Kamran wrote:Actually, there is some contradiction in the suttas with regards to the tiple gem.
When near death the Buddha specifically said not to take refuge in the triple gem, but rather to take refuge in yourself and nothing else.
I don't think the sutta actually says this (not to take refuge in triple gem), but that the Buddha is most highly revered when we actually live out his teachings.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .vaji.html
"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.'"
I think the point being that reverence of the Buddha should not be done to the exclusion or detriment to the rest of the teachings and not apart from them, otherwise it would be hypocrisy. I don't think there is anything in those suttas that necessarily contradict the many others that suggest taking refuge in the Buddha and that show great reverence towards him. It is balance that is key.
Kamran wrote:It seems that he saw that the ingrained human habits of devotion, reverencing, and elating the Buddha to a god like status was happening even during his life time.
We can see this happen with most ideologies, for instance, with Lenin whose body ended up being put on public display just as Russians used to do with their orthodox saints.
No doubt many do have an ingrained tendency towards devotion that has been exploited by many ideologies, but devotion to the triple gem could provide an outlet for this as long as that person lives out their devotion by practising the Dhamma day-to-day.
Anyway we shouldn't denigrate the simple faith and devotion, as I seem to recall many became sotapanna from that alone.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."