Anyone who casually skims the verses of The Yoga Sutra, the third century root text available in nearly every yoga studio, bumps into a most perplexing fact. The third chapter on Mystical Powers describes specific causes for supernormal abilities like mind reading, invisibility, and flying.
So what exactly are the causes for superpowers? And how can we develop them within ourselves to make the world a better place? Fortunately, superpowers don’t come from radioactive spider bites or laboratory mishaps. Instead, Master Patanjali tells us in The Yoga Sutra that “The powers are found in love and the rest.” He’s referring to the Four Immeasurables: Immeasurable Equanimity, Immeasurable Compassion, Immeasurable Love, and Immeasurable Joy. These attitudes are immeasurable because they are aimed at every living being and because the merit they generate is immeasurable. Indeed, as Patanjali tells us, the merit from these attitudes of heart are so powerful they lead to miraculous abilities.
The Buddha first taught the Four Immeasurables around 500 B.C.E. These attitudes were so well known in ancient India during Patanjali’s time that he could simply say “the powers are found in love and the rest” and everyone who was supposed to know, would understand the code.
So how can you can you develop these attitudes in your own heart? One of the most effective ways is to follow the Buddhist heart-opening practice of Exchanging Self and Others. This essential practice was taught by the eighth century master Shantideva. After giving this teaching, a hall full of monks reported Shantideva ew out of the temple into the sky. is practice has four simple
steps that you can put into practice immediately in your daily life.