The FGS Buddha tooth

Re: The FGS Buddha tooth

Postby Indrajala » Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:43 am

jmlee369 wrote:For one thing, if anyone involved intentionally deceived the public, that is a violation of precepts on multiple levels.


I'd like to know who these ten eminent rinpoches were who attested to the authenticity of the tooth.
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Re: The FGS Buddha tooth

Postby Wayfarer » Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:59 am

Relic veneration seems pivotally important in the tradition, along with the various rites and rituals involved in building the stupa around the relic. It seems easy to dismiss it as a cultural accretion, and most 'modern people', myself included, would do that. I think we have been educated not to believe such claims, and overall that is probably a good thing. But I do also wonder if it is not a little culturally chauvinistic to do that. I wonder what would happen in the event that you had a significant relationship with a Buddhist who really did believe that the stupa did contain that relic, and you didn't believe it. Would you argue the point?
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Re: The FGS Buddha tooth

Postby Indrajala » Tue Aug 27, 2013 3:30 am

jeeprs wrote:I wonder what would happen in the event that you had a significant relationship with a Buddhist who really did believe that the stupa did contain that relic, and you didn't believe it. Would you argue the point?


It depends. If it was someone in their advanced years who probably shouldn't bear the pain of disillusionment, then silence is probably noble.

See this is the problem with building such projects in such a questionable fashion. It leads to further ethical dilemmas. You need to calculate truth versus the comforts of faith resting on shaky ground.
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Re: The FGS Buddha tooth

Postby Qing Tian » Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:24 am

In my somewhat limited opinion I would have thought that if one required a relic to validate one's practice, then one's practice requires close examination and possible repair.
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Re: The FGS Buddha tooth

Postby Indrajala » Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:14 am

Qing Tian wrote:In my somewhat limited opinion I would have thought that if one required a relic to validate one's practice, then one's practice requires close examination and possible repair.


The idea is that since a relic generates feelings of faith and devotion, then its ultimate origins are not so important.
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Re: The FGS Buddha tooth

Postby Qing Tian » Tue Aug 27, 2013 9:02 am

If ultimate origins are not so important then the use of the term 'relic' is inappropriate and misleading - but for the sake of a simple life I will state that I understand why the term remains (ha!) in use.

Besides which the Buddha apparently gave clear instructions that his corporeal body was not to be used in this function. Does the maintenance of relics not represent desire?
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Re: The FGS Buddha tooth

Postby Sherab » Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:51 am

Astus wrote:Is there a single tooth relic anywhere that was confirmed by an independent team of scientists to be at least from around the time of the Buddha? Or any other Buddha relic?

There was an exhibition in Singapore many years ago (I think it was in the 1990's) called "Alamkara" or something like that. It was an exhibition of India and Indian culture. Among the exhibits were bones of the historical Buddha dug up by archaeologists from a stupa. Apparently, the stupa had two chambers, one of which was hidden below the other. The bones were found in the hidden chamber.
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Re: The FGS Buddha tooth

Postby PorkChop » Tue Aug 27, 2013 3:35 pm

Qing Tian wrote:If ultimate origins are not so important then the use of the term 'relic' is inappropriate and misleading - but for the sake of a simple life I will state that I understand why the term remains (ha!) in use.

Besides which the Buddha apparently gave clear instructions that his corporeal body was not to be used in this function. Does the maintenance of relics not represent desire?


sorry, not quite true and probably dates back to the physicalist/materialist interpretations of the dharma that arose in the 1800s...

Access to Insight's Nibbana Sutta wrote:"The body of a universal monarch, Ananda, is first wrapped round with new linen, and then with teased cotton wool, and so it is done up to five hundred layers of linen and five hundred of cotton wool. When that is done, the body of the universal monarch is placed in an iron oil vessel, which is enclosed in another iron vessel, a funeral pyre is built of all kinds of perfumed woods, and so the body of the universal monarch is burned; and at a crossroads a stupa is raised for the universal monarch. So it is done, Ananda, with the body of a universal monarch. And even, Ananda, as with the body of a universal monarch, so should it be done with the body of the Tathagata; and at a crossroads also a stupa should be raised for the Tathagata. And whosoever shall bring to that place garlands or incense or sandalpaste, or pay reverence, and whose mind becomes calm there — it will be to his well being and happiness for a long time.

27. "There are four persons, Ananda, who are worthy of a stupa. Who are those four? A Tathagata, an Arahant, a Fully Enlightened One is worthy of a stupa; so also is a Paccekabuddha, and a disciple of a Tathagata, and a universal monarch.

28-31. "And why, Ananda, is a Tathagata, an Arahant, a Fully Enlightened One worthy of a stupa? Because, Ananda, at the thought: 'This is the stupa of that Blessed One, Arahant, Fully Enlightened One!' the hearts of many people will be calmed and made happy; and so calmed and with their minds established in faith therein, at the breaking up of the body, after death, they will be reborn in a realm of heavenly happiness. And so also at the thought: 'This is the stupa of that Paccekabuddha!' or 'This is the stupa of a disciple of that Tathagata, Arahant, Fully Enlightened One!' or 'This is the stupa of that righteous monarch who ruled according to Dhamma!' — the hearts of many people are calmed and made happy; and so calmed and with their minds established in faith therein, at the breaking up of the body, after death, they will be reborn in a realm of heavenly happiness. And it is because of this, Ananda, that these four persons are worthy of a stupa."


Wikipedia_Entry for Stupa wrote:A stupa (from Sanskrit: m., स्तूप, stūpa, Sinhalese: දාගැබ, Pāli: थुप "thūpa", literally meaning "heap") is a mound-like or semi-hemispherical structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the ashes of Buddhist monks, used by Buddhists as a place of meditation.
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Re: The FGS Buddha tooth

Postby Wayfarer » Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:50 pm

Qing Tian wrote:In my somewhat limited opinion I would have thought that if one required a relic to validate one's practice, then one's practice requires close examination and possible repair.


It's interesting just how fundamental the idea of relics was in the spread of Buddhism. Every Stupa is supposed to contain a physical relic - there is belief that the original 12 remaining relics were further divided into the symbolic figure of 84,000 by Asoka so as to enable the building of that number of stupas. Again it sounds strange or even preposterous to modern ears but that is what the traditional sources maintain.

We can rationalize it along the lines that it simply a focus or a symbolic representation but it's also an opportunity to reflect on the different ways that dharma can be understood and represented.
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Re: The FGS Buddha tooth

Postby Indrajala » Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:07 pm

jeeprs wrote:We can rationalize it along the lines that it simply a focus or a symbolic representation but it's also an opportunity to reflect on the different ways that dharma can be understood and represented.


Having a relic on hand also facilitates fund raising.
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Re: The FGS Buddha tooth

Postby Qing Tian » Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:39 am

Ah, Ven. Indrajala, you are such a pragmatist! :smile:

Thanks to PorkChop. My thought on the use of Buddha's body as relics probably came from an incorrect source. Nice to be corrected.

And Jeeprs, yes, but relics are found in most major religions. In some sense I feel it is a 'hanging on to the past' kind of activity that - if one is not careful - can lead to stagnation in practice. But this probably a wrong thought (again).
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Re: The FGS Buddha tooth

Postby Indrajala » Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:08 am

You find relic worship mentioned in mainstream texts like the Lotus Sūtra. So, it had a role to play and clearly it still does.

Still, as time goes on people are increasingly sceptical about relics, especially anyone with a secular education and upbringing.

Younger generations in Asia are increasingly drifting away from Buddhism. There are fewer self-identifying Buddhists in Singapore according to the stats, for example, and the population is increasing. The same trends can be seen elsewhere, too.

I've heard the complaint from locals that getting Dharma and practical teachings can be a huge struggle. I'm not saying relic worship is unnecessary (I think it needs to be done reasonably and honestly), but just that times are changing.
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Re: The FGS Buddha tooth

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:17 am

Qing Tian wrote:A In some sense I feel it is a 'hanging on to the past' kind of activity that - if one is not careful - can lead to stagnation in practice. But this probably a wrong thought (again).


I wouldn't say it is wrong thought. It is a cause for reflection. It is natural for us moderns to put great emphasis on what we believe can be factually established. That is the scientific attitude. But consider the idea that the Buddha in some sense represents a real rupture in the fabric of cause-and-effect. After all if we were to scientifically investigate the law of karma we would probably not get very far. How would you design such a study? The Buddha shows the way beyond suffering, which is also beyond what we consider to be reality. So in some way the idea of the relic is maintaining a physical link with the real presence of 'the one who showed the way'.

I'm not saying that we should therefore venerate relics. But pause to reflect on why it is considered important.
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Re: The FGS Buddha tooth

Postby PorkChop » Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:28 am

Qing Tian wrote:Thanks to PorkChop. My thought on the use of Buddha's body as relics probably came from an incorrect source. Nice to be corrected.


Sorry, didn't mean to call you out. I've probably read the same source, usually in connection with statements like "the Buddha did not want to be venerated". At the same time, that quote explains why in a way that make sense - faith & veneration has an effect on the practitioner that leads to a calming of the mind ("opiate of the masses" if you will).
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Re: The FGS Buddha tooth

Postby plwk » Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:44 am

Well, Ven Indrajala, have you personally sought for an authorised and official explanation from FGS on this matter?
Because, seriously, none of us in this thread can do that for you except for the FGS themselves, which makes even my own thoughts at most, intellectual speculations and what other scholars say, to some extent helpful leads. To be blunt, which Dharma organisation hasn't indulged in marketing and perception games to survive?
Honest or not, it's a matter of perception to some, no? lol

If I may take your OP statements further and apply it to the rest of the Buddhist world.. when I was at Anhui's Mt Jiu Hua recently, I was fascinated to see how readily people embrace and rush up to touch the purported footprints of Ksitigarbha and the 2 'flesh bodies' of past Masters and taking it further Guangdong's 6th Patriarch's mummy, the self arisen Tara and Guru Rinpoche's prints in Nepal, Singapore's Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & its sarira and what other stuff there are... when asked and scrutinised at its most deepest level, what does one get? Defensive statements at the very least I should guess...

And I agree with Qing Tian to some extent Pork Chop, you quote that part but never mention this part? :smile:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .vaji.html
At that time the twin sala trees broke out in full bloom, though it was not the season of flowering. And the blossoms rained upon the body of the Tathagata and dropped and scattered and were strewn upon it in worship of the Tathagata. And celestial mandarava flowers and heavenly sandalwood powder from the sky rained down upon the body of the Tathagata, and dropped and scattered and were strewn upon it in worship of the Tathagata. And the sound of heavenly voices and heavenly instruments made music in the air out of reverence for the Tathagata.

And the Blessed One spoke to the Venerable Ananda, saying: "Ananda, the twin sala trees are in full bloom, though it is not the season of flowering. And the blossoms rain upon the body of the Tathagata and drop and scatter and are strewn upon it in worship of the Tathagata. And celestial coral flowers and heavenly sandalwood powder from the sky rain down upon the body of the Tathagata, and drop and scatter and are strewn upon it in worship of the Tathagata. And the sound of heavenly voices and heavenly instruments makes music in the air out of reverence for the Tathagata.

"Yet it is not thus, Ananda, that the Tathagata is respected, venerated, esteemed, worshipped, and honored in the highest degree.
But, Ananda, whatever bhikkhu or bhikkhuni, layman or laywoman, abides by the Dhamma, lives uprightly in the Dhamma, walks in the way of the Dhamma, it is by such a one that the Tathagata is respected, venerated, esteemed, worshipped, and honored in the highest degree.

Therefore, Ananda, thus should you train yourselves: 'We shall abide by the Dhamma, live uprightly in the Dhamma, walk in the way of the Dhamma.'"
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Re: The FGS Buddha tooth

Postby PorkChop » Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:52 am

plwk wrote:And I agree with Qing Tian to some extent Pork Chop, you quote that part but never mention this part? :smile:


Touche :)
But wouldn't calming of the mind being practicing and upholding the Dharma?
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Re: The FGS Buddha tooth

Postby plwk » Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:04 am

Of course PC, just that many have done with or without the 'cult' of relics thingy, which to me, has always been an incidental for the more informed...
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Re: The FGS Buddha tooth

Postby PorkChop » Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:43 am

plwk wrote:Of course PC, just that many have done with or without the 'cult' of relics thingy, which to me, has always been an incidental for the more informed...

Oh definitely. I just have problems when similar arguments are used to dismiss the idea of "faith" (saddha/sraddha) altogether.
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Re: The FGS Buddha tooth

Postby plwk » Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:32 pm

"Bhikkhus, be the inheritors of my Teaching and not the inheritors of my material.
There’s my compassion towards you. Whatever it is, be the inheritors of my Teaching not the inheritors of my material.

Dhammadayada Sutta
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