The Danger of Lower Siddhis or Psychic Powers
by Fr. E.S.Q.S.
A while back, in the article entitled “Fools Rush In: A Warning”, I had mentioned the danger of lower siddhis or psychic powers; however, I had neglected to go into detail concerning the matter at that point in time. In fact, I had mentioned that I would write a separate article concerning the danger of lower siddhis or psychic powers – and, so, here it is.
A Beginner’s Mistake
In general, interest in developing the lower siddhis or psychic powers is a beginner’s mistake. It is a mistake ultimately rooted in ignorance. In fact, interest in developing the lower siddhis or psychic powers – or, more precisely, in having some sort of superphysical experience(s) to prove to oneself the reality of such things - is a very common starting point for a great many peoples, myself included. It was my interest in developing the lower siddhis or psychic powers – that, and my aspiration to unity - which ultimately lead me to discover esoterics. We are all beginners at some point, we all begin in ignorance. In the case of a beginner who, as of yet, did not know any better (i.e.: was not informed of the esoteric standpoint on the matter), it is probably excusable. In any case, it is highly unlikely that ignorance will achieve anything, whatsoever. As an example: most of the experiments I made as a beginner were utter failures. In hindsight, I am glad for it. If any of my experiments had been a success at that point in my life, I would probably just have increased my bad sowing a thousand-fold.
Knowledge Entails Responsibility
In the case of beginner’s (who are more or less impotent, anyways), such experimentation is probably excusable, though definitely foolish. After all, we cannot expect better from those who do not know any better; however, in discovering esoterics – and especially the esoteric standpoint on the matter (of lower siddhis or psychic powers), we are informed of the dangers concomitant with developing the lower siddhis or psychic powers and, so, continued experimentation – despite warnings – is done on our own responsibility. The ignorant beginner has some lenience in this – after all, he is ignorant; however, the informed dabbler has no such lenience: in having access to esoterics – and especially the esoteric standpoint on the matter – he is expected to know better; to apply what he has learned. If he does not, then he does not on his own responsibility. Once he has known, he cannot pretend to have not known. Once he has seen, he cannot pretend to have not seen.
The Danger Explained
The ignorant beginner will probably scoff at this: “What danger?” but, then, that should come as no surprise given their ignorance. The danger of lower siddhis or psychic powers is a subtle one. In esoteric literature – and esoterically inspired literature, mind you – we find copious warnings against developing the lower siddhis or psychic powers: Patanjali has said it, the Buddha has said it, various Theosophists have said it, HTL has said it, and now I am saying it as well. The danger of lower siddhis or psychic powers is, ultimately, their ability to “throw us off the right track” in terms of the growth and development of consciousness:
1. The development of lower siddhis or psychic powers is, largely, a waste of precious time and effort. In this, I am reminded of a story that goes somewhat as follows:
There were two monks sitting beside a river when, in the distance they could hear the sounding of bells at the monastery, indicating that it was time for their initiation; however, they would have to cross the river first. The first monk looked about and found a simple rowboat. He was across the river in a matter of minutes and was well on his way to his initiation; however, the second monk was determined to cross the river by walking on water. As such, he began to practice all manner of exercises with the goal of – one day – being able to walk on water. 60 years later, he crossed the river.
The point of the story, of course, is that the development of the lower siddhi or psychic power was an unnecessary waste of precious time and effort. The first monk was initiated (symbolically indicating the acquisition of higher states of consciousness) 60 years earlier than the second monk – and all the second monk had to show for it, 60 years later (and 60 years late), was that he could walk on water.
2. The premature (as in first-selves) development of the lower siddhis or psychic powers tends to exacerbate all of our worst tendencies. After all, when a man acquires power(s) – psychical of otherwise - before he has acquired a sense of lawfulness, a sense of unity (fully developed only in the second-selves), it is almost inevitable that he will abuse those power(s) for his own, personal ends and, thus, violate the laws of life; also, the rights and freedoms of others.
Of course, there will be many people saying: “I would be different”. Indeed, everyone thinks that they would be different, everyone thinks that they would be the one exception to the rule. This just evinces their ignorance of the matter in question. A useful thought experiment is as follows:
Let us pretend, for a moment, that – somehow - you had got the power to physically turn invisible at will. What is the first use of this newfound power of yours that comes to mind? In probably 99.99% of cases, the first use that comes to mind is a criminal one – least of all, spying on others. If we are being honest with ourselves, even we had probably thought something terrible – which just goes to show that the temptation to abuse power(s) is alive and well in all of us.
One step further, let us imagine what sort of world we would be living in, today, if everyone had that power? Does anyone out there honestly believe that it would be a good thing? Of course not: it would be chaos.
3. The temptation to abuse power(s) is highly seductive. So long as you do not have them, you do not have to deal with that problem (which is precisely why the hierarchy and its representatives have been against the development of lower siddhis or psychic powers for so long). If you do acquire some kind of power(s), you will know precisely what I mean. As we begin to grow in consciousness, there is a war waged within us: a war betwixt a higher self and a lower self; betwixt consciousness and unconsciousness; betwixt the Self and the no-Self; betwixt the Self and its envelopes (i.e.: the “personality”); betwixt love and hatred; betwixt law and lawlessness; betwixt unity and power. It is a war of temptation – and it doesn’t get any easier with the development of lower siddhis or psychic powers. In fact, the development of even a single lower siddhi or psychic power – and the seductive temptation to abuse the power in question – could seal your fate.
4. Abuse of power(s) also is a maddeningly chaotic downward spiral. Every abuse of power(s) entails bad sowing, every bad sowing entails bad reaping, and every bad reaping entails increases suffering – both for oneself and for others. Abuse of power(s) and the suffering it ultimately entails makes it more difficult for us to grow and develop, which is the meaning and purpose of life.
The Greatest “Siddhi”
To end this short article, I’d like to just take a moment now and mention what the Buddha had said about the danger of lower siddhis and psychic powers. We have already explained most of it, save for this one last thing: the Buddha implored us to keep our eyes on the goal; to strive to attain the greatest “siddhi” of all, which – in the parlance of Pythagorean Hylozoics – would be the attainment of causal consciousness. Never mind the lower siddhis or psychic powers – they will only serve to distract you from this one task we have as men: to become causal-selves sometime (second-selves, in other words; also, essential-selves beyond that). Our one task as men has two points in it, neither of which is the acquisition of power(s):
1. To finally differentiate between the Self and the not-Self; the Self and its envelopes (i.e.: the “personality”); to identify with oneself, become self-conscious. This is a necessary first step towards our continued identification with higher kinds of consciousness (causal consciousness, essential consciousness, etc.,); also, our liberation from lower kinds of consciousness (initially, the lower kinds of consciousness there are in physical, emotional, and mental respects).
2. To cultivate the will to unity, aspiration to unity; also, “goodwill”. To unite with increasingly greater groups of individuals until, finally, we can unite with the community of life itself (i.e.: essential consciousness).
Hopefully, this short article serves to encourage the efforts of my fellow seekers to stick to the "straight and narrow" (so to speak) and avoid the numerous pitfalls there are in the development of the lower siddhis or psychic powers.
Thanks for your time,