Zen

Rinzai 110

You say the Buddha has the six supernatural powers and that they are miraculous.

Commentary:

It is a popular belief that we cannot be like the Buddha even if we attain enlightenment since we, as human beings, cannot achieve the six supernatural powers that he had. This incorrect idea is from the misunderstanding of the six supernatural powers; the ability to see anything regardless of distance, the ability to hear any sound regardless of distance, the ability to go anywhere in no time, the ability to know all people’s minds, the ability to know all people’s previous lives and the ability to be free from all illusions.

The most common misunderstandings regarding the six supernatural powers are as follows.  One who obtains the ability to see anything can see anything that is happening in any far corner of the world if he wants. One who has the ability to hear any sound can hear anything that is happening in any far corner of the world if he listens. One who has the ability to go anywhere can reach any place in the world in no time. One who achieves the ability to know all people’s minds can read any person’s mind in the world at any time; for example he can know what the president of the United States is thinking about at this moment. And finally, one who has the ability to see people’s previous lives can know what a person’s previous life was like; how many previous lives he lived, or whether he was a man or an animal.

In fact, the six supernatural powers are employed to describe what perfect enlightenment is like. Masters illustrated enlightenment with the six supernatural powers. When we attain enlightenment, that is, when are not deluded by illusions, or when we can see everything as empty, we realise that everything is one as Emptiness and that we are also part of Oneness. When there is nothing but Oneness, whatever you hear, whatever you see, it is just Oneness, nothing else. This is to see and hear everything. When there is nothing but Oneness as Emptiness, wherever you may go, no matter how far you may go, there is no difference whatsoever between going and not going. In the Avatamsaka Sutra a Bodhisattva says, “I can see all the Buddhas all around the universe at any time if it is my will. However, I don’t go to them nor do they come to me.” When there is just Oneness as Emptiness, there is no past, no present, and no future because they are only illusions. Then, there cannot be any previous lives. In short, to know that there are no previous lives is the ability to know people’s previous lives. To know that all people’s minds are also Oneness as Emptiness is the ability to know all people’s minds. In the Diamond Sutra the Buddha said to his disciples, “I know all sentient beings’ minds because I know that their minds are not minds.”

To conclude, the six supernatural powers, appearing to be multiple, are no other than the ability to see everything just as it is, that is, to see everything as empty, which is available to anybody who tries to achieve it.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway #zen #meditation #zenmeditation #enlightened #enlightenment #zenfools #photography

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