An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation
I have had doubts in my practice, have sometimes taken to heart a bit the subtle criticism I once heard implying that in the Theravada we are practicing 'to liberate ourselves' and are thus not as pure as those who pursue the Bodhisattva ideal. I have, after MUCH reflection, decided that since the Pali Canon is the closest historically accurate record of what Buddha actually taught, and since I feel I can trust this man (he seems very consistent, he claims NOT to have divided the teaching (into 'common' and 'secret'), if I trust him then I can take HIS words to heart. And I don't hear him say 'Do what I did, practise paramitas for many kalpas (and I bow deeply to any being who actually does this) and become Sammasambuddhas yourselves'. He rather seems to say 'You have attained the human form of life, which is very rare; during a time when the Buddha-Dhamma is extant (also rare); with an intellect capable of grasping the necessity of practising (even more rare). Do not miss this opportunity!'
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Since buddhism see the past and future as infinite...then logically there must have been an infinite number of Buddhas and so will be to come.
The 28 buddhas which are relevant to our present Buddha Gotama started in the aoen in which Sumedha started on the boddhisatva path in the presence of the Buddha Dipankara. Dipankara was the fourth Buddha in that aeon. He then met 23 other Buddhas before becoming the buddha himself after 4 incalculable periods and 100,000 aeons. This totals 28. There are sometimes Temples of the 28 buddhas...etc. but this doesn't mean that there have only ever been 28.
The pali canon refers to the next buddha in this auspicious aeon of five Buddhas, as the buddha Meitreya, and mentions the names of his parents and which city he will be born in. A long time in the future.
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