Extra sensory perception or psychic abilities is one of the different types of Spiritual Power or siddhis outlined in the Vibhuti Pada (Book III) of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Extra-sensory perception is so-called because it is perception without the mediation of the senses. Because this type of phenomenon is well-associated with pre-literate societies, there has been active hostility or opposition included in its discussion among scientifically-minded people.
Examples of Extra-Sensory Perception
Telepathy – a form of extra-sensory perception that involves the transfer of information on thoughts or feelings between individuals by means other than the five senses.
Clairvoyance - a form of extra-sensory perception that involves the ability to gain information about an object, person, location or physical event through means of spiritual sight.
Precognition – a form of extra-sensory perception that involves the ability to gain future information that cannot be deduced from presently available and normally acquired sense-based information.
Clairaudience - a form of extra-sensory perception that involves the ability to hear the whole gamut of sound vibrations from the physical and superphysical planes.
Lemme see. Ok, there’s Michel de Nostredame (1503 – 1566) a.k.a. Nostradamus (the guy who scares the heck out of everyone because of his doomsday predictions), The Delphic Oracle (the priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi in ancient Greece), Edgar Cayce (an American who claimed to be a psychic with the ability to channel answers to questions on subjects such as health or Atlantis while in a self-induced trance), Helena Blavatsky (the founder of Theosophy and the Theosophical Society), Daniel Dunglas Home (a Scottish Spiritualist, famous as a physical medium with the reported ability to levitate to a variety of heights, speak with the dead, and to produce rapping and knocks in houses at will), and Grigori Rasputin (a Russian mystic who was often called the "Mad Monk" and is believed to be a psychic and faith healer).
These people probably practiced other methods when they tried to develop their abilities or some of them were perhaps just born with their talents. Those who practice yoga have their own unique way for attaining extra-sensory perception. So the question is, how do people in yogic traditions develop their psychic abilities?
The answer can be found in Sutra 37 of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
“Tatah pratibha-sravana-vedanadarsasvada-vartha jayante. Te samadhav upasarga vyutthane siddhayah”
"Thence are produced intuitional hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell. They are obstacles in the way of Samadhi and powers when the mind is outward-turned."
— I.K. Taimni, The Science Of Yoga
"Following this insight, the senses - hearing, feeling, seeing, tasting, smelling - may suddenly be enhanced. These sensory gifts may feel like attainments, but they distract one from integration."
— Chip Hartranft, The Yoga-Sûtra of Patañjali
"Thereupon are born the divine power of intuition, and the hearing, the touch, the vision, the taste and the power of smell of the spiritual man. These powers stand in contradistinction to the highest spiritual vision. In manifestation they are called magical powers."
— Charles Johnston, The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali: The Book of the Spiritual Man
It is said in the two previous sutras that by performing Samyama Meditation on the Heart Chakra, one acquires knowledge of the nature of the mind (Sutra 35) and knowledge of pure consciousness (Sutra 36). Once these have been attained, psychic abilities or extra-sensory perception will begin to appear.
Of course, psychic abilities can also be acquired by meditating on the higher chakras, but this section specifically deals with the Heart (Anahata).
In the course of our everyday activities, our perception of reality is created by the mind whose operation is dependent on the information provided by our five senses. Because of this, we are restricted by the limitations inherent in those senses and the information itself. However, when knowledge of the Spirit or what the Hindus call Purusha has been obtained by performing Samyama on its nature, these limitations fall away and it becomes possible for us to have direct knowledge of anything in the physical, mental, and spiritual realms since what can be found in these realms come from the Spirit in the first place.
However, please keep in mind the second statement of Patanjali (Sutra 38) regarding these powers. He says that they are obstacles and distractions especially when they are used for material instead of spiritual purposes. These powers should not be used for display, to gain followers, or even for fame and fortune.
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