Thursday, July 11, 2013

What is Abhinya, the super-knowledge ?

Abhinya or abhiññā (Thai = อภิญญา) , is a Pali word, means super-knowledge, supernatural powers, psychic powers, insights. In Buddhism, the Ariya (the Noble ones) who has developed his/her mind above lay persons, who has sufficient Samatha meditaion training (in the 8 absorptions, the 8 Jhanā), can access the powers in 6 categories. The abhiññā of 6 categories is called chaḷabhiññā ( chaḷa = 6, Thai = ฉฬภิญโญ , ฉฬภิญญา , อภิญญา ๖), is considered Lokuttara (supramundane, above the worlds, transcendental, Thai = โลกุตตระ , โลกุตระ).

It should be noted that not all Ariya persons have abhiññā. During Buddha's time, in one of his sermons, he clearly declared, of the 500 Ariya monks in the audience, only 60 had chaḷabhiññā, having the 6 knowledge and ability.

Since the Buddha emphasized on purification of the mind to get away from mental suffering and access Nibbāna (Nirvāna), so that his students and follower eliminate mental defilements completely, and thus attaining Arahat, he did not emphasize abhiññā.  In addition, he discouraged showing off of abhiññā powers since people might be attracted to it and not practicing "the right path"and "the middle way".  Developing the mind to Ariya states and ultimately Arahat mainly needs Vipassana meditation, most of his monks and layman followers did not have sufficient Samatha meditation training, i.e. mostly they practice upto only 4 physical Jhanā, thus the majority of his followers don't have chaḷabhiññā capability. Stories in some suttas of the Tipitaka (the Buddhist scriptures) list names of monks which Buddha praised as the top experts in some of these categories as evidence of existence of these 'paranormal' powers.

The 6 categories of super knowledge are:-

iddhividhā = magical powers (including psychokinesis, telekinesis, teleportation, flying, multiplicity, etc.)  (The Thai word of iddhividhā is อิทธิวิธี .)

dibbasota = divine ear, hearing from a very far distance. (The Thai word is ทิพยโสต .)

cetopariyañāṇa = penetration of the minds of others, telepathy. (The Thai word is เจโตปริยญาณ .)

pubbenivāsānussati = remembrance of former existence (incarnation, lives) and reincarnation history of others, retrocognition. (The Thai word is ปุพเพนิวาสานุสติญาณ .)

dibbacakkhu = divine eye, precognition, clairvoyance, apparitional experience, seeing the future, but only the Buddha has the unlimited capability level regarded as omniscience, or know-all. (The Thai word is ทิพยจักขุ .)

asavakkhayañāṇa = knowledge of the exhaustion of all mental intoxicants, upon entering various ariya stages, until reaching the fourth Ariya stage, the Arahat. (The Thai word is อาสวักขยญาณ .)

Lay persons with abundant mental defilements, still attached to greeds or desires (lobho / lobha, including rāga, sexual desires), angers (doso / dosa), delusion (moho / moha) with strenuous meditation training in the 8 Jhanā can access only 5 of the 6. They lack the last one which is the most important, asavakkhayañāṇa. The first 5 powers attainable by laymen is called Lokiyaabhiññā (abhiññā of the mundane, worldly level). That explains why some yogi, brahmins, and followers of other faiths who practice meditations have mental powers as well.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Virtues, Attributes or Epithets of the Buddha

There are many categories of Buddhas.(* See note below) But I am going to talk about virtues of the sammāsambuddha, the right Buddha, the supreme Lord Buddha of our era who was born over 26 centuries ago.  His former name was Prince Siddhārtha Gautama of Śākya territory. Thus he was also called Śākyamuni by non-Buddhists.

His 9 virtues called Buddhaguna (Pali: guna = virtues) can be found in the Pali chant praising him. I 'll put down with the English translation, adapted from the reference with my further explanatory notes.

Iti pi so Bhagava
Thus indeed is he, the Blessed One.
(1) the holy, the worthy, the accomplished, the one who ridded all mental defilements (Kilesa),
(2) fully enlightened,
(3) perfect in knowledge and conduct,
(4) well-gone, i.e. proceeded to Nibbāna
(5) Knower of the World, the one with omniscience, the pantomath
Anuttaro Purisadammasārathi
(6) the leader of the men to be tamed,
Satthā Devamanusānam
(7) teacher of gods (angels or Deva, and Brahman) and men,
(8) fully awaken one, the pleasant one (full of happiness)
(9) blessed one, the analyst of dhamma (natural entities)

Reference: Phra Brahmagunabhorn (P.A. Payutto) Dictionary of Buddhism. 17th edition. B.E. 2551 (2008), Bangkok. entitiy 303, p. 222

Notice : I still could not find certain suitable characters for Pali words (with proper dots) so some of the characters are still incorrect.

Note: Other types of Buddhas include Paccekabuddha (one who became enlightened without (recent) teacher in the last reincarnation and later did not have students or following monks), and Sāvakabuddha (students of the sammāsambuddha who attained Arahat (4th enlightenment) after his guidance and thus later have purified the mind to the same level as their teacher).

While checking online references, I also found a useful PDF document here.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Buddha has the ultimate ESP and psychic powers

Western philosophers tend to consider Buddha as just another ancient thinker, indifferent from other ancient teachers and Greek sophists. I don't blame them for the lack of insights. For those who have not experiences ESP (extrasensory perception), it might be hard to believe. That 's probably why western-school philosophers have not considered the Buddha as the one with ultimate ESP and psychic powers. Why do I 'know' this ? From my experiences. Not only did I saw many Buddhist monks who have those, I also have those power occasionally, when the mind was in the right state, with full-awareness and relaxed, with no desire, no ill-tempered, not wandering away on various external stories. So even modern day's Buddhist monks have those powers, why would not the Buddha have ones which are even more powerful. In fact, stories in various sutras in the Tipitaka (the Buddhist scriptures) told of those stories, but are ignored by materialistic philosophers.

News about blasts at Bodh Gaya

The news about multiple blasts, injuring some Buddhist monks, at Bodh Gaya, India, on July 7, 2013, caused only a momentary sadden feeling. The act by whomever did it is deplorable, foolish and misguided. That the injured ones are Buddhist holy persons and pilgrims who are peaceful and harm no one also made the story worse. What (I) said did not mean to blame the culprits, since reasonably morally good people of the World would naturally blame them.  (I) feel neutral about this unnecessary violence, since whoever did it had reprogrammed their minds toward lower realms in their future reincarnations. It is a bad karma (i.e. intention and action) that they did not fully realize, which they chose the path themselves.

Note: In ultimate truth, 'self' is an illusion, so the word 'I' was put in a quote.