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Vol. XI of The Sacred Books of the East

the Wanderling

"If a Bhikkhu should desire, Brethren, to exercise one by one each of the different Siddhis: being one to become multiform, being multiform to become one; to become visible, or to become invisible; to go without being stopped to the further side of a wall, or a fence, or a mountain, as if through air; to penetrate up and down through solid ground, as if through water; to walk on the water without dividing it, as if on solid ground; to travel through the sky like the birds on wing; to touch and feel with the hand even the sun and the moon, mighty and powerful though they be; and to reach in the body even up to the heaven of Brahma; let him then fulfil all righteousness, let him be devoted to that quietude of heart which springs from within, let him not drive back the ecstasy of contemplation, let him look through things, let him be much alone!"

AKANKHEYYA SUTTA, Vol. XI of The Sacred Books of the East [14] (1)

Buddhism teaches that after a practitioner achieves a certain degree of realization, spiritual power develops. A person at the level of an Arhat is said to possess six supernatural powers. Even so, it is understood that it is through Enlightenment that supernatural powers are manifested, rather than that supernatural powers enhance Enlightenment. Furthermore, it is acknowledged as well that supernatural powers are not attainable exclusively JUST by Buddhists and Buddhists only. It is possible for anyone who has deep religious and spiritual cultivation to develop some kind of "super-normal powers."

Having overcome the Five Hindrances, attained the four mental absorptions and the power of manomaya, the Sramana now acquires iddhi. Iddhi, used in the original text in the opening paragraph cited above is of pre-Buddhistic origin, is synonymous with the later term used in Buddhism, Siddhis --- which is used here throughout in it's stead. In the Samannaphala Sutta, 26 (iii) Psychic Power [238], the exact same eight modes of Siddhis are mentioned as cited in the above Akankheyya Sutta. The two below, with click through links for further elaborations are of our interest here:

  1. The ability to become invisible (see),

  2. The power to travel in the sky (see),

Depending how they are counted or by who, there are six, eight, nine or more major and minor Siddhis. However, the Nine Main Siddhis and eight additional Siddhis acquired by the Hindu or Buddhist adept have, depending how they are implemented or used, striking similarities with the ability and Power of the Shaman. The coincidence of characteristics between these two religious practitioners has been studied by Mircea Eliade in his monograph, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstacy. In particular he points to the "identity in expression" between the superhuman experiences of the Buddhist yogin and the archaic symbolism of ascent and flight found so frequently in Shamanism. Symbols of ascent and flight are especially important since they illustrate the ecstatic experience at which Shamanism aims. The Shaman through this experience and the realm of his abilities of the Medium, obtains a superhuman state of being enhancing him with Powers of Flight. The magical aspect of this power is well illustrated by our particular text above, which specifically indicates that prior to the acquisition of Siddhis, the Samana has exercised the power of manomaya, the "magic" of his mind, in order to create "another body." It would appear that the Siddhis which follow are powers of that "other body" created as a result of passing through the Four Jhanas.

The possible Shamanistic and, hence, magically oriented origin of Siddhis is furthered by what appears to be a growing suspicion on the part of early Buddhism toward the public display of paranormal or superhuman psychic powers. In the Kevatta Sutta of the Diigha Nikaaya the Buddha is represented as warning against the use of magical wonders because they might be confused with the use of magical charms practiced in Gandhara. He is made to say, "It is because I perceive danger in the practice of mystic wonders, that I loath, and abhor, and am ashamed thereof." In the Vinaya Pitaka it is stated that a monk should not display psychic powers before the laity beyond the powers of ordinary men (see).

The Sampasaadaniiya Sutta of the Diigha Nikaaya makes it clear that there are indeed two types of Siddhis, one which is termed ignoble and the other noble. The ignoble are those powers discussed above in the Sama~n~naphala Sutta and elsewhere in the Nikaayas. In the Sampasaadaniiya Sutta the Siddhis are labeled ignoble since they are concomitant with mental intoxicants and worldly aims. In other words, it is possible to employ the fruits of the Jhana or the Siddhis in such a manner that the mundane world, rather than being transcended, becomes even more attractive and one's involvement within it is deepened even further. Siddhis produced through manomaya may become the occasion of a descent into the actual or phenomenal world rather than ascent into the real or noumenal.

It should also be noted, going in a similar or like direction, regarding potential outcomes of obtaining Siddhis through the use of drugs, in the opening quote of AUSHADHIS: Awakening and the Power of Siddhis Through Herbs the following is found:

In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Chapter IV, verse 1 it is stated that the supernormal perceptual powers of Siddhis CAN be reached through the use of certain herbs, replicating on the short term a mind-strength ability and potential execution of powers similar to or equal to that of a person versed in Siddhis garnered via the highest levels of Spiritual Attainment.


The AKANKHEYYA SUTTA referred to in the title of this page is but a chapter in the Sacred Books of the East. For a complete readable page-by-page PDF version of the original 1881 book the chapter is in, or if you just want to go the chapter itself in its original form (page 214, verse 14), please access the following link:


Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.






(please click)

As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.

The above with some editing researched in whole or in part from:

CONTROL AND FREEDOM: The structure of Buddhist Meditation in the Pali Suttas
By Donald K. Swearer
Philosophy East and West
Volume 23,no.4
(C) by the University Press of Hawaii


The Pali word Iddhi, is the synonym of the Sanskrit Siddhis, or psychic faculties, the super normal preceptual powers in man. There are two kinds of iddhis. One group which embraces the lower, coarse, psychic and mental energies; the other is one which exacts the highest training of Spiritual powers.

(1) AKANKHEYYA SUTTA, Vol. XI of The Sacred Books of the East


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