The Bodhisattva Problem and questions regarding.

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    • #32219
      Ikoren
      Participant

      I have recently taken a heavy interest in understanding what suttas of the Pali Canon can be reliably, and generally understood to be attributed to the buddha and what are later additions. I know late additions don’t necessarily make something incorrect. As although the earliest framework for the Abhidhamma was collected in the first Buddhist Council. It wasn’t fully finished until the third.

      What makes Lal’s approach so refreshing is that he seeks to establish consistency in the Dhamma and he takes a very methodical and rational approach to ensure that. The insights he shared regarding the uselessness of breath meditation and in understanding the difference and true meaning of the three marks had an immense impact on my own practice.

      In the spirit of that, I’d like to point out the massive problems that the discourses on the past Buddhas, and the production of the future one, Maitreya, pose for the consistency of the Dhamma itself. As there are really only two possibilities I can see in order to rectify the conflicts they cause. First, let’s look at three facts according to the Tipitaka and the best translation we have currently.

      1. The buddha had ordained under previous buddhas in his past lives. Getting confirmation of his eventual awakening as a fully enlightened Buddha, beginning with the 24th Buddha preceding, Buddha Dipankara, and ending with the Buddha Kassapa being the last. According to the Ghatikara Sutta, he had ordained and learned all of the buddha Kassapa’s teachings and had practiced insight meditation right up to stream-entry.

      2. There exists a supernormal power capable of giving individuals the power of vividly remembering the exact detail down to the individual days of a certain amount of their past lives. One does not need to be an Ariya in order to achieve this, although it is much less powerful if not.

      3. The Buddha mastered the Fourth Jhana and beyond under his previous teachers before his awakening. In addition, it is well-established that he attained the three higher knowledges directly preceding his awakening.

      The issue inherent to this problem is that if the Buddha was in fact ordained under the Buddha Kassapa and had the capability of looking into his past lives. He could have easily remembered the teachings he learned from the Buddha Kassapa, aiding himself in his own awakening. Therefore undermining the claim that the Buddha awakened by his own efforts and the originator of the path in this age. Which would conflict with many of the Suttas within the canon.

      So we have a couple of options here with dealing with this quandary.

      On the one hand it could be that all of this is true, and the Buddha Gautama did in fact reach awakening through the instructions remembered from his previous lives. This would diminish the role of the buddha greatly, and would go against the spirit of the Buddha as the originator of the path in this age and understanding it more deeply and conclusively than an Arahant ever could. In addition, it would make much of the teachings on the paramitas and bodhisattva path largely irrelevant and most definitely later development.

      On the other hand, this could be a possibility as the Buddha did very specifically not touch upon or really expand upon the bodhisattva path. Surely there must have been some reason for doing so. It may have just been the case that the exalted nature of Buddhahood had much more to do with his role as the first rather than anything else.

      The other option to rectify this is to acknowledge that the teachings on the Buddha’s previous lives, paramitas, maitreya, and jatakas were later additions meant to inspire devotion and fill the void that the Buddha’s absence left. This would preserve the inevitable conflict that would arise if the buddha had heard the teachings of previous buddhas and was able to see his past lives before gaining awakening. What this would mean though is that the process of gaining Buddhahood is an utter mystery. That the Buddha pointedly decided to never expand upon, which would mean he once again decided it wasn’t important enough to consider. It would also mean that the arising of a Buddha would b even exceptionally rarer as it would require a Buddha to have never come into contact with a previous Buddha within a timeframe that could be accessed through mundane iddhi powers.

      I have, after alot more research come to the conclusion that the route that is most consistent with the earliest part of the canon is that of the first. That the Buddha rediscovers the path for this age whether spontaneously or through past life remembrance and ultimately is denoted for his position as the first to reach awakening in this time. This would not only help to explain why the buddha never advocated for the bodhisattva path, and runs in line with the Buddha’s focus on Arahantship as the most exalted ideal, especially his focus on Mogallana and Sariputra as the ones to exemplify. In addition, it resolves some of the doubt involved with how the past Buddhas, and even the future one was described as arising in the same area of Ancient India in the future and the past. This makes much more sense if it was a later edition.

      That being said I am curious to see what the community thinks about this. I haven’t been able to cite all the sutta sources but can provide them upon asking. I heavily encourage anyone interested in this topic to read the two works linked below as they provide much more textual evidence and arguments for the more general concern I am raising here. It’s also worth noting this is an important topic as it’s the reason behind the biggest schism that had ever occurred in the Sangha.

      Bhikku Sujato and Ven Brahmali: The Authenticity of the Early Buddhist Texts
      Bhikku Analayo: The Genesis of the Bodhisattva Ideal
      [I know Lal mentioned that Bhikku Analayo was critical of rebirth on another forum post. This may be due to the fact that Bhikku Analayo has stated before that wasn’t that important to him.

      After reading some of his work on the matter, Rebirth in Early Buddhism and Current Research, I can pretty confidently say that despite it not being that important himself personally he definitely believes in it. In that work he establishes and is in agreement with most people here at Puredhamma that rebirth was essential and fundamental to the whole of the Buddha’s teaching. He even goes into alot of the modern evidence in support of it. ]

    • #32223
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Hello, lkoren!

      “I have recently taken a heavy interest in understanding what suttas of the Pali Canon can be reliably, and generally understood to be attributed to the buddha and what are later additions.”
      – It is good to do that.
      – I have found that the Tipitaka (Pali Canon) is 100% self-consistent and can be reliably attributed to the Buddha.
      – Finding that self-consistency is the key. What hinders that, is the incorrect translation of the Tipitaka by many.

      Yes. What you say about Abhidhamma is correct. Buddha only explained the Abhidhamma material to Ven. Sariputta in summary form. It took several generations of bhikkhus to expand it to the form that we have today. Again, self-consistency is the way to judge.

      1. “…According to the Ghatikara Sutta, he had ordained and learned all of the buddha Kassapa’s teachings and had practiced insight meditation right up to stream-entry.”

      – The error here is indicated in bold. A Bodhisatta, by definition, would not attain stream-entry (Sotapanna stage). He would attain ALL magga phala with the Buddhahood.

      2. Correct. One could cultivate mundane jhana and get to “see” previous lives. In fact, we all have done that in our previous lives, many times over.

      3. Yes. That is consistent with #2.

      The bottom line is that attaining jhana has NOTHING to do with attaining magga phala and making progress towards Nibbana. Of course, attaining even anariya jhana CAN HELP. But that can happen ONLY IF one is taught the correct Dhamma, including correct explanations of Tilakkhana, Paticca Samuppada, etc.

      That should explain everything else. If there are further questions, please feel free to ask.

      As for who believes in rebirth and not, is up to that person.
      – But one thing is very clear. Buddha Dhamma is all about stopping the suffering-filled rebirth process.
      – Thus, if one does not believe in the rebirth process, that means he/she has a long way to go, even to get started. See, “Buddhism without Rebirth and Nibbāna?

      Regarding self-consistency: “Buddha Dhamma: Non-Perceivability and Self-Consistency

      P.S. If there are any questions about the above two posts, or on any post at the website, please refer to the post and the relevant bullet #. That would make it easier to discuss.

    • #32227
      Ikoren
      Participant

      Thank you for the speedy response Lal!

      I agree with everything you have said here. I also agree that translation is most likely the biggest source of hindrance in understanding the dhamma correctly. I do think though that there is something to be said about the difference between the earliest translations of the Canon we have received, in both Chinese (agamas) and Pali (different early schools), and what they illuminate regarding what the original buddha gotama most likely taught. In my readings, I’ve found most of it to be consistent, except for the bodhisattva ideal, the past buddhas, the prediction maitreya, and the jatakas etc. Which shows a lot of inconsistency with the very earliest texts. This can usually be evidence of later developments and both the sources I provide give a much better argument for that than I could here. That being said, this question of bodhisattvahood is not really one that is necessary to be clarified for awakening or the culmination of arahantship. I understand this, it’s a worthwhile question for me as with its clarification I believe it could provide an even stronger incentive for others to strive in this very life.

      Analayo provides the overarching argument from page 71-93 for the idea that the stories of the Buddha’s past meetings with previous Buddhas, and in this case Buddha Kassapa as the potter’s friend Jotipala, are probably later additions. A lot of this evidence for this comes from textual comparisons between the different surviving early translations we have of the Canon, including the Chinese Agamas and others. He uses a comparative study to show how in some versions the Bodhisattva connection was not even mentioned, nor the idea of Jotipala being identified as the previous Buddha. He also notes on page 81 regarding Jotipala (previous Buddhas) ordination under the buddha Kassapa

      Ps III 282,18 presents this as a general pattern for any bodhisattva, in that they learn the three baskets of the Buddha’s word and cause insight to increase until they remain at the brink of conformity knowledge, tepitakaṃ Buddhavacanaṃ uggaṇhitvā … vipassanaṃ vaḍḍhetvā yāva anulomaṃ ñāṇaṃ āhacca tiṭṭhanti.

      (which means in my original statement I misspoke and meant to state that the Buddha in his previous life had studied insight up until the brink of stream-entry (not attaining it)
      also ghattikara-sutta was not the source for that claim as that was a mistake as well.

      Sujato’s work also tends to lend credence to this idea. As they make it a focus on how the early Theravadins who were compiling the canon were incredibly devoted to maintaining the integrity and accuracy of the canon even if it would be less convenient for the religion as a whole. He goes on to note and describe on page 92 how the term bodhisatta was used in the very earliest buddhist texts and how they tend to contradict the descriptions given in the later texts like the Jatakas and Buddhavamsa.

      Which is the real question that arises. If with that correction 1 is now correct, and if 2 and 3 are also correct. How can the Buddha have been without instruction or a teacher, if he had the capability to remember his past life as a monk under Buddha Kassapa before his awakening?

      Which is more likely/consistent that the Buddha in fact did remember his past life and as such was able to use those lessons to rediscover the path in his life and teach many others? This would conflict with the many suttas describing the Buddha as a teacher without equal and his very specific powers that only a buddha possesses. As ultimately if this was the case the division between Buddhahood and Arahantship would be much closer in accomplishment, with the only difference being when it occurred relative to the current state of the world. There is some evidence to suggest this, especially regarding how the bodhisattva is referred to in the very earliest texts. In addition, to the fact that the buddha focused on exclusively the path to arahantship and not buddhahood or paccekkabuddhahood, would support this idea of there not being a large difference between them.

      Or is it more likely that the bodhisattva path, and the accompanying literature were later developments meant to fill the void caused by the bodhisattva path never being approached or taught by the Buddha himself, even though the Buddha himself has alluded to rediscovering the path and not originating it. There does seem to be a lot more textual evidence for this aspect of the canon being later developments. But it does bring up the question of why the buddha would have felt the bodhisattva path was not worth mentioning.

      As I stated in my first entry, I have the conclusion I am leaning towards,but would like to see what others think. Where I may have made errors, or if there is perhaps another solution.

    • #32234
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Sorry. I do not have time to get into discussions about these strange analyses by bhikkhus Sujato, Brahmali, and Analayo about EBTs (Early Buddhist Texts).

      First of all, EBT is incorrect terminology.
      – What are “New Buddhist Texts” (NBT)?
      – If there are NBTs whose teachings are they?
      – Are there any “new teachings” that appeared after the Buddha? If so, they would not be Buddha Dhamma!

      There is ONLY ONE EBT. That is the Tipitaka, the Pali Canon.
      – Now, there are Chinese Agama texts (translation of the Tipitaka in Chinese). It seems to me that it would be fine IF the translation to Chinese is correct. I don’t know Chinese, so I cannot comment on that.

      On pp. 9-10 of the text by Bhikkhus Sujato and Brahmali that you quoted, they provide definitions for EBTs and non-EBTs.

      Their definitions are INCORRECT.

      1. The ONLY EBT is the Tipitaka. It has Sutta Piṭaka, Vinaya Piṭaka, and the Abhidhamma Piṭaka.
      – In their definition, they only include the Sutta Piṭaka as EBT.
      – Even worse, they include all sorts of OLD TEXTS in Tibetan, Chinese, and Indian (Sanskrit) as EBT. Those are DERIVED from the original Pali Canon. In addition, most Sanskrit texts were “made-up”. See, “Saddharma Pundarika Sutra (Lotus Sutra) – A Focused Analysis

      2. They list Abhidhamma as non-EBT. I guess that is because it was finalized at the Third Council. But as I explained in my previous comment, it took a long time to finalize the Abhidhamma Piṭaka. But it is quite clear (due to self-consistency) that Abhidhamma is part of Buddha’s teachings. Abhidhamma is self-consistent within and also with the other two Piṭaka.

      That is why I do not want to continue this discussion. There is a basic flaw at the root. Such discussions do not lend to learning Buddha Dhamma. They may be good topics for philosophical discussions, but I am not interested in such discussions.

      If you have questions about Bodhisatta concept, please ask a question without quoting those texts.
      – What is wrong with the Bodhisatta concept? A Bodhisatta is someone who is striving to attain the Buddhahood over many, many lives.
      – Yes. There were many Buddhas in the past. What is wrong with that?

    • #32235
      Ikoren
      Participant

      I apologize, I should not have led with that. I understand the desire to not get into obscure philosophical discussions about earlier and later texts and I respect that. I assure you my intention is not to critique the dhamma forr useless ends nor cause any sort of division about the buddha’s teaching rather to clarify what the true meaning may be. So I will stick only to the Tipitaka in answering this.

      “What is wrong with the Bodhisatta concept? A Bodhisatta is someone who is striving to attain the Buddhahood over many, many lives.”

      The issue is not really with the bodhisatta concept as you present. The issue is that the bodhisatta concept also includes the fact that a Buddha is confirmed by 24 preceding buddhas. That his struggle over countless lives due to his initial vow is to cultivate the ability to rediscover the dhamma in a time in which it has disappeared, and thus is without a teacher. That the bodhisatta is understood to cultivate the three higher knowledge directly preceding their awakening. This is all a part of the Pali Tipitaka’s depiction of the bodhisatta concept.

      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. All of these cannot be correct and accurate without changing our depiction of how we see both the bodhisattva path and Buddhahood itself.

      To provide a different angle of viewing this. If it is true that the Buddha predicted the rise of Maitreya in the future as a Buddha,and maitreya was an ordained monk underneath the buddha. It would follow that if in his subsequent rebirth in the human realm, if he were to cultivate the fourth jhana and follow the same path that is outlined of bodhisattas gaining the three knowledges preceding his awakening. Then he would be able to remember the true dhamma as taught by the Buddha Gotama and use that knowledge and instruction to gain awakening for himself.

      It could even follow that any individual who had heard the dhamma from a fully enlightned buddha and was reborn as a human in an age in which his sasana declined (granting its within the time limits of mundane jhana to see) could remember the dhamma from that past life and rediscover it, thus becoming a buddha.

      The issue is that this undermines the common conception of both buddhahood and the bodhisatta path in other areas of the Pali canon. Making it much more in line with an endless lineage rather than how it is presented. Which is the buddha being without equal, with a teacher, and utterly self reliant.

      In addition, it brings buddhahood and arahantship much closer in their nature. There is quite a bit to support this idea, as the buddha very specifically never taught the bodhisattva path and focused exclusively on arahantship. This may be the reason because the only real notable difference being the timing, hence it wasn’t worth teaching as the Buddha had already arisen. Another aspect in support of this is that the Buddha had to be convinced by Brahma to teach initially, which would be more in line with this conception rather than the buddha developing compassion over countless eons. Even the bodhisatta’s words about Buddha Kassapa as Jotipala could support this, as he spoke derisively about him and refused to go visit him. This seems counter to the behaviour one would expect from a bodhisattva close to his very last lives and near perfection of the paramis. To be honest, I don’t know, I can only look at what seems the most consistent.

      That’s really my essential question, that I don’t believe has been answered. How does one fix this inconsistency between the buddha having the capability to remember the dhamma from past lives preceding his awakening with the idea that the Buddha was a superior figure who had by his own efforts and without aid singlehandedly rediscovered the path. Without deciding that perhaps some aspects of the Tipitaka, at least regarding the bodhisattva path, jatakas, and maitreya may not be something the buddha taught or said.

      [To support that hypothesis I referenced Sujato and Analayo. I should’ve focused mainly on Analayo, as it was his comparison between the different versions of the canon including the agamas that is the most compelling. That showed that Maitreya and some of the buddhas being confirmed by previous buddhas were missing in other versions. Analayo also looks at this from many different angles, beyond just the problem of past lives. Like you, I don’t speak Chinese, so I have to take his word for it.

      I can understand not believing any development had occurred within the Pali Tipitaka and there is no such thing as texts within it that weren’t the buddha’s words or teachings. The monks charged with this responsibility were incredibly circumspect. So it is likely your absolutely correct.]

      I’d also like to apologize if you have already answered this and I am simply being dense. I fully understand if you would like to leave this discussion here and would find it unfruitful to continue.

      Thanks for taking the time to read through it Lal.

      With metta

    • #32236
      Lal
      Keymaster

      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.

    • #32237
      Ikoren
      Participant

      I have read all the posts you have linked and most on this website outside of the most recent, and am immensely grateful for the work you have done doing so. It seems it was more my inability to adequately illustrate what I was getting at in earlier entries that perhaps left the impression I hadn’t. But I believe we are on the same page now.

      “– 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.”

      This answers what I was asking, which is that there is no contradiction because once a Bodhisatta achieves niyata vivarana, it is impossible for them gain awakening under the teaching of another, even if it’s through memories of a past life.

      This goes a long way to helping to resolve this issue in my end. I still have some inner resistance due to the idea that if the dhamma is the same, from Buddha to Buddha, ascetic Gotama pre his awakening would still have access to the true dhamma due to his memory of his past lives, the same true dhamma that he would end up awakening to later on, during the night of his enlightenment. I guess it’s the question of how can you discover for the first time something you have heard before, without it being more akin to the arahant path. Hence it changes the conception of Buddhahood to be much closer to arahantship.

      I’ll leave it at this, as I suspect I may just be ensnaring myself into an endless loop here, as you have given a clear cut answer. Thanks again for taking the time Lal.
      Hopefully, as I reflect and read more, it’ll become clearer or I’ll realize the uselessness in thinking about it.

    • #32238
      Ikoren
      Participant

      After further thought and consternation, I felt it would be useful to be a bit more direct and specific.

      Lal said
      “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 must have been unclear. I am in agreement with you, I never meant to state that anaiya Jhana must equate to any magga phala. The point was about how recalling past lives would allow a bodhisatta to access the true dhamma that they were exposed to in their previous lives prior to them discovering it for themselves. In addition, my point was that there is nothing stopping a monk who did not gain awakening under a buddha but heard his teachings from being reborn a human in a time past the buddha’s sasana. If that monk were to develop the fourth jhana and the ability to see into his past lives, nothing would stop him from using his previous exposure to pure dhamma to gain awakening for himself.

      Lal said
      “– 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.”

      I do not disagree with any of this. I was more raising the question of whether that may have been a later addition. If it is not, it raises the question of surely upon gaining the power to see into his past lives prior to his awakening he would be able to see he was destined to become a buddha from the confirmations by at least the previous two in that age. Hence there would be nothing stopping him from drawing upon the teachings of those previous buddhas to aid in his awakening. Which would effectively make him an arahant. It also causes conflicts with the fact that the buddha is depicted as being unaware that he was going to gain awakening in his last life, which he should surely known he was destined for after achieving the mundane fourth jhana and cultivating the abhinna power to see into his past lives. If he acquired this ability under Uddaka Ramaputta why engage in the ascetic practices for so long if he already knew the path?

      Lal said
      “A Bodhisatta is supposed to comprehend the way to Nibbana by himself.”

      This is the exact aspect I have been pointing to. If the bodhisatta can remember the true dhamma from his previous lives. He is not comprehending the way to nibanna by himself anymore than the arahant does upon instruction. Sure they both walk the path, but they both have instruction, or at the very least access to the true dhamma.

      This is a fundamental issue I apologize for repeating it so many times and understand it may be annoying, it is truly not my intention. It is simply something I am very much so struggling with at the moment.

      This is why I referenced the idea that the jatakas, and the buddhavamsa, due to their role in originating and fleshing out much of the buddha’s biographical life and the bodhisatta’s ideal are worth re-evaluating as they directly contribute to this inconsistency. Especially considering many historians and scholars have agreed these are most likely later due to inconsistencies with the rest of the main Sutta Piṭaka.(1)(2) In addition, mention of Maitreya is not included in the parallel translation of the Cakkavatti(sīhanāda)sutta in the Madhyama Agama. If it’s possible that there are later developments within the Pali Tipitaka than we have to be careful about which suttas we reference as authoritative to dismiss these criticisms, as they may belong to the same body that is being critiqued.

      To provide more evidence I also offer the following regarding the jatakas.

      – In past lives he had no notion of being a bodhisatta(MN 81/MĀ 63/ P 1030, MN 83/MĀ 67/EĀ 50.4/P 1030, AN 3:15), vs. taking the bodhisatta vow under the mythological Buddha Dīpaṅkara an incalculable long time ago (JN 17–18). (this ones iffy)

      – He left home while his parents were crying (MN 26.14/MĀ 204), vs. leaving in the middle of the night while his family was asleep (JN 82–84).

      – Struggled in meditation (MN 128/MĀ 72,MN 19/MĀ 102,MN 4/EĀ
      31.1), vs. smooth progress (JN 90).

      – Practised austerities due to wrong view (MN 85.10), vs. practiced
      them to show the world his perseverance and endeavor (JN 89)

      – No mention of compassion as motivation until after Awakening (compare pre-Awakening MN 26.13/MĀ 204 with post-Awakening MN 26.21), vs. compassion being the motivation for becoming a bodhisatta (JN 17–18) [1, 179–181]. (also iffy, the reason for his initial vow can be different than his reasons during his last life)

      – The Buddha walked from Bodhgaya to Benares to start teaching (MN 26.25), vs. going to Benares in half a day, implying the use of psychic powers (JN 109).

      – Sakya being a small republic subject to Kosala (MN 89.19/MĀ 213/ EĀ 38.10/T 1451/P 1035),33 vs. Sakya being a kingdom with the bodhisatta’s father as king and Kapilavatthu as the enormous and magnificent capital (JN 69, 76–77).

      – The Buddha attained awakening (sammāsambodhi,SN 56:11),vs.the Buddha attained omniscience (sabbaññutā) (JN 99).

      It is my belief that there is a sound point to be made here, and urge you to please point out where I may be wrong or why this criticism should be dismissed. I still stand by much of the Buddha dhamma as espoused by Lal at Puredhamma.

      It’s also worth considering, the buddha himself very specifically did not teach the bodhisattva path to others nor urge others to walk it. The understanding of it as a viable path was an understanding that arose within the Theravadan tradition. I urge anyone with suttas contradicting this to please link them. I am not denying that past Buddhas must have existed, rather raising the possibility that the Buddha himself and the delineation of such was more a question of rediscovering the path in a new age (which is incredible in its own right) bringing him closer to the Arahant ideal and doing away with much of the doctrine on paramis and endless eons of cultivation. This would also explain why he exclusively taught the arahant path, and none other. As well as clarifying the difficulties that I outlined above. Ultimately though, as stated before I do not know for sure, as there are alot of issues with this theory as well.

      Thank you again for the time taken,

      With metta,

      1. A textual and Historical Analysis of the Khuddaka Nikāya – Oliver Abeynayake Ph. D. , Colombo, First Edition – 1984, p. 113.

      2.Sujato, Bhante (2012), Sects & Sectarianism: The Origins of Buddhist Schools, Santipada, p. 51, ISBN 9781921842085

      3. Warder, A.K. Indian Buddhism. 2000. pp. 332-333

    • #32241
      Lal
      Keymaster

      I am glad to hear that we are making progress, ikoren.

      Let us look at your main issue from your latest post:
      “Lal said
      “A Bodhisatta is supposed to comprehend the way to Nibbana by himself.”

      This is the exact aspect I have been pointing to. If the bodhisatta can remember the true dhamma from his previous lives. He is not comprehending the way to nibanna by himself anymore than the arahant does upon instruction..”

      Let us take the specific case of our Bodhisatta who had cultivated anariya jhana (with instructions from Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta) and had the ability to recall his interactions with Buddha Kassapa.
      – Recalling a past life means exactly recalling his OWN experiences. He was not recalling what Buddha Kassapa said, but what he heard.
      – There is a BIG difference between those two.
      – If bhikkhu Jotipala was unable to comprehend what Buddha Kassapa was saying at that time, as ascetic Siddhatta he would have just recalled the same things.

      You may want to read my next post this weekend. It is on this subject of recalling past events. There are few people being studied by scientists. Those people have “perfect memories” without cultivating jhana (It is due to punna iddhi, a type of kamma vipaka). They can recall and re-live any arbitrary day in the past several years.
      – They don’t have higher intelligence compared to an average person. They just can recall past events even moment-by-moment as if playing back a recorder. They experience the same feelings as if they are experiencing that event right now.

      The bottom line is that ascetic Siddhatta was not able to gain any NEW knowledge by recalling his interactions with Buddha Kassapa. If he was unable to make progress with what he heard then, he would not be able to make progress by recalling the same things.

      Think about a person living now, who has been taught the correct Dhamma now. Suppose he is unable to comprehend it and make progress. He dies and is reborn a few years later again a human. Suppose he cultivates jhana and is able to recall what he learned in the past life.
      – There is no difference between that and him again learning the same stuff from another teacher.
      – Even in that latter life, he may or may not be able to make progress, using either approach (recalling or learning from a new teacher.)
      – It is not the words that matter. That is the bottom line. Learning (memorizing) and comprehension are two different things.

    • #32242
      Ikoren
      Participant

      Lal said
      “– Recalling a past life means exactly recalling his OWN experiences. He was not recalling what Buddha Kassapa said, but what he heard.
      …– If bhikkhu Jotipala was unable to comprehend what Buddha Kassapa was saying at that time, as ascetic Siddhatta he would have just recalled the same things”

      But couldn’t the recalling of such things still be considered teaching or instruction?
      You later in the passage seem to suggest that very same idea.

      Lal said
      “There is no difference between that and him again learning the same stuff from another teacher.
      – Even in that latter life, he may or may not be able to make progress, using either approach (recalling or learning from a new teacher.)”

      My point standing that if an arahant requires a teacher or at least to have heard the true dhamma from a noble ariya. It would follow that a bodhisattva remembering such instruction from a previous life would still be considered as such. Even when one hears dhamma, it is not always the case one comprehends it instantly but rather after repeated reflection. The ascetic gotama could have easily remembered hearing about, for example, the three marks in a previous life, and not comprehending it in that life, he could have revisited and reflected being able to comprehend it preceding his awakening. In addition, he would have had confirmation he was to become a Buddha, so there would be nothing stopping him from believing he could comprehend the dhamma in now his predicted last life.

      Lal said
      :– There is a BIG difference between those two.”

      I think I understand but I don’t believe I was stating that the bodhisatta as Jotipala understood the full dhamma when taught by Kassapa. Rather because he had listened to his many discourses and was an ordained monk he would be able to revisit the “recordings” and memories of such event from his experience and use them as a basis for achieving his own awakening. In the same way an arahant does.

      If this is the case the common conception of Buddhahood has some inaccuracies, unless it really is closer to the case that an individual volunteers to carry the message forward from the time of a previous buddha when his teaching disappears. But it would be more akin to remembering and using that as a basis for awakening, rather than discovering it entirely by one’s own observations. Such that the buddha could more likely be classified as an incredibly compassionate arahant rather than superlatives that are bestowed upon in the suttas. I don’t know if that is the case, but it is one way to resolve this tension.

      Lal said

      “The bottom line is that ascetic Siddhatta was not able to gain any NEW knowledge by recalling his interactions with Buddha Kassapa. If he was unable to make progress with what he heard then, he would not be able to make progress by recalling the same things.”

      I don’t believe this has been established. It his next life, what would be stopping him from being able to make progress using that information. Especially is it is much more like a recording of what he had heard from the Buddha Jotipala. Unless you are stating that he was unable to hear the pure dhamma correctly in his previous lives and therefore could not remember it correctly. Which would then be arguing that the past lives power is not much like a “recording” and would contradict how it is depicted n the suttas. You stress him comprehending in his previous lives, as you stated later in your passage

      Lal said
      “– It is not the words that matter. That is the bottom line. Learning (memorizing) and comprehension are two different things.”

      Right, but hearing words and true dhamma are how one begins the path. The buddha had to speak words in order to teach and for followers to eventually comprehend and learn how to progress. If words truly did not matter, the buddha would have psychically transferred his comprehension, he didn’t because the suttas treat that as impossible. Words and communication from a true ariya precede full comprehension of these concepts, at least in the case of arahants. In addition, the buddha very specifically did not, as you know, teach his former teachers in the formless realms because they lacked the sense objects to hear him. My point is that he had access to the teaching from his previous life, which he could have used as a framework to begin comprehending, culminating in his awakening. In the very same way that any arahant does.

      In addition one only look here at Puredhamma, many people do not comprehend the three marks initially, but upon revisiting the same posts and reflecting on them those then begin to do so and comprehend. How would this be any different in the case of an ascetic Gotama revisiting the recordings and “words” of what Buddha Kassapa taught to eventually comprehend. Especially considering his dhamma and Kassapa’s dhamma is considered to be one and the same. In his last life as ascetic Gotama he was fully capable of understanding it, as by evidenced by the fact that he eventually did. In addition, he would be aware that he was destined for awakening by his previous confirmation which may have encouraged him to look more closely at Kassapa’s teaching.

      Lastly, as their is another angle to approach this

      Lal said
      “The bottom line is that ascetic Siddhatta was not able to gain any NEW knowledge by recalling his interactions with Buddha Kassapa. If he was unable to make progress with what he heard then, he would not be able to make progress by recalling the same things.”

      If the argument is as the suttas suggest, that the buddha was unable to make progress in his previous lives due to his bodhisatta vows and accompanying buddha gathi. It would not be a question of the knowledge he received from Buddha Kassapa being inadequate. That does not stop him from being able to make progress with that same knowledge in his last life as ascetic gotama. Unless the argument is that a buddha must comprehend it for himself, so that is knowledge is useless to him. Which is really the crux of the issue. So i will use a metaphor to help illustrate the issues with this.

      First example:
      Let us say there is a young explorer, who is seeking a great treasure in a faraway land.
      Now let us say he is given a map by a previous explorer that is accurate and complete
      He has very good reason to believe in the accuracy and details of this map even though he has not traveled along its route.
      It would follow that in order to find this treasure he would follow the map given to him.
      It would be a bit bizarre if after seeing the map he had ignored it, and ventured out, only to follow the exact same route outlined in that map.
      Would not one say he followed the directions as outlined? Moreover that it would have been possible to not be even influenced by them if you went down the very same route. Is it not impossible for an arahant to claim independent awakening (buddhahood) when the buddha’s dhamma still exists in the human realm?

      The explorer is the ascetic gotama, the treasure is nibbanna, the map is the Noble eightfold path or the Dhamma.

      Now the explanation that he would not be able to comprehend these words as ascetic gotama looking at his past life is problematic as it would be the equivalent of claiming that the explorer for some reason could not read the map. Nothing suggests this is the case, as arahants follow this path all the time. Unless you’re specifying that the buddha gathi served as a mental block, which would mean it would cause him to not gain any of the noble attainments. It in no way suggests that his memory of the Buddha Kassapa’s discourses would be distorted,

      More importantly, there is an appeal here to the bodhisatta vow that keeps the buddha from awakening before “comprehending the way to nibanna by himself”. IE he can not comprehend unless it is by himself. But that does not invalidate the argument. An arahant who hears the dhamma still has to comprehend the way by himself as he has to gain insight and truly understand. How can the buddha independently formulate the way when he has already heard the way from Kassapa. How is this any different than if an arahant claimed he was an independent buddha, even though he had the framework the buddha outlined? We must keep in mind the dhamma does not differ between buddhas

      We also have to be careful to not simply dismiss this by saying this is how the Bodhisatta way works. This concept is what I am critiquing here and raising the possibility of aspects of it being a later development so treating it’s maxim as authoritative without evaluating whether it is consistent/makes sense with the rest of the dhamma is worth being aware of.

      I will await your new article as perhaps their is a vital difference here that I am not seeing. Apologies for the repetition, I wanted to ensure I was representing my position accurately.

      With metta,
      Ikoren

    • #32244
      Lal
      Keymaster

      OK. That is it.
      – Everyone is entitled to their opinions. If you are happy with yours, that is fine.

    • #32245
      y not
      Participant

      From life experience.

      When a student does not understand what the teacher is saying, when the ‘import’ does not sink in, no matter how many times he may recall the teacher’s words afterwards, even if he took notes while the teacher was explaining, he will not understand. No amount of memory recall of the teacher’s words will be of any use.

      When a student does understand, that understanding will be his; it will not leave him. The teacher’s words may well be forgotten, or they may not, it does not matter.

      In short, once understood, recollection of the lesson is not necessary; if not understood, it would be futile.

      I hope seeing it from the human level simplifies things somewhat, Ikoren,

      may you progress on the Path.

    • #32246
      Ikoren
      Participant

      @lal I understand, I won’t press the issue further, but I will clarify I am not happy with it. Simply trying to clarify. Thank you again for your time.

      @y not said

      “When a student does not understand what the teacher is saying, when the ‘import’ does not sink in, no matter how many times he may recall the teacher’s words afterwards, even if he took notes while the teacher was explaining, he will not understand.”

      The claim here seems to be that if one doesn’t understand the teaching initially he will not understand. Please correct me if I’m wrong in that characterization.

      My point is that it can take time for that to happen. One can hear the dhamma, not understand it, and overtime and reflection in comparison to one’s own observations and experience insight and truly understand it. As long as one has access to the true dhamma whether it be through memory recording, or writings on palm leaves or websites, the framework is there to walk the path. If this wasn’t the case, there would be no point in recording the buddha’s words and the commentaries. The buddha himself taught that each individual must walk the path for themself and confirm it’s efficacy, it is not accurate to say one understands immediately upon hearing the lesson. Contemplation and reflection on the concepts lead to insight. Please correct me if none of that is supported by the suttas.

      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. He could use the path as outlined by the Buddha Kassapa to gain awakening, gaining that understanding as he walked it. In very same way that an arahant does upon learning directly from the words or teachings of an Ariya.

      The only other conclusion I can imagine is that the dhamma he discovered was markedly different than what the Buddha Kassapa taught. As the fact that he was able to gain awakening proves he was capable of understanding these concepts. And as a Buddha is the highest disseminator of the Dhamma, then it would follow Buddha Kassapa would not have taught misleading or wrong dhamma.

      I don’t see what is faulty here. Perhaps I’m being dense, I don’t know, it’s why I reached out. I promise I am not arguing for the sake of arguing here. Or trying to debate opinions. I am comparing it with what is expected of consistency with the rest of the dhamma.

      Most of these problems are eliminated if the buddha was never ordained or were confirmed by past buddhas.

      Thank you for your time y not and your help.

      may you progress on the path as well

    • #32249
      y not
      Participant

      Thank you Ikoren. Time I will somehow find.

      You say something may be understood, if not sooner then later, through investigation and reflection, otherwise all suttas, recordings of suttas etc. could possibly serve no purpose. True. But how does that happen?

      Certainly not by remembering and merely repeating suttas, chants and so on. Let us take the maxim ‘Attachment brings suffering’. Most refute this statement outright as negative and unrealistic. It is simply taken as ‘attachment IS suffering’. The absolute truth is that whatever happiness there may be in attachment at any time, it is inevitably followed by suffering. And that in the mundane sense only, not bringing in the Ariya truth of endless rounds of suffering that await beings trapped in sansara. But the first alone will suffice here.

      There are not a few instances in the suttas where people, even kings, when asked whether sons and daughters, wives and dear ones in general bring happiness replied with an emphatic yes, and with an implied undertone (it seems to me) of ‘ What? Are you mad? ‘(to be thinking otherwise). Only when one has seen the reality for oneself through life experiences does a statement become true(to oneself). It has now become an observation. Real – not just words quoted from a book, ascribed to whoever at all it may be.

      For that constant MINDFULLNESS is necessary (precisely of one’s experiences, both as one is going through them and also later on reflection), not constantly REMINDING oneself of the statement. In the end the connection between the two, and therefore the truth in the statement, will be evident. The statement is but a conclusion about the experience when it is all gone through ,not a substitute for the experience.

      What if a lover were to declare: “I love you. But hey, the Buddhas say that attachment brings suffering, so I must not love you. We must part. Let us part”. Can that ever happen? Feelings cannot be denied. That would be denying the truth. They are the reality at that moment. Only later will the pain of separation hit, if not by one leaving the other, then by the death of one preceding that of the other. Then it is seen that attachment does indeed bring suffering.

      “The buddha himself taught that each individual must walk the path for themselves and confirm its efficacy, it is not accurate to say one understands immediately upon hearing the lesson. Contemplation and reflection on the concepts lead to insight” Indeed. See whether that sounds different now.

      I am not trying to win you over, Ikoren. Treat this as the experience of one person in particular if you will, to add to the many views you have already considered (I see you are quite good at this!). If nothing else, it helps to broaden further your perspective. What you make of the whole of it will be up to you and will in the end affect only you.

      May you progress on the Path.

    • #32251
      Lal
      Keymaster

      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.

      Regarding the comments that I made at the beginning of this post, the following sections could be helpful:
      Buddhahood Associated Controversies
      Buddha Dhamma – A Scientific Approach

      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.

    • #32255
      Lvalio
      Participant

      I have a a point now:
      “4] MA (Majjhima Nikāya Atthakatha) states that bodhisattvas follow holy life under the Buddhas, purify virtue, learn buddha’s teachings, practice meditative life, and develop insight to proper knowledge(anulomañana).
      But they make no effort to reach the supermundane ways and their fruits (which would end the bodhisattva career)”.
      Lair

    • #32258
      Ikoren
      Participant

      I think I see the issue here. It mainly falls on me as I have been imprecise and frankly been doing a bad job characterizing the view I was presenting. I do not disagree with either of you regarding listening and comprehending, and the difference therein. We are on the same page. Hopefully, the rest of this post illustrates this. If not that is okay, I understand the desire to not want to discuss endlessly if there is no answer to be reasonably found.

      ynot you said:

      “There are not a few instances in the suttas where people, even kings, when asked whether sons and daughters, wives and dear ones in general bring happiness replied with an emphatic yes, and with an implied undertone (it seems to me) of ‘ What? Are you mad? ‘(to be thinking otherwise). Only when one has seen the reality for oneself through life experiences does a statement become true(to oneself). It has now become an observation. Real – not just words quoted from a book, ascribed to whoever at all it may be.”

      “For that constant MINDFULLNESS is necessary (precisely of one’s experiences, both as one is going through them and also later on reflection), not constantly REMINDING oneself of the statement.”

      I completely agree with everything you have said here, and what you expand upon later on in your post. The difference between simply hearing and understanding is vast. I believe there is even a line in the Dhammapadha about how if a fool is exposed to the truth he will no more understand it than the spoon would taste the soup. In addition, I apologize I have said anything grating in these posts, its quite difficult to expresss tone in text. I appreciate you offering a differing perspective, it is very much so appreciated. I suspect as stated above that we are mostly in agreement regarding this point.

      My gripe was regarding how the definitions and conception of how these two yanas (arhantship and buddhahood) conflict regarding the Pali Tipitaka.

      Simply put, the characteristic feature of arhants that differentiates them from buddhas is that arahants are exposed to the true dhamma preceding their awakening. The instruction, perhaps even small verses, is what they use to gain awakening through themself by either walking the eightfold path outlined or following the thread, which necessitates mindfulness and cultivation of insight, not endless repetition.

      If the buddha has knowledge of his past lives, which the canon acknowledges he gains during the night of his enlightenment/preceding his actual awakening. (I can provide suttas if requested) He would have had exposure to the true dhamma through the countless desanas he undoubtedly heard the Buddha Kassapa give as a monk underneath him. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t understand or comprehend. It would be equivalent to an arhant preceding his awakening hearing a desana.

      In the same way that it doesn’t matter if an arhant before his awakening didn’t comprehend the teachings he was given. Just that it was present in his life. If we can surmise based on the fact presented in the Pali Tipitaka, that the life in which the ascetic Gotama gained awakening he was exposed to true dhamma through his past life regression. This would make him an arhant, not a buddha. Based at least on the common conception.

      As a side note, if everything is as the Pali Tipitaka outlines, the ascetic gotama would know he was destined for awakening upon looking into his past lives, as he would see his confirmation. Therefore he would know the buddha Kassapa’s teaching were worth listening to and comparing to his own experience.

      Now this can be solved in two ways.

      1. The common conception of buddhahood is false, and in reality he simply is an individual who rediscovers the dhamma in an age in which it has been lost, without specification of whether he rebuilds it entirely from his own observations or if he draws upon his exposure to dhamma in a previous life. This means an arhant can be just as accomplished as a buddha, and the difference lies in the order in which they awaken only relative to world with/without buddha dhamma.
      – This would be supported as well by the fact that the buddha did not urge his followers to walk the bodhisattva path, nor spend a significant amount of time expanding upon it. Instead, he held up Sariputra and Moggallana as the ideals to emulate.
      – It would be also supported by the fact that the Buddha stressed his role as a rediscoverer of the path. Which would not conflict with this formulation.

      2. The canon regarding his past lives and being confirmed by countless buddhas and ordaining under them is false (ie a later development), as well as the Maitreya prediction and the eons of cultivating paramis. This would preserve most of what the main Sutta Piṭaka has to say about the Buddha’s pre-eminence in the world and superiority to the Arhant in accomplishment.
      – There is evidence to suggest this is the case through comparative analysis between different translations of the canon passed down from separate early Buddhist lineages. There is quite a bit of scholarly work to at least suggest it’s a possibility, a few of which I linked above. It is up to you to decide if it’s sound, with the same rigor we should treat everything here at Pure Dhamma.
      – I also linked specific suttas up above that conflict with the Jatakas. So it is not like this idea is out of the left field.

      From a different perspective,

      The big sticking point is that the Pali Tipitaka’s definition of an arhant is one who gains awakening with exposure to the true dhamma. It’s definition of a buddha is one who gains it without exposure to the true dhamma. Exposure does not mean understanding. This can be through a living teacher who is an ariya, or through texts that can be attributed to one.

      Arahants do not gain awakening by reciting these texts, they use them as guideposts to conduct their own investigations and cultivate insight.

      The normal understanding is that the buddha worked out awakening for himself, independently, and rediscovered the path.

      It cannot be that he had exposure (not comprehending) to the true dhamma, through for example, remembering his past lives. And it still simultaneously hold true that he was buddha based on the conception just outlined. Because the rule is that one is an Arhant if they are exposed (not comprehending) to true dhamma preceding their awakening

      In other words, both arhants and buddhas have to comprehend the path and dhamma by themselves. Words and true dhamma only point the way per se. If the argument is that the buddhas have to realize the way based off their own observations without aid. Than the asctic gotama would not be a buddha because having access to the desanas of a past buddha is considered aid in the exact same way that an arhant is given.

      @Lal, you’ll have to understand why I cannot speak directly to the paramita description of how this works, or what a bodhisattva is by definition, or what was said about and regarding Jotipala. It is part of the body of work I am critiquing as not as authoritative. In addition, I read all the articles linked and they do not tackle this issue. As I assume the posting was not necessarily meant for me but those who may come across this thread, there is no need to respond, simply trying to express that I am reading everything you both are providing and trying to take the time to adequately reflect on it and treat it with the consideration it deserves.

      We must also be careful to not throw the baby out with the bathwater, even if we take the new translations of anicca, anatta, and dukkha as the most accurate. That does not mean other scholars do not have anything worth considering or worthwhile to say simply because they got that wrong. It is all about consistency after all. :)

      With metta

    • #32262
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Regarding Lvalio’s comment above, “bodhisattvas follow holy life under the Buddhas, purify virtue, learn buddha’s teachings, practice meditative life, and develop insight to proper knowledge(anulomañana). But they make no effort to reach the supermundane ways and their fruits.”

      That is not quite correct.
      – It is not that they do not make any effort. Unless he is told by a Buddha in a given lifetime, he would not even know that he is a Bodhisatta. Note that even though he met 28 Buddhas, and got “niyata vivarana” from them, there were many many eons that passed during that time.
      – They do make their best effort. However, once he gets “niyata vivarana” there is NO POSSIBILITY for the Bodhisatta to comprehend the Four Noble Truths (i.e., Tilakkhana) by learning them from someone else.
      – All he will be doing from the point of getting “niyata vivarana” is to complete any unfulfilled tasks on the way to the Buddhahood.

      One of the key points many people do not understand is “niyata vivarana“.
      – I will explain that in detail at some point. But the following is the key idea.
      – We all have our future “mapped out” at any point in time. However, that map KEEPS CHANGING all the time, based on our actions. For example, if one commits a bad deed, that map will change in a “bad way”.
      – But once the Bodhisatta completes most of the paramita (tasks) required for the Buddhahood, the map DOES NOT change, at least not significantly. For example, going back to 28 Buddhas who gave “niyata vivarana“, they all saw that our Bodhisatta WILL attain the Buddhahood.

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