Other Buddhas

General forum on Mahayana.

Other Buddhas

Postby Astus » Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:35 am

What is the traditional explanation for the lack of other buddhas in the agamas? It doesn't seem valid to say that teaching about other buddhas is only a bodhisattva matter since in Mahayana texts it is all fine for sravakas to learn about them and even to aspire for other buddha-realms. So why are there no other buddhas mentioned in the Hinayana teachings, only some buddhas of the past and the next future buddha? Again, it is not the modern historical explanation what I'm looking for here but the addressing of it from a traditional Mahayana perspective.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4238
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Other Buddhas

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Thu Mar 31, 2011 12:33 pm

Astus wrote:What is the traditional explanation for the lack of other buddhas in the agamas? It doesn't seem valid to say that teaching about other buddhas is only a bodhisattva matter since in Mahayana texts it is all fine for sravakas to learn about them and even to aspire for other buddha-realms. So why are there no other buddhas mentioned in the Hinayana teachings, only some buddhas of the past and the next future buddha? Again, it is not the modern historical explanation what I'm looking for here but the addressing of it from a traditional Mahayana perspective.


I believe the traditional Mahayana explanation is that in any given lifetime (or series of lifetimes) each being is "stuck" in one of several spiritual "families" according to their karma and obscurations. I only vaguely remember them, but I think they're something like (1) those without any affinity for any spiritual path (2) those with an affinity for mundane and non-Buddhist paths (3) those with an affinity for the Buddhist path of individual liberation (3) those with an affinity for the Buddhist path of Bodhisattvahood and (4) those whose affinity could go either way. Again, this is just my vague memory, so hopefully someone more in the know will be willing to correct any mistakes I've made. Anyway, for individuals who have a clear affinity for the Shravaka path, I think other Buddhas is a moot point because the teachings of one Buddha, Shakyamuni, are definitely still extant and they teach the complete path to release from samsara. Since that is these individuals' real interest, the question of other Buddhas (beyond the coming of Maitreya to reestablish the Dharma in this world system once it's vanished) is beside the point.
Pema Rigdzin
 
Posts: 1030
Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 3:19 am
Location: Southern Oregon

Re: Other Buddhas

Postby Malcolm » Thu Mar 31, 2011 2:08 pm

Astus wrote:What is the traditional explanation for the lack of other buddhas in the agamas? It doesn't seem valid to say that teaching about other buddhas is only a bodhisattva matter since in Mahayana texts it is all fine for sravakas to learn about them and even to aspire for other buddha-realms. So why are there no other buddhas mentioned in the Hinayana teachings, only some buddhas of the past and the next future buddha? Again, it is not the modern historical explanation what I'm looking for here but the addressing of it from a traditional Mahayana perspective.



There is an argument in the Katavattu where some other nikaya Buddhists assert Buddhas in other world systems. This rejected, saying that if there were such Buddhas, one should know their names and so on.

So speculations about other Buddhas in other worlds was an early feature of Buddhism.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 12149
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Other Buddhas

Postby Astus » Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:11 pm

Pema Rigdzin,

What you mean is the Yogacara teaching of the five gotras, and it is not relevant to the question here.

Namdrol,

Yes, there were some Hinayana schools, the Mahasamghikas for instance, who had some concept of other buddhas. So maybe this problem never occurred in India or anywhere else. Still, in the agamas/nikayas there is no sign of other buddhas and those are the texts said to be preached for the sravakas. Consequently, since in the Mahayana sutras sravakas are also present, they should have known about other buddhas.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4238
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Other Buddhas

Postby Malcolm » Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:16 pm

Astus wrote:Pema Rigdzin,

What you mean is the Yogacara teaching of the five gotras, and it is not relevant to the question here.

Namdrol,

Yes, there were some Hinayana schools, the Mahasamghikas for instance, who had some concept of other buddhas. So maybe this problem never occurred in India or anywhere else. Still, in the agamas/nikayas there is no sign of other buddhas and those are the texts said to be preached for the sravakas. Consequently, since in the Mahayana sutras sravakas are also present, they should have known about other buddhas.



Well, what sort of text critical conclusion can you draw from that, Astus?
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 12149
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Other Buddhas

Postby Astus » Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:24 pm

"Well, what sort of text critical conclusion can you draw from that, Astus?"

I'm not looking for text critical conclusions, for that there are some fine scholarly works like "The concept of the Buddha: its evolution from early Buddhism to the trikāya theory" by Guang Xing. Also it's possible to go for a conspiracy theory that the sravakas deleted all the other buddhas but that's just non-sense to me. That's why I'm looking for another perspective on this. Of course, there's always the option to say that buddhas are upaya and such, but that doesn't answer a few things.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4238
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Other Buddhas

Postby Malcolm » Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:29 pm

Astus wrote:"Well, what sort of text critical conclusion can you draw from that, Astus?"

I'm not looking for text critical conclusions, for that there are some fine scholarly works like "The concept of the Buddha: its evolution from early Buddhism to the trikāya theory" by Guang Xing. Also it's possible to go for a conspiracy theory that the sravakas deleted all the other buddhas but that's just non-sense to me. That's why I'm looking for another perspective on this. Of course, there's always the option to say that buddhas are upaya and such, but that doesn't answer a few things.



Well how about the obvious answer? The Mahāyāna sutras were written after the Agamas. That answers all questions concerning why this is nor present in that, etc

I understand that there are some people who wish to dearly maintain a death grip on the idea that Mahāyāna sutras are literally, historically, the words of one Gautama Buddha physically uttered sometime between his awakening at 35 and his passing at age 80 -- but that is just religion, that is not Dharma. Dharma lies in the truth of the words, not the mise en scène.

N
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 12149
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Other Buddhas

Postby Tatsuo » Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:31 pm

Couldn't the passage of the Lotus Sutra about the lifespan of Shakyamuni be also valid for the view, that many Buddhas exist in the universe (and therefore the guidance by a Buddha is always available)?
"Good men, the Thus Come One observes how among living beings there are those who delight in a little Law, meager in virtue and heavy with defilement. For such persons I describe how in my youth I left my household and attained anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. But in truth the time since I attained Buddhahood is extremely long, as I have told you. It is simply that I use this expedient means to teach and convert living beings and cause them to enter the Buddha way. That is why I speak in this manner. (...) Why do I do this? Because if the Buddha remains in the world for a long time, those persons with shallow virtue will fail to plant good roots but, living in poverty and lowliness, will become attached to the five desires and be caught in the net of deluded thoughts and imaginings. If they see that the Thus Come One is constantly in the world and never enters extinction, they will grow arrogant and selfish, or become discouraged and neglectful. They will fail to realize how difficult it is to encounter the Buddha and will not approach him with a respectful and reverent mind."
(Lotus Sutra, chapter 14)
    南無阿弥陀佛
    南無妙法蓮華經
    南無観世音菩薩
User avatar
Tatsuo
 
Posts: 173
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 5:50 pm

Re: Other Buddhas

Postby Malcolm » Thu Mar 31, 2011 7:24 pm

Tatsuo wrote:Couldn't the passage of the Lotus Sutra about the lifespan of Shakyamuni be also valid for the view, that many Buddhas exist in the universe (and therefore the guidance by a Buddha is always available)?
"Good men, the Thus Come One observes how among living beings there are those who delight in a little Law, meager in virtue and heavy with defilement. For such persons I describe how in my youth I left my household and attained anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. But in truth the time since I attained Buddhahood is extremely long, as I have told you. It is simply that I use this expedient means to teach and convert living beings and cause them to enter the Buddha way. That is why I speak in this manner. (...) Why do I do this? Because if the Buddha remains in the world for a long time, those persons with shallow virtue will fail to plant good roots but, living in poverty and lowliness, will become attached to the five desires and be caught in the net of deluded thoughts and imaginings. If they see that the Thus Come One is constantly in the world and never enters extinction, they will grow arrogant and selfish, or become discouraged and neglectful. They will fail to realize how difficult it is to encounter the Buddha and will not approach him with a respectful and reverent mind."
(Lotus Sutra, chapter 14)



Well, at the risk of a citation war....The Vajracchedika sūtra states:

Those who by my form did see me,
And those who followed me by voice
Wrong the efforts they engaged in,
Me those people will not see.

From the Dharma should one see the Buddhas,
From the Dharmabodies comes their guidance.
Yet Dharma's true nature cannot be discerned,
And no one can be conscious of it as an object.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 12149
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Other Buddhas

Postby Astus » Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:46 pm

Namdrol,

Sure, and that is exactly the historical point. But since, just as you said, Mahayana followers in the past (and present) think that the sutras were spoken directly by the Buddha, thus I was wondering whether there is an explanation from their side on the lack of other buddhas in the agamas. Although it is possible there isn't such an answer.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4238
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Other Buddhas

Postby Anders » Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:46 pm

Astus wrote:Namdrol,

Sure, and that is exactly the historical point. But since, just as you said, Mahayana followers in the past (and present) think that the sutras were spoken directly by the Buddha, thus I was wondering whether there is an explanation from their side on the lack of other buddhas in the agamas. Although it is possible there isn't such an answer.


Isn't it obvious? Th Mahayana sutras reveal things that weren't spoken in the agamas, either because it wasn't needed for the time or because it is not suitable for the Hinayana. Standard explanation for any addition the Mahayana sutras make to early Buddhism really.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
User avatar
Anders
 
Posts: 740
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:39 pm

Re: Other Buddhas

Postby Malcolm » Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:48 pm

Anders Honore wrote:
Astus wrote:Namdrol,

Sure, and that is exactly the historical point. But since, just as you said, Mahayana followers in the past (and present) think that the sutras were spoken directly by the Buddha, thus I was wondering whether there is an explanation from their side on the lack of other buddhas in the agamas. Although it is possible there isn't such an answer.


Isn't it obvious? Th Mahayana sutras reveal things that weren't spoken in the agamas, either because it wasn't needed for the time or because it is not suitable for the Hinayana. Standard explanation for any addition the Mahayana sutras make to early Buddhism really.



Astus' question is different -- why did those named Shravakas not know about these other Buddhas since they are present in both Nikaya and Mahayana settings?
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 12149
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Other Buddhas

Postby Anders » Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:56 pm

Namdrol wrote:Astus' question is different -- why did those named Shravakas not know about these other Buddhas since they are present in both Nikaya and Mahayana settings?


If so, would it not be more succinct to ask: Why did the arhats not display knowledge of any of the mahayana teachings they listened to in the agamas?

Either way, I think, from the pov of traditional Mahayana hermeneutics, it is a valid point to say it is a Bodhisattva matter. Though the arhats may have been in attendance the Mahayana sutras are, by definition, spoken for the purpose of the great vehicle and for the benefit of bodhisattvas and would-be bodhisattvas.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
User avatar
Anders
 
Posts: 740
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:39 pm

Re: Other Buddhas

Postby Astus » Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:10 pm

Anders,

Not all teachings within Mahayana sutras are intended only for a bodhisattva audience. Sravakas are sometimes invited explicitly, not to mention when they take major parts in the stories (Ananda, Sariputra, Subhuti, etc.).

14th vow of Amitabha:

"If, when I attain buddhahood, the number of the śrāvakas in my land could be known, even if all the beings and pratyekabuddhas living in this universe of a thousand million worlds should count them during a hundred thousand kalpas, may I not attain perfect enlightenment."

Also from the Larger PL Sutra:

“The light of Amitāyus shines brilliantly, illuminating all the buddha lands of the ten directions. There is no place where it is not perceived. I am not the only one who now praises his light. All the buddhas, śrāvakas, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas praise and glorify it in the same way. If sentient beings, having heard of the majestic virtue of his light, glorify it continually, day and night, with sincerity of heart, they will be able to attain birth in his land as they wish. Then the multitudes of bodhisattvas and śrāvakas will praise their excellent virtue."

From this comes that sravakas could aspire for birth in the Pure Land and in the sutra itself the sravakas gain some attainments from hearing it and rejoice in the teaching. This happens in many other sutras where there were sravakas present. So it is not true that those teachings were meant only for bodhisattvas, while of course there are other sutras meant only for bodhisattvas of which the Avatamsaka Sutra is the most famous. Therefore knowledge about other buddhas is not a restricted doctrine, just as in the agamas buddhas of the past are indeed mentioned.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4238
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Other Buddhas

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:43 am

Astus wrote:Pema Rigdzin,

What you mean is the Yogacara teaching of the five gotras, and it is not relevant to the question here.

Namdrol,

Yes, there were some Hinayana schools, the Mahasamghikas for instance, who had some concept of other buddhas. So maybe this problem never occurred in India or anywhere else. Still, in the agamas/nikayas there is no sign of other buddhas and those are the texts said to be preached for the sravakas. Consequently, since in the Mahayana sutras sravakas are also present, they should have known about other buddhas.


Haha sorry, what I wrote about the five gotras was just the set-up to my main point which I obviously forgot to make... However, now in light of my reflection upon what Namdrol has suggested, I have to rethink the point I was going to make. Maybe he's right, which doesn't matter because as he mentioned, the liberating power of the Mahayana sutras is in their skillful means, not their supposed historicity. But I'd like to look further into this for myself (and hopefully it'll be stimulating convo for others as well) before I abandon the possibility that the Mahayana sutras did indeed literally fall off the lips of the Buddha himself as we're lead to believe. I'll start with this question:

First, I'm assuming those Arhats in attendance during the Buddha's supposedly historical Mahayana teachings conceived the mind for enlightenment. Might not they have nonetheless recognized that some future beings would also have an affinity for the Bodhisattva vehicle, while others would only be attracted to the individual liberation vehicle? If that were the case, wouldn't they have been selective in who they passed either vehicle on to once they began to teach after the Buddha's death? Then, accordingly, wouldn't two different narratives and Dharmas have developed over the hundreds of subsequent years before it was decided to commit the Buddha's teachings to writing? And by that time, wouldn't one lineage have maintained their Mahayana focus while appreciating the upaya of having two different paths for beings of two different affinities, while another lineage would have held only to the authenticity of the Shravaka approach, committing to writing only the teachings they viewed as authentic and pertinent to their goal?
Pema Rigdzin
 
Posts: 1030
Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 3:19 am
Location: Southern Oregon

Re: Other Buddhas

Postby Malcolm » Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:32 am

Pema Rigdzin wrote:
Astus wrote:Pema Rigdzin,

What you mean is the Yogacara teaching of the five gotras, and it is not relevant to the question here.

Namdrol,

Yes, there were some Hinayana schools, the Mahasamghikas for instance, who had some concept of other buddhas. So maybe this problem never occurred in India or anywhere else. Still, in the agamas/nikayas there is no sign of other buddhas and those are the texts said to be preached for the sravakas. Consequently, since in the Mahayana sutras sravakas are also present, they should have known about other buddhas.


Haha sorry, what I wrote about the five gotras was just the set-up to my main point which I obviously forgot to make... however, now in light of my reflection upon what Namdrol has suggested, I have to rethink the point I was going to make. Maybe he's right, which doesn't matter because as he mentioned, the liberating power of the Mahayana sutras is in their Dharma, not their supposed historicity. But I'd like to look further into this for myself, and hopefully it'll be stimulating convo for others as well. So, before I abandon the possibility that the Mahayana sutras did indeed literally fall off the lips of the Buddha himself as we're lead to believe, I'll start with this question:

First, I'm assuming those Arhats in attendance during the Buddha's supposedly historical Mahayana teachings conceived the mind for enlightenment. Might not they have nonetheless recognized that some future beings would also have an affinity for the Bodhisattva vehicle, while others would only be attracted to the individual liberation vehicle? If that were the case, wouldn't they have been selective in who they passed either vehicle on to once they began to teach after the Buddha's death? Then, accordingly, wouldn't two different narratives and Dharmas have developed over the hundreds of subsequent years before it was decided to commit the Buddha's teachings to writing? And by that time, wouldn't one lineage have maintained their Mahayana focus while appreciating the upaya of having two different paths for beings of two different affinities, while another lineage would have held only to the authenticity of the Shravaka approach, committing to writing only the teachings they viewed as authentic and pertinent to their goal?



We can speculate all we like.

But there are some salient points to bear in mind. It was not imagined by Mahāyānists that there were persistent oral lineages of Mahāyāna teachings in Jambudvipa.

Quite the contrary. Mahāyāna is the original treasure tradition. Mahāyānists came to believe that their texts had been laid away for four centuries or more and then revealed by such masters as Nāgārjuna and so on, kept by Bodhisattvas such as Mañjuśrī for safe keeping until the time was right for them again to be promulgated. Therefore, any honest person whose mind is not clouded by the delusion of religious zeal and fervor has to admit that it is unlikely that the detailed and highly complex literary compositions which we now know as Mahāyāna sūtras could not possibly have been composed in any thing other than a visionary manner at a much later time than their purported setting. Moreover, they would have to admit that these detailed literary compositions, (even as early as the Digha Nikāya), betray evidence of extensive editing and development over many centuries, as is proven by the layers of such texts in Chinese translation. For example, the Maitreya Chapter, so important to gzhan stong exegesis, is completely missing in Chinese sources, proving that it was a Yogacara addition to the PP corpus.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 12149
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Other Buddhas

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Fri Apr 01, 2011 7:08 am

Namdrol wrote:We can speculate all we like.

But there are some salient points to bear in mind. It was not imagined by Mahāyānists that there were persistent oral lineages of Mahāyāna teachings in Jambudvipa.

Quite the contrary. Mahāyāna is the original treasure tradition. Mahāyānists came to believe that their texts had been laid away for four centuries or more and then revealed by such masters as Nāgārjuna and so on, kept by Bodhisattvas such as Mañjuśrī for safe keeping until the time was right for them again to be promulgated. Therefore, any honest person whose mind is not clouded by the delusion of religious zeal and fervor has to admit that it is unlikely that the detailed and highly complex literary compositions which we now know as Mahāyāna sūtras could not possibly have been composed in any thing other than a visionary manner at a much later time than their purported setting. Moreover, they would have to admit that these detailed literary compositions, (even as early as the Digha Nikāya), betray evidence of extensive editing and development over many centuries, as is proven by the layers of such texts in Chinese translation. For example, the Maitreya Chapter, so important to gzhan stong exegesis, is completely missing in Chinese sources, proving that it was a Yogacara addition to the PP corpus.


You make a good case, and what you say is probably the most likely explanation. Since we've already established that these texts' provenance is beside the point (aside from the enlightened nature of that source), my continued participation here is just for the sake of it being interesting to me and because I may learn new things as I continue to probe.

With that in mind... It was my understanding that the PP sutras were rediscovered by Nagarjuna, and Maitreya's five treatises were kind of like pure vision teachings received by Asanga, etc., but are all of the Mahayana sutras said to have come to us in a similar way? Were none said to have come to us in a long lineage from the Buddha (a la kama)? If there are cases where a "kama" lineage of certain Mahayana sutras is claimed traditionally, is it not possible that the historical teachings spoken of in these sutras did in fact take place, were faithfully transcribed and hidden, and later edited and added to throughout the centuries following their rediscovery? Again, I acknowledge that it really doesn't matter, but I am curious.
Pema Rigdzin
 
Posts: 1030
Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 3:19 am
Location: Southern Oregon

Re: Other Buddhas

Postby Astus » Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:34 am

"First, I'm assuming those Arhats in attendance during the Buddha's supposedly historical Mahayana teachings conceived the mind for enlightenment. Might not they have nonetheless recognized that some future beings would also have an affinity for the Bodhisattva vehicle, while others would only be attracted to the individual liberation vehicle? If that were the case, wouldn't they have been selective in who they passed either vehicle on to once they began to teach after the Buddha's death?"

You can find both ideas in Mahayana, either that the sravakas present in such sutras were bodhisattvas in disguise or that they were just sravakas and nothing more. Yes, it is recognised that there are people with different inclinations thus the three vehicles as gotra/upaya theories. Being selective about the teachings, that's an unlikely option, especially if we conceive the sravaka as a disciple who relies on the Buddha therefore whatever the Buddha teaches is important to them.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4238
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Other Buddhas

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Fri Apr 01, 2011 9:34 am

Astus wrote:Yes, it is recognised that there are people with different inclinations thus the three vehicles as gotra/upaya theories. Being selective about the teachings, that's an unlikely option, especially if we conceive the sravaka as a disciple who relies on the Buddha therefore whatever the Buddha teaches is important to them.


Astus,

When I wrote that, I was thinking of Bodhisattvas giving teachings after the Buddha's death, at which point the people they taught may or may not believe the Buddha really taught certain things that are taught in Mahayana.

Also, regarding what I said about a Bodhisattva being "selective" in choosing what to teach individuals: what I meant was that if during a given lifetime an individual clearly belonged exclusively to the Shravakayana gotra (thus temporarily being too obscured and lacking the karma to develop an affinity for the Mahayana), it would only make sense to overtly teach him/her the Shravakayana. I wouldn't put it past an Arya Bodhisattva for covertly trying to plant ideas in such a person's mind that could become the causes for taking up the Mahayana in future lives, but such ideas would not likely include Mahayana cosmology or things that would ostensibly seem to contradict what he understood as the Buddha's teachings.

In any case, Namdrol's response to my post made me question the direction I was heading in my original post, and I began to suspect that maybe he was onto something. Maybe the Mahayana sutras really were only introduced after the Nikayas and Agamas. I'm still exploring the possibility that that's not the case, but I'm open to arguments against that view. If you have anything to add in response to my questions to Namdrol in my last post, please feel free to share.
Pema Rigdzin
 
Posts: 1030
Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 3:19 am
Location: Southern Oregon

Re: Other Buddhas

Postby Astus » Fri Apr 01, 2011 10:21 am

"With that in mind... It was my understanding that the PP sutras were rediscovered by Nagarjuna, and Maitreya's five treatises were kind of like pure vision teachings received by Asanga, etc., but are all of the Mahayana sutras said to have come to us in a similar way? Were none said to have come to us in a long lineage from the Buddha (a la kama)?"

Mahayana sutras were not preserved orally but in written form only. That is apparent from the texts themselves. If you read some suttas in the Pali Canon you recognise the large amount of repetitions and templates used in them (although in translations they're regularly left out with references and dots). That is how they were memorised. Mahayana sutras are generally longer and more complex, just look at the prajnaparamita sutras that have thousands of stanzas, and they are the earlier Mahayana texts. So from a historical perspective Mahayana sutras are definitely later works. And that lateness is in fact backed up by the surrounding stories of origin as Namdrol mentioned. If you want to look into it deeper there are books on the history and development of Buddhism.

Here are some on Indian Buddhism:

Bodhisattvas of the forest and the formation of the Mahāyāna: a study and translation of the Rāṣṭrapālaparipr̥cchā-sūtra by Daniel Boucher
A few good men: the Bodhisattva path according to the Inquiry of Ugra (Ugraparipṛcchā) : a study and translation by Jan Nattier
Nāgārjuna in context: Mahāyāna Buddhism and early Indian culture by Joseph Walser
Figments and fragments of Mahāyāna Buddhism in India: more collected papers by Gregory Schopen
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4238
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Next

Return to Mahāyāna Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests

>