I am going to write the following just to try one more time to make my point clear. I do not wish to engage in endless debates that have no endings. Hopefully, the following will help clarify the point for at least some people. Another relevant point is that some concepts become clear ONLY AFTER relevant background material is absorbed. So, I don’t want to discourage anyone either (see my comments and the suggested posts at the end).
lkoren in his last comment wrote: “My point was simply that if the Buddha as an ascetic had access to the path as expounded by the Buddha Kassapa, then it would have been inevitable that even if he was unable to understand it initially upon looking at his past lives or in any of his past lives.”
Suppose there is a person X living right now. X is very intelligent and has studied physics and quantum mechanics as well.
– Late Dr. Richard Feynman was one of the best physicists ever lived. He stated that no one really understood quantum mechanics. But suppose there is a person Y who does understand. So, in that sense Y is like a Buddha, who FULLY understands quantum mechanics.
– Now Y teaches X all about quantum mechanics. But X is unable to understand it, like most other physicists. X may understand parts of relevant physics, but not the WHOLE picture.
Our Bodhisatta (bhikkhu Jotipala) learning Dhamma from Buddha Kassapa can be compared to that. (Bhikkhu Jotipala is X and Buddha Kassapa is Y, in this crude analogy).
– Of course, bhikkhu Jotipala probably understood many concepts. But he was unable to make progress beyond a certain point.
– Here is an EXTRA issue that comes into play. Bhikkhu Jotipala is INHERENTLY incapable of learning the whole truth from ANY other person, including another Buddha. That is a part of the “paramita“. Let me discuss that in a bit more detail.
A Bodhisatta’s wish is to save a large number of people from the suffering in the rebirth process. By DEFINITION, that means he wants to attain the Buddhahood when pure Buddha Dhamma is NOT available in the world. Then that Bodhisatta HAS TO comprehend everything by himself.
– Previous Buddhas had already confirmed that bhikkhu Jotipala was going to be a Buddha. Thus, his mind WOULD NOT grasp the deep Dhamma from Buddha Kassapa. When Buddha Kassapa looked into why bhikkhu Jotipala could not make progress, he also saw that bhikku Jotipala was destined to be a Buddha.
– Ascetic Siddhatta MAY HAVE had the ability to recall his previous life. I am not sure whether that is a fact (i.e., it is in the Tipitaka). Even if he did, that would not help him to make the BREAKTHROUGH.
– Ascetic Siddhatta would be in the same position that bhikkhu Jotipala was at the time of Buddha Kassapa. In our analogy, they both are like X. Mere description provided by Y was not enough to gain the insight needed for X.
Now, getting to the Buddhahood is, of course, much harder than comprehending quantum mechanics. But I hope one can get the idea.
It takes a real effort to see the “whole picture” and that takes time. It is a step-by-step process. There is no point in overly analyzing “what if” scenarios in some cases. Things will automatically become clear as one proceeds.
– Of course, there is a balance, since one does not want to blindly believe things either. That is why I started writing the above two sections.