Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Is presenting psychic powers sometimes allowed?

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Is presenting psychic powers sometimes allowed?

    Dear monastics,

    Last year when I was in Indonesia, I quite regularly attended the meditation sessions in a meditation group in a Buddhist temple there. The sessions there lasted one hour, and the meditation was Samatha meditation, using the breath as object of meditation. The sessions were held by an Indonesian monk. He is of the Theravada tradition - although I'm not 100 % sure about that. The other meditators there said he is of the Theravada tradition, I never asked him directly about that. After the sessions there was usually time for discussion and questions.
    Now, in one particular session my mind drifted away into thoughts about my hometown in Germany, friends back home, etc. After the session, the monk asked me (as was translated): "Michael, were you thinking about your hometown during the meditation?" I was taken aback. I said, "Yes!" - because I did - whereupon he very kindly said that, when that happens, I shouldn't immerse myself in these thoughts but just return to the breath. Anyway, he must have read my mind during that session. I can see no other way how he could have known that I was thinking about my hometown! At that time I had heard of the mind-reading ability before, but experiencing somebody doing that on oneself then I found quite stunning.

    So, afterwards some questions came up.

    As far as I know, in Buddhism the mind-reading ability is regarded as one of the five "mundane psychic powers". Its not my intention to criticize this monk, but I had read before that Buddhist monks are not allowed to present their psychic powers to lay people. I remember one article of Ajahn Brahm were he said that showing psychic powers is against your rules.

    1) In that article Ajahn Brahm states that one of the reasons monks aren't allowed to present their psychic powers to the lay community is because that - comprehensible to me - might turn the monastery into a circus, not a place of practice. What more reasons are there?

    2) Again, I really don't want to blaspheme here, I'm asking out of curiosity: Did the monk break one of his rules? Or is it okay to do such things in certain circumstances, for instance as a means of teaching?

    3) Of course afterwards I was quite amazed and I couldn't resist telling a few good friends (who don't know that monk) of that incident. Is it okay to do that, or would you regard that as a kind of gossiping, and therefore as false speech?

    I'm very much looking forward to your answers. Thank you very much in advance.

    With metta,
    Michael

  • #2
    Should any bhikkhu report (his own) superior human state, when it is factual, to an unordained person, it is to be confessed.
    The origin story for the rule says that monks were talking of each other's attainments as a way to get more food, etc. Note that actually speaking of another's attainment is not an offence, so the origin story is a bit of a mismatch.

    According to Ajahn Thanissaro, in the texts the act of displaying psychic powers is a Dukkata. A Dukkata requires a confession just as a pacittiya does, but is a lesser offense and not in the patimokkha.

    You can find more here:

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/a...c1.ch08-1.html

    (Search on the page for "Displaying psychic powers.")

    I think the most important thing here is motivation. If the motive for hinting at psychic powers is for gain, honor or fame then it truly is a bad act. But in some circumstances a teacher might try to arouse faith or encourage a student with something awe inspiring. One thing is for certain, these kinds of stories spread fast.

    With metta,

    Bhante Jhanarato

    Comment


    • #3
      Dear Bhante Jhanarato,

      Thank you for your reply.

      Originally posted by Bhikkhu Jhanarato View Post
      Note that actually speaking of another's attainment is not an offence, so the origin story is a bit of a mismatch.
      I'm not quite sure what you mean by that. Could you please clarify this for me, especially the part I marked in blue letters?

      According to Ajahn Thanissaro, in the texts the act of displaying psychic powers is a Dukkata. A Dukkata requires a confession just as a pacittiya does, but is a lesser offense and not in the patimokkha.
      I read that a "dukkata" is the lightest offence, is that correct?

      Thank you in advance!

      With metta,
      Michael

      Comment


      • #4
        Dear Michael,

        What I meant is that in the vinaya of the Pali cannon the rules are given that we are to follow. The most authentic of these are the Patimokkha rules. These are consistent with the Chinese vinaya, more or less. Then there is the text that has formed around these rules. This includes the "vibanga", the breakdown of the rules into parts and definitions, and often an origin story is given. The origin stories often vary in the Chinese cannon, so we can conclude that they may have been later additions to the Patimokkha rules themselves. The origin story for Pacittiya mentioned above says that some bad monks were telling the lay people that others in the group had various attainments. This is not actually against the Patimokkha rule, though it is bad form. The rule simply states that you should not tell of a supernormal attainment of your own.

        A dukkata is the lightest of the offences. These are not actually in the Patimokkha but many are defined in the vibanga where parts of the rule are broken but not all. Then there are dukkatas that are not associated with the Patimokkha rules at all but are added in other volumes of the Vinaya.

        I hope this is clear enough for you.

        With metta,

        Bhante Jhanarato

        Comment


        • #5
          Dear Bhanta Jhanarato,

          Yes, this was more clear, thank you very much.

          I remember one talk of Ajahn Brahm where he was talking abount a monk in Indonesia, who, meditating in some jhana state, remained unharmed by a flood that flooded the villages near the jungle where he was meditating. But Ajahn Brahm consciously didn't give the name of that monk. However, he was talking about someone else's attainments there, wasn't he? Is that also bad form?

          For the same reason I here didn't give the name, temple and place in Indonesia of the monk I'm referring to. So is it okay, at some occasion, to tell an interested friend about that incident, as long as I don't give any details about who that monk is and where he is staying (just like Ajahn did in his talk?)?

          Sorry, Bhante Jhanarato, for bothering you with so many questions, but I'd rather like to be clear about this matter. I hope I'm not importunate!

          With metta,
          Michael

          Comment


          • #6
            Dear Michael,

            Telling cool monk stories either about anonymous or deceased monks is one of the main forms of entertainment for us in robes. :-)

            With metta,

            J.R.

            Comment

            Working...
            X

            Debug Information