Buddha or Boddhisatva?

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Re: Buddha or Boddhisatva?

Postby Kyosan » Fri Oct 14, 2011 7:18 am

Here is an interesting discussion in chapter 5 of the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra where Shayamuni Buddha describes his body. In this discussion he calls himself "the Tathagata". He says that his body is not subject to birth and death.

www.nirvanasutra.net/convenient/complete-sutra.html?c=5

“Then the World-Honoured One said to Kasyapa: "O good man! The body of the Tathagata is one that is eternal, one that is indestructible, and one that is adamantine, one that is not sustained by various kinds of food. It is the Dharma-Body." Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! We do not see such a body as you speak of. What we see is one which is non-eternal, destructible, of dust, one sustained by various kinds of food. How? In that you, the Tathagata, are now about to enter Nirvana." The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "Do not say that the body of the Tathagata is not strong, can easily be broken, and is the same as that of common mortals. O good man! Know that the body of the Tathagata is as indestructible as that which stands for countless billions of kalpas. It is neither the body of man or heaven, not one that fears, not one sustained by various kinds of food. The body of the Tathagata is one that is not a body and yet is a body. It is one not born and one that does not die. It is one that does not learn or practise. It is one innumerable and boundless and one that does not leave any tracks behind. It knows not and has no form to represent it......

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Re: Buddha or Boddhisatva?

Postby Kai » Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:58 pm

kirtu wrote:In fact there are indications of a Pure Land just not the infinite Pure Lands and fleshed out doctrine found in the Mahayana. I am perfectly aware of the differences and don't need the hints. I was also aware that my statement would produce howls but nonetheless I wrote what I meant. Many of the later more elaborated doctrines in Mahayana have antecedents in the Pali suttas.


Having talked to Theravadins for years, I'm afraid that you are indeed greatly mistaken that Pali suttas contains Pure Land teachings, I believe you are talking about Pure abodes (For non returners/anagamis only) which are nowhere close to Mahayana's Pure Land doctrine. In fact, according to historical trends and evidences, its the Chinese Buddhists' desire to rebirth in Tusita heaven so as to hear Maitreya's teachings directly that subsequently give rise to the initial development of Pure Land schools in China . Theravada got nothing to do with it. And interestingly, although the Pure Land Sutras was written in India, this tradition was pretty unpopular over there.

BTW, your statements won't produce howls as the Theravadins will just flatly reject your interpretations for being baseless.......
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Re: Buddha or Boddhisatva?

Postby kirtu » Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:50 pm

Yeah, I'm not going to debate theology with you. Of course Theravadins would say exactly what you said. And I admit that this interpretation is my own. However if you read the Anthill Sutta we find a deva reborn in a god realm (not actually a Pure Land realm) who nonetheless follows the teachings of the Buddha, appears to a monk (they were friends before the dewa died in the previous life), and gives him a riddle. he monk takes the riddle to the Buddha how then provides and explanation. This becomes the object of the monks meditation who then later attains some degree of realization.

You can read the sutta according to doctrines or you can read the sutta according to spiritual purpose. And in fact doctrines at one time were or are a distillation of spiritual purpose and serve as a guidepost.

The idea that many Mahayana doctrines can be found in nascent form in the Pali suttas is one rejected by all (or almost all) Theravadin's and many Mahayanists. It doesn't bother me. Of course you have to be careful with that. Bahai's for example very much read what they want to into the suttas and sutras. I'm not doing that.

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Re: Buddha or Boddhisatva?

Postby Kai » Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:25 pm

kirtu wrote:Yeah, I'm not going to debate theology with you. Of course Theravadins would say exactly what you said. And I admit that this interpretation is my own. However if you read the Anthill Sutta we find a deva reborn in a god realm (not actually a Pure Land realm) who nonetheless follows the teachings of the Buddha, appears to a monk (they were friends before the dewa died in the previous life), and gives him a riddle. he monk takes the riddle to the Buddha how then provides and explanation. This becomes the object of the monks meditation who then later attains some degree of realization.


Any Buddhist doctrines, if interpret broad enough or the concept sketch far enough, can be found in any verses or even worldly teachings. Therefore its not unusual that you will choose this way of thinking which is pretty common among Zen practitioners. Neither will I fault you for it, not to worry.

On the other hand, I'm preferred to think in another way. It has been shown that Mahayana Sutras have close links with Agama Sutras, therefore some primitive or early form of Pure Land concepts might be found there. Also Pure Land doctrine was first stated in Prajnaparamita Sutras that was taken from the Naga realms and had a divine origin like a terma and was originally not of this world. For those who have problems with the first possibility and second less scholarly interpretation will seem more feasible or acceptable.

You can read the sutta according to doctrines or you can read the sutta according to spiritual purpose. And in fact doctrines at one time were or are a distillation of spiritual purpose and serve as a guidepost.

The idea that many Mahayana doctrines can be found in nascent form in the Pali suttas is one rejected by all (or almost all) Theravadin's and many Mahayanists. It doesn't bother me. Of course you have to be careful with that. Bahai's for example very much read what they want to into the suttas and sutras. I'm not doing that.


The problem with many Mahayanists nowadays is that they are quick to disregard the viewpoint of other schools like Theravada, then give them labels, call them names or much worse, telling them that they are ignorant of "hidden teachings or interpretations" that is kept within their own canon and therefore they must, in the end, conform to Mahayana superior doctrines. As a result of this, its not surprisingly that the resultant backlash coming from Theravada in the recent decades against Mahayana were pretty harsh. Sad to say, many innocent parties are caught in the crossfire and lots of bad karma produce.

If one bother to understand Theravada teachings, it can easily see that while Mahayana teachings of Sunyata allows all myriad conventional forms of material possibilities, including Pure Lands or Buddha fields, the Theravada teaching on anatta clearly doesn't. Since in their POV, material dhammas are not as dependent on one's kamma as in Mahayana. To sum up, for them, the meditating on anatta could only alter one's perceptions of the material phenomena, not changing their physical natures, laws or processes, hence Theravadins believe their universe to be a single great trichiliocosm, not a multiverse filled with infinite Buddha fields.

I respect their viewpoint and because of my great faith in Mahayana teachings, I don't see the need to constantly enforce the standard Mahayana protocol that "all Mahayana teachings have their seeds in Pali canon where they are not elaborated by the sravakas".
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Re: Buddha or Boddhisatva?

Postby Kyosan » Thu Oct 20, 2011 1:00 am

Kyosan wrote:For what it's worth, this is how I understand it. Chapter 2 of the Lotus Sutra says that Shakyamuni Buddha became a Buddha not many years ago, while sitting under the bodhi tree. Chapter 16 of the Lotus Sutra says that he became a Buddha in the distant past. Which is correct? It may sound strange, but they are both correct.

How can that be? From the perspective of an ordinary person Shakyamuni Buddha is a man born in the Saha World who became a Buddha. That is absolutely true. From the perspective of a Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha is the dharmakaya and has existed since the distant past. I am sure that is also absolutely true. That is something that I can't understand but accept based on faith.

Here is an interesting thought, interesting to me anyway. :) If you no longer see things in terms of self and others, how do you see yourself? Is there an "I". If so, who is the "I"? If I understand the sutras correctly, the "I" is the dharmakaya.
:namaste:

There are a few things that I would like to add to what I said above. Shakyamuni Buddha sees himself as the dharmakaya (dharma body), but did he become the dharmakaya when he become a Buddha? No, his true self was the dharmakaya even in the distant past, long before he achieved buddhahood while sitting under the bodhi tree.

In chapter 16 of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha describes in great detail how long ago it was since he first attained buddhahood. The time was incredibly long ago. I suspect he really meant an infinite time ago. Infinity would mean that the dharmakaya always existed and Buddha Shakyamuni was always a Buddha. That is consistent with the dharmakaya not being subject to birth and death.
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