I have a hard time trying to understand what you are saying in the following (which seems to be a big issue for you): “The problem is the same one I outlined above, if the buddha preceding his awakening had gained the ability to see his past lives, which the Tipitaka claims he had, even in a mundane sense, he would have had the ability to remember learning the dhamma underneath the Buddha Kassapa and could have used that to gain awakening for himself. This would undermine the spirit of suttas depicting the Buddha being without a teacher and the idea that he needed to cultivate the paramitas over aeons in order to be able to reach this enlightenment without aid..”
Ascetic Siddhatta (before becoming the Buddha) probably had attained the ability to see his past lives. He has cultivated anariya jhana which he learned from Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta.
– So, he probably saw that he was a bhikkhu under Buddha Kassapa.
– How does that change anything?
A Bodhisatta is supposed to comprehend the way to Nibbana by himself. Even if Buddha Kassapa spent months and months instructing him, he would not have been able to “learn the way” from Buddha Kassapa.
– In fact, I remember Waharaka Thero mention the following in a discourse. It seems that after becoming a bhikkhu under Buddha Kassapa, bhikkhu Jotipala (our Bodhisatta at that time) tried hard to make progress, but could not. He told Buddha Kassapa that he is unable to make progress. That is when Buddha Kassapa looked into it and realized that Bhikkhu Jotipala is going to attain the Buddhahood.
– Before that 27 other Buddhas had also confirmed (gave niyata vivarana) that our Bodhisatta was going to become a Buddha.
– Many people think that a Bodhisatta knows at any time that he is going to become a Buddha. That is not so. Until Buddha Kassapa told him about it, he probably had no idea. Remember that in the Ghatikara Sutta, Jotipala even did not want to meet Buddha Kassapa at first.
We need to settle this issue first.
Please read the following post too regarding this issue:
“Pāramitā and Niyata Vivarana – Myths or Realities?”
As I stated in my first reply, attaining anariya jhana (or recalling past lives) is NOT a big deal. It does not guarantee any magga phala let alone a Buddhahood.
– Even any animal living today would have been a Brahma many times over in the past. That means it would have attained jhanas many times over in its previous lives.
– Rebirth process has no discernible beginning. We all (meaning ALL living beings, not just humans) have been born in good and bad realms many times over.
– This is why I am saying that one cannot think about these in simple terms.
I am not sure whether you read the previous posts that I suggested. I suggest certain posts because I don’t want to write the same stuff over and over.