the true nature of siddhis

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the true nature of siddhis

Postby Luke » Tue May 22, 2012 7:05 am

Ancient Buddhist masters were said to be able to perform amazing feats. For example, Marpa was said to be able to walk through walls and Milarepa was said to be able to fly.

Do you think that they actually did such things? (Meaning that they did them in such a way that any person who was there at that time could see them performing these miracles.)

Or do you feel that these are just fables which were later added to their biographies by adoring disciples?

Or do you feel that these things only seemed to happen in the minds of the masters who performed the miracles and in the minds of their disciples who observed them? (but these things weren't visible to ordinary people.)

And the classic question: If you believe in these very visually dramatic siddhis (walking through walls, flying, levitating, making objects float, appearing to others in the form of a Buddhist deity, etc.), then why don't we see Buddhist masters who can do these things today?

And before the usual grumpy "What does any of this matter? Focus on the cause of suffering and its removal" answers roll in, let me say that a public, scientifically verifiable demonstration of siddhis would revolutionize average people's ideas about the potential of the mind and about reality itself. A lot of people have no interest in listening to very ordinary Buddhist teachers, but many more would pay attention if Buddhist teachers could make objects float or demonstrate some other miracles. Lots of people desire miracles, that's for sure!
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Re: the true nature of siddhis

Postby AlexanderS » Tue May 22, 2012 8:05 am

I believe that masters such as Milarepa and Marpa could geinuenly fly and walk through walls.
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Re: the true nature of siddhis

Postby Nikolay » Tue May 22, 2012 8:25 am

I think it is a question of personal karma. Witnessing siddhi is a two-way business: a master should be able to perform a "miracle", and an observer should be able to witness. If a person is not karmically predisposed, such thing will just never happen in his life. It's the same with deities appearing before you, etc.

I think Thinley Norbu Rinpoche wrote something like this in one of his books, "White Sail" or "Magic Dance", I do not remember. He even explained it using the example of Jesus walking on water.
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Re: the true nature of siddhis

Postby Konchog1 » Tue May 22, 2012 8:59 am

Do you think that they actually did such things? (Meaning that they did them in such a way that any person who was there at that time could see them performing these miracles.)

Or do you feel that these are just fables which were later added to their biographies by adoring disciples?
Both.

Also, if you show off your magic powers, that's why people will be interested in the Dharma, not for lasting or beneficial reasons. They may even write off Buddhism entirely as a religion of tricks. Quite a few Westerners have magic powers you know. I once saw one cut a woman in half! Another made items disappear, only to summon again them at will.

"And what is the miracle of psychic power? There is the case where a monk wields manifold psychic powers. Having been one he becomes many; having been many he becomes one. He appears. He vanishes. He goes unimpeded through walls, ramparts, and mountains as if through space. He dives in and out of the earth as if it were water. He walks on water without sinking as if it were dry land. Sitting cross-legged he flies through the air like a winged bird. With his hand he touches and strokes even the sun and moon, so mighty and powerful. He exercises influence with his body even as far as the Brahma worlds.

"Then someone who has faith and conviction in him sees him wielding manifold psychic powers... exercising influence with his body even as far as the Brahma worlds. He reports this to someone who has no faith and no conviction, telling him, 'Isn't it awesome. Isn't it astounding, how great the power, how great the prowess of this contemplative. Just now I saw him wielding manifold psychic powers... exercising influence with his body even as far as the Brahma worlds.'

"Then the person without faith, without conviction, would say to the person with faith and with conviction: 'Sir, there is a charm called the Gandhari charm by which the monk wielded manifold psychic powers... exercising influence with his body even as far as the Brahma worlds.' What do you think, Kevatta — isn't that what the man without faith, without conviction, would say to the man with faith and with conviction?"

"Yes, lord, that's just what he would say."

"Seeing this drawback to the miracle of psychic power, Kevatta, I feel horrified, humiliated, and disgusted with the miracle of psychic power.


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Re: the true nature of siddhis

Postby Paul » Tue May 22, 2012 9:37 am

I would say that precognition, telepathy and maybe telekinesis are possible. I am pretty certaint that most people have had at least some experience of the first two. Not sure about the whole walking through walls or flying business.
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With such a confidence, empowered by the regal state of natural mind,
The training now is simply this: lets your six senses be at ease and free." - Princess Parani
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Re: the true nature of siddhis

Postby catmoon » Tue May 22, 2012 11:45 am

I don't think any of it ever happened. There is a universal tendency in all religions to attribute paranormal powers to the central figures, and these attributions grow ever more ornate with the passing of time. I don't think Buddhism is an exception.

That being said, my skepticism is rooted decades of life lived without ever having seen or heard anything that can described as paranormal. It could all be overturned tomorrow by a single such event.
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.
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Re: the true nature of siddhis

Postby Huifeng » Tue May 22, 2012 12:20 pm

Find a siddha and those questions about siddhis will soon be answered.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: the true nature of siddhis

Postby Luke » Tue May 22, 2012 3:31 pm

Huifeng wrote:Find a siddha and those questions about siddhis will soon be answered.

~~ Huifeng

Can you recommend any particular siddhas to us, Ven. Huifeng?
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Re: the true nature of siddhis

Postby AlexanderS » Tue May 22, 2012 4:40 pm

Luke wrote:
Huifeng wrote:Find a siddha and those questions about siddhis will soon be answered.

~~ Huifeng

Can you recommend any particular siddhas to us, Ven. Huifeng?


I don't think that is how it works.
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Re: the true nature of siddhis

Postby Luke » Tue May 22, 2012 5:01 pm

AlexanderS wrote:I don't think that is how it works.

Perhaps not, but Ven. Huifeng's provocative answer drives me to ask the question anyway.
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Re: the true nature of siddhis

Postby kirtu » Tue May 22, 2012 7:01 pm

Luke wrote:
AlexanderS wrote:I don't think that is how it works.

Perhaps not, but Ven. Huifeng's provocative answer drives me to ask the question anyway.


Unfortunately you can read this stuff about siddhis (and by extension, miracles) many different ways - almost any way you want to. I have had a couple of miracles happen to me in terms of narrowing escaping death. You can also read the events as random chance.

An acquaintance of mine told me about her perception during a near car collision in NYC when she was driving a now deceased lineage master. Another car seemed to have passed through their car she said. According to her she said something like we should have been killed and the master nodded and laughed a little.

Later she has an appointment at the Twin Towers on 9/11 at 9:30 am or so but was unexpectedly delayed. Later that master said that the delay was a blessing from him. So, was he just taking credit for a seemingly random event or did his claims have some validity?

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Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: the true nature of siddhis

Postby Huifeng » Thu May 24, 2012 1:16 am

Karmic connections with teachers, siddhas, bodhisattvas, buddhas and other beings are our own.
While many saw who Sakyamuni was, others did not. So, we all have to make our own inquiries.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: the true nature of siddhis

Postby Nighthawk » Thu May 24, 2012 1:20 am

catmoon wrote:I don't think any of it ever happened. There is a universal tendency in all religions to attribute paranormal powers to the central figures, and these attributions grow ever more ornate with the passing of time. I don't think Buddhism is an exception.

That being said, my skepticism is rooted decades of life lived without ever having seen or heard anything that can described as paranormal. It could all be overturned tomorrow by a single such event.

:good:
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Re: the true nature of siddhis

Postby Will » Thu May 24, 2012 3:09 am

Siddhis are real, including those which can "cloud men's minds". Yogis of all spiritual traditions can have them, some minor powers, some major.
Revealing one essence: this means the inherently pure, complete, luminous essence, which is pure of its own nature. -- Fa-tsang
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Re: the true nature of siddhis

Postby Tree » Thu May 24, 2012 2:21 pm

I think it's like death. We are taught so much about these things, but we will not 'know' until we experience it.
The buddha taught that these powers shouldn't be our focus. They are not the goal, they are a by-product.
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Re: the true nature of siddhis

Postby Lhug-Pa » Thu May 24, 2012 4:19 pm

Ligmincha wrote:Rainbow Body - (tib: 'ja lus) The sign of full realization in Dzogchen is the attainment of the rainbow body. The realized Dzogchen practitioner, no longer deluded by apparent substantiality or dualisms such as mind and matter, releases the energy of the elements that compose the physical body at the time of death. The body itself is dissolved, leaving only hair and nails, and the practitioner consciously enters death.


See also:

viewtopic.php?f=48&t=5875&start=0#p66009

.
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Re: the true nature of siddhis

Postby Astus » Thu May 24, 2012 4:55 pm

And since these siddhis are all very personal, just like miracles in any other religion, it is not verifiable by any scientific test, or shown to a general public, like on TV or in a theatre. Thus it is not possible to be used to convert people.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: the true nature of siddhis

Postby Astus » Thu May 24, 2012 11:23 pm

Well, in fact there is a way to convert people with miracles. Certain types of Christians actually do that and they have large groups of followers. Korea is an example for a country with strong Buddhist connections where today there are probably more who believe in Jesus than Buddha, partially because of the miracle makers.

"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: the true nature of siddhis

Postby kirtu » Thu May 24, 2012 11:36 pm

Astus wrote:Well, in fact there is a way to convert people with miracles. Certain types of Christians actually do that and they have large groups of followers. Korea is an example for a country with strong Buddhist connections where today there are probably more who believe in Jesus than Buddha, partially because of the miracle makers.


Praetyakabuddhas are supposed to perform miracles to help and convert people during the times between Dharma dispensations. In some stories masters and saints do the same.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: the true nature of siddhis

Postby Astus » Fri May 25, 2012 12:15 am

kirtu wrote:Praetyakabuddhas are supposed to perform miracles to help and convert people during the times between Dharma dispensations. In some stories masters and saints do the same.


There are stories, yes. But as the original question says, where are the living miracle makers in Buddhism, if siddhis exist like magic in Harry Potter's world? And miracles are very much present in Buddhism, starting with the life of Shakyamuni in the earliest texts (see: The Concept of the Buddha by Guang Xing). How should they be understood? I believe there are several factors present, like that people experience miraculous things around teachers today as well, even though it may not necessarily be the teacher's intention, therefore such events seem more like the signs of deep faith. From a subjective perspective, possessing siddhis could be about one's mind reaching new levels of consciousness. It seems quite natural that with meditation they actually appear.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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