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Buddhadharma : Summer 2007
summer 2007| 40 |buddhadharma T big problems; not being able to reach our goals, we are ill at ease. However, with correct practice we can gradually eliminate these obstacles and more will happen according to our expectations. The Four Enhanced Phenomena The Mahayana path to buddhahood can be likened to a journey of five stages. In the first stage, we gather the provisions we will need for the journey. In terms of the path, this means practicing the four foundations of mindfulness and the four proper exertions.1 In the second stage, we actually set off on the path to buddhahood. This stage consists of practicing the four steps to magical powers, and it is characterized by the four enhanced phenom ena. The third stage is realizing dhyana (jhana Four Steps to Magical Powers Before you fully embark on the path of the bodhisattvas and buddhas, says Chan master Sheng Yen, you must practice the four steps to magical powers. What are these steps and what are the magical powers you need? Master sheng Yen has been instruMental in reviving Chan praCtiCe in China and the West. he is the author of nuMerous books, inCluding AttAining the WAy, and the founder of dharMa druM Mountain, WhiCh inCludes the Chan Meditation Center in elMhurst, neW York, and the dharMa druM retreat Center in pine bush, neW York. he four steps to magical powers are also called by such names as the four steps to the power of ubiquity, the four steps to unlimited power, and the four kinds of samadhi. In Sanskrit they are col lectively known as riddhipada, meaning “steps to (magical) power.” Its Chinese translation, si ru yi zu, speaks of a mind that can accomplish whatever it wants to. This is a mind that is master of itself, free and at ease. There is a Chinese saying, “Eight out of nine things that happen to us do not match our expec tations.” Why does so much of what happens to us not match our expectations? It is because we are usually not the masters of our own mind. We think about things we should not, and we can’t bring ourselves to think about things we should. Both habits contribute to our not gaining control of our lives. We don’t learn from the past and have no clear plan for the future; therefore, we continue to make mistakes. Constantly faced with problems, our life is filled with adversity. Not being able to control our mind, we let small problems become 1 The four proper exertions are the four proper ways to main tain diligence in the practice, which are: to keep unwholesome states not yet arisen from arising; to cease unwholesome states already arisen; to give rise to wholesome states not yet arisen; to continue wholesome states already arisen. photographs from airshow by ryan zoghlin