How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby KonstantKarma » Mon Dec 20, 2010 12:46 am

BlackBird wrote:
clw_uk wrote:however if it was somehow proved that this wasnt the case it wouldnt change my practice at all


The thing is, if several people got together and ascribed the Dhamma to one person, invented this character called the Buddha, then they told a pretty big lie. If a practice founded upon truth is contradicted by it's inception then it doesn't give it much credibility, the Buddha has explicitly stated that the Dhamma is free of patchwork, i.e. it doesn't contradict itself [1]. According to the Buddha, an Arahant is incapable of distorting the truth[2], as such, if several people did discover the Dhamma and ascribe it to one person, then they couldn't have been enlightened in the sense that is described by the Buddha.

Therefore either:
A) The Buddha was a real, fully enlightened being who discovered the truth in all things.
B) A bunch of guys made the whole thing up and there is no such thing as the awakening that is presented to us in the Suttas.

It might be said that it doesn't matter because the results that one experiences in the here are benefit enough to warrant the effort of practice, but tell me - Does one undertake a long drive on the motorway simply for the pleasure of the drive?


Ahh, we crossposted, and I missed your post until now.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby alan » Mon Dec 20, 2010 1:46 am

The question isn't phrased correctly. Or maybe you don't get a very basic point:
Without a belief in the Buddha's awakening there would be no motivation to practice, and no reason to study.

If a conglomeration of teachings were represented to us as Buddhism, then we'd have no way of disproving wrong ideas, and low-level teachings aimed at the masses would proliferate.
Oh, wait...
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Viscid » Mon Dec 20, 2010 2:39 am

alan wrote:The question isn't phrased correctly.
Without a belief in the Buddha's awakening their would be no motivation to practice.


You can't be motivated by suffering, and seeking its end?
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby alan » Mon Dec 20, 2010 2:44 am

If I'm not convinced the Doctor's medicine will work, why take it?
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Viscid » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:16 am

alan wrote:If I'm not convinced the Doctor's medicine will work, why take it?


I need no faith in the Doctor to know that the Valium he prescribes will reduce my anxiety. The Doctor can be a dimwit, I have faith in the Valium.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby KonstantKarma » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:22 am

Let's not forget that we see results of the teachings today, with ourselves and with others.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:27 am

alan wrote:If I'm not convinced the Doctor's medicine will work, why take it?


More than that, we're convinced the medicine works because the doctor discovered the cure. If there's no doctor, there's no cure, so what medicine would there be to take other than a placebo? If we know the doctor existed, and that the doctor was cured with this medicine, what reason would we have for denying the treatment?
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:31 am

Viscid wrote:
alan wrote:If I'm not convinced the Doctor's medicine will work, why take it?


I need no faith in the Doctor to know that the Valium he prescribes will reduce my anxiety. The Doctor can be a dimwit, I have faith in the Valium.


Are you calling the Buddha a dim-wit? :jawdrop:

Dude the only reason you have faith in Valium is because a doctor discovered the effects of Valium. Without having a doctor who discovered the cure, there would still be no relief.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby BlackBird » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:32 am

Viscid wrote:
alan wrote:If I'm not convinced the Doctor's medicine will work, why take it?


I need no faith in the Doctor to know that the Valium he prescribes will reduce my anxiety. The Doctor can be a dimwit, I have faith in the Valium.


Dhamma is not Valium, because Valium doesn't cure, it just moderates symptoms.

Dhamma is an experimental cocktail of medicine that is supposed to cure you of a disease that nobody understands, the more you take the medicine, the better you become, the problem being that most do not take the medicine in a dosage and regimen high enough for a full cure, they take a partial dose and admittedly see great benefits - But that's not the end goal, that's not the purpose of the medicine.

How would you have confidence in a medicine that is supposed to cure if there's no history of a patient being cured by it? In our case the Buddha was both the Doctor and the medicine:

"He who sees Dhamma, Vakkali, sees me; he who sees me sees Dhamma. Truly seeing Dhamma, one sees me; seeing me one sees Dhamma."

- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html

The Buddha and his Ariyan disciples were living embodiments of Dhamma and proof that it does work, that you can get there and as such they are an integral foundation of the faith necessary to keep walking the path.
Last edited by BlackBird on Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:39 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:37 am

BlackBird wrote:Dhamma is not Valium, because Valium doesn't cure, it just moderates symptoms.

Dhamma is an experimental cocktail of medicine that is supposed to cure you of a disease that nobody understands, the more you take the medicine, the better you become, the problem being that most do not take the medicine in a dosage and regimen high enough for a full cure, they take a partial dose and admittedly see great benefits - But that's not the end goal, that's not the purpose of the medicine.

How would you have confidence in a medicine that is supposed to cure if there's no history of a patient being cured by it? In our case the Buddha was both the Doctor and the medicine:

"He who sees Dhamma, Vakkali, sees me; he who sees me sees Dhamma. Truly seeing Dhamma, one sees me; seeing me one sees Dhamma."

- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html

:goodpost:

There's also evidence the Buddha existed, so there's no real need to doubt unless you're not convinced enlightenment is possible. If that is the cause you don't doubt the Buddha exists, but you think his claims of enlightenment are false. Why if you know his teachings are effective and true?
Last edited by Wizard in the Forest on Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Viscid » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:57 am

BlackBird wrote:How would you have confidence in a medicine that is supposed to cure if there's no history of a patient being cured by it?


I think that's the core of the issue. I'm confident in saying that there existed fully enlightened people historically. Otherwise the teachings would be ineffective in the treatment of suffering. However, any proclamation of enlightenment by those 'cured' would have ultimately resulted in scrutiny by others. So, it's just wise of them to keep their mouth shut and point to the prototypical model of enlightenment: The Buddha. The Buddha can't be scrutinized because he is perfectly enlightened, and perfectly dead.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:19 am

The problem with this issue becomes then, if you believe there exists or existed enlightened people and Shakyamuni Buddha was one of them (a man who became enlightened) , why then claim he doesn't exist historically but only as a prototype? We have physical and historical corroboration. It's not like there's only one person who witnessed Shakyamuni in the flesh. Many people did.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby clw_uk » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:31 pm

BlackBird wrote:
clw_uk wrote:however if it was somehow proved that this wasnt the case it wouldnt change my practice at all


The thing is, if several people got together and ascribed the Dhamma to one person, invented this character called the Buddha, then they told a pretty big lie. If a practice founded upon truth is contradicted by it's inception then it doesn't give it much credibility, the Buddha has explicitly stated that the Dhamma is free of patchwork, i.e. it doesn't contradict itself [1]. According to the Buddha, an Arahant is incapable of distorting the truth[2], as such, if several people did discover the Dhamma and ascribe it to one person, then they couldn't have been enlightened in the sense that is described by the Buddha.

Therefore either:
A) The Buddha was a real, fully enlightened being who discovered the truth in all things.
B) A bunch of guys made the whole thing up and there is no such thing as the awakening that is presented to us in the Suttas.

It might be said that it doesn't matter because the results that one experiences in the here are benefit enough to warrant the effort of practice, but tell me - Does one undertake a long drive on the motorway simply for the pleasure of the drive?




Regardless the Four Noble Truths make sense and work for me, so to me it doesnt matter if he did exist or not

However as I said, personally I think he did but if it was proved he didnt it wouldn't stop me practising the NEFP


On a side note, in relation to B how do you know there were not several Buddhas who condensed, or became condensed, into one peron? No need to jump to "they made it all up". Of course this is just speculation now....
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby clw_uk » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:32 pm

It might be said that it doesn't matter because the results that one experiences in the here are benefit enough to warrant the effort of practice, but tell me - Does one undertake a long drive on the motorway simply for the pleasure of the drive?



I think I get what your saying but could you expand a little?
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby clw_uk » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:34 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:
BlackBird wrote:Dhamma is not Valium, because Valium doesn't cure, it just moderates symptoms.

Dhamma is an experimental cocktail of medicine that is supposed to cure you of a disease that nobody understands, the more you take the medicine, the better you become, the problem being that most do not take the medicine in a dosage and regimen high enough for a full cure, they take a partial dose and admittedly see great benefits - But that's not the end goal, that's not the purpose of the medicine.

How would you have confidence in a medicine that is supposed to cure if there's no history of a patient being cured by it? In our case the Buddha was both the Doctor and the medicine:

"He who sees Dhamma, Vakkali, sees me; he who sees me sees Dhamma. Truly seeing Dhamma, one sees me; seeing me one sees Dhamma."

- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html

:goodpost:

There's also evidence the Buddha existed, so there's no real need to doubt unless you're not convinced enlightenment is possible. If that is the cause you don't doubt the Buddha exists, but you think his claims of enlightenment are false. Why if you know his teachings are effective and true?



Care to share this evidence?
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby clw_uk » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:37 pm

So how does it "exist"? It has no form, no perception, no sensation, it has no consciousness, it has no emotion. It has all marks of non-existence. If you want to say "the Dharma exists without self" you're admitting that the Dharma's "existence" depends on someone's ability to discover it. It depends on A Buddha. Such a condition is inescapable.


Its an aspect of Nature. The Buddha was quite clear that he just discovered it and that "this truth", namely D.O. exists regardless of if there are any Buddhas around




We don't know that. We don't even know what gravity is!...


Yet it still exists regardless of who is there
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby KonstantKarma » Mon Dec 20, 2010 10:04 pm

clw_uk wrote:
BlackBird wrote:
clw_uk wrote:however if it was somehow proved that this wasnt the case it wouldnt change my practice at all


The thing is, if several people got together and ascribed the Dhamma to one person, invented this character called the Buddha, then they told a pretty big lie. If a practice founded upon truth is contradicted by it's inception then it doesn't give it much credibility, the Buddha has explicitly stated that the Dhamma is free of patchwork, i.e. it doesn't contradict itself [1]. According to the Buddha, an Arahant is incapable of distorting the truth[2], as such, if several people did discover the Dhamma and ascribe it to one person, then they couldn't have been enlightened in the sense that is described by the Buddha.

Therefore either:
A) The Buddha was a real, fully enlightened being who discovered the truth in all things.
B) A bunch of guys made the whole thing up and there is no such thing as the awakening that is presented to us in the Suttas.

It might be said that it doesn't matter because the results that one experiences in the here are benefit enough to warrant the effort of practice, but tell me - Does one undertake a long drive on the motorway simply for the pleasure of the drive?




Regardless the Four Noble Truths make sense and work for me, so to me it doesnt matter if he did exist or not

However as I said, personally I think he did but if it was proved he didnt it wouldn't stop me practising the NEFP


On a side note, in relation to B how do you know there were not several Buddhas who condensed, or became condensed, into one peron? No need to jump to "they made it all up". Of course this is just speculation now....


:goodpost:

Just like there's much evidence to suggest the Jesus-Mithra connection, that the gospels came to be from other stories.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:23 am

clw_uk wrote:Care to share this evidence?


There are contemporary written records.Even though it was in a society that preferred oral transmission to written records. These texts contain descriptions of the culture and daily life of ancient India which can be corroborated from the Jain scriptures, and make the Buddha's time one of the earliest period in Indian history for which significant accounts exist.

Most of historians agree that he did exist, however clear evidence such as DNA comparison is unavailable even though relics of the bones of the Buddha exist. Historical chronology in Indian texts are not as important mostly because Indians didn't care about that as much, and focused on the philosophy. Buddhist art also emerged somewhere at the same time as the first scripts did. However pre-iconic Buddhist art emerged soon after his death, 6-5 century BCE.

I can show you exactly where Buddha was born, exactly where he died, and exactly where he gained enlightenment.There's relics (cremated remains) of the Buddha
There are written records of his life , and records of him being a prince in ancient India. He is actually described physically by eyewitnesses in terms of stature, hair color, habits, etc., so it's fairly likely he existed. There's very little else evidence that people can use if you don't accept all that. (O_o) It's like Christians who deny evolution in the face of a transition fossil.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Cloud » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:47 am

This from the teachings of Ajahn Chah:

Where is the Buddha? We may think the Buddha has been and gone, but the Buddha is the Dhamma, the Truth. Some people like to say, “Oh, if I was born in the time of the Buddha I would go to Nibbana.” Here, stupid people talk like this. The Buddha is still here. The Buddha is truth. Regardless of whoever is born or dies, the truth is still here. The truth never departs from the world, it’s there all the time. Whether a Buddha is born or not, whether someone knows it or not, the truth is still there.

So we should get close to the Buddha, we should come within and find the Dhamma. When we reach the Dhamma we will reach the Buddha; seeing the Dhamma we will see the Buddha, and all doubts will dissolve.

To give a comparison, it’s like teacher Choo. At first he wasn’t a teacher, he was just Mr. Choo. When he studied and passed the necessary grades he became a teacher, and became known as teacher Choo. How did he become a teacher? Through studying the required subjects, thus allowing Mr. Choo to become teacher Choo. When teacher Choo dies, the study to become a teacher still remains, and whoever studies it will become a teacher. That course of study to become a teacher doesn’t disappear anywhere, just like the Truth, the knowing of which enabled the Buddha to become the Buddha.

So the Buddha is still here. Whoever practises and sees the Dhamma sees the Buddha. These days people have got it all wrong, they don’t know where the Buddha is. They say, “If I was born in the time of the Buddha I would have become a disciple of his and become enlightened.” That’s just foolishness.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:05 am

Cloud wrote:This from the teachings of Ajahn Chah:

Where is the Buddha? We may think the Buddha has been and gone, but the Buddha is the Dhamma, the Truth. Some people like to say, “Oh, if I was born in the time of the Buddha I would go to Nibbana.” Here, stupid people talk like this. The Buddha is still here. The Buddha is truth. Regardless of whoever is born or dies, the truth is still here. The truth never departs from the world, it’s there all the time. Whether a Buddha is born or not, whether someone knows it or not, the truth is still there.

So we should get close to the Buddha, we should come within and find the Dhamma. When we reach the Dhamma we will reach the Buddha; seeing the Dhamma we will see the Buddha, and all doubts will dissolve.

To give a comparison, it’s like teacher Choo. At first he wasn’t a teacher, he was just Mr. Choo. When he studied and passed the necessary grades he became a teacher, and became known as teacher Choo. How did he become a teacher? Through studying the required subjects, thus allowing Mr. Choo to become teacher Choo. When teacher Choo dies, the study to become a teacher still remains, and whoever studies it will become a teacher. That course of study to become a teacher doesn’t disappear anywhere, just like the Truth, the knowing of which enabled the Buddha to become the Buddha.

So the Buddha is still here. Whoever practises and sees the Dhamma sees the Buddha. These days people have got it all wrong, they don’t know where the Buddha is. They say, “If I was born in the time of the Buddha I would have become a disciple of his and become enlightened.” That’s just foolishness.


As much as I love and respect Ajahn Chah, I don't think what he said related at all to what I said. Unless, of course, this was not directed to me, but to address what he says a little bit: Without "A Buddha" there is no Dharma, and to believe the Dharma exists eternally is to deny the need for Maitreya later when the Dharma is gone. There's plenty of cycles in which the Dharma is completely gone from the world, and that's when Pratyekabuddha arise along with the Samyaksambuddha. This is why there is actually a need for a Buddha, and to understand that Gautama Buddha did exist allows for the Dharma to continue to exist for a while longer. His disciples can still disseminate and understand the Dharma and we have access to the Dharma.

When Ajahn Chah says about teacher Choo that would be the moment when I would ask if, in the times of earlier human development, we do not know what the teachings of most ancient civilizations are how can we claim these teachings will last forever? Most of them (those disseminated by oral traditions) are gone, and we are completely ignorant of what they taught. Writing has only existed for 5,000 some odd years, and that is all the documentation we have of all history. The rest is a mystery. We don't know what civilizations were like and much of history has been lost. As will the Dharma one day. Does that mean that the natural laws will change and the Dharma will be completely different? I don't know that yet, because the future isn't yet knowable, but it's certainly possible. :shrug:
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