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Aloka
23 Jun 16, 12:58
"Levitation in Early Buddhist Discourse" - a paper by Bhikkhu Analayo:

https://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg.de/pdf/5-personen/analayo/levitation.pdf


Please only comment if you have read all of the article.


:hands:

daverupa
23 Jun 16, 20:09
Levitation, and psychic powers generally. Magick and divine prayer-powers. Shamanistic powers and spirit powers. Auras and energy channels and out-of-body adventures. Towering stories of humans with superhuman abilities... these things are all of a kind, aren't they: human myth.

http://blog.oup.com/2012/08/how-and-why-do-myths-arise/


Myth is studied by other disciplines, above all by sociology, anthropology, psychology, politics, philosophy, literature, and religious studies. Each discipline applies itself to myth. For example, sociologists see myth as something belonging to a group.

Within each discipline are theories. A discipline can harbor only a few theories or scores of them. What makes theories theories is that they are generalizations. They presume to know the answers to one or more of the three main questions about myth: the origin, the function, or the subject matter.

So then, what is the origin of these levitation stories (and the Twin Miracle and telepathy and all the rest of this sort of thing)? What is their function? What are these stories really about?

Their origin seems clear: the religious milieux of ancient India, samanas in particular but brahmins as well, especially later on, and others too. These Dravidians(-&-Aryans) made quite a heady stew in Northern Iron Age India, and the source of these myths lies in that context.

But why tell these stories at all? Many explanations can be offered here, but the one that irritates me the most is the one that suggests these are simply historical narratives, akin to a newspaper article or something.

Those favoring this sort of explanation want to say that levitation actually, physically happened (and can still happen!), as though this was witnessed first-hand by many people in the past because it was a relatively common & unsurprising thing, and it's some other reason that this isn't common today - lack of morals, or something like that.

But psychic phenomena & related claims are wholly ridiculous beliefs for people with access to modern education, it seems to me. Superstitions are ludicrous and should be rooted out; horoscopes and tarot cards are foolish, vapid games; etc.

Therefore, I see the function of these levitation et al stories differently than as literal observations; they explain the whole world & an individual's place in it, back when such things could only be speculative. The use of these myths, their flowering into various cultural shapes & details... it's very simple to see all this as a product of human development, and this is also the most likely explanation for these things.

But, I've seen many people get upset at such claims. One person recently got upset at me because I said horoscopes were pointless and without any actual use. I've never been able to understand that kind of ignorance.

So, what are these myths really about? It seems to me that they are about letting people have cohesive explanations about the whole of their lives/world in order to remove the towering existential fear that would otherwise, on average, take up that psychological space.

---

Americans, for example: half of them think climate change has no human component. 4 in 10 think God created humans ~10,000 years ago.

These myths are still going strong; so what about levitation and telepathy? Why the hell not? Humans are stupid.

/shrug ...and they make for bad company, most of the time.

Aloka
23 Jun 16, 23:12
- And now for a 5 minute video of "Yogic Flying". ;)



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHwhGUo90jw

McKmike
27 Jun 16, 10:17
Thanks for the video Aloka, I found it quite astonishing, although not inspirational for me

I am reading Stephen Batchelor's latest book After Buddhism, at the moment, he says that whilst the historical Buddha's teaching was to the point and extremely practical, even during his lifetime there was a move toward a metaphysical element of teaching.

He says that by looking at what is different from the prevailing beliefs of his time, the early Buddhist message can be found.

I agree with Daverupa "Their origin seems clear: the religious milieux of ancient India, samanas in particular but brahmins as well, especially later on, and others too. These Dravidians(-&-Aryans) made quite a heady stew in Northern Iron Age India, and the source of these myths lies in that context."

So does Batchelor

I am curious though, the people in the TM group were being sincere I think, they are displaying a wish/ hope/ need for some out of this world magic, is it important to Buddhists of today ?

Aloka
27 Jun 16, 10:24
Thanks for the video Aloka, I found it quite astonishing, although not inspirational for me

It wasn't inspirational for me either, Mike. I put it there because I thought the "yogic flying"on mattresses was hilarious! The TM Sidhi people aren't anything to do with Buddhism.

Neyya
29 Jun 16, 13:39
I liked the mattres bouncing. What works for one, may not work for others. Similar to a "runner's high"?