“That is supernatural power.” Thich Nhat Hanh on eternalism, nihilism, rebirth, fear, and supernatural powers.

I love the way he smiles when he says, “Nothing is lost”, and the way he laughs when he says, “You become supernatural.”

You can find a more detailed explanation also by Thich Nhat Hanh here: The Buddhist Understanding of Reality, but personally I think this video, in just slightly over 4 minutes, really is one of the most precise, meticulous, and beautifully direct and unadorned presentations of the Dharma I have ever heard.

(Scroll down below the video for a transcript I made, which is actually a little bit better than the “closed captioning” provided for the youtube video. I think this was recorded in 2004, but I have not been able to reliably verify when and where it is from.)

There’s the view of eternalism. Eternalism. That means you have a soul that is eternal. And after you die, that soul remain intact and go to another body and continues like that. That is eternalism.

And then the other extreme is that after you die, well, there’s nothing left. Nihilism.

And nirvana is the extinction of these two views: Nihilism and Eternalism.

And even in the life of a person, in the lifetime of person, when you grow 10 year old you are no longer the same when you were 5. So you at 5 and you at 10 – you are neither same nor a different person. So the notion of same and different should be transcended also.

So if you don’t see that kind of light you don’t really understand rebirth in Buddhism. You may get caught in the view of eternalism, and you are not different from traditions who hold a view that there is a immortal soul.

In the light of the teaching, everything is impermanent. Nothing in the five skandhas can remain the same, exactly the same, in two consecutive moments.

But nothing is lost.

And creation in Buddhism means manifestation. And from nothing you cannot become something. So creation if looked deeply it is really a continuation of manifestation. If you don’t manifest in this way and then you manifest in that way like the cloud and the snow.

So if you get that, you are no longer afraid. And that is your supernatural power. Already if you have not fear and then you are quite different from other people, because they are subjected to fear. Fear of dying. Fear of being nothing.

But with not fear, you with that deep wisdom in you, you become supernatural [laughs]. You are no longer immortal, but you are [nothing?] you don’t need to be a God because a God is supposed not to be a human being.

So to say that the Buddha has supernatural power, that is true also. But he does not need to be a God in order to have that. He need only to have freedom. Freedom from wrong views, and freedom from fear.

It’s like birth and death are like waves, and you are riding on the waves of birth and death, and you go without fear. It’s a wonderful, that is supernatural power.

And the Buddha did not encourage his disciples to perform miracles. He said the greatest miracle is the miracle of teaching and transforming people. And that is a miracle that he do every day.

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