Originally Published on: Aug 16, 2009 @ 14:06. I have done a little editing since then.

The Buddhist Commentaries divide the rules of causality into five categories.  One these is the Citta Niyama; the laws or regulations governing the sentient mind and behavior.  It corresponds to the modern science of Psychology.  Paranormal powers would fall into the sub-category  of Parapsychology. My attitude toward the paranormal is that something is happening here, but we do not know what it is. Some of it is probably just stage magic or hallucinations.

I think that, from time to time, seemingly inexplicable events happen to most people; even the relatively skeptical like me. In my own experience, these are hard to pin down. I suspect it must be that way for others too, even for those who believe in the supernatural. Otherwise, it seems like we would have solid proof already. From what I gather, Buddhist texts, from both the Pali Canon and Mahayana, describe five supernormal / transcendental powers quite matter-of-factly. These include teleportation, clairaudience, telepathy, past life remembrance, and remote viewing, I have provided a brief summary below. Other than telepathically communicating with my dog, the closest things to supernatural experiences I have had are kind of vague precognitive, creepy deja vu, and / or peculiar synchronicity events.  None of these are even explicitly listed among the five.

Lately, these usually happen while I am watching television. It feels like I have seen the episode before, even though it is first run. Every now and then, I know what will happen next, moments before it does. When I was young adult, I had several very strange experiences. I recall one of these rather vaguely and three others fairly clearly; though the precise details are fading, The first one had to have been more than thirty years ago. I attended a meeting on Farwell Street in Chicago. I recall that Mr. Sasaki {then Mr. Warren}, Kenji Hasegawa, and the late Kevn Kondo were all there. When we arrived, I was certain the street sign read Fairwell; when I went out for a smoke it was Farwell — as it should have been, and when we left it was Farewell. It kind of reminded me of the Magic Theater.

The next three were all lottery ticket experiences; with a Fantasy Island flavor. The first of these was probably 1983 or so. At the time, I was working at a US Military Base, assigned to Building 306. While on the way home from work, I stopped to pick something up at the store. Someone I knew, a kind of strange character, was at the counter, buying lottery tickets. An inner voice told me to buy a pick three ticket and play the building number. So I played 306. The next day, I had to stop by building 300. While there, I ran into an acquaintance, who just happened to drop in. He was upset; because a pick three number, one he had played everyday, for quite a while, had come up in the previous night’s drawing. As luck would have it, he had not played. His number was, of course, the number of the building in which we were standing, 300.

The next one was maybe a year later. This time, I had taken my daughter and another SGI Young Women’s Division member to the store. I ran into the same strange character, who was again, buying his lottery tickets. This time, the inner voice gave me one clue; birthday. So I played 929. since I was born September 29. AS it turned out, the  winning number was 513. That is my daughter’s birthday, and also the birthday of the other YWD who was with us. I had even thought about that; but egotist that I was,  I played my own and lost.

The last one was probably a couple years later. By then, I was eking out a meager living selling insurance. I had to attend a seminar in Ottawa, Illinois. I had only a dollar to my name, and my credit card was maxed out. The gas tank was low, plus I had no food or cigarettes. After a morning training session, I headed out to do some field work, cold calling on leads. For some reason, I kept seeing signs that either had the word Lucky or Strike. Then I passed a service station that advertised Lucky Strike cigarettes — buy one, and get two free.  I turned around and went back.

The place was also a lottery agent. So, I decided Lucky Strike must be an omen, and spent my last dollar to buy an instant scratch off ticket. I won five dollers. The voice showed up, and told me to roll it. So I bought 5 more. After a few more roll overs, I had ten bucks. The voice said to roll it again. So I bought ten more and had several winners, totaling something like seventy dollars or so. It was enough to fill my tank and load up on Luck Strikes; with enough left to eat, albeit cheaply, the rest of the week. I also made some nice sales that week, and earned a decent payday. One bad thing happened though.  On the last day, I got nailed with a speeding ticket, a rarity for me. I can no longer recall the amount of the fine, except that it was the exact amount I had won playing lottery tickets.

I would add that, as a child, I also had some unusual experiences.  My recollection of these is very foggy at best.  For one, I had dreams about previous lives and future events. I can not remember any of those at all now. I also thought I saw ghosts a few times. There were a few other experiences as well. At any rate, my Father said I had an overactive imagination. While not satisfied with that explanation,  I eventually accepted it.


Buddhist texts describe five kinds of super normal powers. The Sanskrit term is panchabhijna, the Pali is pancabhinna.  The Chinese translation {with the sino-japanese reading} is 五神通 {gojinju}. It is also transliterated as 般遮旬 {hanshajun}. Pancha simply means five.  Jna is probably from the same linguistic root as the Greek gno; it means ‘to know.’ Abhi is one of those ancient words that is hard to translate. It is is generally taken to mean something like “higher” or transcendent.  The literally meaning might be ‘just now’, or ‘right now.’ As a prefix,  abhi- is taken to mean ‘to, towards, into, higher, about, new.’

The kanji for abhi is 神通 {jinju} and literally means something like ‘divine connection.’ An alternative rendering, 神變 {jinpen} indicates a divine transformation. Yet another is 通力 {tsuriki}, meaning divine power. Note that 神 {jin} is also the name of the Japanese divinities, the kun reading is kami. In these cases 神 {jin} implies divine in the sense of the supernatural or magic; as in divination. 般遮旬 {hanshajun} is the phonetic rendering; the transliteration, so the kanji means nothing.

The Five Supernatural Powers are:

  1. The Power of Transformation or Raddi-saksatkriya 神通 {jinjun }; 神足通 {jin-soku-ju}; 神如意通 {jinnyo ishu}. The Pali term is Iddhividha. This means the power to go anywhere and do anything. It includes the ability to shape shift, to emit emanations of oneself, to become invisible, to pass through walls, to swim in the ground, to walk on water, levitation, telekinesis,  and teleportation of either the body or astral  projection.  The Eight Iddhis are physical powers.
  2. Clairaudience or Divya Shrota 天耳通 {tenni tsu}. The Pali term is Dibbasota. Divine hearing; the ability to hear any sound anywhere.
  3. Telepathy or Paracitta Jnana 他心通 {tashin zu}. The Pali term is Cetopariyanana. Para is sort of the same as the English prefix of Greek origin; it means beyond or transcendental. Citta refers to mind, but not necessarily the brain and organic consciousness; it includes one’s spirituality, mind, heart, or figurative soul. Jnana consists of jna; to know, plus na; a suffix that is the gerundive -ing and similar to -tion. -ment, or -ness;  indicating an action or process, or the result of a process. Jnana literally means subjective  knowing  or knowledge.  So Paracitta Jnana is a higher knowledge of the mind,  and also knowing how to ‘read’ the minds of others.
  4. Past Lives Remembrance or Purvanivasanusmrti Jnana 宿命通 {shuku myoju}. The Pali term is Pubbenisasanusasati. The ability to remember the past lives of oneself and others.
  5. Clairvoyance / Remote Viewing or Divya Caksus 天眼通 {tengen tsu} or 天眼智證通. The Pali term is Dibbachaksu. Divine vision, the Third Eye, an ability to remote view things not immediately present.

The Five Powers are considered mere mundane achievements. These can be attained by non-Buddhist mystics such as yogins, wizards, and so on. iirc, the Buddha said they should only be showed to assist people in overcoming their mental afflictions,; such as grred, hatred, and nescience.  Other than that, pursuit of these powers can distract one from the purpose of the Dharma to attain Nirvana; the Unbinding from Samasara, Vimukti or Spiritual Emancipation,  and Vishuddhi or Spiritual Purification. The Vinaya forbids monks from performing miracles to impress people. A monk that would take the Amazing Randi up  on his offer would be in violation of the Vinaya. This also forms the basis for the proper use of samaya and esoteric teachings.

By the way, I think some of the supernatural powers and miracles can be reasonably explained as psychological noumena. Telepathy could simply Photobucketbe the ability to read body language. I mentioned communicating with my dog. Most people who have had dogs become aware of how they primarily communicate with body language; body postures, paw gestures, and facial expressions. They also respond to our body language; they are quite adept at reading emotions from our facial expressions and general mien. When my dog wants to go out, she will generally get my attention with a nudge or a bark; and then look at the picture window. If I look at the window, then look at her and nod; she goes to the door. As an aside, if I ask her, “where is _______ {an absent family member}, she looks at the picture window and motions with her head. I have also tried sending her mental pictures, and she occasionally seems to respond.

Note: A little over a month after I first posted this, the dog passed away.  See:

Sylvia 10/14/1995 – 9/20/2009

Touching another base, some explanations of clairvoyance / remote viewing refer to seeing forms within the rupadhatu, or fine material realm. This can be understood as what one experiences in Meditative Absorption or Rupajhana; which is repeatable. Meditative absorptions might also explain some of the others, like a feeling of traveling is the astral realm. However, things like walking on water, levitation, or shape shifting are hard to dismiss as merely psychological in nature. So body language or non-verbal cues along with purely psychological experiences can explain part of it; and are repeatable. However, some of the powers described in the Buddhist texts not only defy natural law; there is no solid proof they are even real.

There is also a sixth Abhinna / Abhijna;  Freedom from Asravas or Asravaksaya jnana  {pali – Asavakkhaya-nana} 漏盡, 漏盡智, 漏盡通, 無漏智{}. Asrava is a difficult concept. Translations include outflow, influx. intoxicant, effluent, fermentation, pollutant, leak, canker, taint, and discharge. Whereas the Five Supernormal Powers can be attained by various means, the sixth is only attained by Awakened Beings. The Pali term is Asavakayanana; and is a power achieved by arahants.