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 [Dhamma Talk]


SN 5.51.22

Ananda asks the Buddha if he is able to reach the Brahma realm in the physical body as well as in the mental body and is told that he is able to do so and explains how.

Read the Sutta

Recommended translation: The Glop of Iron, M. Olds translation.
Index of Available translations: [SN 5.51.22]



A very important sutta for clearing away the illusion one may have that magic powers are exclusive to the astral body. (Where it is very easy to convince one's self that one's day-dreams are great attainments.) In a verse from the brethren [#104] referenced in a footnote we also get a vivid description of 'sukha' the pleasure experienced by the meditator in a high state of samādhi:

Buoyant in sooth my body, every pulse
Throbbing in wondrous bliss and ecstasy.
Even as cotton-down blown on the breeze,
So floats and hovers this my body light.

The Buddha's description of his method of attaining the plasticity and lightness to rise up into the air is worth pondering:

"Yasmim samaye kāyam pi citte samādahati cittam pi ca kāye samādhati|| ||
Sukhasaññañ ca lahusaññaāā ca kāye okkamitvā viharati|| ||

Woodward: "At such a time as Tathāgata concentrates body in mind and concentrates mind in body, at such a time as he enters on and abides in the consciousness of bliss and bouyancy..."

Bhk. Bodhi: "When the Tathāgata immerses the body in the mind and the mind in the body, and when he dwells having entered upon a blissful perception and a boyant perception in regard to the body..."

Mine: "At such a time as the Tathāgata abides
with body aligned with heart,
and heart aligned with body,
and body is steeped in
perception of pleasure,
perception of lightness,

'Samādahati', samā = 'even', 'level' 'lay out'; Ādahati = 'lite', 'fire up'; (Woodward takes this to samādhi for his 'concentrates'; my 'align' tries to cover both possibilities.

Bhk. Bodhi believes this reading to be incorrect and reads: 'Samodahati', (PED: [saŋ+odahati] to put together, supply, apply) and explains: [which word is] "... strongly supported by the explanation: "(He) immerses the body in the mind: having taken the body, he mounts it on the mind; he makes it dependent on the mind; he sends it along the course of the mind. The mind is an exalted mind. Movement along the course of the mind is buoyant (quick). (He) immerses the mind in the body: having taken the mind, he mounts it on the body; he makes it dependent on the body; he sends it along the course of the body. The body is the coarse physical body. Movement along the course of the body is sluggish (slow)."

Ok, his translation may be strongly supported by the explanation, but what does the explanation explain? This is mumbo-jumbo as far as explanation goes. That is, what needs to be said could be said in much more clear terms and said in more clear terms it makes nonsense of the way it is said. Except for the added confusion 'immersion' leaves us precisely where we began: in a body immersed in and dependent on mind and a mind immersed in and dependent on a body. Maybe it's the translation.

This idea in other terms would be: Diminish the differentiation between the material and the mental working at it from both sides; a mind that sees the material body in the same terms as an imaginary body; a material body with the same properties of plasticity as an imaginary body. This is essentially the task required of every act of magic.
Finally, PED on 'Samādahati', = to put together' would be a synonym for 'Samodahati' anyway.

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