Yoga and parapsychology
An article by Gregorian Bivolaru
Yoga tradition has several legends upon great yogis’ wonderful lives and miraculous deeds. Even contemporary great yogis are capable of spontaneously realizing miracles or “paranormal phenomena”, in other words. The numerous unusual deeds in great yogis’ stories evoke the vast and complex problem of spirituality-parapsychology relation or, in this case, better said authentic yoga-parapsychology relation.
The miracle accompanies spiritual evolution
This full of mystery problem is not new at all. It is a historically certifiable fact that the very perseverant and determined in their faith people have strived for devotedly reaching a certain divine accomplishment for thousands of years. They inspired themselves from their time’s authentic traditions. When they fully reached their accomplishment, they became spiritually accomplished persons or great saints or wise men, as they are called in West and accomplished Masters or Liberated souls in East. Almost all of them manifested multiple and amazing paranormal capacities (siddhis), during and after their spiritual practice, and sometimes strange miraculous powers, which the ignorant ones, in particular, found very difficult to understand and explain.
It is natural to study these paranormal manifestations that appear to some privileged subjects, as other physical, biological, psychological and mental phenomena are studied. If they are correctly understood, they can be progressively integrated and amplified, by a systematic and adequate training, by the “normal”, “undowed” persons, too, under certain conditions (known by the initiated). We can never deny the fundamental and always alive attention of the parapsychological studies.
Moreover, their amazing results offer new surprisingly unlimited horizons to the limited human mind, leading, thus, to a more profound – and maybe more correlated – vision that immensely reaches us and often determines an unexpected review of the unanimously accepted values in us.
Researchers interested in paranormal phenomena focused their attention upon those who manifested such extraordinary capacities themselves or who triggered them around (great yogis or Christian saints, famous wise men or East’s spiritually accomplished Masters).
The paranormal phenomena manifested by the great yogis, wise men or initiated ones are a common study subject for parapsychologists. But a whole series of such phenomena, chaotically developed and manifested, righteously called “inferior” by the great yogis or wise men, can appear at the trainees on their way to the Absolute under certain circumstances. They are undesired aspects that can later trigger the influence of disarray and stagnation on spiritual path demoniac factors. We can only accede to Swami Ritajananda’s full of common sense important remark, especially now when there are several weird medicine men and fake bio energyworkers that hurry to “awake” mediumity. They aberrantly proclaim that 3-7 day “course” offer “clairevoyance” or “curing powers” to the candidates who are on their way towards psychical disequilibrium, actually. No matter how legal one or the other is, pure spiritual practice in order to reveal the eternal absolute has nothing to do with phenomenological research, even if the latter often takes as object of study the paranormal manifestations that appear during the former.
Great yogis, as great mystics, do not seek to obtain miraculous powers
The history of religious mysticism offers several examples of famous ascetics that grievously regretted being disturbed by these unusual phenomena of resonance with different subtle energies that manifested in them or through them (even against their will, due to amplified mediumity). They did not really look for them.
In Catholic Church, the case of Therese of Avila represents such a famous example, among the most representative. In his work “The problems of mystical life”, Roger Bastide says that this saint often asked God not to send her anymore the ecstasy states that spontaneously seized her in front of everybody, especially during Mass or even when leaving the church. More than once, they represented a scandalous reason rather than a divine edification for those around. In her humility, she did not even ask for them.
The great wise men and Christian saints or even Eastern yogis who have not reached the supreme goal on the spiritual path, “climbing Carmel’s divine mountain” as Saint John of the Cross said, look upon these unusual phenomena (often mediumic, especially when they are not will controlled) as parasites, even dangers (not all these powers are dangerous). They are neither looking for them on purpose nor triggering them in fully awareness.
These mysterious strange powers were not the wanted objective; they were not part of their search for the divine. Their unexpected appearance and effects, although often spectacular, took them unexpectedly and defocused them, creating doubts, and sometimes sufferance and inner fear.
The most serious, in other words, the most profound spiritual disciples, fully dedicated themselves, heart and soul, to the sublime, delicate, meditative and unusual silent search for the ultimate divine Presence. In a last revelation, that was their or anybody’s life’s basic principal itself.
Detached by everything that is evanescent and illusion (maya), they were never greedy for paranormal powers (siddhis) that could doubtless make them capable of realizing inner wonders only. Thus, they were not preoccupied with achieving the passing personal glory most of magicians, wizards and some famous healers did. They could no longer want that in their heart’s sincerity and modesty, in their total self abandoning towards supreme divine goal. For them, due to the real spiritual level they found themselves on, it would have been childish to brag with holding and exhilating such obvious indiscrete extraordinary powers, which they were fully detached of.
Siddhi-s (paranormal powers) can become obstacles
On the contrary, many of them were very affected in certain occasions, when those (sometimes undesirable) powers were suddenly, unexpectedly and inappositely awakened. They became objects of general curiosity and they were destroyed or determined to compromise their search for the truth, or self realization (Atman), the right and central path that could be seen on Saint John of the Cross’ drawing on the book “Climbing Carmel’s divine mountain”.
Not having any kind of attraction towards the temporary kingdom of this world, wonders are objects or involuntary causes on this path. They are ephemeral useless resources or seductive masks of power temptation for the ignorant and selfish in particular. They are susceptible of partly or totally compromising all previous efforts’ results. They could also see by these weird phenomena the shining dirt that results from the unified melting of their being. This is the dirt you need to detach from so you can achieve profound spiritual transfiguration.
Why do paranormal phenomena appear during spiritual practice?
How can we explain this sometimes sudden burst of enigmatical and unwanted paranormal phenomena during authentical spiritual practice, such as Yoga, too? Theologists, yogis, philosophers and psychologists looked, more than once, at this problem: the origin of these strange and ephemeral shining “sub-products” of the authentic and profound spiritual path.
About this, Abbacy Henri Bremond and other authors show that the instantaneous and “unprepared” penetration, if we could say that, of a sovereign, grandiose, spiritual presence inside the human psychic, whose mind is not strong enough, analogically speaking like the immediate absorption of a too strong liquor, in a way that will disturb both unready psychic’s functioning and physical body, all these easily trigger psychic side-effects (due to complex resonance phenomena with certain subtle energies from the universe – that can be naturally qualified as extraordinary or paranormal).
Still, in time, this disequilibrium phenomenon initially triggered because of mental maladjustment disappears and a harmonious cohabitation takes place instead. A state of euphorical lucidity and quiet contact with essence appears. They will be soon assimilated as a habit. In the centre of this spiritual discovery that overwhelms the being an ecstatic equilibrium appears that grows in ampleness and intensity. It is what Henri Delacroix calls “the teopatic state” (the state of feeling God).
In most cases, the paranormal phenomena promptly stop manifesting involuntarily and uncontrollably. The spiritual ecstasy states no longer trigger visible disturbance of the conscience or of the body, which are familiar with these manifestations due to adaptation and harmonious integration.
Of course, this does not necessarily mean that exceptional powers (siddhis) that manifested during ascetism or different spiritual practices no longer subsist when the goal was touched. Others can appear, too, all of them being fully controlled now by the master yogi or the victorious initiate that can manifest them at will, whenever he considers it necessary.
Great yogis use paranormal powers to help other people
What meanings can be given once we reach the phase of those powers (siddhis)? They are now but a simple and wise extension of human being’s acting divine possibilities.
This wisely integrated extension is no longer dangerous, neither for him/her, nor for the others. Here we can mention the fact that the great yogis, saints or wise men that reached the top of the spiritual realization always say: “I do not live, but God lives and permanently manifests Himself through and in me.” They present themselves as sublime and divine new aptitudes, naturally adding to those common people already have. Any ego or personal vanity being finally erased here, these new aptitudes, perfectly integrated in the human being due to divine grace, are no longer used for the holder’s personality’ use but for sublime actions that are altruist, inspired from wisdom, and subtly or visibly charitable and generous.
Once we reached this point of our analyses, we can add that authentic spirituality is also, in itself, a “parapsychology”, if we understand by “parapsychology” the science of human being’s usual aptitudes, the way they perceptionally and operationally overflow and outgrow them. It is obvious for the intelligent one the “parapsychology” represented by authentical spirituality is totally different from the commonly designated one.
Especially for those who do not take spirituality as a pure intellectual or theoretical phenomenon but an equivalent self realization, a type of perfect transmutation and sublimation that triggers a profound psychological mutation, this realization totally awakens (when it becomes effective) divine, ecstatic states of consciousness we could call paranormal or even supernormal, maybe. Without necessarily aiming for realizing unusual actions or external wonders, the consciousness of the being that reached the highest level of spirituality can go by states unknown to the common man, plunging in what we could call another dimension of the universe, dimension that corresponds to an extremely high vibration frequency the individuals under common norms, who do not have the necessary spiritual awakening, do not even suspect. This is why it corresponds to a certain inner perception domain or to an action that can pass as parapsychology to the ignorant one.
Profound spiritual experiences are a suis generis parapsychology
Moreover, for the spiritual unawake, the facts included in this enigmatical domain could neither come out from any organized material research nor could result from any organized material research, using a detecting or controlling device that would justify the use of statistical methods.
In addition, such a “parapsychology” could not be described in any common language as our usual language cannot be understood but by the readers or listeners who already had the indescribable inner experience of those states that this language’s words have the translating mission. If wise men and great spiritually awaken or yogis can perfectly understand each other using the usual language in an analogical and symbolic manner, this happens only because they all fully lived, no matter where they came from, the same inner experiences of spiritual, divine nature.
Some authors claim the spiritually awaken ones have “phenomena of understanding without explicit understanding”, where conscience resonates with a sublime reality, so rich and profound that the one experiencing it cannot exactly define it.
Is it always like this? Even for the greatest Western and Eastern mystics? Of course, their unanimous testimonies show the affirmative. Is not it also true that common intelligence, which is often evoqued by the word “understanding”, is the only form of intelligence that human being knows, besides any form of delirium or paranoia?
In order to be that “technical animal” that Henri Bergson and Eduard Le Roy speak about, man had to be endowed with intelligence without he could not create tools or build cars that made him the biological master of his native planet.
Intelligence or wisdom?
We can call this form of intelligence “technical intelligence” and it can be shown that this technical intelligence, specialized in producing objects, tragically influenced man’s consciousness about himself and about his neighbours, in a way. Wise men often say: “conscienceless science is souls’ ruin”.
This technical intelligence has limits and strange singularities. For instance, it is remarkable that we are absolutely incapable of clearly imagining things with more than three dimensions that exist and their geometrical properties can be established due to its grace; it is also difficult for us to have a concrete image of them, in other words, to exactly inner see them for just one hour. If it has got obviously perceptible limits, what could influence us that these limits or deficiencies can be exceeded? For the three year old child’s conscience, adult’s language is, generally, almost unintelligible.
Authentic spiritual experience could, of course, express by an amazingly complex vision upon the world which is almost totally different than the one most of us know. Even the Bible says that: “Spiritual experience represents a superior form of intelligence that most people, who have not lived it under the educational circumstances they went by, cannot understand.
This is why it is almost untranslatable in our language, as the adult’s phrases are for the child’s conscience who has not achieved the feeling of separate personal existence. Finally, is not “to understand” for each of us a certain personal manner of resonating with the complex reality or, in other words, seeing a psychological “sense” exercise that functions specifically according to our characteristic level of inner vibration?