charles wrote:Which texts define the Dharma as "what was taught by the Buddha, by his disciples, by the ancient rsi-s (sages), and by the devas"?
Ben Yuan's post is right on the money, just wanted to address this question.
That exact statement can be found in:
Lopez, Donald. Elaborations on Emptiness: Uses of the Heart Sutra. 1998. p. 28
Hsuan Hua. The Buddha speaks of Amitabha Sutra: A General Explanation. 2003. p. 2
Want to say it's one of the Prajnaparamita Sutras that really explodes out what is considered "Buddhavacana", but I'm having a hard time finding exact quotes.
So far, I've found some good ones from the Diamond Sutra...
Diamond Sutra wrote:“Subhuti, what do you think, can the Tathàgata be seen
by his physical marks?
“No, World Honored One, the Tathàgata cannot be
seen by his physical marks and why? It is because the
physical marks are spoken of by the Tathàgata as no
The Buddha said to Subhuti, “all with marks is
empty and false. If you can see all marks as no marks
then you see the Tathàgata."
Diamond Sutra wrote:If one sees me in form,
If one seeks me in sound,
He practices a deviant way,
And cannot see the Tathàgata.
Diamond Sutra wrote:“Subhuti, what do you think? Is there any Dharma
spoken by the Tathàgata?"
Subhuti said to the Buddha. “World Honored One,
nothing has been spoken by the Tathàgata."
Personally, it used to be a real big deal to me, what was historical and what wasn't.
I think this view was born out of fear.
I wanted the "real teachings" and not to be hoodwinked into following something that was false.
Then I ran into 2 interesting bits of info that kind of woke me up...First
, I read this article that said this quest for the "Historical Buddha" was carried on by people who originally were involved in the quest for the "Historical Jesus" and were approaching it in much the same way. In other words, the people were going forth with the assumption that only one guy "got it right" (was divinely inspired) and therefor only his writings were valid.Second
, I came across Joseph Campbell's talk on how this stuff is not meant to be read like a newspaper (largely metaphor) and that to Buddhists (well, at least Mahayana/Vajrayana) it would not matter in the least if the Buddha was a true historical person or not.
That woke me up to the fact that this stuff doesn't rely on blind faith.
I also remembered that Buddhists don't just take refuge in the "Historical Buddha", but also the Dharma, and the Sangha - not to mention the fact that even the "Historical Buddha" said he wasn't the only one. If we take refuge in the Sangha, then we have to have some confidence that they passed down the correct teachings in some form (even if there were schisms & some ahistoricity).
The same people that quote the Kalama Sutta about not accepting anything on blind faith in sacred scriptures, oral traditions, or the charisma of a single teacher are often the same people who are dismissing any Buddhist literature that's not from the "Historical Buddha".
There's more than a little bit of irony in that standpoint.
It's Dharma if it bears the marks (the 4 noble truths, the 8 fold path, and the marks Ben Yuan described) and if it works (if it produces results praised by the wise), not if a particular person said it.
I think it helps when there are modern day people who embody the behaviors (praised by the wise) that I would like to emulate.
It lets me know that at least some are making the teachings work for them, regardless of the historical origin of their teachings.
Most of these people that I enjoy learning from happen to be from the Northern & East Asian side of things.
I also happen to find the use of metaphor and imagery in the Mahayana sutras to be absolutely beautiful as well as deeply profound.
So I have no desire to dismiss any of them.