4th wheel, 4th wheel buddhism, absorption, articles on ecstatic meditation, bliss, catutthayana, di.t.thadhammasukhavihaaraa, ecstatic buddhism, ecstasy, ecstatic, ecstatic case histories, ecstatic contemplative, ecstatic meditation, ecstatic poetry, field meditation, fragrance of enlightenment, fruits of the contemplative life, fourth wheel, great western vehicle, gwv, gwv pali dictionary project, jeff brooks, jeffrey s. brooks, jhana, jhana archive, jhana resource guide, jhana support group, jhanananda, jhanananda's journal, jhananda, jhana-nimitta, joy, joy of meditation, joyful home of the way, jsg, kriya, kriyas, kundalini, kundaliniheat, language of ecstasy, language of gnosis, mahaparacakkayana, mahasatipatthana, maha-satipatthana, manomaya, meet the needs of the people, meditation, meditation case histories, meditation induced neurosis, meditation induced physical ailment, meditation induced psychosis, meditation induced tinnitus, meditative absorption, meditation teacher, mind-made body, mystic, mysticism, nikayan buddhism, nimitta, oob, oobe, ordination program, out-of-body experience, pali, pali & buddhist studies, pali canon, pali dictionary project, pali language resource guide, past life, past lifetimes, patanjali, peer-level support, personal case histories, personal case histories with meditative absorption, phala, phala nikaya, phenomena of absorption, piiti, pleasure not of the senses, psychology of buddhism, psychology of ecstasy, psychology of kundalini, psychology of yoga, recognizing the absorption states, e'letter, remaining conscious during sleep, retreat, retreats, right livelihood, right meditation, saint vitus' dance, samadhi, sama-samadhi, satipatthana, shaman, shamanic, shamanism, solo wilderness retreat, sotapanna, southwest insight e'letter, spiritual awakening, spontaneous movement, stone worn to sand, stream winner, succor, sukha, three year retreat, tinnitus, tipitaka, translator bias, understanding meditation states, understanding meditative absorption, unifying theory of gnosis, western buddhism, western buddhist teachers, western vehicle, wholesome states, wilderness, wilderness retreat, yoga psychology, yoga sutras of patanjali, advaita, advaita vedanta, anagami, anapanasati, arahant, arahanta, arahat, astral projection, aura, bodhichitta, boundless states, brahma viharas, buddha, buddhism, buddhism as a religion, buddhist, buddhist criticism, buddhist philosophy, buddhist psychology, buddhist tradition, burying the shaman, chakra, characteristic manifestations of absorption, characteristics of absorption, charism, charisma, charismatic, charismatic movement, charismatic buddhism, christian contemplative, christian meditation, christian mystic, christian mysticism, clairaudience, clairvoyance, compassion, concentration, contemplation, contemplative, contemplative arts, contemplative poetry, cultivating wholesome states, dark night of the soul, dependent origination, descent into hell, dhamma, dhamma teacher, dharma, dhyana, discourses of the buddha, divine abodes, divine ear, dzikr, dzogchen, ecumenical, ecumenical buddhism, eighth fold path, engaged, enlightened, enlightenment, enlightenment in this lifetime, equanimity, ethics, ethics in buddhism, fana, former lives, forms of buddhism, four noble truths, gnosis, gnostic, hollow reed, houses of god, insight, kabbalah, karuna, kasina, kayagata-sati, loving kindness, lucid, lucid dreaming, mahamudra, meditation object, meditative, metta, mind of buddha, monastic, mudita, nama-rupa, nibbana, nirvana, non-returner, once returner, psycho-soma, rapture, reincarnation, revelation, rigpa, sakadagami, salmon-boy, sanskrit, sanskrit & vedic studies, seven factors of enlightenment, shunyata, siddhartha gotama, siddhi, signless, signlessness, sufi, sufism, supernatural powers, supranormal powers, sutra, sutra pitaka, sutta, sutta pitaka, sympathetic joy, trance, tranquility, tripitaka, tucson dharma news, two-worlds, upekkha, vedanta, vertigo, vipassana, yoga, yoga sutras,

[Great Western Vehicle] [Events] [Supporting the GWV]

[Pali & Buddhist Studies] [Tipitaka Index]  [Buddhist Timeline] [Pali-English Dictionary] [Glossary Key] [Sanskrit & Vedic Studies] [Ecstatic Meditation Archive]

The Mystification of Gnosis

Jeffrey S. Brooks
the Great Western Vehicle
PO Box 41795
Tucson, AZ 85717

Arapaho National Forest, 06-17-06

This essay is in response to an enquiry regarding the necessity that all enlightened ones must manifest miracles: For the entire period of my contemplative life I have read the writing of the mystics wherever I could find it.  I read many of the Christian mystics, the Kabbalist mystics, the Sufi mystics, the Hindu mystics, the Buddhist mystics, the Taoist mystics and the Shamanistic mystics.  This enquiry is in part how I acquired a degree in Anthropology.  In this enquiry I found that not all of the saints of a given religion, such as Catholicism or Hinduism, reflected the same level of enlightenment, and yet to become recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church a saint must have miracles attributed to him or her.  This is a question that is worth reflecting upon which I have done for these three decades, and I have found the fantastic stories rarely reveal enlightenment but most probably priestly manipulation. 

In my enquiry I found the writing of only a small percentage of the mystics of any given religion reflected an enlightened mind.  And in that enquiry I found there was little correlation between the fantastic stories plus the number of devotees a particular mystic had, and the level of authenticity and enlightenment reflected in their writing.  And, I also found there was an exceptional level of correlation in the record of the writing between those mystics that I felt were authentically enlightened verses those who I felt were not. I also found that the more fantastic the story was, the less it correlated with the body of enlightened literature. For instance Castañeda's writing is mostly super-hero fiction and happens to have a low correlation to the record of the writing of the enlightened mystics. Thus I learned to completely disregarded the fantastic stories and the level of devotion that is associated with a mystic and to just pay attention to their enlightened message and their personal descriptions of their experience of enlightenment.

In my reading I found the writings of these following mystics revealed a remarkable correlation: Sidharta Gotama; Christian contemplatives, such as Saints Francis of Assisi, Bernard of Clairvaux, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross; Sufi mystics al-Hallaj, Rumi and Kabir; Kabbalists Isaac Luria and the Ba'al Shem Tov of Turin; and Hindu mystics, such as Shankara, Sri Ramakrishna and Ramana Maharshi. As an Anthropologist, I have also studied a wide range of shamanic traditions from Aborigine to Zuni and again found if I avoided the fantastic stories, as well as the minutia of the cultural differences, and simply focused on the subjective experience of the shaman, then I found a remarkable correlation between the record of the shaman and the record of the mystics.

When I examined the body of literature of the mystics who I thought were the most enlightened and compared it to my subjective experiences in meditation and the non-material domain that I experience when the body sleeps, I then found a remarkable correlation.  I have thus been able to determine the authenticity of many mystic's writing in this way, as well as confirmation for my won subjective experiences and attainments.

In the writing of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross there is little of the fantastic and a great deal of correlation with the writing of the body of the mystics that I have found are authentic. In the early literature of Buddhism there is again few fantastic stories in the Discourses of the Buddha, while revealing a high degree of correlation with the body of enlightened mystics and my own record.  In fact in the few suttas where there is a high degree of the fantastic I have found there is typically a proportionately low correlation with the rest of the Buddha's Discourses, as well as with the body of mystics and my personal subjective experiences.  Thus I use the low degree of the fantastic in a body of writing to also determine the authenticity of a particular body of writing.  Thus what drew me to the Discourses of the Buddha (sutta pitaka) was the relatively low degree of fantastic stories.

As a western contemplative 33 years ago, I was forced to leave Christianity and the other western religions because I simply could not find a living western contemplative tradition. Instead I found nothing but fantastic stories. After 33 years as a contemplative within various Asian contemplative traditions I have been forced to accept that there may not be a living contemplative tradition in Asia that understands the very purpose of the practice of meditation, because they too tend to focus upon the fantastic and only offer ritualized devotion, while completely disregarding the actual experience of gnosis.

The purpose of the practice of meditation is to produce the direct subjective experience of the sacred not to levitate or turn into a rainbow.  The ancient, and now dead western contemplative traditions called the direct experience of the sacred "gnosis."  In Asia the term is generally "samadhi."  And, samadhi, was defined by both Siddhartha Gotama and Patanjali, as the very goal of their philosophical and contemplative methodologies, which was the eighth fold of the Buddha's Nobel Eightfold Path, and the eighth limb of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.

We know that the Asian contemplative traditions are dead when their teachers are unable to recognize, validate, respect, or honor samadhi, or gnosis, in their followers, and instead offer us fantastic stories of Marvel Comic Book-like Superheroes.  We know these traditions are unable to recognize samadhi because so many contemplatives who have arrived at samadhi have found that their Asian, or Asian trained western, meditation teachers were unable to recognize, validate, respect, or honor their experience of samadhi.  Thus this is the most significant piece of evidence that we have of the moribund contemplative traditions of the West and the East.

Further evidence of the death of contemplative traditions, such as Buddhism, is found in how Buddhist priests and teachers traditionally conflate the practice (magga) of meditation with its attainments (phala).  When the Sanskrit term "samadhi" is consistently translated into English as "concentration" then we have good evidence of the death of the Asian contemplative traditions, because concentration is the cognitive practice that leads to meditative absorption, however, they are not the same thing. 

Meditative absorption is consistently defined by the authentic enlightened ones in terms of: bliss (piiti), joy (sukha) and ecstasy (jhana).  When did anyone experience bliss, joy and ecstasy when one last concentrated on one's driving?  Would anyone even want to be in a car that is driven by someone who experiences raptures while concentrating on his or her driving? No, of course not.

Further appropriation, subversion, obfuscation and mystification of the mystic's path by the stoic and pretentious clergy of Asian religions is evidenced by conflating the practice of mindfulness (sati) with the attainment of insight (vipassana), as it is typically expressed in Theravadan Buddhism.  Insight is a subjective experience of an intuitive understanding of the path and philosophy of enlightenment and into oneself. It is not an intellectual or cognitive process of reflecting upon abstract concepts like suffering (dukkha), impermanence (anicca) and non-dualism, or no-self (anatta).

From personal experience I have found insight arises due to meditative absorption (jhana/samadhi). It is not just the cognitive process of mindfulness (sati). Mindfulness (sati) is the cognitive act of directing our attention to a meditation object, and when that attention wavers we bring our attention back to the meditation object.  This is the very definition of the practice of concentration, not insight (vipassana), and not meditative absorption (samadhi).

Additionally, when we examine the Buddha's discourses we do not find him articulating a two-path model, such as insight (vipassana) and tranquility (shamata), as is often suggested by the orthodoxy of Theravadan Buddhism and their commentaries.  I can only suggest that since the mainstream meditation teachers of Buddhism are unable to recognize, validate, respect, or honor samadhi, or gnosis, in their followers; and they have consistently conflated meditative absorption (jhana/samadhi) with the practice of concentration; and conflated insight with the practice of mindfulness (sati), then we simply must ask whether the three vehicles of Buddhism are as moribund as it seems the rest of the religions of the world are today.

Thus, friends, it is not that I have clarity where the mystics did not have it.  I have the attainments (phala) of insight (vipassana) and absorption (samadhi) and I recognize, validate, respect, and honor the attainment of samadhi, or gnosis, in others; whereas the priesthood only offers invalidation, marginalization and demonizing of those with gnosis (samadhi) and they appropriate, subvert, obfuscate and mystify the practices and attainments of their progenitors in the form of Marvel Comic Book-like Superhero fantastic stories, and offer only ritualized devotional practices as something that only the dull and stupid like us mere mortals can understand.

Regarding the cultivation of occult powers, Siddhartha Gotama and Patanjali recognized a suit of phenomena that arose naturally as a consequence of leading a contemplative life.  They both called these attainments "phala."  It seems significant that they did not leave in their record a description of practices that led to specific occult powers.  This "oversight" should lead us to accept that according to Siddhartha Gotama and Patanjali, the successful leading of a contemplative life leads to various occult powers as natural self-arising "Fruits" (phala) of the contemplative life.  If this is true then we should see contemplatives arriving at the psychic powers spontaneously from leading a contemplative life.  The case histories of the GWV support this premise. In fact in support of this premise this contemplative arrived at all 11 of the "Fruits" of the contemplative life as described by both Siddhartha Gotama and Patanjali simply by leading a contemplative life and not through any specific methodology to cultivate them.   Yes, but, he cannot even levitate a fully inflated balloon.  Shouldn't we be asking why their is a difference between what the progenitors taught and what the priesthood teaches?

The "Fruits" of the contemplative life that Siddhartha Gotama and Patanjali spoke of are not what is described by the priesthood in their Marvel Comic Book-like superhero fiction. Siddhartha Gotama and Patanjali instead described Equanimity, Fearlessness, Freedom from suffering, Meditative Absorption, Out-of-Body travel, Clairaudience, Mental telepathy, Recollection of past lives, Clairvoyance, ending of the mental agitation, and Knowledge & vision. These are all subjective abilities that are commonly reported to one degree or another by many, many contemplatives that I have personally met. While these abilities might be phenomenal accomplishments, they are hardly the stuff of the nonsense fiction that the priesthood wants us to naively believe in.  They are not turning the body into a rainbow, they are not parting the seas, nor walking on water, or raising the dead or flying bodily through the air. 

11 "fruits" (phala) of the contemplative life, or types of higher wisdom, "knowledges"






nibbhaya; abhiiruka; nissaarajja; abhiita


Freedom from unhappiness and suffering

Asukhacaadukkha Beyond Pain and Discomfort






Manomaya "Mind-made body."



dibba-sota Divine hearing


Mental telepathy

ceto-pariya-ñána "Knows the minds of others" or parassa ceto-pariya-ñána: 'penetrates the mind of others'


Recollection of past lives

s. Patisandhi, paticcasamuppada) pubbenivásánussati: 'remembrance of former births', is one of the higher powers (abhiññá, q.v.), and a factor of threefold knowledge (tevijja, q.v.).


Clairvoyance, Divine seeing

dibba-cakkhu "sees beings passing away & re-appearing" (cutœpapáta-ñána)


Ends anxiety

The ending of the mental agitation (effluents)


Knowledge & vision

nanadassana (knowledge (nana) and vision (dassana))

Further some claim that sorcerers can develop the occult powers through methods similar to the contemplative, but how can they, if those "powers" are cultivated by leading a contemplative life?  And, further, if one who leads a contemplative life becomes selfish and harmful, as a sorcerer would be who wishes to harm people through the use of psychic powers, then how can we presume that someone who fails at the contemplative life could acquire power?  And, further how can we assume that sorcerers can develop more powers than enlightened beings, such as Siddhartha Gotama and Patanjali? 

It is nonsense to believe that sorcery even exists, because it cannot stand up to simple logic that one who leads a contemplative life, which is founded upon avoiding harm, can then become harmful.  If such a person did, they would have failed at the contemplative life.  And, besides where are these powerful sorcerers?  Castañeda was supposed to be a power sorcerer, except he died of cancer.  If he was so powerful, why did he not heal himself?  Because, friends, he could not.

The consequence in believing that a sorcerer can have psychic powers is the hysteria of witch burnings that gripped the European peoples from roughly 1400 to 1700.  Believe me friends I have met people who believed they were "powerful" sorcerers and I found these people to be weak and ineffective, and only neurotic and narcissistic enough to believe that their foolish incantations could really cause harm.  These people could not even produce so much as a headache in me when they attempted to attack me with their fictional "powers."

There is a yogi in India who is said to have psychic powers, Sai Baba.  Most of his tricks are nothing more than parlor magic, such as manifesting ashes (verbuti) from his apparently empty hands.  But he is widely reported to be a child molester.  How can a contemplative who has succeeded at the contemplative life, as evidenced by attaining the "Fruits" of the contemplative life, be a child molester?  It is impossible, because a contemplative is harmless and child molesting harms children. Thus, Sai Baba, if he molests children, is only a stage magician masquerading as a saint.

Part of the source of believing that enlightened beings have fantastic psychic powers comes from a belief in a creator god.  The reasoning is, if a mystic has become one with the creator god, then he must therefore have the creator god's powers.  However, a belief in a creator god is not a universal belief.  It is predominantly of Abrahamic origin.  And, science has proven the Earth has been here for billions of years, while humans have been here for only 100,000 years, and not 5,000 years as the Bible claims.  Therefore we can certainly conclude that the "Heavens and the Earth" were most certainly not created just for the neurotic humans to lord over them wiping out whole species and turning the planet into a vast toxic waste dump.

If we look at the lives of the mystics we find some of them are said to have manifested Marvel Comic Book Superhero-like abilities. However, Jesus was crucified. Well, if he was a Marvel Comic Book Superhero, he would not have allowed his life to be so short.  In fact we find many of the mystics lived short lives and often died of diseases.  If they had powers they certainly did not use those powers to further their teaching.

I believe the evidence is overwhelming to show, yes, there are some powers that are acquired by mystics, but those powers are purely subjective (see above).  They do not involve manipulating the physical universe but function in extending one's awareness beyond the confines and limitations of the human body and its sensory array.  The evidence further proves that the fantastic stories are nothing but fiction, most probably invented by the priesthood who we know have appropriated, subverted, obfuscated, and mystified the teachings of every mystic who came to earth from the very beginning of each religion.  They continue to support these ridiculous Marvel Comic Book Superhero stories for job security and nothing more.  Thus friends if we want enlightenment in this very lifetime, then we simply must exercise some simple logic and critical thinking to learn to discriminate between fact and fiction.

MAHå-PARINIBBåNA-SUTTANTA (DN 16)aparihániya-dhamma: 'conditions of welfare'
The growth of the bhikkhus is to be expected, not their decline, bhikkhus, so long as they cultivate the seven factors of enlightenment, that is: mindfulness (sati), investigation into the way (dhamma-vicaya), energy (viriya), bliss (piiti), tranquility (passaddhi), meditative absorption (samadhi), and equanimity (upekkha). So long, bhikkhus, as these seven conditions leading to welfare endure among the bhikkhus, and the bhikkhus are known for it, their growth is to be expected, not their decline

May you dwell forever in the joyful home of the way (Di.t.thadhammasukhavihaaraa)

Jeffrey S. Brooks (Jhanananda)

the Great Western Vehicle


The Great Western Vehicle Archive of Gnosis, Jhana, Samadhi, Kundalini, Ecstatic Meditation (Jhana/Samadhi) and Ecstatic Buddhism

What is Ecstatic Buddhism? (September 19, 2004)

What is Jhana? Jhana as defined in the Buddha's Discourses (October 13, 2005)

The characteristic manifestations of absorption, Jhana-Nimitta (October 1, 2004)

The Fruits (Phala) of the Contemplative Life (September 13, 2004)

The Language of Gnosis (October 15, 04)

A Proposed Unified Theory for the Experience of Gnosis

A Chart of the various stages of absorption, Samadhi Chart

The Experience of Meditation (July 23, 2004)

The GWV master directory of translations of the TIPITAKA, The Earliest Buddhist Canon of Literature

Jhanasamyutta, SN 34

(Bodhi, Bhikkhu trans., Samyutta Nikaya Wisdom, 2000)

Anapanasati Sutta (MN 118) Mindfulness of the breath

Kayagata-sati Sutta, MN 119 Mindfulness of the Body

Satipatthana Sutta (MN 10) the Four Paths of Mindfulness

Maha-satipatthana Sutta (DN 22.21)

Samaññaphala Sutta (DN 2) "The Discourse on the Fruits of the Contemplative Life"

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Translation by Jhanananda

Teresa of Avila, the "Interior Castle,"

Dark Night of the Soul, by St. John of the Cross (1542-1591) translated by E. Allison Peers, Image Books, Garden City, New York, 3rd addition, 1959

Considering the Siddhis, Occult, or Magic Powers of the Mystics

How to determine an authentic enlightened teacher

[Great Western Vehicle] [Events] [Supporting the GWV]

[Pali & Buddhist Studies] [Tipitaka Index]  [Buddhist Timeline] [Pali-English Dictionary] [Glossary Key] [Sanskrit & Vedic Studies] [Ecstatic Meditation Archive]