How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Annapurna » Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:31 am

Viscid wrote:To what degree is belief in the historical existence of The Buddha necessary?

If the story of The Buddha was, say, a fictional creation of the First Buddhist council in order to homogenize teachings of different teachers, would that impact the practical implications of Buddhism all that much? Is the Buddha required, or is the Dhamma and Sangha sufficient?


My friend, you seem to have doubt. Just to make sure: Do you doubt?

Then I would recommend you read about "medium Kilesa".

Doubt is one of the 5 hindrances, (medium kilesa).

If the story of The Buddha was, say, a fictional creation of the First Buddhist council


This would imply that they intentionally lied and made up a story.

This would contradict their message of right speech.

I am sure this did not happen.

Clever liers make sure such contradictions are not so obvious and in plain view.

And the Dhamma is clever.

With Metta :smile:
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Viscid » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:23 pm

Annapurna wrote:My friend, you seem to have doubt. Just to make sure: Do you doubt?


I have doubt in the historical existence of The Buddha, but I am not implying that he did or didn't exist historically. Doubt is good when it leads to the investigation to remove doubt. If I didn't doubt, I'd be a Catholic.

I just want to know if it makes any difference in people's practice whether or not The Buddha is an historic person. I have no evidence to suggest he's a fabrication.

This would imply that they intentionally lied and made up a story.

This would contradict their message of right speech.


Would it be wrong speech if that lie resulted in the creation of Buddhism and gave the possibility of liberation to countless people? I think the lie would be worth making.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:48 pm

Viscid wrote:I just want to know if it makes any difference in people's practice whether or not The Buddha is an historic person.


Not really. Like I said, the Dhamma must have come from somewhere.

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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby clw_uk » Tue Dec 21, 2010 4:26 pm

Wizard in the forest


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.



The Dhamma was discovered by Buddha and so existed on its own, otherwise it is fabricated


"It is just as if a man, traveling along a wilderness track, were to see an ancient path, an ancient road, traveled by people of former times. He would follow it. Following it, he would see an ancient city, an ancient capital inhabited by people of former times, complete with parks, groves, & ponds, walled, delightful. He would go to address the king or the king's minister, saying, 'Sire, you should know that while traveling along a wilderness track I saw an ancient path... I followed it... I saw an ancient city, an ancient capital... complete with parks, groves, & ponds, walled, delightful. Sire, rebuild that city!' The king or king's minister would rebuild the city, so that at a later date the city would become powerful, rich, & well-populated, fully grown & prosperous.

"In the same way I saw an ancient path, an ancient road, traveled by the Rightly Self-awakened Ones of former times. And what is that ancient path, that ancient road, traveled by the Rightly Self-awakened Ones of former times? Just this noble eightfold path:



http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


The "path" is always there waiting to be discovered, all that changes is how many travel it


However it is always there regardless of if there is a Buddha or not
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby clw_uk » Tue Dec 21, 2010 5:31 pm

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.


Doesnt mean he did. Strangely enough the Jain scrpitures mention teachers like Makkhali Gossala but not Buddha.


Most of historians agree that he did exist


Who?

. 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.


All irrelevant

I can show you exactly where Buddha was born, exactly where he died, and exactly where he gained enlightenment


Doesnt mean he did actually live there, thats just where the texts and tradition pin it

.There's relics (cremated remains) of the Buddha


How do you know they are? Earlier you said you cannot do DNA testing and even if you could, that wouldnt prove who this person was. For all we know it is Paruna Kassapa

There are written records of his life


Written records of Jesus, doesnt mean he lived

. He is actually described physically by eyewitnesses in terms of stature, hair color, habits, etc., so it's fairly likely he existed.


Quite small details that are easy to fabricate

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 foss


Actually no, you have not provided any concrete evidence or hard reasoning
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:26 pm

clw_uk wrote:Wizard in the forest
"It is just as if a man, traveling along a wilderness track, were to see an ancient path, an ancient road, traveled by people of former times. He would follow it. Following it, he would see an ancient city, an ancient capital inhabited by people of former times, complete with parks, groves, & ponds, walled, delightful. He would go to address the king or the king's minister, saying, 'Sire, you should know that while traveling along a wilderness track I saw an ancient path... I followed it... I saw an ancient city, an ancient capital... complete with parks, groves, & ponds, walled, delightful. Sire, rebuild that city!' The king or king's minister would rebuild the city, so that at a later date the city would become powerful, rich, & well-populated, fully grown & prosperous.

"In the same way I saw an ancient path, an ancient road, traveled by the Rightly Self-awakened Ones of former times. And what is that ancient path, that ancient road, traveled by the Rightly Self-awakened Ones of former times? Just this noble eightfold path:


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


The "path" is always there waiting to be discovered, all that changes is how many travel it


The same path is not necessarily the one that is illuminated, and this begs the question of how the first Buddha in the countless aeons before attained enlightenment.

However it is always there regardless of if there is a Buddha or not


Probably not the exact same as the ones before.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Annapurna » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:33 pm

Viscid wrote:
Annapurna wrote:My friend, you seem to have doubt. Just to make sure: Do you doubt?


I have doubt in the historical existence of The Buddha, but I am not implying that he did or didn't exist historically. Doubt is good when it leads to the investigation to remove doubt. If I didn't doubt, I'd be a Catholic.

I just want to know if it makes any difference in people's practice whether or not The Buddha is an historic person. I have no evidence to suggest he's a fabrication.

This would imply that they intentionally lied and made up a story.

This would contradict their message of right speech.


Would it be wrong speech if that lie resulted in the creation of Buddhism and gave the possibility of liberation to countless people? I think the lie would be worth making.


I have doubt in the historical existence of The Buddha


Why? Just wondering. I don't.


I am not implying that he did or didn't exist historically. Doubt is good when it leads to the investigation to remove doubt.


Could this discussion possibly remove your doubt?


Would it be wrong speech if that lie resulted in the creation of Buddhism


Yes.

and gave the possibility of liberation to countless people? I think the lie would be worth making.


No, my friend. :smile:

If you really think the end result sanctifies the means, then this is not a pure path. It is manipulative and corrupt.

But I have a feeling you are not adverse to such an action, concluding from your last sentence.

Are you?

With Metta
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby clw_uk » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:33 pm

The same path is not necessarily the one that is illuminated


I dont know what this means :shrug:





and this begs the question of how the first Buddha in the countless aeons before attained enlightenment.


The Dhamma that each Buddha discovers is Dependent Origination, it existed before they discovered it otherwise they wouldnt have experienced dukkha

All Buddhas do is come to know and stop D.O. and teach others to do the same, however the principle of D.O. is an aspect of nature that existes regardless. If it did not then all the people before the Buddha would be free from dukkha already
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:46 pm

clw_uk wrote: Doesnt mean he did. Strangely enough the Jain scrpitures mention teachers like Makkhali Gossala but not Buddha.


So you're telling me that if a person said they were contemporaries of me, for example, and they mention meeting me and all describe me in the same way, if I am not referred to by a friend of mine in discourse unrelated to me, there's not enough proof I exist? :jumping: The Buddha and his contemporaries were documented in other scriptures, and you say it's not enough evidence to say he existed? That's ridiculous. What IS enough evidence I existed?

Who?


Karen Armstrong and Michael Carrithers for one.

Doesnt mean he did actually live there, thats just where the texts and tradition pin it


And none of them had any contact with each other for hundreds of years and yet the story is consistent. :D

How do you know they are? Earlier you said you cannot do DNA testing and even if you could, that wouldnt prove who this person was. For all we know it is Paruna Kassapa


Who would you compare the DNA to? We don't have the living Buddha to test it with. :jumping: Absurdity, absurdity, we have physical evidence that he exists and somehow because we cannot test it against the living man it is somehow not enough to say he existed? We have corroborating historical records and somehow it's not enough to say he existed? Just what would prove it to you?

Written records of Jesus, doesnt mean he lived


Is this where this is coming from? You can't compare them. There's only one historical record of Jesus. There's no other one; with Buddha there's multiple corroborations.

Quite small details that are easy to fabricate


Quite small details that are very hard to fabricate and corroborate where there was no contact for over 100 years. It would be like 8 witnessing and seeing me and passing down what I look like and describing me the same way 100 years later while never having talked to any other witnesses but they have the same story. :D

Actually no, you have not provided any concrete evidence or hard reasoning


I certainly have, you just don't accept it.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Anicca » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:51 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:
clw_uk wrote:However it is always there regardless of if there is a Buddha or not

Probably not the exact same as the ones before.

From Acariya Dhammapala
The oldest suttas, however, already mention three types of individuals who attain to the consummate state: a sammaasambuddha or perfectly enlightened Buddha, who realizes the goal without the aid of a teacher and teaches the Dhamma to others, founding a dispensation (saasana); a paccekabuddha or solitary enlightened one, who achieves realization unaided but does not establish a dispensation; and a disciple arahat, who realizes the goal through the instruction of a supreme Buddha and then teaches others according to his inclination and capacity. With the passage of time, quite possibly due to a decline in practice and an increasing rarity of higher attainments, these three types came to be viewed as three alternative ideals toward which a disciple could aspire in the hope of some distant future attainment. All were identical in their realization of nibbaana, but each was seen to stand for a distinct aspect of the enlightened personality and to presuppose a distinct yaana, a "vehicle" or spiritual career, leading to its actualization.

Distinct yet identical in realizing nibbaana. Dhamma has many definitions - to me, in "rediscovering" the Dhamma, Buddha started a "sasana" (The dispensation, doctrine, and legacy of the Buddha; the Buddhist religion [source]) utilizing the always present Dhamma.

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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:52 pm

clw_uk wrote:I dont know what this means :shrug:


The 28 Buddhas for example, did not teach the same way, and their Dharmas did not outlast the test of time. The Dharma of the Buddha too will one day be forgotten as we know it now.

The Dhamma that each Buddha discovers is Dependent Origination, it existed before they discovered it otherwise they wouldnt have experienced dukkha


You're mixing up the Dharma, the eternal law which is not what I am talking about, with the Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha. I do not deny the eternal law is rediscovered by Buddhas, but I do not think that the teachings were necessarily one and the same. One day, the teaching of the Buddha will vanish, and we will not have any way to lift the obscuration until it is rediscovered by Maitreya.

All Buddhas do is come to know and stop D.O. and teach others to do the same, however the principle of D.O. is an aspect of nature that existes regardless. If it did not then all the people before the Buddha would be free from dukkha already


That's why I said you're mixing it up. We're talking about Gautama Buddha aren't we?
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:54 pm

Anicca wrote: Buddha started a "sasana" (The dispensation, doctrine, and legacy of the Buddha; the Buddhist religion [source]) utilizing the always present Dhamma.

metta


And the Sasana will disappear one day. Such is the normal condition of impermanence.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby clw_uk » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:58 pm

So you're telling me that if a person said they were contemporaries of me, for example, and they mention meeting me and all describe me in the same way, if I am not referred to by a friend of mine in discourse unrelated to me, there's not enough proof I exist? The Buddha and his contemporaries were documented in other scriptures, and you say it's not enough evidence to say he existed? That's ridiculous. What IS enough evidence I existed?


Of course the fact that he isnt mentioned doesnt mean he didnt exist, I just said it was strange. Even more so since he debated many Jains


The Buddha and his contemporaries were documented in other scriptures, and you say it's not enough evidence to say he existed?


What scriptures, outside of the Pali Canon and chinese agmas?


Karen Armstrong and Michael Carrithers for one.


And who are they?



And none of them had any contact with each other for hundreds of years and yet the story is consistent


Of course it is if it shares the same foundational narrative, doesnt lead to an actual historical person though


Who would you compare the DNA to? We don't have the living Buddha to test it with


Why are you repeating my question as if addressing a weak point in my argument. It was your argument that there are relics which prove there is a Buddha, not mine


we have physical evidence that he exists and somehow because we cannot test it against the living man it is somehow not enough to say he existed?


You have physical evidence that somebody existed, how you prove that relic is from Buddha I dont know. I dont think you can, the onus is on you here


We have corroborating historical records and somehow it's not enough to say he existed?


What historical texts corroborate the Buddha


Just what would prove it to you?


Something stronger than an argument that a relic = Buddha

Is this where this is coming from? You can't compare them. There's only one historical record of Jesus. There's no other one; with Buddha there's multiple corroborations.


Such as?


Quite small details that are very hard to fabricate and corroborate where there was no contact for over 100 years. It would be like 8 witnessing and seeing me and passing down what I look like and describing me the same way 100 years later while never having talked to any other witnesses but they have the same story.


I think you need to be more clear on what historical separation you are talking about and who it is relating to


I certainly have, you just don't accept it.


Because you havent given me anything concrete
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby clw_uk » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:04 pm

You're mixing up the Dharma, the eternal law which is not what I am talking about, with the Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha. I do not deny the eternal law is rediscovered by Buddhas, but I do not think that the teachings were necessarily one and the same. One day, the teaching of the Buddha will vanish, and we will not have any way to lift the obscuration until it is rediscovered by Maitreya.



I think we had crossed wires. I was discussing the aspect of nature, D.O. and not the Buddhas way of teaching it, i.e. formulating it in the model of the 4NT's
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Cloud » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:13 pm

You know, training and teaching people with varying levels of understanding is really difficult. Some people have certain ideas, you tell them something and they don’t believe you. You tell them the truth and they say it’s not true. “I’m right, you’re wrong...” There’s no end to this.

If you don’t let go there will be suffering. I’ve told you before about the four men who go into the forest. They hear a chicken crowing, “Kak-ka-dehhhh!” One of them wonders, “Is that a rooster or a hen?” Three of them say together, “It’s a hen,” but the other doesn’t agree, he insists it’s a rooster. “How could a hen crow like that?” he asks. They retort, “Well, it has a mouth, hasn’t it?” They argue and argue till the tears fall, really getting upset over it, but in the end they’re all wrong. Whether you say a hen or a rooster, they’re only names. We establish these conventions, saying a rooster is like this, a hen is like that; a rooster cries like this, a hen cries like that... and this is how we get stuck in the world! Remember this! Actually, if you just say that really there’s no hen and no rooster, then that’s the end of it.

In the field of conventional reality one side is right and the other side it wrong, but there will never be complete agreement. Arguing till the tears fall has no use. (Ajahn Chah)

This argument, whether the Buddha existed or not, seems to have gotten only here... tears. :)
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby KonstantKarma » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:31 pm

It is my opinion the Buddha would encourage a healthy skepticism (keyword: healthy) for people in our day regarding his historical existence. I don't think he would want us to accept anything as blind fact, as religion is so prone to do that to us over and over again. He encouraged us to be skeptical of the dhamma.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:33 pm

Actually that is a hindrance to practice.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby clw_uk » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:34 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:Actually that is a hindrance to practice.



Some degree of skepticism is encouraged, otherwise its just blind acceptance
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:35 pm

clw_uk wrote:
Some degree of skepticism is encouraged, otherwise its just blind acceptance


Not if it's blinding doubt. You're supposed to take his teachings to the test if you're skeptical, and this should alleviate the doubt. If your doubt is so great that you deny reality then it's blinding doubt. Such is the kind of doubt taught by Sanjaya Belatthaputta.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Postby clw_uk » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:40 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:
clw_uk wrote:
Some degree of skepticism is encouraged, otherwise its just blind acceptance


Not if it's blinding doubt. You're supposed to take his teachings to the test if you're skeptical, and this should alleviate the doubt. If your doubt is so great that you deny reality then it's blinding doubt. Such is the kind of doubt taught by Sanjaya Belatthaputta.



Did I say "blinding doubt"? Bit of a straw man argument
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