If you’ve ever wanted to be a radiant loci of mind force, surrounded by swooning tantric initiates, drunk on the ecstacy of your own communion with primordial mind, throwing off sparks of yogic power to be harvested by the devoted and virtuous… well this is how you do that.

If you just wanna kick some ass on PS3, then this is also how you do that.

If you just wanna know how to sit still for a hour without losing your mind, you are also in luck.

It’s concentration, baby, and there is no accomplishment without concentration.

Direct download: siddha_supermassive.mp3


18 thoughts on “Systematic for the People 6: Siddha Supermassive

  1. This piece was awesome. I’ve still got some toys that disappeared when I was a kid that I’m waiting for to just pop up somewhere. I really like the part about the mind attaining gravity and anchoring somewhere. It’s only happened one or two times where I’ve been trying to meditate and it felt like the world was moving around me (but more like trying to slam me in the face which really freaked me out) which is a really radically different experience than my day to day. The duke research you mentioned would be, I guess, in the publications listed at the bottom of the page here: http://www.parapsych.org/members/w_g_roll.html

    You can find some articles on http://www.findarticles.com (I googled roll + poltergeist + publications)

  2. A while back I’ve listened to an interview with Ken Wilber. Somewhere in there, he very briefly mentioned that “psychic powers” are “real.” I was really puzzled as to what he meant by “real” (real in what sense, basically).

    After listening to this podcast … I may be even more confused. (I hope you don’t feel insulted, since that’s never been my intention in any of the comments I’ve made thus far.)

    To me, certain examples you provided would fall under as ordinary human accomplishments (eg. sharp reflexes of a video game player, the star athlete, the influence of Hitler, etc.). Indeed they are accomplishments but it doesn’t make much sense to put them in the same category as supernatural powers. Although, I do think you mentioned slight distinctions between the more supernatural accomplishment and the mundane accomplishments. I suppose the more ordinary accomplishments could be filed into the same category as supernatural powers since they both supposedly share the same foundation in strong concentration. So perhaps the difference between the more ordinary Siddhis and the unusual supernatural Siddhis is the difference in just how strong the level of concentration is in the person. Your thoughts?

    And so, related to the above, what about some of the seemingly far fetched Siddhis listed in various texts? Siddhis such as teleportation, mind reading, levitation, etc.? And there are yet more outlandish ones like walking on water or turning oneself invisible. So naturally, I’m curious as to whether these abilities are truly possible in a human being OR whether they are just another part of the cultural trappings and fabricated myths which have accumulated around these ancient spiritual practices. When reading some of these texts, it’d be fantastic if I knew just what was bullshit and what is based in reality.

    Can a person with a strong concentration willingly channel that energy into … say, healing abilities or mind reading and so forth? Because one of the point you seemed to make was how the energy from strong concentration will seep out into random areas of life (e.g. pens disappearing and suddenly appearing out of thin air) when not consciously put to use.

    Thinking back in my life, I’m not sure if I’ve had any experience with the Siddhis — well, nothing that could be called “supernatural.” I may have accidently come across the early Jhanas when I was younger, and there was a sudden event of lucid dreaming, but I don’t think those count.

    Anyway, this latest one has been interesting and gave me some more things to ponder. I’m sure there’s *something* to all this concentration stuff… some truth to it, but probably mixed in with too much fabrication that it’s not clear where the boundaries are.

  3. zac, this series keeps getting better and better and better. a truly great thing you have going on here. i’ve seldom been so moved to share such an increasingly great resource with friends who are foreign to internet potentials such as this.

    as exciting as the potentials found in each new limb/episode may be, it is becoming clear (through listening and reflection) how important the foundational steps are, as you have been getting at the whole time. while i feel that i can relate to what is being described as possible with each new limb, i’m also relating to my relative shortcomings that need be addressed in the past limbs. as excited as i am for each new post, the excitement is coupled with a renewed enthusiasm to return to the beginning and develop a sturdy foundation where necessary.

    not that i can say i’ve spent much time looking, but i’ve always had the stubborn feeling that any age-old traditions (be it this or that) were mostly not worth even looking into, simply because commercialism’s role in corrupting the teacher, not allowing me to trust their motives, etc…. but then comes this series. your work with this series seems to sift through the detritis and crap out there to bring back and share your take on how it really is. then again, i am impressionable… but still very impressed and quite grateful.

  4. well, not to worry, there’s still a chance for me to be corrupted by commercialism, but ultimately i trust the audience to develop an ear for bullshit when they hear it and keep me on the straight and narrow. so far all the things we’re talking about here fall well within the range of my rather exotic education.

    and to answer you, gen; I’m not trying to be obscure. but it’s partly

    a) I don’t have any blatantly supernatural powers, but i know people who do, and everytime i’ve ever broached the subject they always advise that you should find out for yourself. it’s one of those things where preconceptions play a huge role in the process. the risk of madness makes this doubly important.

    b) i do have skills that transit into realms that seem farfetched to me when i look back on them. i see this all the time in many areas, and the more i look the more i realise that much of our world is shaped by these forces, or by people who tap into these forces but we don’t see it. i mean is there really any such line between the normal and the supernormal? i wonder if it’s just our imaginations mostly.

    c) the way the classic descriptions of the siddhi are phrased leaves open the possbility of them being highly refined but still mundane skills, or full blown paranoramal fireworks. ‘to become giant as the world or small as an atom’ could for example mean that you shift your perceptual faculties up and down on different scales from the micro to the macro, or engage in various kind of out-of-body perceptions.

    c) there’s a famous story of the buddha meeting some yogi who spent fourty years perfecting a siddhi to walk on water. when he ran up to the buddha and announced his skill, the buddha replied to the effect that a ferry boat across the river only costs a nickel. so they may exist but be too much grief to make it worthwhile for some people. certainly wanting to show off is why it took this guy fourty years…

    d) next episode… should become clearer after that.

  5. Okay, I’m seeing a huge contradiction with the approach to magickal power as treated in this latest podcast vs. the Alchemy for the Braindamaged series. Let me explain.

    These are two quotes I pulled from the Alchemy for the Braindamaged series:

    1. “This series of articles is not about accumulating supernatural powers. Doing something like that for it’s own sake is not something I care to endorse, even in jest.”

    2. “. . . but if you want true spiritual or transcendental insight, cultivating siddha powers as an end is sure to bring your progress to a screeching halt.”

    Then, from this latest podcast, I transcribed the following quotes:

    1. ““Probably, if you have any interest in this field at all it’s for one of two reasons, or both: um . . . you either a) want to cultivate an understanding of the universe, you know, understanding of god, of the infinite, of your purpose, of your place in life—you know, mystical, spiritual insights. That’s perfectly fine. Those tend to be more ineffable and there are a lot of Zen teachings, uh, Buddhist teachings, um, even Gnostic Christian teachings that deal with that specifically. Um, the other possibility—and this is not necessarily contradictory, it’s even supplementary in some ways—but the other possibility is is that you’re in it to cultivate accomplishments, right, a sense of accomplishment—skills, abilities, um, for lack of a better word: power. . . . You might, um, say that that’s kind of, um, egotistical, anti-spiritual, um, whatnot, so these two focuses can kind of come into conflict in certain people’s minds. But, I don’t really buy into that distinction.”

    2. “You know, it’s kind of like saying exercising so you can run to the top of the hill is in contradiction to seeing from the top of the hill . . .”

    I’m seeing a huge contradiction between these two approaches, and I’m hoping that somebody can help me understand if I’m missing something here. Thanks a lot.


  6. I meant to add this the other day but I forgot. When I play videogames I can often go hours without even thinking about something else, even eating, drinking, using the bathroom, etc. But if I just sit around and watch TV within maybe 30 minutes one of those things is coming up. I’ve tried to sort of feel where my mind is when I’m playing videogames to try and get back to it when I’m concentrating but it’s really tough…Another example is when I play sports; sometimes if I’m watching I’m fascinated by how players can concentrate with all of the cheering/yelling/shouting but when I play I don’t even hear the sounds nor do I realize until later when I’m not playing that I had forgotten them altogether.

  7. well chris, and i admit this is a fairly subtle point, but the main thing is whether or not you engage the practice for the express purpose of gaining powers or not, as an end in itself. doing that as THE GOAL ( when i say ‘as an end’ or for it’s own sake’, this is what i mean ) will absolutely block your way to spiritual insights, but if you treat them as markers and tools, then they don’t neccisarily hinder you in any way.

    the degree to which i recommend against this varies in it’s severity from one instance to the next. sometimes i simply refuse to recommend it in any fashion, usually when i don’t have the time or inclination to discuss it in more depth. the consequences of someone misunderstanding me based on half-explainations were potentially quite serious, at least for me, from a spiritual perspective, so when in doubt i usual err towards the negative.

    now that i’ve had time to flesh out the various ups and downs of it, and say why i think what i think, then I’m happy leaving it in your own hands to decide what you want to do based on my information. I’ve also softened my stance on cetain things over time or I’m prepared to trust you guys more, now that I’ve directed pople towards good books and classic writings on the subject.

    i appreciate your dillegence, and keeping me on my toes.

  8. @ Gen: the thing about “accomplishments” is just that: it’s an excellent word to describe them. I have, on a few occasions, been able to access some “paranormal” powers, e.g., seeing in 360 degrees with eyes closed, exiting the body, enough to know that they are for real. That said, it’s always been during periods of heavy drug use and extended concentrative practice (e.g., an hour and a half of concentration followed by an hour and a half of sitting blindfolded & earplugged), though never during an actual trip. I’ve never cultivated any “power”, save for a little out-of-body work that I only got maybe three weeks into, and likewise I am lucky to be able to sit still for half an hour a day these past couple months.

    From the brief experience w/ the out-of-body work, I can say that attempting to cultivate a power by itself is dangerous. I had all sorts of nightmares, unpleasant false waking, etc.; I feel like having the prescence of a teacher of any stripe would have been beneficial. I think this largely addresses the issue Chris brought up: any initiatory structure is better than none. Even if you have to tap into say, the concepts (in NLP: “ecology”) of wisdom that say, your boxing coach might have, in order to make it through some rougher spots in exploration of untapped potentials, that’s better than nothing. Though ideally you’d be hanging out at Hotel Shaolin. I mean, I’m down with the siddhi, the mind and the universe are great toys. At the same time, the sheer number of charlatans and pseudoinitiates is enough to be worrisome–the universe has a way of partitioning your “hyperworld” off to the point that it becomes a hellworld if you don’t act or learn right. Seen it happen before.

    but all this misses the point: as Zac’s said, “accomplishment” in the “mundane” tasks borders on the supernatural as well, and often requires just as much willpower. We hear about atheletes entering transcendental states all the time, as Mr. Blind suggested. It’s especially easy for us normal folks to get a taste of this concentrated focus during sex (sorry to hammer it home but we’re neurotic as a nation about it and i like to push buttons). Or public speakers, or salesmen, etc.: they have accomplished a certain degree of refinement and focus that make them better than average, quite possibly better than might seem possible if you picked up an average brain and ran tests on it even.

    On a more paranoid note, like Zac, I suspect that there are individuals, collectives, or other entities that have cultivated siddhi such that they did, or continue to, alter the flow of things on a tremendous scale. I occasionally toy with the idea of Steiner’s Ahriman and Lucifer being honest-to-god people, living or dead, who created a current. The mystic might have tremendous insight but tends to drop out of the game and hence “power” is useless–but the shaman, the magus, starts making new rules and scenarios on a space-opera scale. And if you’re going to learn enough about the universe to start throwing the levers, you better get a game that can handle the capability some Zoastrian giant metal insect intelligence competitors. George Bush & Co. knocked down two towers in a media coup without even a wink of spiritual teaching: what are you going to do when you meet the things moving those pawns? Granted, this is not the healthiest way to think, treat it as a thought experiment, but toy with it a while.

    Zac, do you mind elaborating on what you’ve said about “skills that transit into realms that seem farfetched”?

  9. I love reading these comments; I like how everyone here has their own individual points to make. I’m glad such a place as this exists — it’s almost impossible to find such a group of people all gathered in one place outside of the internet.

    Zac: I wasn’t implying that you were deliberately obscuring the issue. In my case, when looking through the classical writings I’d read these descriptions of seemingly fantastic super human abilities and — considering myself to be fairly serious about making spiritual progress — I was very interested in what was bullshit and what was grounded in reality. So obviously I had to specifically ask; but I also realize that many people may not feel comfortable talking about this issue, and in that case, I also don’t want to put anyone on the spot. It’s a bit difficult to weigh what questions are acceptable yet at the same time get some reasonable answers to those questions I have.

    Rigss Bank: Thanks for sharing your story. It’s great to hear from people who are far more advanced in their practice than I am.

  10. Any thoughts on the relative merits of using breath, mantra, visualization, or physical object as the object of concentration?

  11. I’m seeing a huge contradiction between these two approaches, and I’m hoping that somebody can help me understand if I’m missing something here.

    Good! You *should* be seeing contradictions and questioning everything rigorously. That is part and parcel to the whole point of all this, as far as I’m concerned.

    Also, if you’re consciously noticing a contradiction, what you may be experiencing is something seeping into your subconscious (which I wrote more about here that you might find useful). If that’s the case, and something *is* being foisted off on you through the gaps of language and logic, then you can probe those depths by – as I said – rigorously questioning what’s going on.

    But don’t just question Zac, question yourself, me, your friends, everyone and everything around you. For me, I have found that to be a practice which requires an enormous amount of discipline and which pays off in dividends, even sometimes allowing you a sort of “supernatural insight” into things.

  12. Thanks for the clarification Zac. In summation, would you say that it is a matter of balance–keeping the ego in check so that it does not impinge on insight?

    And Tim, I found the link very useful. Though I’ve always had trouble with a getting good grasp in understanding the conscious mind vs. subconscious mind dichotomy, it gave me ideas. I see the subconscious as being able to rationalize that which the conscious mind cannot, but that these rationalizations can be quite farcical if not critically examined–not sure if that’s what you were driving at.

    As always, like you said, one must continually question one’s influences.

  13. I’m not really sure I’d go so far as to say that the subconscious mind works on some logical principle that we created so much as on some other type of system that we can’t understand consciously (at least not right now). I definitely don’t know why some questions lead to others when I think about things.

  14. I see the subconscious as being able to rationalize that which the conscious mind cannot, but that these rationalizations can be quite farcical if not critically examined–not sure if that’s what you were driving at.

    In a sense, very much so!

    I definitely don’t know why some questions lead to others when I think about things.

    Well then, you should do your best to find out!

  15. Haha. I do sometimes, but even if I do, I have reservations about saying my subconscious made the connection in the same way that my conscious mind did later.

  16. If the root of this practice is simple concentration, I wonder why the Eastern literature seems so affixed on the “right” posture. Why should it matter if I do this laying in bed versus sitting up with my legs crossed? Is the Eastern focus on posture a mere bias which can be discarded with?

  17. There are an awfull lot of subtle factors that can cause you problems if you don’t get the posture right. If you don’t want to be bother, though, just do it walking or laying on your back. The segment on asana deals with this topic at length I beleive.

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