Monday, January 26, 2015

Magic and Meditation (Jhana and Abhinna)

Maya, Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Seth Auberon, Wisdom Quarterly  ASK MAYA
A  well trained (one-pointed) mind is a wondrous thing. The Buddha saw nothing more helpful than a well trained mind (heart), tamed by application of mindfulness and concentration.
Wisdom Quarterly reader Vern L ( writes in in response to Psychic Phenomena Today (abhinna):

"I'm not sure that abhinna [supernatural powers or knowledges] is something that was developed over past lives. But in this life, it manifests after some time is spent in the jhanas [meditative absorptions], and probably the fourth and higher [or formless] jhanas lead to the development of this state of mind to make it possible.

I can't do it! I can't do it! (Arthur Tress/TPC)
"I have to say that I was not an especially moral person growing up. [But what about in previous lives, Vern? How were your virtue (sila), vows, and precepts then?]

"Quite the opposite really. Still jhana and abhinna came. I don't think, if you are really interested in the subject, you should not move forward because you think you're just not 'good enough' to 'get there.' You may certainly be. Give it a try and see how it goes. ;)"

RESPONSE: Thank you, reader Vern. It's true. You're right. Our interest in meditation today suggests our practice and partial success in the past. Samsara is a long, long time. We have been many things in many places, enjoying ourselves on many planes. And our place on those exalted planes was due directly to jhana. In Buddhist cosmology, the Buddha distinguishes many glorious celestial planes of existence.

Rebirth into them has as its proximate cause karma, specifically the overwhelmingly good karma of purified absorption. Look at the 31 Planes of Existence and note that each of the three levels of a rarefied plane above the World of Brahma ("God") is due to the level of mastery or perfection of an absorption as either weak, middling, or strong. That such a small thing on this plane could lead to such longevity, light, and life on a "heavenly" plane is almost unthinkable to us as modern readers. How much more then are our attempts to understand super-normal (abhinna) abilities here and now?

As Westerners, particularly as Americans, we're very down on ourselves, pathologically self-sabotaging and self-deprecating even as we act all haughty and full of ourselves (these two seemingly opposite traits going hand in hand like a poor rapper's aspirational lyrics).

The Dalai Lama famously commented on first arriving in the West that our behavior was more characteristic of the Hungry Ghost Realm than the Human Plane. We do not believe in ourselves, in our abilities, and least of all in our potential  abilities. And anyone who spends too much time trying to tell us that we are worth something ends up nailed to a tree or planks of wood.

Even kids can do it!
Just look at poor Issa (Jesus). The social structure, the temple priests, and the Powers That Be simply will not stand for it! "Death to the liberators," they say. Thank you for encouraging meditators. One need not believe one can do it to give it a persistent try and find out. But "who am I? I'm only an individual. I can't change the world!" we say. In fact, individuals are the only ones who ever have changed the world. And we are pretty sure they did not know what they were capable of until they sat down and applied themselves to uplifting play/work/self-improvement like meditation.

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