Ancient Buddhas

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Ancient Buddhas

Postby xabir » Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:42 am

Ok supposedly in the scriptures the Buddha taught that there were many past Buddhas having lived in the same region. One among many was Kashyapa Buddha for example.

I'm not surprised or intrigued by past Buddhas. What I'm curious is the claims that people in the past such as Kashyapa Buddha lived a lifespan of 20000 years. Previous Buddhas lived even longer.

Supposedly this was all said by Buddha (unless of course those scriptures were doctored, which I accept as a possibility). Also the Buddha said things like humans actually came from the abhissara deva realm (light sound beings).

What do you all make of it especially in the face of modern scientific findings about our primate ancestry? + that we know our lifespan has only increased (not decreased) in recent decades due to technological advancement, with no evidence of humans having lived for more than 120+ years in the past let alone thousand or tens of thousands of years?
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Re: Ancient Buddhas

Postby smcj » Mon Nov 11, 2013 6:24 am

HHDL says that if science has something right, and Dharma something wrong, then concede the point and move on.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Ancient Buddhas

Postby asunthatneversets » Mon Nov 11, 2013 6:29 am

Semi off topic but I know that due to differences in atmospheric pressure, life forms used to be much larger in scale. There's a scientist who has recreated the atmospheric conditions for prehistoric fish in a modern day fish tank. The fish grew nearly 2 or 3 times the size of modern fish (of the same species) living in present day conditions.

So perhaps it's not too far off base to theorize that lifespans may be longer, given the conditions allow.
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Re: Ancient Buddhas

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Nov 11, 2013 6:46 am

xabir wrote: What I'm curious is the claims that people in the past such as Kashyapa Buddha lived a lifespan of 20000 years. Previous Buddhas lived even longer.


First, I would like to mention that literal belief in these descriptions is not required.

I am not sure of the source you are referencing, but the tradition of Mahayana literature in general is quite elaborate and by today's standards, somewhat overblown, but this elaboration is meant to convey a different kind of truth, rather than a literal truth. It really wouldn't matter if Kashyapa Buddha lived a lifespan of 20,000 years, or 30,000, or 1,000, or any number you want. Durations of time mean nothing to a Buddha anyway.

But the point is the vastness. Mahayana literature is written to convey something which is inconceivable, and that thing is infinity. So, for example, if you read the Amitabha Sutra, the description of his pure land (Sukhavati) just goes on and on and on with jeweled pools and jeweled trees and birds who chip dharma and so forth. But does Amita Buddha need all those pools? No. But what this kind of writing is trying to tell you is that this is not just some ordinary thing. Kashyapa Buddha lived a lifespan of 20000 years means that you yourself would have to meditate for 20,000 years before you would get such great enlightenment. It's like a price tag that shows you what the teaching is worth. So, it's worth 20,000 of whatever you think is most precious. It's a very poetic way of communication.

In our modern societies, we do this sort of exaggerating all the time, although these days it''s usually done to sell you something. "This show is THE blockbuster hit of the season!!!" People express their affection in love poetry the same way. If your lover tells you, "I could gaze at your eyes for a million years" you would understand the true meaning of that; not the literal meaning.
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Re: Ancient Buddhas

Postby xabir » Mon Nov 11, 2013 6:50 am

Thanks PadmaVonSamba, Kashyapa Buddha is taught in Pali suttas: http://buddhasutra.com/files/mahapadana_sutta.htm
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Re: Ancient Buddhas

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Nov 11, 2013 7:12 am

Oh, yes, thanks. I have read this before. It isn't just the Mahayana literature that gets elaborate. This one reads like a Buddha Phone directory.

I think it is also important to consider that the Buddha gave a lot of teachings to different groups of people, people with different capacities and backgrounds and so forth. Furthermore, he primarily gave teachings when specifically asked to. And even in this sutta, he is responding to a conversation already going on. So, when scholars asked him questions, they got scholarly teachings and when hindu sadhus and yogins asked him questions, they got answers that pertained to their situation, because generally, that is how the Buddha is seen to have taught, because his goal was always the cessation of suffering. Unfortunately, we can know very little about who asked what, other than names and occasionally some information about which disciple he is talking to. But even then, we cannot prove any degree of accuracy.

The words of the Buddha in the Pail literature weren't written down until around a century after he spoke them, and then, in a language he didn't actually use, and also some 5,000 miles south of where he gave his teachings. So, if you can imagine, say, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address passed down only verbally until the 1950's, and then finally written down in Spanish somewhere in Mexico, you have to leave a little room for the possibility that some words might get changed along the way.

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Re: Ancient Buddhas

Postby Aemilius » Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:46 am

It is a limitation of view if people cannot conceive life spans of much longer duration. This longer duration of life is not without consequences, it has a profound effect on your thinking and your life.
If you believe that there are the Dhyanas and their corresponding realms and beings, then you will also have beings, i.e Devas, that live much longer than humans and also longer than 20 000 years.

It is very much like an ant hill view, if You think that beings that live longer than the beings in Your ant hill, do not exist and that they are merely imaginary creatures.
The world or universe is much vaster in possibilities of existence than what human imagination can presently conceive and imagine.
There is also the case that human archeology has hidden the proofs that are too weird to be accepted to the modern limited world view. We see the past as we choose to see it, it is not absolute "fact".

The date of the writing down of the sutras is much later than 100 years after Parinirvana of Shakyamuni! Usually it is said to have begun about 500 years after Parinirvana. Thus for example in A History of Indian Buddhism: From Shakyamuni to Early Mahayana, by Paul Groner and Hirakawa Akira. The whole period of oral tradition is much undervalued in importance, and its methods are poorly understood. Even its existence, for some reason, is hidden from ordinary buddhists, who rarely know it.
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Re: Ancient Buddhas

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:33 pm

Aemilius wrote:It is a limitation of view if people cannot conceive life spans of much longer duration. This longer duration of life is not without consequences, it has a profound effect on your thinking and your life.
If you believe that there are the Dhyanas and their corresponding realms and beings, then you will also have beings, i.e Devas, that live much longer than humans and also longer than 20 000 years.


Who is keeping track?
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Re: Ancient Buddhas

Postby ClearblueSky » Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:33 pm

asunthatneversets wrote:Semi off topic but I know that due to differences in atmospheric pressure, life forms used to be much larger in scale. There's a scientist who has recreated the atmospheric conditions for prehistoric fish in a modern day fish tank. The fish grew nearly 2 or 3 times the size of modern fish (of the same species) living in present day conditions.

So perhaps it's not too far off base to theorize that lifespans may be longer, given the conditions allow.

Bigger does not= longer lifespan. Elephants live 60 years, clams can live 400 years. I think that if anyone believes that a human being has literally lived for 20,000 years, that human beings existed more than about a 200,000 years ago (and didn't evolve from similar species), or that the planet earth was ever literally layed out as described in Buddhist cosmology, they've got a lot more views they need to work on than just Buddhist practice. Believing in modern science to a practical degree is not a "limited view", but believing that these things have to literally be true to keep ones faith is a rather limited view.
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Re: Ancient Buddhas

Postby asunthatneversets » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:07 am

ClearblueSky wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:Semi off topic but I know that due to differences in atmospheric pressure, life forms used to be much larger in scale. There's a scientist who has recreated the atmospheric conditions for prehistoric fish in a modern day fish tank. The fish grew nearly 2 or 3 times the size of modern fish (of the same species) living in present day conditions.

So perhaps it's not too far off base to theorize that lifespans may be longer, given the conditions allow.

Bigger does not= longer lifespan. Elephants live 60 years, clams can live 400 years. I think that if anyone believes that a human being has literally lived for 20,000 years, that human beings existed more than about a 200,000 years ago (and didn't evolve from similar species), or that the planet earth was ever literally layed out as described in Buddhist cosmology, they've got a lot more views they need to work on than just Buddhist practice. Believing in modern science to a practical degree is not a "limited view", but believing that these things have to literally be true to keep ones faith is a rather limited view.

Two straw man arguments there; (i) I never suggested 'bigger' implies a longer life span, and (ii) I never suggested one should literally prescribe to any views.

Interestingly and allegedly, there has been an in tact modern human skeleton found in a 3 million year old coal deposit, among other anomalies of that nature. Some theorize that the human race is far, far more ancient than modern science chooses to believe, but that's a different topic.
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Re: Ancient Buddhas

Postby asunthatneversets » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:31 am

Now, I'm not saying this is indeed factual or true, but I see no issue with remaining open to the possibility, and entertaining the theory. After all, Darwin's model is simply a theory as well:

"Just a dozen years after Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859, growing numbers of scientists and other educated persons considered it impossible, indeed laughable, to suppose that humans were anything other than the modified descendants of an ancestral line of apelike creatures.

According to Darwinists, the first undisputed fossil evidence for life on earth goes back about 2 billion years. They say the first apes and monkeys appeared about 40-50 million years ago. The first ape-men (called Australopithecus) appeared about 4 million years ago. These were followed by other apemen called Homo habilis, Homo erectus, and Neanderthal man. The first human beings of modern type (Homo sapiens sapiens) appeared only 100,000 or 200,000 years ago. Civilization, according to modern scientists, is less than 10,000 years old.

Those who blindly follow Darwin's ideas on human evolution do not see the pattern of suppression inherent in scientific investigation. However, Michael A. Cremo and Richard L. Thompson of the Bhaktivedanta Institute investigated hundreds of scientific reports showing that humans or near humans were living millions of years ago in the Pliocene, Miocene, or earlier periods.

This evidence was not regarded as anomalous by the scientists who introduced it in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, since they were contemplating theories of human origins that were compatible with this evidence. Then, with the development of the modern theory that humans like ourselves evolved within the past 200,000 years in the Late Pleistocene, this evidence became highly unacceptable, and it vanished from sight.

Forbidden Archeology: The Hidden History of the Human Race presents a representative sample of this anomalous evidence suggesting that humans have been on the earth for millions of years, just as the ancient Sanskrit writings of the Vedic literatures describe. The Vedic histories inform us that humans have existed since the beginning of the day of Brahma, about 2 billion years ago.

Cremo and Thompson conclude that even the conventionally accepted evidence does not offer a cohesive picture of the missing link; instead, the multiplicity of proposed evolutionary linkages among the hominids in Africa creates a very confusing scheme of human evolution. They call for a drastic revision of the now-dominant assumptions about human origins."
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Re: Ancient Buddhas

Postby ClearblueSky » Tue Nov 12, 2013 8:54 am

I thought you were implying bigger= longer lifespan, I'm sorry if I misunderstood you on that part. What were you implying if not that, relating to the whole Kasyapa Buddha/human lifespan thing?
And you are bringing up these things about secret 3 million year old human skeletons in coal, "blindly following darwin", "Forbidden Archeology" conspiracies, and talk about humans walking around 2 billion years ago. There's not much need to even point out that there's no even remotely accepted scientific basis to any of that, and taking those things and saying "Darwin's is just another theory too" is the same reason I don't really bother engaging creationists that believe the earth is 6,000 years old in a debate. They are not both just theories, one is largely accepted science with heaps of evidence, the other is fringe belief/ or ancient belief. It's not just updated science. Ancient beliefs, beautiful as many are, just weren't evidence-based in the way we'd consider "science" today, and it's not really an accurate comparison. Regardless, it would at least be helpful if you could provide the source to that quote, so we can see what you are quoting from.
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Re: Ancient Buddhas

Postby Aemilius » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:26 am

In Buddhism you have the proof of Dhyana, and the proof of Six Supernormal Faculties, etc..
It may happen that You will see Your past lives and at the same time You will also see how humanity has constructed for itself the present view of the world, and that it is not really evidence based, it is a construction. Nevertheless humans grasp at it very strongly, because it gives them shelter from buddhism, it shelters from the past and present Buddhas and from their teachings, and it also shelters from the theory reincarnation over an immense length of time.

How do You view these material evidences http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azjWu6Uva8k ?

Please be honest and intelligent, and don't put us in the same basket with creationists!
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Re: Ancient Buddhas

Postby Aemilius » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:28 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Aemilius wrote:It is a limitation of view if people cannot conceive life spans of much longer duration. This longer duration of life is not without consequences, it has a profound effect on your thinking and your life.
If you believe that there are the Dhyanas and their corresponding realms and beings, then you will also have beings, i.e Devas, that live much longer than humans and also longer than 20 000 years.


Who is keeping track?
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They have books and records in Deva realms too, besides their own memory ofcourse. If that is what You intended, maybe I didn't quite get Your meaning?
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Re: Ancient Buddhas

Postby ClearblueSky » Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Aemilius wrote:How do You view these material evidences http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azjWu6Uva8k ?

As hilarious.
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Re: Ancient Buddhas

Postby asunthatneversets » Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:29 am

ClearblueSky wrote:I thought you were implying bigger= longer lifespan, I'm sorry if I misunderstood you on that part. What were you implying if not that, relating to the whole Kasyapa Buddha/human lifespan thing?

The point, was that if conditions allowed an organism to be larger in scale, it isn't far fetched to theorize that conditions can allow for a lengthened life span. I'm not suggesting lifespans of thousands of years is or ever was possible.

ClearblueSky wrote:And you are bringing up these things about secret 3 million year old human skeletons in coal

Well, they surely aren't secret, you can read about them if you have the interest.

ClearblueSky wrote:"blindly following darwin", "Forbidden Archeology" conspiracies, and talk about humans walking around 2 billion years ago. There's not much need to even point out that there's no even remotely accepted scientific basis to any of that

Well of course, welcome to science, the fraternity of paradigms. The reigning paradigm is what flies, all else is rejected. Very much like a belief system.

ClearblueSky wrote:and taking those things and saying "Darwin's is just another theory too" is the same reason I don't really bother engaging creationists that believe the earth is 6,000 years old in a debate.

Yes, god forbid systems of belief are peddled and promulgated. It's like the pot calling the kettle black.

ClearblueSky wrote:They are not both just theories, one is largely accepted science with heaps of evidence, the other is fringe belief/ or ancient belief.

Largely accepted science yes, heaps of evidence is another thing though... sparse evidence to piece together a theory with holes in it, is more like it. Even today scientists are unsure how the leap to modern man took place, various theories are posited in that regard. Even that hallucinogens may have played a role; 'the stoned ape theory', for example. You would be hard pressed to declare that there is any unassailable evidence to back up the reigning theory regarding the origins of mankind. All you have is a paradigm you have been presented, and you ate it up hook, line and sinker.

Year by year there are various discoveries which challenge the accepted paradigm, yet due to peer pressure, many scientists do not want to speak out in favor of the 'fringe' evidence for fear they will lose their credibility, labeled quacks and charlatans by people just like you, who merely tow the party line and regurgitate shit you've been force fed.

Göbekli Tepe for example, surely challenges the extant paradigm in regards to what man was capable of during that era [epipaleolithic]. Scientists know today that there has been major earth events which have drastically changed the topography and climates of the planet. There is strong evidence that Antartica used to be a rainforest, and there have even been one or two maps discovered which show Antartica as a dry and/or tropical climate. Pole shifts being the explanation for how the drastic climate changes came about. So no, our history is far from certain. If you find certainty in the model you precribe to, then you are choosing to believe that a model and theory is correct, and are therefore no better than the Creationists you ignorantly cast aspersions at.

ClearblueSky wrote:It's not just updated science. Ancient beliefs, beautiful as many are, just weren't evidence-based in the way we'd consider "science" today, and it's not really an accurate comparison.

And likewise, the models of reality being uncovered with quantum mechanics and so on is something which would have been considered equally non-evidence based, not too long ago. Science is a constant shift in paradigm, yet the reigning paradigm will always linger, the fact that children are still taught in school that everything is made of atoms being a prime example. It has been said, and it's undoubtably true, that you can measure scientific progress funeral by funeral.

ClearblueSky wrote:Regardless, it would at least be helpful if you could provide the source to that quote, so we can see what you are quoting from.

That quote is from Michael Cremo, but there are numerous individuals like him with intersting theories and discoveries. I enjoy Graham Hancock and others of that ilk as well. Unfortunately nothing it appears you would be interested in, after all, we wouldn't want to pry and question things now would we?
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Re: Ancient Buddhas

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:41 am

Evolution is a fact.

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Re: Ancient Buddhas

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:49 am

Aemilius wrote:In Buddhism you have the proof of Dhyana

That doesn't make any sense. Dhyana is meditation.
Aemilius wrote:How do You view these material evidences http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azjWu6Uva8k ?


There is nothing here. Just a lot of "what if" and 'some people say there is a cover up" ...which means absolutely nothing.
I can't believe anybody takes this seriously.

And where is there any proof of supernormal powers?
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Re: Ancient Buddhas

Postby asunthatneversets » Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:51 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Evolution is a fact.

No one has questioned evolution. Only the validity of the reigning model.
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Re: Ancient Buddhas

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:01 am

asunthatneversets wrote:
The point, was that if conditions allowed an organism to be larger in scale, it isn't far fetched to theorize that conditions can allow for a lengthened life span. I'm not suggesting lifespans of thousands of years is or ever was possible.


Well, if humans have two eyes, then it is not so hard to imagine that some might have four eyes. And if they can have four eyes, then there is no reason not to suspect that some might even have eight.
And if humans can have eight eyes, then why on earth not eight legs?
Could it be that humans are actually spiders? Look at the evidence; here we both are, on the web.
You can imagine anything you want.

That's the mistake made by people who don't understand what science actually is.
It isn't a belief system.
If there is not an explanation for something,
then the logical response to that isn't,
"therefore any explanation one can imagine is plausible".

Otherwise, where did i leave my car keys?
I don't know.
because i don't know,
it is therefore possible that the keys were eaten by a dragon.

Is it possible that a living organism could survive for 20,000 years?
Yes. it is entirely possible.
Is there even a spec of evidence to suggest that such a thing has ever occurred?
No, there isn't.
is it possible that evidence of such an occurrence will ever be found?
maybe, maybe not.
If such evidence exists, it may be found and it may never be found.
If no such evidence exists, it will never be found.

I don't know if any of this is sinking in or not.
But there is much more profound truth to the concept of a buddha living 20,000 years
as a metaphor than as a literal statement.
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