In many different faith and schools of teachings, showing miracles has been a sign of greatness. It has been seen by lay people as a sign of wonder and therefore, a sign of power. But what does the Buddha say about miracles and psychic powers?
Buddha himself has said that humans can demonstrate abilities which may surpass the normal capabilities of man. He himself has been through miracles since the time of his birth. He was able to perform and do psychic acts because of his Enlightenment But Buddha teaches that miracles should never be measure of power or greatness; for longing for greatness is vanity and vanity causes suffering.
In Buddhist Scriptures, psychic abilities is mentioned as one of the six types of higher knowledge attained through virtue and meditation. These psychic abilities are known as generally as Iddhi.
There are Six Iddhis:
- Walking on water
- Knowing and remembering one’s own past lives
- The divine eye or the ability to see other’s karmic path
- The removal of mental suffering and intoxicants.
Psychic Abilities and the Road to Enlightenment
In the path of of achieving Enlightenment, you will have to first learn that life is full of Suffering. You must keep to heart the Four Noble Truths, which teaching that 1.) there is suffering, 2.) desire causes suffering 3.) We can remove suffering by removing desire and that we can 4.) remove desire and thereby remove suffering by living a righteous path through the Eightfold Path.
The Eightfold Path teaches us the
1.) Right view,
2.) Right intent
3.) Right speech
4.) Right action
5.) Right livelihood
6.) Right effort,
7.) Right mindfulness
8.) Right meditation.
Meditation is the gateway to mental gifts and the liberation of mind from it’s limits. By meditating we can achieve healing, abilities and most of all enlightenment.
Buddha recognizes that men and women can attain supernatural powers through meditation and practice. However he warns that they should not be the goal, but rather focus on attain Nirvana and Mokksha.
Buddha himself has had experiences regarding psychic states and seen his past lives when he meditated under the Bodhi Tree and received Enlightenment. There he learned about the truth of the universe, rebirth, suffering, karma and many other things.
When one meditates, he let’s go of the control of his mind and focuses on his breath or something that needs to be focused on. A person lets go of his problems, his thoughts and his troubles and allows his mind to be free. Once the mind is free, a person may see visions and learn things that a closed mind may not see. This allows a man or a woman to gain psychic abilities
But Buddha teaches that one must never meditate on the premise of just acquiring powers and abilities, it is done in order to achieve clarity and freedom from suffering. The Buddha also warns against those who use such abilities for the purpose of personal exaltation and vanity.
Buddha’s Voice on Psychic Powers
Buddha has said in his teachings that ONE SHOULD NEVER USE PSYCHIC POWERS TO CONVERT PEOPLE INTO BUDDHISM or use it to gain popularity or favors with others. Buddha has even prevented the members of the Sangha to show lay people their abilities because he knew what the repercussions of doing so.
Buddha said that when the Sangha uses the demonstration supernatural abilities to others to convert them, the converted only believes because he is in awe of the said power is more interested in magic rather than Enlightenment. He teaches that it is better for a man to come into Buddhism because of sound reasoning rather than mysticism and magic.
Buddha teaches that supernatural abilities such as walking on water, temperature control, telekinesis and telepathy and looking into the past and future are really possible. However if the goal of practicing the Dharma is to gain these powers, then you have failed already. Gaining them is possible for any man, says Buddha, but what is important IS STILL ENLIGHTENMENT.
The sacred teachings says that the TRUE MIRACLE IS THE CONVERSION OF A WICKED MAN INTO A VIRTOUS MAN. If a man who has done grievous acts changes and becomes a good man, then that is a miracle.
But Buddha himself did not forbid the lay to use supernatural powers so long as their use would be towards helping others. Learning about the future is never intended to change what is to come, but rather to accept it more freely. Thus, using psychic abilities to aid others to know the truth is not forbidden in the teachings of Buddha
Gain Wisdom and Virtue, Not Vanity
In the core of Buddhism is the teaching of humility and letting go of desires. Thus the Buddha teaches that those who succumb to vanity become wicked and lose Enlightenment.
There was once a religious man who meditated and meditated until he received the power to walk on water. He then spoke to the Buddha that he has been able to attain a great gift after many years of meditation and practice. Buddha then told him that being vain about such a gift is folly and that a man can cross waters if he as a penny to pay a boat.
In another story, there was once a rich man who put up a pole in order to test others. On the top of this tall pole, he put a bowl. He then told people that whosoever gets the bowl can keep it. So a monk who could levitate did so. Many people heard about this feat and was mesmerized. But after learning about this vanity, Buddha told the monk that is like a prostitute who shows off his wares for money.
Buddhas has said that THOSE WHO SEEK ENLIGHTENMENT SHOULD SEEK WISDOM, HONESTY AND VIRTUE AND NOT MIRACLES AND POWERS. Because those who only follow the way of the Buddha because seek miracles and powers will not be truly be Enlightened.