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.
"Bhikkhus, there are these three things that shine when exposed, not when concealed. What three? (1) The moon. (2) The sun. (3) The Dhamma and discipline proclaimed by the Tathagata."
- Anguttara Nikaya, 3.131, Paticchanna Sutta
"Silence is the language of God; all else is poor translation."