Religious miracles and the Buddhist view

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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lar307
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Religious miracles and the Buddhist view

Post by lar307 » Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:40 pm

Hi all,

Born in a more inward-oriented Eastern Orthodox Christian culture, throughout my life I witnessed a number of phenomena that are usually thought of as miracles in Christianity. These covered a whole range, from people praying for help to heal and actually healing soon afterward to other more complicated events where there seems to be a “dialogue” between the believer and some sort of higher power (dialogue confirmed by actual events). Nowadays I don’t quite care about these too much - not the way out of suffering. On the other hand a number of them (but not all IMO) can easily be understood as some sort of self-hypnosis. Nevertheless, friends and relatives will sometimes make use of such events to try to show me there’s something wrong with Buddhism. I know Buddha argued that the opposite is true (and I agree); but since not many people will accept what is perceived as silence for an answer I thought of posting this in search for more opinions and/or a discussion of these phenomena from our Dhamma perspective. Thanks to all those who have some insight to share!

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: Religious miracles and the Buddhist view

Post by JamesTheGiant » Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:35 pm

Sure, there are lots of miracles and amazing things that happen in the Buddhist scriptures. Some powerful monks had supernormal powers and could do things like flying. One young monk had a finger that glowed, just like in the old movie E.T., and he would use his finger at night to guide visitors to their accommodation.!
There are also many devas and asuras (basically angels and demons), demi-gods, and hugely powerful non-human beings, who may interfere in the human world.
These kinds of things are mentioned hundreds of times in the suttas. So maye there's some powerful demi-god up there helping Christians.
But the Buddhist path and practise works just as well, if you don't believe all that.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Religious miracles and the Buddhist view

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:03 pm

The Kevatta Sutta is particularly relevant here. The Buddha explains that he knows of miracles of psychic power and of telepathy, but that the miracle of instruction is far greater.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

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dylanj
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Re: Religious miracles and the Buddhist view

Post by dylanj » Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:09 pm

On one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Vesāli at Gotamaka Shrine. There he addressed the monks, “Monks!”

“Yes, lord,” the monks responded to him.

The Blessed One said, “Monks, it’s through direct knowledge that I teach the Dhamma, not without direct knowledge. It’s with a cause that I teach the Dhamma, not without a cause. It’s with marvels that I teach the Dhamma, not without marvels. Because I teach the Dhamma through direct knowledge and not without direct knowledge, because I teach the Dhamma with a cause and not without a cause, because I teach the Dhamma with marvels and not without marvels, there is good reason for my instruction, good reason for my admonition. And it is enough for you to be content, enough for you to be gratified, enough for you to take joy, that the Blessed One is rightly self-awakened, the Dhamma is well-taught by the Blessed One, and the Saṅgha has practiced rightly.”

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One’s words. And while this explanation was being given, the ten-thousand-fold cosmos quaked.
Gotamaka-cetiya Sutta (AN 3:126)
susukhaṁ vata nibbānaṁ,
sammā­sambud­dha­desitaṁ;
asokaṁ virajaṁ khemaṁ,
yattha dukkhaṁ nirujjhatī


Oh! extinction is so very blissful,
As taught by the One Rightly Self-Awakened:
Sorrowless, stainless, secure;
Where suffering all ceases


etaṁ santaṁ etaṁ paṇītaṁ yadidaṁ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭi nissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānaṁ

This is peaceful, this is excellent, that is: the stilling of all preparations, the relinquishment of all assets, the destruction of craving, detachment, cessation, extinction.

EmptyShadow
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Re: Religious miracles and the Buddhist view

Post by EmptyShadow » Fri Mar 09, 2018 2:42 am

From buddhist pov this 'miracles' connected with praying to god or to a saint, or visiting a holy place can be explaned either as manifestation of direct karma or with compassionate devas who are helping the ones in need. However such 'miracles' happen to all kind of ppl, not just christians. There are planty of miracles connected to every big religion, however I dont think that thay are any proof of one religion being any more real than the others.

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dylanj
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Re: Religious miracles and the Buddhist view

Post by dylanj » Fri Mar 09, 2018 6:36 am

EmptyShadow wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 2:42 am
From buddhist pov this 'miracles' connected with praying to god or to a saint, or visiting a holy place can be explaned either as manifestation of direct karma or with compassionate devas who are helping the ones in need. However such 'miracles' happen to all kind of ppl, not just christians. There are planty of miracles connected to every big religion, however I dont think that thay are any proof of one religion being any more real than the others.
:goodpost:
susukhaṁ vata nibbānaṁ,
sammā­sambud­dha­desitaṁ;
asokaṁ virajaṁ khemaṁ,
yattha dukkhaṁ nirujjhatī


Oh! extinction is so very blissful,
As taught by the One Rightly Self-Awakened:
Sorrowless, stainless, secure;
Where suffering all ceases


etaṁ santaṁ etaṁ paṇītaṁ yadidaṁ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭi nissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānaṁ

This is peaceful, this is excellent, that is: the stilling of all preparations, the relinquishment of all assets, the destruction of craving, detachment, cessation, extinction.

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Aloka
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Re: Religious miracles and the Buddhist view

Post by Aloka » Sat Mar 10, 2018 11:21 pm

.

This paper by Bhikkhu Analayo might be of interest:


"Levitation in Early Buddhist Discourse"

http://www.jocbs.org/index.php/jocbs/ar ... ew/131/154



:anjali:

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Zom
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Re: Religious miracles and the Buddhist view

Post by Zom » Sun Mar 11, 2018 12:01 am

This paper by Bhikkhu Analayo might be of interest:
Strange he didn't mention Ayogula sutta - which speaks directly about levitation. Maybe because it goes against his conclusion that real levitation is impossible -)

binocular
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Re: Religious miracles and the Buddhist view

Post by binocular » Sun Mar 11, 2018 8:09 am

lar307 wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:40 pm
Born in a more inward-oriented Eastern Orthodox Christian culture, throughout my life I witnessed a number of phenomena that are usually thought of as miracles in Christianity. These covered a whole range, from people praying for help to heal and actually healing soon afterward to other more complicated events where there seems to be a “dialogue” between the believer and some sort of higher power (dialogue confirmed by actual events). Nowadays I don’t quite care about these too much - not the way out of suffering. On the other hand a number of them (but not all IMO) can easily be understood as some sort of self-hypnosis. Nevertheless, friends and relatives will sometimes make use of such events to try to show me there’s something wrong with Buddhism. I know Buddha argued that the opposite is true (and I agree); but since not many people will accept what is perceived as silence for an answer I thought of posting this in search for more opinions and/or a discussion of these phenomena from our Dhamma perspective. Thanks to all those who have some insight to share!
To me, this doesn't seem to be specifically about miracles, Christian, Buddhist, or otherwise, but about the social situation you're in.
With your interest in Buddhism, you're clearly doing something, going in a direction that your friends and relatives believe is wrong. This social problem
probably surfaces with other topics as well, not just with miracles, but possibly with anything where you depart from the belief system of your friends and relatives.

I wish I had something optimistic to say here, a reassuring thought that all will be well and that your relationships will remain intact, while your friends and relatives remain in their religion, and you're in another. In my experience, this just doesn't work that way. And talking about what nominally seems to be the problem (in this case, miracles), doesn't help to resolve anything. At least not as long as the more fundamental issue isn't addressed (namely, that interpersonal relationships are build on conditional love).
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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