Question about Siddhis/Research/Spreading the Dharma

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treehuggingoctopus
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Re: Question about Siddhis/Research/Spreading the Dharma

Post by treehuggingoctopus »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 2:10 pm
treehuggingoctopus wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 12:48 pm Well, science is always already political in itself, and not only has always been all too easy to be co-opted in order to produce evidence in support of this or that political position, but the very methods it relies on have an irreducibly political and social side.
Do you think that’s the case with scientists of the last 40 years earning about climate change?
Of course. (70 years, more like, actually.) A textbook example, with every day showing how different political projects deal with the issues of climate change, or ecocide in general. (I am a Deep Ecology greenie, and as such recognise the irreducible right-to-be of nonhuman lives, however they are, as the basic starting point of all climate collapse debates -- a notion the vast majority of political subjects, and scientists, deem insane. Etc.) But this is completely offtopic. Let us get back to the OP's dilemma.
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Re: Question about Siddhis/Research/Spreading the Dharma

Post by Kai lord »

Using science to prove Buddhism? In the recent decade, based on more and more studies/essays/etc that I read, the opposite is becoming more and more common. People are beginning to use Buddhism to (im)prove science.

For instances, there is this one person (forget her name) who had received teachings from certain lamas/khenpos on Tsa lung, teaching of Longchenpa on Dzogchen, etc, then went on in her articles to suggest multiple times that Longchenpa's teaching on the great completion reveals the importance of a material body and how closely suggestive of physicalism that was before suggesting how Vajrayana can help to improve studies in Neuroscience/psychology and get humanity nearer to some vague trans-humanism goals.

Well, you get the idea.
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Re: Question about Siddhis/Research/Spreading the Dharma

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treehuggingoctopus wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 1:01 pmThis is the governmental/Western position on the recent developments: https://apnews.com/article/nepal-buddha ... d871f74145 I happen to know people who have come to know the wonderboy, and they are telling a vastly different story, of course. Lots of local politics involved, including ethnic identity conflicts, for sure.
And there are people still saying that Michael Jackson was not a pedophile... Groupies will be groupies.

"A controversial Nepalese spiritual leader known as “Buddha Boy” was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a minor and involvement in the disappearance of at least four of his followers from his camps, police said Wednesday."

Buddha damn!
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Re: Question about Siddhis/Research/Spreading the Dharma

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

treehuggingoctopus wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 2:43 pm
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 2:10 pm
treehuggingoctopus wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 12:48 pm Well, science is always already political in itself, and not only has always been all too easy to be co-opted in order to produce evidence in support of this or that political position, but the very methods it relies on have an irreducibly political and social side.
Do you think that’s the case with scientists of the last 40 years earning about climate change?
Of course. (70 years, more like, actually.) A textbook example, with every day showing how different political projects deal with the issues of climate change, or ecocide in general.

That shows that politics sticks its fingers in science, but not that science is political in itself.

The position of climate scientists recognizes that the dangers of climate change are greater than politics.
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Re: Question about Siddhis/Research/Spreading the Dharma

Post by cyril »

Ati108 wrote: Fri Jan 12, 2024 10:02 pm If there are practitioners with extraordinary abilities or siddhis, why not be more open about them? If there were clearer, well documented cases of these capacities then it might serve to turn people toward Dharma and to make people respect the knowledge contained within the teachings. I understand there are reasons for maintaining secrecy and that there are pitfalls, but we are in a moment of global crisis. So what if some people misunderstand or develop wrong view? Pragmatically speaking, I'm sure more people would benefit from clear exposure to the greatness of the Dharma unencumbered by obscurantism. I open this up as a topic for discussion with an enormous respect for the teachings/teachers, and because I think the answer is not obvious....I ask that those who might respond keep an open mind to the question.
The thing is, those who already show an interest in Buddhadharma do not need any display of siddhis. And those who show no interest generally fall in two categories: the followers of Abrahamic religions and the materialists/ atheists.

The first group will likely see siddhi as the work of demons; for the fundie crowd, every single thing that they can't understand is the work of the devil. Even for the liberal crowd, witnessing the siddhi will likely entrench them further in their beliefs. If the rainbow body is a reality, then the resurrected body of Christ must also be a reality, as Father Francis Tiso is (still) trying to demonstrate. Or if a mere human, like so-and-so lama, can heal minor sickness by reciting mantras over a glass of water, imagine what Jesus could do, who was the Son of God.

The second group will likely demand to test the siddhi within a controlled environment & stuff. Say, if you are good at doing divination, how about a double-blind involving a person who might or might not be in a separate room who will or will not extract a random card from a standard pack of cards or a similarly designed experiment? I'm sure Dorje Yudronma or whatever deity is in charge of the divination will only be eager to collaborate in this nonsense.

So, pragmatically speaking, I don't think a lot of people will benefit from a display of siddhis. If you want further proof, consider the scientific studies already conducted on practitioners of gtum-mo. There were several such studies conducted in the eighties, the 2000 and the 2010 decades and each of them confirmed the practitioner's ability to significantly raise his body temperature using nothing but special breathing and visualisation. How many people came to Dharma following these studies? Exactly.
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Re: Question about Siddhis/Research/Spreading the Dharma

Post by treehuggingoctopus »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 8:53 pm
treehuggingoctopus wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 2:43 pm
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Sun Feb 11, 2024 2:10 pm
Do you think that’s the case with scientists of the last 40 years earning about climate change?
Of course. (70 years, more like, actually.) A textbook example, with every day showing how different political projects deal with the issues of climate change, or ecocide in general.

That shows that politics sticks its fingers in science, but not that science is political in itself.

The position of climate scientists recognizes that the dangers of climate change are greater than politics.
If you are interested in the topic, do read the names I mentioned, or Donna Haraway's "Situated Knowledges," or Isabelle Stengers, or Karen Barad. In the context of green things, Patrick Curry does a good job of explaining it and other issues in Environmental Ethics. Frederique Apffel Marglin's studies of the beginnings of what we today call science may also help. This has been researched to death, tbh. I am not going to discuss it here further
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Re: Question about Siddhis/Research/Spreading the Dharma

Post by Aemilius »

cyril wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 8:31 am
Ati108 wrote: Fri Jan 12, 2024 10:02 pm If there are practitioners with extraordinary abilities or siddhis, why not be more open about them? If there were clearer, well documented cases of these capacities then it might serve to turn people toward Dharma and to make people respect the knowledge contained within the teachings. I understand there are reasons for maintaining secrecy and that there are pitfalls, but we are in a moment of global crisis. So what if some people misunderstand or develop wrong view? Pragmatically speaking, I'm sure more people would benefit from clear exposure to the greatness of the Dharma unencumbered by obscurantism. I open this up as a topic for discussion with an enormous respect for the teachings/teachers, and because I think the answer is not obvious....I ask that those who might respond keep an open mind to the question.
The thing is, those who already show an interest in Buddhadharma do not need any display of siddhis. And those who show no interest generally fall in two categories: the followers of Abrahamic religions and the materialists/ atheists.

The first group will likely see siddhi as the work of demons; for the fundie crowd, every single thing that they can't understand is the work of the devil. Even for the liberal crowd, witnessing the siddhi will likely entrench them further in their beliefs. If the rainbow body is a reality, then the resurrected body of Christ must also be a reality, as Father Francis Tiso is (still) trying to demonstrate. Or if a mere human, like so-and-so lama, can heal minor sickness by reciting mantras over a glass of water, imagine what Jesus could do, who was the Son of God.

The second group will likely demand to test the siddhi within a controlled environment & stuff. Say, if you are good at doing divination, how about a double-blind involving a person who might or might not be in a separate room who will or will not extract a random card from a standard pack of cards or a similarly designed experiment? I'm sure Dorje Yudronma or whatever deity is in charge of the divination will only be eager to collaborate in this nonsense.

So, pragmatically speaking, I don't think a lot of people will benefit from a display of siddhis. If you want further proof, consider the scientific studies already conducted on practitioners of gtum-mo. There were several such studies conducted in the eighties, the 2000 and the 2010 decades and each of them confirmed the practitioner's ability to significantly raise his body temperature using nothing but special breathing and visualisation. How many people came to Dharma following these studies? Exactly.
Nevertheless, there are in the buddhist tradition stories of how certain individuals were at least in part converted because they witnessed miraculous events. For example, Shiwa Aui witnessed Milarepa performing the miracle of crossing the river without a boat. And after that Shiwa Aui refused to continue with his ordinary life and vowed to become a disciple of Mila, (in the song of Meeting at Silver Spring, in the Hundred Thousands songs).
In the life of Shakyamuni there are the miracles that he perfomed when he was staying with the three Kashyapa brothers and their thousand followers.
According to Dan Leighton, Dogen was regarded a miracle worker among the laity and general population of medieval Japan. But in the modern world we hear nothing about the miracles he was known for earlier !?
Buddha also converted the ritualist-murderer Angulimala through a kind of miracle. Angulimala could not reach the Buddha, how ever fast he ran or tried to run towards Gautama Shakyamuni.
In Zen/Chan tradition Bodhidharma and Hui Neng were both known for miraculous events tha took place in their lives. And at least Hui Neng converted one person because of it, i.e. the general who was unable to lift the bowl and robe symbolizing patriarch-hood from the ground, when they were given to him.
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Re: Question about Siddhis/Research/Spreading the Dharma

Post by cyril »

Aemilius wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 3:38 pm
Nevertheless, there are in the buddhist tradition stories of how certain individuals were at least in part converted because they witnessed miraculous events. For example, Shiwa Aui witnessed Milarepa performing the miracle of crossing the river without a boat. And after that Shiwa Aui refused to continue with his ordinary life and vowed to become a disciple of Mila, (in the song of Meeting at Silver Spring, in the Hundred Thousands songs).
In the life of Shakyamuni there are the miracles that he perfomed when he was staying with the three Kashyapa brothers and their thousand followers.
According to Dan Leighton, Dogen was regarded a miracle worker among the laity and general population of medieval Japan. But in the modern world we hear nothing about the miracles he was known for earlier !?
Buddha also converted the ritualist-murderer Angulimala through a kind of miracle. Angulimala could not reach the Buddha, how ever fast he ran or tried to run towards Gautama Shakyamuni.
In Zen/Chan tradition Bodhidharma and Hui Neng were both known for miraculous events tha took place in their lives. And at least Hui Neng converted one person because of it, i.e. the general who was unable to lift the bowl and robe symbolizing patriarch-hood from the ground, when they were given to him.
Well, all the miracles you mentioned seem to have in common one thing: a very small audience. Therefore, assuming these feats were real and not just hagiography, one can conclude that they were performed strictly for that very small audience. The siddha in question understood that the person in front of him only needed a bit of pyrotechnics to acquire faith in Dharma and gave that person what he needed. A customised miracle if you want. Btw, it happens these days, too; those who hang around Dharma Centres long enough usually have one or two interesting stories to tell. But I think the OP was talking about attracting fairly large crowds in this manner, mass-production so to say, an approach which I believe won't really work for the reasons I have described already.
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Re: Question about Siddhis/Research/Spreading the Dharma

Post by Kai lord »

Aemilius wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 3:38 pm Nevertheless, there are in the buddhist tradition stories of how certain individuals were at least in part converted because they witnessed miraculous events.
The whole point of those spiritual displays is to target towards certain individuals (with the right karmic affinity) at a specific timing so as to achieve maximum spiritual benefits.

A good historical example will be 佛图澄, a monk from central asia, who performed his siddhis in front of several warlords and became the personal adviser of their leader. That warlord eventually conquered enough lands to found a dynasty in China with spiritual guidance and help of 佛图澄. The latter being widely revered by that time, helped to widely propagate Buddhism to masses for the first time in China since its introduction during the Han dynasty.

And among the many disciples of 佛图澄, there are many prominent figures, one of them called Tao An who eventually had a student that went on to become the first Chinese patriarch of pure land Buddhism.

Another good modern day example will be the "old lady of fragrant river" or 周凤臣, who choose to display her abilities only to her small group of family members, after which she told them not to move or touch her body when she departed from his world. After witnessing her siddhis, her family member actually followed her command and as years went by, more and more people became curious at 周凤臣's non decayed body and it eventually became a national wide phenomena and people became interested in Buddhism once again despite decades of anti religious indoctrination. To this day after few decades, even the Chinese scientists still could not explained why her body remains undecayed.
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Re: Question about Siddhis/Research/Spreading the Dharma

Post by Grigoris »

Aemilius wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 3:38 pm Nevertheless, there are in the buddhist tradition stories of how certain individuals were at least in part converted because they witnessed miraculous events. For example, Shiwa Aui witnessed Milarepa performing the miracle of crossing the river without a boat. And after that Shiwa Aui refused to continue with his ordinary life and vowed to become a disciple of Mila, (in the song of Meeting at Silver Spring, in the Hundred Thousands songs).
In the life of Shakyamuni there are the miracles that he perfomed when he was staying with the three Kashyapa brothers and their thousand followers.
According to Dan Leighton, Dogen was regarded a miracle worker among the laity and general population of medieval Japan. But in the modern world we hear nothing about the miracles he was known for earlier !?
Buddha also converted the ritualist-murderer Angulimala through a kind of miracle. Angulimala could not reach the Buddha, how ever fast he ran or tried to run towards Gautama Shakyamuni.
In Zen/Chan tradition Bodhidharma and Hui Neng were both known for miraculous events tha took place in their lives. And at least Hui Neng converted one person because of it, i.e. the general who was unable to lift the bowl and robe symbolizing patriarch-hood from the ground, when they were given to him.
These all took place in very different times, and with very different audiences (compared to modern Westerners).
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"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
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Re: Question about Siddhis/Research/Spreading the Dharma

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Grigoris wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 8:28 pm
Aemilius wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 3:38 pm Nevertheless, there are in the buddhist tradition stories of how certain individuals were at least in part converted because they witnessed miraculous events.
These all took place in very different times, and with very different audiences compared to modern Westerners.
Whether miracles did, do or don’t actually occur isn’t really the issue as far as I see it, because the miracles themselves aren’t really that important. I’ve experienced many unexplainable events connected with the Dharma, particularly with lamas. So, my personal opinion which is not worth anything is that yes, there is some other layer of reality going on, some enlightened layer or level, that some Buddhist masters are functioning on.

I can’t prove it, and there is no need to. That’s the point, and ultimately it doesn’t matter if you can prove it or not. If the goal of proving that such extraordinary events is, as the OP suggested, to spread the Dharma, it don’t matter how much proof you have. Either a person will accept your proof or they won’t. And they will either find an attraction to the Dharma or they won’t, which will have nothing to do with any teacher having siddhis.
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Re: Question about Siddhis/Research/Spreading the Dharma

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PadmaVonSamba wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 8:53 pmWhether miracles did, do or don’t actually occur isn’t really the issue as far as I see it, because the miracles themselves aren’t really that important. I’ve experienced many unexplainable events connected with the Dharma, particularly with lamas. So, my personal opinion which is not worth anything is that yes, there is some other layer of reality going on, some enlightened layer or level, that some Buddhist masters are functioning on.

I can’t prove it, and there is no need to. That’s the point, and ultimately it doesn’t matter if you can prove it or not. If the goal of proving that such extraordinary events is, as the OP suggested, to spread the Dharma, it don’t matter how much proof you have. Either a person will accept your proof or they won’t. And they will either find an attraction to the Dharma or they won’t, which will have nothing to do with any teacher having siddhis.
You missed my point.

These were cultures and periods when magic was considered real (there are still places in the world where this is the case), so any display of "powers" would not have led to the instant scepticism you would encounter in (most of) the materialist West.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
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Re: Question about Siddhis/Research/Spreading the Dharma

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

I know a lama who used to live in Taiwan but has since returned to India many years ago.
In Taiwan he had a few regular students but otherwise kept a pretty low profile. His students would invite their friends to meet him. He didn’t advertise. After he returned to India, it was learned that he was actually an important lama, recognized by various Rinpoches as having great realization and he was also a transmission holder of some rare practices from his tradition that were not widely known. It turned out that he also had students in places all over the world, many in long retreats.

But the reason he didn’t make this known was because he didn’t want to be swarmed by people who were not interested in practice, but who only wanted blessings or charms or whatever which is not uncommon in predominantly Chinese countries. And he didn’t want to attract people who were just trying to acquire magical powers like you see in cheap kung fu movies.

I think it just goes back to that thing about the teacher appearing when the pupil is ready.
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Re: Question about Siddhis/Research/Spreading the Dharma

Post by Aemilius »

cyril wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 4:26 pm
Aemilius wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 3:38 pm
Nevertheless, there are in the buddhist tradition stories of how certain individuals were at least in part converted because they witnessed miraculous events. For example, Shiwa Aui witnessed Milarepa performing the miracle of crossing the river without a boat. And after that Shiwa Aui refused to continue with his ordinary life and vowed to become a disciple of Mila, (in the song of Meeting at Silver Spring, in the Hundred Thousands songs).
In the life of Shakyamuni there are the miracles that he perfomed when he was staying with the three Kashyapa brothers and their thousand followers.
According to Dan Leighton, Dogen was regarded a miracle worker among the laity and general population of medieval Japan. But in the modern world we hear nothing about the miracles he was known for earlier !?
Buddha also converted the ritualist-murderer Angulimala through a kind of miracle. Angulimala could not reach the Buddha, how ever fast he ran or tried to run towards Gautama Shakyamuni.
In Zen/Chan tradition Bodhidharma and Hui Neng were both known for miraculous events tha took place in their lives. And at least Hui Neng converted one person because of it, i.e. the general who was unable to lift the bowl and robe symbolizing patriarch-hood from the ground, when they were given to him.
Well, all the miracles you mentioned seem to have in common one thing: a very small audience. Therefore, assuming these feats were real and not just hagiography, one can conclude that they were performed strictly for that very small audience. The siddha in question understood that the person in front of him only needed a bit of pyrotechnics to acquire faith in Dharma and gave that person what he needed. A customised miracle if you want. Btw, it happens these days, too; those who hang around Dharma Centres long enough usually have one or two interesting stories to tell. But I think the OP was talking about attracting fairly large crowds in this manner, mass-production so to say, an approach which I believe won't really work for the reasons I have described already.
I wholly agree with your description.
Some of the miracles have acquired later and gradually a larger audience, like the footprints left in stone (in Sri Lanka and elsewhere). Also the Buddha's shadow, that he left in a cave when he visited the area of modern Afghanistan. And also when Buddha descended from the Tushita heaven on jewel stairs, the lower part of the jewel stars were left standing on the ground. They became an object of wonder and pilgrimage for about two hundred years. Then they just disappeared, and were later replaced by stone stairs by king Ashoka.

Nagas seem to have been part of the common reality in ancient times. Thus nagas themselves were considered normal. The subduing of a naga by Shakyamuni in the place of Kashyapas and later by his disciple Svagata, who attracted a large crowd and a festival was arranged in his honor, may be considered normal by ancient standards of common reality, (i.e. the subdying of nagas was almost normal).
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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