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In the Kevatta Sutta (DN 11), the Buddha seems to categorize "Having been one he becomes many; having been many he becomes one" as a psychic power, which is later seems to denounce "..I feel horrified, humiliated, and disgusted with the miracle of psychic power."

Yet, later in the sutta the Buddha classifies the same psychic powers (appearing as many) as miracles of instruction which are praised.

Can someone please help me understand this?

Many thanks.

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There are 2 things here.

  1. developing supernormal powers
  2. displaying supernormal powers

Developing supernormal powers as side benefit of meditation is welcome and long as they are used to teach and further the understanding of the Dhamma. E.g. Meditation master using though reading to see if the partitioner has understood the instructions. Also when meditating you goal should not be to be after these powers but just to realise the Dhamma but have them developed as a side benefit.

Displaying the powers for vanity is what is not encouraged.

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The Vinaya forbids such (BMC1, 10), some Teachers praise such, as for example Ajahn Lee in his teachings on Knowledge (as use, not explicit showing directly!).

So. Now that we've cleared away these splinters and thorns so that everything is level and smooth, we can relax. And now we're ready for the knowledge that we can use as a weapon. What's the knowledge we use as a weapon? Iddhividhi. We can display powers in one way or another, and give rise to miraculous things by way of the body, by way of speech, or by way of the mind. We have powers that we can use in doing the work of the religion. That's called iddhividhi.

Ven. Bhante Thanissaro, in his discussions about this matters (for example The Brahma Invitation) states reasonable, that althought the Buddha used such, he could not really trust others to use it in the right situation:

Nevertheless, there are other instances in the Canon — most notably in the story of the Kassapa brothers (Mv.I.15-22) and that of Angulimala (MN 86) — where the Buddha was able to display his powers to good effect. Still, because he could not trust even his arahant disciples to possess his same sense of when such powers would work and when they would backfire, he forbade his disciples from displaying psychic powers to lay people. (See Cv.V.8; Buddhist Monastic Code, vol. 2, chapter 10.)

It might give also certain answers to the questions in Arhat Culapanthaka's display of psychic powers to a layman (DP Verse 25)

All in all, Atma would say its how ever not good if it (performance) could be traced back to a certain person (Monk), because it's not the best to make people properly more attached to an individual person that to the Buddha in such a way and the danger of misuse, corruption ... even fear of people is/would be endless.

As for the path and real attainments, is simply a side effect, but actually of no use and not needed to be seen as a skill worthy to cling on.

At the beginning of the Vinaya (Mahavagga) there is a long "battle" of miracles to get a leader of a sect confidence, who what ever miracle was performed by the Buddha still said "...great..., but my virtue is higher..." (normally something what the Buddha keeps as more of value) till an event where he did no more look from above but compared it and lend the Buddha an ear.

A small collections of suttas in regard of this topic see: Supranormal powers

But once again, maybe Mr. Kaveenga Wijayasekara likes to tell more about the intention of why he likes to know it.

There is a Sutta where a certain Brahman was also very attached this matter. Let's see, maybe Atma will find it.

"Now, brahman, of these three miracles, which one appeals to you as the highest & most sublime?" (AN 3.60)

(Note: this answer has not been given with the agreement to be means of trade or the purpose of/for trade and/or keep people trapped and bound. How you handle it lies in your sphere, but does not excuse the deed here either.)

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