How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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KonstantKarma
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Post by KonstantKarma » Mon Dec 20, 2010 12:46 am

BlackBird wrote:
clw_uk wrote: however if it was somehow proved that this wasnt the case it wouldnt change my practice at all
The thing is, if several people got together and ascribed the Dhamma to one person, invented this character called the Buddha, then they told a pretty big lie. If a practice founded upon truth is contradicted by it's inception then it doesn't give it much credibility, the Buddha has explicitly stated that the Dhamma is free of patchwork, i.e. it doesn't contradict itself [1]. According to the Buddha, an Arahant is incapable of distorting the truth[2], as such, if several people did discover the Dhamma and ascribe it to one person, then they couldn't have been enlightened in the sense that is described by the Buddha.

Therefore either:
A) The Buddha was a real, fully enlightened being who discovered the truth in all things.
B) A bunch of guys made the whole thing up and there is no such thing as the awakening that is presented to us in the Suttas.

It might be said that it doesn't matter because the results that one experiences in the here are benefit enough to warrant the effort of practice, but tell me - Does one undertake a long drive on the motorway simply for the pleasure of the drive?
Ahh, we crossposted, and I missed your post until now.

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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Post by alan » Mon Dec 20, 2010 1:46 am

The question isn't phrased correctly. Or maybe you don't get a very basic point:
Without a belief in the Buddha's awakening there would be no motivation to practice, and no reason to study.

If a conglomeration of teachings were represented to us as Buddhism, then we'd have no way of disproving wrong ideas, and low-level teachings aimed at the masses would proliferate.
Oh, wait...

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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Post by Viscid » Mon Dec 20, 2010 2:39 am

alan wrote:The question isn't phrased correctly.
Without a belief in the Buddha's awakening their would be no motivation to practice.
You can't be motivated by suffering, and seeking its end?
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Post by alan » Mon Dec 20, 2010 2:44 am

If I'm not convinced the Doctor's medicine will work, why take it?

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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Post by Viscid » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:16 am

alan wrote:If I'm not convinced the Doctor's medicine will work, why take it?
I need no faith in the Doctor to know that the Valium he prescribes will reduce my anxiety. The Doctor can be a dimwit, I have faith in the Valium.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Post by KonstantKarma » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:22 am

Let's not forget that we see results of the teachings today, with ourselves and with others.

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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Post by Wizard in the Forest » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:27 am

alan wrote:If I'm not convinced the Doctor's medicine will work, why take it?
More than that, we're convinced the medicine works because the doctor discovered the cure. If there's no doctor, there's no cure, so what medicine would there be to take other than a placebo? If we know the doctor existed, and that the doctor was cured with this medicine, what reason would we have for denying the treatment?
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Post by Wizard in the Forest » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:31 am

Viscid wrote:
alan wrote:If I'm not convinced the Doctor's medicine will work, why take it?
I need no faith in the Doctor to know that the Valium he prescribes will reduce my anxiety. The Doctor can be a dimwit, I have faith in the Valium.
Are you calling the Buddha a dim-wit? :jawdrop:

Dude the only reason you have faith in Valium is because a doctor discovered the effects of Valium. Without having a doctor who discovered the cure, there would still be no relief.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Post by BlackBird » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:32 am

Viscid wrote:
alan wrote:If I'm not convinced the Doctor's medicine will work, why take it?
I need no faith in the Doctor to know that the Valium he prescribes will reduce my anxiety. The Doctor can be a dimwit, I have faith in the Valium.
Dhamma is not Valium, because Valium doesn't cure, it just moderates symptoms.

Dhamma is an experimental cocktail of medicine that is supposed to cure you of a disease that nobody understands, the more you take the medicine, the better you become, the problem being that most do not take the medicine in a dosage and regimen high enough for a full cure, they take a partial dose and admittedly see great benefits - But that's not the end goal, that's not the purpose of the medicine.

How would you have confidence in a medicine that is supposed to cure if there's no history of a patient being cured by it? In our case the Buddha was both the Doctor and the medicine:
"He who sees Dhamma, Vakkali, sees me; he who sees me sees Dhamma. Truly seeing Dhamma, one sees me; seeing me one sees Dhamma."
- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The Buddha and his Ariyan disciples were living embodiments of Dhamma and proof that it does work, that you can get there and as such they are an integral foundation of the faith necessary to keep walking the path.
Last edited by BlackBird on Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:39 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Post by Wizard in the Forest » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:37 am

BlackBird wrote:Dhamma is not Valium, because Valium doesn't cure, it just moderates symptoms.

Dhamma is an experimental cocktail of medicine that is supposed to cure you of a disease that nobody understands, the more you take the medicine, the better you become, the problem being that most do not take the medicine in a dosage and regimen high enough for a full cure, they take a partial dose and admittedly see great benefits - But that's not the end goal, that's not the purpose of the medicine.

How would you have confidence in a medicine that is supposed to cure if there's no history of a patient being cured by it? In our case the Buddha was both the Doctor and the medicine:
"He who sees Dhamma, Vakkali, sees me; he who sees me sees Dhamma. Truly seeing Dhamma, one sees me; seeing me one sees Dhamma."
- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
:goodpost:

There's also evidence the Buddha existed, so there's no real need to doubt unless you're not convinced enlightenment is possible. If that is the cause you don't doubt the Buddha exists, but you think his claims of enlightenment are false. Why if you know his teachings are effective and true?
Last edited by Wizard in the Forest on Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Post by Viscid » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:57 am

BlackBird wrote: How would you have confidence in a medicine that is supposed to cure if there's no history of a patient being cured by it?
I think that's the core of the issue. I'm confident in saying that there existed fully enlightened people historically. Otherwise the teachings would be ineffective in the treatment of suffering. However, any proclamation of enlightenment by those 'cured' would have ultimately resulted in scrutiny by others. So, it's just wise of them to keep their mouth shut and point to the prototypical model of enlightenment: The Buddha. The Buddha can't be scrutinized because he is perfectly enlightened, and perfectly dead.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Post by Wizard in the Forest » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:19 am

The problem with this issue becomes then, if you believe there exists or existed enlightened people and Shakyamuni Buddha was one of them (a man who became enlightened) , why then claim he doesn't exist historically but only as a prototype? We have physical and historical corroboration. It's not like there's only one person who witnessed Shakyamuni in the flesh. Many people did.
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Post by clw_uk » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:31 pm

BlackBird wrote:
clw_uk wrote: however if it was somehow proved that this wasnt the case it wouldnt change my practice at all
The thing is, if several people got together and ascribed the Dhamma to one person, invented this character called the Buddha, then they told a pretty big lie. If a practice founded upon truth is contradicted by it's inception then it doesn't give it much credibility, the Buddha has explicitly stated that the Dhamma is free of patchwork, i.e. it doesn't contradict itself [1]. According to the Buddha, an Arahant is incapable of distorting the truth[2], as such, if several people did discover the Dhamma and ascribe it to one person, then they couldn't have been enlightened in the sense that is described by the Buddha.

Therefore either:
A) The Buddha was a real, fully enlightened being who discovered the truth in all things.
B) A bunch of guys made the whole thing up and there is no such thing as the awakening that is presented to us in the Suttas.

It might be said that it doesn't matter because the results that one experiences in the here are benefit enough to warrant the effort of practice, but tell me - Does one undertake a long drive on the motorway simply for the pleasure of the drive?


Regardless the Four Noble Truths make sense and work for me, so to me it doesnt matter if he did exist or not

However as I said, personally I think he did but if it was proved he didnt it wouldn't stop me practising the NEFP


On a side note, in relation to B how do you know there were not several Buddhas who condensed, or became condensed, into one peron? No need to jump to "they made it all up". Of course this is just speculation now....
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Post by clw_uk » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:32 pm

It might be said that it doesn't matter because the results that one experiences in the here are benefit enough to warrant the effort of practice, but tell me - Does one undertake a long drive on the motorway simply for the pleasure of the drive?

I think I get what your saying but could you expand a little?
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Re: How important is The Buddha to Buddhism?

Post by clw_uk » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:34 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:
BlackBird wrote:Dhamma is not Valium, because Valium doesn't cure, it just moderates symptoms.

Dhamma is an experimental cocktail of medicine that is supposed to cure you of a disease that nobody understands, the more you take the medicine, the better you become, the problem being that most do not take the medicine in a dosage and regimen high enough for a full cure, they take a partial dose and admittedly see great benefits - But that's not the end goal, that's not the purpose of the medicine.

How would you have confidence in a medicine that is supposed to cure if there's no history of a patient being cured by it? In our case the Buddha was both the Doctor and the medicine:
"He who sees Dhamma, Vakkali, sees me; he who sees me sees Dhamma. Truly seeing Dhamma, one sees me; seeing me one sees Dhamma."
- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
:goodpost:

There's also evidence the Buddha existed, so there's no real need to doubt unless you're not convinced enlightenment is possible. If that is the cause you don't doubt the Buddha exists, but you think his claims of enlightenment are false. Why if you know his teachings are effective and true?

Care to share this evidence?
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