Following his enlightenment, the Buddha was said to have possessed and discussed several supranormal powers attainable through meditation. Such abilities include walking on water, walking through walls, becoming invisible, levitation, and making copies of himself.


Just a doubt how could the abilities above is possible? Any details or proof on it especially walking through walls or becoming invisible. Sound like a magic?

  • 1
    @mh just try to create some interests here and prepare to answer if someone challenges this :D Oct 26 '20 at 15:54
  • thank you for your good question & nice comment; was editing the comment & deleted because the 4 minute timelimit for editing had passed; it went something like this: Good interesting question cf. simply dismissing the concept as is seen recently quite often in new age type material thats marketed as Buddhism; also mentioned that 1 question can have up to 5 appropriate tags on it. Thank you :)
    – M H
    Oct 26 '20 at 16:02
  • yes, its Part of Buddhism :)
    – M H
    Oct 26 '20 at 16:09
  • maybe could continue preparation in B.SE cht room 'Buddhism1', the ping doesnt seem to work to invite littlestar, and its a public cht room :)
    – M H
    Oct 26 '20 at 16:19

You wrote, "just try to create some interests here and prepare to answer if someone challenges this" -- so I assume this is like your previous question, where you're looking for how to answer if a skeptical evangelical challenges the belief as being incredible.

Incidentally I asked a similar question about "rebirth" -- Is rebirth a delusional belief? -- not because the doctrine of rebirth is necessarily the first or most important thing to know about Buddhist doctrine, but because I thought it was one of the most famous aspects and difficult to understand, and so a reason why people might reject or not investigate the whole doctrine.

Anyway if you are asked about miracles, one way to answer might be by referencing the Kevatta or Kevaddha Sutta (DN 11).

First read for yourself the text of that sutta.

Then maybe read this answer which says, "most Buddhists [...] believe in the miracles mentioned in the scriptures literally" -- I think that the author (Sankha Kulathantille) saying "most Buddhists" means "in Sri Lanka" for example.

I think that (i.e. literally") is certainly one way to understand the sutta.

But perhaps also read what Piya Tan writes about DN 11 here (Piya Tan is a former monk, from Malaysia/Singapore/Thailand).

This discourse belongs to a rare category of religious literature: religious humour, of which it is one of the finest examples. Its import is nonetheless serious in terms of reflecting the true nature of religion and of spiritual development. The discourse clearly does not advocate any feeling of awe towards an inexplicably mysterious universe [etc]

There's a partial answer to your question in part 3:

3. The Buddhist attitude to miracles

3.1 MIRACLES ARE NOT A MARK OF SPIRITUALITY. Midway through the Kevaḍḍha Sutta, the Buddha expresses to Kevaḍḍha his disapproval of miracles or psychic wonders (pāṭihāriya), especially the wonder of miraculos power (iddhi,pāṭihāriya) [§§4-5] and of mind-reading (ādesana,pāṭihāriya) [§§6-7]. In fact, the Buddha disapproves of them in the strongest terms, using the well known stock phrase or formula, “I am troubled, ashamed, disgusted” (aṭṭiyāmi harāyāmi jigucchāmi). Apparently, this is the only time in the Suttas that we find the Buddha doing so in these words. However, the Vinaya, too, records his unequivocal disapproval of such a display, in the story of Piṇḍola Bhāra,dvāja.

In the Kevaḍḍha Sutta, the Buddha first defines the miracle [§§4, 6], and goes on to mention the reaction of one with faith and one without faith regarding it. The one who has faith in the miracle speaks of it to an unbeliever, who is unimpressed, claiming that in the case of the wonder of miraculous power (or thaumaturgy), he knows of the Gandhāri charm [§5], and in the case of mind-reading, he knows of the Manika charm [§7].

In a contemporary or a futuristic scenario, this can be explained in this way. The unbeliever sees no special merit in the talk of psychic power because it could be done with, say, holographic images, airplanes, antigravity devices, etc; nor any the merit in the talk of mind-reading because this could be done by a mind-imaging machine. Or, as Luis O Gomez puts it: “they are not the exclusive property of the enlightened, or other people could come into possession of these powers by other means, such as the magical arts of Gandhāra (gandhārī nāma vijjā)” (1977:221). It should be added that, as pointed out in the Susīma Sutta (S 12.70), there are also arhats who do not possess any psychic power, and that their spiritual status is in no way inferior to any other arhat.

I realise this doesn't exactly answer your question -- but I think it's a canonical answer, i.e. it's what the canon says about the topic, i.e. that it's like of the wrong question to be asking, the wrong topic to be interested in when you're asking about Buddhism.

Piya Tan's article then goes on, to say what a miracle is (i.e. how it's defined in the sutta), and to say what the Vinaya says about them.

It may be incidentally that your Christian evangelical friends seem to show a "black and white" kind of thinking, e.g. "either you believe or you don't", or, "either it's the work of God or the work of the Devil". Personally I suppose that "believing in miracles" is a kind of an "extreme", and "not believing in miracles" is another extreme -- Buddhism often offers a "middle way" between extremes, avoid either extreme, so maybe both of these two extremes aren't exactly right. By the same token though I don't want to say someone is wrong for believing or for not believing.

Similarly I think that "interpreting every sutta literally" might be a bit of an extreme (and "not believing what the suttas says" another kind of extreme). It seems to me that some suttas -- for example DN 27 -- is pretty clearly something I'm inclined to recognise as a parable or allegory.

You might find it informative to read the answers to this topic too -- Does Theravada Buddhism accept Jataka Stories?

  • skeptical evangelical challenges --> not exactly from Christian friend but from any friend especially very Junior Buddhist, and hope i can answer some simple questions. I am always wish to embrace Buddhism teaching Oct 28 '20 at 8:53
  • about the black and white -> i felt is identical to Buddhism. Do good then go heaven, do bad then go to hell. Believe in God but against all God's commandments going to black place also. No such things Do Bad Joins The "Good Worlds" ,Hurts and Kill all of them, if so that is not a "Heaven" and i am not interested to go there. Oct 30 '20 at 7:46

Just a doubt how could the abilities above is possible? Any details or proof on it especially walking through walls or becoming invisible. Sound like a magic?

Technically speaking, all those things mentioned above can easily be done if one's penetrated the extra-dimensions beyond our conventional dimensions. The concept is very similar to the flat-landers analogy explained by Dr. Carl Sagan.

  • thank you for posting your excellent explanatory reply & sharing the superb classic link with very nice indirect discussion of aspects of >3 Dimensional things/ extraDimensional things, including 'things' which may 'exist' but which are essentially directly in general noncomprehensible to, & directly in general nondescribable by, typical 3 Dimensional type beings, eg people/ tigers/ birds; thank you :)
    – M H
    Oct 27 '20 at 7:28
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    Thanks @MH _/\_
    – santa100
    Oct 27 '20 at 14:46

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