Why do Buddhists always revert back to siddhartha gautama?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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BlackBird
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Re: Why do Buddhists always revert back to siddhartha gautam

Post by BlackBird » Sun Jul 07, 2013 1:46 pm

reflection wrote: I suggest to take a look at works like "A history of mindfulness" that shows that such issues are not insignificant matters, but can apply to core suttas such as the satipatthana accounts.

Metta,
:anjali:
I have looked at it, rather thoroughly, and I happen to think Ven. Sujato is a 2nd rate scholar at best, but it makes for an interesting read nonetheless. (Don't want anyone to think I don't like Ven. Sujato though, I like his writings and he's a good yogi).
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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Re: Why do Buddhists always revert back to siddhartha gautam

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Jul 07, 2013 1:58 pm

Mr Man wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:The Tathāgata of the Nikāyas as Ācārya is sufficient for me.
So you have had no need of contemporary teachers?
Sure, they're useful, but none of them seem to agree, so it's all a bit hit and miss really. Though if a contemporary teacher said to me: "Don't read the suttas, just take my word for it", then I wouldn't touch them with a bargepole.
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Re: Why do Buddhists always revert back to siddhartha gautam

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Jul 07, 2013 2:06 pm

Kusala wrote: A healthy dose of skepticism is perfectly fine IMO.
I agree, but I think healthy skepticism should also be applied to the ideas of contemporary teachers. I think this is important, because people are naturally drawn to teachers who share their own assumptions, and this can lead to a kind of group-think, with everyone thinking the same way.
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Re: Why do Buddhists always revert back to siddhartha gautam

Post by Mr Man » Sun Jul 07, 2013 2:28 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
Mr Man wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:The Tathāgata of the Nikāyas as Ācārya is sufficient for me.
So you have had no need of contemporary teachers?
Sure, they're useful, but none of them seem to agree, so it's all a bit hit and miss really. Though if a contemporary teacher said to me: "Don't read the suttas, just take my word for it", then I wouldn't touch them with a bargepole.
And there is also no consensus on the meaning of the sutta. It is always interpretation. We could see "The Tathāgata of the Nikāyas as Ācārya is sufficient for me" as meaning "my understanding of the Tathāgata of the Nikāyas" is correct. As I see it the teaching of the Buddha and of contemporary teaches is there for reflection and is "Paccattam Veditabbo Vinnuhi" to be comprehended individually by the wise.

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Re: Why do Buddhists always revert back to siddhartha gautam

Post by BlackBird » Sun Jul 07, 2013 2:37 pm

I've honestly been a bit dismayed by what seems to me to be a creeping secularism in these forums of late. Not saying people have to have faith in the Buddha and that they have to think he was speaking the truth, but I don't think that view point should be seen as unhealthy, especially when the Buddha has spoken in praise of it. But there we are presented with the problem - People just don't seem to give the Buddha the primacy I think he deserves, and if you don't put him above others, then you don't have to accept a word of what he says.

But the whole concept of a putting contemporary teachers at a value equal to or above the Buddha himself seems a bit ironic to me, considering he's the one that expounded Dhamma in the first place, and none of us would be here doing this if it wasn't for him.

I've been getting a bit too involved in these discussions of late, a bit too much for everyone's liking, and a bit too much for my own liking but I feel if someone isn't going to thresh out the traditional Buddhist view it'll just be a sea of this Buddhism-as-secular-scientific-experiment and I worry that that view might be adopted by newcomers who think that it is the right way of going about things. At the very least for them to see there is an alternative to secular-buddhistic-humanism seems prudent.

The alternative is to see that there was a Buddha who was fully enlightened, the incomparable teacher of gods and mankind, the leader of men to be tamed. The awakened one and exalted one. His teachings are available in the Sutta Pitaka. Make his teachings the yardstick by which you compare all others and you cannot go wrong.

The view expressed by the original poster:
..gain better elaborations from modern ajahans (such as Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Sumedho and Ajhan Buddhadasa)
Takes as fact that 'modern ajahns' are enlightened, when such ideas are far from fact, and are merely speculation. Even if they were fact - Arahants are not created equal, and the Buddha was the first in all categories. To say that modern teachers can explain the Dhamma better than the Buddha is not only wrong, it is disrespectful.
Last edited by BlackBird on Sun Jul 07, 2013 2:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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Re: Why do Buddhists always revert back to siddhartha gautam

Post by nekete » Sun Jul 07, 2013 2:50 pm

This is called buddhism for only one reason: Buddha (Siddartha Gautama).

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Re: Why do Buddhists always revert back to siddhartha gautam

Post by Mr Man » Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:06 pm

BlackBird wrote:I've honestly been a bit dismayed by what seems to me to be a creeping secularism in these forums of late.
I'm not sure if there is a "creeping secularism" in these forums.
Not saying people have to have faith in the Buddha and that they have to think he was speaking the truth, but I don't think that view point should be seen as unhealthy, especially when the Buddha has spoken in praise of it. But there we are presented with the problem - People just don't seem to give the Buddha the primacy I think he deserves, and if you don't put him above others, then you don't have to accept a word of what he says.
I don't agree that people don't give the Buddha the primacy that is deserved
But the whole concept of a putting contemporary teachers at a value equal to or above the Buddha himself seems a bit ironic to me, considering he's the one that expounded Dhamma in the first place, and none of us would be here doing this if it wasn't for him.
I don't think that contemporary teachers are being made equal or placed above the Buddha within our tradition.
I've been getting a bit too involved in these discussions of late, a bit too much for everyone's liking, and a bit too much for my own liking but I feel if someone isn't going to thresh out the traditional Buddhist view it'll just be a sea of this Buddhism-as-secular-scientific-experiment and I worry that that view might be adopted by newcomers who think that it is the right way of going about things. At the very least for them to see there is an alternative to secular-buddhistic-humanism seems prudent.
The traditional Buddhist view? Where is that practiced? Thailand? Sri Lanka? Burma? or is it the property of a handful of righteous caucasions?
The alternative is to see that there was a Buddha who was fully enlightened, the incomparable teacher of gods and mankind, the leader of men to be tamed. The awakened one and exalted one.
That doesn't have to be an alternative.

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Re: Why do Buddhists always revert back to siddhartha gautam

Post by ancientbuddhism » Sun Jul 07, 2013 8:40 pm

Mr Man wrote:So you have had no need of contemporary teachers?
There are kalyāṇamitta I have met over the years.
Mr Man wrote:And there is also no consensus on the meaning of the sutta. It is always interpretation.
There is consensus throughout the Nikāyas, consider Saṃyutta Nikāya where the doctrinal themes are nicely grouped. In my years of studying the Pāḷi Nikāyas I have found the central themes of contemplative work and reflexive analysis remarkably in agreement.
Mr Man wrote:As I see it the teaching of the Buddha and of contemporary teaches is there for reflection and is "Paccattam Veditabbo Vinnuhi" to be comprehended individually by the wise.
Some are wise, some are not. All pale in comparison to the Sublime One.
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

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Re: Why do Buddhists always revert back to siddhartha gautam

Post by Nyana » Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:58 pm

Kim OHara wrote:In my terms, that presents almost a textbook case of Buddhism-as-religion. It's your choice - always - but I don't like* the way it closes off the opportunities for enriching and developing our knowledge....

* I am saying "I don't like" as if it's merely personal preference but it's a bit stronger and deeper than that, including "I think it is unhelpful".

But to each his own ... which, btw, is another reason for not being too narrow about things :tongue:
In order to not be too narrow about things I think it's worthwhile acknowledging that Buddhism is a religion. It meets the criteria of being a religion. Frederick Ferré, Basic Modern Philosophy of Religion:
  • One's religion is ... one's way of valuing most comprehensively and most intensively.
Of course, not everyone's going to agree with that as a definition of religion. Clifford Geertz offers another definition in The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays:
  • [A] religion is a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.
Then there's Ninian Smart's analytic model of religion related to seven dimensions: doctrinal, mythological, ethical, ritualistic, experiential, institutional, and material. This model has been applied to Buddhism, for example, by Damien Keown in Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction. Keown says of this approach:
  • The attraction of this approach is that it does not reduce religion to any single doctrine or belief, or suggest that all religious believers have one thing in common. The data from different cultures and historical periods shows that generally they do not. Nevertheless, there seems to be a cluster of things which collectively give substance to the phenomenon we call 'religion'.
Kim OHara wrote:I don't like* the way it closes off the opportunities for enriching and developing our knowledge....
I don't think that acknowledging Buddhism as a religion closes off the opportunities for enriching and developing knowledge, either with regard to the main knowledge claims that are ubiquitous across authoritative Buddhist sources, or with regard to the types of knowledge acquired through secular disciplines.

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Re: Why do Buddhists always revert back to siddhartha gautam

Post by Kim OHara » Mon Jul 08, 2013 12:07 am

Nyana wrote:
Kim OHara wrote:In my terms, that presents almost a textbook case of Buddhism-as-religion. It's your choice - always - but I don't like* the way it closes off the opportunities for enriching and developing our knowledge....

* I am saying "I don't like" as if it's merely personal preference but it's a bit stronger and deeper than that, including "I think it is unhelpful".

But to each his own ... which, btw, is another reason for not being too narrow about things :tongue:
In order to not be too narrow about things I think it's worthwhile acknowledging that Buddhism is a religion. It meets the criteria of being a religion. Frederick Ferré, Basic Modern Philosophy of Religion:
  • One's religion is ... one's way of valuing most comprehensively and most intensively.
Of course, not everyone's going to agree with that as a definition of religion. Clifford Geertz offers another definition in The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays:
  • [A] religion is a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.
Then there's Ninian Smart's analytic model of religion related to seven dimensions: doctrinal, mythological, ethical, ritualistic, experiential, institutional, and material. This model has been applied to Buddhism, for example, by Damien Keown in Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction. Keown says of this approach:
  • The attraction of this approach is that it does not reduce religion to any single doctrine or belief, or suggest that all religious believers have one thing in common. The data from different cultures and historical periods shows that generally they do not. Nevertheless, there seems to be a cluster of things which collectively give substance to the phenomenon we call 'religion'.
Kim OHara wrote:I don't like* the way it closes off the opportunities for enriching and developing our knowledge....
I don't think that acknowledging Buddhism as a religion closes off the opportunities for enriching and developing knowledge, either with regard to the main knowledge claims that are ubiquitous across authoritative Buddhist sources, or with regard to the types of knowledge acquired through secular disciplines.
Hi, Nyana,
Thanks for this ... all true but a bit at cross-purposes with what I was trying to say yesterday. I failed, I guess :embarassed: and I'm actually not all that surprised because I was very tired when I wrote it. I'm still tired but will try again.
I was trying to get at two related points:
(1) Buddhism does not completely align with the Western concept of religion nor with the Western concepts of science or philosophy but sits somewhere between the three.
(2) The typical test of truth in (Western) religion is, "Does this accord with our inerrant sacred text?" whereas the typical test in (Western) science is, "Does this accord with already-established knowledge and, if not, can it be proven by experiment?" That is, the religious approach prioritises authority and a static body of knowledge but the scientific approach prioritises testable, repeatable experience and the increase of knowledge from one generation to the next. (Western) philosophy generally aligns with the scientific model.

What of Buddhism? Buddhism-as-typical-religion is, as I said, Blackbird's approach; Buddhism-as-science is the "secular Buddhist" approach; but I feel that neither of these extremes matches the Tipitaka's own truth test, which I might summarise as "trust me but test what I say", particularly well.

Does that make more sense?

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Why do Buddhists always revert back to siddhartha gautam

Post by BlackBird » Mon Jul 08, 2013 12:16 am

Mr Man wrote:
The alternative is to see that there was a Buddha who was fully enlightened, the incomparable teacher of gods and mankind, the leader of men to be tamed. The awakened one and exalted one.
That doesn't have to be an alternative.
Oh but it does, given that that these are qualities the Buddha categorically possessed and was clear in stating that he possessed, this is a view put forth by the Sutta pitaka, a view put forth by the Buddha himself and his immediate followers, not by me.

As for where the traditional view is held? All three of those nations mentioned. In my experience it is the view held by the vast majority of Buddhists worldwide, although I must admit I have only real life experience with Singhalese in Sri Lanka, and the Thai & Burmese dana offerers at the Monastery in Stokes Valley, Wellington. Buddhist discussion forums on the internet are the exception, not the rule when it comes to a census of views on what the Buddha taught.

And by the way - It's perfectly fine for you to disagree with these points made above - But given it's simple disagreement and there is not 'meat' to your disagreement, there is nothing much in the way to respond to, except to say that the views represented by your disagreements have no factual basis.

I'm still not seeing how my post was a straw man argument, and you have repeatedly ignored my encouragement to detail exactly how it is so, which strongly suggests you are unable to do so. Are you ready to rescind your unwarranted accusation?

metta
Jack
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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Re: Why do Buddhists always revert back to siddhartha gautam

Post by Nyana » Mon Jul 08, 2013 1:46 am

Kim OHara wrote:I was trying to get at two related points:
(1) Buddhism does not completely align with the Western concept of religion nor with the Western concepts of science or philosophy but sits somewhere between the three.
(2) The typical test of truth in (Western) religion is, "Does this accord with our inerrant sacred text?" whereas the typical test in (Western) science is, "Does this accord with already-established knowledge and, if not, can it be proven by experiment?" That is, the religious approach prioritises authority and a static body of knowledge but the scientific approach prioritises testable, repeatable experience and the increase of knowledge from one generation to the next. (Western) philosophy generally aligns with the scientific model.

What of Buddhism? Buddhism-as-typical-religion is, as I said, Blackbird's approach; Buddhism-as-science is the "secular Buddhist" approach; but I feel that neither of these extremes matches the Tipitaka's own truth test, which I might summarise as "trust me but test what I say", particularly well.

Does that make more sense?
Yes, it makes sense. I think that "religion" and "philosophy" can be rather slippery terms in a global, pluralistic world. And both are sometimes treated with scorn in some secular circles. This can include creating inaccurate caricatures and then attacking these caricatures as representative of all religion and/or all philosophy. I'm not suggesting that you're doing this, but it's worthwhile mentioning it in order to discuss what these terms encompass.

Personally, I don't think religion, philosophy, and science are necessarily opposed to one another, although (and in part because) the aims and disciplinary approaches of each may differ depending on context. Specifically with respect to Buddhism, Buddhist sources claim that the Buddha directly realized the kinds of knowledge needed to (i) attain liberation from saṃsāra, and (ii) skillfully teach others how to attain this liberation. Modern science doesn't assert these same goals, and doesn't possess the epistemic tools that could either verify or refute these Buddhist knowledge claims.

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Re: Why do Buddhists always revert back to siddhartha gautam

Post by Mr Man » Mon Jul 08, 2013 5:52 am

BlackBird wrote:
Mr Man wrote:
The alternative is to see that there was a Buddha who was fully enlightened, the incomparable teacher of gods and mankind, the leader of men to be tamed. The awakened one and exalted one.
That doesn't have to be an alternative.
Oh but it does, given that that these are qualities the Buddha categorically possessed and was clear in stating that he possessed, this is a view put forth by the Sutta pitaka, a view put forth by the Buddha himself and his immediate followers, not by me.
What I meant by "That doesn't have to be an alternative" is that appreciation these qualities of the Buddha can be shared. The epithets of the Buddha can have as much value to me as they do to you.
BlackBird wrote:

I'm still not seeing how my post was a straw man argument, and you have repeatedly ignored my encouragement to detail exactly how it is so, which strongly suggests you are unable to do so. Are you ready to rescind your unwarranted accusation?
Why I perceived your post as a straw man was because of your introduction that ideas that did not concur with your own were secularist. The implication that other peoples views were being influence by that heresy which is "Secular Buddhism".

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Re: Why do Buddhists always revert back to siddhartha gautam

Post by oceanfloor » Mon Jul 08, 2013 6:07 am

BlackBird wrote:And yes, it is Buddhism-as-religion. If you've read the suttas it's hard to get the impression the Buddha wanted it any other way. If you want to be secular, and mix and match religious ideas that's fine, it's your life, but don't call mine unhealthy, because the Buddha would speak in praise of it. He was quite categorically in favour of saddha.

What is Saddha?

faith, confidence.

A Buddhist is said to have faith if "he believes in the Perfect One's (the Buddha's) Enlightenment" (M 53; A.V, 2)
Congratulations BlackBird, not many Buddhists have such firm confidence in the Buddha Dhamma as firm as yours. If you're currently not a stream-entry, you will be in this very lifetime, I'm optimistic on it.

metta,
:anjali:

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Re: Why do Buddhists always revert back to siddhartha gautam

Post by Gaoxing » Mon Jul 08, 2013 2:20 pm

How much faith did the Buddha have in the Suttas?

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