Monday, July 18, 2005

The Power of Prophecy

Why are those with meditative powers able to know the causes of events big and small, as well as predict the future? The scriptures say:

" Sentient beings are afraid of the fruits, whereas the Bodhisattvas are afraid of the seeds (of karma) themselves."

These seeds of karma, cause and effect, are the wholesome and unwholesome thoughts that form in the Mind, borned out of fundamental ignorance (avijja). Man is born to think. He thinks this and that endlessly from birth until death. These thoughts that concoct endlessly are called fluctuating ignorance. Those who practice the Dhamma are careful to watch over the mind, preventing unwholesome thoughts from being nurtured. Because one unwholesome thought leads to another, spreading quickly and eventually enveloping the Mind. When the Mind is totally seized by unwholesome thought, it would compel a person to speak unwholesome speech and do unwholesome deeds, resulting in woeful karmic results. This is true for one single person as well as many people. The Bodhisattva could perceive the negative thoughts that form in the Mind of one person, or similar thoughts in a majority of people. Through Panna (intrinsic wisdom), he is able to see what corresponding chain of events these thoughts set forth, and the chain reactions as a result. That is how the Bodhisattva is able to see the future of one person, one country or even the whole world. Inversely, when he sees the woeful fruits that sentient beings suffer, he is also able to perceive through Panna the original thoughts that lead to such a state.

Han Fei Zi, the Legalist philoshopher of the Warring States period , wrote in his book:

"In the past, when Ji Zi, the minister of King Zhou (the last ruler of the Yin Dynasty), saw him using ivory chopsticks, he immediately became very afraid. A retainer asked him why. Ji Zi explained that if the King start using ivory chopsticks, he would not be satisfied with clay plates and cups, but insist on plates and cups of jade. When he start to use jade utensils, he would not be satified with meals of vegetables and rice, but insist on being served meat from cows, elephants and even leopards. When he start to eat such exotic meats, he would not be satisfied with simple robes of cotton and hemp, but insist on robes of silk and satin. Wearing silk and satin robes, he would not be satisfied with eating in a straw hut but insist on eating in a dining room of a high pavillion. If things come to such a stage, then their country is in great danger. True enough, the Yin Dynasty was overthrown 5 years after Ji Zi said those words. That is why those who can read minute signs are considered wise."

Even past sages of the worldy truth have such powers of prophecy, how much more so for the enlightened ones, who sees the absolute truth?

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