Looking in the wrong place
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber” (John 10:1).
This statement of Jesus, a Nath Yogi, immediately brings up a very serious and crucial matter. Throughout thousands of years, especially in India, it has been seen that many things can produce the same qualities or abilities and powers in those persons that are considered to be indications of genuine realization and teaching authority.
The different experiences that can be mistaken for spiritual progress and even enlightenment can arise from all five of our bodies (koshas). And in each case they are the result of distortion and malfunction in those bodies produced by false yoga practices that delude the aspiring yogi. Despite the claims made by the false yogis who peddle them, these are not spiritual at all, but material, gross and subtle.
- Annamaya kosha.
Those centered in the physical body produce physical phenomena such as levitation, living without breathing for long periods of time, living without eating or drinking, floating on water in meditation posture, and appearing to die and being buried for long periods of time and then disinterred and seemingly coming back to life.
- Pranamaya kosha.
Some of these phenomena can manifest by the practices centered in the pranic body by means of intense pranayama falsely called raja yoga. Others are the ability to appear and disappear, going from one place to another in a moment, the ability to impart intense energy (shakti) to others, the ability in this manner to heal some physical ills or to cause cataclysmic changes in the mind and body of others, the ability to appear in different forms and even to penetrate into the physical and subtle bodies–including the minds–of others. Among these are the “shaktipat” gurus.
- Manomaya kosha.
Those practices centered in the manasic (sensory mind) levels produce visions, ability to read the thoughts and feelings of others, and to produce visions and mental states in others, the ability to fascinate and control others, especially in their feelings (emotions), the ability to create an intense atmosphere around themselves that appear miraculous, uplifting, joy-bringing and (of course) divine. By their touch those adept in these practices can produce amazing experiences in others and seem to be virtually omnipotent and omniscient. These false yogis are especially adored by their victim-disciples whom they control through emotional manipulation of various qualities–all the way from love to profound fear of the guru’s omnipotence and omniscience, not to mention the dire things predicted for those who disobey, get “out of attunement,” or separate from the guru. For some reason these fakes like to declare what famous figures of religious and secular history their disciples were in past lives. Especially they thrill their dupes by declaring that they have been his/her disciples for many incarnations (which apparently have not had much effect).
- Jnanamaya kosha.
Those who engage in and teach practices centered in the intellectual (buddhic) levels have tremendous power of speech. Their every word seems to be absolute truth and totally convincing at all times. These false teachers make predictions, especially of the far future, and traffic in New Ideas For The New Age. They either concoct very difficult intellectual gymnastics for consumption or they impart the secret knowledge that has been lost or hidden for ages but which now is to be revealed in great secrecy to dozens, hundred or thousands of disciples.
- Anandamaya kosha.
Practices centered in the etheric body, the particular realm of which is sound (shabda), may produce all the effects listed in the preceding sections through mantra since sound is the basis of everything and vak (speech)is the chief faculty of a human being. Mantra is virtually omnipotent when intensely applied. The effects, like all those described previously, are eventually found in the passing of time to either be temporary or incomplete in their effects.
Looking in the right place
Patanjali discusses the various means of gaining the appearance of Self-realization and the fact that they are all temporary and even illusory except for one: the actual transformation of the consciousness into Divine Consciousness, the very real transformation of the human consciousness into the consciousness of the fully revealed Self whose essence is Brahman Itself.
Although correct sadhana affects all the koshas, the centering of our sadhana should be beyond the koshas and in the Self. And the way to do that is very easy and simple: the meditation and japa of Soham.