The attainment of nirvana and developing supernatural powers in BuddhismThe Pali Canon is greatly debated by historians and followers alike. Some believe it is the exactwords of Buddha from the fifth century B.C., transferred in the oral tradition for many centuriesand finally transcribed to written form. Others believe it has additions and deletions by followersof the first century B.C. when it was written. It contains three parts called pikitas, whichtranslates to the word, baskets. The collection is called tipitaka meaning three baskets.The three works include the Vinaya Pitaka, the Sutta Pitaka and the Abhidhamma Pitaka. TheVinaya Pitaka addresses the code of ethics for the nuns and monks of the Buddhist faith. It listsrules for them to follow that Buddha deemed necessary.The Sutta Pitaka has five sections called nikayas. This section is accepted by all factions of Buddhism as the authentic works of Buddha. These chapters are prose.The final category, the Abhidhamma Pitaka, this book focuses on the underlying principals fromthe other pitaka. It describes mind, matter, and their relationship.Some of the supernatural powers that Buddha describes for attainment are mind reading, theability to talk to the dead, see past lives, walk through solid objects such as walls, walk uponwater, teletransportation, traveling to various realms of existence and others. Moggallana(Maudgalyayana), one of Buddha’s disciples, had many of the powers and honed them far morethan any of the others. He was found stoned to death. When the citizens came to Buddha to ask why Moggallana did not stop them, since he had the supernatural power to do so, Buddha repliedthat Moggallana saw his previous life where he killed his parents and decided that this type of death was fitting. Supernatural powers do not protect you from your karma, they are onlyabilities picked up along the road to perfection.This ability to develop the powers while training the mind toward perfection is one of greatinterest to many. It shows that Buddha believed that these powers were quite normal for thedisciplined mind and available to all. Truly, taken with the information contained in otherreligions and traditions, this doesn’t vary from the belief of many ancient cultures. Thedifference is that Buddha, while describing the steps to take in the journey to Nirvana, alsoshows the pathway to attainment of these powers.The Abhidhamma Pitaka, describes the steps and shows how to successfully accomplish them.Buddha however, warns that the supernatural feats are not the end result. If the student is sincerein the attempt to become a better individual, he will not find them nearly as exciting once hisspirit is developed enough to attain the powers. By this time, the novelty is transcended and thepowers are used to help others. Much like the struggling entrepreneur attempting to make abusiness grow, the money along the way is a by product and not as important as the achievementof success.