Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby sraddha » Thu Jun 25, 2009 11:16 pm

Luke wrote:Sure, there's nothing wrong with debate if it stays intelligent and constructive. However, anger is a path which leads to hell.

I've seen Theravada get bashed on other forums before, so I suppose I was just trying to be protective.

I see all Dharma texts as objects of refuge, even though I find some wiser than others.



Whenever I read modern Theravada accounts of how Buddha died of some sort of :quoteunquote: infarction :quoteunquote: , I get :techproblem: :tantrum:

BUDDHA IS THE DHARMAKAYA -- BUDDHA NEVER DIED OF AN INFARCTION! :tantrum:

Then after acting like a hellish being, being certain of going to hell, I do Bhaisajya Guru and I feel all better. :mrgreen:

The infarction thing is one of the things that made me into a Mahayanist. :anjali:
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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby clw_uk » Thu Jun 25, 2009 11:27 pm

In Theravada thats how those aggregates expired and tbh its most likely what happened, the event of his death would be very accurate in historical terms since it would be well remembered by the whole sangha and kept alive through the passing on of the teachings


BUDDHA IS THE DHARMAKAYA -- BUDDHA NEVER DIED OF AN INFARCTION!


In mahayana buddhism i would say this is a valid point, in Theravada Buddhism it isnt (or thought of differently)

No need to get angry about it really, just different points of view. I would actually say that getting angry can be a sign of an insecurity of your own belief, or an intolerance (which i doubt/hope isnt the case)


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Those who are lust-infatuated fall back to the swirling current (of samsara) like a spider on its self-spun web. This too the wise cut off. Without any longing, they abandon all dukkha and renounce the world

Dhammapada - Verse 347
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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby sraddha » Thu Jun 25, 2009 11:39 pm

clw_uk wrote:In Theravada thats how those aggregates expired and tbh its most likely what happened, the event of his death would be very accurate in historical terms since it would be well remembered by the whole sangha and kept alive through the passing on of the teachings


BUDDHA IS THE DHARMAKAYA -- BUDDHA NEVER DIED OF AN INFARCTION!


In mahayana buddhism i would say this is a valid point, in Theravada Buddhism it isnt

No need to get angry about it really, just different points of view. I would actually say that getting angry can be a sign of an insecurity of your own belief, or an intolerance (which i doubt/hope isnt the case)


Metta


So you are claiming that Buddha = Dharmakaya is NOT a valid point in Theravada Buddhism. :jawdrop: So what is a valid point in Theravada school?

What is the Dharmakaya in Theravada school and what is it's significance?
Does the Theravada EVER reach the Dharmakaya?
If all fabrications are impermanent, than what is permanent?
What is Amatassa (immortal) if all formations are impermanet?

:popcorn:
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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jun 25, 2009 11:53 pm

Greetings sraddha,

Dharmakaya is a Mahayana concept, not found in the suttas (or agamas).

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby sraddha » Fri Jun 26, 2009 12:05 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings sraddha,

Dharmakaya is a Mahayana concept, not found in the suttas (or agamas).

Metta,
Retro. :)


Your right, "Dharmakaya" is not found in the suttas, but "Dhammakaya" is. :smile:

Agganna Sutta of the Digha Nikaya, says to his disciple Vasettha:

"Tathāgatassa h'etam Vasettha adivacanam Dhammakayo iti pi ...":
O Vasettha! The Word of Dhammakaya is indeed the name of the Tathagata


Mahayanists don't make these things up ya know... really! :D
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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby Luke » Fri Jun 26, 2009 1:25 am

sraddha wrote:
Agganna Sutta of the Digha Nikaya, says to his disciple Vasettha:

"Tathāgatassa h'etam Vasettha adivacanam Dhammakayo iti pi ...":
O Vasettha! The Word of Dhammakaya is indeed the name of the Tathagata


Mahayanists don't make these things up ya know... really! :D


I'm not a scholar, but it's possible that the word "Dhammakaya" in the sutra you quoted has a different meaning than it does in Mahayana. Maybe the word is just a pretty title for the Buddha in that sutra.

In any case, there are three main kayas: Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Nirmanakaya. The historical Buddha Shakyamuni was a Nirmanakaya. This Nirmanakaya aspect of the Buddha did die or at least appeared to die, while his Sambhogakaya and Dharmakaya aspects continued to exist.

I found some great quotes which are relevant to this here:
http://www.kagyu.org/kagyulineage/buddh ... /cul02.php

...Sambhogakaya in turn gives rise to Nirmanakaya, which is realized through the physical body, and embodies both the Sambhogakaya and the Dharmakaya aspects. Nirmanakaya is physical in its essence and is historically situated, so that when we talk about Buddha Shakyamuni attaining enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, giving teachings in Varanasi, and eventually attaining paranirvana in Kushinagar, we are describing his Nirmanakaya aspect...

...Because the Buddha's Sambhogakaya and Dharmakaya aspects are not historically situated, we cannot attribute any kind of temporality to them...

...For instance, in his Nirmanakaya aspect the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Noble Path, and so on. Because we can say that these Buddhist teachings began at a specific time, we might also speculate about when Buddhism might cease to exist. But the Sambhogakaya teachings are ever present and therefore unceasing...

...We can make the distinction between Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya from the outside, but in terms of the experience of the Buddha himself, we cannot talk about the Sambhogakaya manifesting first and Nirmanakaya afterwards. Ultimately we cannot talk in terms of one aspect of the kayas being superior and the other inferior...

...For instance, in the sutra it is said that, from the Sambhogakaya point of view, Buddhas do not pass into paranirvana and dharmas do not cease to be propounded. The teachings continue to be embodied in the Sambhogakaya experience. The Nirmanakaya form manifests and dissolves in order to benefit sentient beings who are subject to laziness, but on the Sambhogakaya level, there is no such coming into being or going out of existence. Compassion is ever present...


So, Theravada Buddhists focus on honoring the Nirmanakaya aspect of the Buddha. Mahayana seems to focus more on the Sambhogakaya and Dharmakaya aspects of the Buddha. Ultimately, the three kayas are indivisible.

I can't find the source, but I remember once reading a section of the Pali Canon in which the Buddha said that he could not really explain where an enlightened person "goes" or what state of existence he or she is in after he or she dies--it's beyond words. Since the Dharmakaya is indeterminant, unborn, and much more than simply the label "Dharmakaya," this isn't necessarily a bad explanation. Sometimes "the unknown" or "not-knowing" is the best expression of primordial wisdom.

Some highly realized Theravada monks and nuns may be aware of much more than they can express, just like the historical Buddha only a taught "a handful of leaves" out of his own great forest of knowledge.
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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby clw_uk » Fri Jun 26, 2009 5:25 pm

In the pali canon the one time i have came accross its use is in this sutta


"Enough, Vakkali! What is there to see in this vile body? He who sees Dhamma, Vakkali, sees me; he who sees me sees Dhamma. Truly seeing Dhamma, one sees me; seeing me one sees Dhamma."



however i dont take it to mean that the Buddha is the Dhammakaya as somekind of essence, rather i take it to mean that the Buddha embodies the truth (metaphorically speaking)



I can't find the source, but I remember once reading a section of the Pali Canon in which the Buddha said that he could not really explain where an enlightened person "goes" or what state of existence he or she is in after he or she dies--it's beyond words


I think this is it

"And suppose someone were to ask you, 'This fire that has gone out in front of you, in which direction from here has it gone? East? West? North? Or south?' Thus asked, how would you reply?"

"That doesn't apply, Master Gotama. Any fire burning dependent on a sustenance of grass and timber, being unnourished — from having consumed that sustenance and not being offered any other — is classified simply as 'out' (unbound)."

"Even so, Vaccha, any physical form by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Freed from the classification of form, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard to fathom, like the sea. 'Reappears' doesn't apply. 'Does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Both does & does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Neither reappears nor does not reappear' doesn't apply.

"Any feeling... Any perception... Any mental fabrication...

"Any consciousness by which one describing the Tathagata would describe him: That the Tathagata has abandoned, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Freed from the classification of consciousness, Vaccha, the Tathagata is deep, boundless, hard to fathom, like the sea. 'Reappears' doesn't apply. 'Does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Both does & does not reappear' doesn't apply. 'Neither reappears nor does not reappear' doesn't apply."


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Any description of the Buddha existing or not existing after death cant be answered since to have a view in that regards (actually in regards to anyone thinking if they survive death or not) involves clinging to the aggregates as self

Since the Buddha is not identified with the aggregates no speculative view can apply about what happens to him after death. If you say "the buddha survives" this is clinging to one or more of the aggregates as "him" and thinking that survivies, if you think "the buddha doesnt survivie" this is doing the same thing

same with us, if we reach arahantship (theravada hat) then there will be no more clinging to the aggregates as self and so those views/opinions/questions have no more meaning or any relevance since all views and speculations about death and afterlife etc involves clinging to the aggregates as self (same with questions about pre-birth, universe, eternal, finite etc etc)


Metta
Those who are lust-infatuated fall back to the swirling current (of samsara) like a spider on its self-spun web. This too the wise cut off. Without any longing, they abandon all dukkha and renounce the world

Dhammapada - Verse 347
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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby thornbush » Fri Jun 26, 2009 5:59 pm

http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/wh ... iev/25.htm
Trikaya - The Three Bodies of the Buddha
The three bodies of the Buddha consist of Dharma-kaya (Truth body), Sambhoga-kaya (Enjoyment body), and Nirmana-kaya(Manifestation body).

In the Mahayana philosophy, the personality of the Buddha is given an elaborate treatment. According to this philosophy, the Buddhas have three bodies (trikaya), or three aspects of personality: the Dharmakaya, the Sambhoga-kaya, and the Nirmana-kaya.

After a Buddha has attained Enlightenment, He is the living embodiment of wisdom, compassion, happiness and freedom. At the beginning, there was only one Buddha in the Buddhist tradition. He is the historical Sakyamuni the Buddha. However, even during His lifetime, He made the distinction between Himself as the enlightened, historical individual, on one hand, and Himself as the Embodiment of Truth, on the other. The enlightened personality was known as the 'Rupa-kaya' (Form-body) or 'Nirmana-kaya' (Manifestation-body). This was the physical body of the Buddha who was born among men, attained Enlightenment, preached the Dhamma and attained Maha Parinibbana. The Manifestation-body or physical body of Buddhas are many and differ from one another.

On the other hand, the principle of Enlightenment which is embodied in Him is known as Dharma-kaya or Truth-body. This is the essence of the Buddha and is independent of the person realizing it. 'Dhamma' in this expression means 'Truth', and does not refer to the verbal teachings which were recorded down in scriptures. The teaching of the Buddha also emanates from the 'Essence' or 'Truth'. So the real, essential Buddha is Truth or the principle of Enlightenment. This idea is clearly stated in the original Pali texts of the Theravada. The Buddha told Vasettha that the Tathagata (the Buddha) was Dharma-kaya, the 'Truth-body' or the 'Embodiment of Truth', as well as Dharmabhuta, 'Truth-become', that is, 'One who has become Truth' (Digha Nikaya). On another occasion, the Buddha told Vakkali: 'He who sees the Dhamma (Truth) sees the Tathagata, he who sees the Tathagata sees the Dhamma (Samyutta Nikaya). That is to say, the Buddha is equal to Truth, and all Buddhas are one and the same, being no different from one another in the Dharma-kaya, because Truth is one.'

In the Buddha's lifetime, both the Nirmana-kaya and the Dharma-kaya were united in His. However, after His Parinibbana, the distinction became more pronounced, especially in the Mahayana philosophy. His Manifestation-body was dead and enshrined in the form of relics in stupas: His Dhamma-body is eternally present.

Later, the Mahayana philosophy developed the 'Sambhoga-kaya', the Enjoyment-body. The Sambhoga-kaya can be considered as the body or aspect through which the Buddha enjoyed Himself in the Dhamma, in teaching the Truth, in leading others to the realization of the Truth, and in enjoying the company of good, noble people. This is a selfless, pure, spiritual enjoyment, not to be confused with sensual pleasure. This 'Enjoyment-body' is not categorically mentioned in Theravada texts although it can be appreciated without contradiction if understood in this context. In Mahayana, the Enjoyment-body of the Buddha, unlike the impersonal, abstract principle of the Dharma-kaya, is also considered as a person, though not a human, historical person.

Although the terms Sambhoga-kaya and Dharma-kaya found in the later Pali works come from Mahayana and semi-Mahayana works, scholars from other traditions did not show hostility towards them. Ven Buddhaghosa in his Visuddhi Magga referred thus to the bodies of the Buddha.

'The Buddha is possessed of a beautiful Rupakaya adorned with eighty minor and thirty-two major signs of a great man, and possessed of a Dharmakaya purified in every way and glorified by Sila, Samadhi�‚, full of splendor and virtue, incomparable and fully enlightened.'

Though Buddhaghosa's conception was realistic, he was not immune from the religious bias of attributing superhuman power to the Buddha. In the Atthasallini, he said that during the three months' absence of the Buddha, when He was engaged in preaching the Abhidamma to His mother in the Tusita heaven, He created some Nimmita-buddhas as exact replicas of Himself. These Nimmita-buddhas could not be distinguished from the Buddha in voice, words and even the rays of light that issued only by the gods of the higher realms of existence and not by ordinary gods or men. From this description, it is clear that the early Theravadins conceived Buddha's Rupa-kaya or Sambhoga-kaya as that of a human being, and His Dharma-kaya as the collection of His Dhamma, that is, doctrines and disciplinary rules, collectively.
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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:20 pm

Greetings sraddha,

sraddha wrote:Your right, "Dharmakaya" is not found in the suttas, but "Dhammakaya" is. :smile:


Sure, but that designates something else altogether in DN 27 from which you quote it. That teaching is about caste and castelessness. A lot of the Buddha's teachings in fact were about showing that the caste system was inherently baseless and meaningless. When people join the Buddha's order, they abandon their former caste and are considered sons of the Buddha, rather than sons of their parents.

Hence, the extract you quoted in context... (translation by Maurice Walshe)

"Vasetta, all of you, though of different birth, name, clan and family, who have gone forth from the household life into homelessness, if you are asked who you are, should reply:, "We are ascetics, followers of the Sakyan" (literally: "Sakyaputta", Son at the Sakyans). He whose faith in the Tathagata is settled, rooted, established, solid, unshakeable by any ascetic or Brahmin, any deva or mara or Brahma or anyone in the world, can truly say: "I am a true son of the Blessed Lord, born of his mouth, born of Dhamma, created by Dhamma, an heir of Dhamma." Why is that? Becuase, Vasettha, this designates the Tathagata: "The Body of Dhamma", this is, "The Body of Brahma", or "Become Dhamma", that is, "Become Brahma".


As you'll see, that has nothing whatsoever to do with the Dharmakaya concept of Mahayana Buddhism. You'll also note that those he speaks of who are sakyaputta are not Nirmanakayas, eminated from a Dhammakaya. Rather, they're monks.. and most likely on account of the "settled, rooted, established, solid, unshakeable by any ascetic or Brahmin, any deva or mara or Brahma or anyone in the world" language, it's referring to followers who have attained stream-entry or higher.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby sraddha » Sat Jun 27, 2009 12:52 am

retrofuturist wrote:


"

He whose faith in the Tathagata is settled, rooted, established, solid, unshakeable by any ascetic or Brahmin, any deva or mara or Brahma or anyone in the world, can truly say: "I am a true son of the Blessed Lord, born of his mouth, born of Dhamma, created by Dhamma, an heir of Dhamma." Why is that? Becuase, Vasettha, this designates the Tathagata: "The Body of Dhamma", this is, "The Body of Brahma", or "Become Dhamma", that is, "Become Brahma".




Metta,
Retro. :)


Thanks for that quote Retro!

Actually, that quote that you give has 1:1 correspondence with the meaning in Mahayana Sutras, here from the Srimala Sutra:

Whatever sentient beings see the Dharmakaya of the Tathagata that way, see correctly. Whoever see correctly are called the sons of the Lord born from his heart, born from his mouth, born from the Dharma, who behave as manifestation of Dharma and as heirs of Dharma.


So indeed the Dhammakaya concept in the Nikayas is the same as the Dharmakaya concept in Mahayana. :smile:

Also the Nirmanakaya = Putikaya, which literally translates as "body of decay"

He had said for example to Vaikkali: “What good would it do you to see this body of corruption (putikaya)? He who beholds the Dharma (the Law) beholds me”;


So the concepts of Buddha's truth body and "decay body" are found directly in the Nikayas, which the Mahayana sutras further expound. :mrgreen:
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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby clw_uk » Sat Jun 27, 2009 2:06 am

So the concepts of Buddha's truth body and "decay body" are found directly in the Nikayas, which the Mahayana sutras further expound.



The question is was it expanded beyond its intended meaning?
Those who are lust-infatuated fall back to the swirling current (of samsara) like a spider on its self-spun web. This too the wise cut off. Without any longing, they abandon all dukkha and renounce the world

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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jun 27, 2009 2:38 am

Greetings sraddha,

sraddha wrote:So indeed the Dhammakaya concept in the Nikayas is the same as the Dharmakaya concept in Mahayana. :smile:


We'll have to disagree on that one.

:namaste:

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby sraddha » Mon Jun 29, 2009 12:25 am

clw_uk wrote:
So the concepts of Buddha's truth body and "decay body" are found directly in the Nikayas, which the Mahayana sutras further expound.



The question is was it expanded beyond its intended meaning?


I was surprised actually that the Theravada school constantly tried to do away with any explanations for any of the supernatural aspects that are GLARING in the Nikayas.

However, Mahayana encompasses ALL of the Nikayas including the supernatural aspects of the Nikayas.

I was also surprised that the Theravada school has no explanation for the 32 Marks of a Great Man.

It's just passed over with no explanation as to it's meaning, so I looked to the Mahayana, and lo and behold -- the Mahayana school thought about it and gave explanation:


http://www.himalayanmart.com/sambhogakaya.php
There are four characteristic features of Sambhogakaya Buddha. Firstly, he is always endowed with 32 major marks and 80 minor marks. Secondly, he always teaches Mahayana among the families of irreversible bodhisattvas. Thirdly, he resides in one specific buddha field. Fourthly, he perfectly enjoys that Buddha realm with great peace and happiness


So Mahayana explains what the Theravada school outright avoids in discussing without denigrating the supernatural elements of Buddhism.
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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby sraddha » Mon Jun 29, 2009 12:49 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings sraddha,

sraddha wrote:So indeed the Dhammakaya concept in the Nikayas is the same as the Dharmakaya concept in Mahayana. :smile:


We'll have to disagree on that one.

:namaste:

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hey, as long as we are lucky enough to be born human and lucky enough to have encountered the Dhamma and dedicate ourselves to it -- does it matter if we disagree? :anjali:
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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jun 29, 2009 1:56 am

Greetings sraddha,

sraddha wrote:Hey, as long as we are lucky enough to be born human and lucky enough to have encountered the Dhamma and dedicate ourselves to it -- does it matter if we disagree? :anjali:


Not at all... and great that we can have such discussions without all the fussin' and a' feudin'.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby genkaku » Mon Jun 29, 2009 10:31 pm

Strictly personal (I'll leave the debates to others):

As a starting point, I think historicity and the use of words like "authentic" is probably a good support in practice. But as practice progresses and experience builds, I think the important part is what works ... what you are really willing to investigate right down to the ground. Can the Dharma be limited in some way? I doubt it.

It's not a matter of better or worse, for my money ... it's what actually works, what actually takes you home, what actually instills your own peaceful life.

Of course, I am old and fat and lazy, so take it with a grain of salt. :smile:
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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby sraddha » Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:02 am

genkaku wrote:Strictly personal (I'll leave the debates to others):

As a starting point, I think historicity and the use of words like "authentic" is probably a good support in practice. But as practice progresses and experience builds, I think the important part is what works ... what you are really willing to investigate right down to the ground. Can the Dharma be limited in some way? I doubt it.

It's not a matter of better or worse, for my money ... it's what actually works, what actually takes you home, what actually instills your own peaceful life.

Of course, I am old and fat and lazy, so take it with a grain of salt. :smile:


I agree, definately, the historicity of a text can instill faith in those who are developing! That's why I love the Theravada -- there is a critical purpose to all these schools.

I myself started out Buddha was a "very nice man" :shock: whose teachings helped change my life , until my meditation revealed he was more than just a "very wise, nice and very handsome man". :meditate: This revelation is when the rapture begins, the baptism in faith, -- and that's not a metaphor.

The mystery of Buddha -- forget about history, it's the greatest mystery book ever written.:D
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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby Sher » Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:03 pm

Thornbush wrote:
That was how the 'Buddhayana' worked for me...looking back at how it worked for me...I can never ever disparage any form of Buddha Dharma because that was how my life encountered and was transformed by It.....


Thanks so much for sharing this story. it is so easy to forget that people come from very different backgrounds and experiences than oneself, and hearing stories of how people come to where they are really helps me feel tolerant and compassionate. And hearing your story helps me to reflect on my own. Thanks. Sher
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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby Sher » Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:06 pm

genkaku wrote:Strictly personal (I'll leave the debates to others):

As a starting point, I think historicity and the use of words like "authentic" is probably a good support in practice. But as practice progresses and experience builds, I think the important part is what works ... what you are really willing to investigate right down to the ground. Can the Dharma be limited in some way? I doubt it.

It's not a matter of better or worse, for my money ... it's what actually works, what actually takes you home, what actually instills your own peaceful life.

Of course, I am old and fat and lazy, so take it with a grain of salt. :smile:


Well said! Sher
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Re: Historicity of Mahayana Sutras -- Does it matter?

Postby Aemilius » Tue Apr 20, 2010 3:45 pm

sraddha wrote:Hi all, I found this while reading wikipedia on non-recognition of Mahayana texts by all schools and the reasons for their rejection by some schools:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahayana_sutras

Scholars' opinion on historicity
The accounts of the texts specific to the Mahayana school (the Mahayana Sutras) are seen by scholars to not represent a true historic account of the life and teachings of Buddha[13]. The traditional account of why these accounts are not preserved in the older Tripitaka texts (the Pali Canon and the Agamas) of Early Buddhism, invariably involve stories of mythical dragons (Nāgas) and denigrating accounts on the intelligence of humankind (not clever enough) at the time of the Buddha[14]. The scholar A. K. Warder gives the following reasons for not accepting the Mahayana Sutras as giving a historical account of events in the life of Gautama Buddha[15]:

It is a curious aspersion on the powers of the Buddha that he failed to do what others were able to accomplish 600 years later.
Linguistically and stylistically the Mahayana texts belong to a later stratum of Indian literature than the Tripitaka known to the early schools.
Everything about early Buddhism, and even the Mahayana itself (with the exception of the Mantrayana), suggests that it was a teaching not meant to be kept secret but intended to be published to all the world, to spread enlightenment.
We are on safe ground only with those texts the authenticity of which is admitted by all schools of Buddhism (including the Mahayana, who admit the authenticity of the early canons as well as their own texts), not with texts accepted only by certain schools.
Mahayana developed gradually out of one, or a group, of the eighteen early schools, and originally it took its stand not primarily on any new texts but on its own interpretations of the universally recognised Tripitaka.
The scholar John W. Pettit, while agreeing that "Mahayana has not got a strong historical claim for representing the explicit teachings of the historical Buddha", also argues that the basic concepts of Mahayana do occur in the Pali Canon and that this suggests that Mahayana is "not simply an accretion of fabricated doctrines" but "has a strong connection with the teachings of Buddha himself".[16].

A striking example of the differences between the Mahayana literature and at least some of the Pali/agama literature is seen in a comparison of two different texts with the same title: the Mahaparinibbana Sutta of the Pali Canon (referred to here by its Pali title) and the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra (referred to by its Sanskrit title):

The Pali Mahaparinibbana Sutta is biographical; it gives an account of the events surrounding the end of the Buddha's life, of which scholars have said that it displays attention to detail and has been resorted to as the principal source of reference in most standard studies of the Buddha's life[17].
The Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra takes the events of the last period of the Buddha's life, and uses them as a setting for an extended religious discourse[17]. It displays a disregard for historic particulars and a fascination with the supernatural.[17].
It should be noted that the weak claim to historicity that the Mahayana Sutras hold, doesn't mean that all scholars believe that the Pali Canon is historical; some scholars believe that it is not




Does a sutra have to be historical to be read or to work?

Does stating that only Buddha's historical sutras have any place in being accepted ignorant of his teachings that he is "amatta" or attained the deathless state and therefore can be accessed even when he has left his "historical body" and can continue to be heard by the faithful?

:anjali:


Honestly, I don't understand how you can have people like Vasubandhu, Nagarjuna, Tsongkhapa etc... , who have attained very high realization and are intimate with the Transcendental reality, who have attained the heavenly eye, the dharma eye , and so on ... and who have attained the 5 or 6 supernormal Powers, who know directly the three times as the palm of their hand, who have relied on the Mahayana sutras, have commented on them, have taught them, praised them and venerated them highly. If You believe they were enlightened , and at the same time you believe these scholars are NOT equipped with transcendental vision and realization, then WHY do you trust their analysis of mere words, when you at the same time have people with true realization, people who know intimately the true reality ??? Perhaps you think that transcendental reality does not exist at all ???
This really amazes me !!!
svaha
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Aemilius
 
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