Buddha Didnt Say It !

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Buddha Didnt Say It !

Postby Karma Yeshe » Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:18 am

There seems to be alot of discussion on this that is enbedded in other threads, but I thought it would be interesting to explore this in its own thread...

Often times people will make a comment to the effect that if the Historucal Buddha did not specificly state something that it is somehow not authentic Buddhism. However, I think a broader view is the more correct one.

To take some examples of how our understanding of a topic can increase over time and still remain authentic and reliable think about the work of Darwin and Watson & Crick. Both made remarkable discoveries that fudementaly altered the way that we preceve the world. Now take it a step furthur. What if no progress in our understanding about DNA or evolution could be made because the writings and oral instructions and insights that Darwin and Watson & Crick left behind did not include certain specific knowledge and thus nobody would take the next logical step.

The basic insights and Dharma Teachings that the Buddha showed the world allowed others to grow and gain remarkible insights as to the nature of suffereing , the defects of samsara and how to inprove life until suffereing ends. Out of the compassion that these disiples gained they in turn shared their insights with the world so that others who would come after them would be able to refine the Dharma Teachings even further until a wide and rich set of lineages was created that can benifit each senteant being in the world. Each is of great use and equaly authentic and undeceptive but should not be constrained by the search for an exact quote by the Historical Buddha.

For example, the Teachings that I have gotten are that the Historical Buddha sat silent after his Enlightenment because of his concern that nobody would be able to grasp what he had learned. Only after others came to him beging to be free of suffering did the Buddha, out of his great conpassion begin to give the first of his 84,000 Teachings. He only gave the Hiniayna Teachings because people would not have been handle the concept of taking on the sufferings of all Beings. Other schools, such as Zen tend to be more focused on realizing Emptiness

To stop with the historical Buddha and not use the Teachings that came after seems too limited an outlook from my point of view and not really a question of what is authentic.

Any Thoughts?

Thank you

Dan
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Re: Buddha Didnt Say It !

Postby Epistemes » Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:14 am

I don't see why this post couldn't have been added to the thread which I already started.
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Re: Buddha Didnt Say It !

Postby LastLegend » Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:30 am

Karma Yeshe wrote:The basic insights and Dharma Teachings that the Buddha showed the world allowed others to grow and gain remarkible insights as to the nature of suffereing , the defects of samsara and how to inprove life until suffereing ends. Out of the compassion that these disiples gained they in turn shared their insights with the world so that others who would come after them would be able to refine the Dharma Teachings even further until a wide and rich set of lineages was created that can benifit each senteant being in the world. Each is of great use and equaly authentic and undeceptive but should not be constrained by the search for an exact quote by the Historical Buddha.

Dan


To go along with this, I think it is important to understand the basic teachings of 4 Noble Truths and Dependent Origination.
And through experience of practice, one can develop deeper understanding of Buddhist teachings.
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Re: Buddha Didnt Say It !

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Aug 31, 2011 4:00 am

There are those who not only limit "real buddhism" to the Pali texts, but assert that only some of the Pali writings attributed to the Buddha are authentic teachings. I think one can accept that it is possible (either likely or unlikely) that the bulk of the Mahayana teachings, which bear very little resemblance to the Pali texts, were composed later. However, whether that even matters or not is another question. Thousands of years ago, some clever primate learned how to make fire. The fact that today I make fire by turning on a gas stove doesn't make the fire today essentially different that what was ignited long ago.

The Buddha Sakyamuni did not invent or make up the truth of suffering, it's cause, its cessation, and so forth. He realized it, and he explained it. It would have been the same truth whether he had realized it or not.We are fortunate that he did figure it out and shared it with us. But craving is craving and cessation is cessation, regardless of who explains it or through what method it is realized.

The assertion that the only valid teachings are his exact words (we think) suggests that the truth of the dharma relies on the person teaching it. This assertion, as I mentioned in a related post, essentially negates the premise that he was not a god, but an ordinary (although extraordinary) human, and that therefore all of us can apply his teachings to our own lives.

I know Thai forest monks, Chinese Pure land monks, and Tibetan lamas, and they all get along with the greatest respect for each other. i don't know why laypeople have such a hard time with it.
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Re: Buddha Didnt Say It !

Postby Epistemes » Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:46 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:There are those who not only limit "real buddhism" to the Pali texts, but assert that only some of the Pali writings attributed to the Buddha are authentic teachings. I think one can accept that it is possible (either likely or unlikely) that the bulk of the Mahayana teachings, which bear very little resemblance to the Pali texts, were composed later. However, whether that even matters or not is another question. Thousands of years ago, some clever primate learned how to make fire. The fact that today I make fire by turning on a gas stove doesn't make the fire today essentially different that what was ignited long ago.


While scholars are in agreement that the Pali Canon is the earliest Buddhist collection of texts, has anyone defintively stated that the Buddha said these things? The textual, source and historical criticism of these texts would be interesting, but I, personally, would not like to go there right now. For all we know, Shakyamuni was a myth created by Ananda or Sariputta.
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Re: Buddha Didnt Say It !

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Aug 31, 2011 7:20 pm

Epistemes wrote:
While scholars are in agreement that the Pali Canon is the earliest Buddhist collection of texts, has anyone defintively stated that the Buddha said these things?


Yes, of course a lot of people have definitely stated that these are the words of the Buddha, and they probably are.
But it cannot be proven by any method.
Although nothing he said was actually written down until long after his death,
It is said that people were highly trained in extremely accurate memorization
but I don't know if there is really any evidence of that either.
I mean, how could you prove it?
"Thus I have heard" is about all there is, in terms of a statement of verification.
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Re: Buddha Didnt Say It !

Postby Epistemes » Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:56 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Yes, of course a lot of people have definitely stated that these are the words of the Buddha, and they probably are.
But it cannot be proven by any method.


Then, for all intents and purposes, it's the same as saying we have no collection of Shakyamuni Buddha's actual words. It's all hypotheses. It's really a matter of taking the Pali Canon as Shakyamuni Buddha's words on faith.
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Re: Buddha Didnt Say It !

Postby deepbluehum » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:18 pm

Epistemes wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:Yes, of course a lot of people have definitely stated that these are the words of the Buddha, and they probably are.
But it cannot be proven by any method.


Then, for all intents and purposes, it's the same as saying we have no collection of Shakyamuni Buddha's actual words. It's all hypotheses. It's really a matter of taking the Pali Canon as Shakyamuni Buddha's words on faith.


This goes a little too far. Only faith will support the conclusion that the sutras are the actual words of the historical man Gautama. However, are these the words of "The Buddha"? What is Buddha, in the broader metaphysical sense?

For example, in the mode of the Diamond Sutra, the Buddha is not the 32 major and minor marks. The Buddha is not "is" or "is not." Then we get into the various Prajnaparamita sutras that describe Buddha as being like space. Aka the "buddha nature," "anatta/anatma," etc.

Then, "the Buddha's sutras" are those texts that describe the knowledge and methods to realize this "buddha nature." For example, the natural phenomena of karmic cause and effect. The natural phenomena of impermanence. The natural phenomena of pleasure and suffering. The natural phenomena of the mode of composite arising. In other words, those texts that describe the way buddha nature is seen and not seen.

Now, can these two notions of "buddha nature" and the mode of abiding phenomena be considered "natures"? I would assert, yes. These are fundamental descriptions of nature. So here, buddhism is removed from the category of "a faith," and enters into the realm of what is true and false.

So I look at all the sutras and look for the hidden water mark of "buddha" in the text. Anyone is "buddha" if they write from an authentic buddha perspective. Any sutra, even if it is written today, is authentic if it fits these criteria.
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Re: Buddha Didnt Say It !

Postby Epistemes » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:37 pm

deepbluehum wrote:This goes a little too far. Only faith will support the conclusion that the sutras are the actual words of the historical man Gautama. However, are these the words of "The Buddha"? What is Buddha, in the broader metaphysical sense?

So I look at all the sutras and look for the hidden water mark of "buddha" in the text. Anyone is "buddha" if they write from an authentic buddha perspective. Any sutra, even if it is written today, is authentic if it fits these criteria.


This is a very interesting perspective, and one I haven't considered.

So, any sutra - not just the Pali Canon - could be understood as being the actual words of a certain nature or essence, not a person. Words radiating out from the depth of wisdom found in the buddha-nature. The true litmus test of authenticity is practice, not historicity.

I still don't think this dispenses with the question: Are these the words of the Buddha? Are they? Or are they the words of a successive line of bhikkhus?
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Re: Buddha Didnt Say It !

Postby deepbluehum » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:41 pm

Epistemes wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:This goes a little too far. Only faith will support the conclusion that the sutras are the actual words of the historical man Gautama. However, are these the words of "The Buddha"? What is Buddha, in the broader metaphysical sense?

So I look at all the sutras and look for the hidden water mark of "buddha" in the text. Anyone is "buddha" if they write from an authentic buddha perspective. Any sutra, even if it is written today, is authentic if it fits these criteria.


This is a very interesting perspective, and one I haven't considered.

So, any sutra - not just the Pali Canon - could be understood as being the actual words of a certain nature or essence, not a person. Words radiating out from the depth of wisdom found in the buddha-nature. The true litmus test of authenticity is practice, not historicity.

I still don't think this dispenses with the question: Are these the words of the Buddha? Are they? Or are they the words of a successive line of bhikkhus?


No I answered this part too. If you mean the actual words of a historical person, then it is impossible to say for certain. If you mean the authentic words of "Buddha" then the litmus test I offer is whether the text accurately points to the way to realize the nature. The Pali seems to offer a rather consistent style and message, though some passages are unusual, the Parayana-Vagga for example. Where other passages are lengthy and repetitive. These are concise and pithy. Other passages are to bhikkus, but these are not. They are to various non-bhikku folks. This leads one to make the assumption that Parayana-Vagga could be pre-sangha. That is interesting to me, because if they are pre-sangha, they are pre-refuge in the "Three Jewels." Then, don't they offer an authentic path to enlightenment? The texts seems to indicate they do. So the refuge is one of an ultimate refuge, a special view and practice. Recognizing facts like this help one to see "buddha" in a wide-angle lens, where refuge and vow has several possible layers of value, all of which are "authentic."
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Re: Buddha Didnt Say It !

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Sep 01, 2011 12:25 am

Epistemes wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:Yes, of course a lot of people have definitely stated that these are the words of the Buddha, and they probably are.
But it cannot be proven by any method.


Then, for all intents and purposes, it's the same as saying we have no collection of Shakyamuni Buddha's actual words. It's all hypotheses. It's really a matter of taking the Pali Canon as Shakyamuni Buddha's words on faith.


Yeah, of course. Unless you were there (and maybe we all were)!
This really bothers alot of people, because they don't consider Buddhism to be a faith-based system. So then they think, "well, then what's the difference between this and say, Catholicism?"

So, here are two things to consider. the first is a question, and the second is an observation.:
1.Why does it matter to you if what is called dharma is what the Buddha said?
There are many good reasons why it could matter to someone. But to me, this is like being concerned with whether a painting is a genuine Rembrandt. There are valid reasons, but a good painting still hides a crack in the wall. So, I think this is a question people should ask themselves: "Does it matter to me, and if so, why?"

2. Catholicism, as random example, relies heavily on the premise that Jesus was born miraculously and died miraculously. Likewise, Moses talked to a burning shrubbery. What validates the teachings of a lot of religions is something which must be accepted on faith. It cannot be tested or observed by the follower of that religion.

By contrast, the Buddha-Dharma, if you can call it a religion, differs in that its very existence relies on constant testing, practice and results. So, it doesn't matter whether Prince Siddhartha was born out of his mom's side, or took seven steps when he was born, or floated on a lotus, or radiated golden light or had wagon wheels on the soles of his feet or whatever.
It doesn't actually matter that much that a lineage is unbroken all the way back to the historical Buddha, although many may make this claim, and it may be true. What matters is that the teaching delivers. And what the teaching has to deliver is the perfect cessation of mental suffering. Not conditional cessation, but a perfect cessation. An end to mental striving such that when it is realized, there is no going back.

So, to borrow from the expression, "if it quacks like a duck, it's a duck", if it ends 'samsaric' suffering, it's dharma.
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