Thursday, June 9, 2016

Hot Monks!

In the Tipitaka some monks, the Buddha included, are described as being hot, really hot, although not in the way being hot is sometimes understood today. The Vinaya relates that a monk named Dabba was able to illuminate one of his fingers so that the light from it was enough to enable him to walk around at night, as one would with a torch (Vin.II,76). It is not specifically stated that flames came out of his finger but other descriptions of this ability suggest that this is the case. When this same monk decided that his demise was approaching, he rose into the air in a cross-legged posture and burst into flames “and his body was completely consumed and burned up so that not even a speck of ash or soot could be found” (Ud.92-3). Although not mentioned in the Pali Tipitaka or its commentaries, other later Savaka texts say that Venerable Ananda met his end in exactly the same way.  
Even the Buddha is attributed in being able to do something like this.  When he entered the fire shrine of the Kassapa brothers and was confronted by a fiery nāga he is said to have “countered its fire with fire” (tejasā tejaṃ) by shooting flames from his body and subduing the creature (Vin.I,25). On another occasion while on a visit to the Brahma world the Buddha rose into the air in a cross-legged posture and burst into flames, although his body remained unburned (S.I,144).
What are we to make of this fiery ability, called tejodhātuṃ samāpajjitvā in the suttas? Following the commentaries Bhikkhu Bodhi translates this term as “having entered into the meditation on the fire element” although the term itself makes no reference to meditation and none of the references to it in the texts suggest that the ability is a meditation or is developed through meditation. In fact, they all suggest that it can be ‘turned on’ immediately, without any preliminaries. Interesting also is that despite how spectacular this ability would appear to an observer, it is not included in the standard list of eight psychic powers developed through meditation (e.g. D.I,77-8). It seems that the belief that grave ascetics during the Buddha’s time were already being attributed with fiery powers and Hindu texts are full of stories of accomplished rishis and ascetics who were able to incinerate people who crossed them.  
Before dismissing this curious ability as just a belief  of the time which was included in the Tipitaka but which has no basis in reality, I would like to posit a few ideas. Several of the psychic powers (iddhi) mentioned in the Tipitaka might be within the realm of possibility, except for New Agers for who all of them are. I am thinking of being able to read the minds of others and hear or sense things over a long distance. Most of us have had the experience of suddenly thinking of someone we haven’t thought of for a long while and shortly after have the phone  ring and find it is them, or  receive a letter from them. I have never been able to do this at will but it has happened to me spontaneously, and quite a few times. Could it be that all of us have these powers but that they are usually smothered by the clutter of the ordinary mind  and that disciplined meditation allows them to occur more frequently? And is it possible that with an enlightened mind one can do such things at will, or at least some people can? 
Anyone with a ghoulish sense of curiosity will know at least something about spontaneous human combustion (SHC), a strange and creepy phenomena where  individuals suddenly bursts into flames. Forensic scientists and psychic researchers have tried to give rational explanations for this phenomena although few of them are very convincing (see Wikipedia article Spontaneous Human Combustion). Could something like this become available to highly developed individuals so that they can  manifest it at will?  Or is it as I said above just one of several fanciful ideas that have made their way into the Tipitaka?   


Marius Koala said...

Before I speak, I want to say that I am very sorry to see this photo of the man that burnt himself in protest because of his cultural heritage. (Very sad, and nobody should do that at all.) I don't beleive this photo is appropriate for the topic you wrote.

In my own beleif is that the "fire" in which you are speaking of is energy of the spirit via to body that one can harness within via mind full and focused meditation to release your mental limits. (Releasing your mind to the limits of the body, kind of hard to explain. "Chi", " ki" or "spirit" you become aware of the true nature of your spirit and what it entails. Finding goodness, peace and love within. )

We are a spirit within the body and the body is limited but the spirit is not. (Spirit is from the creator of all things, the absolute love that created everything in time and out of time.)

According to your mentioning about the buddha or someone vanishing in fire, I beleive that when a spirit controls all of the aspects of the body sub consciously and consciously and finds love and control of oneself similar to release of suffering they become more aware of their spirit. Releasing of sins or karma... etc. I'll get straight to the point. "The buddha released himself from the bandage of the flesh (by mind to soul) and may have de-materialized from physical." Ref. To burning fire but no ashes. (But I think I heard that the Buddha passed away and was burried in the end of his life, not sure.)

The reference to the fire is the warmth of the spirit that we all possess, basically the world we live in is what is not really real (non-eternal, spirit is eternal). (Think of when people say "this person is very cold" meaning cruel or complete lack of goodness, but when people say this person is warm.... People already reference to things that they are not aware of... God the all loving one, compassionate and all knowing created us from itself. Therefore, our true being is love.. To be a "warm" and an enhanced spirit "living in the flesh" will begin to spiritually glow of warmth. (Look at Christian iconography of Saints, healers and of the Christ) To release themselves from the circle of karma in mind, action and thoughts.)

I beleive karma is the essential law of good and evil (eve and Adam) or the ying yan, which is the balance of this place we live in, physical non eternal life. (If you do bad, you must re balance by doing good, but doing all good does not bring bad to you, it attracts more good.) So when your living here the bad actions will come back to you until you find balance internally and externally. (Forgiveness of sins, peace, balance of Karam... then you can spiritually develop.)

Everybody is created equal, nobody smaller nor bigger, no slaves, no kings. All beings are similar, we are from the same parent. We are all kings to our own self.

I recommend to seek within. Not outside. Everything we do and live in today (externally) is based on the past of previous people that lived, doesn't mean everything is accurate. Release yourself within from desire, fear, and etc. Find reasoning in all we do. (I do this all the time.) Focus on goodness, realistic of everything and always find solution within.

I am Christian because I believe that the Christ is the only spirit that will help ourselves release from the circle of sin. (Or Karma) to open eyes to the truth of our nature of being. (Our true self, the spirit that is real not the flesh.)

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