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Buddhadharma : Summer 2007
summer 2007| 44 |buddhadharma citta are present. With consistent practice, it is pos sible to enter deep samadhi if desire, diligence, and intent are present along with inquiry. Mimamsa consists of knowing fully the importance of the other riddhis, or steps, and that the four steps to magical powers is an important stage on the path to buddhahood. Concentration of inquiry also means using wisdom to observe whether our mind is in the proper state. The proper state is summit, where the entire mind is soft and gentle, without harsh ness. If the mind is selfish and impure, then it is not in the proper state, and we need to correct it right away. At the level of supreme in the world, one is lib erated from samsara as an arhat. Though the mind will no longer give rise to unwholesome activ ity or vexation, there still remain residual habit energies until one attains buddhahood. In other words, there are still subtle obstructions. When all obstructions have finally been overcome, one has attained buddhahood. Karma and Supernatural Powers Only those who have cultivated deep samadhi and who have attained the four dhyanas3 and eight samadhis4 have supernatural powers that they can control. One who has mastered real super natural power can perform otherworldly feats at will. Even so, having these powers does not mean that one is liberated in the Buddhist sense. It may sound appealing, but actually these powers are not always useful and often yield negative results. They are not reliable and are often illusory. For instance, people may use supernatural powers to visit the past or foresee the future or witness things happening elsewhere. They may see concealed objects or read other people’s minds. Abilities like these may seem useful, but they mainly serve to give pleasure and pride to the user. From the perspective of the present, seeing into the future may seem worthwhile. However, the future is really determined by causes and condi tions and by causes and consequences; what will or will not happen is determined by karma. Trying to change one’s karma with supernatural powers won’t work, since that would violate the law of karma. In both the early Buddhist and Mahayana tra ditions, there are records of supernatural powers being used. But what did the Buddha do when he was hungry? Did he conjure up a feast or have one catered by a deity? No, he walked around with his alms bowl begging for food. After he attained bud dhahood, he walked from village to village spread ing the dharma. He didn’t fly through the air. He didn’t magically erect monasteries but instead relied on laypeople to build them and to sew robes for the sangha. Before entering parinirvana, he received an offering of food that was tainted. You would think that he would have used his supernat ural powers to know the food was bad, but instead he ate it and became very sick. So even though the Buddha possessed supernatural powers, he did not use them in selfcentered ways. One of the Buddha’s senior disciples, Maudg alyayana, was noted for his magic and clairvoy ance. Another one of his disciples, called Color of Lotus, was famous for her supernatural powers. Both of them were ultimately beaten to death by people hostile to Buddhism. You could say that they should have escaped from their attackers because of their supernatural powers. But they couldn’t, because having supernatural powers does not change one’s karma. Why We Practice Dhyana I want to emphasize again that the reason we prac tice dhyana is not to acquire supernatural powers but to attain liberation. We begin the thirtyseven aids to enlightenment5 with the four foundations of mindfulness to calm our mind and to become clearly aware of how thoughts rise and fall in our mind. We then practice the four proper exertions along with the four foundations, with an attitude of great diligence. Practicing these contempla tions together results in the generation of wisdom. However, without adequate samadhi, this wisdom will not be deeprooted and firm. At this stage, we need to develop samadhi power for this wisdom to have a secure foundation. To do that, we cultivate dhyana. I’ve already described the four enhanced phe nomena of warmth, summit, forbearance, and supreme in the world. These phenomena charac terize the practice of the four steps. I also described the four steps to magical powers as the second of the five stages to buddhahood. On the foundation of dhyana, we build our practice from which we move forward on the path of the bodhisattvas and buddhas. A Glimpse of Buddhanature One of the main methods of dhyana in Chan is investigating huatou.6 By investigating a hua tou, one may make a breakthrough and perceive directly that selfnature is emptiness and that there is no enduring self. This selfnature is also called buddhanature. Seeing one’s buddhanature, how ever, does not mean that one is liberated, nor does it mean that one’s practice is completed. Rather, it means that one has gained more faith and con fidence in the practice and that one now clearly 3 The four dhyanas are: 1) freedom from desire and unwholesome thoughts; 2) freedom from discur sive thoughts; 3) freedom from blissful states; 4) perfect equanimity and wakefulness. 4 The socalled nine sama dhis describe levels of meditative absorption. The first eight do not entail complete liberation; liber ation is achieved only with the ninth samadhi. 5 The thirtyseven aids to enlightenment are a group of seven sets of practices that, taken together, may be said to comprise the path leading to enlighten ment: 1) the four founda tions of enlightenment; 2) the four proper exertions; 3) the four steps to magical powers; 4) the five roots; 5) the five powers; 6) the seven factors of enlighten ment; 7) the noble eight fold path. 6 Huatou is the Chan method in which a practi tioner investigates a ques tion, such as “What is my original face before birth and death?” By intensively seeking the answer to the huatou, the mind of the practitioner may develop a “great ball of doubt,” the resolution of which may result in insight or awakening. rYanzoghlin