Supernatural powers in Buddhism.

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Wind
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Supernatural powers in Buddhism.

Post by Wind »

I have three questions to ask everyone regarding supernatural powers in Buddhism.

1. Do you believe the supernatural powers describe in the suttas to be real? I am asking this because like rebirth, some people believe it and some don't. Just want to get a general idea what everyone feels about this subject.

2. We know the Buddha has such powers, but he rarely uses it. Why is that so? Would it not help his cause if he display such unbelievable abilities?

3. Do these powers still exist today?

Reductor
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Re: Supernatural powers in Buddhism.

Post by Reductor »

Wind wrote:I have three questions to ask everyone regarding supernatural powers in Buddhism.

1. Do you believe the supernatural powers describe in the suttas to be real? I am asking this because like rebirth, some people believe it and some don't. Just want to get a general idea what everyone feels about this subject.

2. We know the Buddha has such powers, but he rarely uses it. Why is that so? Would it not help his cause if he display such unbelievable abilities?

3. Do these powers still exist today?
1. Yes, I believe these powers in the suttas are real.
2. He didn't want people flocking to his Dhamma for the wrong reason.
3. If they existed then, then they exist now.

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BlackBird
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Re: Supernatural powers in Buddhism.

Post by BlackBird »

thereductor wrote: 2. He didn't want people flocking to his Dhamma for the wrong reason.
I seem to recall one of the reasons given, was that public displays of supernormal powers would generate a lot of skepticism among those who had not witnessed it, and so it would make a bad 'first impression' on those of a skeptical nature who may have otherwise been drawn to the Dhamma.

metta
Jack
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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suriyopama
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Re: Supernatural powers in Buddhism.

Post by suriyopama »

I subscribe the same answers as Thereductor.

I've recently read that Ajahn Lee classifies Arahants into four groups, according to their powers or skills:
1. Sukha-vipassako: those who have gained "dry" release through the power of insight, having developed the bare minimum of concentration before attaining the knowledge that does away with mental effluents (asavakkhaya-ñana) and gaining release. They have no other powers or skills.

2. Tevijjo: those who have attained the three skills —
a. Pubbenivasanussati-ñana: the ability to remember their own past lives.
b. Cutupapata-ñana: the ability to see living beings as they pass from death to rebirth.
c. Asavakkhaya-ñana: the knowledge that does away with the effluents of defilement.

3. Chalabhiñño: those who have attained the six intuitive powers —

a. Iddhividhi: the ability to display supernormal powers.
b. Dibba-sota: clairaudience.
c. Cetopariya-ñana: the ability to know the thoughts of others.
d. Pubbenivasanussati-ñana: the ability to remember previous lives.
e. Dibba-cakkhu: clairvoyance.
f. Asavakkhaya-ñana: The ability to do away with mental effluents.

4. Patisambhidappatto: those who have mastered the four forms of acumen —

a. Attha-patisambhida: acumen with regard to meaning.
b. Dhamma-patisambhida: acumen with regard to mental qualities.
c. Nirutti-patisambhida: acumen with regard to linguistic conventions.
d. Patibhana-patisambhida: acumen with regard to expression.

These are the different classes of arahants. It's not the case that they are all alike. Those who have attained release through dry insight have developed insight meditation more than tranquillity. Those who attain the three skills have developed tranquillity and insight in equal measure. Those who attain the six intuitive powers have developed two parts tranquillity to one part insight. Those who attain the four forms of acumen have developed three parts tranquillity to one part insight. This is why they differ from one another. (Tranquillity here refers to the eight levels of jhana). If you want detailed discussions of these various attainments, see the discussions of the three skills, the eight skills, and the four forms of acumen given after the section on jhana. The skills mentioned on this level, though, are all transcendent, and are completely apart from the corresponding mundane skills.
The only one of these skills that's really important is asavakkhaya-ñana, the knowledge that does away with the mental effluents. As for the others, whether or not they are attained isn't really important. And it's not the case that all Noble Ones will attain all of these skills. Not to mention ordinary people, even some arahants don't attain any of them with the single exception of the knowledge that does away with mental effluents

To master these skills, you have to have studied meditation under a Buddha in a previous lifetime.
"The Craft of the Heart", by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/craft.html

Reductor
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Re: Supernatural powers in Buddhism.

Post by Reductor »

BlackBird wrote:
thereductor wrote: 2. He didn't want people flocking to his Dhamma for the wrong reason.
I seem to recall one of the reasons given, was that public displays of supernormal powers would generate a lot of skepticism among those who had not witnessed it, and so it would make a bad 'first impression' on those of a skeptical nature who may have otherwise been drawn to the Dhamma.

metta
Jack
Of course you're right jack.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Those of faith would believe, and speak of the miracle they've seen to those of without faith, who would offer other explanations for the miracle. I imagine this might sow doubt in the mind of the faithful one as to what is really going on, diminishing or negating the good that would come from the 'miracle of instruction' that might otherwise have been performed, and which would accord with Dhamma.

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cooran
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Re: Supernatural powers in Buddhism.

Post by cooran »

Hello all,

This may be of interest:

The Buddha's Attitude to Miracles
http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/bud ... 26lbud.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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suriyopama
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Re: Supernatural powers in Buddhism.

Post by suriyopama »

Thank you for the link Cooran.

So, the power that requires more powerful skills, and the most "miraculous" one, is the power to overcome ignorance.

I hope that this particular power still exist today :smile:

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general0bvious
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Re: Supernatural powers in Buddhism.

Post by general0bvious »

thereductor wrote: 1. Yes, I believe these powers in the suttas are real.
2. He didn't want people flocking to his Dhamma for the wrong reason.
3. If they existed then, then they exist now.
:goodpost: I agree!

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Kim OHara
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Re: Supernatural powers in Buddhism.

Post by Kim OHara »

This topic has been round before. Search the site for 'supranormal' to get more responses and comments.
:juggling:
Kim

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ground
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Re: Supernatural powers in Buddhism.

Post by ground »

cooran wrote:Hello all,

This may be of interest:

The Buddha's Attitude to Miracles
http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/bud ... 26lbud.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

with metta
Chris
Great! Thank you.
... the Buddha replied that there were three kinds of supernormal levels:

1. The marvel of supernormal power to appear as many persons, to pass through walls, to fly through the air, walk on water. All these are physical actions the ordinary people cannot perform.
2. The supernormal power to read other people's minds.
3. The supernormal power to be able to guide people according to their mental development, for their own good, using suitable methods to fit these people.

The first two supernormal powers, if displayed for their own sake in order to impress people, are no different from the performance of magicians. A monk who practices such worldly miracles is a source of shame, humiliation and disgust. Such actions may impress and win converts and followers, but they do not bring enlightenment to help them put an end to suffering.

The third kind of supernormal power, though, which may be called a "miracle", helps people to get rid of suffering. This is the only supernormal power that is fit to be practiced.
Kind regards

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BubbaBuddhist
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Re: Supernatural powers in Buddhism.

Post by BubbaBuddhist »

Well, a person who would follow a teacher or leader simply because he or she can perform supernormal feats is naive at best. But, ah, come to think of it, most of the world's religions are founded on that very premise. So what's my point? Crap, no point I could extrapolate from this looks good on us as a species. I think I'll go back to bed.

J
Author of Redneck Buddhism: or Will You Reincarnate as Your Own Cousin?

Stephen
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Re: Supernatural powers in Buddhism.

Post by Stephen »

Believing or disbelieving in anything without your own direct experience is only asking for trouble. Understand that which is explained in the teachings and do not form attachments to views. Good luck.
The "self", which is a construct of the mind, is non-self. It is not us, and we are not it. This self blinds us to reality; it is our Mara, our Satan, our Hades. Cast it out and behold the path to freedom.
(Visit http://www.BodhiBox.com for a free Buddhist e-mail account, while you're still attached to the 'net...)

meindzai
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Re: Supernatural powers in Buddhism.

Post by meindzai »

"I'm as good as that guy named Jesus. I can cure a cripple with a prosthesis....and I can walk on water when it freezes..." (From Exit 57)

-M

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Annapurna
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Re: Supernatural powers in Buddhism.

Post by Annapurna »

suriyopama wrote:
....the power to overcome ignorance.

I hope that this particular power still exist today :smile:
Yes, it does, within you, when you study and learn something new.

You first overcome your own ignorance, then help others.

:anjali:

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suriyopama
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Re: Supernatural powers in Buddhism.

Post by suriyopama »

Annapurna wrote:
suriyopama wrote:
....the power to overcome ignorance.

I hope that this particular power still exist today :smile:
Yes, it does, within you, when you study and learn something new.

You first overcome your own ignorance, then help others.

:anjali:
Thank you Annapurna. It's good to remind that we are our own best help :namaste:

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