The Buddha's conception and birth

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The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby Alobha » Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:45 pm

See: http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... huta_Sutta

I've got a question about the sutta and am interested in how other Buddhists deal with some of the mentioned points there:

Venerable sir I have heard these words from the Blessed One himself and you acknowledged them. ‘Ananda, when the Bodhisatta came forth from his mother’s womb, he was born pure uncontaminated with water in the passage, phlegm, blood or any impurity. As though a gem was placed on a Kasi cloth. The Kasi cloth is not soiled by the gem, nor the gem by the Kasi cloth. This is on account of the purity of both. In the same manner when the Bodhisatta came forth from his mother’s womb, he was born pure uncontaminated with water in the passage, phlegm, blood or any impurity.’ Venerable sir, this too I hold as something wonderful and marvelous about the Blessed One.


"Venerable sir I have heard these words from the Blessed One himself and you acknowledged them. ‘Ananda, soon after the Bodhisatta was born, he stood firmly on his feet, and while a white parasol was held over him, took seven steps to the north, surveyed all four directions and uttered these majestic words: “ I’m the highest in this world, the best and the foremost. This is my last birth, I will not be born again.’ Venerable sir, this too I hold as something wonderful and marvelous about the Blessed One.


How are both things possible ? A baby walking after birth and speaking ? It normally takes a lot of training of the leg muscles and the speech apparatus (crawling, babbling, all that stuff) before human children can do that. Did the Buddha really have a normal human body? And a birth where a child is coming out totally clean, no blood or water or anything? I'm no specialist with child birth but don't babies practically swim in all those substances in the mother's womb?

I guess what i'm rather asking for is a rationale how to cope with this. Am I the only one for whom this miracle wobbling is sometimes a bit "much" without the ability to verify it?

Best wishes,
Alobha
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Re: The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby Alex123 » Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:58 pm

The Buddha taught Dhamma to his followers who may have known his biography quite well. Some time later, to popularize the teaching more for the masses, such accounts were created. I am very uncertain about finding non-contradictory biography of Gotama.

You probably know the story about him sneaking out of the palace in the middle of the night.

""So, at a later time, while still young, a black-haired young man endowed with the blessings of youth in the first stage of life — and while my parents, unwilling, were crying with tears streaming down their faces — I shaved off my hair & beard, put on the ochre robe and went forth from the home life into homelessness." MN26

No hints at sneaking from a palace at night. He left the home with his parents fully knowing it.
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Re: The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby Alobha » Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:10 pm

Alex123 wrote:Some time later, to popularize the teaching more for the masses, such accounts were created. I am very uncertain about finding non-contradictory biography of Gotama.


Why would the Sangha that actually preserved the Nikayas for centuries, put wrong words into the Buddha's or Ven. Ananda's mouth? I don' think the Sangha would preserve or create a wrong story intentionally with the intention that lies will help to spread the ultimate truth. So I do take for granted that the things were said by the Buddha and by Ven. Ananda.
But the mentioned accounts seem very odd nontheless when one assumes that the Buddha and his mother had normal human bodies.
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Re: The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:12 pm

Alobha wrote:I guess what i'm rather asking for is a rationale how to cope with this. Am I the only one for whom this miracle wobbling is sometimes a bit "much" without the ability to verify it?
Hagiography and myth making. All religions do it.
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.

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Re: The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby daverupa » Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:32 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Alobha wrote:I guess what i'm rather asking for is a rationale how to cope with this. Am I the only one for whom this miracle wobbling is sometimes a bit "much" without the ability to verify it?
Hagiography and myth making. All religions do it.


Indeed; it's probably more fruitful to ask: why those stories, why those images, what were those motives, what were the causes and conditions of such being added to the texts?
    "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: The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby gavesako » Sat Sep 08, 2012 7:22 am

Some scholars suggest that it was in competition with the other Indian religions: the later generations of Buddhists needed to prove that their Master was just as great and worked similar miracles as the others. Also the use of visualization techniques probably gave rise to some fabricated imagery which was taken for "real" representation of the Buddha. Glorification of one's teacher can easily happen with a little bit of self-deception.
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Re: The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:23 pm

I agree with the good responses above.

The other important point (imo) is that such myths are not the essence or important in Buddhism. For example, in Orthodox or Catholic Christianity one must believe that Jesus rose from the dead, in the flesh, not just the spirit, that he is the Son of God, born of a virgin, etc. These things are essential in those religions or you are pretty much not a member of the religion.

In Buddhism the focus is suffering and the way out of suffering.
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Re: The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:41 pm

The important question is not whether or not the event happened as described, but what the story tells us about the Buddha.

There is a great quote by G. K. Chesteron where he said, "Fairy Tales are true not because they teach us that dragons exist, but that dragons can be beaten." Sometimes a myth or legend has great value, not in historicity but in its ability to use hagiographic embellishment to render beautiful truths at an emotional level.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby whynotme » Sat Sep 08, 2012 6:02 pm

Alobha wrote:See: http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... huta_Sutta

I've got a question about the sutta and am interested in how other Buddhists deal with some of the mentioned points there:

Venerable sir I have heard these words from the Blessed One himself and you acknowledged them. ‘Ananda, when the Bodhisatta came forth from his mother’s womb, he was born pure uncontaminated with water in the passage, phlegm, blood or any impurity. As though a gem was placed on a Kasi cloth. The Kasi cloth is not soiled by the gem, nor the gem by the Kasi cloth. This is on account of the purity of both. In the same manner when the Bodhisatta came forth from his mother’s womb, he was born pure uncontaminated with water in the passage, phlegm, blood or any impurity.’ Venerable sir, this too I hold as something wonderful and marvelous about the Blessed One.


"Venerable sir I have heard these words from the Blessed One himself and you acknowledged them. ‘Ananda, soon after the Bodhisatta was born, he stood firmly on his feet, and while a white parasol was held over him, took seven steps to the north, surveyed all four directions and uttered these majestic words: “ I’m the highest in this world, the best and the foremost. This is my last birth, I will not be born again.’ Venerable sir, this too I hold as something wonderful and marvelous about the Blessed One.


How are both things possible ? A baby walking after birth and speaking ? It normally takes a lot of training of the leg muscles and the speech apparatus (crawling, babbling, all that stuff) before human children can do that. Did the Buddha really have a normal human body? And a birth where a child is coming out totally clean, no blood or water or anything? I'm no specialist with child birth but don't babies practically swim in all those substances in the mother's womb?

I guess what i'm rather asking for is a rationale how to cope with this. Am I the only one for whom this miracle wobbling is sometimes a bit "much" without the ability to verify it?

Best wishes,
Alobha

Dear Alobha,

IMO, modern science understands not very well about human, by this I don't mean to discredit all biology but things like jhana for example are not well known. So keep your mind opened, it may be pure myth but also something outside of current knowledge. And the Buddha didn't have a normal body, but exceptional body because of his good kamma, none of human body in our history can compare to his.

Well, even for physical body, someone like Usain Bolt suddenly run faster others by a margin with his tallness not suited very well for sprinting. His record is still under the human limit, but maybe someone like the Buddha is outside of normal limit, who knows. One way for sure, you can follow his way through jhana then direct your mind to the achievement, if it is not like that then you can tell us, the suttas are all bullshit :mrgreen:

If you want the truth, the lazy masses (include me) won't give it to you, you must seek it yourself. All the great people, scientists like Einstein, I. Newton, G. Galilei.. they seek the truth themselves even it means against the current knowledge of their time, but who cares if you only care about the truth.

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Re: The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby equilibrium » Sun Sep 09, 2012 5:35 pm

This is an excellent observation about the Buddha, not a "normal body" but "exceptional body".
When one says that exceptional body because of his good kamma, then that view is based on a human being point of view as one is thinking like a human being.
Thinking like a human being clearly has limitations and it is unlikely to answer the OP questions.

What is important is this is clearly "beyond" human and to be able to think even in a similar way, one needs to be able to see what is.

However, there are issues that are really important here that must be taken into consideration:
What did the Buddha bring to this world?.....a teaching.
Purpose of teaching?.....to show human beings to escape, a way out.

Why the Buddha himself and not some other person?
Why Show us a way out?
The birth is not normal as per other humans.....why?

Because the Buddha is not a human being, it is beyond human.....One would need to understand what makes one human first.
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Re: The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:40 pm

whynotme wrote: . . .


equilibrium wrote: . . .
So, are you two arguing that the text in question be taken literally, as describing an actual, literal history?
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby Hanzze » Mon Sep 10, 2012 3:58 am

Maybe it is good (if the intention is to increase conviction rather than doubt) to argue differently or to view things differently. What about questioning what "soon" means?

"soon after the Bodhisatta was born"

It could be also a wrong interpretation out of gramma mistakes. "...soon after he was born, while standing firmly on his feet, and while a white parasol was held over him, took seven steps to the north, surveyed all four directions and uttered these majestic words..." Here the attention might transport more to what was said rather to the "mystic" in which condition it was performed.

One other thought is, that for example asian children are much faster on feets as western children today and there are many mammals which are very quick on feet and in communication after birth.

Those areguments should not increase blind faith or even believes on mysticals, but give maybe an intention to remember on what we are working. Not to forget that people tend to overstate extraordinary phenomenas to be sure that they are recogniced as not "normal".
If somebody tells about an extraordinary big fish, he will make him maybe twice it's size. Even it is not that right, the fish was how ever extraordinary. Somebody, who's intention in listening is not directed to the message behind, would rather argue that those are stories of cheaters and would not give much attentions on the fish at all.

Maybe one likes to reflect about that.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby whynotme » Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:34 am

tiltbillings wrote:
whynotme wrote: . . .


equilibrium wrote: . . .
So, are you two arguing that the text in question be taken literally, as describing an actual, literal history?

Yes, I meant that

there are many mammals which are very quick on feet and in communication after birth

Many thanks
Good point, exactly there are many

Regards
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Re: The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby equilibrium » Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:51 am

tiltbillings wrote:
whynotme wrote: . . .

equilibrium wrote: . . .
So, are you two arguing that the text in question be taken literally, as describing an actual, literal history?

If one wishes to then they can, if one don't then don't.....simple.....but only a piece of history.
What is more important is the future and "NOW" is the time to create that future.
Everything is Cause and effect.
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Re: The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Sep 10, 2012 5:07 pm

whynotme wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
whynotme wrote: . . .


equilibrium wrote: . . .
So, are you two arguing that the text in question be taken literally, as describing an actual, literal history?

Yes, I meant that
So, do you take everything in te suttas as being literally, historically true?
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Sep 10, 2012 5:09 pm

equilibrium wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
whynotme wrote: . . .

equilibrium wrote: . . .
So, are you two arguing that the text in question be taken literally, as describing an actual, literal history?

If one wishes to then they can, if one don't then don't.....simple.....but only a piece of history.
What is more important is the future and "NOW" is the time to create that future.
Everything is Cause and effect.
Since there is no reason to take stories like that literally true, I don't, but I wonder if there might be a problem for those that do. I wonder if you might see what such problems might be.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby whynotme » Mon Sep 10, 2012 6:22 pm

tiltbillings wrote:So, do you take everything in te suttas as being literally, historically true?

Yes, I take everything in the suttas as literally, historically true

Regards
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Re: The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Sep 10, 2012 6:27 pm

whynotme wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:So, do you take everything in te suttas as being literally, historically true?

Yes, I take everything in the suttas as literally, historically true

Regards
And there are those who take everything in the Bible as being literally/historically true, and there are those who take everything in the Puranas as being literally/historically true, and there those who take everything in the . . . . It is a strange world we live in.
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.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby equilibrium » Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:26 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Since there is no reason to take stories like that literally true, I don't, but I wonder if there might be a problem for those that do. I wonder if you might see what such problems might be.

Only a piece of history hence it is not of great significance.....the teaching is more important.
At best, it is a belief for those who wish to belief.....but this will not go well as it can back fire if revealed to the public, one can believe what they want but it is what one understands that matters more.
A good saying to this is never judge a book by its covers.
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Re: The Buddha's conception and birth

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:57 pm

In spite of some mythical things like the (pre-Buddhist) 32 marks of a great man and this Sutta, the Theravada is pretty uniform in the doctrine that the Buddha was a human being -- a man who became the Buddha, the samma-sam-buddha; certainly a great being, but whose history is that of a human.

In the Mahayana, however, there is the Trikaya concept where mythologies appear to take more precedence, where I have even heard that some life events were just a "show" in the cosmic plan.

Personally, I prefer the Theravada account.
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