How can we not take unconventional positions? It seems to me when the Buddha described iddhi, he was talking in a realm science would call the power of suggestion. For example, the Samaññaphala Sutta mentions the "mind-made body" and what it can do, i.e., touch the sun. So, the Buddha is not talking about his physical body. He is talking about his mind. Thus, the laws of physics do not apply here. The question is whether it is possible to have a direct perception in this way? By way of evidence, all we have today are the anecdotal reports from those who have died on the operating table to be revived, and they have reported memories of sensory experiences that should not have been possible given they were clinically dead. We can't just reject this, the jury is still out. I personally had an out of body experience. I understand out one can have a body one place and a mental-body somewhere else, and that body can fly into the universe. Though that universe may be only in my mind, somehow it turns out to have all the right contents of the universe, as if they were identical (mental and physical), indistinguishable, where valid knowledge could be had.
This experience led me to delve deeply into accounts of iddhi, or siddhis in the Hindu and Buddhist world. What I have surmised for myself is that we are dealing with the power of suggestion. Actually, this turns out to be profound, as the mind can basically do perfect simulations and in certain settings those holographic representations can be perceived by others. One telling account that always haunts me is the story of a Tibetan woman from the 11th Century named Achi Chokyi Drolma. She was believed to be the incarnation of the Vajrayana deity called Vajradakini. In Tibetan history there are many such believed incarnations. When Achi was ready to exit life on Earth, she gathered her disciples in a cave where she had placed a human corpse. Then she "transformed" the corpse into a sumptuous feast and most of her disciples ate wonderful Tibetan delicacies and even more other wordly delicacies from the dakini's realm. That was, of course, the case only for those who had "pure view" and faith in Achi as an incarnation of Vajradakini. A few other of her disciples only saw these folks eating the flesh of a human corpse, and, disgusted, left. The others, who stayed and enjoyed then witnessed Achi get on her horse and fly into the sky. By all accounts, Achi was gone, and her body was never seen again, except by those who could see her as a pure manifestation of wisdom who could call on her in ecstatic visions.
I believe this story accounts for two critical issues in dhamma. 1) How iddhi really work. and 2) Our existential dilemma regarding them. It is clear from this account, and there any many many others like it, that iddhi are brought on by the power of suggestion, and that power is quite powerful. And how we view the world, what lens we decide to use, will alter our experience; our experience is all we have to call an existence, it seems. In the Pali resources, the Buddha mentions that some of his disciples wouldn't see any special qualities like light, etc. The counter to this are the suttas where Buddha displayed miracle powers to even non-believers, but I believe the power of suggestion extends to many other phenomena, i.e., when the Buddha halted the elephant with loving-kindness. Modern research has identified "mirror-neurons" that mirror states of others. It would seem some have a power to suggest so strong, that if you are in their presence, you may not be able to avoid the suggestion. Or it may be that our brains are built this way, so that when one person has a transcendent mind, we will reflect that to some extent.
Incidentally, I feel this fact resolves the so called "hinayana-mahayana" debate. Liberating oneself is the act of liberating all sentient beings. The Dzogchen tantras bear this out. Iddhi are for those who are okay with "nonordinary" experiences. I feel that while developing these iddhi may not be useful for our own liberation, letting go of ordinary thought patterns and allowing ourselves to experience iddhi in others, may be useful in our own liberation. Being open minded.
For me, the boundaries between traditions are porous. That might be bothersome to some. I will try to speak Latin in Rome. For me, this is about a Buddha "mandala" or lens. To see through this different lens, rather than trying to filter Buddhism through the lens of modern science. Thank you for your time.