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Meditation 376
Researching Buddhism

by Phil van Bergen

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I have recently been researching Buddhism.

Buddhism is not so much a religion as a philosophy and ethical way of living. There is no creator in Buddhism and the focus in on the self and self-improvement. No guilt, no presupposition of original sin, no need to force conversion on people. The more you read about Buddhism, the more attractive it becomes - except when it comes to some of the more esoteric powers of the adept. I speak of the five Supernormal Powers (Abhinna): Divine Eye (Dibbacakkhu), Divine Ear (Dibhasota), Reminiscence of past births (Pubbenivasanussati-nana), Thought Reading (Paracitta vijanana) and different Psychic Powers (Iddhividha). These sound like utter tosh – the latter enabling one to duplicate one's body or materialise objects from fresh air (like convert water to wine or feed thousands with a single biscuit). I have yet to find evidence of anyone today having these metaphysical powers, so I think they are up there in the realms of fantasy, along with miracles. Perhaps Jesus was a Buddhist adept, but couldn't shake his Jewish belief in a God. He performed many miracles that have parallels in the Buddha's life, as well as using many of Buddha's parables.

Original Christianity (as preached by Jesus) appears, at face value, to be merely Buddhism mixed with the concept of a creator.

Within Buddhism, the ability to perform the feats these "powers" confer is what (in Christian terminology) we would call "the ability to perform miracles".

The ability to perform Christian miracles is rather rare, to say the least, thus it's hardly surprising that I can find scant reference to any Buddhist who has this ability today. That (on the basis one accepts that miracles can and do occur in Christianity – if that is your wont) should not preclude the possibility that the ability exists in a suitably trained Buddhist adept. It's just rather rare (as it is in Christianity).

While I believe in neither these Buddhist powers, nor miracles, it must be recognised that if the Buddhist Powers are real (and if you believe in Christian miracles, then you cannot logically preclude them in other faiths [and I use the word "faith" in its loosest sense]), then the ability to perform miracles is not limited to those professing a belief in the Christian God.

By logical extension, certain suitably trained individuals are capable of bending, or even suspending, the laws of physics by sheer will power - regardless of belief in a creator

This would suggest that:

  1. The power is divorced from belief in God and is within the grasp of any suitably trained individual,
  2. Not only the creator is capable of the manipulation of matter (I hesitate to use the term "creation", as we cannot be certain that things are created ex nihilo), and
  3. If there is a creator, He doesn't give a damn whether we believe in Him or not - well, certainly not in terms of conferring the ability to perform miracles.