In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali teaches us about the powers that the yogic obtains while pursuing the realization of god, or enlightenment. Of course there are eight, symbolic of the infinite. Patanjali absolutely teaches that when we strive mightily along our path, rewards, and results will incidentally come our way, but that we must not mistake these accidental rewards for the goal itself. Being steadfast in the pursuit of the divine will yield the following powers:
- anima – to become as small as the smallest divisible form of matter
- mahima – to wax in the magnitude of the heavens
- laghima – to become light
- garima – to become heavy
- prapti – the power to dominate and obtain what one wants
- prakamya – the freedom of will and attainment of wishes
- isatva – supremacy over all
- vasitva – the power to subjugate anyone or anything.
Patanjali warns that these powers are indications that the yogi is on the right path, but they should not replace steadfast contemplation of the divine. The ultimate goal of yoga is freedom and in the end, these powers have great ability to take away from that.
I take these ideas to be largely in discussion of the unconscious mind. Patanjali is almost always talking about the mind in a metaphorical psychology, this is no different. The more time that humans spend cultivating the focus, relaxation, and freedom of the mind, the more psychic/cognitive efficacy that person will have.
Really these are obstacles to the ultimate goal because they are mere distractions.