Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby Sylvester » Mon Sep 23, 2013 9:47 am

So, here we now have some narratives that appear to challenge the dogma that all Arahants have destroyed the asavas, including the latent tendency to aversion.

Certainly, the tough love approach is what I call the "stone in the infant's mouth" approach (MN 58) - the Buddha agrees that sometimes drastic action is needed, even if it entails drawing blood. In those situations, my faith is that the Buddha was not driven by any negative roots.

But, when I see the lickspittle insult heaped on Devadatta, I wonder how that fits in with the MN 58 test -

Such speech as the Tathagata knows to be true and correct but unbeneficial, and which is also unwelcome and disagreeable to others: such speech the Tathagata does not utter.


What good would that insult have done Devadatta?
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby Kusala » Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:00 am

danieLion wrote:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
danieLion wrote:(2) There are several instances in the suttas and vinaya where the Buddha clearly demonstrated anger towards others.

You have some weird views. The very definition of an Arahant or Buddha is someone who has eradicated all traces of anger. From the sutta quoted above:
How could anger rise in him who's free,
Wrathless, all his passions tamed, at peace,
Freed by highest insight, by himself,
So abiding, perfectly serene?

Hi Pesala,
I agree that some of my views at times are not typical, but how exactly do you think they're "wierd"? Are all of your views non-wierd? I might be wrong, but the "very definition of an Arahant or Buddha" is not that he eradicates all traces of anger but that he roots out hate. Chris didn't answer my question about which Pali word is being translated as "anger." I looked at the Pali and it's not dosa. Perhaps you could tell me what the Pali is here? Maybe I'm wrong, but when the Buddha called Devadatta a lickspiddle, he was showing anger; and he frequently called others foolish/misguided/worthless; and it sure looks to me like he got angry at Ananda frequently. If being honest about the how the suttas portray the Buddha is "wierd" then I guess I'm wierd.
Kindly,
dL


In Praise of Speech

67-8 Well worded and significant, true and sweet,
deep or plain or both together, condensed or copious.
Hearing such words of yours, would not even an opponent
be convinced that you were all-knowing?

69 Generally your speech was wholly sweet
but when necessary it would be otherwise.
But either way, every word was well spoken
because it always achieved its purpose.

70 Soft or hard or possessing both qualities,
all your words when distilled had but one taste.[20]

71 Ah! How pure, perfect and excellent your actions are,
that you employed these jewel-like words in such a way.

72 From your mouth pleasing to the eye, drop words
pleasing to the ear, like nectar from the moon.[21]

73 Your sayings are like a spring shower settling the dust of
passions, like a garuda killing the serpent of hatred.[22]

74 They are like the sun again and again
dispelling the darkness of ignorance,
like Sakra's scepter splitting the mountain of pride.[23]

75 Your speech is excellent in three ways:
based on fact it is truthful,
because its motive is pure it causes no confusion,
and being relevant it is easily understood.

76 When first heard your words excite the mind
but when their meaning is pondered over
they wash away all ignorance and passion.

77 They go to the hearts of all.
While comforting the grieving they alarm the heedless
and rouse those preoccupied with pleasures.

78 Truly your words are for all: they delight the wise,
strengthen those of middling intelligence
and illuminate the minds of the dull.

79 Your sayings coax men from false views
and draw them towards Nirvana.
They remove faults and rain down virtues.

80 Your knowledge embraces all things,
your mindfulness is ever present
and thus what you say will always come to pass.

81 Because you never speak at the wrong time
or in the wrong place or towards the wrong person,
your words, like energy rightly applied, are never wasted.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... 0.html#ch7
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Homage to the Buddha
Thus indeed, is that Blessed One: He is the Holy One, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct, sublime, the Knower of the worlds, the incomparable leader of men to be tamed, the teacher of gods and men, enlightened and blessed.

Homage to the Teachings
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
time; inviting one to come and see; onward leading (to Nibbana); to be known by the wise, each for himself.
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby daverupa » Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:25 am

Sylvester wrote:What good would that insult have done Devadatta?


Maybe it would be more productive to ask what this insult and its permutation did for the early community? I had read somewhere that some of the Agamas gave a different quality to his shenanigans, which even if true may not be of any significance. But I wonder whether Devadatta was demonized over time in some recitation lines, complete with rhetorical flourishes.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby Sylvester » Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:58 am

Hee hee. You've verbalised the nasty thought lurking in me.
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby santa100 » Mon Sep 23, 2013 2:19 pm

Sylvester wrote:But, when I see the lickspittle insult heaped on Devadatta, I wonder how that fits in with the MN 58 test..


If we go back to the beginning section of MN 58, the same question was posed by Nigantha Nataputta as a "two-horned" question with the purpose of defeating the Buddha in their debate. The Buddha then taught the six ways to determine when to speak in which the third criteria says:
Such speech as the Tathāgata knows to be true, correct, and beneficial, but which is unwelcome and disagreeable to others: the Tathāgata knows the time to use such speech ~~ http://palicanon.org/index.php/sutta-pi ... nce-abhaya ~~


And Ven. Bodhi's note:
The Buddha does not hesitate to rebuke and admonish his disciples when he sees that such speech will promote their welfare.


Not being there at the scene, we could only assume that there must be something the Buddhas forsaw that would benefit either Devadatta or the Sangha when He had to use such strong words..
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby danieLion » Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:22 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
danieLion wrote:I agree that some of my views at times are not typical, but how exactly do you think they're "wierd"?

Your spelling is weird too ;)

Not all criticism is rooted in anger or aversion. Sometimes, the Buddha spoke words that were true, displeasing to others, but beneficial. Not all speech that is displeasing to others is the unwholesome kamma of harsh speech. If it's true, and aimed at benefit, then it's rooted in compassion.

The Buddha's Perfect Speech

Sometimes, the Buddha spoke words that were displeasing and harmful to some, but beneficial to others, e.g. when offered Māgaṇḍiyā as his bride he said that he would not touch her body, which he said was a bag full of urine and excrement. She hated him, but her parents become Non-returners.

The Buddha and the Arahants are free from all traces of mental defilements. There are various translations used for the various Pāḷi terms used, one would have to look carefully at the context to see which is a more appropriate translation.

Anger = kodha (and dosa)
Ill-will = byāpāda
Aversion = paṭigha
Malice = upanāha
Envy = issā
Meanness = macchariya
Disrespect = thambha
Hatred = dosa

Thanks Pesala,
This looks to be worth some exploration.
Kindly,
dL
PS. I've always misspelled "weird," which is itself weird to me because (1) I used to be a great speller (2) I'm usually a perfectionist about things I write (trying to get over that), and (3) talk about enculturation: I live in a city (Portland, OR) where the bumper sticker, "Keep Portland weird!" abounds (now that beards are in, it's sometimes, "Keep Portland beard! and at times, "Keep Portland Beered!" :hello:
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby danieLion » Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:46 pm

Pesala's, Sylvester's, Daverupa's and santa100's posts, are very helpful. Thanks to all of you. I'll dig in some more later, but for now, it seems that (1) there's some redactor "corruption" regarding Devadatta (no big surprise) and (2) the Buddha was skilled at what we moderns might call a distinction between being assertive (speaking disagreeable things when appropriate; the stone in the infants mouth simile, etc...) and that what might appear to us as anger may not necessarily be so. Still, I'm concerned: is the Theravada doctrine that the Buddha (and arahants) are perfect sufficient enough of a reason to believe in the Buddha's perfection? If by perfection we mean omniscience, super-humanism, etc..., I'd say no. But if by perfection we mean the eradication of greed, hate and delusion in all its forms, then I'm certainly open to persuasion. A new question might be, in terms of modern psychological understandings of brains and behavior (but not in terms of scientific and/or promissory materialism, which I--and I think the Buddha would--reject), what would this look like? It would be quite the feat to document a modern individual whose brain and behevior are free of all traces of greed, hate and delusion in all its forms. And to my weird way of thinking, it somewhat discouraging to think of how impossible this likely is (and how does Maha Boowa fit into this, as an alleged arahant but also as someone whose mistakes as a "politician" are well documented?). Shoot for stream entry first?

Now, I've some "homework" from Sylvester to attend to.

Kindly,
dL
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby SDC » Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:46 pm

danieLion wrote:Still, I'm concerned: is the Theravada doctrine that the Buddha (and arahants) are perfect sufficient enough of a reason to believe in the Buddha's perfection? If by perfection we mean omniscience, super-humanism, etc..., I'd say no.


I would say "no" as well. The doctrine by itself is practically useless without the development of saddha. Unfortunately it is the most glossed over aspect of the teaching. Some people think the dhamma is interesting and then they're off and running - concerned about practicing satipatthana and jhana and vipassana when they don't really understand what the practice is ultimately meant to do. Of course they can use all the right words, but they have not taken the time to compare it to their own life and see how it is going to work. Don't get me wrong there can be a good deal appreciation and respect immediately, even if a person only reads some small aspect of the teaching, however if the base level appreciation can be cultivated it becomes something very powerful. But it is a process. Not only are you appreciating what the Buddha accomplished but you are looking for how it does or will fit into your life. You are learning how to relate to the dhamma and only at that point can real appreciation be cultivated. Saddha is extremely vital. It is what supports the whole practice so if it is weak it won't support the ideas and work that follow.

All those superhuman qualities are just a byproduct of the far more significant accomplishment of awakening to the truth. And that awakening should be what is appreciated, the rest is just there as a result and need not be focused on. That is why I questioned your idea of awakening because I was curious if we are understanding it the same way. So if you want to have that discussion I think it would be of some use. I suppose that is what you meant when you said you were open to further discussions about other aspects of perfection.

In regards to our words about culture: Obviously there was a cultural aspect to some of what the Buddha taught, but when it comes to awakening - which I'm not sure if I was clear that that was what I was talking about in the post you quoted - it has nothing to do with culture. Nibbana has nothing to do with existence. You don't seem to focus on this at all.
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby danieLion » Mon Sep 23, 2013 11:54 pm

PS: I know it's not very Theravadin (whatever that is; that itself is obvioulsy highly contentious) to say the Buddha and arahants aren't perfect, but if being Theravadin means I have to believe every single one of its doctrinal points then I have no interest in Theravada because then it's susceptible to all the dehumanizing dangers of blind-faith, group-think, dogmatism and religiosity.
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby danieLion » Tue Sep 24, 2013 12:02 am

SDC,
You're preaching to the choir on the faith issue (except for the debates regarding it's Buddhist meaning). That's obvious.
Re: "awakening"; ok. Begin the discourse. But as Aloka and equilibrium pointed out, how can you talk about something you haven't experienced (back to faith, no?)? Nibbana, as far as my studies indicate, has a lot to do with the culture the Buddha was born in. His culture, as far as I can tell, is them main thing that tipped him off to the possibility. He wouldn't have even had it on his radar if it wasn't for his culture.
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby SDC » Tue Sep 24, 2013 1:06 am

Damn, I must've came off like a**hole for you to have responded that way. My bad. It was more of a general sentiment on saddha that was not directed at you. My response won't be as preachy I promise.

Real quick though, no you can't talk about it experientially but it can be discussed intellectually.
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby hermitwin » Tue Sep 24, 2013 4:48 am

I dont think Buddhism can be improved upon.
Buddha teaches the way to end dukkha for 40 years.
If you wish to widen the appeal of Buddhism, sure there
are many creative ways to do it.
But as a manual for nibbana, it is all there already.

If Buddha was not perfect, then Buddha is a liar.
then he is not really the Buddha.
because Buddha means the perfectly enlightened one.
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby danieLion » Tue Sep 24, 2013 5:43 am

SDC wrote:Damn, I must've came off like a**hole for you to have responded that way. My bad. It was more of a general sentiment on saddha that was not directed at you. My response won't be as preachy I promise.

Real quick though, no you can't talk about it experientially but it can be discussed intellectually.

Shoot, I'm sorry SDC. I did not mean "preachy" in any negative way. I just meant I agree about faith & such.
Kindly,
dL
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby danieLion » Tue Sep 24, 2013 5:44 am

hermitwin wrote:I dont think Buddhism can be improved upon.
Buddha teaches the way to end dukkha for 40 years.
If you wish to widen the appeal of Buddhism, sure there
are many creative ways to do it.
But as a manual for nibbana, it is all there already.

If Buddha was not perfect, then Buddha is a liar.
then he is not really the Buddha.
because Buddha means the perfectly enlightened one.

Buddha means "awake."
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:04 am

"Buddha" means so much more than just “awake.”

The best source on the attributes of a Buddha is the Mahāsihanāda Sutta. On his perfection see especially the Four Kinds of Intrepidity.
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby danieLion » Tue Sep 24, 2013 7:35 am

Hi SDC,
SDC wrote:...you can't talk about it experientially but it [nibbana] can be discussed intellectually.

Which goes to Right View. I submit: intellectualizing vs. experiencing is a false dichotomy; theory and practice is a dialectic; Right View is an intellect/theory and experience/practice dialectic.
Kindly,
dL
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby danieLion » Tue Sep 24, 2013 7:57 am

HI Pesala,
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:"Buddha" means so much more than just “awake.”
Perhaps. I was speaking about its etymological root.

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:The best source on the attributes of a Buddha is the Mahāsihanāda Sutta. On his perfection see especially the Four Kinds of Intrepidity.

Why not MN 123?
Here we have--in these suttas and your use of one of them--a good example of de-humanizing, religous dogma: sutta-thumpin', fire-&-brimstone-ism. I suppose you think I'll wind up in hell if I don't renounce my "heresy"? Must I accept Buddhist Cosmology into my heart as Lord and Savior too?
Kindly,
dL
Last edited by danieLion on Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby danieLion » Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:01 am

Hi hermitwin,
hermitwin wrote:I dont think Buddhism can be improved upon.

If other Buddhists believed this we'd have no Abhidhamma, commentarial tradition, Visuddhimagga, etc.... We certainly wouldn't have Dhammawheel. We'd have doctrinal solidarity.
hermitwin wrote:as a manual for nibbana

What do you think is a manual?
Kindly,
dL
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Sep 24, 2013 12:29 pm

danieLion wrote:HI Pesala,
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:"Buddha" means so much more than just “awake.”
Perhaps. I was speaking about its etymological root.

You were side-stepping the point made by hermit. You say that the Buddha was not perfect. The Buddha said that he was. So are you saying that the Buddha was a liar? Or, are you deluded about the real qualities possessed by one who deserves the epithet of "Buddha?"
danieLion wrote:I suppose you think I'll wind up in hell if I don't renounce my "heresy"?

What I think is of no consequence for you — it depends on what you think, say, and do that will decide whether or not you wind up in hell.

My duty is just to teach what the Buddha taught, as far as I understand it, according to reliable sources.

If you reflect on your own views, and compare them to those of Sunakkhatta as described in the Sutta, then you can decide on your likely destiny after death.

Only the Buddha, or one like him, could read a person's mind, understand their latent tendencies, and reliably predict their future destiny.
Mahāsihanāda Sutta wrote:35. "Sariputta, there are these five destinations. What are the five? Hell, the animal realm, the realm of ghosts, human beings and gods.[15]

36. (1) "I understand hell, and the path and way leading to hell. And I also understand how one who has entered this path will, on the dissolution of the body, after death, reappear in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, in hell.

BTW, your signature is offensive and inappropriate for a Buddhist forum.
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Re: Improving Buddhism/The Imperfect Buddha

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Sep 24, 2013 12:36 pm

Greetings,

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:What I think is of no consequence for you — it depends on what you think, say, and do that will decide whether or not you wind up in hell.

My duty is just to teach what the Buddha taught, as far as I understand it, according to reliable sources.

:anjali:

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:[danielion's] signature is offensive and inappropriate for a Buddhist forum.

Signature deleted - thanks.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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