this sutra looks to me. The usual translation seems to include implications that I do not see in the Sanskrit, but which make perfect sense:

These are worldly powers—powers of the extroverted state. Using these powers hinders the achievement of samadhi [which requires an introverted state].  

38    The ability to enter the body of another

39    Passing untouched over water, mud, thorns, etc; exiting from the body at will

40    Radiant effulgence emanating joy and goodness.

41    Nada (divine sound)

42    Levitation

43    Passing out of and acting outside of the body

44    Mastery over the elements

45    Divine Body and the manifestation of the Eight Supernatural Powers beginning with anima.

46    The Divine Body is of beautiful form, perfect, with strength and vitality, and cannot be destroyed.

The Eight Supernatural Powers

1. Anima: The power to become invisible. The power to reduce one’s size to that of an atom, attain very minute form and go anywhere he likes without being noticed by anyone.

2. Laghima: Astral travel. The yogi can become as light as a cotton ball or a straw to fly through the air.

3. Mahima: The power to become as big as a mountain. The ability to expand oneself in space and to become huge.

4. Prapti: The power to reach anywhere. The ability to touch anything, however far away it may be. For instance, one can touch the moon while standing on the earth.

5. Prakamya: The power to fulfill all wishes and desires. Through this power, a yogi can realize or materialize anything he so chooses merely by applying his willpower. For instance, he cannot ordinarily dive into the earth, but if such a yogi decides to exercise his willpower, he can dive into the earth and again come out of it. His resolve never fails.

6. Vasitva: Mastery, power and dominion over all things. With this power, a yogi can make inanimate objects move and animate objects behave as he wishes, but he himself cannot be controlled.

7. Isitva: Supremacy, lordship. The power to create, sustain and destroy any element or piece of matter at will.

8. Yatrakamavasayitva: The power to raise the dead. The ability to change the qualities of matter. For instance, the yogi can revive a dead person by giving him poison.

These eight miraculous powers are not attained by any or every yogi. They can be attained only by one who has accomplished the highest wisdom and divya sarira (Divine Body).

During sahaja sadhana, powers arise of their own accord, spontaneously. By using the powers that come, one’s progress is curtailed, so it is best to cultivate a passion for God rather than powers. Resisting the temptation might be a struggle, but if one is driven by love of God and divine union, one tends to pass them by without much notice. They easily become forgotten, left behind like old toys of little interest.

Remember that the punch line always comes at the beginning in yogic scriptures. Though this chapter is called “Powers”, the very first thing we read about is samadhi. We are then given to understand that the ultimate samadhi is nirbija, so the real power is nirbija samadhi and its aftereffect, the Elevated State.

Love,
Durga Ma

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The Elevated State

Yoga Sutras, Chapter 3 on Raja Yoga (Royal Union) continued.

Previously:

Concentration
III:1  Concentration (dharana) is the binding of the mind-stuff (chitta) to one place.

Meditation
III:2  When definitely established with certainty in that one place, concentration (dharana) becomes meditation (dhyana).

Samadhi

III:3  By this (meditation) samadhi is attained, and objects shine forth of their own light, in their own form, void of physical substance.

Samyama
III:4  These three (concentration, meditation and samadhi) bind together as one.

III:5  Having victoriously won that (samyama), one sees with the light of wisdom.

III:6  This progresses by degrees.

III:7  These three (concentration, meditation and samadhi) are inner limbs, and surpass the previous five limbs.

The Highest Samadhi
III:8  Moreover, they (concentration, meditation and samadhi) are external and subordinate limbs as compared to nirbija (without-seed).

Today:
The Elevated State
III:9  Due to the cessation of the mind in nirbija, an impression of cessation is produced in the mind-stuff which overpowers other impressions, and the elevated state (vyutthana) ensues immediately following.

An Elevated State follows nirbija and lasts for as long as prana remains stable. Swami Kripalu uses the term stable, or stabilization, which I rather like, especially when discussing the Elevated State, which could not come about if the prana were not stable beyond emerging from nirbija.

During ordinary consciousness, prana and the mind, though they are different, are inexorably connected and follow each other around—a busy mind makes for busy prana, busy prana makes for a busy mind. However, in the Elevated State, prana remains stable even though the mind is functional.

At the point of emerging from nirbija, the breath and the mind resume their normal activities but the prana remains stable. This stability of prana is not lost even though the body begins to move again, and the mind, while functional, continues to maintain an undisturbed state in which there is no intent, no aim or purpose, no goals, no desires or ambitions.

What is this state like? It is not ecstasy, but a softly blissful state that is not incompatible with everyday affairs. One feels as light as air and is calm, even-tempered, and dispassionate. There is perfect equanimity, even in a difficult situation. This is our natural state.

Once one has experienced something, it is easier to experience it again because it is familiar—it has left an impression in the mind-stuff. This is true in ordinary life, and it is especially true of samadhi in general and nirbija in particular. 

Because of the powerfulness of the impression left in the mind-stuff by nirbija, one finds it easier to enter into nirbija again, for this most powerful impression overrides other, weaker impressions that would otherwise challenge it. Also, because of the profound nature of nirbija and the cessation of the mind, the overriding nature of the impression this leaves is instrumental in the diminishing and ultimate eradication of undesirable impressions that reek havoc with our lives and interfere with attaining samadhi and our ultimate purpose for living: union with God.

When the Elevated State finally gives way to the ordinary state of consciousness of everyday life, one can’t help being a little disappointed. On the other hand, one remains elated and inspired at having reached Absolute God and fulfillment. This is why we have been going through all of this yoga business in the first place—eight steps, many years and questionable conditions—and why we will persist to the end: complete and final liberation.

Now, I know you are all waiting to hear about all those powers—after all, this chapter is called Vibhuti, Powers—but I’m going to leave you hanging for one more week.

Love,
Durga Ma
durgama.com

The Highest Samadhi

Yoga Sutras, Chapter 3 on Raja Yoga (Royal Union) continued.

Previously:

Concentration
III:1  Concentration (dharana) is the binding of the mind-stuff (chitta) to one place.

Meditation
III:2  When definitely established with certainty in that one place, concentration (dharana) becomes meditation (dhyana).

Samadhi
III:3  By this (meditation) samadhi is attained, and objects shine forth of their own light, in their own form, void of physical substance.

Samyama
III:4  These three (concentration, meditation and samadhi) bind together as one.

III:5  Victorious in winning that (samyama and sabija samadhi), one sees with the wisdom of divine sight.

III:6  This progresses by degrees.

III:7  These three (concentration, meditation and samadhi) are inner limbs, and surpass the previous (five) limbs.

Today:
The Highest Samadhi
III:8  Moreover, they (concentration, meditation and samadhi) are external and subordinate limbs as compared to nirbija.

Sabija samadhi is external and subordinate as compared to nirbijaNirbija samadhi is the higher state of samadhi in which the mind dissolves and becomes non-mind, samadhi without the seed of desire, samadhi without subject-object distinction.

Patanjali is reminding us that, even after the attainment of the eighth and last stage of eight-limbs yogasamadhi, there is something so much greater that he is not even using the word samadhi in the sutra. Why? Perhaps this is because, although we do refer to nirbija as “nirbija samadhi,” nirbija surpasses samadhi as we have know it up to this point.

The word nirbija means ‘without-seed’. But what does without-seed mean? First we must ask, what is a seed? You might think of it this way: the seed of a plant is the plant in its potential state. Using the concept of potentiality as our seed, we would then ask, potential for what? What was present in sabija samadhi that is not present in nirbija? The answer is, the mind. Nirbija is the highest state of samadhi in which the mind, the seat of desire, dissolves.

In nirbija samadhi there is complete fulfillment—there is nothing left to desire—and one discovers the true nature of the Absolute: perfect bliss. There is nothing other than ‘perfect bliss’ that is at all useful in attempting to describe this indescribable state. One may have had blissful states in meditation and samadhi before, but they were nothing compared to the perfect bliss of nirbija. The word ‘joy’ carries a touch of excitement which is not present in nirbija, and the word ‘peace‘ is inadequate.

Another characteristic of nirbija is that the knower and the object known have merged and dissolved into the Blissful Absolute: there is no distinction between the object of meditation and the subject—”subject-object distinction” is gone. How could there be any distinguishing going on when the mind is out of the picture?

The knower would have been you, the meditator, the subject—but in nirbija there is no sense of self.

The known would have been the object—but there is no-thing to know or perceive in nirbija.

SUMMARY

Sabija samadhi. Concentration, meditation and samadhi are simply three degrees of the same thing: samadhi—sabija samadhi, savikalpa samadhi, samprajnata samadhi.

Nirbija samadhi is the higher state of samadhi in which the mind dissolves and becomes non-mind, samadhi without the seed of desire, samadhi without subject-object distinction.

Kripalu says . . .

Dhyana (the meditative state) means concentration of mind. The mature form of this state is known as sabija (with ‘seed’ or mind), savikalpa (with subject-object distinction) or samprajnata (with thought or reasoning) samadhi. In this primary state of samadhi, various thoughts do exist, but they all flow in a single direction. Since there is existence of mind in this state, it is called active samadhi (chetana samadhi).

Nirbija samadhi, the highest embodiment of yoga, is the end-product of meditation. In that state there is no existence of mind. When the stage of concentration is crossed over, the mind dissolves into nature (prakriti), giving rise to nirbija (without ‘seed’ or mind), nirvikalpa (without subject-object distinction) or asamprajnata (without thought or reasoning) samadhi. Since the mind becomes non-mind, or inactive, in this state, it is also called inactive samadhi (achetana samadhi).
Now you may be wondering if there can possibly be any more to this samadhi business. Well, there is, and it’s coming up next week. See you then.
Love,
Durga Ma
durgama.com

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