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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."