The question often arises “what are siddhis” or “what are spiritual powers” and “how do I develop spiritual powers or siddhis?” Spiritual powers or siddhis are of perennial interest to those who are on the spiritual path or simply fascinated by mystery. The most important thing to remember about spiritual power is that they are not supernatural. Rather they as a byproduct of understanding and moving more deeply into alignment with cosmic law and your own divine nature. The perception of spiritual powers being supernatural is based on a materialist paradigm.
However, we live in a panentheistic universe wherein spiritual powers are a natural part of the soul’s evolution. Our beings consist of a mind, body, and soul. Our mind and body are the subtle and gross aspects of our being respectively. Our soul is the causal aspect of our being, the animating force that is forever and always one with god. Only the sheathes of the gross and subtle bodies create the perception of separation and limitation. Spiritual powers are simply an expression of the soul’s unlimited nature.
According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali spiritual powers are obtained in five different ways, by (1) birth, (2) herbs, (3) mantras, (4) performance of austerities, and (5) samadhi (deep meditation). Only spiritual powers obtained through samadhi are free of karma.
Some of you may have been born with certain spiritual powers. As we move more deeply into 5D/Dvapara Yuga we can expect spiritual powers to become more common due to the Earth drawing closer to the central sun which causes souls of greater seniority to start incarnating.
Being born with spiritual powers is usually a result of karma from a past life in which one of the other four modalities were used to develop the ability or abilities. Having spiritual powers is not a sign of virtue or even spiritual maturity. Hindu scriptures are full of stories about demons and sorcerers who developed spiritual powers through herbs, mantras, and austerities.
Spiritual powers like anything else are just another way to polarize and evolve spiritually. Those on the negative service to self path will seek to develop spiritual powers to aggrandize the ego and control others. Those on the positive service to others path will naturally develop spiritual powers as a byproduct of their dissolution of ego and the shinning forth of their god self.
Those on the positive service to others spiritual path should be careful not to allow any spiritual powers they develop or were born with to become an ego trip. Spiritual powers can very easily become a trap for the unwary. It is best to cultivate an attitude of non-attachment to any spiritual gift you may develop.
One of my favorite commentaries on siddhis or spiritual powers comes from Ram Dass’s guru Neem Karoli Baba. Neem Karoli Baba was a great yogi who oozed Siddhis. Nothing seemed beyond his ability. There are countless stories of him bilocating, reading people’s minds, predicting the future, and healing people. Yet when asked about Siddhis and their role on the spiritual path he said, “Siddhis are pig shit.”
Siddhis and spiritual powers are just another opportunity to go on a different kind of ego trip. They can be a cul de sac that retards spiritual development for those who become fascinated with them, and even a path to hell for those who use their abilities in service to the ego.
With that disclaimer in mind, we will talk a little bit about the mechanics of siddhis and how they work. Those we are born with are a gift from god and our karma, and don’t require much further explanation. The methods of herbs, mantras, and austerities tend to be the paths of those who seek power for the sake of power and therefore will not be discussed.
That leaves the path of developing siddhis through deep meditation/samadhi. On this path siddhis naturally develop as one purifies their consciousness, balances their energy centers, awakens and purifies the nervous system, and cultivates sattvic energy within themselves. This is accomplished by treading the eight limbed path of Raja/Kriya Yoga articulated in the Yoga Sutras.
This is the only path to Siddhis without karma. This is the path of spiritual evolution and liberation. First we discipline the mind and body with the yamas and niyamas. This helps shift the balance in our being towards a more sattvic orientation and strengthens ones spiritual will. As one progresses one learns to concentrate, further strengthening the will and discipling the mind. Then we learn to meditate and become absorbed in the object of our meditation. Meanwhile we are also performing pranayama to purify the nervous system and strengthen it so that he can hold more and more prana/shakti in our aura. From there we are ready to achieve samadhi, where we experience the ever new bliss that arises when we experience union with god.
By treading the eight limbed path of yoga we gradually and naturally spiritually unfold. As we spend more and more time in samadhi we become more and more identified with our infinite spiritual nature, and less identified with our finite separate self. Our other disciplines prepare the body to hold and sustain this increased consciousness, which starts to manifest more and more of its limitlessness in the form of spiritual powers or siddhis. In this way the gifts of spirit are received in a balanced and humble way then used in service to others.
Ultimate power requires the ultimate death of self. You do not get to power of god while being your separate self. Anytime anything miraculous has happened through me it has been a result of me being nobody doing nothing. It has arisen because I was able to be a clear channel for god’s grace in that moment. It was not I doing anything, it was the universe doing through me.
I was not born with any special gifts, except perhaps a desire to love and know god. After my awakening at 25 I realized the subtle creative and infinite force flowing through me. I awakened to that aspect of god that is the core of my being and all beings.
Over the years as my sadhana has intensified some of god’s infinite creative capacity has started to express itself through me. The most significant of which being the ability to heal by connecting with another’s energy and helping remove distortions and blockages and to pray and be heard. I mention these only because they are gifts that may be used to serve others and their own spiritual unfoldment.
But do not become too fascinated with the fruit of spiritual practice. Instead strive to be the tree that bears fruit. The path is simple, the way straight and narrow. Strive ceaselessly to tread the eight limbed path of yoga and your soul will unfold and you will realize the self that is forever and always one with god. This is the greatest gift and greatest siddhi anyone could ever ask for.