Supernormal Powers in Buddhism

Supernormal Powers in Buddhism

by the International Buddhism Sangha Association and taken from the book
H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III

Do Buddhists advocate supernatural powers? Actually, this is not a matter of advocating or not advocating. Rather, supernatural powers are that which everyone who is accomplished in the dharma possesses. Such powers are the manifestation of realization achieved through cultivation. They are phenomena that exist in the course of cultivation but are not the goal of cultivation, which is liberation from the cycle of birth and death. They are by-products that arise during one’s practice. These by-products called supernatural phenomena naturally exist in all liberating paths within the Buddha-dharma. Becoming attached to these by-products and regarding them as the goal is heretical supernatural powers. Applying these by-products in a free and unattached way and regarding them as illusory is treating supernatural powers based on the correct Buddha-dharma view.

Sakyamuni Buddha manifested supernatural powers and also was against supernatural powers. Each of those two tacks reflects different underlying karmic conditions. To those with higher vehicle (Mahayana) faculties, the Buddha spoke of supernatural powers as enjoyment resulting from incredible realization and the free and unattached application of samadhi. Examples of this are in the Lotus Sutra, theSamyuktagama Sutra, and other sutras. To those practitioners with low faculties, the Buddha spoke of not being attached to supernatural powers in order to reach the goal of realizing emptiness. An example of this is in theShurangama Sutra.

Anyone with low faculties who wants to become a Buddha must go through the stage of cultivation corresponding to those with high faculties. In one’s course of cultivation, this is analogous to going from one city to another city. If one does not travel along the pathway between the two cities, one will not reach that other city. When one is walking toward that other city, one will certainly see and encounter all of the phenomena that are on the way. This is like the supernatural phenomena that arise in the course of one’s cultivation when wisdom is being opened. If one does not experience such phenomena that arise during the cultivation process, then one will not reach the other shore of liberation. Because one has not traversed the path of the Buddha-dharma leading to liberation, one cannot encounter phenomena that occur while traversing that path. That is why such a person has not experienced the stage in the process whereby wisdom is opened and supernatural powers are realized. Thus, all Buddhist who become accomplished in the dharma must go through the stage of supernatural powers.

Is it true that the authentic Buddha-dharma does not speak of supernatural powers? If that were the case, then why did the great leader of Buddhism, Sakyamuni Buddha, manifest supernatural powers everywhere? Why did he even manifest great supernatural powers right before entering nirvana? What crazed and demonic person would dare say that Sakyamuni Buddha did not practice the true Buddha-dharma? Just think. If someone with great accomplishment in the dharma did not have any supernatural realization powers, what would be the difference between that person and an ordinary person who had not learned Buddhism?

H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu Holiest Tathagata, is the highest ancient Buddha with complete proficiency in both exoteric and esoteric Buddhism and perfect mastery of the Five Vidyas. A portion of His Holiness’s realization powers is openly shown in this book A Treasury of True Buddha-Dharma for all to clearly see. However, the clear and definite views expressed by His Holiness have enabled us to understand the principles and direction of cultivation. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III said the following:

“Not only did the Buddha speak a great deal about supernatural powers in the sutras, he also manifested supernatural powers. Such words and facts were directed at those who reached the higher vehicle (Mahayana) sambhogakaya state or nirmanakaya state. The Buddha also stated in the sutras that one must not become attached to supernatural powers. Such teachings were directed at those who were at the beginning stage of realizing their original nature and dharmakaya in order to protect them. If practitioners who are at the beginning stage of realizing the true nature or true-suchness of all phenomena become attached to supernatural powers, they will fall into that which is conditioned. They will then be practicing heresy. Thus, you should understand that supernatural powers are a reflection of the unhindered, unobstructed nature of Buddhas and great Bodhisattvas. Such powers are not that which beginning stage practitioners can possess and enjoy.

“As for me, I went through the stage of supernatural powers in my early years. I deeply understand that they are the free and unattached application of samadhi but are not the ultimate attainment. I occasionally see the supernatural powers of others, which are manifestations of their karmic conditions of good fortune. I myself do not have such abilities!

“I do not advocate practicing supernatural powers. What I want is cultivation. Only through cultivation can one attain the goal. I myself am very ordinary. I do not have supernatural powers. I only have cultivation. The discourse entitled “What Is Cultivation?” that I gave for all good Buddhists with the karmic affinity to hear or read it is the palace of the Buddha-dharma, the root of liberation, and the source of great dharma in the dharma realm.”


Supernormal Powers

Supernormal Powers

Every disciple who has received initiation has the potential to quickly obtain supernormal dharma powers through practice. One has the potential to easily assume an infinite variety of forms and obtain good worldly fortune. However, if you violate the precept of lying to your master, even a minor lie, you will not be able to obtain any supernormal powers or good fortune unless you immediately repent and resolve never to violate this rule again. It can be proper to desire such powers, depending upon your motivation. It is not proper to desire such powers primarily for your own use, to appear impressive or show off, subdue people, reap fame and gain, cheat people out of money, hoodwink people into sexual misconduct, or further your worldly selfish and evil intentions. It is not blameworthy to desire miraculous powers to enlighten yourself and others.

The five great supernormal powers or superknowledges (abhijna) are 1) rddhi-saksatkriya: the ability to be anywhere or do anything at will including flying through the air and performing other miracles; 2) divyasrotra: the ability to hear sounds anywhere including those that normally cannot be heard, such as the sounds of ants walking or sounds emanating from a far away place, even in another realm of existence. This is also known as clairaudiance or “the divine ear;” 3) paracittajnana: the ability to know the thoughts or read the minds of other beings; 4) purvanivasanu-smrtijnana: the ability to recollect previous existences or past-lives of oneself and others; and 5) divyacakus: instantaneous view of anything anywhere including the ability to see things that occur outside one’s presence, such as things happening at a far away place, even in another realm of existence. This is also known as clairvoyance or “the divine eye.” The sixth supernormal power (asavakkhaya) is unique to Buddhism and enhances the powers of the other five. Non-Buddhist can achieve the first five powers, but without the wisdom that comes from complete enlightenment they are not as great as those available to a buddha. For example, a Hindu is still bound by the world of Brahma, a Buddhist is not. A Buddha’s powers are limitless. The sixth power is knowing that your defilements are extinguished and that you have attained liberation from the cycle of reincarnation. You have become enlightened. This is also sometimes referred to as anasrava–the cessation of outflows or asravas. These powers are also known as the six superknowledges (abhijna) or supernatural cognitions.

At the Ultimate Bathing the Buddha Dharma Assembly, there was a tub used to bathe the Buddha. When filled with water, that tub weighed more than 4,200 pounds. About a dozen people together tried to lift that tub a few times but did not succeed in moving the tub in the slightest. However, two people of great virtue and high states of realization were able to lift it by themselves. There was also a person of holy virtue who lifted it alone.

Venerable Akou Lamo Rinpoche of Tibet and Venerable Ciren Jiacuo (Gyatso) together lift the two ton lotus tub. What ordinary person in this world could lift such a tub? Only those who learned the true Buddha-dharma can lift it.

The Dharma Protectors guard the use of these powers very closely. They will block the chakras of those unworthy to obtain these powers. Likewise, they will untie the knots in the chakras of those cultivators who are worthy of such powers, causing the supernormal dharma powers of the buddhas and bodhisattvas to suddenly turn into light and enter the chakras. At that time, the mandala in each practitioner’s body will respond and will accept the powers. When your three karmas of body, speech, and mind unite into one body and correspond with the teachings, supernormal dharma powers will come into being. When your state of realization and state of virtue have reached the level where it is appropriate to obtain supernormal dharma powers, then as soon as you practice according to the dharma, supernormal dharma powers will appear. You cannot attain supernormal powers without proper moral discipline, concentration and wisdom. You must first be able to master the Dharma.