The virgin birth of Gautama.

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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Huifeng » Fri May 07, 2010 9:12 am

What is referred to is that the bodhisattva / buddha is neither born nor dies.
Or, don't mistake a designation on rupa for a "nirmana-kaya" in a statement on the "dharma-kaya".
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Astus » Fri May 07, 2010 9:17 am

Master Huifeng,

Are you saying that's what the original sutra talks about?
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
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Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Will » Fri May 07, 2010 3:18 pm

Astus wrote:Will,

Conception was through the side of Maya but not birth. Such a birth would be really strange!
Here we shouldn't forget the 3 component requirement of a foetus - sperm, egg, mind. So the Bodhisattva "moving in" through the side may not refer to any kind of immaculate conception.


Astus,

Page 130 of the Lalitavistara translation says: "from the right side of his mother he emerged, untouched by the taint of the womb. Of no one else can this be said." As for conception, p. 95 says: "through her right side he entered in the form of a small white elephant with six tusks."
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Astus » Fri May 07, 2010 3:39 pm

Will,

Thanks for the reference. I still sounds strange that a baby came out of a woman's side. Did it make a hole? Or is it a special siddhi to "walk through" bellies? Just trying to imagine what the writers thought...
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Indrajala » Fri May 07, 2010 3:42 pm

Maybe they thought coming out of a vagina was not tasteful for a sagely image?

I mean most of us wouldn't have a problem with a sage coming out of a vagina, but I imagine in the ol' days of India it might not have been considered all that saintly and pure. It might have been seen as vulgar and impure.
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Astus » Fri May 07, 2010 4:20 pm

OK then, I think it should be renamed from "virgin birth" into "cesarean birth". Or rename cesarean section to buddha section. :tongue:
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Will » Fri May 07, 2010 10:32 pm

Astus wrote:Will,

Thanks for the reference. I still sounds strange that a baby came out of a woman's side. Did it make a hole? Or is it a special siddhi to "walk through" bellies? Just trying to imagine what the writers thought...


Do some research on divine or virginal birth. It was found in ancient Greece, India etc. There are siddhis or powers that are real, but very hard for modern folk to believe in.
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby catmoon » Fri May 07, 2010 11:03 pm

Huseng wrote:
catmoon wrote:So if we are going to believe that Buddha had a virgin birth, I suppose next we are going to have to believe there are little white elephants running around making people pregnant? Maybe we should all believe the Jonah story while we're at it? And of course if Buddha had a virgin birth there is no reason to disbelieve the Immaculate Conception story either, is there? Geee maybe we should all go be Jehovah's Witnesses or something.


Take it easy and set your anti-Christian sentiments aside for a moment.

This was an issue discussed in India many many centuries before Christianity entered India.


? I just used Christian examples because I'm familiar with them.

All I really wanted to do was stand to stand up and say, there is a least one Buddhist around here who finds the idea of virgin birth ludicrous.
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby kirtu » Fri May 07, 2010 11:28 pm

catmoon wrote:All I really wanted to do was stand to stand up and say, there is a least one Buddhist around here who finds the idea of virgin birth ludicrous.


When I was a young teenager and started reading sutras this was one of the first things that come up for me although I didn't think about it as vigin birth per se. But the stories of the Buddhas' birth (and indeed the birth of all the various Buddhas) clearly says that they emerge from the right side of their mother. In the case of Shakyamuni he then takes seven steps, a lotus springing up at each step and then declares that this is his last birth, etc.

So from the beginning we have a story that goes beyond mundane, common, human experience.

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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Astus » Sat May 08, 2010 12:24 am

Will,

No problem with immaculate birth. Still, as the original quote here says, it was an illusion. Physical, bodily birth happens depending on three components, so we have it in the abhidharma teachings. We could say the Buddha was not a womb-born but a spontaneously-born being. But I'm not sure it'd then count as a human birth. So it gets a bit messy if we analyse it a bit. Still, I'm open for explanations.
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby catmoon » Sat May 08, 2010 1:56 am

kirtu wrote:
In the case of Shakyamuni he then takes seven steps, a lotus springing up at each step and then declares that this is his last birth, etc.

So from the beginning we have a story that goes beyond mundane, common, human experience.

Kirt


Hm. Last birth? No Maitreya? No further help for us? What about his Bodhisattva vows?
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Indrajala » Sat May 08, 2010 2:28 am

catmoon wrote:
kirtu wrote:
In the case of Shakyamuni he then takes seven steps, a lotus springing up at each step and then declares that this is his last birth, etc.

So from the beginning we have a story that goes beyond mundane, common, human experience.

Kirt


Hm. Last birth? No Maitreya? No further help for us? What about his Bodhisattva vows?


One idea is that Shakyamuni would achieve Arhatship in his life which would mean his last birth. No more rebirth. Nirvana.

Maitreya is another being. He was in Shakyamuni's sangha and named as the future Buddha by Shakyamuni himself.
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby catmoon » Sat May 08, 2010 7:21 am

Ok, but how do you reconcile "last rebirth" with the bodhisattva vow to remain until all sentient beings attain Buddhahood?
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Indrajala » Sat May 08, 2010 10:34 am

catmoon wrote:Ok, but how do you reconcile "last rebirth" with the bodhisattva vow to remain until all sentient beings attain Buddhahood?


The idea of a "last birth" is reflective of Sravakayana and not the Mahayana Bodhisattvayana model.
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby kirtu » Sat May 08, 2010 3:52 pm

Huseng wrote:
catmoon wrote:Ok, but how do you reconcile "last rebirth" with the bodhisattva vow to remain until all sentient beings attain Buddhahood?


The idea of a "last birth" is reflective of Sravakayana and not the Mahayana Bodhisattvayana model.


The "last birth" refers to Shakyamuni's last birth before his attainment of Buddhahood. In the Vajrayana and I think all of Mahayana, Shakyamuni has already attained Buddhahood and was teaching in the Tushita Heaven prior to taking his final birth. Shakyamuni is an example of a Buddha who actually did take 3 uncountable eons to accomplish Buddhahood. After some time teaching in the Tushita Heaven he knew the time had come to take his final birth and to demonstrate the attainment of enlightenment in human form.

As for the Bodhisattva Vow - Shakyamuni Buddha is an example of a King-like Bodhisattva (there are three kinds of Bodhisattvas: King-like, Ferryman-like and Shepard-like: a King-like Bodhisattva attains Buddhahood and then all the people with an affinity to him follow his teachings to attain Buddhahood, a Ferryman Bodhisattva carries all his people across the river of samsara and they all attain Buddhahood together and a Shepard-like Bodhisattva directs his people to Buddhahood but he attains Buddhahood last just like a shepard moving his flock from one place to another).

Also, some teachings say that Padmasambhava is an emanation of Shakyamuni and that in innumerable worlds there have been innumerable Shakyamuni's in each world (this much reflects the Brahma Net Sutra) and in each a Padmasambhava follows Shakyamuni to spread the tantric teachings.

And we still very much have Shakyamuni's teaching in various forms so in this sense he has not left the world and when the teaching does eventually die out, since all compounded phenomena are impermanent, he will be followed by another Buddha (eventually up to 1001 Buddhas in this "Fortunate Eon").

And we have the constant blessings of Shakyamuni as well. And all the Buddhas are said to constantly send out emanations in order to benefit beings.

So when I was first delving deeply into Buddhist teaching I was put off by much of what I just mentioned as religious BS. I even asked a very traditional lama in the past few years about Padmasambhava and Shakyamuni abandoning their Bodhisattva Vows because we don't physically and recognizably see them around teaching. But in fact we do see them teaching in various forms and esp. in their blessings which are experientially real.

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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Indrajala » Sat May 08, 2010 4:17 pm

kirtu wrote:But in fact we do see them teaching in various forms and esp. in their blessings which are experientially real.

Kirt


This is well said.

A simple example of this would be this forum.

If Shakyamuni had not formed the sangha, would there be any of us on this forum discussing his teaching some twenty-four centuries later?

His simple act of deciding to give the first teaching instigated an inconceivable chain of events of which one is this very forum and us discussing Buddhism.
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Will » Sat May 08, 2010 6:26 pm

Also the Avatamsaka, the Lotus and other sutras have passages where it is taught that a bodhisattva or buddha will take, for a short time or long time, any form needed to reach a person or group with the Dharma. So bodhisattvas are not confined to a typical iconic appearance.
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Sat May 08, 2010 7:30 pm

Astus wrote:Will,

Thanks for the reference. I still sounds strange that a baby came out of a woman's side. Did it make a hole? Or is it a special siddhi to "walk through" bellies? Just trying to imagine what the writers thought...


Hi Astus :)

I've always been told that it means c-section.

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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby mahabuddha » Mon Aug 08, 2011 5:00 pm

It's a literary device. Don't take it literally.
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Malcolm » Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:33 pm

Will wrote:The Lalitavistara Sutra (among others) said conception occurred after a dream of a 6-tusked white elephant. Birth was not from the womb, but from her side.



C-section, which explains why his mother died shortly after he was born.
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