Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

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Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby Satori » Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:46 am

Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?
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Re: Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:03 am

I can tell an exaggerated story but not an exaggerated life.
Perhaps you could make your question clearer?
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Re: Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby Satori » Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:08 am

Well, the Buddha is sometimes depicted as being super-human or a divine being. And some people say this is an exaggeration of the Buddha, and that he was just an ordinary human. Just wanted to know what other people thought.
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Re: Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:26 am

That's a much better question! :smile:
You will find quite a range of answers, though.
Pretty much everyone will say he was better than an ordinary human being.
A lot of people here (including me) will say things like, 'He was a real human being who went beyond what other people had achieved in understanding reality, and he was a great teacher.'
Others think of him as super-human in various ways, but no-one is likely to equate him to the omnipotent creator god, because that concept is explicitly denied in his teachings.
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Re: Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Oct 08, 2010 6:57 pm

I think in ancient times it was pretty much expected for the stories about great religious teachers to contain mystical and miraculous happenings that set up the teacher high above the rest of us as someone divine. The Bible is another good example of this.

So it wouldn't be surprising if the well meaning people who wrote down the events of the Buddhas life would do so with this expectation.

For myself I find the message of his humanity far more compelling because it means we all have the same potential, it's really up to you to find what's meaningful in what is recorded about his life.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby Satori » Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:15 pm

Yes, but some people believe that Buddhism is not a religion. I am confused about how stories full of mystical events could not be religious. But some people say its because the life of the Buddha was exaggerated and misrepresentated,some say its because Buddhism mixed with the Bon religion in Tebit, Taoism in China , and Shinto in Japan. But these mystical events can be found in the Pali canon, which I thought was the most reliable and oldest sources of Buddhist information.

The birth of the Buddha is depicted as a supernatural event, more so than the birth of Christ.
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Re: Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby lojong1 » Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:43 pm

There is enough useful advice that it doesn't really matter to me if certain things were exaggerated. If I can't verify it for myself, it's not buddhist.

"sanditthiko [sandi.t.thiko]: Self-evident; immediately apparent; visible here and now. An epithet for the Dhamma. The Dhamma is testable by practice and known by direct experience."

Dhajaggasutta SN 11.3: "The Dhamma is to be seen here & now, timeless, inviting verification, pertinent, to be realized by the wise for themselves."
"sanditthiko akaliko ehipassiko opaneyyiko paccattam veditabbo vinnuhi ti"
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Re: Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby Satori » Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:46 pm

Can you verify Enlightenment, rebirth, karma? Have you?
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Re: Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby lojong1 » Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:42 pm

Satori wrote:Can you verify Enlightenment, rebirth, karma? Have you?

Kamma -- "And what is new kamma (action)? Whatever kamma one does now with the body, with speech, or with the intellect: This is called new kamma."
-- kamma sutta

Rebirth -- There is no exact Pali equivalent to rebirth, so what do you mean by that? Like most people, I don't even remember being born, so birth is still a bit unverified for me, although it kinda makes sense that it happens and that there are many interdependent causes for it.

Enlightenment: HA!!! No, definitely not verified by me, but Buddha never taught that I should be experiencing Nibbaana right now--I'm a lazy prick! The earliest steps said to lead to enlightenment are real, and beneficial.
One step at a time, verifying each one on the way, I haven't yet come to a dead end or an exaggerated step. Even if the state of Enlightenment was exaggerated, the effect of the meditations, as far as I've experienced them, is quite real and unexaggerated.
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Re: Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:45 pm

Satori wrote:Can you verify Enlightenment, rebirth, karma? Have you?


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"Excellent, Sariputta. Excellent. Those who have not known, seen, penetrated, realized, or attained it by means of discernment would have to take it on conviction in others that the faculty of conviction... persistence... mindfulness... concentration... discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal & consummation; whereas those who have known, seen, penetrated, realized, & attained it by means of discernment would have no doubt or uncertainty that the faculty of conviction... persistence... mindfulness... concentration... discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal & consummation."


:anjali:
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Re: Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Oct 09, 2010 12:27 am

Greetings Satori,

After the Buddha's parinibbana, and after the death of those who personally knew him, the memory of the Buddha as an actual person dissipated in the memory of Buddhists.

You will find that in the older stratas of Buddhist scripture and commentary, the life of the Buddha is far less exaggerated than it is in more recent stratas of Buddhist scripture and commentary (including Mahayana depictions, particularly remote from the reality of the Buddha).

To get an accurate picture of the Buddha's life, I would recommend reading "The Life Of The Buddha according to the Pali Canon" by venerable Nanamoli. This text relies only on the oldest strata of texts and excludes much of the folklore that traditionally gets innocently intertwined with the Buddha's story, in the collective minds of Buddhists.

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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Re: Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sat Oct 09, 2010 2:36 am

Many of the criteria employed by Winterntiz, Law and Pande only work if one is already prejudiced as to the nature of early Buddhism. If one feels at the outset that the Buddha, being as it were, a reasonable sort of chap, taught a simple ethical doctrine uncluttered by myth, legend and magic, then it is a fairly straightforward matter to stratify the Nikayas accordingly. But in fact, given what is known of Indian thought from, say, the early Upanisads, there is no apriori reason why the earliest Buddhist thought should not have contained mythical, magical or "unscientific" elements, or - if we need to go back one stage further - why the Buddha himself should not have employed such elements in his own teaching. in fact there seems every reason to suppose that he would have.

Rupert GETHIN, 1992, The Buddhist Path to Awakening: A Study of the Bodhi-Pakkhiya Dhamma, p. 11
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Re: Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sat Oct 09, 2010 2:40 am

retrofuturist wrote:To get an accurate picture of the Buddha's life, I would recommend reading "The Life Of The Buddha according to the Pali Canon" by venerable Nanamoli. This text relies only on the oldest strata of texts and excludes much of the folklore that traditionally gets innocently intertwined with the Buddha's story, in the collective minds of Buddhists.


I'd recommend:

Gotama Buddha: A Biography Based on the Most Reliable Texts - Vol I & II (2001, 2005), by Hajime NAKAMURA and Gaynor SEKIMORI

Nanamoli just does the Pali, Nakamura and Sekimori take all the texts into account.
And viz "folklore", see the above post. Not quite as easy an issue to deal with as many think.
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Re: Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Oct 09, 2010 2:52 am

Greetings bhante,

Paññāsikhara wrote:And viz "folklore", see the above post. Not quite as easy an issue to deal with as many think.

Indeed. Even the oldest strata of known texts contain the depiction of events which if taken literally would be difficult for most people to accept nowadays.

Paññāsikhara wrote:"Gotama Buddha: A Biography Based on the Most Reliable Texts"

It's nice to know that such a book exists, though I suspect the title might ruffle a few feathers.

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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Re: Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby Hanzze » Sat Oct 09, 2010 2:59 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Oct 09, 2010 4:20 am

Greetings Alan,

Some of these are certainly freakish (if taken literally)...

The 32 Signs of the Great Man
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... _great_man

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sat Oct 09, 2010 4:23 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings bhante,

Paññāsikhara wrote:And viz "folklore", see the above post. Not quite as easy an issue to deal with as many think.

Indeed. Even the oldest strata of known texts contain the depiction of events which if taken literally would be difficult for most people to accept nowadays.


Well, it's more complicated than that, because part of the whole criteria for what Witnernitz, Pande, etc. took as "the oldest strata of texts" was based on certain assumptions in the first place. That is the very point that Gethin is making - half of it is a circular argument!

Paññāsikhara wrote:"Gotama Buddha: A Biography Based on the Most Reliable Texts"

It's nice to know that such a book exists, though I suspect the title might ruffle a few feathers.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Yeah, I had a look at the book not so long ago, and thought it very interesting. Orders from Amazon should be arriving any day.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.
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Re: Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby Hanzze » Sat Oct 09, 2010 4:31 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Alan,

Some of these are certainly freakish (if taken literally)...

The 32 Signs of the Great Man
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... _great_man

Metta,
Retro. :)

haha, no that was from the freaky fishermans. But yesterday I tought of to paint one image out of this specification. :rofl:
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby alan » Sat Oct 09, 2010 6:00 am

Did I ever say anything like that? 32 signs of the so-and so?
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Re: Was the life of the Buddha exaggerated?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 09, 2010 6:08 am

retrofuturist wrote:.

Paññāsikhara wrote:"Gotama Buddha: A Biography Based on the Most Reliable Texts"

It's nice to know that such a book exists, though I suspect the title might ruffle a few feathers.
It depends upon what is meant by "Most Reliable Texts." He takes rather late, hagiographical texts into account.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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