Has anyone seen any meditation master demonstrating abhinna or supernatural powers stated in various suttas and in Visuddhi Magga? I know, most will suggest me to keep practicing meditation to see or experience it by myself. But I would like to hear from modern day people about their practical experiences, not from the suttas and texts. PS: It's not about starting a debate. Basically it's just yes/no answer based on practical experiences. I would love to hear it.

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    Doesn't the Vinaya more or less forbid monks from claiming to have psychic powers, and forbid demonstrating such powers to lay people?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 8:36
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    Ok, leave the monks. There are many meditation masters who are lay people, not monks, and now they are teaching worldwide. In the net, I have found the names of Sharon Salzberg and others, the names of which I can't figure out right now. Anyway, if Buddhism promises psychic powers with 4th jhana, and if these masters achieved that state, then they should possess psychic powers and it should have been manifested somehow as mind reading and so on. Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 22:11

10 Answers 10


With the squeamishness and outright censorship that supranormal powers are treated with today, you'd think that they were Buddhism's dirty little secret...some dark, clandestine history that's best left forgotten. The fact of the matter is that iddhis occur quite frequently in the sutta pitaka, commentaries and non canonical texts, the Tibetan Tantras, and in the accounts of many famous Buddhist figures such as Moggallana, Milarepa, and even modern teachers like Chogyam Trungpa. The Buddha does mention that we shouldn't give too much thought to these abilities for much the same reason you wouldn't teach advanced woodworking to someone who hasn't touched a saw. Lacking the appropriate context and practical understanding, they can be a distraction if introduced too early in one's practice. This isn't to say, however, that they aren't worthy of discussion.

One of the purposes of the the supramundane powers is to serve as a kind of corrugated approach to the development of concentration. They are another vector for approaching samatha practice. According to the Visuddhimagga, the supramundane powers aid the adept so he will "more easily perfect the development of understanding" (Vism. 12.1). They also serve as means of inspiration "[i]n order to show the benefits of developing concentration to clansmen whose concentration has reached the fourth jhána, and in order to teach progressively refined Dhamma" (Vism. 12.2). The kind of mental suppleness and malleability developed through these practices aid the adept in the the development of wisdom in ways that extend well beyond the psychic abilities they might achieve.

However, while these practices have their place in the teaching, you are unlikely to find anyone practicing them today. Even if they do exist, they aren't exactly easy to master. Here is just one prerequisite from the fourteen ways of taming the mind that Buddhaghosa outlines for the cultivation of iddhis:

[H]aving attained the first jhána in the earth kasina, he again attains that same jhána in the fire kasina and then in the blue kasina and then in the red kasina, this is called skipping kasinas. (ix) When he skips both jhánas and kasinas in the following way: having attained the first jhána in the earth kasina, he next attains the third in the fire kasina, next the base consisting of boundless space after removing the blue kasina, next the base consisting of nothingness [arrived at] from the red kasina, this is called skipping jhánas and kasinas. (Vism. 12.6)

Reading that, there are a few things that strike a modern reader immediately. First, the emphasis on samatha is obvious. Samatha has fallen out of vogue, especially in the West, in favor of practices like insight meditation. Next, while there are some teachers in the Western world and still others in Asia teaching samatha, few teach kasina meditation. Even less teach the formless attainments. Finally, of what few teachers we have, few of them have lay or even monastic students who have developed concentration to this degree.

Even Buddhaghosa recounts how rare a feat the supramundane powers are:

It is not possible for a meditator to begin to accomplish transformation by supernormal powers unless he has previously completed his development by controlling his mind in these fourteen ways. Now, the kasina preliminary work is difficult for a beginner and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. The arousing of the sign is difficult for one who has done the preliminary work and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. To extend the sign when it has arisen and to reach absorption is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. To tame one’s mind in the fourteen ways after reaching absorption is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. The transformation by supernormal power after training one’s mind in the fourteen ways is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. Rapid response after attaining transformation is difficult and only one in a hundred or a thousand can do it. (Vism 12.8)

I'll let you do the math on that one. :-)


It is not desirable to answer such questions because inevitably some smart cookie will debate every example by offering counter examples of parlor magicians who can do the same.

As the Kevatta Sutta states, the real magic is in the bringing of peace, happiness and goodness to the hearts and minds of people.

It is a magic that cannot be argued against.


Sansayan: the short answer to your question is yes, I have. A Sri Lankan monk who is now deceased for some years now, Ven Anandamaitreya, definitely had acquired it. There is nothing unique to this period of time, in its essence. Every generation in the past had always thought of their time as "modern". The problem is that those who have achieved any abhinna always seem to be extremely reluctant to talk about it or even to let people know they have acquired it. The reasons are manifold. It is only if you know the person extremely well and is trusted implicitly that you may come to know of it. One exception may be an American now living in Florida, who claims to have achieved a couple of abhinnas. Of course, he also claims to have acquired the four mundane material jhanas in the course of a few months. So, form your own opinions about him. But he has a website which you can visit. It is www.jhana8.com. "Meditation without religion" is apparently what this site is about. It has also expanded to provide "courses" in meditation. The .com extension is also what gives the game away.

So, the above is an attempt to answer your question. But now, I would be remiss if I didn't take the opportunity to state that acquisition of abhinnas is immaterial to achieving wisdom and enlightenment. They can be achieved with exceptional achievement in absorption-concentration. They can, in fact, be a distraction and detract from the real goal: bodhi, as Ahmed says above, which may be one reason Lord Buddha did not emphasize them. The path of jhana, both material and immaterial jhanas are the path of the samathayanaka. The vipassanayanaka can also achieve enlightenment and he may not even have acquired a single jhana, let alone abhinna. Abhinnas are a side show.

Best Wishes



I have heard that there are. But they don't demonstrate publicly of course. The people close to them know. But might have heard @Sansayan, such powers is not the desired outcome of the practice, but rather a side effect. But anyone can achieve them if they wish.


Yes. John Chang in this video demonstrates fire. The book "The Magus of Java" explains his spiritual journey and teachings.

I would recommend reading that but there are many correlations between Buddhism and Taoism that should be learned before reading into such anecdotal books. I would recommend Bill Bodri and Master Nan's material to study this non-denominational topic further because the Buddha chose not to emphasize this inferior achievement (of physical transformation). Having an understanding of this topic in this day and age can serve to dis-enchant you from the physical side of things so you can obsess over what truly matters: bodhi.

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    Maybe that video demonstrates psychic ignition ... or maybe not.
    – GreenMatt
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 4:47
  • @GreenMatt Judging from the book(s), my lack of experience, and my indifference... I'll say it's real and keep cultivating. The Buddha talked about these things anyway and mentioned what is more important.
    – Ahmed
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 1:26

Maybe , maybe not

It is possible to achieve those things , but when a person achieves it , his mind has developed to a very high level. So there is no need or desire in his mind. Thus , he do not need to show off his powers . And there are people who can send their minds to different places and see whats going on . Specially in India and Sri Lanka. If you want to see how they have achieved it you can go to those countries and learn from a teacher ,you can't learn those things by reading books. Must learn from a person who has practical knowledge ,but in the process you will loose all your desires and needs , and you won't use your abilities even if you have them. So it is impossible for other people to even believe that those people exist.

So ,

Maybe , maybe not...


Books like Venerable Ācariya Mun Bhūridatta Thera by Ajaan Mahā Boowa Ñānasampanno has accounts of such situations in modern times.

Though not result of Abhinna I have seen monks with a glowing halo around their heads.


Yes, John Chang or Dynamo Jack

Dynamo Jack has mastered the practice of Qi Gong through years of practice involving Meditation, Isolation and intense Concentration. Jack is an advocate for Eastern medicine and Holistic approaches to healing. He was able to create an Electric current from his stomach. Jack has been filmed lighting a Newspaper using energy created by his own body, emanating from his hands. Jack is believed to have Psychic and Paranormal powers. Jack has had a Mystic teacher, Liau Tsu-Tong, who helped him become a guru. He was trained in the MoPai, an Esoteric part of the Mo Tzu School of Thought.

Here is the link1 link2 where he is shown catching bullets, burning papers with his bare hands, giving electric shocks to people who touch him and he explained how he is doing this with Qi, so this is not some black magic.


I just looked up "Abhinna" in Google, and eventually found this page. I'm the American from Florida that has the Jhana8.com site. My name is Vern Lovic. I am not Buddhist or any other religion. I have no agenda, except to further the idea that meditation without religion can lead to Jhana states and possibly Abhinna...

I won't go through a huge history about what happened with me. In short, I read some meditation books in the late 1990's. I wasn't looking for a religion to be attached to the meditation, so I thought - why not just pull the essence from the Vipassana and other books? Pull out all the religious fluff and sit and look at the breath... and see what happened.

What happened was that Jhanas came without me having known in advance about them. I had no idea what a first Jhana was, and then there it was... I had no idea what to do when the amazing light grew in my mind... I had no teacher, I had no authority. So, I just did what I did with everything - note it, and let it go. When it didn't go - I watched it. It was the same with all the Jhanas, which occurred in sequence one after another exactly as the Buddha described.

If it was an incredible state, I was sometimes attached to it, and couldn't let it go. It disappeared until another time when it arose, and I could let it happen, observe with the mind until it either disappeared, moved into something else (another Jhana or experience), or I somehow lost focus and snapped out of the Jhanas.

Anyway, there is a lot of information about my experience at the jhana8.com site. I chose .com because everyone chooses .com, not for any specific reason. I sell my two meditation books on the site. I also mention that if someone doesn't have the money, I will send it to them for free.

Abhinna seemed to occur to me in a few different ways. I was already experiencing the fourth Jhana regularly during sitting meditation, and then on a few occasions some weird things happened that appeared to be the Divine Eye, and mind-penetrating knowledge.

Here is one experience that I am open to believing it could be the Divine Eye Abhinna... http://www.jhana8.com/what-is-abhinna/my-divine-eye-experience/

I understand people disbelieving a person can get into and through the Jhanas in under a year. I think it is available to so many more people than are currently experiencing it. I think that because I didn't know what the Jhanas were, and that they were important to Buddhists - and not being Buddhist - they were not important to me, I could let them go so easily - as if they were nothing. They really were nothing more than just another experience as I meditated. There were many strange things that went on prior to Jhanas, so to me they were just another bunch of experiences. They were cool, they were amazing, but so too were some other experiences.

I think that Buddhist monks, and other Buddhist practitioners have a much more difficult time of ever stumbling upon Jhana because they are aiming for them. They are so strongly attached to the idea of experiencing Jhana that they make it the main goal. As you may know, when you are attached to something, to some experience, during meditation, it just goes... it doesn't stay any longer. The experience stops, and you're left looking at yourself like - oops!

So, when monks first creep up on Jhana, they are already ecstatic about it. Emotion, attachment engages, and there goes Jhana - bye-bye! lol.

Anyway, so, I just wanted to comment a bit about Jhana and Abhinnas because I saw a reference to me above in the comments. I have lived in Thailand now for 12 yrs. I have reached a point where I don't meditate at all... but some changes have taken place even after I stopped meditating. It seems to me that once the process really starts - say, maybe by the time you start experiencing the fourth Jhana - it kind of keeps going, regardless whether you're going to keep meditating, or not. I like to say, it has its way with you...

There are 2 audio files you can listen to to hear about my path - I think they are on the about page on that jhana8 site.

Ok, cheers, and best of life to everyone... VJL


In Thailand we have many teachers and students with abinna abilities. It isnt something we talk about much but we use the seeing other's minds ability to help students recognize mental phenomena for mindfulness for insight. To get them on the right track.

We also use the ability to see beings after their death to reassure survivors and/or help deceased relatives of students.


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