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Why was the Buddha omniscient? - Dhamma Wheel

Why was the Buddha omniscient?

A forum for members who wish to develop a deeper understanding of the Pali Canon and associated Commentaries, which for discussion purposes are both treated as authoritative.

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Coyote
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Why was the Buddha omniscient?

Postby Coyote » Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:33 pm

I hope that this is the right place to ask this question. I ask it here because I want the answer from an "orthodox" or "traditional" point of view rather than from more modern or scholarly point of view. I don't want a debate on whether or not the Buddha was omniscient.
If this is the wrong place to post this, then by all means move it.
It is my understanding that Classical Theravada states that the Buddha is all knowing, but why is this, or rather how did this come to be?
Is it a quality of being a sammasambuddha rather than an arahant? If the Nibbana attained both by the Buddha and the Arahant is the same, then why would this be so? Or is it more to do with him being a highly "evolved"(if I may use that word) being in the sense that he worked for eons gaining merit and perfections, and that this is why he has gained omniscience, not as a direct result of Buddhahood or the attainment of Nirvana but as a side effect of being meritious enough to become a Buddha? Or some other reason?
Are Buddhas by nature omniscient or perfect in other ways, and why is this so? I can see why a being that has become a Buddha would have to have gained a lot of perfections in order for that to become possible, but is it necessary?

Thank you,

Coyote
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
Iti 26

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Why was the Buddha omniscient?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:50 pm

Take a look at . That may answer some of your questions.
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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cooran
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Re: Why was the Buddha omniscient?

Postby cooran » Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:59 am

Hello Coyote,

These threads, containing posts in which the Tipitaka is quoted, may be of assistance:

Abhidhamma Vipassana – Omniscience
http://www.abhidhamma.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=95
The Buddha's Omniscience.
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=132&start=0#p709
omniscience of the Buddha
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=3005
Dr. Buddha? (question about omniscience)
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=1044
The Buddha vs Arahants
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=9779

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

Coyote
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Re: Why was the Buddha omniscient?

Postby Coyote » Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:57 am

Thank you both.

Cooran: The threads you have offered have been very helpful - it seems that the Buddha's omniscience is qualified by a "Buddha being able to know" everything knowable, rather than being omniscient in the sense that those with a background in Judao-Christianity would understand God as being omniscient - already knowing everything, not needing or able to learn.
I haven't actually read all of Bhikkhu Pesala's link yet, but my guess would be that this has something to do with the perfections that one aspiring to Buddhahood has to gain?
So omniscience is a quality of Buddhahood but not something related to his attainment of a special Nibbana.

My question would be - why would this make any difference after Nibbana has been reached? Why would an arahant not be "all-knowing", in the sense that he/she is able to know anything knowable - after all, the mind is no longer clouded by avijja.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
Iti 26

Clarence
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Re: Why was the Buddha omniscient?

Postby Clarence » Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:25 pm

Well, the Mahayanist would say it is because they have more merit and a different way of practicing insight. This is actually a good question to ask at the other forum. You could try to get Geoff/Nana) to answer your question as he could argue from a Mahayana point of view as well--and back it up with quotations. BTW, I don't mean to say the Mahayana answer is necessary better but it will provide an interesting view. Good question though.

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BubbaBuddhist
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Re: Why was the Buddha omniscient?

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:10 pm

I always thought this was self evident as soon as you read about being able to recall ALL of your past existences with perfect recall. If you had access to the accumulated wisdom/memories of uncountable previous existences, then you would have virtually limitless knowledge. Eh? :sage:

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daverupa
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Re: Why was the Buddha omniscient?

Postby daverupa » Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:07 pm


perkele
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Re: Why was the Buddha omniscient?

Postby perkele » Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:20 pm


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Viscid
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Re: Why was the Buddha omniscient?

Postby Viscid » Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:02 pm

Does The Buddha's knowledge of the future mean that it's pre-determined and we haven't the free will to change it?
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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cooran
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Re: Why was the Buddha omniscient?

Postby cooran » Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:27 pm

---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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daverupa
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Re: Why was the Buddha omniscient?

Postby daverupa » Tue Jan 03, 2012 2:04 am

If that is the case, why are we treating this holy task of memorization with such a cavalier attitude? Is it not the case that on that view, monastics are to memorize the Tipitaka (or share among them the parts to memorize) and the laity are not to do so ("...teach the Dhamma line by line... it is an offense"), and the laity ought support only those monastics/monasteries who/which perform this essential function of the Sangha?

If such a superior text transmission system is of value, isn't the lack of this a critical problem for modern Buddhism?

Nyana
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Re: Why was the Buddha omniscient?

Postby Nyana » Tue Jan 03, 2012 4:30 am


befriend
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Re: Why was the Buddha omniscient?

Postby befriend » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:49 am

buddha was also perfect in conduct. and was peerless.
nothing can destroy a man who has lived a pure life


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