Yoga: History, Philosophy, Psychology. Part 5
Among Western researches-specialists and public opinion, the question of so-called perfect abilities was especially popular and accompanied with hot discussions. In Indian philosophy it was also defined by the term ‘siddhi’.
These perfect abilities were taken significant attention in ancient Yoga manuscripts. Nevertheless, in Classical Yoga having paranormal abilities was not considered as a special aim of Yoga practice. Patandjali and Vyasa described and commented these abilities only as far as it is necessary for the practitioners to know when they naturally encounter the unknown forces and abilities during their practice. Their application is controlled by the ethic Yoga principles and finally aimed at the achievement of superior spiritual Yoga purpose and help for living beings.
It is noteworthy, as for the nature of perfect abilities, classical and modern Yoga diverge with orthodox religious studies in their theologian-dogmatic interpretation. For instance, in Catholic Christianity there is a fixed conception of so-called supernatural wonder as God’s action. According to most Christian theologians, a man is able neither understand nor explain or use paranormal phenomena as he likes. From that position, these forces appear independently of a man’s will and serve as supernatural manifestations of divine or devil’s reality. These manifestations are realized in breaking the natural laws and natural course of things.
The philosophy of Yoga evaluates the nature of paranormal forces in quite a different way. They are considered as natural but by no means known and accessible to everyone forces of physical and spiritual nature. Yoga practice of self-perfection discloses mighty potential abilities which one can fully understand, master, control and use at one’s will.
Paranormal abilities, which the Yoga-practitioner can develop naturally or as a result of special exercises, may be divided into two main groups. 1) Physical abilities connected with the appearance of unusual features of human organism which are beyond the scope of traditional images of human physical abilities. 2) Psychic abilities connected with the human consciousness activity.
To the 1st group may be referred: long-term keeping the body in a healthy state; a long life; using little food for keeping body vitality or ability to do without food and water at all while keeping high life and social activity; regulating physiological processes and resuscitating health as well as regenerating the hurt tissues and organs without applying traditional and Western medicines; ability to bear severe cold and intense heat; ability to stop breath for a long time; to bear pain without anaesthesia, to change body mass, etc. Some of such Yogi’s abilities are developed without any special actions but as a result of correct nourishment, state and way of life. The other ones are the result of certain psychophysical exercises.
The most well-known paranormal psychic abilities are: perception of other mentality (telepathy); knowledge of the future and the past; acquiring invisibility; knowledge of the time of one’s own or other physical death; perception of thin creatures from other spheres of reality; advanced ability of intuitive cognition; transferring consciousness from one body to another; conscious activity in the thin psychic world; ability to manage living beings; psychic influence on natural processes and others. The most of above psychic abilities are considered and commented in the 3rd chapter of Patandjali’s and Vyasa’s treatises called “About perfect abilities”.
The founders of classical Yoga philosophy had no doubt about the possibility to develop and use paranormal forces. Leaning on the analysis of the texts it can be suggested with a great deal of probability that many things the masters of Yoga wrote about were known to them in practice. For our skeptical contemporaries, the claims of the people who lived in ancient times may seem not convincing enough and worth confidence. However, there are enough evidences of the witnesses watching the demonstrations of paranormal abilities in XIX-XXI centuries. As an illustration, we cite some examples of unusual abilities of human body and spirit which were reported by Western scientists and travelers.
The famous French researcher of Tibet spiritual culture, Alexandra Ne’el, wrote that “the secret study of Tibet and Buddhist Yogis included telepathy as one of the traditional chapters”. In the West, the phenomenon of telepathy had been long before, however, it was occasional and apart from human will. In Tibet, telepathy was considered a practical science subject to studying. It could have been done by the pupils who were trained adequately and had the abilities of using theoretical knowledge in practice. The advanced Tibet mystics could have a telepathic link at their will with their pupil. Some claimed that such a link could be established with any living beings including animals.
Describing ‘perfect abilities’, Patandjali didn’t claim it as a discovery. He spoke about things which had been well known before, which he had known quite well and didn’t doubt about. Nevertheless, the Western positivist science had refused to consider and study such phenomena until XX centuries. Only in late XX century a great number of empiric materials and the development of new theoretical concepts (information-energetic conception, the theory of bio-energy- informatics, theory of physical vacuum, etc.) favoured the changes in scientific views about consciousness and it phenomena.
“Due to the direct perceiving the contents of cognitive action,” Patandjali wrote, ”there appears the knowledge of other mentality”. In other words, the consciousness of one person can perceive another person’s consciousness directly, that is in a non-verbal way. It means the ability to perceive another person’s thoughts and send one’s own thoughts.
Let’s offer the following version of explaining the telepathic phenomenon. Consciousness is the single psychic reality of continual feature. When one psychic sphere (consciousness – mind) is concentrating on another one, there happens their interaction. As this takes place, only another person’s mental-psychic images (the contents of consciousness) are perceived, but not their real sources – the objects reflected in consciousness. It should be added here that it is only possible in case consciousness is in fact not just the subjective reality deprived of any material substrate but the subjective reality having certain material (field) carriers.
Experiments on studying thoughts prove this assumption and make us understand a thought as a particular energy- information wave spreading in a very thin space field continuum. Such waves can be accessible to be fixed and studied.
The phenomenon of consciousness transference lies in the possibility of separate conscious activity outside the human body or in casual consciousness transference from one body to another. It is achieved by projective and non-projective concentrations.
The consciousness concentration when mind (manas) is acting outside the body is called incorporeal in Yoga. “If it is directed outside by the mind existing within the body,” Vyasa wrote, “it is the projective (imaginary) concentration. If the mind is outside and independent of the body, it is non-projective (real) concentration. Yogis call it Great Incorporeal.” By means of the first concentration Yogis achieve the second one and acquire the ability to transfer consciousness from one body to another.
How could it happen in reality? European travelers described the following fakir trick. The fakir put a dead bird in front of him and fell into a trance. While the bird demonstrated the signs of life, the fakir’s body seamed quite lifeless. But at the moment when the bird fell and stopped moving, the fakir’s body started acquiring the signs of life, and soon his consciousness returned to him. Yoga theory explains such phenomena by transferring the principle consciousness as some active force from one physiological organism to another.
It is needless to say that spiritual Yoga never approved such fakir tricks. Yoga masters used such ability with more noble and lofty purposes in exceptional cases. However, the very fact of translating consciousness from one organism to another is important.
Consciousness appears to be not only just ephemeral, abstract appendix to the neural-physiological brain activity but really little-studied natural force which is able to influence various physical processes and organisms and to exist separately from its physiological carrier as well as to transfer the centre of its activity from one organism to another.
When academic anthropology, medicine and psychology accept and comprehend these facts, it will be the beginning of the new era of scientific understanding a human and many of incredible things for modern science, for instance, a human reanimation in some hours after his death will be quite possible and ordinary.
Like telepathy, the practice of acquiring inner heat energy (tumo) refers to the demonstration of human paranormal abilities. The intensive heat self-regulation in extreme conditions (with certain training) gave the Tibet Yogis the power over unfavorable temperature conditions.
The examination for the title ‘respa’ (‘he who wears clothes from paper cloth’ – the master of Tibet Tumo-Yoga) implied the following ceremony. At frosty night the completely naked candidates sat down on the ground near an ice hole. They dipped bedsheets into icy water, the sheets getting immediately frozen under piercing wind. Each pupil wrapped himself into such a frozen piece of cloth and had to warm and dry it with the warmth of his own body.
He who dried the most number of sheets for one night was claimed to be the winner of the competition. Moreover, some yogis-hermits lived in icy mountain caves for all winter having only summer clothes or without any clothes at all. Alexandra David Ne’el wrote: “Beside me a lot of people saw them including mountaineers conquering the peaks of Everest.”
One of the most amazing examples of spiritual power over flesh is some Yogis’ abilities to stop vital processes for certain time and then renew them again. The similar phenomenon was described by V.E. Evans-Vents, the English specialist on Tibet Buddhism from Oxford.
As Evans noticed, there exist Yogi-masters who possess the abilities to stop the vital processes until the state similar to death. One of the most well-known cases of such kind was that of Yogi Sadhu Haridas whose phenomenon was reported by a special commission.
The Yogi was buried alive under the supervision of Lahor maharaja Randjiet Singh.
The box the Yogi was dug in was sealed by a Royal seal, and over the grave barley grains were bowed and grown up which witnessed the fact of the grave inviolability for an arranged term. The place of burial was surrounded with a wall and guarded by soldiers day and night. When some months later the Yogi was dug out, his face was clean shaved as it had been before burial. Sadhu came to his senses, began breathing and regained his consciousness. It is surprising that during his four-months ‘dream’ the Yogi did not breathe, eat and drink. In Evans-Vents’s opinion, in the superior states of Yoga meditation the blood circulation slows up until almost the full cease, and the breath disappears.
There are also other significant changes in the physiological processes of body vital functions which let us say that the breath, pulse, circulation and nervous systems in the body of ‘a fully enlightened creature’ are completely different from those of an ordinary person.
Yoga phenomena made many of the Western and local researchers doubt the verity of classical scientific anthropology and consider the human as a more complex and mysterious creature than it seemed to the XIX-century materialists and XX-century positivists.
The human being appeared to be not just ‘a physiological organism controlled by brain’ but the unknown world of consciousness – a special psychic reality existing separately from the organism and linked with the other form of reality, possibly more enigmatic than human consciousness. Here Yoga has been so far the guide of human consciousness to the other world – the inner psychic space being inaccessible until now to the technical means of scientific cognition.
Thus, Yoga is not just the abstract mystical philosophy handling abstract speculations. Yoga is a practical system of perfection opening a lot of unknown possibilities for a person on one’s way to self-development. But, like the Western science, Yoga does not forgive one’s thoughtlessness and conceit where a specialist’s experience and guidance are required.
For those who study Yoga on their own using the Internet free materials, it is advisable to possess sober mind, sharp intuition, saving skepticism, sane cynicism and particularly a good sense of humour – uppermost relative to oneself.
All these, though will not save those who study Yoga on their own from problems while chasing the paranormal forces, will surely help to overcome the consequences of the challenge; the latter can be the displeased relatives, the puzzled authorities, the worried beloved and the condescendingly attentive professors during the in-patient round in a psychiatric hospital department.
All these consequences, which surely widen the boundaries of life experience for overcoming stressful factors and acquiring the differentiating cognition and enstrangement, can be prevented by trying to observe the rules of psychic-energy irreproachability (yama-niyama), justified confidence in the methods of the chosen practice and volitional character, and certainly with the help of an experienced tutor who is sincerely interested in the pupil’s spiritual progress.
In Yoga terminology there is a term ’maya’, or the illusion of conventional existence. The Western interpreters incline to see in it the hint at the imperfection of the human cognitive and psychic apparatus: allegedly, if due to Yoga the brain cells get additional resource and the person’s attention gets the skills of concentration and processing larger amounts of information, the human being will really become the Highest Step of Evolution.
Without disputing these good ideas, we will give the name of maya to the state of modern society understanding under this term the sum of all the negative forces as opposed to true reality “I am”. Instability, affection, delusion, sensuality – these are the main forms of maya “illusion” manifestation in human aspect. It can be complained of the fact that, despite the progress of European civilization, mankind stays in ignorance, suffers from anxiety, blind attachment to earthy existence, perverted individualism, predilection for carnal enjoinments, violence and disorder in all life ways.
Yoga gives the possibility to overcome the factors above which attach the man to material being. The reason of unhappiness in the world is avidya (ignorance), and for it removal a suitable Yoga training is necessary. The practice, which includes classes and manner of life oriented to the Yoga direction, can lead the man to conciliation with oneself and the surrounding world to harmony. Within the people of nowadays radjas is dominating (in Indian philosophy it is one of the active features of material substance manifested in movement and activity): the endless stressful activity occupies the man’s daily routine everywhere. The Western civilization having imposed its criteria of verity to the whole world is in its nature that of vaishyas (the third varna, salesmen) for whom money and the ways of its getting are the only concern.
The modern man cannot be inactive, and his passion to outer activity can’t be just suppressed. Yoga is supposed to help the man in his daily routine. Understanding the essence of what is happening to the modern world can become the driving force for implanting the Yoga methods into one’s daily routine by transforming routine into Yoga.
It is not the exaggeration that the mythical End of the world, which has been horrifying mankind through all its history, is happening to us just now – without any Hollywood special effects, as ordinary and commonplace as everything. The constant chain of ecological disasters, strengthening domestic and social stresses, appearing increasingly new and new mutative factors – a great number of pathogenic radiation sources, uncontrollable spreading super-heavy drugs, appearing mutated viruses and new mortal diseases, all these seem not to give any chances for our genotype.
The mankind’s gene pool is degrading faster and faster with ever growing awful consequences. We clearly see the degeneration of our planet’s nature and our biological species. But Yoga offers the way out of the dead end the mankind has drive itself in.
Yoga allows to use the ecological and life dead locks as a stimulus for conscious building within oneself the genotype of a perfect human being able to overcome any own limitation. The essence of life and Spiritual evolution is in striving for perfection. The Spiritual evolution lies in the process of the Primary source’s cognizing Himself through us.
Yoga allows to tear oneself away from deadly routine. Besides, Yoga offers the practical methods to improve health and the level of life activity together with the knowledge how to use it just now in our daily routine. What doesn’t give us any possibilities to survive can become our only chance to survive and become perfect. Yoga offers the means to transform the destructing factors into those ones to clear, build and develop consciousness.
Nowadays, we are watching the synthesis of scientific knowledge and that of Eastern philosophic-religious studies. While researching the torsion fields, scientists-physicists come to the exact mathematic descriptions of paranormal phenomena, the aspects of mystic experience and magic interactions. Whereas in science there is continuous justification of one theory after another, when the precious doctrines are deproved by the latest discoveries, the basic conclusions of Classical Yoga immortalized in Patandjali’s ‘Yoga-Sutras’ have been indubitable and unchangeable since they were approved.
All inventions are originated in mind, and only due to deep thinking a scientist penetrates into the mystery of a phenomenon. The Yogi plunges into the depth of mind and moves further to the original source – Atman. A scientist and a philosopher cognize only by means of mind, but the Yogi cognizes the mind itself discovering its origin.
I want to end this short excursus to Yoga history by the poem which was born at the beginning of my Yoga teaching career. In these images I tried to express my understanding the method and purpose close to Yoga bhakti:
Give you yourself.
Give the rain’s gold to the star.
Give the sun’s kiss to the moon flower.
Give the wings to the wind,
The stream’s strings to the sky,
A nightingale to the heart,
A song to the head.
Give you yourself.
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