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A Mosaic of Traditions - One Virtual Sangha => The Dharma Express => Topic started by: empty on May 02, 2018, 10:43:17 am

Title: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: empty 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?
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: VincentRJ 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 (http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/44.3-Bhaya-Bherava-S-m4-piya.pdf)

Does this answer your question?
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: VisuddhiRaptor 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:
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: VisuddhiRaptor 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 (https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.038.than.html)

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

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

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

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

Overcoming Mara: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.3.02.than.html (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 (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 (https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html)

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

 :namaste:
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: empty on May 04, 2018, 07:21:39 am
Thanks for all the responses!

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

This is what I was looking for.
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: VincentRJ 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?
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: VincentRJ 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.
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: Chaz 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.
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: VisuddhiRaptor 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:
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: VincentRJ 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?
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: VisuddhiRaptor 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.
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: Ron-the-Elder 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 (https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.038.than.html)

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

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

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

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

Overcoming Mara: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.3.02.than.html (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 (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 (https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.065.than.html)

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

 :namaste:
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: Chaz 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.
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: VincentRJ 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:


Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: VisuddhiRaptor 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:
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: meez on May 10, 2018, 09:24:44 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. 

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

Make a thread with those links again and I'll sticky it.
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: stillpointdancer on May 11, 2018, 04:15:50 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?

In the end it's about authority isn't it? Other religions tend to rely on faith in the miraculous, either literal miracle-type events or the miracle of revealed truth from a burning bush or being carved into stone, or whatever. When you look at Buddhism, there is nothing like that, not even a single jotting made at the time. So where does the authority come from?

Some like to go back to the earliest writings, but even these are doubtful in authenticity, having problems with both tracking back copies to see where they originated and in various translations of texts. The more you study Buddhism, the wider the range of texts you find, adapted over the years to particular cultures and peoples.

Not only that but new texts arise over time, adding the insights that people have experienced over the years. These are often written as if they happened in the Buddha's lifetime, with words attributed to people which were obviously never uttered at that time. Which leaves us with a religion with no original texts, no miraculous, authoritative happenings to believe in, and no God figure watching everything that people do. Without those texts that do exist, what is there to offer people?

It's no wonder then that people become rather heated in their discussions about texts and meanings and authority of teachings. The latter is the key to how Buddhism has survived. Rather than a set of beliefs and rules to be observed, Buddhism is based on a set of practices such as meditation which, when taken on board, actually work to change each individual. Various schools of Buddhism arose and passed on practices which have been refined and improved over the years, yet which can all be referenced by simple actions such as sitting quietly.

We can easily try things out for ourselves and get the 'taste of salt', the feeling we get when something is authentic and real for us. We can look at the vast array of texts that exist and take them or leave them, as long as we have as our personal myth the ability to transform ourselves using meditation and following the path. Which brings me back to the original question. The 'official' story, as you put it, is one you can try for yourself to see how valid it is for you. Whether the texts themselves are authentic becomes rather irrelevant. Authenticity arises from personal experience.

Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: empty on May 11, 2018, 07:25:41 am
In the end it's about authority isn't it? Other religions tend to rely on faith in the miraculous, either literal miracle-type events or the miracle of revealed truth from a burning bush or being carved into stone, or whatever. When you look at Buddhism, there is nothing like that, not even a single jotting made at the time. So where does the authority come from?

Some like to go back to the earliest writings, but even these are doubtful in authenticity, having problems with both tracking back copies to see where they originated and in various translations of texts. The more you study Buddhism, the wider the range of texts you find, adapted over the years to particular cultures and peoples.

Not only that but new texts arise over time, adding the insights that people have experienced over the years. These are often written as if they happened in the Buddha's lifetime, with words attributed to people which were obviously never uttered at that time. Which leaves us with a religion with no original texts, no miraculous, authoritative happenings to believe in, and no God figure watching everything that people do. Without those texts that do exist, what is there to offer people?

It's no wonder then that people become rather heated in their discussions about texts and meanings and authority of teachings. The latter is the key to how Buddhism has survived. Rather than a set of beliefs and rules to be observed, Buddhism is based on a set of practices such as meditation which, when taken on board, actually work to change each individual. Various schools of Buddhism arose and passed on practices which have been refined and improved over the years, yet which can all be referenced by simple actions such as sitting quietly.

We can easily try things out for ourselves and get the 'taste of salt', the feeling we get when something is authentic and real for us. We can look at the vast array of texts that exist and take them or leave them, as long as we have as our personal myth the ability to transform ourselves using meditation and following the path. Which brings me back to the original question. The 'official' story, as you put it, is one you can try for yourself to see how valid it is for you. Whether the texts themselves are authentic becomes rather irrelevant. Authenticity arises from personal experience.

A very good answer. It is somewhat gettig to the issue I was trying to resolve for myself.

I guess another way to re-phrase my question is: Alright, Buddhism is primarily about practice that transforms us. But the way it transforms different people must be consistent, at least to some extent. So if I practice it and you practice it, the effects on us must be similar. And over the centuries these observed similarities must be distilled into either metaphorical (fight with the forces of Mara, teaching of Nirvana, etc.) or more direct descriptions and teachings about the human mind.

After having read many books and having heard countless of hours of lectures and after having practiced a bit myself, I believe I have some rudimentary understanding and personal realization of these teachings. But how do you communicate this to others who have not gone through this process?

The reason I started this thread was that I heard a lecture given by a very distingushed intellectual whom I greatly respect - Jordan Peterson. He was talking about the psychological transformations that a child goes through when growing up. His point was that this process is so ancient that it was metaphorically expressed in many old religious texts. He made a parallel between the origin stories of Judaism/Christianity and Buddhism:

First:
-Adam and Eve live in Paradise (means protected garden) and they have everything they need. They live in bliss and are not concerned with survival.
- Siddhartha lives a very protected life in a palace. He is shielded from everything unpleasant and does not know what the real life is.
- A small child is completely protected by his/her parents. Everything he/she needs to survive is provided for. All dangers are eliminated as much as possible. The child only knows the world of his family.

Second:
- The snake shows up and Adam and Eve eat from the apple of knowledge. They see they are naked and get ashamed. They hide from God.
- Siddhartha gets curious about the outside world. He ventures outside the palace walls and discovers sickness, old age and death.
- As the children grow up they get curious and gradually push the boundaries of the perfect protected life they've had so far. That innevitably leads to new knowledge but also to disappointlents and injuries. Kids discover they (and other people) are vulnerable. Parents are not God-like any more.

Third:
- God banishes Adam and Eve from Paradise. They are sentenced to life of hadship and hard work for survival.
- Siddhartha leaves the palace and embraces ascetic life of suffering and pain in order to understand it.
- Kids grow up and need to start fending for themselves. The dreams of perfect world and protected childhood must be shed in this process.

So that all makes sence but then Jordan Peterson went on saying: "Then Siddhartha sits under a tree in search for the source of suffering but it is not very clear what happens next...". So he continued to make parallels between human psychological development and Judaism/Chistianity but completely left out Buddhism after that point.

And I thought: This man is a serious scholar. Of course he has his biases and he comes from the Western religious and philosophical tradition but there is no way he could disregard the core of Buddhist teachings after the bodhi tree incident. So that is why I asked the initial question: to understand if there an easy way/read for an outsider of Buddhism to get familiar with the core teachings without much confusion.
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: stillpointdancer on May 11, 2018, 10:49:33 am
Hi empty. You pose some interesting questions that I too have been thinking about, on and off, for a number of years. The nearest I can get to the universality aspect you mention is that if you do a certain thing, then it has consequences for the brain. If you meditate, then changes will take place. If two people do similar meditations, similar changes take place. This happens no matter what the context is, the time or the culture or the religion that it happened in.

That being so, if you undertake insight meditation, your brain changes in such a way as to allow you to see things in a different way. The process is universal to human beings, but the outcome depends on context. What happens during insight experiences is so different to our normal state of consciousness that the brain, or at least the conscious mind does not work in the same way during the experience, and then goes into a kind of shock as conscious thought returns.

Such an experience is hard to communicate, so in its aftermath you struggle to make sense of what happened. This is when context kicks in and your culture and upbringing are drawn on for help in understanding the event. You are open to suggestion from others, who, maybe with the best of intentions, are perhaps only too ready to interpret for you, not least if you are part of some religious organisation such as Christianity or Buddhism.

From my own experience, and from researching the experiences of others, it is this imposed interpretation on the part of others that then determines not only how you understand what happened to you, but what effect it has on you life too.

Back to your question about getting familiar with the core teachings, there are standard meditation techniques across Buddhism, although some schools emphasise some methods above others. They all work, but aren't enough for you to follow a Buddhist programme. For that you need something like the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path to add context to the meditation practice you have decided on.

These work in a different way to meditation, but they add to the whole experience, and allow you to understand what the Buddha was trying to say when he talked about the cessation of suffering, both before and after insight experiences. I wont say during, because I consider it a universal experience which is context free at the time, while your conscious understanding is on hold.

For me, everything else in Buddhism is a development of this, and the whole is like learning, say, a game like chess. The rules are pretty simple, but the game takes a lifetime of study.
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: philboyd on May 13, 2018, 06:44:29 am
It is interesting that all religion hinges on a view of some form of permanent self. I believe this is a natural evolution ( influenced by misunderstanding and bias ) of the profound insights taught by highly enlighten humans. This is why a curiosity about the original teachings is relevant and healthy. Buddhism has the benefit of a practice that requires faith only in it"s diligence. So while a search for the original text may be of some value one can at the same time practice the Eightfold Path and be well on their way to an evolving human maturity, free of superstition and mystery.
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: Anemephistus on May 13, 2018, 07:14:36 pm
Quote
And I thought: This man is a serious scholar. Of course he has his biases and he comes from the Western religious and philosophical tradition but there is no way he could disregard the core of Buddhist teachings after the bodhi tree incident. So that is why I asked the initial question: to understand if there an easy way/read for an outsider of Buddhism to get familiar with the core teachings without much confusion.

I suggest a book. "the heart of the Buddha's teaching" by Ven. Thich Naht Hahn. It's widely available. The first two sentences are  "Buddha was not a god. He was a
human being like you and me, and he suffered just as we do."

It goes on to quote "I teach only suffering and the transformation of suffering." - Buddha

It has a viewpoint given by a Vietnamese Zen Master about the core of the teaching as his tradition understands it, and as he relays it. The book is not on every-bodies must-read list but it certainly demonstrates the core concepts in a couple of hundred pages rather soundly in my opinion.

Your inquiry asks about the transformative properties of the teaching and it makes reference to the concept of "authority" regarding the teaching.  Buddha became enlightened under the tree, grasping at what that means is accomplished through encountering the teachings he left , weather an imperfect transmission or a concept developed along the way to the present moment, truth is indelible, it cant be forged, and once realized has no substitutions. as StillPoint eloquently said
Quote
Whether the texts themselves are authentic becomes rather irrelevant. Authenticity arises from personal experience.

Many religions have stories in which things happen which are miraculous, there are stories like this in Buddhism too.  However as I follow and understand, these things do not require that we think they happened or did not happen. The debate over the supernatural is counter to the point by my reckoning. It is my understanding that Buddhism survives by the transmission of ideas which are obviously true once considered and which have an impact on the suffering of beings who perceive them not by the will of any extra divinity.

Quote
After having read many books and having heard countless of hours of lectures and after having practiced a bit myself, I believe I have some rudimentary understanding and personal realization of these teachings. But how do you communicate this to others who have not gone through this process?


When you show others what you encountered that gave you realization, and help them practice it, they will go through the process and realize what they need too, it may be different for them than it is for you, but without the process of encountering realization itself, it is rather like describing a color to a blind person. It's not a fully academic process, it requires practice and effort in order to "see"   
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: stillpointdancer on May 14, 2018, 03:20:59 am
Here's an easy 'in' to what the Buddha taught. It's the famous quote by Franz Kafka, “You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”

That's what the Buddha did. He sat under a tree until that happened to him. Everything else is setting the mental context to cope with what happens afterwards, to start to understand what on earth happened to you, and what it means to you for the rest of your life.

It's that simple, but of course it usually takes more than a poem for people to invest their time and effort into doing something like sitting and doing nothing; not watching, or listening or reading or even thinking about stuff. All of the writings you talk about are mostly motivational or context setting. The practical details of meditation, how to extend meditation into everyday life, and putting together some kind of individual programme of development are usually left to teachers rather than texts.
Title: Re: Buddha's enlightenment process in the scriptures?
Post by: Empty13 on July 19, 2018, 11:31:34 am
There are details throughout different pieces of the Pali canon. The Tathagata recounts the process in the past tense, usually. There are bits in the Pari-nibbana Sutta and the Discourse on the First Sermon to some degree if I remember correctly. It's a story that is pieced together from multiple suttas though, as it is told different times in different ways from what I understand. Bhikku Bodhi has gone over it a few times in his dharma talks that I have listened to.
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