John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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Alex123
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Alex123 » Sat Dec 13, 2014 6:12 pm

manas wrote:Regarding this quote from earlier, not sure who originally said it:
In a sense, the modern Buddhist is trying to get at the more ancient and more traditional buddhism [or more correctly, Dhamma], and what we are finding is a Buddha who looks a lot more like a modern scientist.
- or could it rather be, that's what we want to find.
That is the problem. We start with preconceived notions and then search for the evidence in the suttas. What we like we accept, what we don't like we say "later additions!"

I can see how reasonably (older->newer)
a) mysticism -> technical stuff
and
b) technical stuff -> mysticism

could have developed.

Also, it does seem like suttas were modified at least slightly and gave us a "digest" of what was said. I just can't believe that real dialogue could go like it is in the suttas and how even a master debater who could make "pillars sweat" would be crushed so easily. In the online forums we see people much more tough then in the suttas. Of course "digest" begs the question: what was missing from the suttas? Would that missing stuff change our current beliefs about what the Buddha said or not?
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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daverupa
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by daverupa » Sat Dec 13, 2014 6:19 pm

Alex123 wrote:That is the problem. We start with preconceived notions and then search for the evidence in the suttas.
That evidence, whatever it is, can be allowed to confirm, challenge, or rewrite those notions; coming to the table with baggage already is an obvious state of affairs, but it isn't a hopeless one. The texts are there for a reason: to take anyone, whatever their notions, and point them the right way.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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dhammacoustic
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by dhammacoustic » Wed Dec 24, 2014 8:26 am

One thing I'm sure is that the Buddha was a master of satire. All the wise people I've met in my life were all smart and funny as hell. Quality sense of humor could tell you a lot about one's level of wisdom, probably the Buddha was no exception.

I never thought for one second that the suttas were written on the actual words of the Buddha. All the religious material on this planet are constructed and reconstructed over centuries. Say, maybe, 5% of the suttas include actual words from a man known as the Buddha, who apparently lived around 2500 BC. I'm still reading on the Sramana movement, downloaded lots of e-books. Apparently the Buddha was a Jain practitioner in his youth.

My mental image of the Buddha represents a perfected, egoless self, with perfect behavior, perfect morality, perfect energy, wisdom, perspective, perfect calm. Namely, the ultimate human state of being.

Theravada (along with Dzogchen and some Gnostic doctrines) seem to help me on the way with the methods and perspectives they provide.

:namaste:
Uppādā vā tathagātanaṃ anuppādā vā tathagātanaṃ, ṭhitāva sā dhātu dhammaṭṭhitatā dhammaniyāmatā idappaccayatā. Taṃ tathagāto abhisam­buj­jhati abhisameti. Abhisam­bujjhitvā abhisametvā ācikkhati deseti paññāpeti paṭṭhapeti vivarati vibhajati uttānīkaroti. ‘Passathā’ti cāha; ‘avijjāpaccayā, bhikkhave, saṅkhārā’. Iti kho, bhikkhave, yā tatra tathatā avitathatā anaññathatā idappaccayatā-ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, paṭiccasamup­pādo.
:heart: namō tassa bhagavatō, arahatō, sammā sambuddhassā

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Mkoll
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Mkoll » Wed Dec 24, 2014 9:25 am

silver surfer wrote:I never thought for one second that the suttas were written on the actual words of the Buddha. All the religious material on this planet are constructed and reconstructed over centuries. Say, maybe, 5% of the suttas include actual words from a man known as the Buddha, who apparently lived around 2500 BC. I'm still reading on the Sramana movement, downloaded lots of e-books. Apparently the Buddha was a Jain practitioner in his youth.
I think you meant 500 BC. Also, from what source did you hear that the Buddha practiced Jainism?
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

dhammarelax
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by dhammarelax » Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:06 am

Hi,

Interesting interview, let me ask is there any deep study on the issue of the authenticity of the suttas ?

I read this work about the EBTs from Bhikkhu Sujato & Bhikkhu Brahmali:

http://www.ocbs.org/lectures-a-articles ... hist-texts

It seems a straight forward research, is is not addressing the organization of the Dhamma but whether the EBts are juts a created compilation or not so it might help in the discussion.

On a side note the Iliads historical accuracy was given support by the discovery of Troy by Heinrich Schliemann (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Schliemann), some ancient texts do seem to be somehow reliable.

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dhammarelax
Even if the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, I will use all my human firmness, human persistence and human striving. There will be no relaxing my persistence until I am the first of my generation to attain full awakening in this lifetime. ed. AN 2.5

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daverupa
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by daverupa » Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:32 am

Look through the Early Buddhism subforum, there are quite a few resources, and threads on this very matter. I'll look some up later on, but am running off to work.

:heart:

This post jogs my memory a bit...
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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dhammacoustic
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by dhammacoustic » Thu Dec 25, 2014 1:07 am

Mkoll wrote:I think you meant 500 BC.
Sorry, ofcourse :)
Mkoll wrote:I think you meant 500 BC. Also, from what source did you hear that the Buddha practiced Jainism?
Couple of my pdf files mention it.
Vaishali, the birthplace of Mahavira was at its height of prosperity, and by its association with Mahavira it became far-famed in the religious world of India. Teachers from Vaishali preached great principles for the uplift of humanity and lived an austere life of fasts and penances, and Mahavira stood out as the most prominent of his contemporaries.

According to the Mahāvastu, the Buddha sought his first teachers, Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta in Vaishali and even started his life as a Jain, under their teachings. After discovering his Middle Path, he became more and more honored at Vaishali, receiving a royal reception; the city built him a kutagara-sala, a pinnacled rest house in its suburban park known as the Maha-vana. It was at Vaishali that the Second Buddhist Council was held; and it came to be looked upon as a holy spot where differences in the Sangha could be ironed out. His celebrated disciple Amra-pali was a resident of Vaishali at which place she bequeathed her park to the Buddha and the community.
Some online Hindu/Jain pages also argue that the Buddha practiced Jain asceticism for a while, prior to his enlightenment.
Uppādā vā tathagātanaṃ anuppādā vā tathagātanaṃ, ṭhitāva sā dhātu dhammaṭṭhitatā dhammaniyāmatā idappaccayatā. Taṃ tathagāto abhisam­buj­jhati abhisameti. Abhisam­bujjhitvā abhisametvā ācikkhati deseti paññāpeti paṭṭhapeti vivarati vibhajati uttānīkaroti. ‘Passathā’ti cāha; ‘avijjāpaccayā, bhikkhave, saṅkhārā’. Iti kho, bhikkhave, yā tatra tathatā avitathatā anaññathatā idappaccayatā-ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, paṭiccasamup­pādo.
:heart: namō tassa bhagavatō, arahatō, sammā sambuddhassā

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Mkoll
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Mkoll » Thu Dec 25, 2014 1:48 am

silver surfer wrote:
Mkoll wrote:I think you meant 500 BC. Also, from what source did you hear that the Buddha practiced Jainism?
Couple of my pdf files mention it.
Vaishali, the birthplace of Mahavira was at its height of prosperity, and by its association with Mahavira it became far-famed in the religious world of India. Teachers from Vaishali preached great principles for the uplift of humanity and lived an austere life of fasts and penances, and Mahavira stood out as the most prominent of his contemporaries.

According to the Mahāvastu, the Buddha sought his first teachers, Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta in Vaishali and even started his life as a Jain, under their teachings. After discovering his Middle Path, he became more and more honored at Vaishali, receiving a royal reception; the city built him a kutagara-sala, a pinnacled rest house in its suburban park known as the Maha-vana. It was at Vaishali that the Second Buddhist Council was held; and it came to be looked upon as a holy spot where differences in the Sangha could be ironed out. His celebrated disciple Amra-pali was a resident of Vaishali at which place she bequeathed her park to the Buddha and the community.
The Mahāvastu is part of the Lokottaravāda school, a sub-sect of the Mahāsāṃghika. The Mahāsāṃghika seem to be a source of the initial development of Mahayana Buddhism.
silver surfer wrote:Some online Hindu/Jain pages also argue that the Buddha practiced Jain asceticism for a while, prior to his enlightenment.
Some Hindus also claim the Buddha is an avatar of Vishnu.

See wikipedia for the source of this information.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

dhammarelax
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by dhammarelax » Sat Dec 27, 2014 11:09 am

Mkoll wrote:
silver surfer wrote:I never thought for one second that the suttas were written on the actual words of the Buddha. All the religious material on this planet are constructed and reconstructed over centuries. Say, maybe, 5% of the suttas include actual words from a man known as the Buddha, who apparently lived around 2500 BC. I'm still reading on the Sramana movement, downloaded lots of e-books. Apparently the Buddha was a Jain practitioner in his youth.
I think you meant 500 BC. Also, from what source did you hear that the Buddha practiced Jainism?
From A History of Mindfullness by Bhiku Sujato:

"Although the Bodhisatta never identifies himself in this period as following any teacher, his practices and views are identical with the Jains.
And when the group of five ascetics abandoned him they went to stay in the ‘Rishi’s Park’ in Benares, where even today there is a Jain temple."

and:

"Also, their goal was typically psychic powers, whereas the Jains aimed at liberation of the soul. Thus the Bodhisatta’s austerities are
closer to the Jains than any other group we know of; the Jains themselves preserve a tradition that the Buddha spent time as a Jain ascetic."

Smile all the time
dhammarelax
Even if the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, I will use all my human firmness, human persistence and human striving. There will be no relaxing my persistence until I am the first of my generation to attain full awakening in this lifetime. ed. AN 2.5

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Mkoll
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Mkoll » Sat Dec 27, 2014 12:01 pm

dhammarelax wrote:
Mkoll wrote:
silver surfer wrote:I never thought for one second that the suttas were written on the actual words of the Buddha. All the religious material on this planet are constructed and reconstructed over centuries. Say, maybe, 5% of the suttas include actual words from a man known as the Buddha, who apparently lived around 2500 BC. I'm still reading on the Sramana movement, downloaded lots of e-books. Apparently the Buddha was a Jain practitioner in his youth.
I think you meant 500 BC. Also, from what source did you hear that the Buddha practiced Jainism?
From A History of Mindfullness by Bhiku Sujato:

"Although the Bodhisatta never identifies himself in this period as following any teacher, his practices and views are identical with the Jains.
And when the group of five ascetics abandoned him they went to stay in the ‘Rishi’s Park’ in Benares, where even today there is a Jain temple."

and:

"Also, their goal was typically psychic powers, whereas the Jains aimed at liberation of the soul. Thus the Bodhisatta’s austerities are
closer to the Jains than any other group we know of; the Jains themselves preserve a tradition that the Buddha spent time as a Jain ascetic."

Smile all the time
dhammarelax
Thanks.

For some reason you didn't also include the rest of the paragraph in between those two quotes:
Such ideas were not exclusive to the Jains; they were common in the
Indian yogic tradition, and are met with frequently in the early Brahman
ical scriptures as well, as Mahā Kaccāna’s verses above indicate. In fact
the Jains were reformists, in that they rejected forms of asceticism that
might harm living beings, and they also laid stress on the proper mental
attitude. Earlier, more primitive, ‘professors of self-torture’ had believed
in the efficacy of the physical torture itself, irrespective of any mental
development. Also, their goal was typically psychic powers, whereas the
Jains aimed at liberation of the soul. Thus the Bodhisatta’s austerities are
closer to the Jains than any other group we know of; the Jains themselves
preserve a tradition that the Buddha spent time as a Jain ascetic.
I wouldn't deny the possibility but I would reject the conclusion that "the Buddha was a Jain practitioner in his youth" when he just as easily could have been practicing based on his own inspiration and/or based upon common practices and ideas that were widespread in the samana culture. Either way, it is unlikely we will ever know for sure.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Sylvester » Sun Dec 28, 2014 7:20 am

I am hoping that some of the members of DW who are specialists in post-modern studies or perhaps analysts of myths in literature would come out of the woodwork and contribute ideas about the place and function of the suttas' mythic elements. I get the impression that academic engagements with mythic literature have graduated from the old Church fears of literalism (since that leads to a challenge of the Theistic narrative) and are now looking at myth much more favourably as sophisticated literary devices.

One such recent example is Gethin's lovely analysis* of that grotesquely mythic sutta, DN 17. He gives a pretty convincing explanation that the imagery in that sutta is just allegory for the forms of escape/transcendance from the world. I'm not sure if his approach is unusual or common for his circles, but it would be interesting to see how much of the mythic elements can be reduced to symbolism, without stirring up more angst over the literalism of rebirth.

* Mythology as meditation: from the Mahāsudassana Sutta to the Sukhāvativyuha Sūtra, JPTS Vol 28, 63 - 112.

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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by daverupa » Sun Dec 28, 2014 11:22 pm

A moderate cross-section:
---

The Mythology of Buddhism
Paul Carus
The Monist
Vol. 7, No. 3 (April, 1897), pp. 415-445
http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/278 ... eptTC=true" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Myth in Buddhism: Essential or Peripheral?
Winston L. King
Journal of Bible and Religion
Vol. 29, No. 3 (Jul., 1961), pp. 211-218
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1 ... id=3739256" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Buddhist Naturalism and the Myth of Rebirth
Kenneth K. Inada
International Journal for Philosophy of Religion
Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring, 1970), pp. 46-53
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/4 ... id=2&uid=4" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Symbols of Evil in Buddhism
James W. Boyd
The Journal of Asian Studies
Vol. 31, No. 1 (Nov., 1971), pp. 63-75
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2 ... 0&uid=2134" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Animal Symbolism in Early Buddhist Literature and Art
Balkrishna G. Gokhale
East and West
Vol. 24, No. 1/2 (March-June 1974), pp. 111-120
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2 ... 9256&uid=4" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Hermeneutics and Buddhist Myths: Bringing Paul Ricoeur to Mahayana Buddhism
Carl B. Becker
Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Vol. 67, No. 3 (Fall 1984), pp. 325-335
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/4 ... 9256&uid=2" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Early Buddhist Art and the Theory of Aniconism
Susan L. Huntington
Art Journal,
Vol. 49, No. 4, New Approaches to South Asian Art (Winter, 1990), pp.401-408
http://huntingtonarchive.osu.edu/resour ... ournal.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

sphairos
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by sphairos » Sun Dec 28, 2014 11:27 pm

The great work to be mentioned here is the Anālayo's "The genesis of Bodhisattva ideal".
http://blogs.sub.uni-hamburg.de/hup/rei ... t-studies/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
How good and wonderful are your days,
How true are your ways?

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daverupa
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by daverupa » Sun Dec 28, 2014 11:36 pm

Another facet to investigate will be the development of jatakas & avadanas, indicating a complicated interaction with surrounding mythoi.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

Sylvester
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Re: John Peacock: Will the Real Buddha Please Stand Up?

Post by Sylvester » Mon Dec 29, 2014 1:33 am

Thanks for the listing Dave!

What I had in mind was not the substantive works that you cited, but more along asking if there were more studies of Buddhist myths along analytical lines, such as Kenneth Burke's work on Western religious symbolism or Laurence Coupe's work in more recent myth settings. It's something that Bhante Sujato raises from time to time - myths as utility, rather than literally - but we seldom get the chance to dive into a detailed study of its methodology. It would be nice to see how Myth Studies interacts formally with Buddhist texts, where a rigorous methodology is articulated and applied in understanding the mythic elements that annoy "Western" Buddhists.

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