Siddhis: reveal or not reveal? Advice on Sutras?

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Siddhis: reveal or not reveal? Advice on Sutras?

Postby Nosta » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:39 pm

Is there any advice, on Sutras, about someone revealing or not revealing his own siddhis?

For example, if someone has the power of seeing the future, or even his past lives, or read minds, whatever, what kind of teachings do we find?

What kind of consequences may exist for revealing them? Sometimes I read thats not a good idea to say that you have siddhis. In the other hand, I think that faith in Amitabha can increase with sharing small siddhis, like recounting a prophetic dream you had, or a beautiful and supernatural vision of Amitabha, a scent in the air, etc.

Thanks
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Re: Siddhis: reveal or not reveal? Advice on Sutras?

Postby Kim O'Hara » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:00 pm

Hi, Nosta,
My understanding is that revealing supernatural powers is generally discouraged (and in fact that developing them is considered a bit of a waste of time). Accessto Insight lists these references -
Supranormal powers.
Is the development of ~ a prerequisite for enlightenment?: SN 12.70
Clairaudience: DN 2, DN 11
Ending of the taints/effluents (asava): DN 2,DN 11
Mind-reading: DN 2, DN 11, AN 3.60
Passing away and reappearance of beings: DN 2, DN 11
Recollection of past lives: DN 2, DN 11
As a miracle: AN 3.60
As the fruit of five-factored noble concentration: AN 5.28
How to reduce a pile of wood to its constituent elements: AN 6.41
Drawbacks of ~: DN 11
A monk displays his ~: SN 41.4

Beware: you can't hide from those with ~: AN 3.40
"The Four Bases of Power" in The Wings to Awakening (Thanissaro)
"Knowledge" (Lee)

From memory, the ones I have emphasised are the most relevant to your question, but I haven't read all of them.
If you go to http://www.accesstoinsight.org/index-subject.html, live links will take you to most of these sutras.

:namaste:
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Re: Siddhis: reveal or not reveal? Advice on Sutras?

Postby Nosta » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:21 pm

Thank you very much :namaste:

I am opening, right now, some of the sutras you pointed.

By the way, access to insight is just Theravada isnt it?
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Re: Siddhis: reveal or not reveal? Advice on Sutras?

Postby kirtu » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:27 pm

Nosta wrote:Is there any advice, on Sutras, about someone revealing or not revealing his own siddhis?


Revealing siddhis is discouraged.

But they are also very tenuous.

If you have real siddhis then use them for the good of people. Most people do not have real siddhis and are just very mildly clairvoyant in a very minor way.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche
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Re: Siddhis: reveal or not reveal? Advice on Sutras?

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sat Mar 09, 2013 12:58 am

Nosta wrote:Thank you very much :namaste:

:namaste:

Nosta wrote:By the way, access to insight is just Theravada isnt it?

Yes, but AFAIK all the sutras on it are accepted by all Mahayana schools - and I don't know of any similarly large, indexed collection of Mahayana scriptures online.

:namaste:
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Re: Siddhis: reveal or not reveal? Advice on Sutras?

Postby plwk » Sat Mar 09, 2013 1:57 am

From the Lotus Sutra on how the Buddha displays spiritual powers and the motivation for it and from the Brahma Net Sutra Secondary Precept # 29:
29. On Improper Livelihoods
A disciple of the Buddha should not, for the sake of gain or with evil intentions, engage in the business of prostitution, selling the wiles and charms of men and women. He must also not cook for himself, milling and pounding grain. Neither may he act as a fortune-teller predicting the gender of children, reading dreams and the like. Nor shall he practice sorcery, work as a trainer of falcons or hunting dogs, nor make a living concocting hundreds and thousands of poisons from deadly snakes, insects, or from gold and silver. Such occupations lack mercy, compassion, and filial piety [toward sentient beings]. Therefore, if a Bodhisattva intentionally engages in these occupations, he commits a secondary offense.

Notice the underlined? Perhaps, there are people who practice this art to gain supernormal abilities and to use it for whatever their motivation is?

Also these where Sutras are generally quoted or named:


The Buddhist Perspective on the Supernatural

It was just last Tuesday evening that I was in the local FPMT's Discovering Buddhism class that one of the senior students mentioned a story on Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche's encounter with a man who came to him and asked on how he can increase his psychic abilities and Rinpoche told him to drink more coke. The man was taken aback at first when he saw Rinpoche roaring with laughter (as is always his congenial nature) but Rinpoche then gave him a more serious advice to cultivate the quality of compassion which is far more useful and greater than psychic powers.
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Re: Siddhis: reveal or not reveal? Advice on Sutras?

Postby Nosta » Sat Mar 09, 2013 8:43 pm

plwk, this is not related with my first question, but with the text you provided from the sutras: why cannot a monk cook to himself or pound grain??

Coming back on topic, I really understand the main issue about not showing powers. Buddhists should focus on the greatest miracle of all: the liberation. And so they should only care with everything related to that: be compassive, remove mental hindrances, have a strong morality, etc. But I still think that sometimes, showing something, could be good.

For instance, in the Pure Land section of this forum, we can see that members (myself included) like to read the storys about successful rebirths on Pure Land. Isnt that a kind of miracle/siddhi? Should we avoide it?

Also, if I start to develop, lets say, the ability to see the future on my dreams, because of Nembutsu, should I share that with other members? Wouldnt be a way to help others increase their faith?

Lets not forget that we live in a very skeptical world, and sometimes, some "magic" could be helpful...
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Re: Siddhis: reveal or not reveal? Advice on Sutras?

Postby Jesse » Sat Mar 09, 2013 11:05 pm

Most experiences like that are good for increasing your own faith, and dedication.. beyond that who's really going to believe you? They are also far more likely to get you in trouble rather than help you, or others. "One more thing to let go of"
"We know nothing at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. The real nature of things we shall never know." - Albert Einstein
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Re: Siddhis: reveal or not reveal? Advice on Sutras?

Postby plwk » Sun Mar 10, 2013 3:48 am

plwk, this is not related with my first question...

You wrote: Is there any advice, on Sutras, about someone revealing or not revealing his own siddhis?
I am unsure of how much have you gone through or understood through the links that I and especially kim provided because it all points to what are siddhis, the types of siddhis, the occasions/motivation where it can be used and when not to use it and general advice on it.
...but with the text you provided from the sutras: why cannot a monk cook to himself or pound grain??
http://www.ymba.org/bns/bnsframe.htm
In general, an improper livelihood is any occupation that is contrary to the spirit of compassion toward sentient beings. Such occupations include not only traditional ones like fisherman and hunter but also working in slaughter houses or ammunition factories. In the sutras, the Buddha even forbade monks and nuns from tilling the soil, planting crops, or pressing seeds to get oil because such actions often result in the killing of small animals and insects. (Laymen, being subject to a lesser standard of morality, are not prohibited from engaging in such activities. Moreover, they may even be given the opportunity to earn merit and virtue through service to the clergy. Monks and nuns, relieved of daily chores, can then concentrate on their main calling -- practicing the Dharma for the benefit of all.)

But I still think that sometimes, showing something, could be good.
No one can stop anyone from thinking what they want to but for a serious buddhist practitioner, the Dharma & Vinaya are what is more important than what I want to think, what do you think?
For instance, in the Pure Land section of this forum, we can see that members (myself included) like to read the storys about successful rebirths on Pure Land.
Yeah, but those stories are oft full of anomalies, inconsistencies and glorified tales at times, I myself would not give it much value because none of them so far are vigorously investigated and verified by independent and credible sources other than their own fans. You do know right, that the Pure Land Path is a Bodhisattva based path that is mapped out with the stages of confidence, aspiration and practice towards the accomplishment of Supreme Buddhahood via buddhanusmrti and not about a fantasy island as some people oft misunderstand nor showing people how flexible a dead man's limbs are by waving it at a camera? What is meaningful (at least for me) from those featured videos are how fortunate that those who are dying have supportive causes and conditions for a wholesome mind approaching death and have a chance to go off peacefully and with dignity. Other than that, I cannot verify anything else.
Isnt that a kind of miracle/siddhi? Should we avoide it?
Rebirth is not a siddhi.
Also, if I start to develop, lets say, the ability to see the future on my dreams, because of Nembutsu, should I share that with other members?
First of all, how does one know that because of Nembutsu that one developed that ability? There are many reasons involved on how siddhis are developed and Nembutsu may not even be it. The power of a concentrated mind does not necessarily mean a siddhi.
Secondly, how does one show with demonstrable evidence that what one claims to 'see' is a purported vision of the future and not a result of one's own perception?
Thirdly, unless one has a worthy teacher or a community who can help discern what one experiencing, maybe it's best to keep it to oneself and not everyone wants to know either, no matter how much I assume they want to? There are consequences, right, for instance when one starts claiming to be able to fly from Italy to India without an airplane or hearing Elvis sing in some heaven than actually demonstrating it under accredited scrutiny? Has anyone been to a job interview and told the interviewer the above when describing what one's other skills are?
Wouldnt be a way to help others increase their faith?
If I wanted to do that, I would show them the proper Buddha Dharma with all of its stages of the path and fruit instead of resorting to side circus shows of rainbows, hocus pocus feats, 'now you see, now you don't and snake oil business.
Lets not forget that we live in a very skeptical world, and sometimes, some "magic" could be helpful...
The question is, without all of these 'magic', can one still do good, avoid evil and purify the mind and the answer is a resounding YES.
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Re: Siddhis: reveal or not reveal? Advice on Sutras?

Postby Nosta » Sun Mar 10, 2013 3:07 pm

Plwk, you are correct, I think I didnt read everything on your post. My apologises! I was going to read it more carefully later.

Coming back on topic, do you believe on Pure Land teachings? If yes, why do you believe that there is indeed a place, out of space and time, called Sukhavati? I am doing these questions just to better understand your ideas. And if you believe, do you think that all stories about sucessful rebirths are a lye, or do you think that some of them may worth our attention? And why would people lye about these stories?

Notice that my questions are not counter arguments to your toughts, but just someone really interested on learning more about things.

And if I sometimes I have the power to see the future, whats the reason for that? If its not Nembutsu, what may be causing it?

And I think that its not my interpretation of things. Sometimes (very rare in fact) I have very detailed dreams that will happen in the same way on real life. They are not my interpretation of things.

Thank you again, and to all the people on the topic, for your answers and participation.
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