Spiritual Evolution

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Wed Dec 12 00:43:56 CST 2001

On Tue, 27 Nov 2001, Ravishankar Venkatraman wrote:

> Some of the authentic literature (by Swami Vivakananda and others)
> portray that people performing miracles with the intention of attracting
> crowds are charlatans. I would like to understand the nature of spiritual
> advancement, and whether demonstrating supernatural powers, is a
> manifestation of divinity. I am being told that some yogis attain these
> powers and fall down eventually and become yoga brashtas. Though these
> powers may remain with them, they have fallen spiritually, as they do not
> progress towards the state of Jivan-mukhti.
> Please let me know if anyone has more inofrmation on this topic.

If someone is doing miracles just to attract crowds or without detachment
then yes, they are charlatans and we shouldn't feel at all shy about
letting them know it.  However it does not follow that displaying
miraculous powers is automatically a sign of fraud.

What is siddhi?  According to Yogasutra 4.1:

janmauShadhimantratapaHsamadhijah siddhayaH ||

Siddhis are caused by birth or drugs or mantras or tapa or samadhi.

Of these by birth refers to the powers of divine beings like Devas,
gandharvas etc.  But this is not really "miracle."  These powers are
innate to the types of bodies those types of beings have.  Just as our
ability to open a tin can must seem miraculous to a cat or dog, but is
just something we can do because we have opposable thumbs and they don't.

Aushadhis -- herbs or drugs -- can alter the state of consciousness by
changing the state of the body.  Again this isn't really miraculous.  We
understand how aspirin cures a headache for instance.

Japa of mantras, tapa, and samadhi are the three methods of acquiring
mastery of the turmoil caused by speech, sense, and mind respectively. A
key tenet of yoga is the correspondence between ones' inner state and the
outer world.  As a yogi get get firmer control himself, he develops the
ability to control his environment.  When you know that what appears to be
real is just maya, you are no longer scared of it and can bend it to your
will.  This ability is what we call siddhi.

At this stage also it is not a "miracle" i.e. something unexplainable but
the natural outgrowth of spiritual development just like the ability ot
lift heavy objects increases after excersing the muscles.  The really
enlightened people know that ability is just a plaything and a distraction
from the real goal which is to transcend maya altogether.  If they lose
sight of that goal they have indeed fallen no matter what their other

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

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