Buddhism has plenty of supernatural stories. From talking Buddha statues to clairvoyant practitioners; you name it and we have it. Some Buddhist masters are famous for their mystical abilities and devotees flock to them in search of an easy way out from challenges in life.
If we look at Buddhism from that angle, then it is easy to conclude that an enlightened person must have supernatural abilities. At least, we must have opened our third eye and be able to see spirits; No? The answer is NO! And I say so with confidence and conviction. Why?
Because the very answer can be found in Shakyamuni Buddha’s 2 chief disciples. Namely, Sariputra and Maudgalyayana. Both of them were enlightened and were entrusted to instruct unenlightened monks. Sariputra did not possess any psychic ability whilst Maugalyayana was famous for his psychic powess.
In one instance, Sariputra was meditating and an evil yaksha decided to “test” him by violent means. That Yaksha hit Sariputra’s head with a force that was equivalent to a nuclear explosion in our physical dimension. Since the Yasha is a spiritual being, the violence took place in the spiritual dimension. Although witnessed by clairvoyant monks such as Maudgalyayana; it was completely oblivious to Sariputra.
From Maudgalyayana’s perspective, that Yasha was as real as the Sun or the mountains. He went over to Sariputra to enquire if he was alright. Sariputra was non the wiser and simply complained that he felt a slight headache. (Note: Sariputra was enlightened and therefore did not suffer much from that Yaksha’s blow)
Some Buddhists are very keen about psychic powess and the supernatural. In their Buddhist practice, they yearn to aquire such abilities or at least encounter some supernatural events. They have this wrong expectation that becoming enlightened means acquiring pyschic powess. Yet, this interesting story of Sariputra and Maudgalyayana tells us otherwise.
Sariputra was like most of us “ordinary” folks. You can imagine the worried Maudgalyayana rushing over to check on Sariputra while Sariputra couldn’t relate with what Maudgalyayana had witnessed! However, that doesn’t make Sariputra less respectable or “useful” as an instructor.
Sariputra was declared the foremost in wisdom by Buddha.
This was because Sariputra could explain the Dharma in a very relatable manner, and by doing so, He helped many new monks attained the 1st stage of enlightenment. So what is enlightenment?
Enlightenment means seeing the Truth, and by seing that Truth, one is freed from sufferings. One’s mind is no longer troubled.
Do you have teachers who helped you see the Truth? Help you see how the craving and aversion in your mind is causing you anguish? Help you discover what is causing your anxiety? Help you understand and see the liberatingness of Sunyata? Such teachers can be like Sariputra. They do not talk about ghost and spirits. Nor do they discuss black magic or rituals. It is oblivious to them.
But more importantly, they show you how to live a happy life. They teach you a different perspective in life and you notice how sufferings are slowly losing their grip on your mind. That is the path of enlightenment.
May all be well and happy.