Those who have cultivated the right conditions, can achieve 'marvels'. In the 'Gradual Sayings' (Book of the Threes, Ch. VI, par. 60, III, Sangārava) we read about the greatest 'marvel'. The Budda asked the brāhmin Sangārava about the topic of conversation of the royal party, when they were together in the palace. The brāhmin Sangārava answered that they were talking about the fact that in former times the monks were fewer in number, but those possessed of supernormal powers were more numerous, and that now it was just the opposite. The Buddha said to him:
'Now as to that, brahmin, there are these three marvels.
The marvel of more-power,
the marvel of thought-reading,
the marvel of teaching.
And what, brāhmin, is the marvel of more-power?
In this case a certain one enjoys sorts of more-power in divers ways.
From being one he becomes many,
from being many he becomes one;
manifest or invisible he goes unhindered through a wall,
through a rampart, through a mountain, as if through the air;
he plunges into the earth and shoots up again as if in water;
he walks upon the water without parting it as if on solid ground;
he travels through the air sitting cross-legged, like a bird upon the wing;
even this moon and sun, though of such mighty power and majesty,--
he handles them and strokes them with his hand;
even as far as the Brahma world he has power with his body.
This, brahmin, is called 'the marvel of more-power.'
And what, brāhmin, is the marvel of thought-reading?
In this case a certain one can declare by means of a sign
'Thus is your mind. Such and such is your mind. Thus is your consciousness...'
And what, brāhmin, is the marvel of teaching?
In this case a certain one teaches thus:
'Reason thus, not thus. Apply your mind thus, not thus.
Abandon this state, acquire that state and abide therein.'
This, brāhmin, is called 'the marvel of teaching'.
So these are the three marvels.
Now of these three marvels,
which appeals to you as the more wonderful and excellent?'
'Of these marvels, master Gotama,
the marvel of more-power...seems to me to be of the nature of an illusion.
Then again as to the marvel of thought- reading... this also, master Gotama,
seems to me of the nature of an illusion.
But as to the marvel of teaching... of these three marvels
this one appeals to me as the more wonderful and excellent.'
Sangārava then asked the Buddha whether he possessed all three marvels
and the Buddha told him that he did. Sangārava also asked whether any other
monk possessed them and the Buddha answered:
'Yes, indeed, brāhmin.
The monks possessed of these three marvellous powers are not just one
or two or three, four, or five hundred, but much more than that in number.'
Sangārava then expressed his confidence in taking refuge in the Buddha,
the Dhamma and the Sangha, and he asked to be accepted as a lay-follower.
In the Buddha's time many monks had cultivated conditions for 'marvellous
powers'. The greatest 'marvel' of these, however, is the 'marvel of teaching'
since it can lead to the eradication of all defilements, to the end of all