Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

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Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby ArkA » Fri May 16, 2014 3:01 pm

In some threads there’s a talk about levitation. Just sharing my experience.

About 25 years ago a friend brought me to see an old bhikkhu who lived in a temple. His parents were longterm supporters of this temple and the old bhikkhu.

The bhikkhu was living alone in a small hut which located about 400 m towards the forest away from the hustle and bustle of the main temple. This is not a forest monastery, but a village temple, and the monks at the temple don’t follow Vinaya. Therefore, I didn't have much faith even in this old bhikkhu, and I wasn’t prepared for what I’m about to witness. But my friend said, "he is different, you'll see."

When we reached the hut around nine in the morning he was meditating outside while sunbathing. This bhikkhu had a serene demeanour written all over his face. Hearing our footsteps he opened the eyes and without showing any unhappiness for being disturbed - perhaps not disturbed - greeted us with a moderate friendly smile.

We offered him food for his only meal for the day, and informed him that in the afternoon we wish to talk about some Dhamma and about becoming bhikkhus, to which he agreed happily.

When we returned in the afternoon the old bhikkhu invited us to join his afternoon meditation. The bhikkhu sat cross-legged on a thin coconut husk mat on his multipurpose bed which is the only furniture in the hut. The bed is a long one, and he kept a couple of Nikayas (Sutta books) on one side. We sat on the floor to his left.

After about thirty minutes of meditation I opened my eyes and there this old bhikkhu’s body, already about one foot above the bed, very slowly moving towards the roof while retaining the cross-legged posture intact. After reaching almost closer to the roof then the body descended back to the bed in the same slow pace. I grab my friend’s hand to break his meditation so that he can witness the levitation. The up and down cycle happened couple of times, and we called the old bhikkhu but he didn’t respond, so it seemed he didn’t hear. After about one hour from the last cycle, the bhikkhu opened his eyes ending the meditation and smiled to us in the usual way.

My friend said, he spoke with the bhikkhu several times but never invited to meditate so this is the first time he witnessed a levitation. Since we were not sure whether the bhikkhu purposely levitated to inspire us or it was just a natural outcome of his meditation, we didn’t directly ask him about it. And according to bhikkhu rules, they can’t tell non-bhikkhus about their meditative attainments. We spend about two more hours talking about Dhamma, and I asked about levitation in general, to which he quoted several Suttas and said, “after emerging from the jhana, a yogi can do it, as any other super normal powers.”

The old bhikkhu was about 80 years old then. He had handed over the temple to his students and moved to the hut in 50s. He said, “these days monks learn and preach Dhamma but don’t follow, they becoming too socialised, and have no respect for Vinaya, so I thought to move away from all those.” I asked him why not moving to a monastery, he said, “in a temple nobody expects for a yogi, this way I can stay secluded without attracting people who will trouble me for their merry-making. Only my old students know I’m meditating, others think I’m just enjoying the retirement.” “Not like in ancient times, now we have Buddha’s words in books, but only a few interested in meditation, not even my students meditate or ask my advice. If someone has a kamma to become a yogi, it’ll bring him to the right conditions,” was his reply when asked the why not becoming a meditation guru.

The old bhikkhu passed away after couple of moths from our visit.

I asked about this levitation from late Ven. Ananda Maitreya (Bhikkhu Bodhi’s teacher). According to him this up and down levitation is natural for those who get subtle but not yet reached the very stable deep jhanas in anapanasati (breath meditation), and it’s not a post-jhana psychic power. Ven. Ananda Maitreya said he saw this with his first student (I think in 30s).

Personally, witnessing this levitation was very inspiring, but more inspiring was the old bhikkhu’s simple life, and wise words. As the Buddha mentioned what matters is the insight, not the supernatural powers.

“Buddha taught us all that needed for Nibbana, never stray away from his words,” was his final advice to me.

Hope this inspires some of you!

Edit: Ven. Ananda Maitreya said that the old bhikkhu was unaware of his levitation.
Last edited by ArkA on Fri May 16, 2014 4:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.
I'll restart my yearlong meditation retreat on 15th June 2014, hence will not be here.

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- Anguttara Nikaya, 3.131, Paticchanna Sutta

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Re: Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Fri May 16, 2014 3:10 pm

Thank you for sharing this story. Anumodana!
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Re: Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby Mkoll » Fri May 16, 2014 3:55 pm

That is inspiring and his final advice is very wise.

Thank you for sharing!

:anjali:
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Re: Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby Viscid » Fri May 16, 2014 6:09 pm

Great story, though I can't believe it myself as I didn't witness it and can't even imagine how such a thing is possible.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby Sylvester » Mon May 19, 2014 4:57 am

Anumodāmi!
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Re: Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby SarathW » Mon May 19, 2014 5:09 am

Is this 4th Jhana, a person experience this?
Is it possible this is only a mind illusion?
:thinking:
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Re: Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby Aloka » Mon May 19, 2014 6:16 am

Hi ArkA,

Could I ask how old you were when this happened and which country it was, please ?

Kind regards,

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Re: Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby Mr Man » Mon May 19, 2014 6:46 am

I'm interested why such levitation would be seen as inspiring?

It's also interesting that from the bhikku's perspective there was no levitation.
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Re: Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby Crazy cloud » Mon May 19, 2014 7:32 am

Mr Man wrote:I'm interested why such levitation would be seen as inspiring?



To me it is inspiring because one self's strange experiences isn't so strange anyway, but one doesn't speak about them to "normal people", until one meets somebody who really understands what's actually going on - not that I claim attainments, but more like: I'm not so weird after all, there are a few more of us out there .. :tongue: And I do like these mystic stories, it breaks up the boredom of minding the breath, and adds som nice colors to ones inner dhamma landscapes

remeber one of my first sit downs, and I had that strong sensations of hanging upside down in the air - had to leave the stillness a couple of times, just to check it out, "no still sitting in my chair ..," because i thought to my self: If I'm really hanging upside down, and my hearing is gone, and somebody comes on a visit and sees me, he surely would think that "this is more than strange ... " :popcorn: But, no i didn't levitate, but sure it was fun just "sitting" there, felt like a big silly 200 pound yogi bear .. :bow:
Image


btw: thanks for sharing,"ArkA
your name Mori means forest like the infinite fresh green distances of your blindness
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Re: Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby dennis » Mon May 26, 2014 5:27 pm

Hi,
The doubts that exist in my mind are held in abeyance by the knowledge humankind is only an infant race in the vastness of the universe and greater and subtler forms of matter and energy will no doubt be discovered.

But better said:
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Hamlet Act 1, scene 5, 159-167
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Re: Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon May 26, 2014 7:39 pm

Crazy cloud wrote:But, no i didn't levitate, but sure it was fun just "sitting" there, felt like a big silly 200 pound yogi bear

Presumably, you were just practising bare awareness?
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Re: Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby Derek » Mon May 26, 2014 8:08 pm

That is indeed a beautiful story, ArkA. Ajahn Sao also used to levitate, and you can read about it on page 16 of the Biography of Ajahn Mun.
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Re: Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby pilgrim » Tue May 27, 2014 2:27 am

I've heard of many instances where meditators, while not actually levitating, would jump a few centimetres off the floor when experiencing strong piti ( rapture). If I remember correctly, Goenka also mentions such an incident in one of his 10 day lectures. Perhaps levitation is the result of sustained and controlled piti? Even Christian mystics seem capable of this feat.
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Re: Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby SarathW » Tue May 27, 2014 2:37 am

When the meditator, during neighbourhood cultivation stage, begins to visualize the acquired sign,
he may be filled with “flooding zest” (okkantikā piti) that descend upon him like tossing sea-waves. This
feeling may then intensify into the “uplifting zest” (ubbegā pīti), so called because it can literally lift one
off the ground momentarily.
At its peak of meditation ecstasy, he is utterly drenched in “pervading zest”
or “suffusing zest” (pharaa pīti). Then he sees the counterpart sign and attains the full concentration of
dhyana. The relationship of the meditation sign and the kinds of zest is summarized here:


http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-con ... a-piya.pdf
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Re: Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby Crazy cloud » Tue May 27, 2014 6:03 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Crazy cloud wrote:But, no i didn't levitate, but sure it was fun just "sitting" there, felt like a big silly 200 pound yogi bear

Presumably, you were just practising bare awareness?


basic anapana sati

:)
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Re: Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby Viscid » Tue May 27, 2014 7:16 pm

Okay, let's imagine it's actually possible to levitate while meditating.
Then, some questions:

Are the levitators negating gravity? If so, why do they remain on the same spot, and only hover a few feet in the air at most? Why don't they go shooting off into the mesosphere? How come we haven't heard of levitation-related injuries and death?

Are the levitators producing a downward thrust? If so, why do people in proximity to the levitator not feel a downdraft (the movement of air) as one would feel standing next to a launching rocket or hovercraft?

Why does pīti make a body levitate? What about the body is being altered by the experience of pīti to induce levitation?

If you sat a meditator on a scale, would their weight diminish as the intensity of their pīti increased? Would it be possible to demonstrate that, at a certain intensity, a meditator weighed less than he did prior to meditating?

pilgrim wrote:I've heard of many instances where meditators, while not actually levitating, would jump a few centimetres off the floor when experiencing strong piti ( rapture). If I remember correctly, Goenka also mentions such an incident in one of his 10 day lectures.

I imagine that that Goenka student was a prior practitioner of Transcendental Meditation:
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby daverupa » Tue May 27, 2014 8:03 pm

You didn't ask

Are the levitators in a meditation that's stimulating their angular gyrus?

Because it's possible they always were/are/will be, when reporting levitation, passing through walls, and other magical motions.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby Sokehi » Tue May 27, 2014 9:26 pm

That youtube video shows people jumping in a lotus position with the obvious use of muscles and swing of the arms. I don't see any flying there :thinking: :alien:
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Re: Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby Mkoll » Tue May 27, 2014 10:28 pm

Sokehi wrote:That youtube video shows people jumping in a lotus position with the obvious use of muscles and swing of the arms. I don't see any flying there :thinking: :alien:


I'd like to see them do that on concrete rather than springy mattresses. :tongue:
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Re: Levitation and a Simple Bhikkhu

Postby SarathW » Tue May 27, 2014 11:21 pm

daverupa wrote:You didn't ask

Are the levitators in a meditation that's stimulating their angular gyrus?

Because it's possible they always were/are/will be, when reporting levitation, passing through walls, and other magical motions.


I have experienced out of body in few occasion.
I consider it is as not more than a some mind altered situation.
It is some thing like you feel your car is moving, but in fact the car next to you is moving.
:shrug:
=============
Out-of-body experiences[edit]

Recent experiments have demonstrated the possibility that stimulation of the angular gyrus is the cause of out-of-body experiences.[19] Stimulation of the angular gyrus in one experiment caused a woman to perceive a phantom existence behind her.[20] Another such experiment gave the test subject the sensation of being on the ceiling. This is attributed to a discrepancy in the actual position of the body, and the mind's perceived location of the body.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angular_gyrus
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