Very few Buddhas for so much time

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Very few Buddhas for so much time

Postby Nosta » Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:32 pm

This is not exactly a question, just some toughts: Buddha Shakyamuni teach us the Dharma at 2500 years ago and we are alreay ih the Dharma Degeneration Age. Isnt that to quick? Should we expect more years before such degeneration age?

For instance, the next Buddha "avaiable" to teach humans will appear within millions/billions of years. Thats a lot!

In fact, my conclusion is: Dharma is rare! Its very precious!

I think this is kind of a lesson, thinking on these numbers.

Whats your opinion?
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Re: Very few Buddhas for so much time

Postby pueraeternus » Fri Apr 20, 2012 3:56 pm

Nosta wrote:This is not exactly a question, just some toughts: Buddha Shakyamuni teach us the Dharma at 2500 years ago and we are alreay ih the Dharma Degeneration Age. Isnt that to quick? Should we expect more years before such degeneration age?


This is already an upgrade. If the traditional records are to be believed, the initial contract for the Buddha Sasana was only for 1000 years, and we took a 500 year penalty when the Buddha expanded the membership to Bhikshunis. So we are already lucking out.
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Re: Very few Buddhas for so much time

Postby Anders » Fri Apr 20, 2012 4:36 pm

"Monks, suppose that this great earth were totally covered with water, and a man were to toss a yoke with a single hole there. A wind from the east would push it west, a wind from the west would push it east. A wind from the north would push it south, a wind from the south would push it north. And suppose a blind sea-turtle were there. It would come to the surface once every one hundred years. Now what do you think: would that blind sea-turtle, coming to the surface once every one hundred years, stick his neck into the yoke with a single hole?"

"It would be a sheer coincidence, lord, that the blind sea-turtle, coming to the surface once every one hundred years, would stick his neck into the yoke with a single hole."

"It's likewise a sheer coincidence that one obtains the human state. It's likewise a sheer coincidence that a Tathagata, worthy & rightly self-awakened, arises in the world. It's likewise a sheer coincidence that a doctrine & discipline expounded by a Tathagata appears in the world. Now, this human state has been obtained. A Tathagata, worthy & rightly self-awakened, has arisen in the world. A doctrine & discipline expounded by a Tathagata appears in the world.

"Therefore your duty is the contemplation, 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress.' Your duty is the contemplation, 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'"

--- Chiggala Sutta
"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
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Re: Very few Buddhas for so much time

Postby Wesley1982 » Fri Apr 20, 2012 7:55 pm

I had never thought of it that way.

Since it was said that the Buddha transmitted his teachings through the Dharma that we would know what was taught in the tradition.
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Re: Very few Buddhas for so much time

Postby Paul » Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:30 pm

Wesley1982 wrote:I had never thought of it that way.

Since it was said that the Buddha transmitted his teachings through the Dharma that we would know what was taught in the tradition.


Buddhism must be the only religious tradition that predicts its own death.

Of course, it's not permanently dead as it is revived, but not for a looong time.
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Re: Very few Buddhas for so much time

Postby kirtu » Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:45 pm

Nosta wrote:This is not exactly a question, just some toughts: Buddha Shakyamuni teach us the Dharma at 2500 years ago and we are alreay ih the Dharma Degeneration Age. Isnt that to quick? Should we expect more years before such degeneration age?

For instance, the next Buddha "avaiable" to teach humans will appear within millions/billions of years. Thats a lot!

In fact, my conclusion is: Dharma is rare! Its very precious!

I think this is kind of a lesson, thinking on these numbers.

Whats your opinion?


An alternative view supported by the Mahayana sutras is that there are already an infinite (or possibly countably very large) number of Buddhas from the past. Several sutras refer to uncountable numbers of Buddhas not just the seven or so from this Earth system. OTOH there are an infinite number of sentient beings and that's just including this Earth and the Three Realms. So Dharma is indeed very rare even if we already have an infinite set of Buddhas (this is another demonstration of the fact that we can have two different infinite sets with one set actually smaller than another set even though both are actually infinite - infinity is not what people assume it to be).

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Re: Very few Buddhas for so much time

Postby mzaur » Sat Apr 21, 2012 7:51 am

pueraeternus wrote:
Nosta wrote:This is not exactly a question, just some toughts: Buddha Shakyamuni teach us the Dharma at 2500 years ago and we are alreay ih the Dharma Degeneration Age. Isnt that to quick? Should we expect more years before such degeneration age?

and we took a 500 year penalty when the Buddha expanded the membership to Bhikshunis. So we are already lucking out.


what? very misogynistic
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Re: Very few Buddhas for so much time

Postby Anders » Sat Apr 21, 2012 2:34 pm

mzaur wrote:
pueraeternus wrote:
Nosta wrote:This is not exactly a question, just some toughts: Buddha Shakyamuni teach us the Dharma at 2500 years ago and we are alreay ih the Dharma Degeneration Age. Isnt that to quick? Should we expect more years before such degeneration age?

and we took a 500 year penalty when the Buddha expanded the membership to Bhikshunis. So we are already lucking out.


what? very misogynistic


I can sort of see the logic in it: A bhikshuni order means more opportunities for being to become arhats sooner. Without it, women with the propensity for liberation would probably have to wait longer for suitable conditions to arise, which would mean more people with the potential for awakening hanging around later.

That said, I think it's an assumption we can gloss over these days given that scholarship has also raised questions about the authenticity of that quote.
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I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

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Re: Very few Buddhas for so much time

Postby Nosta » Sat Apr 21, 2012 2:51 pm

Paul wrote:
Wesley1982 wrote:I had never thought of it that way.

Since it was said that the Buddha transmitted his teachings through the Dharma that we would know what was taught in the tradition.


Buddhism must be the only religious tradition that predicts its own death.

Of course, it's not permanently dead as it is revived, but not for a looong time.



Its also the only religion not giving a lot of importance to "end of days" prophecies, calamities and the like, because buddhism is very solid and consistent: for Buddha, the most important thing is to take beings out of the samsara and out of the suffering. Everything else besides Dharma is just an illusion, is just crap so to say, so one needs to put strong effort on learning Dharma and achieving Nirvana. In this context, prophecies are not useful, except for the ones talking about the days where will not exist Dharma and the days where it will arise again (with the coming of Maytreia for example).
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Re: Very few Buddhas for so much time

Postby pueraeternus » Sun Apr 22, 2012 2:55 pm

Anders Honore wrote:
mzaur wrote:
and we took a 500 year penalty when the Buddha expanded the membership to Bhikshunis. So we are already lucking out.


what? very misogynistic


I can sort of see the logic in it: A bhikshuni order means more opportunities for being to become arhats sooner. Without it, women with the propensity for liberation would probably have to wait longer for suitable conditions to arise, which would mean more people with the potential for awakening hanging around later.

That said, I think it's an assumption we can gloss over these days given that scholarship has also raised questions about the authenticity of that quote.


Mzaur, Anders,

Indeed it does seem misogynistic from our modern day perspective. This tradition of the "danger" to the dharma in admitting the bhikshunis is found in all the Sthavira traditions (which all currently extant Sravaka lineages descended from), but is not found in the Mahasamghika Vinaya. Much maligned by tradition and scholarship for the better part of Buddhist history, it is now generally accepted in the academic circles that the Mahasamghika is not the one that initiated the Schism, but rather the Sthaviravadins when they proposed to expand the vinaya with all sorts of rules, after the Second Council. Perhaps the story of the "dharma degrading" Bhikshunis was added since then.
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Re: Very few Buddhas for so much time

Postby catmoon » Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:34 am

The reluctance to admit women to the robed orders is mysogynist if their femaleness was the only reason for not admitting them. It is quite possible the reason was not that they were women. The status of women in India was in downward transition in Buddha's time and would remain abysmal right through to modern times. This means that in Buddha's time women may not have been given any access to education. So it may not have been women that were the problem so much as a body of people that were completely illiterate, and happened to also be female.
Such a body of people, whether male or female, would be an enormous dead weight that would have to be carried by the rest of the monks. They would need extensive education. Many would have great difficulty due to a late start.
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Re: Very few Buddhas for so much time

Postby Fu Ri Shin » Mon Apr 23, 2012 6:29 am

The reason for the Buddha's initial reluctance to create an order of nuns became clear to me when I read of how one of his chief female disciples, Uppalavanna, was raped. That incident had to have been one of worst fears being realized.
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Re: Very few Buddhas for so much time

Postby Blue Garuda » Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:53 am

Buddhism is far from being the only one containing the degenerative age, aka by some as 'Kali Yuga'.

I would be interested to know, if anyone does, whether it was simply adopted from Hinduism or earlier Vedic culture, as Kali in this 'time' context appears in early Vedas (not as the current black goddess form).

And now the dread Wicki quote:

''Kali Yuga (Devanāgarī: कलियुग [kəli juɡə], lit. "age of [the demon] Kali", or "age of vice") is the last of the four stages the world goes through as part of the cycle of yugas described in the Indian scriptures. The other ages are Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dvapara Yuga. The duration and chronological starting point in human history of Kali Yuga has given rise to different evaluations and interpretations. According to one of them, the Surya Siddhanta, Kali Yuga began at midnight (00:00) on 18 February 3102 BCE[1] in the proleptic Julian calendar, or 23 January 3102 BC in the proleptic Gregorian calendar. This date is also considered by many Hindus to be the day that Krishna left Earth to return to his abode. Most interpreters of Hindu scriptures believe that Earth is currently in Kali Yuga. Many authorities such as Swami Sri Yukteswar,[2] and Paramhansa Yogananda[3] believe that it is now Dvapara Yuga. Many others like Aurbindo Ghosh have stated that Kali Yuga is now over. The Kali Yuga is sometimes thought to last 432,000 years, although other durations have been proposed.[4]''
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Re: Very few Buddhas for so much time

Postby Blue Garuda » Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:57 am

Anders Honore wrote:"Monks, suppose that this great earth were totally covered with water, and a man were to toss a yoke with a single hole there. A wind from the east would push it west, a wind from the west would push it east. A wind from the north would push it south, a wind from the south would push it north. And suppose a blind sea-turtle were there. It would come to the surface once every one hundred years. Now what do you think: would that blind sea-turtle, coming to the surface once every one hundred years, stick his neck into the yoke with a single hole?"

"It would be a sheer coincidence, lord, that the blind sea-turtle, coming to the surface once every one hundred years, would stick his neck into the yoke with a single hole."

"It's likewise a sheer coincidence that one obtains the human state. It's likewise a sheer coincidence that a Tathagata, worthy & rightly self-awakened, arises in the world. It's likewise a sheer coincidence that a doctrine & discipline expounded by a Tathagata appears in the world. Now, this human state has been obtained. A Tathagata, worthy & rightly self-awakened, has arisen in the world. A doctrine & discipline expounded by a Tathagata appears in the world.

"Therefore your duty is the contemplation, 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress.' Your duty is the contemplation, 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'"

--- Chiggala Sutta



''.... sheer coincidence that one obtains the human state'' ? Um, is that denying the law of Karma or just a bum translation?

I think it would be better to express it in terms of Karma Vipaka of different beings coinciding and resulting in one learning Dharma from another, rather than express it as what appears to be good 'luck'. If it is indeed down to good luck, why bother with virtue?

Just thinking aloud but it seems a weird way to express Karma.
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Re: Very few Buddhas for so much time

Postby Anders » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:06 am

I think it is just a bit of an awkawrd expression to express how long the odds are.
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Re: Very few Buddhas for so much time

Postby pueraeternus » Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:57 pm

catmoon wrote:The reluctance to admit women to the robed orders is mysogynist if their femaleness was the only reason for not admitting them. It is quite possible the reason was not that they were women. The status of women in India was in downward transition in Buddha's time and would remain abysmal right through to modern times. This means that in Buddha's time women may not have been given any access to education. So it may not have been women that were the problem so much as a body of people that were completely illiterate, and happened to also be female.
Such a body of people, whether male or female, would be an enormous dead weight that would have to be carried by the rest of the monks. They would need extensive education. Many would have great difficulty due to a late start.


I am not sure if that is a plausible reason. That would mean that the Buddha was reluctant to admit members of the lowest caste, since they would also be mostly uneducated, but this was not the case. Furthermore, the main bulk of his earliest Bhikshunis were women from the royal household (including his stepmother and wife), so they would be sufficiently educated (or at least cultured). And the great number of female Arhats also attest to their readiness for enlightenment. And it also doesn't address the question why the Mahasamghika Vinaya contained no reference to these garudharmas.
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Re: Very few Buddhas for so much time

Postby kirtu » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:07 pm

pueraeternus wrote:
catmoon wrote:The status of women in India was in downward transition in Buddha's time and would remain abysmal right through to modern times.


I am not sure if that is a plausible reason. That would mean that the Buddha was reluctant to admit members of the lowest caste, since they would also be mostly uneducated, but this was not the case. Furthermore, the main bulk of his earliest Bhikshunis were women from the royal household (including his stepmother and wife), so they would be sufficiently educated (or at least cultured). And the great number of female Arhats also attest to their readiness for enlightenment. And it also doesn't address the question why the Mahasamghika Vinaya contained no reference to these garudharmas.


Male untouchables were admitable because Shakyamuni had already broken all those rules in the six years he was pursuing enlightenment. Although the stories do not say so, the yogi movement in general and Shakyamuni's teachers were almost certainly free from caste considerations.

I have pretty much always thought that Shakyamuni Buddha had to use a particularly subtle upaya in order to get his male disciples and the surrounding lay community, Buddhists and non-Buddhists, to accept his action of admitting women. It seems to be that he was able to set conditions up so that women, led by the women of his family and clan, were prompted to essentially protest and demand access and that this had to be done publicly.

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Re: Very few Buddhas for so much time

Postby catmoon » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:02 am

pueraeternus wrote:
catmoon wrote:The reluctance to admit women to the robed orders is mysogynist if their femaleness was the only reason for not admitting them. It is quite possible the reason was not that they were women. The status of women in India was in downward transition in Buddha's time and would remain abysmal right through to modern times. This means that in Buddha's time women may not have been given any access to education. So it may not have been women that were the problem so much as a body of people that were completely illiterate, and happened to also be female.
Such a body of people, whether male or female, would be an enormous dead weight that would have to be carried by the rest of the monks. They would need extensive education. Many would have great difficulty due to a late start.


I am not sure if that is a plausible reason. That would mean that the Buddha was reluctant to admit members of the lowest caste, since they would also be mostly uneducated, but this was not the case. Furthermore, the main bulk of his earliest Bhikshunis were women from the royal household (including his stepmother and wife), so they would be sufficiently educated (or at least cultured). And the great number of female Arhats also attest to their readiness for enlightenment. And it also doesn't address the question why the Mahasamghika Vinaya contained no reference to these garudharmas.


Well argued.
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Re: Very few Buddhas for so much time

Postby pueraeternus » Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:25 am

kirtu wrote:
pueraeternus wrote:
catmoon wrote:The status of women in India was in downward transition in Buddha's time and would remain abysmal right through to modern times.


I am not sure if that is a plausible reason. That would mean that the Buddha was reluctant to admit members of the lowest caste, since they would also be mostly uneducated, but this was not the case. Furthermore, the main bulk of his earliest Bhikshunis were women from the royal household (including his stepmother and wife), so they would be sufficiently educated (or at least cultured). And the great number of female Arhats also attest to their readiness for enlightenment. And it also doesn't address the question why the Mahasamghika Vinaya contained no reference to these garudharmas.


Male untouchables were admitable because Shakyamuni had already broken all those rules in the six years he was pursuing enlightenment. Although the stories do not say so, the yogi movement in general and Shakyamuni's teachers were almost certainly free from caste considerations.

I have pretty much always thought that Shakyamuni Buddha had to use a particularly subtle upaya in order to get his male disciples and the surrounding lay community, Buddhists and non-Buddhists, to accept his action of admitting women. It seems to be that he was able to set conditions up so that women, led by the women of his family and clan, were prompted to essentially protest and demand access and that this had to be done publicly.

Kirt


I have once considered these social factors as the reason for the Buddha imposing the garudharmas upon the Bhikshunis, until I learned about their omission from the Mahasamghika Vinaya, then I started wondering if it was a later addition. If the Vinaya was enlarged (as per Prebish) to suit the conservative tastes of the early Sthaviras, then it is not inconceivable that they might have done the same with the garudharmas and its back story. Furthermore, women were already able to enter ascetic orders during the Buddha's time, as we can see from Bhadda Kundalakesa's story, so there is already no obstacle or social taboo in that aspect, since the Bauddha is also a sramana sect. There was no need for the Buddha to conceive of an elaborate upaya device.
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