The virgin birth of Gautama.

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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Will » Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:58 pm

Namdrol wrote:
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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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Will » Mon Aug 08, 2011 8:51 pm

Suggest all who have not, study The Voice of the Buddha two volumes by Dharma Pubs. Try to use your imagination and not assume everything is meaningless symbols. Focus on chapters 5,6 & 7 dealing with the mother's special preparations for the birth; the involvement during gestation of devas & bodhisattvas (including the future buddha from Tushita realm); and the virgin birth.
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby catmoon » Fri Aug 26, 2011 6:20 am

Namdrol wrote:
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.


Lol. Get a copy of Gray's Anatomy and it should be pretty apparent how impossible that would be.
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Malcolm » Fri Aug 26, 2011 1:43 pm

catmoon wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
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.


Lol. Get a copy of Gray's Anatomy and it should be pretty apparent how impossible that would be.


Yes, if you take "from her side" quite literally. But I understand "from her side" to mean that she did not give birth in the usual way -- not literally as in through or above her pelvic bone. Which is even more impossible, according to human anatomy.

Or perhaps, they cut open the side of her abdomen rather than the front of her belly.

C-sections were known in India at that time:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bindusara

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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Nosta » Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:25 pm

I think that unfornatly most things related to Buddha are just myths. Do you really imagine Buddha as borning like an illusion? Do you really think that his birth was not like others?

It would be great if it was different, a proof that there is some kind of transcendental meaning in life.
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Kyosan » Fri Aug 26, 2011 5:41 pm

catmoon wrote:Virgin birth. Are you serious? You really want to discuss that?

This is very far from the matter of ending suffering.

I agree. I think this is just a worldly issue that has nothing to do with the dharma. It's a distraction from practicing the way.

Huifeng wrote: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".


That's very interesting. Perhaps it would be a good idea to reread the text keeping what Huifeng said in mind.
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Kyosan » Fri Aug 26, 2011 5:50 pm

Nosta wrote:I think that unfornatly most things related to Buddha are just myths. Do you really imagine Buddha as borning like an illusion? Do you really think that his birth was not like others?


That may very well be true. If it turns out that some of the things we read about Buddha aren't true would that shake our faith in Buddhism? I think it would only if we don't have a strong foundation in Buddhism and we believe in Buddhism not because of personal experience that the dharma is true, but rather because of unquestioning faith.
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby kirtu » Fri Aug 26, 2011 6:31 pm

Will wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
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.


Oh thee of little faith.


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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Epistemes » Fri Aug 26, 2011 7:31 pm

I don't think the more supernatural elements of the Buddha's birth should be immediately discarded because they unsettle our more modern, secular worldview. Oftentimes, the baby is thrown out with the bathwater precisely because the bathwater is latent with supernaturalism and we no longer have been trained in how to regard the supernatural. We tend to navigate between the extremes: it either happened historically, or it didn't. However, the science of history as we now know it has not always been concerned with empirical facts. As a Native American storyteller might say, "I don't know if this actually happened, but I know this story is true." The science of history as we now know it has reduced us to the extremes: fundamentalists who posit it is all historically true, and the cynics who regard it as historically false, dubious and superfluous. This has been the affect of postmodernism upon our thinking.

The storytellers felt the need to include these bits of supernatural history to propose a larger caricature than an actual telling of events might suggest. It should not be confused with hyperbole, tall tales, or lies. For as far as the storyteller was concerned, these type of supernatural events happened - but they happened in a way different from the way you and I currently understand the word "happen."
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Huifeng » Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:08 am

The point of the text is not that the Buddha was a virgin birth, but that the Buddha was not born at all; just as all phenomena are also are unborn.
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Will » Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:40 am

Huifeng wrote:The point of the text is not that the Buddha was a virgin birth, but that the Buddha was not born at all; just as all phenomena are also are unborn.


That is just too facile an explanation. If Gautama existed in the flesh and had disciples and finally his body died, then "virgin birth" has a meaning other than the ordinary Mahayana philosophical explanation. If the latter were the intent of the sutra passages, then the standard phrases, like "neither born nor unborn" would be sprinkled at key points. Plus the amount of space given to the conception and birth is too great to think it is all metaphor, simile & fable.
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Huifeng » Sat Aug 27, 2011 6:01 am

Will wrote:
Huifeng wrote:The point of the text is not that the Buddha was a virgin birth, but that the Buddha was not born at all; just as all phenomena are also are unborn.


That is just too facile an explanation. If Gautama existed in the flesh and had disciples and finally his body died, then "virgin birth" has a meaning other than the ordinary Mahayana philosophical explanation. If the latter were the intent of the sutra passages, then the standard phrases, like "neither born nor unborn" would be sprinkled at key points. Plus the amount of space given to the conception and birth is too great to think it is all metaphor, simile & fable.


Just curious, before I continue with a response - Will, have you read the whole sutra?
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Will » Sat Aug 27, 2011 3:58 pm

Huifeng wrote:
Will wrote:
Huifeng wrote:The point of the text is not that the Buddha was a virgin birth, but that the Buddha was not born at all; just as all phenomena are also are unborn.


That is just too facile an explanation. If Gautama existed in the flesh and had disciples and finally his body died, then "virgin birth" has a meaning other than the ordinary Mahayana philosophical explanation. If the latter were the intent of the sutra passages, then the standard phrases, like "neither born nor unborn" would be sprinkled at key points. Plus the amount of space given to the conception and birth is too great to think it is all metaphor, simile & fable.


Just curious, before I continue with a response - Will, have you read the whole sutra?


Yes, more than once; but it was years ago and my memory is lousy.
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Huifeng » Sun Aug 28, 2011 4:43 am

Will wrote:
Huifeng wrote:
Will wrote:
That is just too facile an explanation. If Gautama existed in the flesh and had disciples and finally his body died, then "virgin birth" has a meaning other than the ordinary Mahayana philosophical explanation. If the latter were the intent of the sutra passages, then the standard phrases, like "neither born nor unborn" would be sprinkled at key points. Plus the amount of space given to the conception and birth is too great to think it is all metaphor, simile & fable.


Just curious, before I continue with a response - Will, have you read the whole sutra?


Yes, more than once; but it was years ago and my memory is lousy.


In that case, just as a reminder, there are several passages in the text which talk about "neither born nor unborn".

eg: 佛說無所生無所滅。是為要亦無所得。亦無所失。隨世間習俗而入。示現如是。
The Buddha taught - No arising, no cessation, ... no apprehension, no loss; entering in accordance with the ways of world, so it is manifested.
本無所生無所滅經本界悉入。佛現人境界壞敗時。隨世間習俗而入。示現如是。
Essentially neither arising nor ceasing, it enters the essential sphere, when the Buddha manifests in the human world and perishes; entering in accordance with the ways of world, so it is manifested.
諸經法無有作者。亦無所出生。佛現人經法本無所出生。隨世間習俗而入。示現如是。
Dharmas are without creator, and also without production, the Buddha manifests human ways but is essentially without birth; entering in accordance with the ways of world, so it is manifested.
無所從生本從中亦無所出生。佛現三門者。隨世間習俗而入。示現如是。
Not arising from anywhere... without birth, the Buddha manifests the three aspects; entering in accordance with the ways of world, so it is manifested.

And, just to show that it's not a "virgin birth", but that the Bodhisattva was not even born at all:
菩薩亦不入母腹中。亦不從母腹中出。何以故。經法本界無所不入。菩薩現人入母腹中。隨世間習俗而入。示現如是。
The bodhisattva neither enters into the mother's womb, nor is he born forth from the mother's womb. Why? The essential sphere of dharmas does not enter; when the bodhisattva manifests human entrance into the mother's womb; entering in accordance with the ways of world, so it is manifested.

Prof Harrison - now at Stanford - has commented on the text, by saying that (Harrison 1982: 212):

one finds expressed a doctrinal standpoint very similar to that of the early Prajñāpāramitā as set forth in the Aṣṭasāhasrikā, a standpoint which insists upon the ‘emptiness’ of all dharmas, their non-arising (the term anutpattika-dharma-kṣānti occurs) and lack of own-being (svabhāva), the mere conventional validity of verbal distinctions as opposed to the true undifferentiated nature of the dharma-dhātu, and so on.

Bottom line? There is no bodhisattva to be born or die, to come or go, no dharmas to arise or cease, to come or go, all just an illusion, all just "manifested in accord with the world" (lokānuvartana).

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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Astus » Sun Aug 28, 2011 7:59 pm

Ultimately no birth, no death. Conventionally, it should serve the understanding of the ultimate. So it can be normal birth, c-section, virgin birth, magical appearance, beaming down from a spaceship...
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Will » Sun Aug 28, 2011 9:49 pm

Huifeng,

If the Lalitavistara Sutra were speaking from the ultimate viewpoint throughout, then your assertion would be correct - but it does not. It is not a prajnaparamita sutra. It is speaking of the nirmanakaya Gautama, which is born, not the Eternal Buddha (as in my sig).

I did not mean to say that such passages as "neither born nor unborn" would be never found anywhere in the sutra, only that they irrelevant when those early chapters are teaching about the descent from Tushita, conception, birth and holiness of his mother.
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Huifeng » Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:08 am

Will wrote:Huifeng,

If the Lalitavistara Sutra were speaking from the ultimate viewpoint throughout, then your assertion would be correct - but it does not. It is not a prajnaparamita sutra. It is speaking of the nirmanakaya Gautama, which is born, not the Eternal Buddha (as in my sig).

I did not mean to say that such passages as "neither born nor unborn" would be never found anywhere in the sutra, only that they irrelevant when those early chapters are teaching about the descent from Tushita, conception, birth and holiness of his mother.


Well, that's fine. But I was under the impression that the subject of discussion is the Lokānuvartanasūtra, 《佛說內藏百寶經》, as per the original post that started this thread.
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby Will » Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:14 am

The topic is not confined to any particular sutra or sutta - virginal, from-the-side-birth is in many places.
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Re: The virgin birth of Gautama.

Postby LastLegend » Mon Aug 29, 2011 8:02 am

I think Master Huifeng is correct.
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