The Buddha's Personality, only in other traditions?

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The Buddha's Personality, only in other traditions?

Postby Jhana4 » Sat Apr 09, 2011 4:14 pm

I've been reading a book by Shaila Catherine, a meditation teacher who has studied meditation with teachers in several Buddhist traditions. In her book she states that the commentaries to suttas depict the Buddha joking around in good nature with some students. She made him sound like a real human being with a personality resembling a contemporary meditation teacher.............versus the sterile non-personality I see in English translations of the Pali Canon.

Do these commentaries that flesh out the personality exist in the Theravada tradition or were Catherine's comments like from suttas in other Buddhist traditions?
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Re: The Buddha's Personality, only in other traditions?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:13 am

Greetings Jhana4,

The Buddha of the Sutta Pitaka was not bereft of humour... he was witty, intelligent and insightful. One might call his humour "dry".

Back in the day at E-Sangha there was a detailed exploration by members on the use of humour in the suttas. Alas that is now gone (unless perhaps one wishes to poke around one of those Internet archives), but I've always found this to be rather amusing...

DN 16: Mahaparinibbana Sutta wrote:At that time the Venerable Upavana was standing before the Blessed One, fanning him. And the Blessed One rebuked him, saying: "Move aside, bhikkhu, do not stand in front of me."

And to the Venerable Ananda came the thought: "This Venerable Upavana has been in attendance on the Blessed One for a long time, closely associating with him and serving him. Yet now, right at the end, the Blessed One rebukes him. What now could be the reason, what the cause for the Blessed One to rebuke the Venerable Upavana, saying: 'Move aside, bhikkhu, do not stand in front of me'?"

And the Venerable Ananda told his thought to the Blessed One. The Blessed One said: "Throughout the tenfold world-system, Ananda, there are hardly any of the deities that have not gathered together to look upon the Tathagata. For a distance of twelve yojanas around the Sala Grove of the Mallas in the vicinity of Kusinara there is not a spot that could be pricked with the tip of a hair that is not filled with powerful deities. And these deities, Ananda, are complaining: 'From afar have we come to look upon the Tathagata. For rare in the world is the arising of Tathagatas, Arahants, Fully Enlightened Ones. And this day, in the last watch of the night, the Tathagata's Parinibbana will come about. But this bhikkhu of great powers has placed himself right in front of the Blessed One, concealing him, so that now, at the very end, we are prevented from looking upon him.' Thus, Ananda, the deities complain."

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: The Buddha's Personality, only in other traditions?

Postby plwk » Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:23 am

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"When a monk's awareness often remains steeped in the perception of the unattractive, his mind shrinks away from the completion of the sexual act...

Orgasm...? :tongue:
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it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

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Re: The Buddha's Personality, only in other traditions?

Postby alan » Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:51 am

After you've read the Suttas a few times a certain knowing wit does surface...I like Retro's idea of a "dry" attitude. Sometimes we see him throw out a jest that sails above the head of, say, King Pasenadi. There are texts that make subtle fun of opposing views. We have no way of knowing if he engaged monks with jokes, but my guess is that he didn't need to.
A bit of humor is nice to lighten the mood of a group of students, sure. But I'd like to think the Buddha's personal dignity was sufficient to gather the attention of his audience.

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Re: The Buddha's Personality, only in other traditions?

Postby chownah » Sun Apr 10, 2011 2:40 am

The Buddha does not anywhere indicate that he ever joked or said anything of a frivolous nature.....if I am wrong please bring a reference....I've been requesting a reference for this for a long time and so far no one has produced one......it could be that the humor we see in the texts is entirely of our own imagination....

If there was the concept of "sacrilige" in Buddhism then surely considering the Buddha's "personality" would be sacriligious in that the Buddha taught that we should have no doctrine of self....and certainly considering that the Buddha had a personality is a doctrine of self...................hahahhahahhaha................isn't that humorous?
chownah

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Re: The Buddha's Personality, only in other traditions?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Apr 10, 2011 3:41 am

There are differences of opinions and interpretations among Theravada Buddhists, but there is possibly at least some subtle humor in the Pali Canon from the Buddha:

http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Humor

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Re: The Buddha's Personality, only in other traditions?

Postby Ben » Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:15 am

On the use of humour and metaphor, may I suggest Richard Gombrich's classic: "How Buddhism Began: the conditioned genesis of the early teachings"
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: The Buddha's Personality, only in other traditions?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:36 am

One example of the Buddha making a funny:

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=737&p#p8996
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

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Re: The Buddha's Personality, only in other traditions?

Postby chownah » Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:24 am

The thing in the suttas I find the funniest is when one of the Buddha's friends exclaimed that good friendship was half of the holy life and the Buddha countered with....no no no....it is 100% of the holy life...........hahhahahahahahha

I think the Buddha was serious....I think its hilarious!!!!!!!
chownah

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Re: The Buddha's Personality, only in other traditions?

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:18 pm

I guess humour is where you find it.

FWIW, I'm with Retro and Alan on this one - in the suttas I often see a dry wit skillfully employed to make a serious point.

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: The Buddha's Personality, only in other traditions?

Postby Jhana4 » Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:01 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:There are differences of opinions and interpretations among Theravada Buddhists, but there is possibly at least some subtle humor in the Pali Canon from the Buddha:

http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Humor



Thanks David!
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Re: The Buddha's Personality, only in other traditions?

Postby chownah » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:50 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:I guess humour is where you find it.

..........
Kim

Exactly!!!! It's where you find it....not where someone else put it.......
chownah

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Re: The Buddha's Personality, only in other traditions?

Postby alan » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:08 am


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Re: The Buddha's Personality, only in other traditions?

Postby shjohnk » Thu May 12, 2011 2:16 am

For me, focussing on whether the Buddha had a sense of humour or not would distract me from the essence of what he said. I love the way he is so brutally efficient whenever someone tries to draw him on any topic that would not lead to a greater understanding or faith in the Dhamma :buddha1:
I can just imagine if i turned round now and he was behind me, maybe he'd be like: 'You know you don't need those other four web pages open,'
I hope I can move gradually (or rapidly!) towards removal of so much papanca that clogs my life and mind.


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