The value of miracles

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David N. Snyder
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The value of miracles

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 23, 2009 5:20 pm

Once a monk approached the Buddha and stated that he had been meditating for over 30 years.

The Buddha asked, "what have you learned?"

The monk replied, "I have mastered the jhanas and now I can walk on water." The monk proceeded to walk on water across a lake and then back.

The Buddha said, "Is there a boat that can take you across?" The monk said, "yes." The Buddha asked, "what is the cost to take the boat to the other side." "One-and-a-half cents" replied the monk.

The Buddha replied, "Then the value of your miracles is one-and-a-half cents."

The Buddha continued, "you could have taken a boat across for one-and-a-half cents to the other side and spent your time developing vipassana [insight] instead; and by now you would have been enlightened."


(not sure of the exact reference, I heard it in a Dhamma talk by Ven. Muruthamure Paññaloka, Los Angeles, 2009)

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Re: The value of miracles

Postby cooran » Wed Sep 23, 2009 6:59 pm

Hello TheDhamma, all,

From Thanissaro's website - "This discourse explores the role of miracles and conversations with heavenly beings as a possible basis for faith and belief. The Buddha does not deny the reality of such experiences, but he points out that — of all possible miracles — the only reliable one is the miracle of instruction in the proper training of the mind. As for heavenly beings, they are subject to greed, anger, and delusion, and so the information they give — especially with regard to the miracle of instruction — is not necessarily trustworthy. Thus the only valid basis for faith is the instruction that, when followed, brings about the end of one's own mental defilements.


DN 11 Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta: To Kevatta
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Nalanda in Pavarika's mango grove. Then Kevatta the householder approached the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "Lord, this Nalanda is powerful, both prosperous and populous, filled with people who have faith in the Blessed One. It would be good if the Blessed One were to direct a monk to display a miracle of psychic power from his superior human state so that Nalanda would to an even greater extent have faith in the Blessed One."
When this was said, the Blessed One said to Kevatta the householder, "Kevatta, I don't teach the monks in this way: 'Come, monks, display a miracle of psychic power to the lay people clad in white.'"
A second time... A third time, Kevatta the householder said to the Blessed One: "I won't argue with the Blessed One, but I tell you: Lord, this Nalanda is powerful, both prosperous and populous, filled with people who have faith in the Blessed One. It would be good if the Blessed One were to direct a monk to display a miracle of psychic power from his superior human state so that Nalanda would to an even greater extent have faith in the Blessed One."
A third time, the Blessed One said to Kevatta the householder, "Kevatta, I don't teach the monks in this way: 'Come, monks, display a miracle of psychic power to the lay people clad in white.'
"Kevatta, there are these three miracles that I have declared, having directly known and realized them for myself. Which three? The miracle of psychic power, the miracle of telepathy, and the miracle of instruction."
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http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

The tale that concludes the discourse is one of the finest examples of the early Buddhist sense of humor.

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: The value of miracles

Postby genkaku » Wed Sep 23, 2009 7:13 pm

From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

Miracle
From O.Fr. miracle, from L. miraculum "object of wonder" (in Church L., "marvelous event caused by God"), from mirari "to wonder at," from mirus "wonderful," from *smeiros, from PIE *(s)mei- "to smile, be astonished" (cf. Skt. smerah "smiling," Gk. meidan "to smile," O.C.S. smejo "to laugh;" see smile). Replaced O.E. wundortacen, wundorweorc. The Gk. words rendered as miracle in the Eng. Bibles were semeion "sign," teras "wonder," and dynamis "power," in Vulgate translated respectively as signum, prodigium, and virtus. First record of miraculous is from 1502.


I like the "smile" and "laugh" references. Miracles get our attention and attention is good. But more important still is the one who offers that attention or laugh or smile.

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Re: The value of miracles

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Sep 23, 2009 7:31 pm

genkaku wrote:From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

Miracle
From O.Fr. miracle, from L. miraculum "object of wonder" (in Church L., "marvelous event caused by God"), from mirari "to wonder at," from mirus "wonderful," from *smeiros, from PIE *(s)mei- "to smile, be astonished" (cf. Skt. smerah "smiling," Gk. meidan "to smile," O.C.S. smejo "to laugh;" see smile). Replaced O.E. wundortacen, wundorweorc. The Gk. words rendered as miracle in the Eng. Bibles were semeion "sign," teras "wonder," and dynamis "power," in Vulgate translated respectively as signum, prodigium, and virtus. First record of miraculous is from 1502.


I like the "smile" and "laugh" references. Miracles get our attention and attention is good. But more important still is the one who offers that attention or laugh or smile.


The value of miracles is of course a matter for debate. However the word translated as, "miracle" as used in the OP is probably " iddhi". Which does not derive from any european language, and has no similar meanings. In particular there is no suggestion of God as causal. Rather Iddhis , whether valuable or not, are the result of meditative discipline.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.


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