Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Real "magic" explained in Buddhism (video)

Wisdom Quarterly
Other than jhana mastery in this or a previous life, what could explain this mystery?

"Meditative absorptions" (jhanas) are one way to marvels and magical powers (that are dangerous due to hidden pitfalls). Buddhaghosa's Path of Purification describes the method. Once the absorptions are developed, the adept amy then choose to develop the five supernormal powers (abhinnas or siddhis) of Indian lore.

  • Divine Eye (dibba cakkhu) - clairvoyance or the ability to see earthly and celestial at a distance and unseen by the physical eyes. Cutupapatanana is knowing and seeing the passing away and reappearing of beings. Anagatainsanana is seeing the [probable] future. Yathakammupagatanana is knowledge and vision of beings cycling in accordance with their karma.
  • Divine Ear (dibba sotta) - clairaudience or the power to hear ordinary sounds at a distance as well as subtle (unearthly) sounds from beyond.
  • Recollection of Past Lives (pubenivasanusattuna) - reviewing one's own and others' rebirths.
  • Mind Reading (paracitta vijanana) - directly knowing one's heart/mind.
  • Psychic Powers (iddhividha, iddhis, or siddhis) - such as flying through the air, walking on water like earth, plunging into earth like water...

These abilities may be used skillfully but are much more likely to seduce one and lead to utter ruin. Even the Buddha, seeing danger in them, was reluctant to use them. Arhats, who do not necessarily have them, do not make public displays of them. It is possible to attain enlightenment without mastering these powers. Some say it is possible to awaken without the aid of the absorptions (jhanas) through the very difficult "dry insight" method, which it is said makes use of vipassana-jhanas (most likely access or neighborhood concentration).