The Buddha's Omniscience.

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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Postby stuka » Tue Jan 06, 2009 4:48 pm

Will wrote:I prefer to think of "all-knowing" as being instantaneous, not simultaneous. The latter would give a very cluttered mind, even for a buddha. All he has to do is turn his attention to a subject or area and he will fully understand, instantly.



Too bad he didn't put to use everything he could just figure out instantly at will by magic about, say, computer science, aerospace technology, and mass communication.

:roll:
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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:54 pm

Will wrote:I prefer to think of "all-knowing" as being instantaneous, not simultaneous. The latter would give a very cluttered mind, even for a buddha. All he has to do is turn his attention to a subject or area and he will fully understand, instantly.


not necesarily!
the turning his attention and the arising of knowledge would be simultaneous to the arising of attention focused in a new direction! not instantaneous to the thought I will move my attention! when the buddha decides where the attention is going the knowing would arise of that area not before!
some more in my next responce to Dhammanando!
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:53 pm

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Jason,

Elohim wrote:No. Even if one were to read MN 90 as I do, rendering sabbannu as "knowing the all," the Buddha's response still makes sense in that it clarifies his position by rejecting the type of omniscience Mahavira claimed but not his own knowing the all as per SN 35.23.


But what grounds are there for supposing that the sabba in sabbaññū is the same as the sabba of the Sabba Sutta (i.e., the 6 sense bases and their objects) other than Kalupahana's saying so?

Given what sabbaññū seems to have meant to the Buddha's contemporaries in general, and given the claims that the Buddha indubitably makes for his vast cognitive range (i.e., three knowledges, six higher knowledges, ten Tathagata powers etc.) why do you find Kalupahana's take to be more plausible than that of the commentaries?

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu


the commentaries are not what the Buddha meant! they are what others think he meant! same goes for what the contemporaries think!
one question to ask here is is this what the buddha thought or what I think is meant due to sources outside the Buddha?
what if the buddha meant more than is supposed by some or most of the commentaries and meant what each of the views think? or what none of them think?
sabba as the six sense bases and as part of the "knowing the all" diminishes some of the omniscience assertions people place on the buddha while at the same time clarifying others I.E. these six sense bases are the all in knowing the all, so sabbannu could be more accurately rendered in this context as knowing himself fully. himself being the six sense bases! and considering it in light of MN71 where the four postures are mentioned in relation to the buddhas knowing the Satipatthana Sutta giving the four foundations of mindfulness, in relation to the four postures and focuses as a means to liberation, of the highest form noted (sammā-sambuddhassa) should also be considered!
here is couple of other questions! should the Suttas be taken individually and the meaning of them taken solely in the context of the individual sutta or should they be taken as a whole and the meaning of all the suttas be taken into account? and should what the commentaries say guide the understanding?
maybe the advice to the Kalamas could help?
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:05 am

Hi Manapa,

Manapa wrote:the commentaries are not what the Buddha meant!


Well, that's a matter of opinion, and you're not going to convince me by mere assertion.

In any case, I haven't in this thread been appealing to the commentaries' take on sabbaññū as if it were authoritative (as I would in the Classical Theravada forum) but merely as an interpretation that appears to me more probable than that proposed by Kalupahana and Elohim.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:56 am

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Manapa,

Manapa wrote:the commentaries are not what the Buddha meant!


Well, that's a matter of opinion, and you're not going to convince me by mere assertion.


Who said I am trying to convince you?

I see more than one door to to knowing what is meant!
I have an idea! I share, others take it or leave it!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:12 am

Hi Manapa,

Manapa wrote:Who said I am trying to convince you?


The exclamation mark in "the commentaries are not what the Buddha meant!" makes the sentence into a strongly declarative utterance. People usually make such utterances in full confidence that the listener or reader will be persuaded.

I have an idea! I share, others take it or leave it!


Okay, I guess this is one that I'll leave. :)

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Postby Jason » Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:38 am

Ven. Dhammanando,

Dhammanando wrote:But what grounds are there for supposing that the sabba in sabbaññū is the same as the sabba of the Sabba Sutta (i.e., the 6 sense bases and their objects) other than Kalupahana's saying so?


Kalupahana's opinion is one of the things I take into consideration. Another thing that I take into consideration is SN 35.23 where the Buddha defines precisely what he means by "sabba."

Jason
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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:52 am

Hi Jason,

Elohim wrote:Kalupahana's opinion is one of the things I take into consideration. Another thing that I take into consideration is how the Buddha defines precisely what he means by "sabba" (SN 35.23).


Well, we should expect him to, given its importance in the development of right view and vipassanā-bhāvanā. But the precise defining of it that you refer to still doesn't establish any connection between the sabba of the the Sabba Sutta and the sabba of sabbaññū.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:59 am

Hi Dhammananda
Dhammanando wrote:Hi Manapa,

Manapa wrote:Who said I am trying to convince you?


The exclamation mark in "the commentaries are not what the Buddha meant!" makes the sentence into a strongly declarative utterance. People usually make such utterances in full confidence that the listener or reader will be persuaded.


well the exclamation can be used for several different reasons, that being one.
one thing the exclamation isn't is a sentence end. and can be followed by a justifying note. or a warning of an error.
I am not confident I can persuade any, I'll leave that for them to do.

I have an idea! I share, others take it or leave it!


Okay, I guess this is one that I'll leave. :)

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu[/quote]

not often i see OK spelt nice to see as a reminder, it is one of those things I forget how to spell? :lol:
Metta
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Postby Jason » Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:42 am

Ven. Dhammanando,

Dhammanando wrote:Well, we should expect him to, given its importance in the development of right view and vipassanā-bhāvanā. But the precise defining of it that you refer to still doesn't establish any connection between the sabba of the the Sabba Sutta and the sabba of sabbaññū.


There is no substantial connection besides that it makes more sense to me in the context of verses such as, "I have overcome all, I know all, I am detached from all, I have given up all; I am liberated from moral defilements having eradicated craving" (Dhp 353).

Best wishes,

Jason
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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Postby Jason » Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:39 am

Everyone,

Well, after reviewing this thread, I thought I would add a few final thoughts. To begin with, I would like to state that my understanding of the Buddha's omniscience may not necessarily be correct, and I am the first to admit that I am somewhat biased in my "modern" approach to Buddhism. That being said, discussions like this (which I enjoy) are an excellent way to improve our understanding, or to see where our arguments are flawed.

I would also like to say that the I think the Ven. Dhammanando has certainly made some good points. one of which is that "... the commentarial view is that all knowable things are potentially accessible to [the Buddha's understanding, panna], but that they are not all simultaneously accessible." This then leads to the question of what is meant by a knowable thing, which, as Ven. Dhammanando explains, "is an important qualification, for nowhere is it asserted that all things are knowable things. And so the Buddha's "omniscience" as the commentators understand it, is far from being the Allah-like or Jehovah-like omniscience that some Mahayana Buddhists posit. For example, there must be at least some future things that are not knowable things, since for all future things to be knowable would require all future things to be predetermined, which would conflict with the Buddha's rejection of fatalism." I agree, and perhaps we can tackle this question in the future.

Another good point he made is that the idea of omniscience is possibly implied in the Buddha's response in MN 90; but, as it currently stands, my opinion is that in the context of the Buddha's omniscience, "knowing the all" is a more accurate rendering of sabbannu than "knowing all." As such, the Buddha's response in MN 90 still makes sense in that it clarifies his position by rejecting the type of omniscience Mahavira claimed but not his own knowing the all as per SN 35.23.

Not being a scholar of Pali, however, I am not able to establish a substantial connection between the sabba of the the Sabba Sutta and the sabba of sabbannu besides that it makes more sense to me in the context of verses such as, "I have overcome all, I know all, I am detached from all, I have given up all; I am liberated from moral defilements having eradicated craving" (Dhp 353). So, for now, I guess I will just have to leave it at that.

Sincerely,

Jason
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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Postby Alex123 » Sat Nov 27, 2010 1:33 am

I don't know why this was posted here. I must have saved my reply and clicked on the wrong tab to post it.
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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Nov 27, 2010 1:39 am

Alex123 wrote:For my argument, the fact of ability to know the future refutes the idea of totally free choice. If future is in theory, or when deliberately adverted to by the Buddha, is accurately knowable, that means that nothing can ever change it. The future can include the next hour, next minute or even a hypothetical situation.


Please do not be dragging this argument into other threads.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Re: A sad story of Vesali sutta (mass suicide)

Postby LXNDR » Tue Jul 08, 2014 1:51 pm

from here

thank you robertk, the Commentary is ridiculous, they manage to explain everything

-------------------------------------------

it's not about omniscience, mind reading has more to do with intuition

Smannaphala sutta (DN 2) wrote:
Mind Reading

"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs and inclines it to knowledge of the awareness of other beings. He knows the awareness of other beings, other individuals, having encompassed it with his own awareness. He discerns a mind with passion as a mind with passion, and a mind without passion as a mind without passion. He discerns a mind with aversion as a mind with aversion, and a mind without aversion as a mind without aversion. He discerns a mind with delusion as a mind with delusion, and a mind without delusion as a mind without delusion. He discerns a restricted mind as a restricted mind, and a scattered mind as a scattered mind. He discerns an enlarged mind as an enlarged mind, and an unenlarged mind as an unenlarged mind. He discerns an excelled mind [one that is not at the most excellent level] as an excelled mind, and an unexcelled mind as an unexcelled mind. He discerns a concentrated mind as a concentrated mind, and an unconcentrated mind as an unconcentrated mind. He discerns a released mind as a released mind, and an unreleased mind as an unreleased mind. Just as if a young woman — or man — fond of ornaments, examining the reflection of her own face in a bright mirror or a bowl of clear water would know 'blemished' if it were blemished, or 'unblemished' if it were not. In the same way — with his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability — the monk directs and inclines it to knowledge of the awareness of other beings. He knows the awareness of other beings, other individuals, having encompassed it with his own awareness. He discerns a mind with passion as a mind with passion, and a mind without passion as a mind without passion... a released mind as a released mind, and an unreleased mind as an unreleased mind.


Uposatha sutta (KN : Ud 5.5) wrote:When the night was (yet further) advanced and the last watch had ended, as dawn was approaching and the night was drawing to a close, a third time the Venerable Ananda arose from his seat... and said to the Lord: "The night is far advanced, revered sir, the last watch has ended; dawn is approaching and the night is drawing to a close and the bhikkhus have been sitting for a long time. Revered sir, let the Lord recite the Patimokka to the bhikkhus."

"The gathering is not pure, Ananda."

Then the Venerable Mahamoggallana thought: "Concerning which person has the Lord said, 'The gathering is not pure, Ananda'?" And the Venerable Mahamoggallana, comprehending the minds of the whole Order of bhikkhus with his own mind, saw that person sitting in the midst of the Order of bhikkhus — immoral, wicked, of impure and suspect behavior, secretive in his acts, no recluse though pretending to be one, not practicing the holy life though pretending to do so, rotten within, lustful and corrupt. On seeing him he arose from his seat, approached that person, and said: "Get up, friend. You are seen by the Lord. You cannot live in communion with the bhikkhus." But that person remained silent.

A second time and a third time the Venerable Mahamoggallana told that person to get up, and a second time and a third time that person remained silent. Then the Venerable Mahamoggllana took that person by the arm, pulled him outside the gate, and bolted it. Then he approached the Lord and said: "Revered sir, I have ejected that person. The assembly is quite pure. Revered sir, let the Lord recite the Patimokkha to the bhikkhus."

"It is strange, Moggallana, it is remarkable, Moggallana, how that stupid person should have waited until he was taken by the arm."


Katuviya sutta (AN 3.126) wrote:At one time the Blessed One was abiding in the deer park in Isipatana in Benares. The Blessed One putting on robes in the morning and taking bowl and robes entered Benares for the alms round and saw a certain bhikkhu going for alms, under a fig tree where cattle are bound. He was internally dissatisfied and his interests were turned out wards, forgetful, not aware and distracted the mind straying with uncontrolled mental faculties. Seeing him the Blessed One said: Bhikkhu, do not defile yourself. When you defile yourself an evil smell emanates and it is impossible that flies would not settle.

That bhikkhu advised by the Blessed One in this manner became remorseful. The Blessed One after going the alms round and after the meal was over addressed the bhikkhus: Bhikkhus, I put on robes in the morning and taking bowl and robes entered Benares for the alms round and saw a certain bhikkhu going for alms, under a fig tree where cattle are bound. He was internally dissatisfied and his interests were turned out wards, forgetful, not aware and distracted, his mind straying with uncontrolled mental faculties. Seeing him I said: Bhikkhu, do not defile yourself. When you defile yourself an evil smell emanates and it is impossible that flies would not settle.

That bhikkhu advised by me became remorseful.

When this was said a certain bhikkhu said: Venerable sir, what is defiling, what is the evil smell and what are flies?

Bhikikhu, the defiling is covetousness, the evil smell is aversion and flies are evil demeritorious thoughts. That bhikkhu defiling himself and emanating an evil smell, that flies should not settle is not possible.

With unprotected eyes and ears and mental faculties uncontrolled,
Flies in the form of greedy thoughts will settle.
The defiled bhikkhu emanates evil smells
Far from extinction, he has destroyed bliss.

In village or in forest not achieving his inner peace,
The fool sets forth followed by flies.
He that is virtuous and wisely attached to appeasemment
Sleeps well having destroyed the flies.



theoretically he could have read the mind state of at least one monk with suicidal tendencies developing while teaching them unattractiveness of the body
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Re: A sad story of Vesali sutta (mass suicide)

Postby santa100 » Tue Jul 08, 2014 3:29 pm

LXNDR wrote:he could have read the mind state of at least one monk while teaching them unattractiveness of the body

The Milindapanha and some quotes from Ven. Nagasena:
Ven. Nagasena: And so with those sixty Bhikkhus, they fell neither by the act of the Tathâgata nor of any one else, but solely by their own deed. Suppose, O king, a man were to give ambrosia to all the people, and they, eating of it, were to become healthy and long-lived and free from every bodily ill. But one man, on eating it, were by his own bad digestion, to die. Would then, O king, the man who gave away the ambrosia be guilty therein of any offence?

Ven. Nagasena: Just so, O king, does the Tathâgata present the gift of his ambrosia to the men and gods in the ten thousand world systems; and those beings who are capable of doing so are made wise by the nectar of his law, while they who are not are destroyed and fall. Food, O king, preserves the lives of all beings. But some who eat of it die of cholera. Is the man who feeds the hungry guilty therein of any offence?
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Re: A sad story of Vesali sutta (mass suicide)

Postby LXNDR » Tue Jul 08, 2014 6:10 pm

santa100 wrote:
LXNDR wrote:he could have read the mind state of at least one monk while teaching them unattractiveness of the body

The Milindapanha and some quotes from Ven. Nagasena:
Ven. Nagasena: And so with those sixty Bhikkhus, they fell neither by the act of the Tathâgata nor of any one else, but solely by their own deed. Suppose, O king, a man were to give ambrosia to all the people, and they, eating of it, were to become healthy and long-lived and free from every bodily ill. But one man, on eating it, were by his own bad digestion, to die. Would then, O king, the man who gave away the ambrosia be guilty therein of any offence?

Ven. Nagasena: Just so, O king, does the Tathâgata present the gift of his ambrosia to the men and gods in the ten thousand world systems; and those beings who are capable of doing so are made wise by the nectar of his law, while they who are not are destroyed and fall. Food, O king, preserves the lives of all beings. But some who eat of it die of cholera. Is the man who feeds the hungry guilty therein of any offence?


thank you, but so far i find Nagasena's explanations inadequate

we're talking here not of an ordinary ignorant man but of a Tathagata who is much more than that, at least so it is claimed

what Nagasena basically asserts is that Tathagata doesn't care, he does what he does, everything else is not his responsibility
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Re: A sad story of Vesali sutta (mass suicide)

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Jul 08, 2014 7:41 pm

LXNDR wrote:
it's not about omniscience, mind reading has more to do with intuition



OK, but your first post was about not about mind-reading and intuition. Your question was:

how could the Buddha have not been able to foresee such a gruesome effect his sermon would have on the monks?


Mind-reading and foreseeing the future are two different phenomena. Knowing the mental states of the monks as he taught them would not, in the absence of omniscience, guarantee knowledge of their future mental states. Even if I were to know the mind of another as well as I know own mind, I would not be able to say what my own mind will be doing a few hours hence.
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Re: A sad story of Vesali sutta (mass suicide)

Postby LXNDR » Tue Jul 08, 2014 9:22 pm

alright, suppose at the time of the sermon no monk developed suicidal tendencies in the mind so for the Buddha there was nothing ominous to mind-read

but when there's no intuition there's common sense, when a father teaches a child to use scissors or a knife he also explains possible dangers and safety measures, being a seasoned meditator and samana Buddha couldn't have not known the dangers of such type of practice to not caution the monks or just not teach it at all

other reasons why this went down is that there hadn't been previous accidents resulted from this type of practice so Buddha couldn't expect such an outcome or it was the first time it was ever recommended and engaged in, a kind of experimental stuff

still the situation looks suspect to me
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Re: A sad story of Vesali sutta (mass suicide)

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Jul 08, 2014 9:37 pm

LXNDR wrote:alright, suppose at the time of the sermon no monk developed suicidal tendencies in the mind so for the Buddha there was nothing ominous to mind-read

but when there's no intuition there's common sense, when a father teaches a child to use scissors or a knife he also explains possible dangers and safety measures, being a seasoned meditator and samana Buddha couldn't have not known the dangers of such type of practice to not caution the monks or just not teach it at all

other reasons why this went down is that there hadn't been previous accidents resulted from this type of practice so Buddha couldn't expect such an outcome or it was the first time it was ever recommended and engaged in, a kind of experimental stuff

still the situation looks suspect to me


What kind of suspicions do you have about this two-millenia old text which purports to describe some events which took place many years before? Would it help if you spelled them out in full?

Then, how can you deal with these suspicions? Have you considered contemplating them in terms of their allure, their drawbacks, and the escape from them?
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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Postby Zadok » Sat Jul 12, 2014 5:52 am

Jason wrote:Regarding the Buddha's omniscience, as it is generally understood by traditional Buddhists at least, there appears to be a fair amount of evidence suggesting that this was a later invention. In SN 54.9, for example, the Buddha gives a group of monks a talk praising foulness of the body meditation. After the talk, the Buddha goes into seclusion for half a month. While away, the monks practice foulness of the body meditation, but being repelled and disgusted with the body, many of them commit suicide or hire assailants to kill them. Upon returning, the Buddha asks Ananda why the Sangha looks so diminished. Ananda explains the situation and then asks the Buddha to give them another meditation method, which ends up being mindfulness of breathing.

Now, if the Buddha was indeed omniscient, it seems surprising that he would have had to ask Ananda what happened. This is especially true considering that Mahavira, who was also said to be omniscient, is ridiculed for going to an empty house for alms, asking for directions, etc. In fact, it is surprising that he did not simply give them a talk on mindfulness of breathing in the first place in order to avoid such a thing from even happening. The "orthodox" position that is supported by the commentaries, however, states that the Buddha already knew this was going to happen and basically played dumb.

The story given is that these monks were hunters in a past life that were reborn in hell, but due to some wholesome kamma, they gained rebirth in the human realm and became renouncers under the Buddha. Knowing that a portion of their original unwholesome kamma was about to ripen bringing on their deaths via homicide and suicide, and that there was nothing he could do to prevent this, the Buddha spoke of the foulness of the body in order to remove their attachment to the body so that they would lose their fear of death, to help them. Sounds like b.s. to me. Bhikkhu Bodhi even admits that "... the idea of kammically predetermined suicide seems difficult to reconcile with the concept of suicide as a volitionally induced act" (1951-52).

Furthermore, in MN 71, the Buddha rejects the assertion that he claims to be "omniscient and all-seeing." He says, "... those who say thus do not say what has been said by me, but misrepresent me with what is untrue and contrary to fact" (Bodhi), but the commentary states that all knowable things are potentially accessible to him. The issue, of course, is whether the Buddha is rejecting the claim that he is omniscient in the sense that all things are knowable to him at all times without interruption (i.e., that he is omniscient in the sense that all knowable things are potentially accessible to him) or whether he is simply rejecting the claim altogether.

There are suttas that supposedly support the commentarial position regarding the Buddha's omniscience. As Bhikkhu Bodhi notes, "At MN 90.8, the Buddha says that it is possible to know and see all, though not simultaneously, and at AN 4:24/ii.24 he claims to know all that can be seen, heard, sensed, and cognized. This is understood by the Theravada commentators as an assertion of omniscience in the qualified sense" (1276). But, I fail to see how MN 90.8 affirms this possibility. The Buddha does state that it is not possible for a recluse or brahmin to know and see all simultaneously, but he never explicitly asserts his own omniscience, and I have since found that many modern scholars share this view.

One example, from Edward Thomas in History of Buddhist Thought, states:

    "Already the Jains claimed omniscience for their leader. They are said to have held that he was "omniscient, all-seeing, and possessed complete knowledge and insight; that whether walking or standing, asleep or awake, knowledge and insight were continually present". This claim is ridiculed by the Buddhists, and the omniscient teacher is described as so ignorant that he goes for alms to a house not knowing that it is empty, or as having to ask his way to a village. Buddha is represented as denying that he claims such omniscience. What he claims is the three knowledges, (1) that he remembers numberless past existences, as far back as he wishes, (2) that with his divine eye he can see beings passing away and being reborn according to their karma, (3) that with the destruction of the asavas he has of himself attained and realized release of mind and knowledge in this life and abides in it." (148)

Another example, from David Kalupahana in A History of Buddhist Philosophy, states:

    "The terms sabbannu, sabbavidu ("all-knowing") and sabbadassavi ("all-perceiving") occur in the early discourses. The general tendency among modern interpreters of Buddhism is to assume that this is a knowledge-claim comparable to the "omniscience" claimed by Mahavira or in the theistic tradition, where it is attributed to divinity. Although the Buddha disclaimed such knowledge in the Tevijja-Vacchagotta-sutta, insisting that he possessed only the threefold higher knowledge ... scholars are more inclined to interpret the last, namely, wisdom (panna), as "omniscience." It is true that some of the later Buddhist metaphysicians like the Sarvastivadins propounded ideas that can serve as a basis for such knowledge-claims. Modern interpreters therefore attempt to attribute these ideas to the Buddha himself despite a mass of evidence against doing so.
    "To understand what the Buddha meant by "all-knowing" or "all-perceiving," it is first necessary to analyze the use of the term "all" (sabbam) in the early discourses. Interestingly, an important discourse relating specially to this problem is attributed to the Buddha:

      Thus have I heard. Once the Fortunate One was living at Savatthi, in the monastery of Anathapindindika, [situated] in the Jeta's Grove. Then the Fortunate One addressed the monks: "O, monks!" They responded: "Yes, O Venerable One!" and the Fortunate One spoke thus: "Monks, I will preach to you 'everything.' Listen to it. Listen to it. What, monks, is 'everything'? Eye and material form, ear and sound, nose and odor, tongue and taste, body and touch, mind and concepts. These are called 'everything.' Monks, he who would say, 'I will reject this []everything[/i] and proclaim another everything,' he may certainly have a theory [of his own]. But when questioned, he would not be able to answer and would, moreover, be subject to vexation. Why? Because it would not be within the range of experience."

    "This discourse makes the Buddha's position abundantly clear. For the Buddha, "all" or "everything" represented the subject defined in terms of the six senses and the object explained in terms of the six sense objects. However, to be "omniscient" it is necessary that one knows everything, not only of the past and present but also of the future. It is possible to claim that the obvious past and future can be known directly if one can perceive the essence of everything. That essence being permanent and eternal, one glimpse of it at any point would mean knowledge of everything. This is certainly how the Buddhist school of Sarvastivadins attempted to justify omniscience, but such a view cannot be attributed to the Buddha. Not only did he refuse to recognize knowledge of such an essence or substance as exisiting in the future, he also claimed that he failed to perceive any such entity surviving in the immediate past or in the present.
    "This is the implication of a disciple's statement: Na tuyham adittham asutam amutam va ato avinnatam kincanam atthi loke. This statement is sometimes interpreted as "You are omniscient," that is, "There is nothing that you have not seen, heard or conceived." This is an extremely superficial and reckless rendering of an important statement. The statement is to be understood in light of the definition of an "enlightened one" in the early Buddhist context. In fact, the term akincana, "one who does not look for something" (kinci; other than what is given in sensory experience, a la discourse on "everything" quoted above), is used to refer to the enlightened one. Hence, the above statement in Pali is more appropriately rendered as: "You do not have (or recognize) something (na kincana) that is not seen, heard, conceived or cognized in this world," which would be a negation rather than an assertion of the very metaphysics that serve as the basis for "omniscience." This idea was highlighted centuries later by the famous Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna (see Chapter XVI)." (43-4)

In conclusion, it is my opinion that the idea of the Buddha being an omniscient superman evolved over time, beginning not long after his death or possibily even while he was still alive. Theravada was relatively conservative in this transformation, though. An examination of the textual evidence suggests that some later traditions attempted to transform the Buddha into a transcendent being, and eventually, an emanation of the supramundane Buddha. This process can be traced, beginning with such works as the Mahavastu, and continuing on through works such as the Lalitavistara and the Saddharmapundarikasutra. Nevertheless, I believe that a similar scenario occurred in Theravada, albeit on a much smaller scale, and the Buddha was attributed with qualities that he himself rejected, or at the very least, qualities that were exaggerated. For what it is worth, I think that the Buddha knew and saw all when it came to suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering and the path leading to the end of suffering (which is impressive enough); but, to be honest, I have a hard time believing that the Buddha knew all and saw all in the biblical sense, and I see little evidence to suggest that he did.

Any thoughts, comments, criticism?


Follow the teachings, become a Buddha, then one will understand.
Zadok
 
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