November 24, 2006

On magical powers called siddhis

zong108 (zong108) wrote,@ 2006-11-21 13:51:00 Sri Aurobindo and Magic Powers (In this little essay, with 'Magic' I mean practical Magic, aimed at change in the phenomenal world including our self-experience)
Sri Aurobindo is one of the greatest thinkers India has brought forth. He lived from 1872 till 1950 and produced a large body of spiritual writings, as well as other writings such as poetry, plays and writings on politics and aesthetics. He had a Western education and his writings are almost entirely in English. He wrote the longest poem ever in English, called Savitri. His writings have the advantage of having an understanding of the Western mind and hence are very accessible for westerners. His spiritual thought has the nature of a synthesis of Indian thought and Western thought.
On the subject of magical powers, called siddhis in Indian philosophy, he takes a positive stance. The ancient seers of India, as well as all the great sages of the past (he cites Jesus' and his apostle's use of siddhis), used or channelled their powers freely. The beneficent influence that these sages have on the world is magical. He criticises Indian and Western spiritual thinkers who consider siddhis unworthy of attention. Sri Aurobindo writes that siddhis are a natural, although not very important part of spiritual development. Denying them is an error.
He emphasizes that spiritual practise should never be aimed at obtaining siddhis directly. The siddhis will come with the opening up to and integrating with the higher forces. These forces he simply calls the Divine. This is the safest way. There is the possibility to attain magical powers and spiritual progress simultaneously, but this he regards as a dangerous path. There are astral forces that try to influence or even possess the aspirant that opens himself or herself to them These forces are opposed to spiritual attainment and may have detrimental effect on the aspirant. Their influences can occur directly through communication or indirectly through impulsion. It seems in Western Magic, we can see many instances of this.Sri Aurobindo has openly declared that he put his occult powers to use against Hitler. See:
And the West: Sri Aurobindo's view seems to be a very general one among real spiritual adepts. Magic powers are an authentic aspect of spirituality, but should only be played with (in the sense of Divine play, Lila) after a true spiritual attainment has been established. When we look at the Golden Dawn current of Western Magic we see a similar pattern. First the student balances out and investigates the elemental level, then he attains the knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel as a Adeptus Minor, after which he learns magical practices such as invocation and evocation. After having established a rapport with the Holy Guardian Angel, the adept is able to use the Magic wisely.
However we see a great difference here between the East and the West. The Holy Guardian Angel (HGA) is considered a separate, independent being. Although there are lots of theories about the nature of the HGA, such as that it is our True or Higher Self or a future Self influencing the past self, attracting it to it's heights, these theories do not address the fundamental feeling/idea that the Divine is separate, outside our normal, everyday experience. In the East this is never the case. The Divine is always considered to be very close, the ultimate essence of our own being.
The result of the Western attitude is that it is easy to get stuck. If you feel that your HGA is outside yourself, it is hard to establish a connection. You are never sure that your connection is real, that you are not fooling yourself. These doubts themselves are a big obstacle on the path of spiritual evolution. The HGA is the Divine force directed to us. It is a deep impulse in our being that forms the background of our spiritual aspirations. In a way there is only one HGA - there is only one Divine force that works on all things in the multiverse. The HGA is an aspect of everything. We never loose our connection with it, we only habitually pay attention to other impulses. It is the aim of spiritual practice to change this habit. Before we do so, the practice of Magic is inadvisable, because it can easily lead to adverse occult powers having a detrimental effect on our spiritual evolution.
Further reading:
Satprem, Sri Aurobindo or the Adventure of Consciousness.
Sri Aurobindo, The Siddhis, published in Essays Human and Divine.
Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga (three volumes).
Sri Aurobindo, The Integral Yoga (a selection of his writings giving a handy overview of his Yoga).

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