DN16: How to explain this WRONG explanation about earthquakes?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.

How do you explain this blatant error?

The Buddha was not omniscient and only had the three knowledges. He could have been wrong about other things.
8
33%
The Buddha was omniscient but spoke what was understood at his time, like the explanation about Nibbāna and a🕯️.
3
13%
Geologists are wrong. The Buddha is right.
4
17%
Scribal error.
0
No votes
Later edition of the sutta (since it's not found in the equivalent Agama).
3
13%
Other.
6
25%
 
Total votes: 24

User avatar
Ceisiwr
Posts: 11036
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: DN16: How to explain this WRONG explanation about earthquakes?

Post by Ceisiwr »

They also show up in early Greek philosophy too.
"I have stopped, Aṅgulimāla … I have stopped for ever"

Aṅgulimāla Sutta
User avatar
Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta
Posts: 1440
Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2019 5:06 pm

Re: DN16: How to explain this WRONG explanation about earthquakes?

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta »

Fifth option may also be something like this:
  • That sutta entry which the Agamarians just didn't know how to cope with and accordingly, deliberately and ignorantly omitted.

I chose other.
  • Geologists are contextually right.
  • If Buddha said so, then it must be contextually absolutely right in that space-time-person-culture-wise, unless it was said as an similie or in a figurative sense.
  • I seriously believe Buddha's omniscience in that he was absolutely able to know everything he wanted to know, and I'm also quite sure that Buddha didn't bother with those that are not worth knowing, which may or may not include these kind of questions.
Please may I ask:
  • Do you think the answer to your question seriously worth knowing for you?

:heart:
.


🅢🅐🅑🅑🅔 🅓🅗🅐🅜🅜🅐 🅐🅝🅐🅣🅣🅐

Self ...
  • "an entirely and perfectly foolish idea" :D ~ MN22
User avatar
Ceisiwr
Posts: 11036
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: DN16: How to explain this WRONG explanation about earthquakes?

Post by Ceisiwr »

rhinoceroshorn wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 2:59 pm
I will be the devil's advocate:
How can you see the workings of the cosmos, expansion, retraction, beings passing away and arising in accordance with their kamma, the Brahma world, and can't explain gravity or give a better explanation about a simple earthquake? :reading:
All of that happens in one’s head. None of that involves discovering how the material world works, which is best done via the scientific method. It is possible to know all of that and yet not know which is the best theory of gravity or earthquakes. Another answer would be that the Buddha deals in certain knowledge and not what is probable, with science being strictly about what is probable and never about what is certain knowledge.
"I have stopped, Aṅgulimāla … I have stopped for ever"

Aṅgulimāla Sutta
User avatar
rhinoceroshorn
Posts: 1135
Joined: Fri May 01, 2020 7:27 pm

Re: DN16: How to explain this WRONG explanation about earthquakes?

Post by rhinoceroshorn »

Ceisiwr wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 3:28 pm
rhinoceroshorn wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 3:15 pm
I also considered that. Hindus love to put those 5 elements everywhere. I was reading a book on Ayurveda and even food is classified like that. Sweet taste is water and earth, for example. :rolleye:
Yes it’s quite common in the old texts. There is even a Upanishad that originates from the Buddha’s time which analyses the body in terms of the 4 elements in a near identical manner to what we see in the suttas. The Buddha would have known about the Vedas and the Upanishads and these ideas seem quite common to all of the religious and philosophical schools at that time. It seems to be something that is just accepted as a given. Sometimes the 4 elements seem to be described as literally material “stuff” but other times simply as “qualities”. Going back to the OP, I don’t think the Buddha was interested in if there is matter or not or scientific theories (or we should say, proto-scientific theories back then) about how the world out there functions, but more our experience and how that functions. As such I can see why he would simply accept this theory of earthquakes as a given. He probably didn’t give much thought to it at all.
Reasonable!
Eyes downcast, not footloose,
senses guarded, with protected mind,
not oozing — not burning — with lust,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.
Sutta Nipāta 1.3 - Khaggavisana Sutta
Image
See, Ānanda! All those conditioned phenomena have passed, ceased, and perished. So impermanent are conditions, so unstable are conditions, so unreliable are conditions. This is quite enough for you to become disillusioned, dispassionate, and freed regarding all conditions.
Dīgha Nikāya 17
User avatar
rhinoceroshorn
Posts: 1135
Joined: Fri May 01, 2020 7:27 pm

Re: DN16: How to explain this WRONG explanation about earthquakes?

Post by rhinoceroshorn »

Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 3:36 pm Please may I ask:
  • Do you think the answer to your question seriously worth knowing for you?

:heart:
Actually, there is no way to know the truth about this. Just collecting opinions.
It'd be useful to know the range of knowledge of the Buddha. The most pragmatic position is assuming he was not omniscient. It doesn't create unnecessary implications and we can hypothesize he was maybe wrong, not blindly denying the possibility of mistakes.
Eyes downcast, not footloose,
senses guarded, with protected mind,
not oozing — not burning — with lust,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.
Sutta Nipāta 1.3 - Khaggavisana Sutta
Image
See, Ānanda! All those conditioned phenomena have passed, ceased, and perished. So impermanent are conditions, so unstable are conditions, so unreliable are conditions. This is quite enough for you to become disillusioned, dispassionate, and freed regarding all conditions.
Dīgha Nikāya 17
User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 3733
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: DN16: How to explain this WRONG explanation about earthquakes?

Post by Coëmgenu »

rhinoceroshorn wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 2:33 pmthis part of the sutta is not in the equivalent Agama
I think it might be. Who said it wasn't?

佛告阿難:「凡世地動,有八因緣。 何等八?夫地在水上,水止於風,風止於空, 空中大風有時自起,則大水擾,大水擾則普 地動,是為一也。
The Buddha spoke to Ānanda, saying "Generally speaking (凡), for the world to quake, there are eight reasons. Which eight? This ground floats upon the water. The water rests in the wind. The wind rests in empty space. When a great wind amidst the empty space disturbs the water, a flood follows. The flood disturbs the entire earth and it shakes. This is is the first cause (for the earth to quake)."


-DA 2

Tsunamis often happen after/during earthquakes. I say "during" because earthquakes can have aftershocks during the tsunami. Seeing a tsunami in conjunction with an earthquake would make this story more reasonable. You just need to imagine a wind somewhere caused the tsunami, which hit the floating earth and made it shake in addition to flooding it.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.

(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
Mr. Seek
Posts: 189
Joined: Sun Oct 25, 2020 5:45 am

Re: DN16: How to explain this WRONG explanation about earthquakes?

Post by Mr. Seek »

rhinoceroshorn wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:18 pmIt'd be useful to know the range of knowledge of the Buddha. The most pragmatic position is assuming he was not omniscient. It doesn't create unnecessary implications and we can hypothesize he was maybe wrong, not blindly denying the possibility of mistakes.
It's great how the suttas have an answer to everything. For example, the Acintita Sutta (AN 4:77):
“The Buddha-range of the Buddhas [i.e., the range of powers a Buddha develops as a result of becoming a Buddha] is an inconceivable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness and vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.
Snp 5.11—"Having nothing, free of clinging: That is the island, there is no other."
User avatar
rhinoceroshorn
Posts: 1135
Joined: Fri May 01, 2020 7:27 pm

Re: DN16: How to explain this WRONG explanation about earthquakes?

Post by rhinoceroshorn »

Coëmgenu wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:21 pm
rhinoceroshorn wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 2:33 pmthis part of the sutta is not in the equivalent Agama
I think it might be. Who said it wasn't?

佛告阿難:「凡世地動,有八因緣。 何等八?夫地在水上,水止於風,風止於空, 空中大風有時自起,則大水擾,大水擾則普 地動,是為一也。復次,阿難!有時得道比丘、比 丘尼及大神尊天,觀水性多,觀地性少,欲 自試力,則普地動,是為二也。
The Buddha spoke to Ānanda, saying "Generally speaking (凡), for the world to quake, there are eight reasons. Which eight? This ground floats upon the water. The water rests in the wind. The wind rests in empty space. When a great wind amidst the empty space disturbs the water, a flood follows. The flood disturbs the entire earth and it shakes. This is is the first cause (for the earth to quake)."


-DA 2
Dan74 wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:57 am It's possible that you are right, mpcahn, it's also possible that these are later additions.

For instance the Chinese Agama version of the Mahaparinibbana Sutta makes no mention of the earthquake passage at all.
:shrug:
Eyes downcast, not footloose,
senses guarded, with protected mind,
not oozing — not burning — with lust,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.
Sutta Nipāta 1.3 - Khaggavisana Sutta
Image
See, Ānanda! All those conditioned phenomena have passed, ceased, and perished. So impermanent are conditions, so unstable are conditions, so unreliable are conditions. This is quite enough for you to become disillusioned, dispassionate, and freed regarding all conditions.
Dīgha Nikāya 17
User avatar
rhinoceroshorn
Posts: 1135
Joined: Fri May 01, 2020 7:27 pm

Re: DN16: How to explain this WRONG explanation about earthquakes?

Post by rhinoceroshorn »

Mr. Seek wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:26 pm
rhinoceroshorn wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:18 pmIt'd be useful to know the range of knowledge of the Buddha. The most pragmatic position is assuming he was not omniscient. It doesn't create unnecessary implications and we can hypothesize he was maybe wrong, not blindly denying the possibility of mistakes.
It's great how the suttas have an answer to everything. For example, the Acintita Sutta (AN 4:77):
“The Buddha-range of the Buddhas [i.e., the range of powers a Buddha develops as a result of becoming a Buddha] is an inconceivable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness and vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.
That was predictable. :lol:
Since Theravada assumes the Buddha is omniscient, I can assume he was not. Complain with the tradition which firstly assumed this position and made us think the Buddha knew about gravity and earthquakes. :rolleye:
Eyes downcast, not footloose,
senses guarded, with protected mind,
not oozing — not burning — with lust,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.
Sutta Nipāta 1.3 - Khaggavisana Sutta
Image
See, Ānanda! All those conditioned phenomena have passed, ceased, and perished. So impermanent are conditions, so unstable are conditions, so unreliable are conditions. This is quite enough for you to become disillusioned, dispassionate, and freed regarding all conditions.
Dīgha Nikāya 17
User avatar
Ceisiwr
Posts: 11036
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: DN16: How to explain this WRONG explanation about earthquakes?

Post by Ceisiwr »

rhinoceroshorn wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:29 pm
Mr. Seek wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:26 pm
rhinoceroshorn wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:18 pmIt'd be useful to know the range of knowledge of the Buddha. The most pragmatic position is assuming he was not omniscient. It doesn't create unnecessary implications and we can hypothesize he was maybe wrong, not blindly denying the possibility of mistakes.
It's great how the suttas have an answer to everything. For example, the Acintita Sutta (AN 4:77):
“The Buddha-range of the Buddhas [i.e., the range of powers a Buddha develops as a result of becoming a Buddha] is an inconceivable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness and vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.
That was predictable. :lol:
Since Theravada assumes the Buddha is omniscient, I can assume he was not. Complain with the tradition which firstly assumed this position and made us think the Buddha knew about gravity and earthquakes. :rolleye:
The position of the commentaries is that the Buddha could know anything he wanted but he didn't know everything at once at the same time. To quote the sub-commentary to DN 1:
"With the abandoning of the entire obstruction of the knowable, the Exalted One gained the unobstructed knowledge which occurs subject to his wish and is capable of comprehending all dhammas in all their modes. By means of this knowledge the Exalted One was capable of penetrating all dhammas in continuous succession (santaanena); therefore he was omniscient or all-knowing in the way fire is called 'all-consuming' through its ability to burn all its fuel in continuous succession. He was not, however, omniscient in the sense that he could comprehend all dhammas simultaneously."
Which is perfectly in line with MN 90 and AN 4.24.
"I have stopped, Aṅgulimāla … I have stopped for ever"

Aṅgulimāla Sutta
santa100
Posts: 4494
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: DN16: How to explain this WRONG explanation about earthquakes?

Post by santa100 »

rhinoceroshorn wrote:Please, don't try to convince me this is any right. It's obviously wrong.
It's interesting that a seemingly scientific-leaning person like you already shut down your mind for abstract reasoning and further investigation. If there's anything we can learn out of science, its' that it constantly evolves and it never stops investigating ideas, no matter how crazy they seems to be at the moment. Just remember what you believe as absolute scientific truth as of now will likely be perceived as incorrect, dumb, and ignorant a few centuries later down the road, exactly as how you're seeing the beliefs of folks back then during the Buddha's time in 5 B.C! So with that said, it's totally possible that the Buddha was omniscient but simply used the existing common lingo at the time to convey the necessary infos to his listeners, with just enough scopes to help their practice. Afterall, He already made this point clear in the Simsapa Leaves Sutta. So, to demonstrate the point, see if you could understand what Prof. Brian Greene was saying in the video below using his normal non-dumbed-down lingo to explain General Relativity:

User avatar
rhinoceroshorn
Posts: 1135
Joined: Fri May 01, 2020 7:27 pm

Re: DN16: How to explain this WRONG explanation about earthquakes?

Post by rhinoceroshorn »

Ceisiwr wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:47 pm
rhinoceroshorn wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:29 pm
Mr. Seek wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:26 pm
It's great how the suttas have an answer to everything. For example, the Acintita Sutta (AN 4:77):
That was predictable. :lol:
Since Theravada assumes the Buddha is omniscient, I can assume he was not. Complain with the tradition which firstly assumed this position and made us think the Buddha knew about gravity and earthquakes. :rolleye:
The position of the commentaries is that the Buddha could know anything he wanted but he didn't know everything at once at the same time. To quote the sub-commentary to DN 1:
"With the abandoning of the entire obstruction of the knowable, the Exalted One gained the unobstructed knowledge which occurs subject to his wish and is capable of comprehending all dhammas in all their modes. By means of this knowledge the Exalted One was capable of penetrating all dhammas in continuous succession (santaanena); therefore he was omniscient or all-knowing in the way fire is called 'all-consuming' through its ability to burn all its fuel in continuous succession. He was not, however, omniscient in the sense that he could comprehend all dhammas simultaneously."
Which is perfectly in line with MN 90 and AN 4.24.
"It is not possible that a brahman or contemplative would claim a knowledge and vision that is all-knowing and all-seeing without exception."' Those who say this: are they speaking in line with what the Blessed One has said? Are they not misrepresenting the Blessed One with what is unfactual? Are they answering in line with the Dhamma, so that no one whose thinking is in line with the Dhamma would have grounds for criticizing them?"

"Great king, those who say that are not speaking in line with what I have said, and are misrepresenting me with what is untrue and unfactual."
:shrug:

Only later in the sutta it's talked about knowing things at the same time.
Last edited by rhinoceroshorn on Sat Nov 28, 2020 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Eyes downcast, not footloose,
senses guarded, with protected mind,
not oozing — not burning — with lust,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.
Sutta Nipāta 1.3 - Khaggavisana Sutta
Image
See, Ānanda! All those conditioned phenomena have passed, ceased, and perished. So impermanent are conditions, so unstable are conditions, so unreliable are conditions. This is quite enough for you to become disillusioned, dispassionate, and freed regarding all conditions.
Dīgha Nikāya 17
User avatar
cappuccino
Posts: 5662
Joined: Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:45 am

Re: DN16: How to explain this WRONG explanation about earthquakes?

Post by cappuccino »

This great earth, Ananda, is established upon liquid, the liquid upon the atmosphere, and the atmosphere upon space. And when, Ananda, mighty atmospheric disturbances take place, the liquid is agitated. And with the agitation of the liquid, tremors of the earth arise. This is the first reason, the first cause for the arising of mighty earthquakes.
liquid metal, is correct
Last edited by cappuccino on Sat Nov 28, 2020 5:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"All men's souls are immortal, but the souls of the righteous are immortal and divine." -Socrates
Good for Your Soul
User avatar
Ceisiwr
Posts: 11036
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: DN16: How to explain this WRONG explanation about earthquakes?

Post by Ceisiwr »

In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad we find similar thinking regarding the stacking, as it were, of the elements:
Verse 3.6.1:

अथ हैनं गार्गी वाचक्नवी पप्रच्छ; याज्ञवल्क्येति होवाच, यदिदं सर्वमप्स्वोतं च प्रोतं च, कस्मिन्नु खल्वाप ओताश्च प्रोताश्चेति; वायौ गार्गीति; कस्मिन्नु खलु वायुरोतश्च प्रोतश्चेति; अन्तरिक्शलोकेषु गार्गीति; कस्मिन्नु खल्वन्तरिक्शलोका ओताश्च प्रोताश्चेति; गन्धर्वलोकेषु गार्गीति; कस्मिन्नु खलु गन्धर्वलोका ओताश्च प्रोताश्चेति; आदित्यलोकेषु गार्गीति; कस्मिन्नु खल्वादित्यलोका ओताश्च प्रोताश्चेति; चन्द्रलोकेषु गार्गीति; कस्मिन्नु खलु चन्द्रलोका ओताश्च प्रोताश्चेति; नक्शत्रलोकेषु गार्गीति; कस्मिन्नु खलु नक्शत्रलोका ओताश्च प्रोताश्चेति; देवलोकेषु गार्गीति; कस्मिन्नु खलु देवलोका ओताश्च प्रोताश्चेति; इन्द्रलोकेषु गार्गीति; कस्मिन्नु खल्विन्द्रलोका ओताश्च प्रोताश्चेति; प्रजापतिलोकेषु गार्गीति; कस्मिन्नु खलु प्रजापतिलोका ओताश्च प्रोताश्चेति; ब्रह्मलोकेषु गार्गीति; कस्मिन्नु खलु ब्रह्मलोका ओताश्च प्रोताश्चेति; स होवाच, गार्गि मातिप्राक्शीः, मा ते मूर्धा व्यपप्तत्, अनतिप्रश्न्यां वै देवतामतिपृच्छसि गार्गि, मातिप्राक्शीरिति; ततो ह गार्गी वाचक्नव्युपरराम ॥ १ ॥
इति षष्ठं ब्राह्मणम् ॥

atha hainaṃ gārgī vācaknavī papraccha; yājñavalkyeti hovāca, yadidaṃ sarvamapsvotaṃ ca protaṃ ca, kasminnu khalvāpa otāśca protāśceti; vāyau gārgīti; kasminnu khalu vāyurotaśca protaśceti; antarikśalokeṣu gārgīti; kasminnu khalvantarikśalokā otāśca protāśceti; gandharvalokeṣu gārgīti; kasminnu khalu gandharvalokā otāśca protāśceti; ādityalokeṣu gārgīti; kasminnu khalvādityalokā otāśca protāśceti; candralokeṣu gārgīti; kasminnu khalu candralokā otāśca protāśceti; nakśatralokeṣu gārgīti; kasminnu khalu nakśatralokā otāśca protāśceti; devalokeṣu gārgīti; kasminnu khalu devalokā otāśca protāśceti; indralokeṣu gārgīti; kasminnu khalvindralokā otāśca protāśceti; prajāpatilokeṣu gārgīti; kasminnu khalu prajāpatilokā otāśca protāśceti; brahmalokeṣu gārgīti; kasminnu khalu brahmalokā otāśca protāśceti; sa hovāca, gārgi mātiprākśīḥ, mā te mūrdhā vyapaptat, anatipraśnyāṃ vai devatāmatipṛcchasi gārgi, mātiprākśīriti; tato ha gārgī vācaknavyupararāma || 1 ||
iti ṣaṣṭhaṃ brāhmaṇam ||

1. Then Gārgī, the daughter of Vacaknu, asked him. ‘Yājñavalkya,’ she said,

‘if all this is pervaded by water, by what is water pervaded?’ ‘By air, O Gārgi.’
‘By what is air pervaded?’ ‘By the sky, O Gārgī.’
‘By what is the sky pervaded?’ ‘By the world of the Gandharvas,[1] O Gārgī.’
‘By what is the world of the Gandharvas pervaded?’ ‘By the sun, O Gārgī.’
‘By what is the sun pervaded?’ ‘By the moon, O Gārgī.’
‘By what is the moon pervaded?’ ‘By the stars, O Gārgī.’
‘By what are the stars pervaded?’ ‘By the world of the gods, O Gārgī.’
‘By what is the world of the gods pervaded?’ ‘By the world of Indra, O Gārgī.’
‘By what is the world of Indra pervaded?’ ‘By the world of Virāj, O Gārgī.’
‘By what is the world of Virāj pervaded?’ ‘By the world of Hiraṇyagarbha, O Gārgī.’
‘By what is the world of Hiraṇyagarbha pervaded?’

There is either a Rigveda or Upanishad passage which, if I recall correctly, is near identical with the sutta passage in question minus the earthquakes. Sadly however I am struggling to find it again.
Last edited by Ceisiwr on Sat Nov 28, 2020 5:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"I have stopped, Aṅgulimāla … I have stopped for ever"

Aṅgulimāla Sutta
User avatar
rhinoceroshorn
Posts: 1135
Joined: Fri May 01, 2020 7:27 pm

Re: DN16: How to explain this WRONG explanation about earthquakes?

Post by rhinoceroshorn »

cappuccino wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 5:24 pm
This great earth, Ananda, is established upon liquid, the liquid upon the atmosphere, and the atmosphere upon space. And when, Ananda, mighty atmospheric disturbances take place, the liquid is agitated. And with the agitation of the liquid, tremors of the earth arise. This is the first reason, the first cause for the arising of mighty earthquakes.
liquid metal, is correct
Read this post
https://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.p ... 489#p90489
5. The reference to space supporting the atmosphere seems to have no explanation unless it refers to the space on the opposite side of the planet (it is of course completely wrong to talk about magma resting on top of gravity on top of space on the other side of the planet. ) and for some reason the Buddha missed the solid core of the earth, the magma 'under' that, and the earth 'under' that, skipping to space
6. For some reason the Buddha missed the most important part of the explanation of earthquakes which is that it is due to tectonic plates slipping against (or over/under) one another or that our modern understanding is actually wrong (which means that the Buddha's description is not verified at all)
Eyes downcast, not footloose,
senses guarded, with protected mind,
not oozing — not burning — with lust,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.
Sutta Nipāta 1.3 - Khaggavisana Sutta
Image
See, Ānanda! All those conditioned phenomena have passed, ceased, and perished. So impermanent are conditions, so unstable are conditions, so unreliable are conditions. This is quite enough for you to become disillusioned, dispassionate, and freed regarding all conditions.
Dīgha Nikāya 17
Post Reply