The Powers Models
On a related topic, awakened beings are often believed to have various kinds of magickal powers, typically extraordinary ones, and thus we have the powers models. The converse of this is the belief that people who have extraordinary powers might be, or must be, awakened. However, the relationship between the powers and fundamental insight is tenuous, though not nonexistent. Psychic powers come out of shamatha or concentration practices, particularly the fourth shamatha jhana, though they may arise as well in the stages of the Arising and Passing Away, High Equanimity, and sometimes in other stages and states. Some people just seem to have them regardless of their concentration or insight abilities. I have provided a more detailed discussion of the powers later, but if you are curious you could jump to Part Six now. It is strange to talk about the powers models when I haven’t even really talked about the powers yet, but this odd order of things is a cunning and calculated move to keep people reading who would long ago have gone into some internal emotional spasm due to the stuff that I cover in Part Six.
Note: nearly all the states and stages where the powers arise can be attained by beings who have not yet reached the first stage of awakening, and so we can see that there is no clear connection between most of the powers and awakening. The shortlist of powers that are the exclusive domain of the awakened are attaining to Fruitions, the pure abodes, nirodha samapatti, and being able to talk about the dharma from direct experience, along with a few other subtle odds and ends that perhaps I will cover some other time.
It is true that along the way to awakening it is hard to avoid chancing into all sorts of experiences that are described in the standard lists of the powers, and it is also much easier to develop the shamatha jhanas when you are in the Review phase of a path than it is if you are not awakened. However, developing seemingly random experiences into powers that can be attained again and again is a completely different matter and still unrelated to awakening except on this one front: there is something about the direct perception of the interconnection of things that does lend a certain umph to the utilization and development of powers. Further, some of the same mental skillsets that allow us to awaken also allow us to cultivate the powers more easily, should we be so inclined. Thus, we see some hint of why there are these models of awakening. However, as stated above, these are associations and nothing more. In summary, just because someone has powers doesn’t at all mean they are awakened, and just because someone is awakened doesn’t mean they will have any psychic powers that are not directly related to their clear perception of things. That is really the key point.