to those who maintain or suggest that the buddha was using skillful means and that rebirth is not real: how does this fit in with his teaching that arahants cannot say anything that is not true?
i suppose if you think he was lying for skillful means then maybe that was a lie too? he was lying when he said arahants cannot lie? if this is the case then we really have no idea what he was telling the truth about and what was skillful means, right?
wouldn't it be much more reasonable to assume he never said anything that is not true as opposed to making blind assumptions that he lied sometimes but also taught at all times that lying is not something enlightened ones do... but that that could be another lie? once we make the buddha into someone who lies, simply so that we may explain a part of the dhamma that is not totally understood, it severely affects literally everything else in the dhamma.
i understand other debates on rebirth but this one just seems absurd. i appreciate ideas like:
"perhaps rebirth was added by others, not the buddha."
i would even appreciate something off the wall like:
"the buddha was enlightened and taught how to reach nibbana which is mental freedom. nibbana is real. rebirth is not real but he didn't know that because he was tripping out when he saw his past lives due to starvation and a sudden uptake of carbohydrates and protien causing such and such chemicals in his brain, blah blah blah, hallucinations of past lives. however after the hallucination subsided he was still able to maintain his mental freedom and teach others to reach the same state but never learned that the past lives was just a bad trip."
or even a total wash like:
"the whole thing is made up. it's all a big joke."
all of those are more plausible than the skillful means thing.
so don't get me wrong. i don't think the debate is a bad thing, it's a very valid idea to discuss. i just don't understand how anyone could possibly consider this "skillful means" idea with any seriousness. not to mention the whole skillful means thing is a mahayana idea and i don't believe it exists in the pali canon. it's a lotus sutra thing and surely other places but i think it's long after theravada closed their canon. "skillful means: do whatever you want as long as it leads to nibbbana." come on, that attitude is so far from anything in the pali canon it's nuts.
i don't get it.