Was the Buddha an avatar of lord vishnu?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Sam Vara
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Re: Was the Buddha an avatar of lord vishnu?

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:44 pm

Nicolas wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 6:39 pm
Whether or not the Buddha was an avatar of Vishnu is irrelevant, it doesn't provide any useful information.
It doesn't mean very much to me, I'll admit, but for those who are culturally or temperamentally predisposed to have an interest in Vishnu or avatars it might be helpful in sustaining practice.

binocular
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Re: Was the Buddha an avatar of lord vishnu?

Post by binocular » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:47 pm

Nicolas wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:41 pm
I agree, but I don't think ihrjordan is anti-Buddhist. He is inviting us to ask ourselves his question and investigate
He should pay us then for this investigation. :tongue:

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Nicolas
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Re: Was the Buddha an avatar of lord vishnu?

Post by Nicolas » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:56 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:44 pm
It doesn't mean very much to me, I'll admit, but for those who are culturally or temperamentally predisposed to have an interest in Vishnu or avatars it might be helpful in sustaining practice.
True.

budo
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Re: Was the Buddha an avatar of lord vishnu?

Post by budo » Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:22 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:44 pm
Nicolas wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 6:39 pm
Whether or not the Buddha was an avatar of Vishnu is irrelevant, it doesn't provide any useful information.
It doesn't mean very much to me, I'll admit, but for those who are culturally or temperamentally predisposed to have an interest in Vishnu or avatars it might be helpful in sustaining practice.
Sustaining what kind of practice though? It wouldn't be a Buddhist practice if it is not grounded in Right View. Maybe for virtue and concentration, sure. But that wouldn't lead to wisdom of the Buddhist variety.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Was the Buddha an avatar of lord vishnu?

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:43 pm

budo wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:22 pm


Sustaining what kind of practice though? It wouldn't be a Buddhist practice if it is not grounded in Right View. Maybe for virtue and concentration, sure. But that wouldn't lead to wisdom of the Buddhist variety.
Sure, Right View is important. But not knowing too much about the different versions of Vaishnavism and their compatibility with Right View, I'd rather highlight the potential benefits.

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Pseudobabble
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Re: Was the Buddha an avatar of lord vishnu?

Post by Pseudobabble » Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:03 am

ihrjordan wrote:
Wed Mar 20, 2019 2:32 pm
How so? The Buddha never said he wasn't an avatar of lord vishnu and he certainly didn't deny the existence of a creator god. He said if there is a god he is to blame for this mass of suffering...indeed lol but as we know the sun gives life but it also brings destruction we need an equal balance of both. and while on the top he didn't deny the existence of a true self either...he stated that the five aggregates affected by suffering are not self. very different if you understand it correctly. What abou the five aggregates unaffected by suffering? Are they self? He doesn't say lol
Neither has my cat ever denied he is an avatar of Vishnu. That doesn’t mean he is.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

'Some fart freely, some try to hide and silence it. Which one is correct?' - Saegnapha

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AgarikaJ
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Re: Was the Buddha an avatar of lord vishnu?

Post by AgarikaJ » Tue Mar 26, 2019 12:36 pm

budo wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:22 pm
[It wouldn't be a Buddhist practice
One might declare, that it would not be an orthodox Theravadin practice, at best.

But even that is debatable, as a large number of (what one might flippantly call) 'Hindu gods' are a specific and undeniable part of the Pali Tipitaka; see DN 21, Sakkapañha Sutta .
Thus have I heard. Once the Lord was staying in Magadha, to the east of Rājagaha, by a Brahmin village called Ambasaṇḍā, to the north of the village on Mount Vediya, in the Indasāla Cave.580 And at that time Sakka, lord of the gods,581 felt a strong desire to see the Lord. And Sakka thought: ‘Where is the Blessed Lord, the fully-enlightened Buddha, now staying?’ Then, perceiving where the Lord was, Sakka said to the Thirty-Three Gods: ‘Gentlemen, the Blessed Lord is staying in Magadha...in the Indasāla Cave. How would it be if we were to go and visit the Lord?’ ‘Very good, Lord, and may good fortune go with you’, replied the Thirty-Three Gods.
...
The very gods, the Thirty-Three,
With Indra and Pajāpati,
Who sat enthroned in Council Hall,
These two heroes, passions purged,
Outstripped, and left them far behind.
On seeing which, Vasava,598 dismayed,
Chief amidst that throng of gods,
Cried: “See how these of lesser rank
Outstrip the gods, the Thirty-Three!”
Then hearing of his ruler’s fears,
Gopaka said to Vasava:
“Lord Indra, in the world of men
A Buddha, called the Sakyan Sage,599
Has gained the mastery of lust,
And these his pupils, who had failed
In mindfulness when claimed by death,
Have now regained it with my help.
In this case, the Pali-Sutta Tāvatiṃsa realm is an Indra-centered Pantheon, not by name a Vishnu-centered one (see: Wikipedia). However, already in the Rig Veda (Hymn 7.99), Indra-Vishnu are equivalent and produce the sun in their combined aspects.
In the Hindu pantheon(s) of later times, Indra was quickly loosing influence and Vishnu and Shiva gaining in importance, which also spilled over into Buddhism (for example, in the early Khmer empire an admixture of Theravada and Shivaistic esoteric Tantrayana was practised).

Specifically, with regard of Buddha being a mere avatar of Vishnu, the following passage might be illuminating (from here); it is at least the most concise explanation of the difference in concept to orthodox Mahaviharan Theravada.
Further the version of Mahayana that spread in the East including Sri Lanka has several concepts and tenets such as Bodhisattva, "Thrikaya" etc. which were derived from Hinduism. These were forced into Mahayana by the politically powerful Brahmans. These developments finally almost made Buddha an avatar of Vishnu. Further it was Mahayana and Vajrayana that has destroyed the uniqueness of Buddhism, its empiricism, and made it into a religion with mysticism and transcendental features, making it not different from any other religion.

Buddha in Mahayana and Tanthrayana is an eternal, omniscient, supernatural being. In contrast Early Buddhism clearly rejects eternalism, omniscience and transcendentalism as shown in Cula-Malunkya-sutta, Aggivacchagotta-sutta and Tevijja-Vacchagotta-sutta. Theravada which has retained certain features of Mahayana nevertheless doesn't make Buddha eternal or supernatural. Theravada may have allowed the depiction of Buddha as supernatural in size as in the temple statues and also borrowed from Mahayana the rituals, the Bodhisathva concept to some degree, and even some aspects of "Bhakthi Marga" but the nature of Nirvana, Buddha and Arahath and the Arya Astangika Marga which constitutes the essence of Buddhism has remained largely faithful to the doctrine as found in Early Buddhism.
The teaching is a lake with shores of ethics, unclouded, praised by the fine to the good.
There the knowledgeable go to bathe, and cross to the far shore without getting wet.
[SN 7.21]

budo
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Re: Was the Buddha an avatar of lord vishnu?

Post by budo » Tue Mar 26, 2019 1:01 pm

AgarikaJ wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 12:36 pm
budo wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:22 pm
[It wouldn't be a Buddhist practice
One might declare, that it would not be an orthodox Theravadin practice, at best.

But even that is debatable, as a large number of (what one might flippantly call) 'Hindu gods' are a specific and undeniable part of the Pali Tipitaka; see DN 21, Sakkapañha Sutta .


..

Buddha in Mahayana and Tanthrayana is an eternal, omniscient, supernatural being. In contrast Early Buddhism clearly rejects eternalism, omniscience and transcendentalism as shown in Cula-Malunkya-sutta, Aggivacchagotta-sutta and Tevijja-Vacchagotta-sutta. Theravada which has retained certain features of Mahayana nevertheless doesn't make Buddha eternal or supernatural. Theravada may have allowed the depiction of Buddha as supernatural in size as in the temple statues and also borrowed from Mahayana the rituals, the Bodhisathva concept to some degree, and even some aspects of "Bhakthi Marga" but the nature of Nirvana, Buddha and Arahath and the Arya Astangika Marga which constitutes the essence of Buddhism has remained largely faithful to the doctrine as found in Early Buddhism.

What does all of this have to do with Buddhist practice, specifically Right View which is that there is no one matched to the Buddha in knowledge and vision, and thus one needs to eliminate the fetter of Doubt of the Buddha to attain stream entry.

Someone who believes in Vishnu and all these non dhamma-vinaya things that are not taught by the Buddha, will be muddled or trapped in a thicket of views, thus they cannot attain Right View, and hence their practices will not be Buddhist practices.

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Was the Buddha an avatar of lord vishnu?

Post by Coëmgenu » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:05 pm

AgarikaJ wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 12:36 pm
budo wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:22 pm
[It wouldn't be a Buddhist practice
One might declare, that it would not be an orthodox Theravadin practice, at best.

But even that is debatable, as a large number of (what one might flippantly call) 'Hindu gods' are a specific and undeniable part of the Pali Tipitaka; see DN 21, Sakkapañha Sutta .
Thus have I heard. Once the Lord was staying in Magadha, to the east of Rājagaha, by a Brahmin village called Ambasaṇḍā, to the north of the village on Mount Vediya, in the Indasāla Cave.580 And at that time Sakka, lord of the gods,581 felt a strong desire to see the Lord. And Sakka thought: ‘Where is the Blessed Lord, the fully-enlightened Buddha, now staying?’ Then, perceiving where the Lord was, Sakka said to the Thirty-Three Gods: ‘Gentlemen, the Blessed Lord is staying in Magadha...in the Indasāla Cave. How would it be if we were to go and visit the Lord?’ ‘Very good, Lord, and may good fortune go with you’, replied the Thirty-Three Gods.
...
The very gods, the Thirty-Three,
With Indra and Pajāpati,
Who sat enthroned in Council Hall,
These two heroes, passions purged,
Outstripped, and left them far behind.
On seeing which, Vasava,598 dismayed,
Chief amidst that throng of gods,
Cried: “See how these of lesser rank
Outstrip the gods, the Thirty-Three!”
Then hearing of his ruler’s fears,
Gopaka said to Vasava:
“Lord Indra, in the world of men
A Buddha, called the Sakyan Sage,599
Has gained the mastery of lust,
And these his pupils, who had failed
In mindfulness when claimed by death,
Have now regained it with my help.
In this case, the Pali-Sutta Tāvatiṃsa realm is an Indra-centered Pantheon, not by name a Vishnu-centered one (see: Wikipedia). However, already in the Rig Veda (Hymn 7.99), Indra-Vishnu are equivalent and produce the sun in their combined aspects.
In the Hindu pantheon(s) of later times, Indra was quickly loosing influence and Vishnu and Shiva gaining in importance, which also spilled over into Buddhism (for example, in the early Khmer empire an admixture of Theravada and Shivaistic esoteric Tantrayana was practised).

Specifically, with regard of Buddha being a mere avatar of Vishnu, the following passage might be illuminating (from here); it is at least the most concise explanation of the difference in concept to orthodox Mahaviharan Theravada.
Further the version of Mahayana that spread in the East including Sri Lanka has several concepts and tenets such as Bodhisattva, "Thrikaya" etc. which were derived from Hinduism. These were forced into Mahayana by the politically powerful Brahmans. These developments finally almost made Buddha an avatar of Vishnu. Further it was Mahayana and Vajrayana that has destroyed the uniqueness of Buddhism, its empiricism, and made it into a religion with mysticism and transcendental features, making it not different from any other religion.

Buddha in Mahayana and Tanthrayana is an eternal, omniscient, supernatural being. In contrast Early Buddhism clearly rejects eternalism, omniscience and transcendentalism as shown in Cula-Malunkya-sutta, Aggivacchagotta-sutta and Tevijja-Vacchagotta-sutta. Theravada which has retained certain features of Mahayana nevertheless doesn't make Buddha eternal or supernatural. Theravada may have allowed the depiction of Buddha as supernatural in size as in the temple statues and also borrowed from Mahayana the rituals, the Bodhisathva concept to some degree, and even some aspects of "Bhakthi Marga" but the nature of Nirvana, Buddha and Arahath and the Arya Astangika Marga which constitutes the essence of Buddhism has remained largely faithful to the doctrine as found in Early Buddhism.
I think the above information about Mahāyānists "almost" making the Buddha into Vishnu is incorrect. I think Hindus, rather than "almost" making Buddha into Vishnu, decided just that, and furthermore decided he must have done it to punish his "students".
如無為,如是難見、不動、不屈、不死、無漏、覆蔭、洲渚、濟渡、依止、擁護、不流轉、離熾焰、離燒然、流通、清涼、微妙、安隱、無病、無所有、涅槃。
Like this is the uncreated, like this is that which is difficult to realize, with no moving, no bending, no dying. Utterly lacking secretions and smothered in the dark, it is the island shore. Where there is ferrying, it is the crossing. It is dependency's ceasing, it is the end of circulating transmissions. It is the exhaustion of the flame, it is the ending of the burning. Flowing openly, pure and cool, with secret subtlety, and calm occultation, lacking ailment, lacking owning, nirvāṇa.
Asaṁskṛtadharmasūtra, Sermon on the Uncreated Phenomenon, T99.224b7, Saṁyuktāgama 890

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AgarikaJ
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Re: Was the Buddha an avatar of lord vishnu?

Post by AgarikaJ » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:14 pm

budo wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 1:01 pm
AgarikaJ wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 12:36 pm
budo wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:22 pm
[It wouldn't be a Buddhist practice
One might declare, that it would not be an orthodox Theravadin practice, at best.

What does all of this have to do with Buddhist practice, specifically Right View ... Someone who believes in Vishnu and all these non dhamma-vinaya things that are not taught by the Buddha
I demonstrated above that a pantheon of "Hindu"/Vedic gods was indeed taught by the Buddha, if one takes the Pali Suttas as his word, and is together with the various planes of existence a central part of Theravadin (metaphysical) beliefs. If you have faith in his words, you must have faith in this part of them, no?

But this is simply by-the-by.

My real point was, that you make the same error as so many on here, equating Theravada = Buddhist.

The terms are not synonymous at all, and I wonder how somebody who is supposedly informed on Theravadin matters can make such an error.

It is not merely careless in somebody who is knowledgeable, because it amply illustrates why the very superfluously informed public equates Theravadins with Shaolin monks, Mahasiddha cults, Zen priests, magic tattoos, Buddha heads when going to the sauna and the fat monk that greets one when entering a Chinese restaurant.

Resultingly, I find it little wonder that Theravada thought has such a difficulty gaining a foothold in the West when even its serious adherents cannot master any differentiation of themselves to those other examples of 'Buddhism'.

And, as you qualified your statement that it needs to be Buddhist practice containing Right View... such a concept, of course, can be found in all the Buddhist schools that I have listed as examples above; for example: Mahayana Right View = samyak-dṛṣṭi.
As a religious tradition, Buddhism is distinctively epistemological in its articulation of the causes of human suffering and in the solutions it offers. The most fundamental problem in Buddhism is that of nescience (avidyā), manifested in such ways as the clinging to a constructed self, along with numberless derivative problems.
Therefore the matter of mentally constructed frameworks (dṛṣṭi) is central to Buddhist soteriological discourse, with the first item on the eightfold path being “right view” (Skt. samyag-dṛṣṭi). Mahāyāna Buddhism furthermore contains two distinct levels of discourse regarding right views: that which occurs at the conventional (laukika/saṃvṛti) level and that which is seen at the transcendent (lokôttara/paramârtha) level of discussion.
At the same time, the notion of faith (śraddhā), which in other religions tends strongly in the emotional/devotional directions, is in Mahāyāna philosophy of mind, a category intimately related to right view, and like right view, it has the two dimensions of conventional and transcendent.
This paper starts out with the discussion of views and belief in the context of secular academic disciplines such as psychology and epistemology, and ends up with the most rarefied view in Zen, a distinctive Buddhist tradition, wherein, I argue, right view and correct faith become indistinguishable.
(Any) Buddhist practice + Right View, right there.
The teaching is a lake with shores of ethics, unclouded, praised by the fine to the good.
There the knowledgeable go to bathe, and cross to the far shore without getting wet.
[SN 7.21]

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AgarikaJ
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Re: Was the Buddha an avatar of lord vishnu?

Post by AgarikaJ » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:28 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:05 pm
I think the above information about Mahāyānists "almost" making the Buddha into Vishnu is incorrect. I think Hindus, rather than "almost" making Buddha into Vishnu, decided just that, and furthermore decided he must have done it to punish his "students".
While Shivaistic Buddhist cults were far more widespread in Maritime Southeast Asia (Dvaravati Thailand, Khmer empire, etc), there were also hybrid philsosophies mixing up Vishnu and Buddhism.

About those I know little, but this article might illuminate: Vishnu in Buddhism
In Sri Lankan Theravada, Vishnu is worshipped as “Upulvan” (Pali. Uppala-Vaṇṇa). The equivalent Sanskrit title is “Utpala-Varṇa” (Blue-Lotus-Colored). Vishnu is frequently depicted as blue colored (Blue being a euphemism for the original Black color of the deity).

Vishnu as Upulvan is the Kshetra-Pāla (Protector of the Land) of Sri Lanka.

Buddha before his parinirvana seems to have seen the island of Sri Lanka as the future place where his shāsana (law) will flourish. Therefore, he orders Indra for its protection. Indra then entrusts the protection of the island to Vishnu (Incidentally, Vishnu originally seems to have been subordinate to Indra in the Vedas. This seems to preserve the early status of Vishnu as a sub-ordinate deity).

Here Vishnu is seen by the lay Sri Lankan Buddhists as a “Bodhisattva” on his way to Buddhahood, and a firm protector of the “Buddha Shāsana”.
As we nowadays routinely adhere to the Mahaviharan sect of Sri Lanka's orthodox Theravada version(s), those more heterodox ideas should of course be routinely discarded out of hand. ;)
The teaching is a lake with shores of ethics, unclouded, praised by the fine to the good.
There the knowledgeable go to bathe, and cross to the far shore without getting wet.
[SN 7.21]

binocular
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Re: Was the Buddha an avatar of lord vishnu?

Post by binocular » Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:35 pm

AgarikaJ wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:14 pm
My real point was, that you make the same error as so many on here, equating Theravada = Buddhist.

The terms are not synonymous at all, and I wonder how somebody who is supposedly informed on Theravadin matters can make such an error.
It's not an error. It's an expression of the convicton that only Theravada is proper Buddhism; or at least, that Theravada is the best type of Buddhism there is.

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AgarikaJ
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Re: Was the Buddha an avatar of lord vishnu?

Post by AgarikaJ » Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:45 am

binocular wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:35 pm
AgarikaJ wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:14 pm
My real point was, that you make the same error as so many on here, equating Theravada = Buddhist.

The terms are not synonymous at all, and I wonder how somebody who is supposedly informed on Theravadin matters can make such an error.
It's not an error. It's an expression of the convicton that only Theravada is proper Buddhism; or at least, that Theravada is the best type of Buddhism there is.
Fundamentalist sectarianism. How cute. :rolleye:
The teaching is a lake with shores of ethics, unclouded, praised by the fine to the good.
There the knowledgeable go to bathe, and cross to the far shore without getting wet.
[SN 7.21]

budo
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Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 12:16 am

Re: Was the Buddha an avatar of lord vishnu?

Post by budo » Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:08 am

AgarikaJ wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:45 am
binocular wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:35 pm
AgarikaJ wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:14 pm
My real point was, that you make the same error as so many on here, equating Theravada = Buddhist.

The terms are not synonymous at all, and I wonder how somebody who is supposedly informed on Theravadin matters can make such an error.
It's not an error. It's an expression of the convicton that only Theravada is proper Buddhism; or at least, that Theravada is the best type of Buddhism there is.
Fundamentalist sectarianism. How cute. :rolleye:
You do realize you're on a Theravadan forum right? You do realize that the first fetter in Theravadan and Early Buddhism is doubt of the Buddha Dhamma Sangha.. And that the Dhamma is the dhamma-vinaya and not the lotus sutra.. According to Theravadans on a Theravadan forum..

Why do people go to specific communities and act suprised when the people in those specific communities align with their communities doctrine? Seems irrational and troll like behaviour to pretend otherwise.

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AgarikaJ
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Re: Was the Buddha an avatar of lord vishnu?

Post by AgarikaJ » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:15 am

budo wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:08 am
AgarikaJ wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:45 am
binocular wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:35 pm

It's not an error. It's an expression of the convicton that only Theravada is proper Buddhism; or at least, that Theravada is the best type of Buddhism there is.
Fundamentalist sectarianism. How cute. :rolleye:
You do realize you're on a Theravadan forum right? You do realize that the first fetter in Theravadan and Early Buddhism is doubt of the Buddha Dhamma Sangha.. And that the Dhamma is the dhamma-vinaya and not the lotus sutra.. According to Theravadans on a Theravadan forum..

Why do people go to specific communities and act suprised when the people in those specific communities align with their communities doctrine? Seems irrational and troll like behaviour to pretend otherwise.
So according to this (yours and Binocular's) argument, Early Buddhism is not 'proper' Buddhism?

I am getting more surprised with every posting.

I think it would have been easier and more accurate to accept that words have a defined meaning and, following from that, that the words 'Buddhism' and 'Theravada' are neither interchangeable, nor should they be used in a careless, imprecise and potentially confusing manner. Not even on a Theravada forum. :thinking:

Finally, you do realize that this thread is in the section 'Connections to other paths'? This would imply that we talk about things where there is a potential overlap to other Buddhist belief systems; as you utilized the terms 'Buddhism' and 'Right View' without any clear distinction from them, it is not as obvious as you make it out now, about what you were actually talking. You are now changing your own point by excluding the view of Right View expressed in the Lotus Sutra (which literally millions of people believe is the "more correct" interpretation of the term!).

... which in turn makes my point, that people need to be precise, even more valid.

-------------
To note: I do not wish this to be a major confrontation about this issue; this is merely an appellation that words are used within their proper definition.

This might be a special bug bear of mine, as others on here have use words like 'feminism' in the most confusing manner, often expressing the exact opposite of their actual definition. Others use terms like 'Jhana' in such a careless way that it creates the biggest upheavals, because what they say and what they mean does not match. From Binocular's and your posting, I see that you seemingly disagree about the status of Early Buddhism as 'proper' already, but why is not explained. And so on...

If words are used improper and careless, misunderstandings are easy, people start to talk past each other and proper discourse can become all but impossible.
:anjali:
The teaching is a lake with shores of ethics, unclouded, praised by the fine to the good.
There the knowledgeable go to bathe, and cross to the far shore without getting wet.
[SN 7.21]

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