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JOTIKKHA, the son of Subhadda, was a householder living in Rajagaha. Having received a precious bowl of sandalwood decorated with jewels, he erected a long pole before his house and put the bowl on its top with this legend: "Should a samana take this bowl down without using a ladder or a stick with a hook, or without climbing the pole, but by magic power, he shall receive as reward whatever he desires."

The people came to the Blessed One, full of wonder and their mouths overflowing with praise, saying: "Great is the Tathagata. His disciples perform miracles. Kassapa, the disciple of the Buddha, saw the bowl on Jotikkha's pole, and, stretching out his hand, he took it down, carrying it away in triumph to the vihara."

When the Blessed One heard what had happened, he went to Kassapa, and, breaking the bowl to pieces, forbade his disciples to perform miracles of any kind.

Soon after this it happened that in one of the rainy seasons many bhikkhus were staying in the Vajji territory during a famine. And one of the bhikkhus proposed to his brethren that they should praise one another to the householders of the village, saying: "This bhikkhu is a saint; he has seen celestial visions; and that bhikkhu possesses supernatural gifts; he can work miracles." And the villagers said: "It is lucky, very lucky for us, that such saints are spending the rainy season with us." And they gave willingly and abundantly, and the bhikkhus prospered and did not suffer from the famine.

When the Blessed One heard it, he told Ananda to call the bhikkhus together, and he asked them: "Tell me, O bhikkhus, when does a bhikkhu cease to be a bhikkhu?"

And Sariputta replied: "An ordained disciple must not commit any unchaste act. The disciple who commits an unchaste act is no longer a disciple of the Sakyamuni. Again, an ordained disciple must not take except what has been given him. disciple who takes, be it so little as a penny's worth, is no longer a disciple of the Sakyamuni. And lastly, an ordained disciple must not knowingly and malignantly deprive any harmless creature of life, not even an earthworm or an ant. The disciple who knowingly and malignantly deprives any harmless creature of its life is no longer a disciple of the Sakyamuni. These are the three great prohibitions."

And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus and said: "There is another great prohibition which I declare to you: An ordained disciple must not boast of any superhuman perfection. The disciple who with evil intent and from covetousness boasts of a superhuman perfection, be it celestial visions or miracles, is no longer a disciple of the Sakyamuni. I forbid you, O bhikkhus, to employ any spells or supplications, for they are useless, since the law of karma governs all things. He who attempts to perform miracles has not understood the doctrine of the Tathagata."

Next: The Vanity Of Worldliness