Thursday, December 28, 2006

Siddhis and World Two

The "psychic powers" (siddhis) of yoga have been problematic, or even embarassing to some. What is the point of these apparently ego-focused abilities when the person is on the brink of release from ego? Chandogya Upanisad chapter 8 makes clear that the ability to obtain all desires lies in the atman-brahman identity, even as it equally shows that fulfilled desires below the level of that atman-brahman are temporary and ultimately undesirable. What is clear here is that only at the creative source are desires (kama-s) fulfilled, and that being at that creative source (recognizing that one is that source, that atman = brahman) is bliss. There is a push back toward beginnings in the Upanisads as in the Yoga Sutra, and those beginnings are realms of bliss. This is what I call "World Two," the state of fulfillment which is not only an "experience" but a stance. [Parenthetically, this is what Heidegger is about, always shifting from the purely mental and interior (experience, concepts) to an orientation, a stance or comportment towards Being.] Standing in ananda there is a sort of explosion of joy, akin to the moment of kensho in Zen Buddhism, which is expressed in exclamations of achievement of desired things--whatever happens to be desired. "Shivoham!" in the Sankara song is similar.

The state of bliss (brahmaloka = anandaloka) is a world, as van Buitenen suggests in his article "Ananda or all desires fulfilled." It is a positive reality in its own right, not just a relief from suffering. Siddhis and the various desired things spoken of in Chandogya 8 are alike in representing the spontaneous outpouring of World Two into this world ("World One"). In this way they are moments of culture, which I call "World Three." The joys of life are real only when they flow from World Two, from a stand in World Two. Pleasures confined to World One (Chandogya 8 shows that this comprises the waking, dream, and deep sleep states) are temporary and not really "enjoyable" (bhogya). "Magic," then, becomes an essential part of culture, which opens up a perspective on much of popular tantra.

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