A Grumpy Buddha?

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A Grumpy Buddha?

Postby Bankei » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:51 am

In the Mahaparinibbana Sutta there is an incident when the Buddha appears to lose his temper, or maybe just being a bit grumpy.

7. 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."

8. 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'?"


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .vaji.html Thanissaro's translation.

What do you think?
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Re: A Grumpy Buddha?

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:56 am

The Buddha gives the answer shortly thereafer:

9-10. 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."


Apparently the monk was blocking the view of the Buddha for the devas.
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Re: A Grumpy Buddha?

Postby Bankei » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:00 am

Yes, thank you David. but do you think the Buddha was being grumpy or angry here?
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Re: A Grumpy Buddha?

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:08 am

Bankei wrote:Yes, thank you David. but do you think the Buddha was being grumpy or angry here?


Hmm, could be, if there is such a thing as being grumpy, but with perfect upekkha and karuna. For example, in the Vinaya, we see the Buddha frequently say things like, "you foolish monk . . . " but it is for the benefit of the monk to correct him and to lay down a rule for the Sangha.

It could be a skillful means to make a point (to the specific person and the general community), but inside there is no anger, no ill-will, and certainly no harm meant.
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Re: A Grumpy Buddha?

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Jan 08, 2010 6:45 pm

I think it is easy to read emotions which are not there into words, based on our own imgaination. A bit like how easy it is to misunderstand emails.
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Re: A Grumpy Buddha?

Postby poto » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:24 pm

I don't think there was any anger or grumpiness in the Buddha's words. Seems like he was just asking Ananda to move aside so the crowd could have a better view.
Last edited by poto on Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C. S. Lewis
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Re: A Grumpy Buddha?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:05 pm

rowyourboat wrote:I think it is easy to read emotions which are not there into words, based on our own imagination. A bit like how easy it is to misunderstand emails.

All too easy. One of my supporters thought that the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw was grumpy because she had only ever seen formal photographs of him, like this one taken not long before his death in 1982.

Its a cultural thing — Burmese monks are not supposed to smile when photographs are taken.

This rare footage shows the Sayādaw more at ease and when he was much younger.

I am always getting into trouble for misreading people's emotions on forums, or by them misreading my intentions.

Since the Buddha was totally free from ill-will, he was absolutely free from grumpiness. The Pāli text of the Dīghanikāya does use a word (apasāresi) that implies blame and criticism. Apparently, a close attendant of the Buddha should have known better than to stand where he did.

See also Dismissal of the Order
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Re: A Grumpy Buddha?

Postby withoutcolour » Sat Jan 09, 2010 5:08 am

I think the way Buddha's words are written can sometimes come off as "grumpy" because he is so precise in his description of things, he describes the point directly and concisely and doesn't dance around and sugar-coat stuff. Heck, if you're blocking the deva's view of the Tathagata on his death bed, he'll ask you to move! Buddha can sometimes be all business!
In this way, his words can seem impersonal and disconnected, but as said above, we cannot hear how it was being said, and the translation is an approximation of what the monks remember the Buddha saying, as close as they can recall.
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Re: A Grumpy Buddha?

Postby Reductor » Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:31 am

MN 139: non-conflict, trans. Bodhi

10. ... "Here, bhikkhus,when one knows overt sharp speech to be untrue, incorrect, and unbeneficial, one should on no account utter it. ... But when one knows overt sharp speech to be true, correct, and beneficial, one may utter it, knowing the time to do so."


I take 'correct' to mean well formed and accurate in its expression of the truth.
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