Sunday, June 10, 2007

Buddha's Many Miracles

Each year there are four special days: They are the day of miracles, the day the Buddha was enlightened, the day the Buddha first taught the four noble truths, and the day he descended from the god realm of Tushita to Jambudvipa. There are six realms and in the human realm there are four great continents and eight subcontinents. The continent we live on is Jambudvipa.

According to the lunar calendar the first month is the miracle month. When Shakyamuni was forty, six great Hindu teachers, who represented the six schools of Hinduism that existed at the time, challenged Shakyamuni to a competition of miracles. At that time great kings and noble families sponsored teachers who could perform miracles. So Buddha accepted the challenge. He accepted because many would be benefited and achieve the arhat state and people of the future would be inspired to practice as a result of his demonstration. The first day to the fifteenth of the first month are precious and the fifteenth is especially great. The competition happened in the Bihar in India at Sravasti. 80,000 Buddhists and 84,000 Hindus attended the competition.

On the first day Buddha held his toothpick, put it on the ground and it turned to the wish fulfilling tree. It was decorated with jewels, like a Christmas tree. On the second day Buddha manifested two wish fulfilling jewels. The third day the king offered to wash Buddha's feet. When Buddha washed his feet, he threw the water and it became a pool with the eight special qualities of water. Whoever drank or touched it were healed. Today there is a well there where small amounts of water are offered for sale. It is useful for treating disease. On the fourth day it rained and the rain filled the eight canals. The fifth day Buddha emitted golden light from his mouth and people could see beings of the six realms being liberated. On the sixth day Buddha transformed some energy and everyone became clairvoyant and knew each others minds. On the seventh day Buddha manifested as the wheel turning king and many people converted to Buddhism. Up to that time the Hindu teachers had not shown miracles. On the eighth day the gods from Indra's palace sponsored the meals. They served Buddha and made offerings to him. Buddha's hand pressed the side of his seat and a thundering sound was emitted. Five frightening giant cannibals came out of the ground and they went for the seats of the Hindu teachers. Vajrapani also threatened the Hindu teachers. The Hindu teachers ran away. Vajrapani manifested a great storm. It became a tornado which picked up the Hindu teachers and their retinues and tossed them in the water. 60,000 Hindus converted that day and many monks attained the arhat's state and understanding. The gods showered flowers.

Some believe the eighth of the first month is the Buddha's birthday. Others believe the fifteenth of the fourth month is Buddha's birthday. Why do some believe the eighth. When Buddha dwelt at Sravasti, where he was for twenty four years, they were not allowed to build on the land were the monks camped The monks were required to live under a tree or in a small hut or tent. The land in Sravasti had three land owners. The land owner asked when is your birthday. Buddha replied in the first lunar month. Some marked his birthday then, according to the Vedic calendars.

The first to eighth day are the competition days. From the eighth to the fifteenth, Buddha showed miracles without competition. On the eighth day Buddha grew his body until the Brahma realm was under his chin. On the tenth day Buddha's body grew to the top of Akanishta. On the eleventh day, the Buddha he was not visible but the sound of his voice was heard everywhere. On the twelfth day light from his body radiated to all of samsara and developed loving kindness in all. On the thirteenth day Buddha manifested light from the spot between his eyebrows, filling all space with Buddhas, all who taught the dharma. On the fourteenth day the flowers that were offered by the gods filled all of space and on each flower a Buddha manifested and taught. On the fifteenth day Buddha gave the energy so that all beings could see all the six realms. Many people converted to Buddhism after seeing the lower realms with their own eyes. There are eight great stupas. One is called the miracle stupa and was built to commemorate this event. So that is the first great day., the day of miracles, from the first to the fifteenth of the first month. Tibetans celebrate the new year at this time.

http://buddhism.inbaltimore.org/holy_days.html



"When the time came for the contest, the Buddha cast a mango seed on the ground; instantly the seed took root, and a great mango tree arose to shade the hall. After defeating the six philosophers and converting them to his teaching, the Enlightened One performed the Great Miracle of the Pairs.

"Standing in the air at the height of a palm tree, flames englufed the lower part of his body, and five hundred jets of water streamed from the upper part. Then flames leapt from the upper part of his body, and five hundreds jets of water streamed from the lower part. Then by his magic power, the Blessed one transformed himself into a bull with a quivering hump. Appearing in the east, the bull vanished and reappeared in the west. Vanishing in the west, it reappeared in the north. Vanishing in the north, it reappeared in the south. ... Several thousand kotis* of beings, seeing this great miracle, became glad, joyful, and pleased."

-Mahavastu (Buddhist scripture)

*A koti is equal to 10 million.

http://www.buddhismtoday.com/english/holyplaces/004-shravasti.htm



Now that's a pretty public series of miracles, eh?


P.S. Pass on this little nugget to the next person who tries to convince you that Buddhism is not a religion.

18 comments:

zach kuzari said...

So how many Buddhists today have a mesorah that their ancestors directly experienced these events and passed along this tradition in an unbroken chain from parent to child for the past 2500 years?

Rabbi Joshua Maroof said...

Were the claim to be that an entire nation witnessed the miracles simultaneously, and this experience was the basis for a revolutionary transformation of their political and religious life, you would have a comparable case.

Instead, you have a large but unspecified group of people watching bizarre feats that bear no similarity whatsoever to the Torah's miracles, in content or in purpose.

Rabbi Joshua Maroof said...

What I mean by difference in purpose is that, whereas the Torah miracles are designed to refute the divinity or magical capabilities of human beings, the objective of the Buddha is to demonstrate his prowess as a superhuman being. The story is a beautiful piece of mythology but is totally incompatible with Judaism. Its popular appeal is obvious.

resh lakish said...

At that time great kings and noble families sponsored teachers who could perform miracles. So Buddha accepted the challenge. He accepted because many would be benefited and achieve the arhat state and people of the future would be inspired to practice as a result of his demonstration. The first day to the fifteenth of the first month are precious and the fifteenth is especially great. The competition happened in the Bihar in India at Sravasti. 80,000 Buddhists and 84,000 Hindus attended the competition.

Actually, it sounds far more analogous to Eliyyahu and the Prophets of Baal* than it does to the theophany at Sinai. But I bet Shakyamuni didn't trash talk the competing Hindu divines nearly as well as Eliyyahu did in the Showdown at Carmel ("oh, so I guess your god is sleeping or busy on the phone or something" "וַיְהִי בַצָּהֳרַיִם וַיְהַתֵּל בָּהֶם אֵלִיָּהוּ, וַיֹּאמֶר קִרְאוּ בְקוֹל-גָּדוֹל כִּי-אֱלֹהִים הוּא--כִּי שִׂיחַ וְכִי-שִׂיג לוֹ, וְכִי-דֶרֶךְ לוֹ; אוּלַי יָשֵׁן הוּא, וְיִקָץ.")



*doesn't that sound like a great Indiana Jones movie title?

Baal Habos said...

All, I've heard it said that skeptical Hindu's are pointing to the Exodus as an example of how millions can be fooled

Baal Habos said...

>On the first day Buddha held his toothpick, put it on the ground and it turned to the wish fulfilling tree. It was decorated with jewels, like a Christmas tree.


Funny reference to Christmas..

david said...

This is bogus. Read the real version of origin of Buddhism:

"According to Buddhist texts, Buddhism began when a wealthy eastern prince, Siddhartha Gautama, abandoned his family's plush estate to search for the truth. After a nearly fatal immersion in asceticism, Gautama retreated to the "Middle Way," studied with teachers of yoga and philosophy, and eventually settled beneath a Bodhi tree to "put himself into a trance, intent of discerning both the ultimate reality of all things and the final goal of existence."9 With no one present, Prince Gautama succeeded, and the week-long trance carried him to infinite heights of awareness and peace: "He passed through the eight stages of Transic Insight, and quickly reached their highest point. . . . Then he had achieved correct knowledge of all there is to be known, and he stood out in the world as a Buddha. "10 According to Gautama's report, in his vision "the whole universe was illumined, rain and blossoms fell from the heavens, and even the sages in heaven, recognizing the supremacy of [Gautama's] enlightenment, bowed [to him]."11 Gautama emerged from that solitary revelation to begin his 45 year career as a religious teacher and leader."

http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/Religions_and_Origins.htm

Orthoprax said...

David,

I fail to see how your story contradicts my sources. Buddha has a life story that goes beyond just the episode by the tree.

Further, my sources explain, in part how Buddhism became an actual religion that people followed.

buddhist amulet said...

and i think your blog is so fantastic, i have it keep it in my heart. thanks for sharing your gentle art, :)

Anonymous said...

l am a devout practising and well-educated Buddhist, and l am really confused.

Firstly, why did the blogger post this? Buddhists generally don't care about miracles: simply put, they aren't "proof" for us. Whether or not these things happened does not change my religious faith one iota.

Secondly, a proper scriptural reference for the first secction would be lovely, the link is broken and l have never heard this story before.

"P.S. Pass on this little nugget to the next person who tries to convince you that Buddhism is not a religion. "

The Mahavastu is a dodgy sectarian text of historical dubiousity, not accepted by many Buddhists, and treated as a collection of myth by most of those who do.

By popular definition, religion deals with God/gods and worship.

Buddha's display shows his SAINTHOOD, not his divine status. Even after all the miraculous antics, the matter of God is still irrelevant, and therefore Buddhism is still not religion by popular definition.

lf you are going to take the more sophisticated approach and define religion as dealing with transcendance or with absolutes, of course Buddhism is religion!

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

Because the point is not about Buddhism but about Judaism. Judaism also does not engage in miracles being proof of anything per se but does in some corners tout that large public events could not be falsified and subsequently believed by a whole population. If a miraculous event involved large numbers of people as witnesses, like the giving of the Ten Commandments from Sinai, then theoretically there's no way for later generations to introduce a novel story without the descendants asking, "How come we didn't hear about this story from our grandparents?" Which would lead them to reject the novel story teller.

In like kind, we find stories of the Buddha doing public miracles with hundreds of thousands of witnesses yet Orthodox Jews would be hardly likely to ascribe real powers to the Buddha, hence putting them in a bind and the theory as expounded above put in doubt.

"The Mahavastu is a dodgy sectarian text of historical dubiousity, not accepted by many Buddhists, and treated as a collection of myth by most of those who do."

Regardless of the particular text, do you not consider Vajrayāna Buddhism a legitimate form of Buddhism? Because they celebrate the Day of Miracles as described in this post on the first full moon of the year. Odd that you've never heard of it.

"Buddha's display shows his SAINTHOOD, not his divine status."

Buddha a saint? What an odd way for a Buddhist to describe the Buddha. I wonder, are you a western convert to Buddhism at a later age?

The fact of the matter is that in some Buddhist sects, they do indeed ascribe miraculous powers to the Buddha and revere and worship him like a virtual divinity.

Anonymous said...

that some ethnic groups tell stories and carry them down generations doesn't prove the authenticity of those stories.
over the years, the line between a story/metaphor/incident is distorted.
If some religions are capable of producing real magicians those practices should be timeless.
why don't we hear about any miracles happening in the current age? why are these great stories always in the past?

Viagra Online said...

This religion it's kind of nice I really like it, because sorry about that, it's not a religion it's just away to live, a way that somebody believed was the right path to follow and reach the perfect humanity and harmony.

Anonymous said...

If a wicked man can become a pure religious man, this according to Buddhism, is a practical miracle.

In every religion we hear of miracles being performed by either the founders of these religious or by some of their disciples. In the case of the Buddha, he performed what people would call miracles on the day of his birth until his passing away into Nirvana. The psychic powers (so-called miraculous powers in other religions) of the Buddha were attained through his long and intense training in meditation. The Buddha meditated and passed through the highest stages of meditation that culminated in Enlightenment. Among his many abilities were the power to levitate, to multiply his body, to read the minds of others, to pass through solid rock and such.  These abilities were performed during many episodes of his life and were considered common events by his disciples and those who encountered him. The Buddha taught that such powers can be acquired through training in meditation. They are not considered miracles by those who understand them and they fall within the ability of any person who trains his mind through meditation and mental concentration to very high levels.

Anonymous said...

Once a man named Kevatta went up to the Buddha, paid homage, and said, "Lord, Nalanda is a successful city. The people living in Nalanda are prosperous, and they have confidence in the Blessed One.  Lord, it would be good if the Blessed One appointed a monk to work a marvel of supernormal power, so that the people of Nalanda might become much more confident in the Blessed One."

The Buddha replied, "Kevatta, I do not teach the Law to monks in that way".  The Buddha gave the same reply when the question was put to him the second and third time. After the third question, the Buddha replied that there were three kinds of supernormal levels:

1. The marvel of supernormal power to appear as many persons, to pass through walls, to fly through the air, walk on water. All these are physical actions the ordinary people cannot perform.
2. The supernormal power to read other people's minds.
3. The supernormal power to be able to guide people according to their mental development, for their own good, using suitable methods that fit these people.

He taught that a monk who displays the first two supernormal powers for their own sake in order to impress people, is no different from the performance of a shaman or a magician.  The Buddha said that a monk who practices such worldly miracles is a source of shame, humiliation and disgust. This is because such actions may impress and win converts and followers, but they do not help them put an end to their suffering.
The third kind of supernormal power which the Buddha calls "the miracle of instruction" helps people to get rid of suffering. This is the only supernormal power that is fit to be practiced and is encouraged and praised by the Buddha.

"Furthermore, there is the case where a Tathagata appears in the world, worthy and rightly self-awakened. He teaches the Dhamma admirable in its beginning, admirable in its middle, admirable in its end. He proclaims the holy life both in its particulars and in its essence, entirely perfect, surpassingly pure. ~ Kevatta Sutta"

Another story illustrates the Buddha's attitude towards miraculous powers. One day the Buddha met an ascetic who sat by the bank of a river. This ascetic had practised austerities for 25 years. The Buddha asked him what he had received for all his labour. The ascetic proudly replied that, finally, he could cross the river by walking on the water. The Buddha pointed out that this gain was insignificant for all the years of labour, since he could cross the river using a ferry for one penny!  

When the uneducated, the unsophisticated and the naive see the performance of miracles, their faith and incredulity deepens. The converts who are attracted to a religion through witnessing these powers embrace a faith, not because they realize the truth or gain in wisdom, but because they are either frightened or impressed by matters they do not understand.  In contrast, the Buddha appealed to the reasoning power of people to consider his teachings. This is best illustrated in the Kalama Sutta.

It is possible and even quite common for a person to gain psychic abilities  without gaining any wisdom. The Buddha teaches that if we first gain spiritual power, then we can easily develop the miraculous or psychic powers too. But if we develop psychic abilities without spiritual development, then we are in danger.  Because of man's ego it is easy for him to misuse this power for worldly gain, to impress others and for other selfish purposes. Indeed, many people who have obtained some psychic abilities have merely succumbed to their ego and vanity.

Mark T said...

Thank you for this interesting account of the 15 days of miracles that are still celebrated as the "Chinese New Year", Hindus also celebrate the 15th day as Holi with various rituals that celebrate people getting as close to the Creator as humanly possible.

Time has a fumy way of distorting facts in oral traditions. We have all played the game as children where the story gets distorted the more people that repeat the story.

My monk Name is Victory of the First Vehicle.

Buddhism if practiced correctly is in harmony with all religions and the agnostic. If the practitioner still has attachment to form, then Buddhism can also be understood as a religion. This is very similar to the mathematical relationship between squares and rectangles.

As an agnostic, without experiencing miracles I never would have become a monk. There are 84,000 Buddhas and each has a Dharma or as some call it a doctrine. Thus, Buddhism is not a religion because there is not one central doctrine to reach the Creator (or whatever you would like to call the source of all life). The lessons learned from the Dharma are also applicable to all legal systems, hence the Chinese name for a Buddha translates as "Prince of the Law".

But don't take my word for it. Communicate with the creator in whatever way your heart is the most comfortable with and ask about Namo Purple Halo Guru. While he is alive in the flesh currently, you can also meet him in the spiritual realm using the simple healing process at www.Cosmic-Halo.org

Be well...

Mark T said...

PS all 84,000 Buddhas are servants of the Creator.

Anonymous said...

How is this miracle relevant to the Jewish belief about their ancestors? Do these Buddhists believe that the miracles happened to their ancestors? Also, and this is an important point another miracles story which you point to, you have to ascertain whether the numbers mentioned aren't meant literally, just as we find Gemara which refer to myriads of people that wasn't meant literally. So you really have to find out whether they accept these numbers as being literal (the Jews do believe that the numbers are literal, and the general presentation of the material in the Torah - being counted numerous times - does imply that the numbers were meant literally).