What is the difference between the Theravada and Mahayana concepts of Buddhahood?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Zom
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Re: What is the difference between the Theravada and Mahayana concepts of Buddhahood?

Post by Zom » Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:01 pm

Believe me, I read enough. And don't forget that all mahayanic texts are considered true and correct by mahayanists - there is no such thing that some mayahanic groups don't accept certain scriptures. Mahayana is all-inclusive religion (and for this reason it has a number of inner contradictions).

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Aloka
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Re: What is the difference between the Theravada and Mahayana concepts of Buddhahood?

Post by Aloka » Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:34 pm

Zom wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:01 pm
Believe me, I read enough. And don't forget that all mahayanic texts are considered true and correct by mahayanists - there is no such thing that some mayahanic groups don't accept certain scriptures. Mahayana is all-inclusive religion (and for this reason it has a number of inner contradictions).

Reading isn't enough. Sometime we have to let go of books and the internet and get out there and find the truth for ourselves.


.

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Zom
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Re: What is the difference between the Theravada and Mahayana concepts of Buddhahood?

Post by Zom » Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:43 pm

That Buddha is God? -) Well.... okay 8-)

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Aloka
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Re: What is the difference between the Theravada and Mahayana concepts of Buddhahood?

Post by Aloka » Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:44 pm

Zom wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:43 pm
That Buddha is God? -) Well.... okay 8-)
No.


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Re: What is the difference between the Theravada and Mahayana concepts of Buddhahood?

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:09 pm

if in mahayana the buddha is a god then that reduces him from his supreme nature
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Re: What is the difference between the Theravada and Mahayana concepts of Buddhahood?

Post by SarathW » Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:08 pm

Short answer: in Mahayana Buddha is a God.
After reading a very little about Mahayana and listen to HHDL I had the same impression.
The Mahayana Buddha is very similar to the concept of Advaita Vedanta God without self.
It is similar to the belief of Some Theravada monks such as Venerable Thanissaro's consciousness without features.
In other words, Buddhahood is another type of consciousness.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: What is the difference between the Theravada and Mahayana concepts of Buddhahood?

Post by santa100 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:13 am

To be fair to Mahayana, it's important to keep in mind that they use a different model/schema to the Buddhahood concept. There's the Tri-Kaya model in which there're 3 different "manifestations" of Buddha: the historical Gautama Buddha, who shared all the common attributes just like in Theravada, and 2 other Kayas unique to Mahayana: Dharmakaya and Sambhogakaya. Many of the God-like attributes actually belong to these 2 kayas, not the Nirmanakaya which is the historical figure that has no difference when compared to Theravada. Now whether the TriKaya concept have ever been expounded by the historical Buddha is a separate matter. Regarding the consciousness without features, that's not something Ven. Thanissaro invented, it was actually mentioned in MN 49.

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Re: What is the difference between the Theravada and Mahayana concepts of Buddhahood?

Post by WorldTraveller » Fri Jun 15, 2018 1:02 am

Aloka wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 11:55 am
I very much doubt that the historical Buddha announced that he was a manifestation of Vairocana.

.
Of course it's a later Mahayana idea.

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Re: What is the difference between the Theravada and Mahayana concepts of Buddhahood?

Post by Grigoris » Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:12 am

santa100 wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:13 am
To be fair to Mahayana, it's important to keep in mind that they use a different model/schema to the Buddhahood concept. There's the Tri-Kaya model in which there're 3 different "manifestations" of Buddha: the historical Gautama Buddha, who shared all the common attributes just like in Theravada, and 2 other Kayas unique to Mahayana: Dharmakaya and Sambhogakaya. Many of the God-like attributes actually belong to these 2 kayas, not the Nirmanakaya which is the historical figure that has no difference when compared to Theravada. Now whether the TriKaya concept have ever been expounded by the historical Buddha is a separate matter. Regarding the consciousness without features, that's not something Ven. Thanissaro invented, it was actually mentioned in MN 49.
Excuse me if I am wrong, but isn't omniscience a God-like attribute? And yet the Theravada acknowledges the omniscience of the historical Buddha, right?

What about travelling to non-human realms? According to the Pali Canon Buddha went to Tushita (a God realm) and taught there as well. Is that not a God-like attribute?

What about the major and minor marks (MN91)? Are these also not divine attributes? They are certainly not attributes of any human I have ever seen.

What about the rddhi or abhijñā?

According to the Iddhipada-vibhanga Sutta (SN 51.20):

Having been one he becomes many; having been many he becomes one.
He appears. He vanishes.
He goes unimpeded through walls, ramparts, & mountains as if through space.
He dives in and out of the earth as if it were water.
He walks on water without sinking as if it were dry land.
Sitting crosslegged he flies through the air like a winged bird.
With his hand he touches & strokes even the sun & moon, so mighty & powerful.
He exercises influence with his body even as far as the Brahma worlds.

In the book Great Disciples of the Buddha by Nyanaponika Thera and Hellmuth Hecker, there are several additional powers described:

The Divine Eye (Clairvoyance)- this power allows one to see beings in other realms as well as see the future
The Divine Ear (Clairaudience)
Travel by Mind-Made Body(Astral Travel)
Travel with the Physical Body (to other realms)
Telekinesis (Supernormal Locomotion)
Flying
The power of Transformation
The ability to replicate one's body
Penetration of others' minds (Thought Reading)
Passing through solid objects
Diving in and out of the Earth as if through water
Walking on water
Touching the sun and the moon with one's fingers
Becoming invisible
Recollection of past lives (some would call this a power, some would call it true knowledge)

So: Of course Theravadins don't call him a God but all the attributes are there.

When one engages in projection one can find any characteristic/attribute they want, anywhere they want. Now, can we put this ridiculous discussion to rest?
ye dhammā hetuppabhavā tesaṁ hetuṁ tathāgato āha,
tesaṃca yo nirodho - evaṁvādī mahāsamaṇo.

Of those phenomena which arise from causes:
Those causes have been taught by the Tathāgata,
And their cessation too - thus proclaims the Great Ascetic.

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Re: What is the difference between the Theravada and Mahayana concepts of Buddhahood?

Post by SarathW » Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:26 am

Buddhism does not reject the existence of god and god like qualitis.
Nibbana is beyond even the god-like state according to Sutta.
I actually heard Ven. Getsunma is giving a talk to that effect.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: What is the difference between the Theravada and Mahayana concepts of Buddhahood?

Post by Grigoris » Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:38 am

While this may be the case, it still does not mean that Buddha IS a God in any of the Yana. That is just untrue.
ye dhammā hetuppabhavā tesaṁ hetuṁ tathāgato āha,
tesaṃca yo nirodho - evaṁvādī mahāsamaṇo.

Of those phenomena which arise from causes:
Those causes have been taught by the Tathāgata,
And their cessation too - thus proclaims the Great Ascetic.

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Aloka
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Re: What is the difference between the Theravada and Mahayana concepts of Buddhahood?

Post by Aloka » Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:47 am

And yet the Theravada acknowledges the omniscience of the historical Buddha, right?
It might be worth reading "The Buddha and Omniscience " by Bhikkhu Analayo. Here are 2 excerpts:

in the Tevijjavacchagotta Sutta the Buddha was asked whether he claimed omniscience himself. In reply, the Buddha quite explicitly stated that he had never made such a claim.
and:
Moreover, if the Buddha should indeed have made a claim to a type of discontinuous omniscience, one would expect to find this ability mentioned elsewhere in the discourses. Yet, the early discourses do not refer to such a type of omniscience when listing the ten powers or the four intrepidities of a Tathågata, nor does any form of omniscience occur in a listing of altogether hundred epithets of the Buddha given in the Upåli Sutta and its Sanskrit and Chinese parallels.
Source:

https://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg ... cience.pdf


:anjali:

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Grigoris
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Re: What is the difference between the Theravada and Mahayana concepts of Buddhahood?

Post by Grigoris » Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:56 am

Milindapanha:
The Omniscience of the Buddha
“Nàgasena, was the Buddha omniscient?”
“Yes, O king, but the insight of knowledge was not
always with him. It depended on reflection.”
“Then, Nàgasena, the Buddha could not have been
omniscient if his knowledge was reached through reflection.”
“I will explain further. There are seven classes of mental
ability. Firstly, there are ordinary people (puthujjana)
who are full of desire, hatred and delusion; untrained in
their action, speech and thought; their thinking acts slowly
and with difficulty.
“Secondly, there are stream-winners who have
attained to right view and rightly grasped the Master’s
teaching. Their thinking powers are quick and function
easily as far as the first three fetters are concerned but
beyond that they function slowly and with difficulty.
“Thirdly, there are once-returners in whom desire
and hatred are reduced. Their thinking powers work
quickly and easily as far as the five lower fetters are
concerned but slowly and with difficulty beyond that.
“Fourthly, there are non-returners in whom desire
and hatred are eliminated. Their thinking powers work
quickly and easily as far as the ten fetters but slowly and
with difficulty beyond that.
“Fifthly, there are the arahants in whom the floods of
sensual desire, desire for rebirth, personality-belief and
ignorance have ceased, who have lived the holy life and
reached their final goal. Their thinking powers work
quickly as far as the range of a disciple is concerned but
slowly and with difficulty beyond that.
“Sixthly, there are Solitary Buddhas who are dependent
on themselves alone, needing no teacher. Their thinking
powers work quickly as far as their own range is concerned
but as regards that which is exclusively the range of the
Perfectly Enlightened Ones their thinking works slowly
and with difficulty. Like a man who would readily cross a
small river that was on his own property but would hesitate
to cross the great ocean.
“Lastly, there are Perfectly Enlightened Buddhas who
have all knowledge, are endowed with the ten powers, the
four modes of fearlessness, and the eighteen characteristics
of a Buddha. Their thinking powers are quickly exercised
without sluggishness in any area of knowledge. As a sharp
bolt on a powerful crossbow would easily pass through a
thin cloth, just so their knowledge is unimpeded and easily
outclasses the other six. It is because their minds are so clear
and agile that the Buddhas can display the Twin Miracle.65
From that we may only guess how clear and active their
powers are. For all these wonders there is no reason other
than reflection that can be asserted.”
“Nevertheless, Nàgasena, reflection is carried out for
the purpose of seeking out what was not already clear
before the reflection began.”
“A rich man would not be called poor just because
there was no food prepared when a traveller arrived at his
house unexpectedly; nor would a tree be called barren
when it was fully laden just because no fruit had yet fallen
on the ground. So too the Buddha is indeed omniscient
although his knowledge is gained through reflection.”
ye dhammā hetuppabhavā tesaṁ hetuṁ tathāgato āha,
tesaṃca yo nirodho - evaṁvādī mahāsamaṇo.

Of those phenomena which arise from causes:
Those causes have been taught by the Tathāgata,
And their cessation too - thus proclaims the Great Ascetic.

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Aloka
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Re: What is the difference between the Theravada and Mahayana concepts of Buddhahood?

Post by Aloka » Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:05 am

Gregoris wrote: Milindapanha:
from Sutta Central:

The Milindapañha or “Questions of King Milinda” records a series of discussions on points of Dhamma between the monk Nāgasena and the Greek king known as in Pali as Milinda. He is usually identified with Menander I Soter, who ruled an Indo-Greek kingdom from his capital of Sagala around BCE 165–130. While the encounter between Greek and Indian culture is fascinating, the dialogs concern only interpretation of Buddhist ideas, with which the king was evidently very familiar, and does not mention Greek philosophy. The text is lively and dynamic, with the King constantly testing Nāgasena with abstruse questions, to which he responds with ingenious arguments and analogies. The text has a shorter Chinese counterpart in the Nāgasena Bhikṣu Sūtra. The text is not Theravādin in origin, but began among one of the schools in the north-west, perhaps the Sarvāstivādins. Most of the content, however, is not sectarian in nature. The Pali text has been extended over the years, and in addition, portions appear to be missing. It is not universally accepted as canonical; SuttaCentral’s Pali texts, however, stem from the Mahāsaṅgīti edition, which as a Burmese text does include it.

https://suttacentral.net/mil
:anjali:

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Grigoris
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Re: What is the difference between the Theravada and Mahayana concepts of Buddhahood?

Post by Grigoris » Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:10 am

Aloka wrote:
Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:05 am
Gregoris wrote: Milindapanha:
from Sutta Central:

The Milindapañha or “Questions of King Milinda” records a series of discussions on points of Dhamma between the monk Nāgasena and the Greek king known as in Pali as Milinda. He is usually identified with Menander I Soter, who ruled an Indo-Greek kingdom from his capital of Sagala around BCE 165–130. While the encounter between Greek and Indian culture is fascinating, the dialogs concern only interpretation of Buddhist ideas, with which the king was evidently very familiar, and does not mention Greek philosophy. The text is lively and dynamic, with the King constantly testing Nāgasena with abstruse questions, to which he responds with ingenious arguments and analogies. The text has a shorter Chinese counterpart in the Nāgasena Bhikṣu Sūtra. The text is not Theravādin in origin, but began among one of the schools in the north-west, perhaps the Sarvāstivādins. Most of the content, however, is not sectarian in nature. The Pali text has been extended over the years, and in addition, portions appear to be missing. It is not universally accepted as canonical; SuttaCentral’s Pali texts, however, stem from the Mahāsaṅgīti edition, which as a Burmese text does include it.

https://suttacentral.net/mil
:anjali:
Clutches at pearls...

1. It does not occur to you that the theory expounded in the Milindpanha is based on Pali Canon sources?

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .ntbb.html

2. We are in the "Connections to Other Paths" sub forum so I can bring up heterodox teachings.

Anyway... We are not here to discuss if the Buddha was omniscient or not. This is an aside. I brought up the powers in order to show that the Buddha in the Pali Canon also displayed God-like attributes and thus the claim that Mahayanis consider the Buddha a God is completely fallacious and just based on projections.

The Buddha is not a god, not in the Mahayana nor in the Theravada. The God-realm in both traditions is a samsaric realm and the Buddha(s) are not samsaric beings.
ye dhammā hetuppabhavā tesaṁ hetuṁ tathāgato āha,
tesaṃca yo nirodho - evaṁvādī mahāsamaṇo.

Of those phenomena which arise from causes:
Those causes have been taught by the Tathāgata,
And their cessation too - thus proclaims the Great Ascetic.

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