Four bases of miraculous power
|Factors of Enlightenment|
The four bases of miraculous power (Skt. caturṛddhipāda; P. cattāro iddhipādā; T. rdzu 'phrul gyi rkang pa bzhi རྫུ་འཕྲུལ་གྱི་རྐང་པ་བཞི་; C. si shenzu 四神足) are the third set of factors in the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment. They are:
- chanda - intention
- virya - diligence
- citta (sems pa) - thought, attention
- mīmāṃsā (dpyod pa) - discernment, analysis
One Teacher, Many Traditions states:
- With the four supreme strivings, we make effort to reduce and eliminate afflictions and destructive actions, strengthen positive qualities, and refine serenity (samatha) and insight (vipassana). Now we practice meditative concentrations that give rise to supernormal powers. The four bases of supernormal power (iddhipāda, ṛddhipāda) are single-pointed concentrations of aspiration, effort, intention, and investigation. Through practicing them, practitioners develop special power to emanate and transform things. The objects emanated or transformed by supernormal powers—such as making one’s body very large, emanating several bodies, and transforming an ugly place into a beautiful one—are the objects of these four bases of supernormal power. With these powers, bodhisattvas may visit many buddha lands and accumulate vast merit by making offerings to a multitude of buddhas.
- The four establishments of mindfulness are the mental factors of wisdom and mindfulness, the four supreme strivings are types of effort, and the four bases of supernormal power are concentrations associated with the mental factors of aspiration and so forth. Aspiration, effort, intention, and investigation are the means to refine our concentration in order to develop powerful meditative abilities. Supernormal powers are gained through mental development, specifically deep concentration. Worldly supernormal powers include making manifestations of one’s body, flying in space, walking on water, passing through walls or mountains, and going under the earth. However, the highest supernormal power is unpolluted liberation of the mind, nibbāna.
- There are four means to accomplishment: the means to accomplishment consisting of (1) desire, (2) energy, (3) consciousness, (4) investigation.
- Four means to accomplishment (iddhipādā): The word iddhi here signifies all sublime and supramundane states to be accomplished by applying effort to the practice of the Buddha’s teaching. The principal methods of achieving these are called the means of accomplishment. These are identical with the four predominants (see §20). However, while those states become predominants (adhipati) on any occasion when they are instrumental in accomplishing a goal, they become iddhipādas only when they are applied to achieving the goal of the Buddha’s teaching. The expression iddhipāda extends to both mundane and supramundane states.
In the Sanskrit Mahayana tradition, these four factors are said to be practised at the greater level of the path of accumulation. They are called bases (literally 'legs') of miraculous powers because they provide the foundation for the subsequent attainment of the six super-knowledges (abhijñā) and so on.
The Garland of Radiant Light states:
- By cultivating [the four right exertions]...the mind will be able to remain in a state of one-pointed concentration and become extremely flexible. This allows one to accomplish the various types of super-knowledge (abhijñā), as well as every other goal. Meditative absorptions that possess this type of mental flexibility arise in dependence upon a specific cause, the eight applications that eliminate the five flaws.
The Khenjuk states:
- The four bases of miraculous power are:
- i) the base of intention,
- ii) the base of diligence,
- iii) the base of attention and
- iv) the base of discernment.
- The focus of these four is to achieve concentration (samadhi). Their identity is concentration.
- The concentration of intention means the devoted application of the intention to settle the mind on the focus and, based thereon, the mind becoming one-pointed.
- Diligence means the constant application of that and, based thereon, one-pointed mind is attained.
- Attention means that, based on having formerly grown accustomed, the mind actually remains one-pointed on the observed object.
- Discernment refers to the quality of discriminating knowledge that has accomplished concentration. Thus, it is to attain one-pointedness of mind through fully discerning phenomena according to the instructions taught earlier by others on how to accomplish concentration. In addition, during concentration it is the concurrent discriminating knowledge that eliminates the defects of concentration and understands how to correctly accomplish the qualities.
- Concentration means the attainment of one-pointed mind through practicing by means of these four causes. They are trained in further and further by means of the eight applications of abandoning.
- Their result is, through the power of concentration, to master the qualities one desires to realize.
The Sutra of the Ten Bhumis states:
- He cultivates the foundation for miraculous powers that is the samādhi of aspiration that possesses the mental activity of elimination based on detachment, based on absence of desire, based on cessation, and developed by renunciation.
- He cultivates the foundation for miraculous powers that is the samādhi of diligence that possesses the mental activity of elimination based on detachment, based on absence of desire, based on cessation, and developed by renunciation.
- He cultivates the foundation for miraculous powers that is the samādhi of motivation that possesses the mental activity of elimination based on detachment, based on absence of desire, based on cessation, and developed by renunciation.
- He cultivates the foundation for miraculous powers that is the samādhi of analysis that possesses the mental activity of elimination based on detachment, based on detachment, based on absence of desire, based on cessation, and developed by renunciation.
Ṛddhipāda (P. iddhipāda) is a compound term composed of:
- ṛddhi (P. iddhi) - "power," "potency," "supramundane states," etc.
- pāda - "base," "basis," "means," etc.
- four bases of miraculous power (Dharmachakra Translation Committee, Kunsang)
- four bases of supernormal power (One Teacher, Many Traditions)
- four bases of psychic powers (Buswell)
- four legs of miraculous action (Ranjung Yeshe wiki)
- four bases of success (Andy Rotman)
- four means to accomplishment (A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma)
- ṛddhi - psychic power
- ṛddhipāda - bases of psychic/miraculous power
- ṛddhividhābhijñā - supranormal psychic power
- Bhikkhu Bodhi, ed. (2000), A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma, Pariyatti Publishing
- Dharmachakra Translation Committee (2007), Middle Beyond Extremes: Maitreya's Madhyantavibhaga with Commentaries by Khenpo Shenga and Ju Mipham, Snow Lion Publications
- Mipham Rinpoche (2002), Gateway to Knowledge, vol. III, translated by Kunsang, Erik Pema, Rangjung Yeshe Publications
- Four_Legs_of_Miraculous_Action, Rangjung Yeshe Wiki