Superhuman states outside of the word analysis to Parajika 4

Destruction of false insight: diṭṭhinirodhā

Closely related to the false seeing of Selfhood (sakkāyadiṭṭhi), is a variety of other false insights (S.4.287) all of which are destroyed at stream-entry (diṭṭhinirodhā: A.4.69-70). These false insights concern both the ten unexplained matters (avyākatavatthusu) and also various metaphysical matters, in regard to all of which, stream-enterers are free of bewilderment (vicikicchā) (S.4.286-7; S.3.213-6).

The ten unexplained matters and some of the metaphysical theories are these:

  1. The universe is eternal
  2. The universe is not eternal
  3. The universe is finite
  4. The universe is infinite
  5. The soul and the body are the same
  6. The soul is one thing, the body another
  7. The Tathagata exists after death
  8. The Tathagata does not exist after death
  9. The Tathagata both exists and does not exist after death
  10. The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death
  • The moon and sun do not rise or set but stand unmoving as a pillar.
  • After death I will endure for eternity.
  • Everyone, either foolish or wise, after death ceases to exist.
  • Neither in giving, taming oneself, restraint, nor in speaking truth, is there any merit.
  • There is no cause or condition for the staining of beings; beings are stained without cause or condition.
  • There is no cause or condition for the purification of beings; beings are purified without cause or condition.
  • Pleasure and pain are meted out; samsara’s limits are fixed; there is no way to shorten or extend it. It is like a ball of string of a fixed length that rolls away unwinding itself.

These false insights arise due to clinging (upādāya) and adhering (abhinivissa) to the khandhas. Without clinging and adhering, these false insights would not arise (S.3.218). But though the stream-enterer is not free of clinging and adhering, presumably he has achieved a degree of freedom from clinging and adhering, enough to sets him free from all these false insights.

Vimutti: liberation of mind and arahantship

Vimutti has many applications:

  • appamāṇā cetovimutti: limitless liberation of mind through metta, karuna, mudita, upekkha (M.1.297).
  • ākiñcaññā cetovimutti: liberation of mind through the sphere of nothingness (M.1.297).
  • suññatā cetovimutti: liberation of mind through perception of devoidness of a Self (M.1.297).
  • animittā cetovimutti: liberation of mind through perceiving lack of substance (M.1.298).
  • sāmayikaṃ cetovimuttiṃ: temporary liberation of the mind through attaining samadhi (S.1.120-1; M.3.110).
  • ariyā vimutti: an arahant’s faculty of samadhi (S.5.223).
  • akuppā cetovimutti: unshakeable liberation of mind through the destruction of greed, hatred and delusion (M.1.298).
  • anuttaraṃ vimuttiṃ: supreme freedom, arahantship (Vin.1.22).

Nine magical powers

The nine magical powers (anekavihitaṃ iddhividhaṃ) are:

  • multiplying one’s form
  • then un-multiplying it
  • appearing and vanishing
  • going unimpeded through walls and mountains as if through space
  • diving into the earth as if into water
  • walking on water as if on land
  • flying cross-legged through the air
  • stroking the sun and moon with one’s hand
  • exercising mastery over the body as far as the Brahma-world (D.1.77-9)

The ninth magical power gives one mastery over the body as far as the Brahma world, giving one the ability to travel there in one's physical body. To do this, one must immerse the body in the mind, and the mind in the body, until the body becomes buoyant, malleable, wieldy and luminous (S.5.282).

These nine powers are bound up with the asavas and with attachment and are therefore called 'ignoble' (iddhi yā sāsavā saupadhikā no ariyā’ti vuccati) (D.3.112-3). Therefore they are not subject to Parajika Four - see discussion under Parajika 4.

Mind-made body (manomayaṃ kāyaṃ)

From one’s own body, creating another body, endowed with form, made of the mind (manomayaṃ), complete in all its parts (sabbaṅgapaccaṅgiṃ) not inferior in its faculties (ahīnindriyaṃ) (D.1.77). This seems the same as the first of the magical powers. Just as one can travel to the Brahma world in one's physical body, one can use a mind-made body for the same purpose. The Buddha was able to do both (S.5.282).

Six special knowledges (cha abhiññā)

  1. nine magical powers (anekavihitaṃ iddhividhaṃ) – see above.
  2. divine ear (dibbasotadhātu): hearing the voices of devas and humans, whether far or near. For example, the Buddha heard Magandiya insulting him (M.1.502); Venerable Revata heard arahants making plans to invite him to the Second Council (Vin.2.299).
  3. knowing the minds of other persons, by encompassing their minds with one’s own (cetopariyañāṇaṃ). For example, Venerable Anuruddha knew the Buddha’s mental state, and the moment of his death (D.2.156).
  4. recollection of one’s own past lives (pubbenivāsānussati ñāṇaṃ vijjā). For example, the nun Isidasi recalled seven previous lifetimes: as an adulterer, she was reborn in hell, then as an ape, a goat, a cow, the child of a slave, the daughter of a poor carter, and finally the daughter of a wealthy merchant. In her last lifetime, within seven days of ordination, she realised the threefold profound knowledge (Thi.p163).
  5. divine eye (dibbacakkhudhātu): seeing beings dying and being reborn (sattānaṃ cutūpapāte ñāṇaṃ vijjā), and understanding how beings fare according to their kamma (yathākammūpage satte pajānāti). However, the divine eye can mean other powers. For instance, Anuruddha could see the thousand-fold world system (A.1.281). And the Buddha saw junior monks still asleep after sunrise (A.3.299)].
  6. destruction of the asavas (āsavānaṃ khaye ñāṇaṃ vijjā) (S.2.212-4) (D.3.220).

Threefold profound knowledge (tevijjo)

These are the last three of the six special knowledges:

  1. recollection of past lives
  2. by the divine eye, seeing beings dying and being reborn in accordance with their kamma
  3. destruction of the asavas (D.3.220).

Three kinds of marvellous display (tīṇi pāṭihāriyāni)

  1. marvellous display of (ignoble) magical power (iddhipāṭihāriyaṃ);
  2. marvellous display of mind-reading (ādesanāpāṭihāriyaṃ);
  3. marvellous display of instruction (anusāsanīpāṭihāriyanti) which means teaching people to “Think like this; not like that. Consider things like this, not like that. Give up this; gain that and abide in it” (D.1.211-4).

When asked why he did not use marvellous displays of magical power and mind-reading to win converts, the Buddha said that sceptical lay-people would dismiss such a tactic by saying the displays were achieved through ‘Gandhara knowledge’ or ‘Manika knowledge’. Therefore the Buddha said he disliked, rejected and despised these displays (aṭṭiyāmi harāyāmi jigucchāmi).

Offences for displaying these states to laypeople:

  • Using magical power to get gifts from lay people is, the Buddha said, like a woman displaying her genitals for money. It is a dukkata offence (Vin.2.112). If magical power was a noble state, using it in this way would have been a pacittiya under Pacittiya Eight.
  • Marvellous displays of mind-reading for laypeople is presumably an offence of Pacittiya Eight, because it is a noble superhuman state.
  • Marvellous displays of instruction are obviously no offence.

Proper use of magical power:

In spite of the comments made above, for a monk to possess these powers is considered praiseworthy (A.5.327). It is blameless to perform displays of magical power for the comfort of fellow monks, for instance, by providing cool winds on a hot day. It is also blameless to stir up a sense of urgency in lazy monks by shaking their dwelling place (S.4.290; Vin.3.159; S.5.270); or to read other monks’ minds, even the Buddha’s mind, even if they are unaware of it (M.1.210; D.2.156); or to win back schismatic monks through a marvellous display of instruction (Vin.2.200). Displaying magical powers at the time of death in front of one’s fellow monks is also blameless (Ud.92); as is performing magical displays for Brahmas and devas (M.1.253; S.1.156).

Noble magical powers

There are five noble magical powers that are not bound up with the asavas and with attachment (iddhi yā anāsavā anupadhikā ariyā’ti). These are where a monk, if he wishes:

  • can abide seeing the savoury in the unsavoury
    sace ākaṅkhati paṭikule appaṭikūlasaññi vihareyyanti, appaṭikūlasaññi tattha viharati
  • can abide seeing the unsavoury in the savoury
    sace ākaṅkhati appaṭikūle paṭikūlasaññi vihareyyanti, paṭikūlasaññi tattha viharati
  • can abide seeing the savoury in the unsavoury and savoury
    sace ākaṅkhati paṭikūle ca appaṭikūle ca appaṭikūlasaññi vihareyyanti appaṭikūlasaññi tattha viharati
  • can abide seeing the unsavoury in the unsavoury and savoury
    sace ākaṅkhati paṭikūle ca appaṭikūle ca paṭikūlasaññi vihareyyanti, paṭikūlasaññi tattha viharati
  • by ousting both unsavoury and savoury can abide indifferent, attentive and mindful
    sace ākaṅkhati paṭikūlañca appaṭikūlañca tadubhayaṃ abhinivajjetvā upekkhako vihareyyaṃ sato sampajāno’ti upekkhako tattha viharati sato sampajāno (D.3.112-3).

The purpose of these ariyan magical powers is so that nowhere is there

  • passion for impassioning objects.
  • aggravation for aggravating objects.
  • delusion for deluding objects (A.3.169).

The Buddha said there are two types of magical powers (iddhiyo).

  • worldly magical power āmisiddhī
  • Dhamma magical power dhammiddhī

Of the two, Dhamma magical power is better (A.1.93).

Other superhuman states

See:     |     © 2008, Bhante Varado     |     Install the Gentium font