Nov. 3, 2020
In the world of yoga and Pranayama, there is one serious mistake that many people, especially those with an oriental background, tend to make. And, that is assuming or believing that there is something supernatural about these, e.g. the almost uncontrollable divine hidden power of Kundalini that awakens all of a sudden after one reaches a certain level of yogic practice.
All my investigation, studies and practice so far haven't convinced me of the existence of any such phenomena, and I can quite safely say that there are no supernatural powers or abilities that one will gain by doing yoga and/or Pranayama.
Of course, the gains can be extraordinary, but not supernatural by any means. For example, you will not start reading people's minds, or enjoy other-worldly bliss, or attain perpetual health. That doesn't mean yoga can't help you gain marvelous perspicacity, or tremendous calmness of mind, or greatly improved health. You can and may get all of these, but nothing holy, divine, or outside of this world.
From our childhood we are taught to find joy in, or at least we are exposed to, fairy tales and miracles, and mystical, occult and supernatural phenomena. It's good for building our imaginative faculties. There is nothing wrong in even carrying the interest and attachment to these into adulthood. But the problem starts when we begin taking some of these ideas for real.
If there was one man, who took the burden of clearing peoples' mind of their gullibility for the supernatural, all on himself - by debunking those claiming to produce such stuff - it was James Randi, who passed away this October (2020) at the ripe age of 92.
Who else, but a master-class magician himself could have undertaken this task of keeping magic to what it's supposed to be - magic! Knowing the intricacies and depths of magic tricks, he knew what was happening when anybody tried to sell magic as paranormal. But he didn't stop at merely knowing. He stood up and started debunking such tricks and tricksters.
Growing up in the 80's and 90's, most of us came across Uri Geller's spoon bending and other tricks. I read about these in some 'World Famous' book series by Pustak Mahal publications. And I was in awe. "Wow! the world is so mysterious, it's full of so many psychic happenings, hidden powers and other-worldly phenomena we don't have a clue about", were my thoughts.
If it was not for people like Osho early on, and then Richard Dawkins and James Randi, I would have continued enjoying rocking in my cradle of ridiculous beliefs.
James Randi, in particular, took the pains of investigating almost each of the supernatural/paranormal claims and claimants of his time, presenting the results to public, and spreading the word. He even stepped up the game by raising the one-million-dollar-paranormal-challenge - a prize of this much amount to anyone able to demonstrate a supernatural ability under scientific testing criteria agreed to by both sides. Needless to say, this offer, started in 1996, has never been won - no-one has even gone past the preliminary tests!
And yes, he exposed Uri Geller as well, resulting in the latter trying to sue him several times.
James Randi died of age related issues as per his website.
I'm giving a few links here on this page. Please do go through, at least, this free course that includes quick explanations on many popular medicine and health related unscientific methodologies such as Homeopathy, Chiropractic, Reiki etc. There is both video and readable material. The pdf is very precise and concise.
JREF is pleased to release a free, ten part, video lecture series by Harriet Hall titled " Science Based Medicine"
The video course may be viewed on YouTube and the companion course guide may be downloaded from here.
This course consists of 10 lectures:
Randi was born on August 7, 1928, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He was the son of Marie Alice (née Paradis) and George Randall Zwinge. He had a younger brother and sister. He took up magic after seeing Harry Blackstone Sr. and reading conjuring books while spending 13 months in a body cast following a bicycle accident. He confounded doctors, who expected he would never walk again. Randi often skipped classes, and at 17, dropped out of high school to perform as a conjurer in a carnival roadshow. He practiced as a mentalist in local nightclubs and at Toronto's Canadian National Exhibition and wrote for Montreal's tabloid press. As a teenager, he stumbled upon a church where the pastor claimed to read minds. After he re-enacted the trick before the parishioners, the pastor's wife called the police and he spent four hours in a jail cell. This inspired his career as a scientific skeptic.
In his 20s, Randi posed as an astrologer, and to establish that they merely were doing simple tricks, he briefly wrote an astrological column in the Canadian tabloid Midnight under the name "Zo-ran" by simply shuffling up items from newspaper astrology columns and pasting them randomly into a column. In his 30s, Randi worked in the UK, Europe, Philippine nightclubs, and all across Japan. He witnessed many tricks that were presented as being supernatural. One of his earliest reported experiences was that of seeing an evangelist using a version of the "one-ahead" technique to convince churchgoers of his divine powers.
In a video released in October 2017, Randi revealed that he had recently suffered a minor stroke, and that he was under medical advice not to travel during his recovery, so would be unable to attend CSICon 2017 in Las Vegas later that month.
Randi died on October 20, 2020, of what the James Randi Educational Foundation reported as "age-related causes". His death was announced the following day. According to Peña (whom Randi married in 2013), co-survivors include a sister, Angela Easton, and brother, Paul Zwinge.