Buddhas don't need to eat??

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Buddhas don't need to eat??

Postby Luke » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:53 pm

I just read this in an article by Dr. Berzin:
"A Buddha doesn’t have to eat, but it’s not something that you have to work on the path in order to get rid of"
http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... ipt_2.html

I had never heard this before. Is this it a common Mahayana belief that Buddhas never have to eat?
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Re: Buddhas don't need to eat??

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jan 07, 2013 5:01 pm

The nirmaṇakāya in Mahāyāna thought is essentially conceived of as a seemingly physical and tangible manifestation of an otherwise transcendental Buddha. In other words, it is a means through which that transcendental force interacts with ordinary beings in a way they can comprehend. It isn't real or substantial, hence no need for food.

Kumārajīva's ideas are useful to consult here:

Huiyuan 慧遠 (334-416) asked the following question:

《鳩摩羅什法師大義》卷1:「遠問曰。佛於法身中為菩薩說經。法身菩薩乃能見之。如此則有四大五根。若然者。與色身復何差別。而云法身耶。經云法身無去無來。無有起滅。泥洹同像。云何可見。而復講說乎。」(CBETA, T45, no. 1856, p. 122, c6-10)

"Huiyuan asks, 'The Buddha as the dharmakāya teaches sūtras to the bodhisattvas. The bodhisattvas are able to see the dharmakāya. If it is like this, then it would have the four elements and five faculties. If so, what difference is there with a form body, and why call it a dharmakāya? The sūtras state that the dharmakāya is without going and without coming. It has no arising and no cessation, always like nirvāṇa. How are they able to see it and furthermore [how is it] able to teach?'"



Kumārajīva replies to this by introducing the idea of an illusory body.


《鳩摩羅什法師大義》卷1:「什答曰。佛法身者。同於變化。化無四大五根。」(CBETA, T45, no. 1856, p. 122, c11-12)

"Kumārajīva replies, 'The Buddha's dharmakāya is the same as an illusion. It is without the four elements and five faculties.'"


Furthermore...

《鳩摩羅什法師大義》卷1:「如鏡中像。水中月。見如有色。而無觸等。則非色也。化亦如是。法身亦然。又經言法身者。或說佛所化身。或說妙行法身。」(CBETA, T45, no. 1856, p. 122, c20-23)

"Like the image in a mirror or a moon in the water, it appears to have form, but there is no tactile [quality] to it, therefore it is not form. The illusion is also like this. The dharmakāya is also so. Again, the sūtras speak of a dharmakāya, others explain an illusionary body of the Buddha, while others explain it as a dharmakāya of excellent practices."


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Re: Buddhas don't need to eat??

Postby tomamundsen » Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:29 pm

Huseng wrote:
《鳩摩羅什法師大義》卷1:「如鏡中像。水中月。見如有色。而無觸等。則非色也。化亦如是。法身亦然。又經言法身者。或說佛所化身。或說妙行法身。」(CBETA, T45, no. 1856, p. 122, c20-23)

"Like the image in a mirror or a moon in the water, it appears to have form, but there is no tactile [quality] to it, therefore it is not form. The illusion is also like this. The dharmakāya is also so. Again, the sūtras speak of a dharmakāya, others explain an illusionary body of the Buddha, while others explain it as a dharmakāya of excellent practices."


That's interesting, I've always heard the analogy of the image in a mirror or moon in the water as describing the Sambhogakaya.
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Re: Buddhas don't need to eat??

Postby Huifeng » Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:14 am

Luke wrote:I just read this in an article by Dr. Berzin:
"A Buddha doesn’t have to eat, but it’s not something that you have to work on the path in order to get rid of"
http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... ipt_2.html

I had never heard this before. Is this it a common Mahayana belief that Buddhas never have to eat?


IIRC it is largely a Mahasamghika position, the Lokuttaravada type of thing.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Buddhas don't need to eat??

Postby Greg » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:14 am

tomamundsen wrote:
Huseng wrote:
《鳩摩羅什法師大義》卷1:「如鏡中像。水中月。見如有色。而無觸等。則非色也。化亦如是。法身亦然。又經言法身者。或說佛所化身。或說妙行法身。」(CBETA, T45, no. 1856, p. 122, c20-23)

"Like the image in a mirror or a moon in the water, it appears to have form, but there is no tactile [quality] to it, therefore it is not form. The illusion is also like this. The dharmakāya is also so. Again, the sūtras speak of a dharmakāya, others explain an illusionary body of the Buddha, while others explain it as a dharmakāya of excellent practices."


That's interesting, I've always heard the analogy of the image in a mirror or moon in the water as describing the Sambhogakaya.


Good point. How exactly is the dharmakāya, in this understanding, distinguished from sambhogakāya? I would imagine perhaps it is because the dharmakāya appears solid to sentient beings, whereas the other does not.
Last edited by Greg on Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buddhas don't need to eat??

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:37 am

Greg wrote:Good point. How exactly is the dharmakāya, in this understanding, distinguished from sambhogakāya? I would imagine perhaps it is because the dharmakāya appears solids to sentient beings, whereas the other does not.


The dharmakāya is only really perceived by tenth state bodhisattvas. The nirmaṇakāyas are readily perceived by beings wherever they emerge (they are "response bodies" as it were). A saṃbhogakāya is generally only perceived by bodhisattvas.

《鳩摩羅什法師大義》卷1:「真法身者。遍滿十方虛空法界。光明悉照無量國土。說法音聲。常周十方無數之國。具足十住菩薩之眾。乃得聞法。從是佛身方便現化。常有無量無邊化佛。遍於十方。隨眾生類若干差品。而為現形。光明色像。精麁不同。如來真身。九住菩薩尚不能見。何況惟越致及餘眾生。所以者何。佛法身者。出於三界。不依身口心行。無量無漏諸淨功德本行所成。」(CBETA, T45, no. 1856, p. 122, c29-p. 123, a8)

"The true dharmakāya pervades the empty dharma-realm of the ten directions, its light completely illuminating immeasurable lands. The sound of the dharma being taught always encompassing innumerable realms of the ten directions. The masses of bodhisattvas fully abiding on the tenth stage are able to hear [that] dharma. From the Buddha's body there provisionally (upaya) manifest illusions, there always being immeasurable and unlimited illusory buddhas pervading the ten directions, manifesting forms appropriate to the differences in dispositions of sentient beings, differing in brilliance, physical appearance, fineness and coarseness. The true body of the Tathāgata is not even capable of being seen by ninth stage bodhisattvas. How much more so those who have achieved non-retrogression (avaivartika) and other sentient beings? The reason for this is that the Buddha's dharmakāya is beyond the three realms, not relying upon karma of the body, speech or mind, having been perfected by immeasurable and untainted pure merit and past deeds."
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Re: Buddhas don't need to eat??

Postby Greg » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:39 am

Sorry, I mistyped - I mean to say nirmanakaya vs sambhogakaya.
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Re: Buddhas don't need to eat??

Postby randomseb » Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:13 am

the buddha mind doesn't need to feast on the food of reality?
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Re: Buddhas don't need to eat??

Postby yan kong » Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:17 pm

Huifeng wrote:
Luke wrote:I just read this in an article by Dr. Berzin:
"A Buddha doesn’t have to eat, but it’s not something that you have to work on the path in order to get rid of"
http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... ipt_2.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I had never heard this before. Is this it a common Mahayana belief that Buddhas never have to eat?


IIRC it is largely a Mahasamghika position, the Lokuttaravada type of thing.

~~ Huifeng


Can you expand on that thought for the less educated?
"Meditation is a spiritual exercise, not a therapeutic regime... Our intention is to enter Nirvana, not to make life in Samsara more tolerable." Chan Master Hsu Yun
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Re: Buddhas don't need to eat??

Postby deepbluehum » Thu Jan 24, 2013 6:28 pm

Luke wrote:I just read this in an article by Dr. Berzin:
"A Buddha doesn’t have to eat, but it’s not something that you have to work on the path in order to get rid of"
http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... ipt_2.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I had never heard this before. Is this it a common Mahayana belief that Buddhas never have to eat?


There are so many yogis who can go without food or water or breathing.
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Re: Buddhas don't need to eat??

Postby randomseb » Thu Jan 24, 2013 9:52 pm

deepbluehum wrote:
There are so many yogis who can go without food or water or breathing.


I remember this story about some ancient sage and a bowl of milk-rice.. Is a buddha some kind of biological thing that requires nourishment?
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Re: Buddhas don't need to eat??

Postby deepbluehum » Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:42 pm

randomseb wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:
There are so many yogis who can go without food or water or breathing.


I remember this story about some ancient sage and a bowl of milk-rice.. Is a buddha some kind of biological thing that requires nourishment?


The real Buddha is Dharmakaya. The rūpakaya is only part of disciples' illusion matrix. So, no, Buddha is not a biological thing. This is Mahayana's way. ChNNR explains Rūpakaya is Dharmakaya's qualifications from secondary causes. Both Dzogchen and Mahayana are saying same thing. Biological things are scientists ideas.
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Re: Buddhas don't need to eat??

Postby randomseb » Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:35 am

deepbluehum wrote:The real Buddha is Dharmakaya. The rūpakaya is only part of disciples' illusion matrix. So, no, Buddha is not a biological thing. This is Mahayana's way. ChNNR explains Rūpakaya is Dharmakaya's qualifications from secondary causes. Both Dzogchen and Mahayana are saying same thing. Biological things are scientists ideas.


So that statement about buddha's not eating wasn't referring to every day food, I understand now, thank you
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Re: Buddhas don't need to eat??

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:45 am

randomseb wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:The real Buddha is Dharmakaya. The rūpakaya is only part of disciples' illusion matrix. So, no, Buddha is not a biological thing. This is Mahayana's way. ChNNR explains Rūpakaya is Dharmakaya's qualifications from secondary causes. Both Dzogchen and Mahayana are saying same thing. Biological things are scientists ideas.


So that statement about buddha's not eating wasn't referring to every day food, I understand now, thank you


Doesn't need to eat everyday food, but does so to set an example about the vinaya.
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Re: Buddhas don't need to eat??

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:07 pm

Yes and I think Mahayana would hold the same about when Lord Buddha fasted before his enlightenment and became very emaciated.
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
-Sakya Pandita
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