[ Sitting Practice ]
Iddhi — Magic Powers — Small Magic
Those of you interested in magic powers would do well to read the description of "working the milk in and in," in Warren, Buddhism in Translations. And a little ways down, the description of the Buddha locating his "spot." And then, just generally, the description of Gotama's breaking through, which may seem fanciful, but is something that will be experienced to a small degree at least (for some in exactly this sort of imagry, for others where this imagry will be similes for what happens), by everyone who takes this journey and is, for that reason, helpful. Notice especially the conversion of horrific images into pleasant ones by the shifting of the attention to some pleasant reflection — this is a tool you need to master. This is one of several similar descriptions of the way in which great power is placed into things.
Today one such potion that I know of in common circulation (and fast being corrupted because of it's popularity) is Balsamic vinegar. Today for the most part it amounts to just a blend of aged vinegars — if that, but the original concept was to take a season's premium vinegar and allow it to age for a year when it would have reduced to about half it's volume. Then the the missing half would be made up with premium vinegar from the current year, and so on for at least seven years, so the net result is no simple 'blend' but a complex blending of new vinegars with older blends that become the older blends into which new vinegars are blended finally topped off with the current season's variety. Those people who grew up in the area at the time will be able, using this blend, to 'see' (or remember, if you prefer) events from the past through the medium of taste (muta).
Other examples in the suttas include 1000-times refined oils — where first quality sesame oil is run through filters 1000 times (I tried this once, requesting a thousand squares of cloth from a clothing manufacturer who was a customer of mine; he gave me a thousand squares of black cloth which I began to use...only to find out, of course, that the oil I was producing was coming out black); and drink of 1000-fruits; and of course specialty rices.
Similar things are done with other types of blends of herbs (e.g. Don Juan's smoking mixture, 'the little smoke' which baffles the scientists because it "couldn't" work chemically); "binding" or "wrapping" such as is done with the tobacco pipe of the Native Americans, and to make "Voodoo" dolls. Add to this list: polishing or rubbing (a la Al-a-din's lamp a haha) and sweeping, not to mention repeating certain words and phrases as in mantas...(mantras).)
Certain cultures seem to have the "nack" for this. Japan has cattle raised on beer; soy sauce prepared in extra-ordinary ways; and the tea ceremony among many other ceremonies.
In Columbia there are a number of things which are produced with this kind of "attention" — very very scarce coffees of which only a few pounds at a time are available, and only among friends; and in my smoking days a type of Marihuana smoke that came to New York called "tabla" because of it's highly compressed state — from a certain province where all the plants were grown as a perennials and treated as "Family" plants — I hear their trunks would reach the size of a strong man's calf. The flowers would be crushed between rocks just before seed-set, and the result would be double flowers; harvesting began at the base of the tree where the potency is least strong and worked to the top where it was most potent; half the product was used and half stored in sheds for a kind of aging. As each batch of the harvest was gathered in, the unused half would be placed on top of the previous harvesting, and so on to the end of the season. Meanwhile the oils dripping down through the stack and the weight compressing the volume at the bottom. So the smoker's experience was to begin the season with a good powerful smoke and then with each shipment the power would increase until the top buds were smoked, then the shipments would start with the top of the stored harvest and work down, but by this time, the product at the bottom had become saturated with oils and compressed so as to be the most potent of all. Even the selling technique of this group was unique: in New York, one had to pay $50,000 (and this was in the 70s!) to join a distribution club which was allowed to buy two or three pounds of this "tabla" that season. (Don't ask me how to get this, I have no idea, I lost contact with Mr. Magoo decades ago).
Some here in California are getting into this to a small degree with their premium wines and olive oils and vinegars; but they are still at the beginning — what they are doing is working in a linear way: a good plant, a good harvest, aged for a good long time; they have not yet discovered "warp mode" — methods of taking it "round and round" to implant magic power through the concentration of the producer.
The clue? Care and attention to detail. Working and reworking until there is a point when there is a "shine" to what one is doing. This is the "after image" mentioned in the commentaries when discussing kasina's. In each case what has happened is that the preparing individual has broken down barriers separating "himself" and his ordinary world from the more fluid world disconnected from the five crude senses.
Here the ordinary sorcerer and the Buddhist samana take separate courses. The ordinary sorcerer uses the resulting state to work worldly gain; the Buddhist samana uses it to break down his blindness concerning what he had considered before to be his "real world."
Anyone reading this description of the Enlightenment who finds it fantastic that previous Buddhas should have come to the same spot (let alone in the same country, etc) should know that this is of exactly the same nature as the phenomena I am describing here: the phenomena being described by the Paticca Samuppada: over and over and over and over repeating the same circumstances. What happens is what has always happened. I have personally known more than one person who has described the phenomena of getting the first glimpse of past lives where what is seen is thousands upon thousands of repetitions of the same life spread out to the horizon on both sides something like an image being reflected back and forth in facing mirrors (the Buddha speaks of sitting at the cross-roads, seeing beings as they go back and forth across the road, entering one house and crossing over to enter a house across the road). It is only by doing what has not been done before than one breaks out of the pattern. And what has not been done before? Letting it all go; the not-doing of any of it.
On how to "Wish"
Two more from Warren, Buddhism in Translations relating to Magic Powers:
Sweep the Floor
And Clean Your Room
I've clean't my room
and swept the floor
Grant my wish
I had a magic broom one time. I was at that time in the habit of getting up at about 2:00 in the morning and going to the Greek breakfast joint on Eighth Avenue and 57th street. I was in need of a broom, and there, in my path, was a broom. I decided that if it was still there when I returned, I would take it. It was still there and I took it. It was a darn'd near wore out broom. Thick black handle and almost no straw left at the broom end. But I trimmed it up and rubbed the handle, rubbing and rubbing and rubbing and rubbing 'til it shone.
A few days later I was talking to Bobby, the owner of the Pembroke Deli on the corner of 55th and Eighth (tha bes cupa k-kha-f-fa inni ni-yo-kha, time was) when he mentioned the old Italian lady who used always to be seen sweeping the sidewalk up the block a ways, towards the Greek breakfast joint. She was almost unnoticable as she was always doing the same thing, sweeping and sweeping, stooped over her broom as if examining every bit of dirt she swept away.
"Yeah, couple nights ago she was sweeping the street and stuck her head out between two parked cars, and the garbage truck came by took her head right clean off."
One time to test that broom I went out into the dark of night and swept my block of 55th street til it shone so bright all the people woke up and began to go to work.
...unfortunately for me, the industriousness of the people thereafter was so great that they gentrified the neighbourhood and made it impossibly expensive ... too expensive for me, in any case, and I was forced to go into exile.
And here's one on seeing past lives:
And don't forget the Four Power Paths.