Supernatural Powers in Buddhism

Published on April 3, 2008

by the International Buddhism Sangha Association and taken from the book
H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III

The Treasure Book “H.H. Dorje
Chang Buddha III”

Do Buddhists advocate supernatural powers? Actually, this is not a matter of advocating or not advocating. Rather, supernatural powers are that which everyone who is accomplished in the dharma possesses. Such powers are the manifestation of realization achieved through cultivation. They are phenomena that exist in the course of cultivation but are not the goal of cultivation, which is liberation from the cycle of birth and death. They are by-products that arise during one’s practice. These by-products called supernatural phenomena naturally exist in all liberating paths within the Buddha-dharma. Becoming attached to these by-products and regarding them as the goal is heretical supernatural powers. Applying these by-products in a free and unattached way and regarding them as illusory is treating supernatural powers based on the correct Buddha-dharma view.

Sakyamuni Buddha manifested supernatural powers and also was against supernatural powers. Each of those two tacks reflects different underlying karmic conditions. To those with higher vehicle (Mahayana) faculties, the Buddha spoke of supernatural powers as enjoyment resulting from incredible realization and the free and unattached application of samadhi. Examples of this are in the Lotus Sutra, theSamyuktagama Sutra, and other sutras. To those practitioners with low faculties, the Buddha spoke of not being attached to supernatural powers in order to reach the goal of realizing emptiness. An example of this is in theShurangama Sutra.

Anyone with low faculties who wants to become a Buddha must go through the stage of cultivation corresponding to those with high faculties. In one’s course of cultivation, this is analogous to going from one city to another city. If one does not travel along the pathway between the two cities, one will not reach that other city. When one is walking toward that other city, one will certainly see and encounter all of the phenomena that are on the way. This is like the supernatural phenomena that arise in the course of one’s cultivation when wisdom is being opened. If one does not experience such phenomena that arise during the cultivation process, then one will not reach the other shore of liberation. Because one has not traversed the path of the Buddha-dharma leading to liberation, one cannot encounter phenomena that occur while traversing that path. That is why such a person has not experienced the stage in the process whereby wisdom is opened and supernatural powers are realized. Thus, all Buddhist who become accomplished in the dharma must go through the stage of supernatural powers.

Is it true that the authentic Buddha-dharma does not speak of supernatural powers? If that were the case, then why did the great leader of Buddhism, Sakyamuni Buddha, manifest supernatural powers everywhere? Why did he even manifest great supernatural powers right before entering nirvana? What crazed and demonic person would dare say that Sakyamuni Buddha did not practice the true Buddha-dharma? Just think. If someone with great accomplishment in the dharma did not have any supernatural realization powers, what would be the difference between that person and an ordinary person who had not learned Buddhism?

H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu Holiest Tathagata, is the highest ancient Buddha with complete proficiency in both exoteric and esoteric Buddhism and perfect mastery of the Five Vidyas. A portion of His Holiness’s realization powers is openly shown in this book A Treasury of True Buddha-Dharma for all to clearly see. However, the clear and definite views expressed by His Holiness have enabled us to understand the principles and direction of cultivation. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III said the following:

“Not only did the Buddha speak a great deal about supernatural powers in the sutras, he also manifested supernatural powers. Such words and facts were directed at those who reached the higher vehicle (Mahayana) sambhogakaya state or nirmanakaya state. The Buddha also stated in the sutras that one must not become attached to supernatural powers. Such teachings were directed at those who were at the beginning stage of realizing their original nature and dharmakaya in order to protect them. If practitioners who are at the beginning stage of realizing the true nature or true-suchness of all phenomena become attached to supernatural powers, they will fall into that which is conditioned. They will then be practicing heresy. Thus, you should understand that supernatural powers are a reflection of the unhindered, unobstructed nature of Buddhas and great Bodhisattvas. Such powers are not that which beginning stage practitioners can possess and enjoy.

“As for me, I went through the stage of supernatural powers in my early years. I deeply understand that they are the free and unattached application of samadhi but are not the ultimate attainment. I occasionally see the supernatural powers of others, which are manifestations of their karmic conditions of good fortune. I myself do not have such abilities!

“I do not advocate practicing supernatural powers. What I want is cultivation. Only through cultivation can one attain the goal. I myself am very ordinary. I do not have supernatural powers. I only have cultivation. The discourse entitled “What Is Cultivation?” that I gave for all good Buddhists with the karmic affinity to hear or read it is the palace of the Buddha-dharma, the root of liberation, and the source of great dharma in the dharma realm.”

International Buddhism Sangha Association