Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Aug 21, 2010 7:09 am

none of us really have any real idea of what the buddha was like, we have the sutta collections but we have no way of asking questions of the people who were there to remember those things questions to what exactly he was like, or what he could do etc. could he really lick his eye brows or what ever? i dont know, i dont care, thats not the important stuff, the teachings are, and faith in the dhamma is more important than faith in the descriptions of the buddha since it is when you see the dhamma that you see the buddha.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby Shonin » Sat Aug 21, 2010 8:05 am

Zom wrote:If you have much saddha, you will accept. If you have not much saddha, you will not accept. The main point in this "accepting" is that it lessens or even removes your hindrance called "sceptical doubts", and this allows you to progress further without this obstacle, with more aroused effort because of saddha. And later you can check that out for yourself by direct experience and direct knowledge - what exactly was right or wrong. But that will be later - at first you have to tread the path. And if you don't accept and hesitate about all these thing at the beginning of the path, that is a problem for your progress. You don't have personal direct knowledge about all these things - what you do is speculating and hesitating: "may be all this is wrong.. maybe Buddha was mistaken.. maybe all suttas were written later by hindu priests and no authentic Buddha words left" and so on.


From Wikipedia

Sumeru (Sanskrit) or Sineru (Pāli) is the name of the central world-mountain in Buddhist cosmology. Etymologically, the proper name of the mountain is Meru (Pāli Neru), to which is added the approbatory prefix su-, resulting in the meaning "excellent Meru" or "wonderful Meru".

The concept of Sumeru is closely related to the Hindu mythological concept of a central world mountain, called Meru, but differs from the Hindu concept in several particulars.

According to Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakośabhāṣyam, Sumeru is 80,000 yojanas tall. The exact measure of the yojana is uncertain, but some accounts put it at about 24,000 feet, or approximately 4-1/2 miles, but other accounts put it at about 7-9 miles. It also descends beneath the surface of the surrounding waters to a depth of 80,000 yojanas, being founded upon the basal layer of Earth. Sumeru is often used as a simile for both size and stability in Buddhist texts.

Sumeru is said to be shaped like an hourglass, with a top and base of 80,000 yojanas square, but narrowing in the middle (i.e., at a height of 40,000 yojanas) to 20,000 yojanas square.

Sumeru is the polar center of a mandala-like complex of seas and mountains. The square base of Sumeru is surrounded by a square moat-like ocean, which is in turn surrounded by a ring (or rather square) wall of mountains, which is in turn surrounded by a sea, each diminishing in width and height from the one closer to Sumeru. There are seven seas and seven surrounding mountain-walls, until one comes to the vast outer sea which forms most of the surface of the world, in which the known continents are merely small islands. The known world, which is on the continent of Jambudvīpa, is directly south of Sumeru....

...From this point Sumeru expands again, going down in four terraced ledges, each broader than the one above. The first terrace constitutes the "heaven" of the Four Great Kings and is divided into four parts, facing north, south, east and west. Each section is governed by one of the Four Great Kings, who faces outward toward the quarter of the world that he supervises.

40,000 yojanas is also the height at which the Sun and Moon circle Sumeru in a clockwise direction. This rotation explains the alteration of day and night; when the Sun is north of Sumeru, the shadow of the mountain is cast over the continent of Jambudvīpa, and it is night there; at the same time it is noon in the opposing northern continent of Uttarakuru, dawn in the eastern continent of Pūrvavideha, and dusk in the western continent of Aparagodānīya. Half a day later, when the Sun has moved to the south, it is noon in Jambudvīpa, dusk in Pūrvavideha, dawn in Aparagodānīya, and midnight in Uttarakuru.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumeru


How much saddha do you have? Is it enough?
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Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby Lazy_eye » Sat Aug 21, 2010 1:58 pm

lojong1 wrote:"Omniscience in the Pali Canon
In the Pali texts, two differing versions of omniscience are discernible and it will soon become clear that the connotations of the Pali term commonly rendered 'omniscience' are quite different from those of the English word [same old problem]. In the Tevijjavacchagotta Sutta (Majjhima Nikaaya, Sutta 71), the ascetic Vacchagotta approaches the Buddha. He wants to clarify the precise scope of the Buddha's knowledge and so questions him.


It appears, from this sutta at least, that the Buddha limited the scope of his omniscience to the "three knowledges" -- knowledge of past lives, knowledge of beings arising and disappearing in accordance with their kamma, and knowledge that he himself had overcome the taints and would not be reborn.

He plainly rejects the notion that he is "continually and constantly...all-knowing and seeing", even going so far as to say those who claim such powers for him are blaming him falsely.

http://buddhasutra.com/files/tevijjavac ... _sutta.htm

So it would seem that varying and to some degree conflicting accounts of the Buddha's capacities are presented in the suttas, and on top of that we have the Buddha advising us that the whole topic is an unconjecturable.

As I was arguing before, I don't see that developing saddha necessarily requires adherence to scriptural literalism. For one thing, no one -- not even you, Zom -- can take everything in the suttas as factually accurate. You yourself have acknowledged that you "make allowances" for certain things.

Secondly, suppose that tomorrow a team of experts proved conclusively that Sutta X or Y was a fake -- an addition snuck into the canon by some renegade monk. Would your saddha then be destroyed?
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Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby Sherab » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:29 am

Lazy_eye wrote:
Sherab wrote:Hi PeterB,
I am inclined to think that the Buddha knew all that can be known, past present and future.

If this is the case, don't we necessarily end up with a Mahayana conception of the Buddha? To be able to know everything, the Buddha's mind must be everywhere. It must be something like the "limitless mind, pervading infinite space" that we hear about in Zen.

I wonder what the "observer effect" might be.
:namaste:

I think that since all phenomena are dependently arisen, it is possible for the Buddha to know any phenomenon - past, present or future. Whether his knowing is through a directing of his awareness or through some other reasons, that is up for debate.

As for the "observer effect", if you are referring to the so-called collapse of the wave function in quantum mechanics, the "observer" there need not be something animate.
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Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby Sherab » Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:00 am

Vepacitta wrote:... I have great respect for the Tathagata - but he was human. A human with tremendous insights. But still, human ...


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Then the Blessed One, leaving the road, went to sit at the root of a certain tree — his legs crossed, his body erect, with mindfulness established to the fore. Then Dona, following the Blessed One's footprints, saw him sitting at the root of the tree: confident, inspiring confidence, his senses calmed, his mind calmed, having attained the utmost control & tranquility, tamed, guarded, his senses restrained, a naga.[1] On seeing him, he went to him and said, "Master, are you a deva?"[2]

"No, brahman, I am not a deva."

"Are you a gandhabba?"

"No..."

"... a yakkha?"

"No..."

"... a human being?"

"No, brahman, I am not a human being."
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Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:11 am

Sherab wrote:I think that since all phenomena are dependently arisen, it is possible for the Buddha to know any phenomenon - past, present or future.
Does that include how many nose hairs you might have in 30 yerars from now?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby Kenshou » Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:43 am

Makes the Buddha sound like a variation of Laplace's demon. Siddhartha may have been a real smart guy, but as for having knowledge of that enormous magnitude, I ain't buying it.
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Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:48 am

Kenshou wrote:Makes the Buddha sound like a variation of Laplace's demon. Siddhartha may have been a real smart guy, but as for having knowledge of that enormous magnitude, I ain't buying it.
If he was all knowing, I suspect that it means he knows the "all." No need to go much beyond that.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby Sherab » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:15 am

Kenshou wrote:Makes the Buddha sound like a variation of Laplace's demon. Siddhartha may have been a real smart guy, but as for having knowledge of that enormous magnitude, I ain't buying it.

Sounds like it isn't it? But I don't think the Buddha need to have that knowledge.
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Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby PeterB » Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:54 am

Sherab wrote:
Vepacitta wrote:... I have great respect for the Tathagata - but he was human. A human with tremendous insights. But still, human ...


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Then the Blessed One, leaving the road, went to sit at the root of a certain tree — his legs crossed, his body erect, with mindfulness established to the fore. Then Dona, following the Blessed One's footprints, saw him sitting at the root of the tree: confident, inspiring confidence, his senses calmed, his mind calmed, having attained the utmost control & tranquility, tamed, guarded, his senses restrained, a naga.[1] On seeing him, he went to him and said, "Master, are you a deva?"[2]

"No, brahman, I am not a deva."

"Are you a gandhabba?"

"No..."

"... a yakkha?"

"No..."

"... a human being?"

"No, brahman, I am not a human being."

You miss out the most important bit....he then says" I am Awake."

Clearly he is not describing his type or species. "Awake" is not a catagory of being.
He is saying you are asking the wrong question. The issue is not my ontological being. The point is not to fit me into the current Cosmological schema. The issue is that I am Awake.
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Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby Sherab » Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:35 am

Or, once someone is an awakened one, the phenomenal categorisation of deva, gandhabba, yakkha, human are no longer applicable.
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Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:38 am

Sherab wrote:Or, once someone is an awakened one, the phenomenal categorisation of deva, gandhabba, yakkha, human are no longer applicable.
Except they still get sick, they still have to eat and excrete, they still have memories . . . .
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby Sherab » Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:47 am

As perceived by those still within the phenomenal categorisation.
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Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:52 am

Sherab wrote:As perceived by those still within the phenomenal categorisation.
And you know this how? And what does this even mean?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby PeterB » Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:53 am

Are you, in the context of a Theravadin forum , positing the existence of a docetic Buddha ?
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Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby Sherab » Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:59 am

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Notes
The Buddha's refusal to identify himself as a human being relates to a point made throughout the Canon, that an awakened person cannot be defined in any way at all. On this point, see MN 72, SN 22.85, SN 22.86, and the article, "A Verb for Nirvana." Because a mind with clinging is "located" by its clinging, an awakened person takes no place in any world: this is why he/she is unsmeared by the world (loka), like the lotus unsmeared by water.
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Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:00 am

Pointing to Sherab, of course:
PeterB wrote:Are you, in the context of a Theravadin forum , positing the existence of a docetic Buddha ?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby PeterB » Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:04 am

Of course. Are you Sherab ? Positing the existance of a docetic Buddha ?

The Buddha did not "refuse to identify himself as a human being."
He did what he frequently did and redefined the question...
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Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:09 am

Sherab wrote:http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.036.than.html
Notes
The Buddha's refusal to identify himself as a human being relates to a point made throughout the Canon, that an awakened person cannot be defined in any way at all. On this point, see MN 72, SN 22.85, SN 22.86, and the article, "A Verb for Nirvana." Because a mind with clinging is "located" by its clinging, an awakened person takes no place in any world: this is why he/she is unsmeared by the world (loka), like the lotus unsmeared by water.
It seem you may be reading a bit too much into all of this. Why don't you quote the relevant portion of MN 72, et al so we know what exactly you are talking about. And then I will, of course, quote the Yasa Sutta.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Three Things a Buddha Cannot Do?

Postby Goedert » Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:26 pm

Taṃ kissa hetu? Tathāgatassa hetaṃ vāseṭṭhā, adhivacanaṃ dhammakāyo itipi, brahmakāyo itipi, dhammabhuto iti pi, brahmabhuto iti pi.

Tathagata: 'The body of Dhamma', that is, 'The body of Brahma', or 'Become Dhamma', that is, 'Become Brahma'.

EDIT: Sorry tilt.
Agganna Sutta
Last edited by Goedert on Tue Aug 24, 2010 12:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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