The Cultivation Stage of Inedia, or Not Eating, and Multi-Year Samadhi
Recently I spoke about incorruptibility of the body after death, a phenomenon noted of cultivators in countless religions. This includes Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism and Christianity ... yes, Christianity. I am sure there are even Islamic saints who have exhibited physical incorruption after death but such accounts would not be readily available to those who only speak English, and thus I don't have any that I can remember. The point is, it's non-denominational phenomenon. if you cultivate WELL then you can achieve it. The same goes for relics, or sariras. If you clean out your chi channels you can do this. If you clean them out, you can even reach a stage where you survive on air (and your hormones) alone.
Now comes the case of the boy in Nepal who meditates every day in a tree trunk and never seems to eat or drink. He also does not seem to move at all. People ask me constantly, "Is this real? Is this possible? Is there trickery going on?"
As to inedia -- the ability to survive for days if not weeks or months with no or very little food or water due to spiritual efforts (cultivation of meditation), it is well recognized that many Christian saints, including female saints, exhibited it. The Eastern religions recognize its existence as well.
Swami Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi mentions that the Catholic nun Therese Neumann exhibited inedia from her spiritual cultivation. It has been witnessed in many Indian adepts as well, such as Pawahari Baba, Giri Bala, and Devaraha Baba. In Christianity we also have St. Lidwina of Schiedam who ate nothing for 28 years, Venerable Domenica dal Paradiso for 20 years, Blessed Nicholas Von Flue for 19 years, Louise Lateau for 12 years. The list goes on.
Is the boy exhibiting inedia? I'm not there and investigators aren't given access to him at night to know for sure. Why would I care anyway -- to me the only important thing is my own cultivation efforts and progress.
There are indeed samadhi states wherein one stays within samadhi for days, weeks or even years without food or water. I know of two very famous cases off the top of my head.
One case, which you can find in The Insider's Guide to the Best and Worst Spiritual Paths and Practices, was a Buddhist monk who was found inside a tree trunk 300 years after he entered this type of samadhi. Another case, reported by Xuan Zang in his travels to India, occurred when he was crossing a mountain and saw a patch of land without snow. Digging down, he found a huge body and realized it was a cultivator in samadhi. The records don't indicate how he aroused the giant, but when he did, he somehow was able to communicate with him and found out he was a student of Dipankara Buddha (the one before Shakyamuni) and was waiting for Shakyamuni. Xuan Zang told him that he missed Shakyamuni, so the man said he was going to enter into samadhi and wait for the next Buddh'as coming ... that of Maitreya.
"Hold on," said Xuan Zang. "What if you miss Maitreya as well because you don't arise from your samadhi? I have a better way."
"What is it?" asked the cultivator.
Xuan Zang pointed him in the direction of China and described the palaces, and told him to be born in one of the palaces as the son of the king so that he could have all the things necessary to cultivate the dharma. "Okay" the man said, and he left his body and projected his spirit in that direction.
Years later when Xuan Zang returned to China, he asked the Emperor if a child had been born in the palace at the appropriate time. None of the King's wives nor concubines had given birth. Perplexed, Xuan Zang asked if any other officials had a son born, and after checking they discovered a general had born a tremendously talented son who was skillful in literature.
After some discussions with Xuan Zang, who insisted this must be the man who had tremendous cultivation abiltities. it was decided that the Emperor ask the young man to become a monk for him, which could hardly be refused. Otherwise, there was no way this talented individual would agree to become a monk. To refuse a request from the Emperor to become a monk on his behalf was a great affront, so the lad agreed to do so only under three conditions:
Now aside from the interesting story, which has lots of lessons (the roots of lust are not cut off even for one demonstrating such powerful samadhi), I want to point out how you awaken someone from samadhi. Never ever touch their body. It can hurt them, and is considered a trangression of discipline to touch, jostle someone in samadhi-dhyana. It's very dangerous to do so.
To awaken someone abiding in the first dhyana, you can do so by SOUND. You can strike a small gong, or chime next to their ear and they will awaken.
People in the second dhyana are easily startled by light.
As to the samadhi of infinite space, you can also bring someone out it by a loud noise .... by sound. For the samadhi of nothingness you must wait for the individual to come out themselves. In the cases cited, probably the people brought the monks out of their many year samadhi by sound.
Now back to the boy in nepal. Can you fast for a long period of time for spiritual practice? Yes....I have written of this in detail in Measuring Meditation, but a different phenomena is going on here. You can find an excerpt on fasting meditation practice here, which are the most advanced materials you will ever read on this topic. Measuring Meditation contains all sorts of gems like this too numerous to mention.
As to the state of this boy and whether it is genuine or trickery or half and half, I have no idea and no comment. But it gave me an excellent way to teach you about fasting meditation, about how to awaken people from samadhi, and two example sof multi-year samadhi that can last hundreds of years.
Are such things possible? Yes. But only for advanced cultivators at high stages of meditation. But like the case of Kuei Chi showed, this is not enlightenment but rather kung-fu (gong-fu) practice. It is not a way to gain liberation or free yourself from the passions. Nevertheless, the stage is quite commendable for anyone who has such progress to do it.
We could also go into the practice of eating air, or samadhi that lasts days without your leaving it, and so many other related phenomena. Cultivation has teachings on all sorts of phenomena like this. The point is to study and undertsand them, and then achieve something yourself.
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