In a world where only hard evidence matters, most people are skeptical about stories of levitation and other supposed super-human feats. And yet, religious books are filled with stories of miracles, which the faithful continue to believe.
Aside from the Bible, there are other accounts of Christian mystics who have displayed acts of levitation (psycho kinesis) during periods of religious rapture and ecstasy.
St. Joseph of Cupertino (1603 – 1663) supposedly levitated in the air for more that 1-hour, on several occasions.
Often called “the flying saint,” during a celebration and feast for St. Francis of Assisi he was seen by a large crowd hovering overhead for quite some time. During a visit to Pope Urban VIII, after kissing the Pope’s feet, in religious ecstasy St. Joseph levitated for a prolonged period and was eventually ordered to come back down to the ground. St. Joseph is now the patron saint of astronauts and anyone traveling by air.
St. Teresa of Avila (1515 – 1582) is stated to have levitated, during an experience which she describes as “spiritual visitation.”
Teresa de Capeda y Ahumada, a Spanish Carmelite nun, practiced “mental prayer” (contemplation and concentration) and also spent prolonged periods in silence. Her description of the experience “devotion of ecstasy or rapture,” characterized by the cessation of sensory perception, memory, imagination and ecstasy, is a clear description of Transcendental Consciousness (TC).
Ignatius of Loyola (1491 – 1556), is said to have levitated and appeared “luminous” while ascended.
Ignatius was a Spanish knight who after the Battle of Pamplona (1521) abandoned the military and devoted his life toward the pursuit of spirituality. He studied theology and Latin, first in Spain and later in Paris. While in Catalonia he spent time in a cave, as an ascetic. In 1524 he finished the manuscript, “Spiritual Exercises,” which outlined meditations, prayers, and other mental disciplines.
Saint Martin de Porres (1579 – 1639) reportedly could be in two places at once, pass through walls, and levitate (re: Alban Butler’s Lives of the Saints).
This patron saint of mixed-race people lived an austere life dedicated toward helping the poor. He was a vegetarian and fasted regularly. It is said that he had extraordinary spiritual knowledge, could heal the sick, and communicate with animals.
Seraphim of Sarov (1759–1833) purported to have levitated several times, as witnessed by many people including Emperor Alexander I of Russia. A young cellmate saw Seraphim rise from the ground, and four sisters saw him walking above grass, lifted up in the air.
As a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, Saint Seraphim taught the value of contemplation (theoria), self denial, and the need to experience the Holy Spirit. He often stated, “Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved.”
Padre Pio (1887–1968), said to have been seen levitating, as well being in two places at once.
Pio of Pietrelcina (Italy) as a priest in the Capuchin Order also became famous for his display of the “stigmata.” He was able to read souls, heal through prayer, and restore the eye sight of a Sicilian girl.
In today’s entertainment circuit, many magicians include levitation and disappearance in their stage show. Sometimes it involves a member of their own staff, while at other times they may choose a volunteer from the audience. There are countless ways to do this trick, and magicians are becoming more imaginative and elaborate in their technique. Levitation outside or in an open area is more difficult, but done routinely.
Physicists have been able to suspend objects in mid air. Maglev (magnetic levitation) trains in Japan travel as fast as 580 km/hour. The train itself rides “above” the track suspended by lift and propulsion magnets.
The free floatation of solids can occur via jets of gas, intense sound waves, and beams of laser light. A metallic conductor can levitate in strong radio frequency fields, charged particles within alternating electric currents, and flux pinning (suspension of super conductors).
In this digital age Photoshop and other software applications can make anyone appear to be levitating. It’s rather easy. Setup your camera on a tripod, take one picture of the background, then a second picture with your favorite person sitting on a chair. Overlay the image of the person on the chair against the background photo, and just paint/erase the chair. Presto!
St. Joseph of Cupertino
But have these Christian and other mystics been practicing techniques, utilizing their enlightened mind/physiology to invoke laws of nature not readily known? Has this allowed them to “really” levitate?
Years ago the great Indian sage Patanjali (150 BCE) experimented with consciousness. He found that the enlightened mind has a unique property – the ability to focus on a specific thought without interference or ego centric bias. As such, the thought or object of contemplation stands in the mind uncontaminated, as it truly is, untainted by any preconceived notions. Under those conditions new undiscovered laws of nature can be invoked.
The practice of “levitation” does not violate the law of gravity. Rather, the practice utilizes other laws of nature (to counteract gravity) yet to be discovered and understood.
Patanjali’s “Yoga Aphorisms” manuscript outlines how to invoke these laws of nature, and what possibilities are open to human exploration/experience.
He describes how the practice of “Samyama,” which consists of three components, is used to invoke various human abilities (siddhis).
Samyama consists of:
1. Concentration (dharana) – holding the mind fixed upon one desired idea/image/thought.
2. Meditation (dhyana) – an uninterrupted flow of thought toward the object of concentration.
3. Absorption (samadhi) – the experience of the infinite absolute timeless value of consciousness, along with that of the object, so that the object’s true nature stands forth free from distortion by the mind of the perceiver.
Utilizing the practice of Samyama, an enlightened individual can invoke the following powers:
By making samyama on the three kinds of changes, one obtains knowledge of the past and the future.
By making samyama on the sound of a word, one’s perception of its meaning, and ones reaction to it – the three things that are usually confused, one obtains understanding of all sounds uttered by living beings.
By making samyama on previous thought waves, one obtains knowledge of one’s past lives.
By making samyama on the distinguishing marks of another man’s body, one obtains knowledge of the nature of his mind, but not its contents because that is not the object of the samyama.
If one performs samyama on the form of one’s body, obstructing its perceptibility and separating its power of manifestation from the eyes of the beholder, then one’s body becomes invisible. Thus also, its sounds cease to be heard.
By making samyama on two kinds of karma, that which will soon bear fruit and that which will not bear fruit until later, or by recognizing the portents of death, a yogi may know the exact time of his separation from the body.
By making samyama on friendliness, compassion, etc., one develops the powers of these qualities.
By making samyama on any kind of strength, such as that of the elephant, one obtains that strength.
By making samyama on the Inner Light, one obtains knowledge of what is subtle, hidden, or far distant.
By making samyama on the Sun, one gains knowledge of the cosmic spaces.
By making samyama on the Moon, one gains knowledge of the arrangement of the stars.
By making samyama on the Pole Star, one gains knowledge of the motions of the stars.
By making samyama on navel, one gains knowledge of the constitution of the body.
By making samyama on hollow of the throat, one stills hunger and thirst.
By making samyama on the tube within the chest, one acquires absolute motionlessness.
By making samyama on the radiance within the back of the head, one becomes able to see the celestial beings.
By making samyama on the heart, one gains knowledge of the contents of the mind.
By making samyama on the relationship between the ear and the ether, one obtains super natural powers of hearing.
By making samyama on the relationship between the body and the ether, or by acquiring through meditation the lightness of cotton fiber, the yogi can fly through the air.
By making samyama on the gross and subtle forms of the elements, on their essential characteristics and the inherence of the gunas in them, and on the experiences they provide for the individual, one gains mastery of the elements. Hence, one gains the power of becoming as tiny as an atom and all similar powers, also perfection of the body, which is no longer subject to the obstruction of the elements.
By making samyama on the discrimination between the sattwa guna and the Atman, one gains omnipotence and omniscience.
These powers of knowledge may also come to one whose mind is spontaneously enlightened through purity. There are many reports, including those of the Christian mystics presented above, where this is probably the case.
Although anyone can practice the yoga sutras of Patanjali, only those individual who are fully enlightened will experience the sutra’s full value.
Nature enables these abilities only for human beings who have overcome personal ego-centric views, thoughts and actions. It’s a kind of a safety feature,” so that these powers cannot be used for selfish means.
This information presented in this blog post is for you – so that you can make up your own mind about super-human feats. Are they real or not?
One sure way to find out is to continue your meditation practice every day.
Keep your mind open and believe in the potential of the human spirit. Human evolution and growth is continuing forward. Each day is better than the prior one.
Let us drink from the infinite river of life, from where atoms blinked and the dance of creation started. O transitory visitor to this beautiful Earth, hasten the day when the embodiment of bones and flesh realize their true eternal nature. The wind blows across the oceanic Being and we rise up as waves. The cosmic potter has created us as a vessel. Turn your attention within (meditate) to experience the field of all possibilities.