John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:06 pm

retrofuturist wrote: Are Buddhist beliefs "unjustifiable", for example?


Some, yes. And in fact no different than in some other religions.

Ex: Fish 5,000km in length. City existing for 100,000 of years... Rain being caused (always or sometimes?) by devas.

Also the idea of Kamma from past lives (some of them long time ago) , while being better than Theistic beliefs, is not much more provable/verifiable than God/Satan handing out the punishment.


Many people reject the Christian idea of hell with demons and boiling pots of water, etc, etc. And yet this is found in the suttas.

There are many truths in the suttas. But just because someone was right 9/10, it doesn't make him/her right the 10th time.
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:09 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Arguing that one cannot define “religion” in terms of a belief in god or in a soul because such beliefs are not found among all religions,


In suttas there is belief in Gods, hell beings, angels (devas). There is belief that death is not the end and one is reborn if one didn't follow Buddhist path and become an Arahant or a Buddha.

Ñāṇa wrote:(1) What are the fundamental characteristics of human beings and the chief problems they face?


Human being is made of 5 Khandhas... Chief problem is Dukkha caused by craving (taṇhā)...

Ñāṇa wrote:(2) What are the characteristics of nonhuman reality that are of greatest significance for human life?


If one does not get off samsara or becomes an Aryan, one can still be reborn in hell realms. So we are in very dangerous position.

Ñāṇa wrote:(3) Given the nature of man and the universe, how should men try to live?


Keep 5 (or more precepts), follow Noble Eightfold Path...

Ñāṇa wrote:(4) Given the answers to the first three questions, what practices will best develop and sustain in men an understanding of the nature of human and nonhuman reality and a dedication to the ideal of human life?
(5) In seeking true answers to the first four questions, what method or methods should be used?


Vipassana, Samatha... Sīla, dāna (especially to the Bhikkhus), samādhi...


So Buddhism fits ALL those categories. Just because it believes in many gods, and hell/heaven realms which are not eternal. it doesn't make it any less religious.
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:56 pm

Will the Real Buddha Please stand up? Was there even a real historical Buddha?

I am not 100% sure that there even was a historical Buddha. I tend to believe, but I have no evidence.

Few things:
1) Do we have physical proof of his, his bones? How do we know that they belong to him and not some ascetic in those times?

2)We don't even know his name. Buddha is a title = Awakened one. Gotama is a clan name. Sakyamuni = Sakyan sage. None of them are first names.

The Buddha is on the whole an allegorical fiction these days, and we don't really know if he was ever anything more. Close attention to our earliest textual authorities reveals no recorded first name. The name Siddhartha appears only in later sources. His supposed surname was from one of the oldest and most prestigious Brahmin lineages mentioned in the Ṛgveda: Gotama (=most cows) from which we get the Surname Gautama (meaning ‘related to [the ancestor] Gotama). This is not a name that Kṣatriya can have been called, let alone someone who was most likely entirely outside the Brahmanical varṇa system. where I copied this


3) His biography is contradictory. We know the popular story about a rich prince who at age of 29 sneaked with the help of Channa the charioteer from the palace at night leaving his kingdom, wife and day old child.

    Even in the prime of youth, with black hair, against the wish of mother and father, when they were crying with tearing eyes, I shaved head and beard, donned yellow robes leaving the household became homeless. mn36


Apparently in this story:
i) his mother was alive, she did not die when he was born.
ii) Buddha did not sneak out from palace at night. He became a monk in front of their eyes.
iii) No mention of wife and child
iv) He is describe to be in "prime of youth" a strange description of 29 year old in ancient world with much shorter life expectancy. Youth today, when lifespan is longer, means (16-24) if not teenager or even younger.

The text reinforces his young age with several terms: dahara, yobbana and paṭhama vaya. The word dahara means 'little, a young boy, a youth'. Buddhaghosa glosses it with taruṇa 'a tender young age, esp. a young calf'. The second word, yobbana, also means 'a youth'. The phrase paṭhama vaya means in 'the first stage of life', as opposed to middle age and old age. However the text also says he shaves off hair and beard (kesa-massuṃ ohāretvā) and this is common to all of the various narratives of the Buddha's going forth. Unless this is simply a stock phrase the youth must have passed puberty, and had a year or two to grow a beard. But not much more: if we were to describe a grown man as 'a boy' or 'a youth' it would seem awkward at best. I think we could say that this is describing a youth of 15 or 16. The tradition later made him 29, which is into middle-age by the standards of the day. link
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby gerard » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:48 am

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Last edited by gerard on Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby manas » Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:59 am

Regarding this quote from earlier, not sure who originally said it:
In a sense, the modern Buddhist is trying to get at the more ancient and more traditional buddhism [or more correctly, Dhamma], and what we are finding is a Buddha who looks a lot more like a modern scientist.

- or could it rather be, that's what we want to find.

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Alex123 » Sat Dec 13, 2014 6:12 pm

manas wrote:Regarding this quote from earlier, not sure who originally said it:
In a sense, the modern Buddhist is trying to get at the more ancient and more traditional buddhism [or more correctly, Dhamma], and what we are finding is a Buddha who looks a lot more like a modern scientist.

- or could it rather be, that's what we want to find.


That is the problem. We start with preconceived notions and then search for the evidence in the suttas. What we like we accept, what we don't like we say "later additions!"

I can see how reasonably (older->newer)
a) mysticism -> technical stuff
and
b) technical stuff -> mysticism

could have developed.

Also, it does seem like suttas were modified at least slightly and gave us a "digest" of what was said. I just can't believe that real dialogue could go like it is in the suttas and how even a master debater who could make "pillars sweat" would be crushed so easily. In the online forums we see people much more tough then in the suttas. Of course "digest" begs the question: what was missing from the suttas? Would that missing stuff change our current beliefs about what the Buddha said or not?
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby daverupa » Sat Dec 13, 2014 6:19 pm

Alex123 wrote:That is the problem. We start with preconceived notions and then search for the evidence in the suttas.


That evidence, whatever it is, can be allowed to confirm, challenge, or rewrite those notions; coming to the table with baggage already is an obvious state of affairs, but it isn't a hopeless one. The texts are there for a reason: to take anyone, whatever their notions, and point them the right way.
    "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: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby silver surfer » Wed Dec 24, 2014 8:26 am

One thing I'm sure is that the Buddha was a master of satire. All the wise people I've met in my life were all smart and funny as hell. Quality sense of humor could tell you a lot about one's level of wisdom, probably the Buddha was no exception.

I never thought for one second that the suttas were written on the actual words of the Buddha. All the religious material on this planet are constructed and reconstructed over centuries. Say, maybe, 5% of the suttas include actual words from a man known as the Buddha, who apparently lived around 2500 BC. I'm still reading on the Sramana movement, downloaded lots of e-books. Apparently the Buddha was a Jain practitioner in his youth.

My mental image of the Buddha represents a perfected, egoless self, with perfect behavior, perfect morality, perfect energy, wisdom, perspective, perfect calm. Namely, the ultimate human state of being.

Theravada (along with Dzogchen and some Gnostic doctrines) seem to help me on the way with the methods and perspectives they provide.

:namaste:
This, bhikkhus, the Tathāgata understands. And he understands: ‘These standpoints, thus assumed, thus misapprehended, lead to such a destination.’ He understands as well what transcends this, yet even that, he does not misapprehend. As he is free from misapprehension, he has realized within himself the perfect peace. The Tathāgata, bhikkhus, is emancipated through non-clinging. These are those dhammas, bhikkhus, that are deep, difficult to see and understand, sublime, beyond reasoning, subtle, comprehensible only to the wise, which the Tathāgata, with direct knowledge, propounds to others.

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Mkoll » Wed Dec 24, 2014 9:25 am

silver surfer wrote:I never thought for one second that the suttas were written on the actual words of the Buddha. All the religious material on this planet are constructed and reconstructed over centuries. Say, maybe, 5% of the suttas include actual words from a man known as the Buddha, who apparently lived around 2500 BC. I'm still reading on the Sramana movement, downloaded lots of e-books. Apparently the Buddha was a Jain practitioner in his youth.

I think you meant 500 BC. Also, from what source did you hear that the Buddha practiced Jainism?
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby dhammarelax » Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:06 am

Hi,

Interesting interview, let me ask is there any deep study on the issue of the authenticity of the suttas ?

I read this work about the EBTs from Bhikkhu Sujato & Bhikkhu Brahmali:

http://www.ocbs.org/lectures-a-articles ... hist-texts

It seems a straight forward research, is is not addressing the organization of the Dhamma but whether the EBts are juts a created compilation or not so it might help in the discussion.

On a side note the Iliads historical accuracy was given support by the discovery of Troy by Heinrich Schliemann (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Schliemann), some ancient texts do seem to be somehow reliable.

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby daverupa » Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:32 am

Look through the Early Buddhism subforum, there are quite a few resources, and threads on this very matter. I'll look some up later on, but am running off to work.

:heart:

This post jogs my memory a bit...
    "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: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby silver surfer » Thu Dec 25, 2014 1:07 am

Mkoll wrote:I think you meant 500 BC.


Sorry, ofcourse :)

Mkoll wrote:I think you meant 500 BC. Also, from what source did you hear that the Buddha practiced Jainism?


Couple of my pdf files mention it.

Vaishali, the birthplace of Mahavira was at its height of prosperity, and by its association with Mahavira it became far-famed in the religious world of India. Teachers from Vaishali preached great principles for the uplift of humanity and lived an austere life of fasts and penances, and Mahavira stood out as the most prominent of his contemporaries.

According to the Mahāvastu, the Buddha sought his first teachers, Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta in Vaishali and even started his life as a Jain, under their teachings. After discovering his Middle Path, he became more and more honored at Vaishali, receiving a royal reception; the city built him a kutagara-sala, a pinnacled rest house in its suburban park known as the Maha-vana. It was at Vaishali that the Second Buddhist Council was held; and it came to be looked upon as a holy spot where differences in the Sangha could be ironed out. His celebrated disciple Amra-pali was a resident of Vaishali at which place she bequeathed her park to the Buddha and the community.


Some online Hindu/Jain pages also argue that the Buddha practiced Jain asceticism for a while, prior to his enlightenment.
This, bhikkhus, the Tathāgata understands. And he understands: ‘These standpoints, thus assumed, thus misapprehended, lead to such a destination.’ He understands as well what transcends this, yet even that, he does not misapprehend. As he is free from misapprehension, he has realized within himself the perfect peace. The Tathāgata, bhikkhus, is emancipated through non-clinging. These are those dhammas, bhikkhus, that are deep, difficult to see and understand, sublime, beyond reasoning, subtle, comprehensible only to the wise, which the Tathāgata, with direct knowledge, propounds to others.

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Mkoll » Thu Dec 25, 2014 1:48 am

silver surfer wrote:
Mkoll wrote:I think you meant 500 BC. Also, from what source did you hear that the Buddha practiced Jainism?


Couple of my pdf files mention it.

Vaishali, the birthplace of Mahavira was at its height of prosperity, and by its association with Mahavira it became far-famed in the religious world of India. Teachers from Vaishali preached great principles for the uplift of humanity and lived an austere life of fasts and penances, and Mahavira stood out as the most prominent of his contemporaries.

According to the Mahāvastu, the Buddha sought his first teachers, Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta in Vaishali and even started his life as a Jain, under their teachings. After discovering his Middle Path, he became more and more honored at Vaishali, receiving a royal reception; the city built him a kutagara-sala, a pinnacled rest house in its suburban park known as the Maha-vana. It was at Vaishali that the Second Buddhist Council was held; and it came to be looked upon as a holy spot where differences in the Sangha could be ironed out. His celebrated disciple Amra-pali was a resident of Vaishali at which place she bequeathed her park to the Buddha and the community.

The Mahāvastu is part of the Lokottaravāda school, a sub-sect of the Mahāsāṃghika. The Mahāsāṃghika seem to be a source of the initial development of Mahayana Buddhism.

silver surfer wrote:Some online Hindu/Jain pages also argue that the Buddha practiced Jain asceticism for a while, prior to his enlightenment.

Some Hindus also claim the Buddha is an avatar of Vishnu.

See wikipedia for the source of this information.
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby dhammarelax » Sat Dec 27, 2014 11:09 am

Mkoll wrote:
silver surfer wrote:I never thought for one second that the suttas were written on the actual words of the Buddha. All the religious material on this planet are constructed and reconstructed over centuries. Say, maybe, 5% of the suttas include actual words from a man known as the Buddha, who apparently lived around 2500 BC. I'm still reading on the Sramana movement, downloaded lots of e-books. Apparently the Buddha was a Jain practitioner in his youth.

I think you meant 500 BC. Also, from what source did you hear that the Buddha practiced Jainism?


From A History of Mindfullness by Bhiku Sujato:

"Although the Bodhisatta never identifies himself in this period as following any teacher, his practices and views are identical with the Jains.
And when the group of five ascetics abandoned him they went to stay in the ‘Rishi’s Park’ in Benares, where even today there is a Jain temple."

and:

"Also, their goal was typically psychic powers, whereas the Jains aimed at liberation of the soul. Thus the Bodhisatta’s austerities are
closer to the Jains than any other group we know of; the Jains themselves preserve a tradition that the Buddha spent time as a Jain ascetic."

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Mkoll » Sat Dec 27, 2014 12:01 pm

dhammarelax wrote:
Mkoll wrote:
silver surfer wrote:I never thought for one second that the suttas were written on the actual words of the Buddha. All the religious material on this planet are constructed and reconstructed over centuries. Say, maybe, 5% of the suttas include actual words from a man known as the Buddha, who apparently lived around 2500 BC. I'm still reading on the Sramana movement, downloaded lots of e-books. Apparently the Buddha was a Jain practitioner in his youth.

I think you meant 500 BC. Also, from what source did you hear that the Buddha practiced Jainism?


From A History of Mindfullness by Bhiku Sujato:

"Although the Bodhisatta never identifies himself in this period as following any teacher, his practices and views are identical with the Jains.
And when the group of five ascetics abandoned him they went to stay in the ‘Rishi’s Park’ in Benares, where even today there is a Jain temple."

and:

"Also, their goal was typically psychic powers, whereas the Jains aimed at liberation of the soul. Thus the Bodhisatta’s austerities are
closer to the Jains than any other group we know of; the Jains themselves preserve a tradition that the Buddha spent time as a Jain ascetic."

Smile all the time
dhammarelax

Thanks.

For some reason you didn't also include the rest of the paragraph in between those two quotes:

Such ideas were not exclusive to the Jains; they were common in the
Indian yogic tradition, and are met with frequently in the early Brahman
ical scriptures as well, as Mahā Kaccāna’s verses above indicate. In fact
the Jains were reformists, in that they rejected forms of asceticism that
might harm living beings, and they also laid stress on the proper mental
attitude. Earlier, more primitive, ‘professors of self-torture’ had believed
in the efficacy of the physical torture itself, irrespective of any mental
development. Also, their goal was typically psychic powers, whereas the
Jains aimed at liberation of the soul. Thus the Bodhisatta’s austerities are
closer to the Jains than any other group we know of; the Jains themselves
preserve a tradition that the Buddha spent time as a Jain ascetic.

I wouldn't deny the possibility but I would reject the conclusion that "the Buddha was a Jain practitioner in his youth" when he just as easily could have been practicing based on his own inspiration and/or based upon common practices and ideas that were widespread in the samana culture. Either way, it is unlikely we will ever know for sure.
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Postby Sylvester » Sun Dec 28, 2014 7:20 am

I am hoping that some of the members of DW who are specialists in post-modern studies or perhaps analysts of myths in literature would come out of the woodwork and contribute ideas about the place and function of the suttas' mythic elements. I get the impression that academic engagements with mythic literature have graduated from the old Church fears of literalism (since that leads to a challenge of the Theistic narrative) and are now looking at myth much more favourably as sophisticated literary devices.

One such recent example is Gethin's lovely analysis* of that grotesquely mythic sutta, DN 17. He gives a pretty convincing explanation that the imagery in that sutta is just allegory for the forms of escape/transcendance from the world. I'm not sure if his approach is unusual or common for his circles, but it would be interesting to see how much of the mythic elements can be reduced to symbolism, without stirring up more angst over the literalism of rebirth.

* Mythology as meditation: from the Mahāsudassana Sutta to the Sukhāvativyuha Sūtra, JPTS Vol 28, 63 - 112.


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