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Miracles Forbidden

Jotikkha, the son of Subhadda, was a householder living in
Rajagaha. Having received a precious bowl of sandalwood decorated
with jewels, he erected a long pole before his house and put the
bowl on its top with this legend: "Should a samana take this bowl
down without using a ladder or a stick with a hook, or without
climbing the pole, but by magic power, he shall receive as reward
whatever he desires."

And the people came to the Blessed One, full of wonder and their
mouths overflowing with praise, saying: "Great is the Tathagata.
His disciples perform miracles. Kassapa, the disciple of the
Buddha, saw the bowl on Jotikkha's pole, and, stretching out his
hand, he took it down, carrying it away in triumph to the

When the Blessed One heard what had happened, he went to Kassapa,
and, breaking the bowl to pieces, forbade his disciples to
perform miracles of any kind.

Soon after this it happened that in one of the rainy seasons many
bhikkhus were staying in the Vajji territory during a famine. And
one of the bhikkhus proposed to his brethren that they should
praise one another to the householders of the village, saying:
"This bhikkhu is a saint, he has seen celestial visions; and that
bhikkhu possesses supernatural gifts; he can work miracles." And
the villagers said: "It is lucky, very lucky for us, that such
saints are spending the rainy season with us." And they gave
willingly and abundantly, and the bhikkhus prospered and did not
surfer from the famine.

When the Blessed One heard it, he told Ananda to call the
bhikkhus together, and he asked them: "Tell me, O bhikkhus, when
does a bhikkhu cease to be a bhikkhu?"

And Sariputta replied:

"An ordained disciple must not commit any unchaste act. The
disciple who commits an unchaste act is no longer a disciple of
the Sakyamuni.

"Again, an ordained disciple must not take except what has been
given him. The disciple who takes, be it so little as a penny's
worth, is no longer a disciple of the Sakyamuni.

"And lastly, an ordained disciple must not knowingly and
malignantly deprive any harmless creature of life, not even an
earth-worm or an ant. The disciple who knowingly and malignantly
deprives any harmless creature of its life is no longer a
disciple of the Sakyamuni.

"These are the three great prohibitions."

And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus and said:

"There is another great prohibition which I declare to you:

"An ordained disciple must not boast of any superhuman
perfection. The disciple who with evil intent and from
covetousness boasts of a superhuman perfection, be it celestial
visions or miracles, is no longer a disciple of the Sakyamuni.

"I forbid you, O bhikkhus, to employ any spells or supplications,
for they are useless, since the law of karma governs all things.
He who attempts to perform miracles has not understood the
doctrine of the Tathagata."

Next: The Vanity Of Worldliness

Previous: The Goal

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