Author Topic: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?  (Read 1125 times)

Offline empty

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Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
« on: May 02, 2018, 10:43:17 am »
In various lectures one hears the same account of Siddhartha's enlightenment under the bodhi tree: that begins with him sitting down and vowing to meditate till he gets to the reason of human suffering, followed by attempts by Mara to seduce him and then to attack him, and finally Siddhartha getting to the realization that attachment is at the core of suffering, etc. That has become the "official" story of Siddhartha becoming the Buddha. It is also visually portrayed in "The Little Buddha" movie from '93.

So my question is: where exactly is this story told in Buddhist scriptures? Is there any written account of it in any of the canons? If yes, where exactly?

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2018, 04:38:43 pm »
I think generally there are few details of the personal life of Gautama in the early scriptures, such as the Pali Canon. The teachings, which had to be memorised because there was probably no written language in use at the time (in those parts of India), took priority.

However, there is one story about Buddha's experiences under the Bodhi tree as he reached towards that final stage of enlightenment.

Is this what you are searching for? It's contained in the Bhayab Herava Sutta, which I think can be found in the Tipitaka of the Pali Canon, although I confess that I don't have a complete copy of the Pali Canon which seems to be as big or bigger than a full set of the old Britannica Encyclopedia volumes.

Bhayab Herava Sutta is a discourse on the fear and dread associated with living a solitary life in the forest, without shelter or protection from the natural creatures that inhabit a forest. In those days, that was considered to be a necessary part of the process of attaining enlightenment. One had to separate oneself from the hustle and bustle of village life in order to still the mind.

When I first came across the account of the Buddha's night under the Bodhi tree, when he recalled all his previous lives in all their detail, I thought the story was strangely at odds with the Buddhist distinction between the older Vedic concept of reincarnation which included the concept of some permanent soul, and the newer Buddhist concept of reincarnation which included character tendencies only, devoid of a personal soul or identity.

Here's the description of those events that took place during a single night under the Bodhi tree.

"With my concentrated mind thus purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady and utterly unshakable, I directed and inclined it to the knowledge of the recollection of past lives.
I recollected manifold past lives, that is, 1 birth, 2 births, 3 births, 4, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 100, 1,000, 100,000, many aeons of cosmic contraction, many aeons of cosmic expansion, many aeons of cosmic contraction and expansion.

There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such the end of my life.

Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance.

Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my life-span. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.

Thus I recollected manifold past lives in their modes and details. This, brahmin, was the first knowledge attained by me in the first watch of the night. Ignorance was banished, knowledge arose; darkness was banished, light arose, just as it is for one who dwells heedful, ardent, resolute.

KARMA. With my concentrated mind thus purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady and utterly unshakable, I directed and inclined it to the knowledge of the passing away and re-arising of beings.

I saw—by means of the divine eye [clairvoyance], purified and superhuman—beings passing away and re-appearing, and I knew how they are inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate, faring in accordance with their karma:

These beings—who were endowed with evil conduct of body, speech, and mind, who reviled the noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views— after death, when the body had broken up, had re-arisen in a plane of misery, an evil destination, a lower realm, in hell.

But these beings—who were endowed with good conduct of body,  speech, and mind, who did not revile the noble ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views—after death, when the body had broken up, had re-arisen in a happy destination, in heaven.‘

Thus, by means of the divine eye, I saw beings passing away and re-appearing, and understood how they fared according to their karma."


Here's the link to the Bhayab Herava Sutta.
http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/44.3-Bhaya-Bherava-S-m4-piya.pdf

Does this answer your question?

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2018, 03:35:33 am »
I recollected manifold past lives, that is, 1 birth, 2 births, 3 births, 4, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 100, 1,000, 100,000,
The Pali is not "past lives". It is "past abodes" or "past adherences". Each "birth" was each time in the past the mind gave birth to egoism. Refer to SN 22,79, which explains clearly the meaning of recollecting past abodes: https://suttacentral.net/sn22.79/en/bodhi

 :namaste:

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2018, 03:35:54 am »
In various lectures one hears the same account of Siddhartha's enlightenment under the bodhi tree: that begins with him sitting down and vowing to meditate till he gets to the reason of human suffering, followed by attempts by Mara to seduce him and then to attack him, and finally Siddhartha getting to the realization that attachment is at the core of suffering, etc. That has become the "official" story of Siddhartha becoming the Buddha. It is also visually portrayed in "The Little Buddha" movie from '93.

This is mythology or fables compiled for children.

So my question is: where exactly is this story told in Buddhist scriptures? Is there any written account of it in any of the canons? If yes, where exactly?
Here:

Life in the Palace: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.038.than.html

Austerities: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.036.than.html

The Noble Search: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.026.than.html

Overcoming hindrances: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.019.than.html

Overcoming fear & terror: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.004.than.html

Overcoming Mara: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.3.02.than.html

Discovering Dependent Origination: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.010.wlsh.html

Discovery the Eightfold Path: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html

Miscellaneous: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/buddha.html

 :namaste:

Offline empty

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Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2018, 07:21:39 am »

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2018, 07:36:46 am »
I recollected manifold past lives, that is, 1 birth, 2 births, 3 births, 4, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 100, 1,000, 100,000,

The Pali is not "past lives". It is "past abodes" or "past adherences". Each "birth" was each time in the past the mind gave birth to egoism. Refer to SN 22,79, which explains clearly the meaning of recollecting past abodes: https://suttacentral.net/sn22.79/en/bodhi

 :namaste:

Visuddhi,
Is it meant that the recollection of past abodes occurs only in this current life?

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2018, 05:03:23 am »
The concepts of Rebirth and Reincarnation

For the Western rationalist and atheist (or agnostic) who is attracted to Buddhism, perhaps because the religion does not accept the existence of an Almighty Creator God, which is a rather unscientific concept, the issue of reincarnation, or former lives, which seems to be a central part of Buddhism, is problematic.

As far as I can discern, there are three, broad, interpretations of this phenomena.  One includes the concept of a permanent identity or soul which is reborn, which was embraced by the ancient Vedic scriptures.

Another interpretation excludes the concept of a permanent soul, but embraces the concept of character tendencies, which survive physical death, and are spiritually transmitted to the womb of a female shortly after conception, which I associate with Buddhism.

The third, more modern interpretation, claims that all rebirths, or reincarnations, are not physical rebirths, but previous 'states of mind' recalled in this lifetime. As one progresses in life, and perhaps one's attitudes change for the better, one looks back and recalls previous 'states of mind' and lifestyles which, metaphorically, could be described as previous lives.

This third definition of Rebirth, seems more rational, and appeals to me. However, I see a major problem here.

If each person experiences only one life, then why should it matter whether or not one achieves the ultimate state of Nirvana before one dies, and why should it matter how far one has progressed towards this ultimate state of bliss, which could result in one being reborn with better chances of reaching Nirvana in the next life.

Without the concept of physical rebirth, one simply organizes one's affairs in the best way one can imagine in the circumstances, which is what most people do. The concept of Karma in Buddhism, replaces the concept of Heaven and Hell in Christianity. If there's no physical rebirth, there's no Karma.

Rational comments will be appreciated.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2018, 05:51:31 am »
The concepts of Rebirth and Reincarnation

For the Western rationalist and atheist (or agnostic) who is attracted to Buddhism, perhaps because the religion does not accept the existence of an Almighty Creator God, which is a rather unscientific concept, the issue of reincarnation, or former lives, which seems to be a central part of Buddhism, is problematic.

As far as I can discern, there are three, broad, interpretations of this phenomena.  One includes the concept of a permanent identity or soul which is reborn, which was embraced by the ancient Vedic scriptures.

Another interpretation excludes the concept of a permanent soul, but embraces the concept of character tendencies, which survive physical death, and are spiritually transmitted to the womb of a female shortly after conception, which I associate with Buddhism.

The third, more modern interpretation, claims that all rebirths, or reincarnations, are not physical rebirths, but previous 'states of mind' recalled in this lifetime. As one progresses in life, and perhaps one's attitudes change for the better, one looks back and recalls previous 'states of mind' and lifestyles which, metaphorically, could be described as previous lives.

This third definition of Rebirth, seems more rational, and appeals to me. However, I see a major problem here.

If each person experiences only one life, then why should it matter whether or not one achieves the ultimate state of Nirvana before one dies, and why should it matter how far one has progressed towards this ultimate state of bliss, which could result in one being reborn with better chances of reaching Nirvana in the next life.

Without the concept of physical rebirth, one simply organizes one's affairs in the best way one can imagine in the circumstances, which is what most people do. The concept of Karma in Buddhism, replaces the concept of Heaven and Hell in Christianity. If there's no physical rebirth, there's no Karma.

If as you suggest we have only one life, and while considering the impossibility of enlightmentment in that life, then Buddhist practice is pointless. Utterly and completely pointless.

But it's not. 

Those of us who are drawn to the Buddhadhrma have, I believe, a deep-seated, perhaps sub-conscious understanding that there is more to it than just this life.  WE have a sense that this "life", as we call it, isn't what we've been conditioned to believe.  Our lives are a series of moments, arising and disolving in accordance with Karma.  As in life, death is just another moment, driven by karma, and that will give rise to another moment and another after that.

What comes next?  You guessed it.  Another moment.

It's our hope that to purify and end karma will end that cycle of birth & death so we, at long last, can have peace.

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2018, 03:14:02 pm »
If as you suggest we have only one life, and while considering the impossibility of enlightmentment in that life, then Buddhist practice is pointless. Utterly and completely pointless.

Its pointless for people who are mostly interested in sex & believe in reincarnation so they can imagine engaging in more sex in future lifetimes.

Those mostly interested in sex in this life will, if there are actually future lives, will mostly be interested in sex in future lives.

They will never be interested in Nibbana; no matter how many lives they might have.

So yes, for some, their interest in Buddhism is utterly and completely pointless.

My impression is many Westerners are interested in Buddhism so they feel their lives are not judged & criticized, similar to how many people are interest in Protestant Christianity, where they are made righteous by faith rather than by deeds.

Buddha loves me. Jesus loves me.  :teehee:
« Last Edit: May 05, 2018, 03:20:12 pm by VisuddhiRaptor »

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2018, 07:01:07 pm »
I'm not sure I got my main point across. I'll try again.

All religions create rules to encourage good behaviour or 'right' behaviour and 'right' thinking, which is considered to be in the best interests of the community, allowing the people who are a part of that community to live together harmoniously and prosper.

Obviously, there are often differences of opinion as to what constitutes right behaviour and right thinking, which has lead to numerous conflicts between different cultures throughout history and into the present. But let's not get into that.

The fundamental point, as I see it, is that all religions, including Buddhism, have a 'reward and punishment' system. In the Judaeo/Christian/Muslim religions, the ultimate punishment or reward occurs in the 'afterlife', in Heaven or Hell, or some intermediate state called Purgatory.

In Buddhism, the 'reward and punishment' system seems to be far more graded, involving many rebirths of progression or regression, depending on one's behaviour in one's current life. Such a system gives hope to those, for example, who cannot control their sexual desires, or their compulsive urges to act in a non-ideal way.

If such people can compensate for their bad behaviour and make some progress in this life, they will be given another chance in the next life to progress yet further until, after many lives perhaps, they will reach the ultimate stage of bliss. However, if they fail to make any progress in this life, and give in to their compulsive urges, they will be reborn into worse circumstances in their next life with less chance, and perhaps no chance, of ever reaching Nirvana.

My point is, if one removes this concept of 'real' physical rebirth, doesn't one effectively demolish the religion, or at least significantly reduce the power and influence of its teachings?

Have you ever met a person who claims to be a Christian, but also claims that he has no belief in the existence of a Creator God and has no belief in an afterlife in Heaven or Hell?

Isn't this a similar situation to a person who claims to be a Buddhist, but also claims he has no belief in the reality of physical rebirth?

Without the concept of physical rebirth, isn't the practice of Buddhist meditation techniques, for example, reduced to the level of any other health and well-being exercise, such as taking a regular jog or doing lift-ups in the gym to keep physically fit, or playing Bridge and learning a new language in order to keep the mind active and delay the effects of dementia as one gets older, and so on?

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2018, 09:59:11 pm »
Without the concept of physical rebirth, isn't the practice of Buddhist meditation techniques, for example, reduced to the level of any other health and well-being exercise, such as taking a regular jog or doing lift-ups in the gym to keep physically fit, or playing Bridge and learning a new language in order to keep the mind active and delay the effects of dementia as one gets older, and so on?

 No. Obviously you don't know much about Buddhism therefore there is little point discussing Buddhism with you.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2018, 05:58:15 am »


VisuddhiRaptor, You did an excellent job researching and compiling all these sources.  Suggest that moderator place a sticky on this one so that newcomers can utilize the fruits of your efforts. 


In various lectures one hears the same account of Siddhartha's enlightenment under the bodhi tree: that begins with him sitting down and vowing to meditate till he gets to the reason of human suffering, followed by attempts by Mara to seduce him and then to attack him, and finally Siddhartha getting to the realization that attachment is at the core of suffering, etc. That has become the "official" story of Siddhartha becoming the Buddha. It is also visually portrayed in "The Little Buddha" movie from '93.

This is mythology or fables compiled for children.

So my question is: where exactly is this story told in Buddhist scriptures? Is there any written account of it in any of the canons? If yes, where exactly?
Here:

Life in the Palace: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.038.than.html

Austerities: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.036.than.html

The Noble Search: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.026.than.html

Overcoming hindrances: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.019.than.html

Overcoming fear & terror: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.004.than.html

Overcoming Mara: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.3.02.than.html

Discovering Dependent Origination: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.010.wlsh.html

Discovery the Eightfold Path: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html

Miscellaneous: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/buddha.html

 :namaste:
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2018, 07:28:19 am »


The fundamental point, as I see it, is that all religions, including Buddhism, have a 'reward and punishment' system.


For there to be reward and/or punishment there must be an agency, like a god, to mete it out.  No such agency can be found in Buddhist teachings, reward/punishment cannot be excercised.

Quote
In Buddhism, the 'reward and punishment' system seems to be far more graded, involving many rebirths of progression or regression, depending on one's behaviour in one's current life. Such a system gives hope to those, for example, who cannot control their sexual desires, or their compulsive urges to act in a non-ideal way.

Yoiu really have a thing about sex, don't you?  Rebirth isn't a punishment and nirvana isn't a reward.  It's the fruition of karma.

Quote
My point is, if one removes this concept of 'real' physical rebirth, doesn't one effectively demolish the religion, or at least significantly reduce the power and influence of its teachings?

Maybe.



Quote
Have you ever met a person who claims to be a Christian, but also claims that he has no belief in the existence of a Creator God and has no belief in an afterlife in Heaven or Hell?

Sure.  My parents.

Quote
Isn't this a similar situation to a person who claims to be a Buddhist, but also claims he has no belief in the reality of physical rebirth?

A "Buddhist" isn't defined by belief.  It's defined by refuge.

Quote
Without the concept of physical rebirth, isn't the practice of Buddhist meditation techniques, for example, reduced to the level of any other health and well-being exercise, such as taking a regular jog or doing lift-ups in the gym to keep physically fit, or playing Bridge and learning a new language in order to keep the mind active and delay the effects of dementia as one gets older, and so on?

Yes a lot of people mistake Buddhism for a self-help regemine.

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2018, 06:21:16 pm »
For there to be reward and/or punishment there must be an agency, like a god, to mete it out.  No such agency can be found in Buddhist teachings, reward/punishment cannot be excercised.

You could describe it as an agency, perhaps a bit like a god, but not necessarily a God. The agency I'm thinking of could be simply nature, in all its glory and all its horror, or the police force and the modern justice system administering jail sentences and even capital punishment.

For example, if one drinks excessive alcohol before driving, and one is breathalyzed, found to be over the limit, one is punished by the authorities (police and legal system), not God.

However, if one is drunk whilst driving and one crashes into a tree, severely injuring oneself, resulting in lots of pain, long hospital treatment, and perhaps a disability for the rest of one's life, then that's punishment by nature, far worse than a mere fine by the authorities.

Likewise, if one drinks excessive alcohol for a long period of one's life, and even if one avoids any accidents or fines, one will still likely be punished, eventually, through the development of a diseased liver.

If one eats too much food, especially too much junk food, one will likely become obese with all the consequent health problems. There are endless examples of such 'cause and effect' consequences, which I include in the general category of 'punishment' or 'reward'.

Quote
You really have a thing about sex, don't you?

I don't know what you mean by 'thing'. I have a general understanding that sex is a fundamental drive in most animals. Without it, propagation of the species would not occur, and the species would become extinct. There are exceptions of course, such as bacteria, certain plants, certain insects, and certain reptiles, lizards, and sea creatures.

In humans, the sexual drive is associated with intense pleasure, and as you should know, many people become addicted to that pleasure, sometimes with serious consequences that continually feed the news media.

Sigmund Freud spent his career investigating the importance of sex, and described it as one of the most fundamental drives for most types of human activity.

Quote
Rebirth isn't a punishment and nirvana isn't a reward. It's the fruition of karma.

Really! So you've experienced Rebirth and Nirvana and know what it is?
I confess that I haven't experienced Nirvana, nor have I recalled previous lives. But I have read of studies of very young children in remote societies, with no television or books to read, who have related experiences which include personal details of the life of a deceased person whom they couldn't possibly have known, yet such details are sufficient to identify the deceased person who lived hundreds of kilometres away, and who was not known by the parents or relatives of the child. I have an open mind on the issue.

I've also read numerous stories in the Buddhist scriptures describing the concept of Rebirth as the process whereby one can be physically reborn into a lower form of animal life, or into worse or better circumstances as a human, depending on one's actions in this current life.
The process is called Karma, but your use of the word 'fruition' is misleading.
Definition of fruition:
1. Attainment of anything desired; realization; accomplishment: 'After years of hard work she finally brought her idea to full fruition.'
2. Enjoyment, as of something attained or realized.
3. State of bearing fruit.
The etymology of the word relates to enjoyment, from  the late Latin fruitiōn- (stem of fruitiō) enjoyment.

I identify the processes of Karma with the processes of Nature. In general, pain, discomfort, or suffering can be viewed as a punishment resulting from ignorant behaviour; and the state of freedom from such suffering, as a reward, or the fruition of one's plans to behave wisely.

The state of Nirvana can, and often is, described as the ultimate reward, a state of extraordinary bliss, even exceeding the pleasure of the most thrilling sexual orgasm.  :wink1:



Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2018, 05:38:53 pm »
VisuddhiRaptor, You did an excellent job researching and compiling all these sources.  Suggest that moderator place a sticky on this one so that newcomers can utilize the fruits of your efforts. 

If all of my excellent posts were placed on sticky, there would not be enough space on the forum.  :atroll:  :teehee:

 


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