I recently have had some doubts myself. Even the suttas contain very strange things that seem to be no more rational than other religions.
There is Paharada sutta (AN8:2:9) that talks about fish as large as 100-500 yojanas. One yojana is 6-15 kilometers or 4 to 9 miles...Some of these fish is almost as large or even larger than the moon (1,737.4 kilometers
) and almost as big as radius of the Earth (6,378.1 km
). 500 yojanas on average is 5,000 kilometers. The Indian rivers (Ganges, Yamuna, Aciravathie, Sarabhu and Mahi) come to this ocean...http://metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/ ... ggo-e.html
Also the cause of rain and other weather phenomena being rain-cloud devas and other kind of devas. SN32.56 Rain-cloud Devas. In other suttas in that samyutta it talks about why it becomes windy, stormy, etc, and it is explained as working of these devas. And in SN32.2 in pali talks about how to be reborn as such kind of devas.
Also there is talk about demon Rahu who can swallow the moon (candima) and the sun (suriya)... SN2.9/10 . The creature would have to be huge, create a very strong gravity that affects the motion of other planets and I wonder why it wasn't discovered in modern astronomy.
Also in Lakkhana Samyutta (SN19.1-21), translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi, it describes different kinds of existences in Hungry Ghost realm that where clairvoyantly seen, and (according to the suttas
) were approved by the Buddha Himself.
Venerable MahaMogallana smiled when He saw this:
"“Here, friend, as I was coming down from Mount Vulture Peak, I saw a skeleton moving through the air. Vultures, crows, and hawks, pursuing it here and there, were pecking at it between the ribs, stabbing it, and tearing it apart while it uttered cries of pain.&339 It occurred to me: ‘It is wonderful, indeed! It is amazing, indeed! That there could be such a being, that there could be such a spirit, that could be such a form of individual existence
"I saw a piece of meat moving through the air. Vultures, crows, and hawks, pursuing it here and there, were stabbing at it and tearing it apart as it uttered cries of pain.”… “That being, bhikkhus, was a cattle butcher in this same Råjagaha….
" - SN19.2
"… “I saw a man whose testicles were like pots moving through the air. When he walked, he had to lift his testicles onto his shoulders, and when he sat down he sat on top of his testicles. Vultures, crows, and hawks, pursuing him here and there, were stabbing at him and tearing him apart while he uttered cries of pain….” “That being was a corrupt judge in this same Råjagaha….
" SN 19.10
And plenty more really strange suttas. So unfortunately while the suttas in Four Nikayas do have a lot of really good rational material, some of it is too fantastic even for my taste. One can't claim that the suttas are totally reasonable (compared to mythology of other religions in which we don't believe
) and devoid of mystical things.What to do? Were these things really said by the Buddha? Or were they added on by other people? How can we know which is which?