Buddha talked to Acharn Mun?

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Re: Buddha talked to Acharn Mun?

Postby BlackBird » Mon Dec 09, 2013 8:47 pm

Hi Thule. I am aware of these texts and any such undertaking will probably make use of them, the focus however is on the 'biography', specifically for me it's events said to have taken place that contradict the word of the Buddha in the Suttas that I wish to bring to account, in no small part because it's the 'biography' that is found across the globe in Theravadin monasteries for free distribution, it's the biography that people give attention to, the rest is tertiary material in my eyes.

Some years ago, I was staying in a monastery, and I was young and impressionable. I found the book sitting around in the cloister for free distribution, so I took it up to my kuti and more or less couldn't put it down, at the time I found it quite inspiring, not the part I now see as eternalistic, but the parts concerning kammathana, the life of the monk and if I'm quite honest, all the visiting devas and magical happenings. I bought into the doctrine because I was inspired by the austerity and what I saw as pure lifestyle. Fortunately when the monks realized I was reading this text we had some discussions and I remember at the time being quite a vocal defender of the text, going so far to say to one Ajahn: "Do you think Ven. Maha Boowa was lying? Do you think he just made it up?" in some accusatory tone. In my mind monks of such a calibre were pure, there's no way one earth they could possibly say anything other than the factual truth as it happened. I didn't realize many of the accounts in the biography had been through several ears, were quite secondary/tertiary sources and had probably suffered from Chinese Whispers syndrome. Fortunately for me (I think) the venerable Monks managed to convince me that much of the doctrine presented within was at odds with the word of the Buddha.

My own example I have used to illustrate this point: I think there are probably quite a number of people in the same situation I was in, who buy into it because of the beautiful writing, the romanticism of a holy life in the jungle, and may go on thinking that it's quite in line with the Buddha's teachings, to their own detriment.

with metta
Jack
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Buddha talked to Acharn Mun?

Postby greenjuice » Thu Dec 12, 2013 3:46 pm

Concerning the notion of transcendental speech I mentioned, I found that there was an early Buddhist schools which believed in something like that- Nyanaponika Mahathera, Guide through the Abhidhamma Pitaka, Kathavatthu question 20:

20. Is there such a thing as ‘supramundane’ (lokuttara) communicating, or conversing (vohāra), of a Buddha? The Andh. believed so. Cf. MN 117, where there is spoken of ‘supramundane right speech (vācā), and the other supramundane constituents of the Holy Eightfold Path. Correctly speaking, only mind connected with the stages of holiness, and Nirvana, are supramundane. (Cf. 106).

(Andh. are http://www.palikanon.com/english/pali_n ... dhakaa.htm )
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Re: Buddha talked to Acharn Mun?

Postby Sokehi » Mon Dec 16, 2013 5:41 pm

Ajahn Sumedho "Teachings of a buddhist monk" - "Tools to use"
"Some people get fascinating signs in their practice. They see lights or have strange visions, and they immediately get fascinated by them, thinking: "This is a special sign, I'm a special person!" It is all just mad memories, mad perceptions.
The Zen Buddhists have a saying: "If you see the Buddha, kill him!" So, some people have these mad perceptions: the Buddha comes down and says: "Listen, friend, you're enlightened. I'm the Buddha and I'm saying this to you." This has happened, but such things are nothing but creations."


:anjali:
Get the wanting out of waiting

What does womanhood matter at all, when the mind is concentrated well, when knowledge flows on steadily as one sees correctly into Dhamma. One to whom it might occur, ‘I am a woman’ or ‘I am a man’ or ‘I’m anything at all’ is fit for Mara to address. – SN 5.2

If they take what's yours, tell yourself that you're making it a gift.
Otherwise there will be no end to the animosity. - Ajahn Fuang Jotiko

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Re: Buddha talked to Acharn Mun?

Postby Alex123 » Sat Dec 13, 2014 11:20 pm

manas wrote:It just occurred to me that, maybe we ought to be careful not to level any accusations of having been deluded at Ajahn Mun, and instead only question the veracity of the biography. I think we had better be careful with our speech here.


You are right. I am so sad and confused about all of this.

1) Could the Bhikkhu's vision, assuming that they occurred, be of nimitta or some sort of viewing/communicating of the past (when that Buddha was alive)?
2) Could what is written (be it in the suttas or in the accounts of "modern" masters) could be different from what has actually occurred?
3) Do we take suttas or the actual experiences as the guide? Where does kalama sutta or "have direct experience" factors in?


I am really really sad.
"dust to dust...."
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Re: Buddha talked to Acharn Mun?

Postby chownah » Sun Dec 14, 2014 2:12 am

So, did the buddha have a self which people actually saw 2500 years ago (more or less)....but the buddha no longer has a self so acharn mun could not have possibly spoken with him?
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Re: Buddha talked to Acharn Mun?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Dec 14, 2014 2:36 am

chownah wrote:So, did the buddha have a self which people actually saw 2500 years ago (more or less)....but the buddha no longer has a self so acharn mun could not have possibly spoken with him?
chownah


People saw Buddha's body when the Buddha was alive. Maybe today it was possible for some super monks to view the past or some sort of nimitta of the Buddha or Arhats.

Too bad that there isn't certainty. Is this monk's view on such and such correct or the suttas? After all, we don't have any concrete proof that everything in the suttas and/or VsM is correct. I don't see why "one/original mind" or "pure citta" needs to be interpreted in eternalistic sense. Maybe the story about such and such monk speaking to dead Arhats/Buddha is some sort of misinterpretation of some metaphor or something?
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Re: Buddha talked to Acharn Mun?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Dec 14, 2014 2:57 am

BlackBird wrote: Fortunately for me (I think) the venerable Monks managed to convince me that much of the doctrine presented within was at odds with the word of the Buddha. ...and may go on thinking that it's quite in line with the Buddha's teachings, to their own detriment.


The problem is that Buddha is not with us anymore. We do not know if the historical Buddha (if he event existed) didn't teach such and such. We may trust the suttas, but what is written down may be misinterpreted, be incomplete or incorrect.

We reject written teachings of other religions, yet don't question the written teachings of such and such Buddhist tradition. Why disregard experience of a great meditating monk? Do we go with suttas or experience?
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Re: Buddha talked to Acharn Mun?

Postby daverupa » Sun Dec 14, 2014 3:07 am

They inter-relate: the voice of another and in/appropriate attention - text and practice.
    "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: Buddha talked to Acharn Mun?

Postby Mkoll » Sun Dec 14, 2014 3:29 am

Alex123 wrote:The problem is that Buddha is not with us anymore. We do not know if the historical Buddha (if he event existed) didn't teach such and such. We may trust the suttas, but what is written down may be misinterpreted, be incomplete or incorrect.

We reject written teachings of other religions, yet don't question the written teachings of such and such Buddhist tradition. Why disregard experience of a great meditating monk? Do we go with suttas or experience?


SN 46.51 wrote:“And what, bhikkhus, is the nutriment for the arising of unarisen doubt and for the increase and expansion of arisen doubt? There are, bhikkhus, things that are the basis for doubt: frequently giving careless attention to them is the nutriment for the arising of unarisen doubt and for the increase and expansion of arisen doubt.

...

And what, bhikkhus, is the denourishment that prevents unarisen doubt from arising and arisen doubt from increasing and expanding? There are, bhikkhus, wholesome and unwholesome states, blameable and blameless states, inferior and superior states, dark and bright states with their counterparts: frequently giving careful attention to them is the denourishment that prevents unarisen doubt from arising and arisen doubt from increasing and expanding.
Peace,
James
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Re: Buddha talked to Acharn Mun?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Dec 14, 2014 3:48 am

Alex123 wrote:We reject written teachings of other religions, yet don't question the written teachings of such and such Buddhist tradition. Why disregard experience of a great meditating monk? Do we go with suttas or experience?


Sure we do, just look at any typical discussion here at DW. In fact, I'd guess that Buddhists question their own scriptures more so than most other religions. We examine history and try to locate the earliest texts and differentiate them and generally give greater value to what we deem to be earlier rather than later texts.

The experiences and teachings of great meditating monks is fine, but which one(s)? Some have different and contradicting teachings. Then all we can do is go back to the texts, the guides. We have our own experiences however, learning to drive requires lessons. Owning a car requires an owner's manual.

Regarding the historical Buddha; many have stated it doesn't matter, what matters is the teachings and their usefulness. However, we do have archeological evidence; the Edicts of Ashoka. Ashoka did not live that many years after the Buddha's paranibbana. Regarding hagiography; that is common in all religions for their founders. The difference with Buddhism, is if it is not true, it does not change the essential teachings.
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Re: Buddha talked to Acharn Mun?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Dec 14, 2014 5:17 am

Though I posted this elsewhere, it likely will have something to say in this thread as well:

Something of interest concerning visions of the Buddha from Paul William’s BUDDHIST THOUGHT, PAGES 108-111. There is, in this discussion on meditative aspects of the origins of the Mahayana that are of interest when looking at claim by Maha Bua about himself and Ajahn Mun.

One, and perhaps one of the few defining dimensions of Mahayana Buddhism is a vision and understanding of the Buddha as not really dead but still around. When stated and accepted this understanding entailed that Buddhism itself had the potential to change in the light of a continuing revelation.

It is indeed possible that the suggestion that the Buddha is still around may have been (in part) a response to particular visions in meditation, perhaps associated with meditation practices involving visualising the Buddha and known as buddhanusmrti (‘recollection of the Buddha’). We know that such practices were popular from a very early period, and that one of the results of these practices is that the meditator feels as if in the presence of the Buddha himself (Williams 1989:30, 217–20; Harrison 1978). In the Pratyutpanna Sutra, translated into Chinese by Lokaksema and studied by Paul Harrison, we find details of a visualisation practice in which the meditator visualises Buddha Amitayus in his ‘Pure Land’ (Buddha Field; q.v.) in the West, for twenty-four hours a day, for a whole week. After that, the sutra says, the meditator may have a vision of Amitayus, and receive new teachings not before heard. Moreover these new teachings the meditator is exhorted to transmit and expound to mankind.

It seems certain that a text like the Pratyutpanna Sutra (and perhaps other early Mahayana texts associated with Pure Lands and buddhanusmrti) describes practices which can lead to revelatory visions, and the Pratyutpanna Sutra itself advocates the promulgation of the teachings thus received. But while visions can occur in meditation, the occurrence of visions—messages apparently from a Buddha—does not explain why someone would take those messages seriously. Indeed the Buddhist tradition in general has tended to be very cautious, even dismissive, concerning visions seen in meditation. Of course, if it is correct that for many centuries there were very few followers of Mahayana in classical India, then the problem becomes less acute. But certainly some people took these revelations seriously, and those who took them seriously were sometimes great scholars. It is often said that the standard view of early Buddhism is that after the death of a Buddha he is beyond reference or recall, significantly and religiously dead. From such a perspective the idea of seeing a living Buddha in meditation is problematic. One way round this would be to claim that the Buddha visualised is simply a Buddha who has for one reason or another not yet died.

That would be to adopt a strategy of doctrinal reconciliation. As we shall see, this is indeed a strategy commonly adopted in Mahayana sources. But recent work by Gregory Schopen suggests that the atmosphere in Buddhist circles in Ancient India may have been at least emotionally more receptive to the idea that a dead Buddha is still around than was previously realised. Schopen has argued on archaeological and inscriptional grounds that the Buddha’s relics, preserved after his death in stupas, were felt to be the Buddha himself. The Buddha was thought in some sense to be still present in his relics and even in spots associated with his life (Schopen 1987a, 1990, 1994). Through his relics the Buddha was also treated as if present in the monastery, and was treated legally by the monastery and apparently by the wider community as a person with inalienable property rights. Schopen has shown that in day to day life the Buddha was felt very much to be present among the monks, if invisible.

Perhaps it was little wonder, then, that certain monks, inspired by the common meditation practice of ‘recollection of the Buddha’, buddhanusmrti, felt the genuineness of their visions of him and what had been revealed to them. Thus they arrived at the possibility of a continuing revelation and of course new sutras. Little wonder too, then, that eventually we find in some circles forms of religiosity developed centred on the supremacy of Buddhahood above all alternative goals. This religiosity focused too on the great compassion of one who remains present, transcending even death, helping sentient beings. It encouraged the need to attain a palpable immortality through becoming oneself a Buddha. In becoming a Buddha Sakyamuni, after all, is said to have triumphed over the Evil One, the ‘Devil’, Mara. The etymology of this name shows him to be the personification of death. Little wonder then that we also find in the meantime participation in ‘Pure Land’ cults, a need to see the Buddha if not in this life in meditation, then after death through rebirth in his presence in the Pure Land where he still dwells.

Thus it seems clear from early Mahayana texts that through meditation it was felt to be possible by some Buddhist practitioners to meet with a still-living Buddha and receive new teachings, receive perhaps the Mahayana sutras themselves. That some people actually took this possibility seriously may well have been prompted by a feeling on the one hand of sadness that the age of the living presence of the Buddha as a physical being had passed. But it was also prompted by an awareness of his continuing if rather invisible presence in the monastery, as relics imbued with the qualities of Buddhahood, the dharmakaya. These are themes that we shall meet again.
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: Buddha talked to Acharn Mun?

Postby Mkoll » Sun Dec 14, 2014 5:51 am

tiltbillings wrote:In the Pratyutpanna Sutra, translated into Chinese by Lokaksema and studied by Paul Harrison, we find details of a visualisation practice in which the meditator visualises Buddha Amitayus in his ‘Pure Land’ (Buddha Field; q.v.) in the West, for twenty-four hours a day, for a whole week. After that, the sutra says, the meditator may have a vision of Amitayus, and receive new teachings not before heard. Moreover these new teachings the meditator is exhorted to transmit and expound to mankind.

Am I understanding that correctly? Staying up for 7 days straight practicing visualizations? No wonder someone would get visions doing that: sleep deprivation can cause hallucinations. Even less surprising is that the object of the hallucination here relates to what the mind has been focusing on during that whole time.
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Re: Buddha talked to Acharn Mun?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Dec 14, 2014 6:02 am

Mkoll wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:In the Pratyutpanna Sutra, translated into Chinese by Lokaksema and studied by Paul Harrison, we find details of a visualisation practice in which the meditator visualises Buddha Amitayus in his ‘Pure Land’ (Buddha Field; q.v.) in the West, for twenty-four hours a day, for a whole week. After that, the sutra says, the meditator may have a vision of Amitayus, and receive new teachings not before heard. Moreover these new teachings the meditator is exhorted to transmit and expound to mankind.

Am I understanding that correctly? Staying up for 7 days straight practicing visualizations? No wonder someone would get visions doing that: sleep deprivation can cause hallucinations. Even less surprising is that the object of the hallucination here relates to what the mind has been focusing on during that whole time.
Also, it is worth noting that with the levels of concentration experienced in jhana, visions can be cultivated.
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

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Buddha talked to Acharn Mun?

Postby MisterRunon » Sun Dec 14, 2014 6:36 am

I don't have much to add to this topic.. but on a related note, I want to mention that sometimes I feel as if by the time I end up leaving this site, I do it knowing less than I originally knew.

:)
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Re: Buddha talked to Acharn Mun?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Dec 14, 2014 7:07 am

MisterRunon wrote:I don't have much to add to this topic.. but on a related note, I want to mention that sometimes I feel as if by the time I end up leaving this site, I do it knowing less than I originally knew.

:)
I turned 66 last month, and speaking from experience your feeling is something that will, if you are lucky, increase with age. As Dylan said: "Ah, but I was so much older then/I'm younger than that now."
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

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Buddha talked to Acharn Mun?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Dec 14, 2014 12:54 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:The experiences and teachings of great meditating monks is fine, but which one(s)? Some have different and contradicting teachings.


Those who did the most effort and those who you want to be like (those who display qualities that you like).
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