Yoga Sutras of Patanjali translated by Yogi Kalinath - Chapter 4, Verse 1
Pada 4, Sutra 1
Spiritual / psychic powers attainments are the result of birth, herbs, Mantra, austerity or mystical absorption.
In the previous chapter, dedicated to spiritual / psychic powers, the main methodology on obtaining these were through constraints of the mind. Here this verse informs us that the Siddhis can also be attained through birth, substances (herbs), mystic sonic vibration (Mantra), asceticism or austerity (Tapas) and mystical absorption.
Through birth can either imply genetics or previous lives. If we consider so called psychic abilities as either refined instincts or expanded instincts expressed through heightened discernment then these would be beneficial to be passed on to your progeny. There are indeed recorded instances of these abilities running in families generationally. Yoga philosophy also ascribes to the principle of re-incarnation, the physical body of an individual dying yet part of consciousness surviving this transition in order to find another abode (i.e. body) for expression. In this case, if the individual had developed certain abilities in a previous incarnation, they may carry these abilities with them in a new incarnation especially if these were already predominant.
Herbs here most likely imply the ingestion of certain substances that alter perception and/or open certain pathways in the body mind complex stirring the ‘chemical soup’ in that ‘sponge’ of consciousness we refer to as the brain. These may have their merits if properly prepared under expert guidance concomitant with the right attitude. These should be seen as aids and not replace Sadhana proper lest their use become habitual leading us on a journey to dependency.
Mantra is an oft essential mechanism of spiritual development and lineage and Deity attunements in a majority of Sampradayas. Mantras in Hindu Dharma are vastly in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is the revealed language of the Devas which carries in its letters and phonemes the vibratory signature of all things created and yet to be created. Mantra in itself is a tool for the mind: Man (from Manas, mind) and tra (from Trayoti, tool), in order for the mind to become laser-like (’single-minded’) or expand beyond its own preconceived limitations.
Tapas or austerity is the ability to bind oneself in one spot to kindle the fire of an indomitable will. That kind of will has the ability to collapse inner boundaries and open up previously unattainable states of mind and hence power or potential.
In Mystical Absorption, the limiting concepts of ‘I, my and mine’ are temporarily suspended with the inherent luminosity of the mind shining forth. In this state, the mind becomes a servant and we are no longer at its beck and call. Siddhis naturally unfold as ‘side-effects’.