The Buddha said "If a monk should frame a wish as follows: 'Let me travel through the air like a winged bird,' then must he be perfect in the precepts (Sila), bring his thoughts to a state of quiescence (Samadhi), practice diligently the trances (Jhana), attain to insight (Prajna) and be frequenter to lonely places."
SIDDHIS: Supernormal Perceptual States
"The Venerable Pindola Bharadvaja is one of the Buddha's sixteen disciples named in The Amitabha Sutra. Under the Buddha's auspices he attained the holy fruit of Arhat. Once when in a jubilant mood, he said to the faithful:
"DO YOU THINK FLYING IN THE SKY IS MAGICAL? I WILL SHOW YOU SOME SPECTACULAR ACTS."
"He then jumped up into the sky, FLEW all around and performed many miraculous acts. The faithful were all impressed and praised him without ceasing. The Buddha was very displeased upon learning of this incident. He asked the Venerable to come forth and admonished him, 'My teaching uses morality to change others and compassion to save living beings. It does not use magic to impress and confuse people. You have misused magic today. As punishment you to stay in this world to work for more merits and to repent for this misbehavior.'"
DO YOU THINK FLYING IN THE SKY IS MAGICAL?
When most people come across the above account regarding the Venerable Pindola Bharadvaja's ability to fly, even if they do stop and consider it as a potential possibility at face value, they still pretty much reject it as actually having transpired in reality. They think of it at the most as a tall tale like the myths of a dragons lost in the mist of time, a trick, a hallucination, or simply a misinterpretation of facts down through the ages by people on and off the scene. Even in the context of a Zen or Buddhist legend most people would say that it just could not happen. When any minor relinquishing of their doubts do creep in they usually morph into some sort of a questionable spiritual miracle catagory.
However, any manner the event is laid out, fact to fallacy, the Venerable Pindola Bharadvaja's ability to fly was reported as nothing more than a byproduct of his regimen of meditation and concentration that led to his holy fruit of Arhat. To wit:
"Buddhism teaches that after a practitioner achieves a certain degree of realization, spiritual power develops. A person at the level of an Arhat is said to possess six supernatural powers. Even so, it is understood that it is through Enlightenment that supernatural powers are manifested, rather than that supernatural powers enhance Enlightenment. Furthermore, it is acknowledged as well that supernatural powers are not attainable exclusively JUST by Buddhists and Buddhists only. It is possible for anyone who has deep religious and spiritual cultivation to develop some kind of 'super-normal powers.'"(source)
So said, it does not mean a person can just sit down meditating for a few minutes and then find themselves with the ability to fly off, for example, to someplace like the mysterious hermitage said to exist somewhere beyond time in a remote area of the Himalayas known under a variety of names such as Gyanganj, Shambhala or Shangri-la.
According to how the sutras are said to present it, the previously mentioned regimen of meditation and concentration MUST meet certain levels of accomplishments. To reach such a level the meditator must be perfect in the precepts (Sila), bring his thoughts to a state of quiescence (Samadhi), practice diligently the trances (Jhana), attain to insight (Prajna) and be frequenter to lonely places. How many people meet such criteria, that is, being masterful in Sila, Samadhi, Jhana, and Prajna and be frequenter to lonely places? For example, is the Wanderling's experience as described in the quote below, which has been compared by some at the level of the previously cited Buddhist related flying events, and of which is explored further down the page and questioned as to it's validity by Ed Fisher, an accurate depiction of events and the requirements so said that need to be met leading up to that event? The Wanderling writes:
"Then it got cold, very cold. The breeze began to blow harder and I could no longer feel the ground underneath me. It felt as though I was moving very fast, yet as far as I knew I was still on the ground by the fire. I moved my arm away from my face just barely squinting my eyes open. For an instant I was still in the billowing white smoke, then suddenly I broke through to clean, fresh air. The smoke was no longer smoke, but clouds high in the night sky. I wasn't on the ground, but hundreds of feet in the air, soaring through the night, arms along my side, wind in my face, stars over my head."
In a breakdown of the requirements that traditionally must be fulfilled for such events to transpire, with Sila as our first and moving on through the list, for the results to bear fruit, according to the sutras, ALL must be a part of and met through a meditation and concentration regimen:
1. To refrain from taking life. (non-violence towards sentient life forms)
2. To refrain from taking that which is not given. (not committing stealing)
3. To refrain from sensual (sexual) misconduct.
4. To refrain from lying. (speaking truth always)
5. To refrain from intoxicants which lead to loss of mindfulness. (refrain from using drugs or alcohol)
There are a number of recognized named varieties and types of Samadhi. The three primary types are actually levels, states, or stages and usually designated as: Samprajana Samadhi [Access Concentration (upacara samadhi)], Asamprajata Samadhi [Absorption Concentration (appana samadhi)] (also known as Nirvikalpa Samadhi) and Khanika Samadhi [Sequential Momentary Deep Concentration]. Some of the other Samadhis that show up, and sometimes just different names for some of the above and/or varying degrees or cultural or religious designations of each other or the above, are Savitarka Samadhi, Savichara Samadhi and Asmita Samadhi. For example, the of two stages of Samadhi found in the yoga philosophy of Patanjali, Samprajnata Samadhi and Asamprajnata Samadhi, are virtually the same if not indistinguishable from Savikalpa Samadhi and Nirvikalpa Samadhi as found in Vedanta. As well, most pundits pretty much agree that the like-level Samadhis Asamprajnata and Nirvikalpa are the same as Nirbija Samadhi.
Totally encompassing or going beyond the beyond of the three or any others that may exist is Sahaja Samadhi.
When the term Samadhi is used to indicate Samprajana Samadhi or Asamprajata Samadhi or other lower Samadhis, then it means trance which is a technique and a practice. When one reaches the level of Asamprajnata Samadhi or Nirvikalpa Samadhi sometimes the meditator continues practising in that state until he becomes so established in that state that even when he comes back into the waking state, down from the deep inward state --- where he is not aware of the body or the time or the surroundings --- into the normal state, his awareness continues to be qualified by the same state of non-duality. In other words, he is so much established in that state of spiritual consciousness or awareness that even while he is moving and acting, he still remains in that state of inner awareness. They call this the state of Sahaja Samadhi.(source)
Samprajana Samadhi refers to the early stage. Nirvikalpa Samadhi is the end result, the whole soteriology based on the suppression of mental fluctuations so as to pass firstly into samprajnata-samadhi and from there, through the complete suppression of all mental fluctuations, into asamprajnata-samadhi. During the early stages there is a taste of Bliss and Beingness, but with a continuing strong problem with identification with the body as well as numerous worldly attractions. Entering Samadhi in the beginning takes effort. Holding on to it takes even more effort. Beginning stages of Samadhi are only temporary.
Upon entering Nirvikalpa Samadhi the differences have faded and nothing but pure Awareness remains. Nothing is missing to take away from Wholeness and Perfection. Samadhi becomes the only stable Reality, everything else is changing and does not bring everlasting peace or happiness.
Staying in Nirvikalpa Samadhi is effortless but even from this condition one must eventually return to ego-consciousness - however, it is entirely possible to stay in Nirvikalpa Samadhi and still be fully functional in this world. This condition is known as Sahaja Samadhi. To wit:
"Zen master Tai-yung, passing by the retreat of another Zen master named Chih-huang, stopped and during his visit respectfully asked, 'I am told that you frequently enter into Samadhi. At the time of such entrances, does your consciousness continue or are you in a state of unconsciousness? If your consciousness continues, all sentient beings are endowed with consciousness and can enter into Samadhi like yourself. If, on the other hand, you are in a state of unconsciousness, plants and rocks can enter into Samadhi.' Huang replied, 'When I enter into a Samadhi, I am not conscious of either condition.' Yung said, 'If you are not conscious of either condition, this is abiding in eternal Samadhi, and there can be neither entering into a Samadhi nor rising out of it.'" (source)
FIRST FOUR JHANAS: rupa jhana (With Form): Absorption in supporting content.
LAST FOUR JHANAS: arupa jhana (Without Form): Absorption without form, leading to increasing rarefaction or incorporeality
Jhanas do not lend themselves to "book learning"; one-on-one. The Jhanas are natural states on mind, but the lives most lead in the the 21th century makes it difficult to find the quiet, natural mind. Immediate feedback from a teacher is needed in order to aim your mind in the correct direction.
The sixth of the Six Paramitas (perfections) in the Buddhist concept of the Bodhisattva path. It is referred to as “wisdom” or “understanding” that is capable of extinguishing afflictions and bringing about Enlightenment. Simply stated, it is the field of pure consciousness beyond concepts, beliefs and imaginations.
Once the criteria has been met the practitioner achieves a certain degree of realization and spiritual power develops --- or can. Even then it is not that clear cut. A person can train for and run a marathon, but it does not mean they are going to be accomplished at it. To win or even finish depends on many factors. It should be noted the Enlightened sage of Arunachala, the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, speaking of those realized spiritual powers --- which are known by the Sanskrit word Siddhis in Hindu, Buddhist, and the Zen world --- has said that a Realized person may not have Siddhis, but may later seek or acquire them after realization (i.e., Queen Chudala in Yoga Vasishtha). So too, he has said that some Realized persons need not have any Siddhis. Interestingly enough, although it takes on all the semblance of an oxymoron --- that is if you don't know where Ramana is coming from --- he is also quoted as saying:
"In order to display Siddhis, there must be others to recognize them. That means, there is no Jnana in the one who displays them. Therefore, Siddhis are not worth a thought. Jnana alone is to be aimed at and gained."
The above thus said, it should be noted that while it is true throughout his life Sri Ramana never exhibited even the slightest interest in Siddhis, occult abilities, or psychic powers to outsiders beyond maybe verbally responding to a question or two, he did have a number of recorded fully conscious bilocation experiences he rarely discussed wherein he was translocated from his ashram in a matter of minutes to the presence of others many, many miles away.(see)
AN EXPLORATION OF THE CREDIBILITY OF SIDDHIS
The following comes from Ed Fisher's MAYA-GAIA WEBSITE, more specifically his page titled An Exploration of the Credibility of Siddhis as so sourced below. Fisher is himself a man of high spiritual Attainment having a rather indepth Nirvikalpa Samadhi experience many years ago (see link in his name at the end of page). In a prelude to his exploration of Siddhis, to set the scene Fisher writes:
"An examination of siddhis --- the supernatural powers allegedly manifested by legendary Arhats, mahasattvas and Tathagata and claimed to various degree by some of the most revered rishis as well as certain modern day yogin and gurus and the relation to shamanism and hallucinogenic drugs."
The relationship for all of here, and why it falls under our purview, is because part way down in Fisher's exploration of Siddhis, and a thorough and most interesting exploration it is at that --- and for me, well worth reading as is all of his material --- you come to a paragraph that delves into MY experience high in the mountains of Jamaica under the influence of a rather mysterious man of spells called an Obeah. Fisher writes:
The creator of one of the Internet's most encyclopedic and accessible resource for Buddhist/Zen teachings (and practitioner of Zen and for whom I have a great deal of respect and to whose webpages I frequently link to as a resource) appears to have the conviction that he experienced an episode wherein he (the Wanderling) actually physically flew over the hills of Jamaica after having drunk a hallucinogenic potion administered by an Obeahman. His account strongly implies that the experience provides evidentiary support for the reality of the most challenging of the mystical siddhis. Of course the episode has more of the aspects of the archetypal Shamanic Journey with the Obeah initiating expectation for a psychedelic trip by evoking Wanderling's memories of his Vulture Totem --- which likely triggered the theme for the scenario that transpired. His experience can be compared to the mystic journeys of shamans whose expected theme is to have a near-death experience --- confronted with scenarios and entities which provide revelations which are brought back to reality for prophesies regarding the clan's fortunes or overcoming its crises. For the Aboriginal he may be swallowed by a serpent and taken through its bowels before being regurgitated- endowed with revelations. The Inuit journeys into the frigid arctic waters and is swept into an epic struggle with Orca. The Siberian is transformed into a horned beast and joins a similar adversary in a mortal battle of survival. The Wanderling (with all due respect) seems to ascribe a reality to an episode that has appeared in millions of guises since mankind first discovered how to enter into ecstatic trance, either autohypnotically or through the use of hallucinogens. (While a Siberian shaman would use fly agaric, a Lakota medicine man would do a sun dance)and is a good example of how the myths and legends of the siddhis have resisted modern efforts to bring them into rational perspective.(source)
Fisher writes in the above that I appear to have the conviction that I experienced an episode wherein I actually physically flew over the hills of Jamaica after imbibing a hallucinogenic potion administered by an Obeah. Fisher goes on to say my account strongly implies that the experience provides evidentiary support (i.e., providing, or having the nature of, evidence) for the reality of the most challenging of the mystical siddhis. He follows that up by saying the episode has more of the aspects of the archetypal shamanic journey with the Obeah initiating expectation for a psychedelic trip by evoking the memories of my Vulture Totem --- which likely triggered the theme for the scenario that transpired.
To condense what is being said, the punch line being, "I appear to have the conviction I actually physically flew over the hills of Jamaica." Fisher continues by saying my account provides evidentiary support for the reality of the most challenging of the mystical siddhis --- the most challenging of the mystical siddhis being the ability to fly.
From there, my conviction and evidentiary support notwithstanding, the underlying scent that waifs through the rest of the article is that actual physical flying over the hills of Jamaica was most likely not so, being at the most instead, a mental-hallucination say like a dream-like state or mind trick brought about by evoking memories of totem animals combined with the action of the potion ingested and concocted by the Obeah.
The first time the aforementioned event shows up in my writings is in the stand-alone page three of ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds titled Zen, the Buddha, and Shamanism wherein the Obeah poured a warm tea-like broth into two small cups, gulping down one while motioning me to do the same with the other, with the following results:
"Soon a cool breeze fell across my face even though it came from a direction from across the fire. The Obeahman took a vessel of water and tossed it onto the flames. A huge cloud of steam burst forth followed by a thick cloud of smoke. I jumped back and turned away, stumbling to the ground while covering my face and eyes. Then it got cold, very cold. The breeze began to blow harder and I could no longer feel the ground underneath me. It felt as though I was moving very fast, yet as far as I knew I was still on the ground by the fire. I moved my arm away from my face just barely squinting my eyes open. For an instant I was still in the billowing white smoke, then suddenly I broke through to clean, fresh air. The smoke was no longer smoke, but clouds high in the night sky. I wasn't on the ground, but hundreds of feet in the air, soaring through the night, arms along my side, wind in my face, stars over my head.
"With absolutely no effort I was able to swoop down the darkened mountain gullies and high into the air, eventually passing above Bamboo Lodge recognizable along the mountain road even in the dark because of a large empty swiming pool. Then, just barely above the treetops I picked up speed and headed toward the lighted streets and tall buildings of New Kingston. Soon I was even higher in the air over Port Royal, Lime Cay, and the Caribbean. Then somehow the exhilaration began to fade. I turned back toward the mountains as a creeping apprehension seeped into my thoughts. Then nothing. "(source)
At the beginning of his spiritual quest, before he became the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama studied under two teachers. The first of his two teachers, Alara Kalama, taught him the First Seven Jhanas; the other teacher, Uddaka Ramaputta, taught him the Eighth Jhana. Both teachers told him they had taught him all there was to learn. Almost immediately, from the early stages of his studies through to the upper mid-level of those same studies (i.e,. the path of tranquillity-concentration-absorption), Siddhartha developed supernormal powers based on Samatha, the calming down of thoughts that can cultivate the power of concentration allowing the mind the ability to attain Supranormal Perceptual States known as Siddhis.
Siddhartha still didn't know why there was suffering, so he left each of these teachers and wound up doing six years of austerity practices. These too did not provide the answer to his question and he abandoned those as well. The sutras indicate that on the night of his Enlightenment, he sat down under the Bohdi Tree and began his meditation by practicing the Jhanas. When his mind was "concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady and attained to imperturbability" he direct it to the "true knowledges" that gave rise to his incredible breakthrough in consciousness known in the sutras as Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi, beyond the beyond of the Eighth Jhana.(source)
The Buddha was aware of the fact that there are those who devote themselves to meditation exercises only to acquire supernatural powers. The Buddha refined the meditative practice for devotees by telling them that acquisition of supernatural powers does not confer any special spiritual advantage. It was for this reason that he forbade his disciples to work miracles for display. Craving for supernatural powers and taking delight therein after Acquirement does not help to free one from The Three Poisons. (see)
It is a major blunder to judge the merits and ability of any given spiritual guide or venerated sage through Siddhis. Siddhis have nothing to do with Self-realization, they are a by-product of concentration and a great hindrance to spiritual progress. As long as one is within the realm of Siddhis and does not rise above it and march onwards, there is not the least hope of Realization. However, this does not mean that a person manifesting Siddhis is not a realized soul. There are several instances of such persons who have exhibited several Siddhis purely for the elevation and uplift of the world, but never for selfish motives. (source)
Spiritually inclined seekers of truth, after investigation conclude that the urge for supernormal powers comes out of the womb of the egotistical lower self. The aspiration for any supernormal powers is thus seen by the spiritually advanced as ignoble because it is born out of a hankering for material gains and possible desire for fame and applause. It is advised that anyone striving along the path of holiness toward final liberation guard themselves to not get caught up in it all and forget the true purpose. Further, the development of such powers is generally undertaken at a great cost both physically and spiritually to the individuals interfering with psychic forces. (source)
However, what we are interested here is not the merits or lack of merits of using or not using Siddhis or what happens to a seeker along the path after the Eighth Jhana, but what happens during the early stages of the meditative process generally, that is, the rise of supranormal perceptual states known as Siddhis and how it applies to me specifically.
Working up through the Jhanas in an attempt to reach or attain Enlightenment is the typical Indian and Buddhist approach. The Zen approach, as well as practiced by some others in the Buddhist and Enlightenment fields, bypass all that and attempt to jump straight to Enlightenment.
An example of the latter among many is Achaan Buddhadasa, the southern Thailand master. His approach is to skip the Jhanas and practise Vipassana after attaining a sufficient degree of concentration to overcome The Five Hindrances. In his teaching Achaan Buddhadasa outlines the 16 steps required for the cultivation of Jhanas and Vipassana. But he also allows that one can skip the Jhanas and develop Vipassana by practicing only two of the 16 steps. In his book ANAPANASATI: Mindfulness with Breathing, advocating the beliefs of many in the field, Achaan Buddhadasa writes:
"If some people feel that sixteen steps are too much, that is alright. It is possible to condense the sixteen steps down to two steps. One - train the citta (mind) to be adequately and properly concentrated. Two - with that samadhi skip over to contemplate aniccam, dukkham and anatta right way. Just these two steps, if they are performed with every inhalation and exhalation, can be considered Anapanasati, also. If you do not like to complete 16 Steps Practice, or think that it is too theoretical, or too much to study, or too detailed, then take just these two steps. Concentrate the citta by contemplating the breath. When you feel that there is sufficient samadhi, go examine everything which you know and experience so that you realize how they are impermanent, how they are unsatisfactory, and how they are not-soul, just this much is enough to get the desired results, namely, letting go! release! not attaching! Finally, note the ending of kilesa (defilement) and the ceasing of attachment when aniccam-dukkham-anatta is seen fully. Thus, you can take this short approach if you wish."
There are three kinds of concentration qualifying for Purification of Mind, inturn allowing a practitioner to achieve a certain degree of realization:
- Access Concentration (upacara samadhi)
- Absorption Concentration (appana samadhi)
- Momentary Concentration (khanika samadhi)
The first two are achieved through the vehicle of serenity or tranquility (samatha). The third is achieved through the vehicle of Insight (vipassana). Momentary Concentration possesses the same strength of mental unification as Access Concentration. Since Momentary Concentration holds The Five Hindrances, which is a required outcome if any meditation is to be successful, it aids the attainment of Insight-knowledge. But, because it does not serve directly as a basis for Jhana, it is not called Access Concentration.(source)
To wit, Khanika Samadhi (momentary concentration), used by the pure Vipassana practioner, is, when developed, equivalent in strength to Upacara Samadhi (Access Concentration). But it is technically not Access Concentration because Access Concentration takes a fixed Samatha object which serves as a basis for the attainment of Jhana. Khanika Concentration takes Vipassana objects which do not serve as a basis for Jhana. This is why there is a difference in terminology. However Khanika Concentration of the Vipassana practitioner is sometimes confused by some or referred to by some as Access Concentration. In such cases, it is an "applied" term; i.e., it is nominal Access Concentration and not proper Access Concentration as, technically, Access Concentration takes a fixed Samatha object.
What actually led Siddhartha to the Buddhahood was his own experimentation in meditation. This new meditation is known as Vipassana. Vipassana is a Pali term which means insight or penetration into reality. It is through Vipassana that one can attain Nirvana, the Goal of Buddhism. Even the one who has mastered Samatha does not attain Nirvana; he has to develop Vipassana in order to attain Nirvana. An essential step of Vipassana is satipatthana (i.e. mindfulness or awareness). Through satipatthana the meditator becomes aware of the present moment of life, each and every movement of his or her physical and mental existence. That kind of awareness is essential to have penetrating insight into the physical and mental phenomena which encompasses the whole world. Being aware of your feelings is traditionally know as vedanaanupassana satipatthana. When the process of feeling is seen clearly with satipatthana, the feeler disappears. In the absence of the feeler, observant, or ego, the meditator becomes in touch with the flux of life or the stream of existence. Normally one does not notice details in one's activities. Only when one becomes mindful one sees the minute details of one's activities. Similarly in being fully attentive, one can take note of all the movements taking place in daily living. A step beyond the physical movements is thought. The meditator begins to see his or her thoughts, he or she begins to recognize the rising, continuing, and the fall of each thought. Thus, characteristics like impermanence of the physical and mental entities become revealed to the meditator. Seeing these characteristics is Vipassana. This way satipatthana leads to Vipassana. One's progress towards Enlightenment depends on Vipassana meditation, especially so, in the Zen tradition. (source)
AND NOW THIS:
Which brings us now, back to Ed Fisher and his rather indepth explorations of Siddhis. Fisher, if you recall, stated, referring to my experience under the influence of the Obeah, the following:
"The Wanderling (with all due respect) seems to ascribe a reality to an episode that has appeared in millions of guises since mankind first discovered how to enter into ecstatic trance, either autohypnotically or through the use of hallucinogens."
Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Chapter IV, verse 1 states:
- "janma-osadhi-mantra-tapah-samadhi-jah siddayahsamadhi."
Which in english translates into:
- "Births, herbs, mantras and tapas can help you to attain Samadhi and its accomplishments."
Thus then the power of Siddhis can come because of genetics (i.e., birth) (janma), from herbs (aushadhis), the use of mantras, the kindling of the psychic fire through the practicing of austerities (tapas), and/or reversely from or the gaining of Samadhis.
As made clear by Patanjali in his sutra, certain drugs and herbs, some if not the majority possibly hallucinogenic, have the means to trigger Siddhis. However, unless used under the auspices of an experienced Spiritual Guide (i.e., in my case, the Obeah) they can stimulate Siddhis in an uncontrolled fashion and quite possibly lead to an internal mental environment that causes great psychological trauma. Regarding potential outcomes through the use of drugs, in the opening quote of AUSHADHIS: Awakening and the Power of Siddhis Through Herbs the following is found:
"In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Chapter IV, verse 1 it is stated that the supernormal perceptual powers of Siddhis can be reached through the use of certain herbs, replicating on the short term a mind-strength ability and potential execution of powers similar to or equal to that of a person versed in Siddhis garnered via the highest levels of Spiritual Attainment."
Depending how far along the path one has become masterful in Sila, Samadhi, Jhana, Prajna, and being a frequenter to lonely places, inturn delineates how strong or successful the outcome of any herb induced Siddhis may be. If miniscule, then miniscule. If all but the bottom of the barrel breaking through, then close to major.(see)
For those who may be so interested, more in line with what Patanjali presents and somewhat in contrast to any outcome that Fisher may be suggesting, I offer the following two 'proofs' that for me dispute the possibility of my experience being anything other than having transpired in actuality:
A few paragraphs back I write that after the Obeahman gave me a warm tea like broth that I was able to, with absolutely no effort, swoop down the darkened mountain gullies and high into the air, eventually crossing over Port Royal, Lime Cay, and the Caribbean. Then I say somehow the exhilaration began to fade and I felt I had to turn back toward the mountains as a creeping apprehension seeped into my thoughts (actually my apprehension was strongly based on the possibility that I would crash into the ocean). After that quote, from the same source where the original is found, the following is found:
"When the Wanderling awoke the next morning in the trees there was actual in-reality beach sand gripped in the palm of his hand, yet the spot he was found was at least seven miles inland from any sandy beach and several thousand feet up the mountain. However, the night before sand was scooped on a pass over Lime Cay during the journey."
I remember the sand in my palm quite well. After seeing I held a whole bunch of beach sand I re-clenched my fist tightly, carrying it in a closed hand for hours until I was able to pour the sand into a little jar that I quickly sealed with a lid.
One of the things I learned in the Peace Corps and the Military is that just about everything in the tropics disintegrates rather quickly if left unattended, especially paper. Even though the reasons for my being in Jamaica were considered to be highly humanitarian in nature, humanitarian or not, when you travel, you are still only who your paperwork says you are. Because I was planning on living in Jamaica a couple of years some people concerned with my overall well being insisted I take my old military dog tags with me. That way, since I always seem to find myself in places I shouldn't be, if I ended up rotting away someplace, so their theory went, at least my metal dog tags might survive long enough to identify me.
"(T)he Obeah squated down without changing eye contact, peering at me with an astounding set of eyes that seemed to shine deeply from within with a mysterious, intense light of their own, and said, in his heavy Jamaican patois, 'You have felt the breath of the Dark One.' 'Yes, once,' I said, 'many years ago,' refering to an incident in the military when I literally felt the Shadow of Death brush across my soul. 'Why didn't he take you with him,' the Obeah asked? 'I don't know,' I responded, shrugging my shoulders."
I had my dog tags with me the night of the event with the Obeah. When I told him of the incident in the military I took off my dog tags to show him and I still had them in my hands when he threw the water on the fire. When I swooped over Bamboo Lodge I purposely dropped the dog tags into the empty pool, so at least if I never showed up again, my dog tags would AND could easily be found someday by someone. A day or two later when I was able to walk and was much less sore I made my way to Bamboo Lodge and climbed down into the swimming pool and retrieved my dog tags after which then I hiked back to the winding mountain trail to the Obeah's place. When I got to the clearing where his hut should have been, and had been a few nights before, nothing was there. No hut, no fire pit, no nothing. Not only that, to me, it looked as though nothing had ever been there.
However, the sand scooped from Lime Cay and finding the dog tags sitting in the bottom of the empty pool, if nothing else, taken together, proved to me, and continue to do so right up to this day, that the flight itself DID occur in reality.
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
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As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
Reaching Shambhala is a classic example in Buddhist lore requiring a high state of spiritual attainment. Even though it is said the texts imply flying over the snow covered mountains via spiritual means is the only way, and it has been told by some to be so otherwise, there is still a strong general consensus, and most accurately so, that the only way to Shambhala, implementing the ability to fly or not, is through spiritual powers and spiritual powers only, and not by material means. The following can be found by going to the link as so presented immediately below the quote:
"Many Tibetans insist on the necessity of purifying the mind in order to go to Shambhala. Most forms of meditation used for this purpose tend to cut off, or silence, the habitual thoughts and preconceptions that block the kind of mystic vision, the vision that may actually penetrate into other worlds as solid and as concrete as ours. By clarifying his mind in this way, ridding himself of the mental conditioning that limits his awareness, the traveller to Shambhala may be gaining the ability to see into the fourth dimension and take an actual journey through a strange, but real, landscape of fantastic deserts and mountains that lie parallel to the ones we find on maps of Central Asia."
THE CODE MAKER, THE ZEN MAKER
SHANGRI-LA, SHAMBHALA, GYANGANJ, BUDDHISM AND ZEN
THE CLASSIC 1937 BLACK AND WHITE MOVIE LOST
HORIZON IS BASED ON THE SHAMBHALA LEGEND.
THE WAY TO SHAMBHALA
MOLLIFYING THE NAYSAYERS
"According to how the sutras are said to present it, the previously mentioned regimen of meditation and concentration MUST meet certain levels of accomplishments. To reach such a level the meditator must be perfect in the precepts (Sila), bring his thoughts to a state of quiescence (Samadhi), practice diligently the trances (Jhana), attain to insight (Prajna) and be frequenter to lonely places. How many people meet such criteria, that is, being masterful in Sila, Samadhi, Jhana, and Prajna and be frequenter to lonely places?"
The above quote is found in the main text. It lays out the criteria that, according to the sutras, MUST be met in order to implement and master Siddhis. In order to meet those criteria in this lifetime and/or be able to leapfrog forward in a swift fashion it doesn't hurt to have had in place a strong ingrained background or conduct in like or similar qualities. For example those that strongly permeated a good portion of my childhood growing up as found in:
COWBOY CODE OF THE WEST
Please notice when and if you go to the page how closely the various versions of the Cowboy Code of the West, and there are several variations on the page from a number of western notables, line up with the precepts that have come down from the Buddha thousands of years ago as found in the Eightfold Nobel Path. Most likely and without knowing it or being familiar with the precepts, came up with their code based on a universal knowing of how one should conduct themselves:
- RIGHT UNDERSTANDING: Understanding the true nature of existence, and the moral laws governing the same.
- RIGHT THOUGHT: A pure state of mind, free from from ill-will and cruelty; in other words, thoughts of goodness and mercy.
- RIGHT SPEECH: Consists of words which are not false, not harsh, not scandalous, not frivolous, i.e. truthful words, mild words, pacifying words, and wise words.
- RIGHT ACTION: Abstaining from intentional killing or harming of any living creature, abstaining from dishonest taking of others' property.
- RIGHT LIVELIHOOD: Participating in such a livelihood that it does not bring harm and suffering to other beings.
- RIGHT EFFORT: The effort we make in overcoming and avoiding old and fresh bad actions by body, speech and mind; and the effort which we make in developing fresh actions of righteousness, inner peace and wisdom, cultivating them to perfection.
- RIGHT MINDFULLNESS: Alertness of mind. It is the ever-ready mental clarity in whatever we are doing, speaking, or thinking and keeping before our mind the realities of existence.
- RIGHT CONCENTRATION: Maintaining a mental concentration directed towards a morally wholesome object, always bound up with right thought, right effort and right mindfulness.
To illustrate how things work, from the start as just a young boy I was somehow not being allowed --- by who or by what is not known, that is, in the overall scheme of things, something bigger than me --- to veer very far away from a given set of criteria that unknowingly began to set the stage for later things to come. In the process, a reservoir of information began to build little-by-little ensuring a repertoire of understanding would innately exist in a background state to quietly draw upon:
"Although I had been known from very early age to jump off one-story porches, garages, and house roofs with a sheet made into a parachute or flaring behind my back tied to my wrists and ankles a la Captain Midnight's glider chute on more than one occasion, my very, very first serious attempt to build a functional airplane-like craft that would carry me in flight was based almost exclusively on a glider I saw as a young boy in the 1947 black and white movie Tarzan and the Huntress."(source)
During the broader time period that I was staying under the auspices of my stepmother at the rather elaborate compound she set up for my brothers and myself to live, I was in the fourth or fifth grade or so. Two of my grade-school buddies and I used to pull a Radio Flyer through the alleys around the neighborhood collecting pop and beer bottles for the deposit. After collecting a wagon load we would turn them in at various places around and of which, one was a bar. In the process of pounding on the back door I got to know the dishwasher there, an elderly (to me) Chinese man.
As a kid without a lot of experience in the matter and always alone, I used to go by the bar and meditate in the alley with the old man. Sitting in the shade on the back steps amongst the garbage cans and flies in the back alley behind the bar one afternoon, while drinking hot tea out of tiny little cups with no handles in a near ritual-like tea ceremony he insisted on, the Chinese man told me a story about the bombing of Japanese occupied Taiwan, China, a few years before by the United States during World War II. He said from ancient times there was a "girl Buddha" whose followers believed that reciting the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum would, because of the "girl Buddha's" compassion, deliver them from harm. He said even though he himself had not practiced or invoked the mantra, while seeking refuge in the midst of the attack he inadvertently ended up amongst a group of believers who were also running to find shelter from the explosions. Then, while within the group, most of whom were verbally repeating the mantra, overhead, pure white and almost cloud-like the "girl Buddha" appeared in the sky above them actually deflecting the trajectory of the bombs away from their exposed path until they reached safety and out of harms way.
During those back alley sessions, if the Chinese man used any names relative to the "girl Buddha" I don't recall them. Anything I know about her other than his description of the protection she provided, I have garnered later in life. Basically the "girl Buddha," or more respectfully, female Buddha, is known as Kuan Yin (also know as Quan Shi Yin and Kwan Yin), a Chinese female incarnation of Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara) the Bodhisattva of Compassion. A bodhisattva is an Enlightened being who has decided to "stay in the world" rather than becoming a fully Enlightened Buddha and living a compassionate life for the sake of all beings. With the mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, Kuan Yin tirelessly attempts to deliver all beings from suffering.
Om Mani Padme Hum came up because of a 1940s comic book superhero called The Green Lama that used the mantra much like Billy Batson used Shazam to become Captain Marvel --- to invoke superpowers --- and, in the Green Lama's case, like Captain Marvel, gaining super strength, invulnerability, the ability to fly, and even being impervious to bullets to the point of being bulletproof. The old dishwasher had a six or eight copies of the Green Lama all in like-new mint condition, of which, for whatever reason, he gave to me.
To me I saw no reason why you couldn't fly. Superman came from another world and with the help of our yellow sun somehow gained superpowers. Captain Marvel's abilities were backed by an ancient wizard's magic. However, the Black Condor and the Green Lama's powers were somehow related to Tibet, the Himalayas, and Buddhism. Real places backed by real precepts. To me the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum seemed to have more actual implementation ability and after-effects than a man-lookalike being from another planet or the magic from an ancient wizard. So for me, rather I knew it or not, the stage was being set.(see)
INCIDENT AT SUPAI
A SHAMANIC JOURNEY OUTSIDE THE TRADITION
In the above main text of which this footnote is referenced to, the following is found:
"A day or two later when I was able to walk and was much less sore I made my way to Bamboo Lodge and climbed down into the swimming pool and retrieved my dog tags after which then I hiked back to the winding mountain trail to the Obeah's place. When I got to the clearing where his hut should have been, and had been a few nights before, nothing was there. No hut, no fire pit, no nothing. Not only that, to me, it looked as though nothing had ever been there."
Although such a written passage and what it implies may seem strange to some, and in the every-day day-to-day Samsara world, carries with it a probable untenable position within it's scope IF the coordinates and location of the Obeah's dwelling arrived upon by me was accurate as experienced by me. However, in the world of happenings that I am writing about here, such incidents are not totally without precedent. For example, the following experience of a young man participating in a more-or-less traditional Native American rite of passage test of manhood from "Yurok Medicine Man" called Making of the Land Medicine:
"His teacher directed him to find a cave and to spend the night there in chanting and prayer, making a medicine packet from the materials in the pouch he had brought. Then he was directed to find a ledge in the cave and to feel for the packets of medicine left there by candidates who had endured this very trial at some time in the past.
"I find this cave and I do my medicine thing...then I reach up to put it on the shelf and, just out of curiosity, I run my hand back and forth to feel and know what’s there. I feel a crumbly packet and another, hardly a bundle at all, and then only dust with a few lumps, so I get the hell out of there. It’s a sacred and spooky place. I spend the day as directed and later, just for the hell of it, I go back and look for the cave. I couldn’t find it. I must have made a wrong turn but I couldn’t find it. Even the ones I did find did not have any shelf."(source)
Not wanting to belabor the point on-and-on ad infinitum, but, for the continuing onslaught of skeptics arising amongst the masses --- or for the just plain interested --- I would like to revisit the proposition that the coordinates and location of the Obeah's dwelling arrived upon by me was in fact accurate as experienced by me. There is one tid-bit of information that comes to mind regarding the accuracy of the location of the Obeah's hut otherwise left untold that for me, enhances the validity of the presumed location being where the Obeah's permanent encampment and hut stood a few nights before. On the third page of ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Continues, previously cited, I write:
"Some things I recall seem as though they just happened, others are blurred and long lost. One thing I remember for sure about that night was, even though I helped carry an injured girl up perilous trails high into the mountains, because I was a white man, the Obeah would not let me enter his hut...and at first refused to have anything to do with me. I sat outside in the dark basically just poking the fire with a stick and watching the light flicker amongst the trees."
Before the Obeah took the young girl into his hut he removed a string and bead necklace from around her neck as well as untying a string and bead bracelet from her wrist, hanging both on a small stick-like branch on a nearby tree about man-height above the ground. In doing so, although the necklace hung well I noticed the untied bracelet did not do so, with some of the beads coming loose and dropping into the bushes and onto the ground some distance below the branch. Taking into consideration that the necklace and bracelet might have some importance to the young girl, as much as I could see in the dark I scrounged around for as many beads as I could find, putting them back on the string as best as I could. In that the string ends were frayed, it was dark, and the bead openings were small, it was a difficult task, so much so in the end I simply left two beads of the ones I found off and put them in my pocket.
The Obeah, after hanging the necklace and bracelet on the branch, then immediately carrying the young girl into the hut would not have known, like I did staying outside the hut, that the bracelet on the branch came apart. Upon his return, with me having put it back together, theoretically, all would appear normal.
When I returned to the clearing a few days later to where his hut should have been, and had been a few nights before and nothing was there --- no hut, no fire pit, no nothing --- I began to look for familiar landmarks that might prove or disprove if I had inadvertently gone to the wrong location. While I glanced around it looked all the same as it should be the place, although I saw nothing specific that would otherwise prove it was. Going over the events of that night I remembered the necklace and bracelet and the small man-height branch they were hung on. With a little wandering around the general clearing I soon located what looked like could have been the branch. The necklace and bracelet were not there. I kneeled down and brushed the plants and weeds aside around the base of the tree directly below the branch and sure enough, in the weeds I was able to locate four or five beads that looked exactly like the ones that were on the young girl's bracelet --- and that matched perfectly with the two I had stuck in my pocket. Now, why everything else would be gone or disappear, but a few beads would somehow remain, I have no clue. However, it is my opinion they were not overlooked, but left there purposely, not blatantly obvious for anyone to come across them, but discriminately hidden only to be found by someone who would have the wherewithal to know.
The following account is from Consulting Mediums:
For those of you that may be familiar with the Wanderling and his interactions with the shaman man of spells called Obeahman high in the mountains of Jamaica you may recall that when a young girl from the village was hit by a car, the parents, who could not afford a regular medical doctor, opted to have their daughter taken to the Obeah. The Wanderling and another village member carried the girl in a sling-like hammock slung between two long wooden poles up the hazardous mountain trail to the Obeahman's abode. During that several hour period, although breathing, the girl never regaind consciousness. The Wanderling was not allowed to go into the Obeah's hut because he was white, nor were any of the rituals performed observed, that is, if any at all were performed. The next morning the Wanderling ended up clear down the mountain and didn't exactly see what happened to the girl. About two weeks later she was seen to be playing with other village childern as though nothing had ever happened. No marks, scars, scraches, casts or anything else.
Some months later the Wanderling contracted Dengue Fever and laid in his bed sweating in pools of water, delirious with a high fever, not eating, and basically unable to move. A villager happened by and reported how sick he was to a village elder. He inturn passed word to the Obeah. Under NO circumstances had the Obeah ever been known to leave his mountain lair, everyone in need of his services ALWAYS had to go to him no matter how serious the situation. However, much to the suprise of everyone in the village and others for miles and miles around, within a few hours of hearing of the Wanderling's condition he showed up on the veranda. He would not enter his house, again because the Wanderling was a white man, but he did remove spiritual items and herbs from his medicine bag called an Oanga Bag and perform a set of rituals that included spreading sand and ashes in a circle, casting bones into the circle, sitting Buddha-like doing some chanting and using smoke that waifted throughout the house. The next day the Wanderling was up and around, sore, and except for a substantial loss of weight and weak from having not eaten, OK. The Obeah was gone.
The day after the Obeah departed and following a night of heavy wind and rain, the Wanderling, conscious but racked with pain, for the first time in days was able to move and hobbled himself out onto the veranda. Barely able to stay upright he stood before the shaman's circle, and despite the storm of the night before, the circle was still in place just as it had been left by the man of spells. An ever so slight breeze came up and spread across the veranda floor twisting itself into a small dust-devil-like vortex encompassing the Wanderling's bare feet and legs with the ash and sand of the circle. As the twisting breeze climbed his body the pain dissipated eventually disappearing altogether along with the wind.
In the main text above I write that during my flight over Lime Cay I scooped sand into the palm of my hand and upon returning poured the sand into a little jar that I quickly sealed with a lid (see also Footnote 3 below). A few days later, in that the beads and the sand were related to the same experience, I put the beads in the jar with the sand. In the above commentary from Consulting Mediums it is stated that the Obeah would not enter my house, coming exclusively no closer than the basically outside covered veranda. When I went outside on the veranda the next day, the ritual circle he had created, for the most part, was still in place even though, like has been said, a rather severe storm had passed through the night before. Within the circle of ritual items left behind were the beads from the jar. How they got from the jar to the circle without the Obeah entering the house or how he was even privy to the fact I had them or where they were is not known.
DOG TAGS WITH
I poured the sand from Lime Cay into the bottom of an empty four ounce glass Gerber baby food jar with a metal lid and the label removed. Where the jar came from or why it was even around I have no idea, I just found it on the back of a top shelf one day, most likely left by the previous tenants. I kept it handy near the kitchen sink to throw loose change in for the bus ride up and down the mountain and, as it was, it ended up just perfect to put the sand in instead.
Gerber glass jars are small, about three inches high and maybe two and a half inches in diameter. After I retrieved the dog tags from along the edge of the mosquito infested three inch thick mossy green rain sludge in the center-bottom of the pool at Bamboo Lodge and cleaned the tags up, I dropped them into the jar on top or the sand, the sand taking up not more than the bottom fourth of the jar. Then I put the lid on the jar as tight as I could and set it on a shelf to gather dust.
When I left Jamaica I took the jar with me and carried it around in my belongings for years, with it usually ending up sitting on some out of the way shelf somewhere, typically drawing little attention. Ten or fifteen years later a good Samaritan visiting me saw the jar one day, and noticing the dog tags and without my knowledge, thought they could do me a favor by taking the tags out and cleaning them up. When I wore the tags I had what GIs call 'rubber baby bumpers' around the edges intended to silence the tags from making noise hitting together. The good Samaritan, seeing the rubber had long since broken in several places and falling off, removed the tags from the jar, cleaned them up and put new rubber silencers on them. In the process she threw away both the jar and the sand.
PEACE CORPS ZEN
The translators of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, as found in the text from the source so cited, of the First Verse of Pada 4 (Kaivalya Sutra) 1, offer the following commentary in interpretation of the meaning behind the translation in regards to aushadhis (i.e., drugs):
(O)ne's latent abilities become enhanced through the wise utilization and communion with nature's medicines and elixirs (aushadhi) which in turn trigger/activate the inner evolutionary circuits (including the body's neuro-endocrine system), clear out obstructions in the nadis, and in general remove obstructions both in the cellular memory and neuro-psychic pathways. The wise use of certain herbal combinations are known to the tradition of yoga to stimulate/catalyze the production of inner elixirs (soma, amrita, etc.) which are also activated by other factors.(source)
One's latent abilities means quite frankly how far along the path one has become masterful in Sila, Samadhi, Jhana, Prajna, and being a frequenter to lonely places. There cannot be significant results if one's latent abilities are lacking because there is just nothing to draw upon. The level of latent abilities that exist within is what is enhanced. Again, if miniscule, then miniscule, if all but the bottom of the barrel breaking through, then close to major.
AWAKENING AND THE POWER OF
SIDDHIS THROUGH HERBS
After those early years, other than the occasional connection back to the Green Lama comic books of my youth and one very odd mention by my uncle around the time I first learned of the mantra, brought up for a then unknown, to me, reason while the two of us were visiting an ancient Zuni pueblo site called Kyaki:Ma (see), the mantra pretty much passed into oblivion. Then, years later, having reached adulthood --- as fully articulated in Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery (linked below) --- following a set of near kidnapping-like extenuating circumstances in the then drug infested wide-open railhead city of Chiang Mai located in the far northern reaches of Thailand, after an exhaustive search by a renegade group, I was found by a Zen Buddhist monk amongst their midst under somewhat ragged conditions:
"(T)he KMT searching the city came across me, finding me with bloodshot eyes, drooling at the mouth, unbathed, dirty, unshaven, no clothes, sitting in my own urine and defecation, rocking back and forth, and highly unusual for me, robotically repeating over-and-over a mantra from my childhood Om Mani Padme Hum and so mind-numb that I was worthless to their or anybody else's cause."
The KMT, fighting to stay ahead of other factions seeking my potential expertise, had been furiously searching the city trying to find an unknown white American for days. When they heard there was a person of white or Anglo extraction, possibly an American, in one of the dens they went straight there. The Zen Buddhist traveling with the KMT was attracted to my constant repetition of the mantra, then seeing the tiny medallion around my neck knew I was under the protection of the Lord Buddha and could not be left behind --- no matter if I was or wasn't the one they were looking for.
DOING HARD TIME IN A ZEN MONASTERY2>