Author Topic: Miracles  (Read 2092 times)

Offline KiwiNFLFan

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Miracles
« on: November 23, 2017, 02:14:35 am »
Coming from the Catholic religious tradition where reports of miracles are (relatively) common, I have some questions on the Buddhist view on miracles.

1. What is the traditional Buddhist view on miracles? Should we be skeptical of things that are supposedly unexplainable by science? Or can miracles happen?

2. Do you hear many reports of supernatural occurrences/miracles happening in Buddhist majority countries?

3. How do Buddhists view miracles from other religions, particularly the Christian traditions? I'm especially interested to hear your views on the Catholic phenomenon of "Eucharistic miracles" where the bread and wine used at the Mass supposedly either fully transform into flesh and blood or the consecrated bread starts to bleed.

Offline Chaz

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Re: Miracles
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2017, 05:09:52 am »
Coming from the Catholic religious tradition where reports of miracles are (relatively) common, I have some questions on the Buddhist view on miracles.

1. What is the traditional Buddhist view on miracles? Should we be skeptical of things that are supposedly unexplainable by science? Or can miracles happen?

2. Do you hear many reports of supernatural occurrences/miracles happening in Buddhist majority countries?

3. How do Buddhists view miracles from other religions, particularly the Christian traditions? I'm especially interested to hear your views on the Catholic phenomenon of "Eucharistic miracles" where the bread and wine used at the Mass supposedly either fully transform into flesh and blood or the consecrated bread starts to bleed.

Good questions.

Buddhism, as an institution, tends to be agnostic about what western, judeo/christians view as miracles.  Perhapds going so far as apathetic.  This is because miracles do not address suffering, it's cause, and cessation.

There are cases where events that might be seen as miraculous occured in proximity to the Buddha.  One such event occurred shortly after Siddartha became the Buddha.  The Mahabrahma god, Brahmā Sahampati, came to the Buddha and supplicated him to turn the Wheel of Dharma for the benefit of beings.  God appearing to humans is, in the west, generally associated with the miraculous.

There are other "miraculous" events.  One, the Tibetan saint, Milarepa, before his conversion, used magic to destroy a village and was able to move over long distances at very high speeds, using that same power.

While these events are recorded they aren't used to justify, or strengthen the Dharma.  Simply footnotes.

AS far as the Buddhist view on miracles recorded by other religions, while not denegrating them, the Buddha's teachings don't say much one way or the other.

THis should be distinguished as something different from what Buddhists have to say on the topic and I'm sure we'll be hearing from some of them.  Myself, I'm apathetic on the subject.

Offline KathyLauren

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Re: Miracles
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2017, 06:23:42 am »
As a scientist, I do not believe in the supernatural.  Events either happen or they don't.  If they happen, they are natural and there is (whether we discover it or not) an explanation.  If they don't happen, they don't happen.  I am perfectly open-minded about there being events for which we have no explanation.  But I would always add the word "yet".

As for specific events that certain people hold to be miraculous, I have no opinion.  I do not know if those events actually occurred, and the supporting evidence, if there was any, is often lost.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy

Offline Anemephistus

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Re: Miracles
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2017, 07:51:31 am »
I am very skeptical of reported miraculous events. Some people, who have said some of the wisest things, have also said some of the strangest things happened or are true. I wonder if these things were added later to give credence to teachings that they feared might not reach a superstitious audience without embellishment or if it was cultural. I however do not wish to disrespect them at all on this point and my wonder is somewhat idle on the subject because the core of the teachings are too valuable and illustrate a path which I am certain is true but which I am uncertain as to what insight it may give a being who follows it to it's end. 

Some sutra's are clear that there is a supernatural cosmology and that there are forces that are spiritual at work, some of which are said to have produced miracles. The Buddha had several powers ascribed to him other than being fully enlightened. The tale of  Angulimala the murderer says that the Buddha walked, and the murderer who could catch chariots (Angulimala) ran and ran after him and could see him but could not catch up to him because the Buddha was able to make it so, even though the Buddha simply walked.

The thing for me is this: It does not matter is it is true or not because the illustration of the supernatural power in the story is not the teaching of the story. The teaching is is always separate. There are sutta which state that there were Deva and Mara present in the number of those arrived to hear the words of the Buddha, but it was his words that mattered.

I am suspicious of things which cannot be measured or accounted for and will remain so because to not be would be to be without questioning them and they have not been present in any way I can detect with certainty. It however has little bearing on the validity of things which are obviously true about the path and so I too am indifferent as to the nature of miracles and other supernatural phenomenon. 

Offline Pixie

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Re: Miracles
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2017, 09:12:35 am »
As a scientist, I do not believe in the supernatural.  Events either happen or they don't.  If they happen, they are natural and there is (whether we discover it or not) an explanation.  If they don't happen, they don't happen.  I am perfectly open-minded about there being events for which we have no explanation.  But I would always add the word "yet".

As for specific events that certain people hold to be miraculous, I have no opinion.  I do not know if those events actually occurred, and the supporting evidence, if there was any, is often lost.



This is similar to my own viewpoint. 


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Offline Chaz

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Re: Miracles
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2017, 10:53:28 am »
As a scientist, I do not believe in the supernatural. 

Did you believe in the supernatural before you became a scientist?   

As a human being, what do you believe, or does science trump humanity in this case?

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Events either happen or they don't.

As a software engineer, I agree.  That is a straightfoward boolean proposition.

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If they happen, they are natural and there is (whether we discover it or not) an explanation. 

Your logic begins to unravel here.  What if something happens, but you can't explain it?  Is there a "maybe-it-happened-and-maybe-it-didn't state not considered in your earlier assertion?

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If they don't happen, they don't happen.

What determines what "happens"?  If you see, hear, touch or taste it enough?

Case in point:  As my mother-in-law aged, she enetered a state of what science called "delusion".  You could walk into her room and she would be sitting on the edge of the bed speaking in Finnish to an otherwise empty room.  When asked who she was speaking to, she would reply that her parents had come to visit and she was simply talking with them.  Ok, were her parents there, or not and based on what criteria?  You may not have seen, heard toched, to smelled them, but she sure did.  Is she wrong because there is no "explanation" apart from a clinical diagnosis of delusion, or did here parnts, in some form you and I cannot detect, actualy come for a visit?

Did it happen or didn't it, or is there some in-betwen state at play?


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I am perfectly open-minded about there being events for which we have no explanation.  But I would always add the word "yet".

But you said earlier you do not believe in the supernatural, right?

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As for specific events that certain people hold to be miraculous, I have no opinion. 

But it would seem that you do.

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I do not know if those events actually occurred, and the supporting evidence, if there was any, is often lost.

Yes and and this poses anther conundrum - Is a lack of evidence, evidence of anything?

Offline KathyLauren

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Re: Miracles
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2017, 02:16:51 pm »
Oh, puleese!

As a scientist, I do not believe in the supernatural. 

Did you believe in the supernatural before you became a scientist?   

As a human being, what do you believe, or does science trump humanity in this case?

I have always been a scientist.  I chose my career because I was a scientist, not the other way around.  As a human being who is a scientist, I do not believe in the supernatural.  Simple enough.

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What if something happens, but you can't explain it?

Already answered:
I am perfectly open-minded about there being events for which we have no explanation.

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What determines what "happens"?

Evidence.

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Case in point:  As my mother-in-law aged, she enetered a state of what science called "delusion".  You could walk into her room and she would be sitting on the edge of the bed speaking in Finnish to an otherwise empty room.  When asked who she was speaking to, she would reply that her parents had come to visit and she was simply talking with them.  Ok, were her parents there, or not and based on what criteria?  You may not have seen, heard toched, to smelled them, but she sure did.  Is she wrong because there is no "explanation" apart from a clinical diagnosis of delusion, or did here parnts, in some form you and I cannot detect, actualy come for a visit?

Did it happen or didn't it, or is there some in-betwen state at play?
I am content to take your word as evidence that it happened the way you described it.  Are you trying to ask in an oblique way whether I have an explanation?  I do not.  But as I said...

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I am perfectly open-minded about there being events for which we have no explanation.  But I would always add the word "yet".

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But you said earlier you do not believe in the supernatural, right?
That is correct.  By definition, nature is that which happens.  Belief in supernatural events implies some bizarre concept of stuff that really happens but doesn't actually happen, or something like that. 

If you mean stuff that happens for which we have no explanation, that is not "supernatural".  It is just stuff that happens for which we do not yet have an explanation.

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Is a lack of evidence, evidence of anything?
Lack of evidence is evidence of ther being insufficient evidence.

Don't read anything into my statements that is not there.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy

Offline ground

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Re: Miracles
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2017, 05:07:36 pm »
Coming from the Catholic religious tradition where reports of miracles are (relatively) common, I have some questions on the Buddhist view on miracles.

1. What is the traditional Buddhist view on miracles? Should we be skeptical of things that are supposedly unexplainable by science? Or can miracles happen?
There are no miracles in buddhism.

2. Do you hear many reports of supernatural occurrences/miracles happening in Buddhist majority countries?
Superstition is dominant in some regions of the world. But superstition hast nothing to do with buddhism.

3. How do Buddhists view miracles from other religions, particularly the Christian traditions? I'm especially interested to hear your views on the Catholic phenomenon of "Eucharistic miracles" where the bread and wine used at the Mass supposedly either fully transform into flesh and blood or the consecrated bread starts to bleed.
These are simply beliefs born from ignorance in buddhism.

Offline paracelsus

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Re: Miracles
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2018, 09:09:08 pm »
Buddhist literature has quite a few stories which if believed to be factual, would probably rate as miracles.
One such which indicates the Zen Buddhist attitude to miracles or super normal powers goes something like this:

An old monk and a younger one were travelling together, they reached a river and the older monk said, "Wait a moment, I'll see if the ferryman can take us across". The younger monk didn't wait a moment but proceeded to walk straight across the water without his robes getting in the least wet.

The older monk said, "If I'd known he was that sort of fellow I'd have broken his leg."

So miracles or not, I don't think they are highly regarded in the Buddhist world.

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Miracles
« Reply #9 on: Today at 04:34:07 am »
It often comes down to a question of authority. In many religions, authority comes from accepted miraculous activity. You don't have to do anything but believe in what is accepted and follow given rituals. Buddhism has sometimes bought into such strategies in the past, and Buddhists have often left monks to carry out practices on their behalf, but on the whole in the West contemporary Buddhism depends on people trying things out for themselves, developing meditation practice and following the path. Authority comes from doing it yourself. Much better, in my opinion, than the authority of miracles.
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