The Buddha's Omniscience.

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Jason
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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Post by Jason » Tue Jan 06, 2009 3:09 am

Ven. Dhammanando,
Dhammanando wrote:But setting aside all other suttas for the moment, and just attending to MN. 90, doesn't it strike you as very odd that the Buddha would go out of his way to introduce the qualification "simultaneously", when (on your interpretation) he could have simply replied:
  • “Great King, those who speak thus do not say what has been said by me. Nonetheless, that does happen to be my view.”
No. Even if one were to read MN 90 as I do, rendering sabbannu as "knowing the all," the Buddha's response still makes sense in that it clarifies his position by rejecting the type of omniscience Mahavira claimed but not his own knowing the all as per SN 35.23.

Best wishes,

Jason
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Post by Cittasanto » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:16 am

Hi Dhammanando
Dhammanando wrote:No, the suttas never present him as being stumped.
So the Suttas do not show the Buddha unable to answer in any way any question?
how about the speed a mind reverses itself? can a simile be envisioned for this? (AN 1.48)

I am not saying the Buddha can not answer the question but the Buddha did not know of a simile for this which was adequate, so was stumped for a simile!
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Post by Dhammanando » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:39 am

Hi Manapa,
Manapa wrote:So the Suttas do not show the Buddha unable to answer in any way any question?
how about the speed a mind reverses itself? can a simile be envisioned for this? (AN 1.48)

I am not saying the Buddha can not answer the question but the Buddha did not know of a simile for this which was adequate, so was stumped for a simile!
No, the Buddha wasn't stumped. He simply knew that since the arising and passing of a citta is the fastest thing in the universe, likening it to familiar things (flashes of lightning, bursting of bubbles etc.) would fail to do it justice.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Post by Dhammanando » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:47 am

Hi Jason,
Elohim wrote:No. Even if one were to read MN 90 as I do, rendering sabbannu as "knowing the all," the Buddha's response still makes sense in that it clarifies his position by rejecting the type of omniscience Mahavira claimed but not his own knowing the all as per SN 35.23.
But what grounds are there for supposing that the sabba in sabbaññū is the same as the sabba of the Sabba Sutta (i.e., the 6 sense bases and their objects) other than Kalupahana's saying so?

Given what sabbaññū seems to have meant to the Buddha's contemporaries in general, and given the claims that the Buddha indubitably makes for his vast cognitive range (i.e., three knowledges, six higher knowledges, ten Tathagata powers etc.) why do you find Kalupahana's take to be more plausible than that of the commentaries?

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

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Will
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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Post by Will » Tue Jan 06, 2009 4:21 pm

I prefer to think of "all-knowing" as being instantaneous, not simultaneous. The latter would give a very cluttered mind, even for a buddha. All he has to do is turn his attention to a subject or area and he will fully understand, instantly.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Post by stuka » Tue Jan 06, 2009 4:48 pm

Will wrote:I prefer to think of "all-knowing" as being instantaneous, not simultaneous. The latter would give a very cluttered mind, even for a buddha. All he has to do is turn his attention to a subject or area and he will fully understand, instantly.

Too bad he didn't put to use everything he could just figure out instantly at will by magic about, say, computer science, aerospace technology, and mass communication.

:roll:
Last edited by stuka on Wed Jan 07, 2009 12:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Post by Cittasanto » Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:54 pm

Will wrote:I prefer to think of "all-knowing" as being instantaneous, not simultaneous. The latter would give a very cluttered mind, even for a buddha. All he has to do is turn his attention to a subject or area and he will fully understand, instantly.
not necesarily!
the turning his attention and the arising of knowledge would be simultaneous to the arising of attention focused in a new direction! not instantaneous to the thought I will move my attention! when the buddha decides where the attention is going the knowing would arise of that area not before!
some more in my next responce to Dhammanando!
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Post by Cittasanto » Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:53 pm

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Jason,
Elohim wrote:No. Even if one were to read MN 90 as I do, rendering sabbannu as "knowing the all," the Buddha's response still makes sense in that it clarifies his position by rejecting the type of omniscience Mahavira claimed but not his own knowing the all as per SN 35.23.
But what grounds are there for supposing that the sabba in sabbaññū is the same as the sabba of the Sabba Sutta (i.e., the 6 sense bases and their objects) other than Kalupahana's saying so?

Given what sabbaññū seems to have meant to the Buddha's contemporaries in general, and given the claims that the Buddha indubitably makes for his vast cognitive range (i.e., three knowledges, six higher knowledges, ten Tathagata powers etc.) why do you find Kalupahana's take to be more plausible than that of the commentaries?

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
the commentaries are not what the Buddha meant! they are what others think he meant! same goes for what the contemporaries think!
one question to ask here is is this what the buddha thought or what I think is meant due to sources outside the Buddha?
what if the buddha meant more than is supposed by some or most of the commentaries and meant what each of the views think? or what none of them think?
sabba as the six sense bases and as part of the "knowing the all" diminishes some of the omniscience assertions people place on the buddha while at the same time clarifying others I.E. these six sense bases are the all in knowing the all, so sabbannu could be more accurately rendered in this context as knowing himself fully. himself being the six sense bases! and considering it in light of MN71 where the four postures are mentioned in relation to the buddhas knowing the Satipatthana Sutta giving the four foundations of mindfulness, in relation to the four postures and focuses as a means to liberation, of the highest form noted (sammā-sambuddhassa) should also be considered!
here is couple of other questions! should the Suttas be taken individually and the meaning of them taken solely in the context of the individual sutta or should they be taken as a whole and the meaning of all the suttas be taken into account? and should what the commentaries say guide the understanding?
maybe the advice to the Kalamas could help?
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Post by Dhammanando » Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:05 am

Hi Manapa,
Manapa wrote:the commentaries are not what the Buddha meant!
Well, that's a matter of opinion, and you're not going to convince me by mere assertion.

In any case, I haven't in this thread been appealing to the commentaries' take on sabbaññū as if it were authoritative (as I would in the Classical Theravada forum) but merely as an interpretation that appears to me more probable than that proposed by Kalupahana and Elohim.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Post by Cittasanto » Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:56 am

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Manapa,
Manapa wrote:the commentaries are not what the Buddha meant!
Well, that's a matter of opinion, and you're not going to convince me by mere assertion.
Who said I am trying to convince you?

I see more than one door to to knowing what is meant!
I have an idea! I share, others take it or leave it!
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Post by Dhammanando » Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:12 am

Hi Manapa,
Manapa wrote:Who said I am trying to convince you?
The exclamation mark in "the commentaries are not what the Buddha meant!" makes the sentence into a strongly declarative utterance. People usually make such utterances in full confidence that the listener or reader will be persuaded.
I have an idea! I share, others take it or leave it!
Okay, I guess this is one that I'll leave. :)

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

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Jason
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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Post by Jason » Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:38 am

Ven. Dhammanando,
Dhammanando wrote:But what grounds are there for supposing that the sabba in sabbaññū is the same as the sabba of the Sabba Sutta (i.e., the 6 sense bases and their objects) other than Kalupahana's saying so?
Kalupahana's opinion is one of the things I take into consideration. Another thing that I take into consideration is SN 35.23 where the Buddha defines precisely what he means by "sabba."

Jason
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Post by Dhammanando » Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:52 am

Hi Jason,
Elohim wrote:Kalupahana's opinion is one of the things I take into consideration. Another thing that I take into consideration is how the Buddha defines precisely what he means by "sabba" (SN 35.23).
Well, we should expect him to, given its importance in the development of right view and vipassanā-bhāvanā. But the precise defining of it that you refer to still doesn't establish any connection between the sabba of the the Sabba Sutta and the sabba of sabbaññū.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Post by Cittasanto » Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:59 am

Hi Dhammananda
Dhammanando wrote:Hi Manapa,
Manapa wrote:Who said I am trying to convince you?
The exclamation mark in "the commentaries are not what the Buddha meant!" makes the sentence into a strongly declarative utterance. People usually make such utterances in full confidence that the listener or reader will be persuaded.
well the exclamation can be used for several different reasons, that being one.
one thing the exclamation isn't is a sentence end. and can be followed by a justifying note. or a warning of an error.
I am not confident I can persuade any, I'll leave that for them to do.
I have an idea! I share, others take it or leave it!
Okay, I guess this is one that I'll leave. :)

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu[/quote]

not often i see OK spelt nice to see as a reminder, it is one of those things I forget how to spell? :lol:
Metta
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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Jason
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Re: The Buddha's Omniscience.

Post by Jason » Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:42 am

Ven. Dhammanando,
Dhammanando wrote:Well, we should expect him to, given its importance in the development of right view and vipassanā-bhāvanā. But the precise defining of it that you refer to still doesn't establish any connection between the sabba of the the Sabba Sutta and the sabba of sabbaññū.
There is no substantial connection besides that it makes more sense to me in the context of verses such as, "I have overcome all, I know all, I am detached from all, I have given up all; I am liberated from moral defilements having eradicated craving" (Dhp 353).

Best wishes,

Jason
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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