"Why cool the flames, Yogi, stay the stream?" 1
Why dost thou walk fast upward in the sky?
Why milk the bullock? Why magic dream?
Why these base feats of the juggler try?
- Hindu Scriptures.
Many Indians and foreigners go to the Himalayas in search of godmen with miraculous powers. However, miracles should not be taken as a proof of someones spirituality or prophethood. This subtle distinction is now being made even by those who have lived in the Himalayas and claim to have had first hand experience of the psychic or supernatural powers of the individuals living there. It may be possible to develop psychic powers such as communicating with the spirits, reading another persons thoughts or performing some more complex functions in the realm of the supernatural. However, acquisition of these powers is, in most cases, not related to the development of spirituality in a persons life. The aim of persons indulging in such practices is to gather name, fame and wealth by displaying some supernatural feats to their innocent followers. Further, the development of such powers is generally undertaken at a great cost both physically and spiritually to the individuals interfering with psychic forces. Most saints and sages agree with this view point.
Swami Rama has recently published a revealing and weighty testimony on the Himalayan Masters based on a life time spent with them. He dismisses most practices such as lying on a bed of nails, piercing the body with needles, transporting goods from one place to another by mere sight, etc. He considers these practices not only a waste of time, a departure from ones aim of life and path of spirituality, but worse, harmful to all involved in the process.
"Mostly," says the Swami, "such phenomena are tricks. Whenever they are found to be genuine, they are black magic.2 Spirituality has nothing to do with these miracles. The third chapter of Yoga Sutras explains many methods of attaining siddhis (powers), but these siddhis create stumbling blocks in the path of enlightenment. One person in millions does indeed have siddhis, but I have found that such people are often greedy, egotistical, and ignorant. The path of enlightenment is different from the intentional cultivation of powers. The miracles of Buddha, Christ, and other great sages were performed spontaneously and for a purpose. They were not performed with selfish motives or to create a sensation.
"On the path of yoga [the science of union with God], sometimes one comes across the potentials of siddhis. A yogi without having any desire for a siddhi might get one, but one who is aware of the purpose of his life never misuses them. Misuse of siddhi is the downfall of a yogi." 3
The reasons for Swami Ramas assertions are easy to understand. The desire for the attainment of these powers, like riches, diverts the mind from the path of God. Such latent faculties are prematurely cultivated to fulfil ones greed for wealth, fame or other worldly games.
Similar conclusions have been arrived at by Dr. Paul Brunton who toured India extensively to arrive at the truth of the so-called yogis and fakirs claiming to possess supernatural powers. Dr. Brunton writes, "One heard so much of certain so-called holy men who possessed repute of having acquired deep wisdom and strange powers; so one travelled through scorching days and sleepless nights to find themonly to find well-intentioned fools, scriptural slaves, venerable know-nothings, money-seeking conjurers, jugglers with a few tricks, and pious frauds." 4
Even in the modern times, there is much spurious spirituality in India like everywhere else. "There is an innumerable crowd of mental acrobats and contortionists through which the seeker after pure spirituality must elbow his way These are all interesting enough in their way and are well worth study by scientific men interested in psychic phenomena. But they are not the real thing. They are not the springs whence spirituality comes gushing." 5
In all this confusion, Dr. Brunton does find something to learn from the Indian sages of the past and from the very very few who live today. He believes that the present day materialistic ideas will not dominate the world for a long time and can perceive prophetic indications of a coming change of thought. However, he does not believe in miracles. He thinks that " our knowledge of Natures laws is incomplete, and that when the advance guard of scientists who are pushing forward into unexplored territory have found out a few more of those laws, we shall then be able to do things which are tantamount to miracles." 6
Spiritually inclined seekers of truth, after investigation conclude that the urge for superpowers is born out of the egotistical lower self and is therefore unholy. The real purpose of human life is to know God and to worship Him, and finally to attain His nearness. The aspiration for any supernormal powers is thus seen by the spiritually advanced beings as an ignoble and accursed thing because it is born out of a hankering for material gains and a desire for fame and applause.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
1. Jamshed Fozdar, Buddha Maitrya-Amitabha Has Appeared, Baháí Publishing Trust, New Delhi,1976, p. 199.
2. Since the Baháís do not believe in the existence of the devil or evil spirits, this would be interpreted to mean indulgence in harmful practices.
3. Swami Rama, Living with the Himalayan Masters (Spiritual Experiences of Swami Ajaya), Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the USA, Honesdale, Pennsylvania, 1978, pp. 102-3.
4. Paul Brunton, A Search in Secret India, B. I. Publications, Bombay, 1994, p. 13.
5. ibid. Foreword by Francis Younghusband., pp. 7-8.
6. ibid., p. 20.