3.37 – From that highest knowledge arises illumined perceptions of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching.

ततः प्रातिभस्रावाणवेदनादर्शास्वादवार्ता जायन्ते ॥३६॥

tatah pratibha sravana vedana adarsha asvada varta jayanta

  • tatah – due to that; from that
  • pratibha – flash of intuitive insight; shine upon; to make clear or manifest; a revelation
  • sravana – hearing
  • vedana – feeling
  • adarsha – seeing
  • asvada – tasting
  • varta – smelling
  • jayanta – born; arises; to come into existence

3.38 – Externalizing those psychic powers can create obstacles to samadhi.

ते समाधवुपसर्गाव्युत्थाने सिद्धयः ॥३७॥

te samadhau upasargah vyutthane siddhayah

  • te – these; they
  • samadhau – of samadhi – unity consciousness; union of subject and object; bringing together; deep absorption
  • upasargah – obstacles
  • vyutthane – externalizing; causing to rise up and become active
  • siddhayah – perfection; powers; attainments

Commentary on Sutras 3.37 and 3.38:

“The ability to surrender to the higher force enables a man to experience miracles. Miracles are the manifestation of energy on higher levels; they possess no value unless they produce growth. When surrendered, they enable the man to grow to still higher levels of energy. If a man who experiences a miracle feels he has reached the ultimate truth, his growth stops.” ~ Swami Rudrananda (Rudi)

Some changes occur as the yogi learns to perceive the difference between the changeless purusha (the seer) and the ever-changing prakriti (the seen). First, the senses become more and more purified. And second, the yogi begins to abide in the Power of Awareness (Chiti-Shakti). In that state, Chiti-Shakti comes pouring through the senses—unfiltered by the kleshas —giving rise to extrasensory perceptions.

Patanjali halts the progression of the rest of this chapter to warn us: externalizing those psychic powers can create obstacles to samadhi.

As discussed earlier, the terms samadhi (when referring to nirbija samadhi) and yoga are used interchangeably. They are the state where consciousness is still, and the yogi abides in their true nature. The entire point of yogic practice is to remove the obstacles to that realization. So this is not a warning to take lightly.

At this point, the yogi has reached a highly advanced stage. They’ve mastered the eight limbs of yoga and learned to abide in the highest state of Awareness for periods of time. But there’s still work to be done, more karma to burn out. Latent impressions and tendencies remain embedded in consciousness, creating worldly attachments and aversions. And if the yogi becomes tempted to direct their powers toward those desires, they can quickly become entangled in Maya’s web. To fall from such a high state creates immense suffering.

However, the yogi’s default state is now seated in buddhi, and through buddhi they can discern klesha from aklesha (obstructing actions that produce suffering and nonobstructing actions which do not produce suffering). Using that clear discernment (viveka) the yogi can safely direct their extrasensory abilities toward constructive purposes.

Chasing after the acquisition of powers to attain happiness only serves the ego and constructs a more deluded version of that false-self. In contrast, the more enlightened yogi acts in service of Awareness. They function from a surrendered state, allowing their innate powers to unfold naturally. In this way, they operate in harmony with sanatana dharma—the eternal path of righteousness.