On one trip to a certain monastery, my friends and I were about to leave when one of my friends asked me if it were possible to get one of the abbot’s books on Buddhist meditation. She was interested in a specific book that he’d talked about the day before. I asked a member of the temple board, who was standing around. He told me to go over and ask the abbot himself, who was up on one of the monastery’s hills.
As we came up to the top of the hill, we saw the abbot walking down beneath a parasol. We stopped and without saying anything, put our hands together and bowed. He saw us, smiled and said, “Go look in the shed over there. If it’s not there, there might be a copy in the main shrine room.”
How did he know that we were looking for the book? We hadn’t told him what we were looking for! So naturally, we spent the rest of the day talking about his telepathic ability.
When I was younger, I was told that any monk who had a dedicated meditation practice could read minds. One monk even very bluntly told me so, although I’m not exactly sure if he were joking. (That story warrants a whole post on its own!) Another monk, who only spoke Thai and Pali, could understand your question no matter what language you asked it in. (His interpreter would have to translate the response back from Thai though.)
I’m a pretty skeptical individual when it comes to magical powers. My father was a professional magician, and I worked in the circus. I know what special effects look like. In general, we believe in magic because we want to believe in magic.
Part of the astonishment comes from our own youthful naivete. I remember when I was ten, I had an extraordinary secret crush… or at least I’d thought it was secret, because it wasn’t long before my grandmother asked me out of the blue, “So what’s her name?”
How could she have known? As a ten-year old, I had assumed that by not talking about my thoughts, no one could know what I was thinking. I wasn’t aware that I was walking around with lovesickness written all over my face. My grandmother was only too kind to let me know.
Perhaps it’s the case that the “telepathic” abbot was simply astute. Maybe the “observant” is the more appropriate word. It was obvious to him that my friends and I were looking for a particular book. I’d like to think that he was attuned to perhaps our behavior, and maybe also a number of other factors, that we ourselves were not aware of.
There’s a lot more I’d like to say about this, but I’m currently very crunched for time. Hopefully there’ll be some discussion in the comments. I’d hoped to at least write one post per week, but as it is, the expanded responsibilities of my new position entail a lot more work than I’d anticipated. (Isn’t it always the case?) And then I was struck down with another cold. Sniffle. I really have to thank kudos for continuing to post thought-provoking pieces on Dharma Folk (kudos to you! har har…), even though I don’t get the chance to check my Google Reader much any more. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to post again soon!