Buddhas of the past

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Buddhas of the past

Postby cucatto » Tue May 21, 2013 2:30 pm

Hi,

(I'm from Brazil, so excuse me in advance for any english spelling mistake. :shrug: )

Could anyone help me? I came across Buddhism not long ago, and i dont know much about it.

I recall that, last time i talked to my professor, Lama Rigdzin Dordje, he told me that there in history, there were four Buddhas, Shakyamuni being the last. I also read this information somewhere else before that talk. Unfortunatelly i missed the oportunity and didn't ask him what were the three other Buddhas, next time i meet him i hope that i remember to ask this.

However, i've come to known about Miwoche, the founder of Bön tradition, but i'm not sure he was a Buddha. Also, i found this list with 28 Buddhas. This confused me.

So, how many Buddhas there were in the past? And who where they?

:buddha1:
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Re: Buddhas of the past

Postby Indrajala » Tue May 21, 2013 3:14 pm

The common grouping of buddhas includes seven in the following order (Sanskrit/Pāli):

1. Vipaśyin/Vipassin
2. Śikhin
3. Viśvabhū/Vessabhū
4. Krakucchanda/Kondañña
5. Kanakamuni/Konāgamana
6. Kāśyapa/Kassapa (not to be confused with Śākyamuni's disciple Mahākāśyapa)
7. Śākyamuni

The Buddhadharma appears and vanishes in cycles. In a given age there will be a time when nobody knows of the liberating Dharma. An individual at some point becomes awakened and once again turns the “Wheel of Dharma” (dharma-cakra). In due time the teaching fades from the world and is completely forgotten. This time frame is never fixed. During the dark age when the Buddhadharma is not immediately available, some individuals achieve awakening and liberation on their own by contemplating the twelve links of dependent origination and hence become pratyekabuddhas, but never teach their method of liberation to anyone. It is only a buddha who restarts the turning of the Wheel of Dharma.

If buddhas are all preceded by other buddhas stretching into the infinite past, then logically there has been many more than seven. There would be infinitely more. This is why later on in Buddhist history we see a myriad of buddhas categorized into sets of one-thousand in a given mahākalpa (one definition given is 1,334,000,000 years). A mahākalpa is further divided into four kalpas which comprise the formation (vivarta-kalpa), existence (vivarta-siddha), destruction (saṃvarta), and non-existence (saṃvarta-siddha) of the universe. A kalpa is further divided into twenty antara-kalpas or small kalpas The unit of one-thousand buddhas appears during the vivarta-siddha kalpa or the kalpa when the world is fully formed.

The present kalpa started relatively recently in terms of cosmic time. In due time the Buddhadharma as taught by Śākyamuni will be forgotten and thereafter in some distant future Maitreya will become the fifth buddha of this kalpa. Mahāyāna literature provides names for thousands of buddhas of the past and future. They are often recited as part of liturgy.

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Re: Buddhas of the past

Postby cucatto » Tue May 21, 2013 6:27 pm

Thank you, but i'm not sure i understand. So Miwoche was not a Buddha?

Also, i read Chagdud Rinpoche's "Gates to Buddhist Practice", and he also said that so far 4 Buddhas of 1000 appeared on the world, Shakhyamuni being the last. Do you know what he is referring to?
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Re: Buddhas of the past

Postby Indrajala » Wed May 22, 2013 3:12 am

cucatto wrote:Thank you, but i'm not sure i understand. So Miwoche was not a Buddha?



He's not on the list of past buddhas, so maybe his tradition thinks he was a buddha, but everyone else does not.


Also, i read Chagdud Rinpoche's "Gates to Buddhist Practice", and he also said that so far 4 Buddhas of 1000 appeared on the world, Shakhyamuni being the last. Do you know what he is referring to?


He means he was the most recent one. In due time the fifth will be Maitreya.
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Re: Buddhas of the past

Postby Namgyal » Wed May 22, 2013 9:53 am

Indrajala wrote:In due time the fifth will be Maitreya.

There are also said to be a couple of Great Bodhisattvas who will re-appear before Lord Maitreya, including the greatest of all treasures that a world can have; a perfect monk.
cucatto wrote:So Miwoche was not a Buddha?

In my opinion, Bon monastics are called 'rishi' (Seer) in honour of their founder. Rishi is not a negative term. A pratyekabuddha who was born in a time without a Buddha would usually be categorised as a rishi.
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Re: Buddhas of the past

Postby jmlee369 » Wed May 22, 2013 9:56 am

Just to clarify, our current kalpa is said to have 1000 Buddhas. Krakucchanda/Kondañña was the first of the 1000 in this kalpa, and Shakyamuni was fourth, Maitreya will be fifth, and 995 more will become enlightened before this kalpa ends.
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Re: Buddhas of the past

Postby kirtu » Thu May 23, 2013 1:00 am

jmlee369 wrote:Just to clarify, our current kalpa is said to have 1000 Buddhas. Krakucchanda/Kondañña was the first of the 1000 in this kalpa, and Shakyamuni was fourth, Maitreya will be fifth, and 995 more will become enlightened before this kalpa ends.


These are the 1000 or 1001 Buddhas of this era called the Fortunate Era (so-called because beings in this era are fortunate to have 1000 Buddhas! - some eras have no Buddhas and they are called Dark Eras) - the story of the 1000 Buddhas comes from the Kalpa Badra Sutra.

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Re: Buddhas of the past

Postby Aemilius » Wed Jun 12, 2013 12:52 pm

In the Mahavastu, which is a very early buddhist sutra, there is a list of the names of 500 Buddhas. I have read through it. There are more than merely 28 past Buddhas. Japanese Shingon school uses a sutra that has names of 10 000 Buddhas. If time is infinite, and if space is infinite, how could there be a limit to the number of Buddhas?
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Re: Buddhas of the past

Postby Nosta » Wed Jun 12, 2013 7:06 pm

I´ve some doubts.

According to what was said so far in this thread, a Mahakalpa could be 1 334 000 000 years and its divided in 4 kalpas and that means about 333 500 000 years for each kalpa.

But our universe is 15 000 000 000 years old! Thats even bigger than one Mahakalpa! How can that be?
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Re: Buddhas of the past

Postby Nosta » Wed Jun 12, 2013 7:26 pm

Ok, according to wikipedia:
- Regular Kalpa: 16,798,000 years
- Small Kalpa: its 1000 x a Regular Kalpa = 16,798,000,000 years [the age of the universe is relatively similar to that; about 13,000,000,000 years)
- Medium Kalpa: 20 x Small Kalpa = 335,960,000,000 years
- Great Kalpa: 4 x Medium Kalpa = 13,438,400,000,000 years

According to what Indrajala said, a Mahakalpa (the same as a Great Kalpa I suppose) is divided in 4 smaller kalpas: the formation kalpa, the existence kalpa, the destruction kalpa and the non-existence kalpa. And thats exactly the lenght of a Medium Kalpa to each one of this kalpas.

Since we are in the Medium Kalpa of Formation (about 335,960,000,000 years) and since there are 1000 Budhas on this Kalpa: Medium Kalpa divided by 1000 is 16,798,000,000 years the interval of time between each Buddha. Our universe is younger than the interval of a single Buddha, and yet we already had 4 Buddhas! Even so, the next Buddha (Maytreya) will come within millions of years.

By the way, here is the link to wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalpa_(aeon)
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Re: Buddhas of the past

Postby wisdom » Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:42 pm

These numbers are on some level arbitrary. To begin with the age of the universe has yet to be proven conclusively, recently there was an article that they may be off by a few hundred million or billion years (opps!).

Secondly its impossible to grasp the age, size, limit, duration and so forth of the universe. Even if we can find a localized beginning to our particular situation, we do not know the scale or extent of what is beyond our telescopes. This means that what we call the "big bang" might just be a localized event. In the same way the moon going around the earth is localized to the moon, the earth around the sun is localized to the earth. The suns movement around the center of our galaxy is localized to the sun. From the perspective of the galaxy itself, the moon revolves around its own center. We also revolve around the center of the galaxy, which is the primary cause of our movement, and the gravity of the sun, moon and planets are all secondary causes that determine further specifics about our movement through space.

So even though the center of the universe, the origin of the big bang, may be the primary cause of all things that we see, it doesn't follow that the big bang is a special or unique phenomena. In fact from what we observe its likely that it is not, that it is inconceivably common and prolific to an extent that is basically impossible to grasp. Think of how many atoms compose the elements, and how much elemental power, force and material goes into forming only our single little planet Earth, then think of how many stars are in the milky way, and how many galaxies are in the observable universe. All inferential evidence therefore points to a yet larger scale of reality wherein exist multiple big bangs, each containing such an observable universe. The same is true of the microscopic, since from atoms we go to sub atomic and quantum particles, down to particles that are only existent in the realm of mathematical theory until we can really single them out and test their reality.

Hence even if a big bang exists, it might just be a localized phenomena in a universe full of such occurrences. This greater, vaster, universe may well be 64 billion years old or so, allowing for four Buddhas (one every 16 billion years) to manifest. Our big bang may be new, but others might be quite old. Some universes may have already collapsed in on themselves within this vast imagining of what is possible, while others may only be millions of years old, still coming into a stable existence.
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Re: Buddhas of the past

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:52 am

Nosta wrote:But our universe is 15 000 000 000 years old! Thats even bigger than one Mahakalpa! How can that be?


That number is subject to change.

Science is as much a history of mistakes and revisions as it is of consolidating facts. :smile:

Not everyone even agrees on the big bang theory.
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Re: Buddhas of the past

Postby Indrajala » Thu Jun 13, 2013 3:01 am

wisdom wrote:These numbers are on some level arbitrary. To begin with the age of the universe has yet to be proven conclusively, recently there was an article that they may be off by a few hundred million or billion years (opps!).


I often wonder if these extraordinarily large numbers don't reflect an alternative scale of time, but it seems it has always been understood as solar (lunar?) years as perceived by humans.
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