You Too Have Supernatural Powers
Are Eating and Sleeping Considered to be Supernatural Powers?
On Sunday, March 22, 2009, Venerable Guo Xing, Abbot of Chan Meditation Center, continued the Dharma lecture series on Chan with a talk entitled, "You Too Have Supernatural Powers: Are Eating and Sleeping Considered to be Supernatural Powers?"
Venerable clarified the different types supernatural powers pertaining to both Chan and non-Buddhist groups; also the circumstances which allow these powers to manifest as well as their function and power.
Venerable Guo Xing states, in Buddhism, there are six supernatural powers:
1. Divine Sight
2. Knowledge of the Mind of Others
3. Unimpeded Bodily Actions
4. Knowledge of Previous Lifetimes
5. Divine Hearing
6. Complete Extinction of Afflictions
The sixth supernatural power is particular to Buddhism, while the first five are common throughout many religions. According to Buddhism, with the elimination of afflictions, vexations are stopped and the mind is able to react to the outside environment with wisdom, compassion and a lack of discrimination in order to benefit sentient beings. This is the highest level of supernatural power.
The most common conditions by which the first five supernatural powers are able to manifest are past life cultivation, meditation, hypnosis and death; furthermore, it is less common for supernatural powers to develop through a current lifetime’s cultivation. Function, ability, and power are very limited and cannot compare with karma.
Only when the five skandhas are perceived as empty and not as the true self, can the mind remain calm and unmoving within any situation. Habitual wandering thoughts will impede focus and clarity. The knowledge and practice of meditation will help superpowers flourish against outside environmental phenomenon. In this way the mind is not abiding in any one place and thus it cannot be seen or labeled.
Most superpowers are not as great as people think. In demonstrating supernatural power, it is not uncommon to have a negative effect, even if it is for the benefit of the observer. This is due to the inability to see the five skandhas as empty and the mind becomes overwhelmed with rejection to what has been witnessed.
A supernatural power as defined by Chan is a wondrous function of the mind. Ordinary activities, such as carrying water and wood, are considered supernatural powers. We use our mind to manifest what we want to see. Venerable advised that we should not blindly follow karmic powers, nor should they be sought after or desired. Rather, thoughts and mind should be traceless, like a bird which crosses the sky and leaves no trail.
(By Elvin Troche/photos by Ellen)