Author Topic: Can we have a relationship with the Buddha?  (Read 1794 times)

Offline Namaste253

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Can we have a relationship with the Buddha?
« on: July 21, 2015, 09:39:17 pm »
Do Theravada Buddhists usually believe that the Buddha is available for them today, like in a personal relationship, or that he's only available in his teachings? I am honestly curious and thank you for your input.

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Can we have a relationship with the Buddha?
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2015, 10:04:46 pm »
There's no personal relationship, but the Buddha is ever present (or available) through his teachings, discipline, and example he set.

Offline Namaste253

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Re: Can we have a relationship with the Buddha?
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2015, 10:36:32 pm »
Is he at least available to us in the sense of providing us solace and strength as a living spiritual presence in our lives? I am honestly curious. I'm talking about the Buddha's spiritual presence being available, but not in the sense of praying to or worshiping a god. What I mean is trusting that he's compassionately with us at all times, not to solve our human problems, but to give us comfort along the way.

Why do Theravada Buddhists make offerings at an altar and prayers to the Buddha?

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"To the Exalted One I am giving my self, to the Dhamma I am giving my self, to the Sangha I am giving my self. I am giving them my life! Given is my self, given my life! Until my life ends, I am taking refuge in the Buddha! The Buddha is my refuge, my shelter and my protection."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel076.html
« Last Edit: July 21, 2015, 11:24:39 pm by Namaste253 »

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Can we have a relationship with the Buddha?
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2015, 01:00:35 am »
Is he at least available to us in the sense of providing us solace and strength as a living spiritual presence in our lives?

A Theravada practitioner finds solace and strength through the Buddha's teachings, discipline, and example he set.

Why do Theravada Buddhists make offerings at an altar and prayers to the Buddha?

Probably because they're confused and bewildered  :teehee:

Humor aside, more than a few scholars are of the opinion that the early pre-sectarian community was non-ritualistic in expression and practice, so making offerings at an altar was probably an alien concept, at least in the beginning --- it should also be noted that the Buddha was quite specific, that it was through the practice of the Buddha-dhamma/dharma that we pay homage, that this would be the appropriate way to  do so.

Offline Namaste253

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Re: Can we have a relationship with the Buddha?
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2015, 07:18:00 am »
Are the things you are saying because the Buddha, in passing into Nirvana, is no longer available as a presence in this world? On a popular level in Theravada countries, I don't know if the Buddha is seen in that way, at least not in practice. Could you please show me a reference from the Pali canon that the Buddha is no longer available after Nirvana? I would really appreciate it.

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Can we have a relationship with the Buddha?
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2015, 09:03:48 am »
Are the things you are saying because the Buddha, in passing into Nirvana, is no longer available as a presence in this world?

First and foremost, it's something that's clearly reflected within the meaning and definition of Nibbana (Skt: nirvana), that it literally means the extinguishing of a fire

On a popular level in Theravada countries, I don't know if the Buddha is seen in that way, at least not in practice.

Correct, on a popular level the Buddha is not seen that way, but this has not only proven itself to be a seriousproblem over the years, but could very well become the greatest threat to the doctrinal integrity of the Theravada tradition in the years to come.

Could you please show me a reference from the Pali canon that the Buddha is no longer available after Nirvana? I would really appreciate it.

You might want to read through the entire Mahaparinibbana Sutta, but take your time when doing so.

Offline cosmic_dog_magic

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Re: Can we have a relationship with the Buddha?
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2015, 10:03:49 am »
There was this great quote in The Path of Individual Liberation, but I lent that out to someone, where it read something along the lines of: a million buddha's are born and die everyday.  That when you align yourself with the present moment, a buddha is born.  Of course it dies when you lose that connection.  Which I think is to also say, that same of awareness of the open space of the present, is the same as the Buddha's, and every practitioner and being.

How you hear, how you see, how you taste, how you feel, how you touch (in a non-conceptual open awareness way), is to hear the same dharma the Buddha heard and spoke.  We tend to think of dharma only as the written words, I see them more as a guide to the living dharma.  So when we meditate, that experience is relating to the Buddha, or is the Buddha in a sense.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2015, 10:15:03 am by cosmic_dog_magic »

Offline Namaste253

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Re: Can we have a relationship with the Buddha?
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2015, 10:29:15 am »
mahayana teaches that we have an innate buddha nature, so at least in this sense, the buddha is always with us. but i don't understand this to be the same as a personal god. it's more like a reassuring presence that we have within.

what do you think of the dhammakaya movement in thailand?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhammakaya_Movement

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Can we have a relationship with the Buddha?
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2015, 12:40:13 pm »
what do you think of the dhammakaya movement in thailand?

I don't know enough about the group to form an opinion, other than to say that I find their emphasis on secrecy to be disturbing.

Offline Namaste253

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Re: Can we have a relationship with the Buddha?
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2015, 12:59:03 pm »
I'm asking more about their philosophy and whether or not it agrees with the Pali scriptures:

Quote
According to the Dhammakaya Movement, the Buddha made the discovery that nirvana is nothing less than the attā [the true Self]'.[6] According to Paul Williams, in some respects the teachings of the Dhammakaya Movement resemble the Buddha-nature and Trikaya doctrines of Mahāyāna Buddhism.[7]
[Scholars] incline towards a not-Self perspective. But only scholars hold that view. By way of contrast, Phra Rajyanvisith mentions in particular the realizations of several distinguished forest hermit monks. Moreover, he argues, impermanence, suffering and not-Self go together. Anything which is not-Self is also impermanent and suffering. But, it is argued, nirvana is not suffering, nor is it impermanent. It is not possible to have something which is permanent, not suffering (i.e. is happiness) and yet for it still to be not-Self. Hence it is not not-Self either. It is thus (true, or transcendental) Self …
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhammakaya_Movement

« Last Edit: July 22, 2015, 01:07:01 pm by Namaste253 »

Offline Namaste253

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Re: Can we have a relationship with the Buddha?
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2015, 01:09:05 pm »
This is from What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula:

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Because Nirvana is thus expressed in negative terms, there are many who have got a wrong notion that it is negative, and expresses self-annihilation. Nirvāṇa is definitely no annihilation of self, because there is no self no annihilate. If at all, it is the annihilation of the illusion, of the false idea of self.

It is incorrect to say that Nirvāṇa is negative or positive. The ideas of ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ are relative, and are within the realm of duality. These terms cannot be applied to Nirvāṇa, Absolute Truth, which is beyond duality and relativity.

A negative word need not necessarily indicate a negative state. The Pali of Sanskrit word for health is ārogya, a negative term, which literally means ‘absence or illness’. But ārogya (health) does not represent a negative state. The word ‘Immortal’ (or its Sanskrit equivalent Amṛta or Pali Amata), which also is a synonym for Nirvāṇa, is negative, but it does not denote a negative state. The negation of negative values is not negative. One of the well-known synonyms for Nirvāṇa is ‘Freedom’ (Pali Mutti, Skt. Mukti). Nobody would say that freedom is negative. But even freedom has a negative side: freedom is always a liberation from something which is obstructive, which is evil, which is negative. But freedom is not negative. So Nirvāṇa, Mutti or Vimutti, the Absolute Freedom, is freedom from all evil, freedom from craving, hatred and ignorance, freedom from all terms of duality, relativity, time and space.

We may get some idea of Nirvāṇa as Absolute Truth from the Dhātuvibhaṅga-sutta (No. 140) of the Majjhima-nikāya. This extremely important discourse was delivered by the Buddha to Pukkusāti (already mentioned), whom the Master found to be intelligent and earnest, in the quiet of the night in a potter’s shed. The essence of the relevant portions of the sutta is as follows...
https://sites.google.com/site/rahulawhatthebuddha/the-third-noble-truth

If Nirvana is Absolute Truth, are we able to in some sense connect to this ultimate truth in our everyday lives, the same way that Mahayana would describe Buddha-nature or Dharmakaya?

Offline Namaste253

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Re: Can we have a relationship with the Buddha?
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2015, 01:27:58 pm »
This is another Theravada concept that I am curious about:

Quote
Pantheists sometimes describe the union with the divine as a drop (the mind) entering the divine ocean, no longer existing in an individual sense but still existing in some way. Those holding this view in Buddhism have the following additional quote to support that view: "Just as the river Ganges inclines toward the sea, flows towards the sea, and merges with the sea, so too Master Gotama's assembly with its homeless ones and its householders inclines toward Nibbana, and merges with Nibbana." (Majjhima Nikaya 73.14)...

Others still take it even further, for example the famous Ajahn Mun, who stated that the Buddha even talked to him during his deep meditation experiences, suggesting that the Buddha is at some place in a Buddha-land or Buddha-field. http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Nibbana
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Nibbana
« Last Edit: July 22, 2015, 01:42:59 pm by Namaste253 »

Offline KarmaDrakpaYeshe

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Re: Can we have a relationship with the Buddha?
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2016, 09:33:57 pm »
Do Theravada Buddhists usually believe that the Buddha is available for them today, like in a personal relationship, or that he's only available in his teachings? I am honestly curious and thank you for your input.
how can one have a personal relationship with one who is not a person. The buddha discarded his illusion of self to let shine the true being beneath, "suchness" as it is sometimes translated. He became nothing but his true self, which had no color, no qualities other than "that" quintessential being that is thought to run through all of us. And the world was ready for him to appear and so he was able to teach. No you can not have a personal relationship with him. Deities in the hindu traditions or tibetan buddhist, long dead lineage masters yes, and it may be very helpful in practice or retreat, but not the buddha shakyamuni. You will never feel a sense of personal connection with him. Nor will any of us. If that troubles you, examine and contemplate that, it should not.

Offline Samana Johann

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Re: Can we have a relationship with the Buddha?
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2017, 03:07:55 am »
Without relationship, without relaying, without strong dependency, on the Buddha, there is no way (aside of paccecabuddhas) to grow into and on the path. So it's not good to speek in certain categorical way.


- Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā-sambuddhassa -

...It is in dependence on me as an admirable friend that beings subject to birth have gained release from birth, that beings subject to aging have gained release from aging, that beings subject to death have gained release from death, that beings subject to sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair have gained release from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair....


Of course it is right, that aside of maybe increasing faith a bodily Buddha is not needed. Even at Buddhas time, the Blessed One poined out that his "person" (body) does not help any one. One might know the famouse sentence:

"One who sees Dhamma sees the Tathāgata, one who sees the Tathāgata sees the Dhamma.", soken to an old man long time seeking for him in person.

So it up to each person to put effort into a relation so that it might manifest and then loses it's need for ever.

What ever relation, for a good or for a bad, needs nourishment, otherwise it simply dies. That is what it is about, when teacher speak about Upanissayapaccaya.

Take good care of you relationship to the Buddha and his still lasting Gems and nourish them, inwardly and outwardly, in mind, speech, deeds and nourishment to simply exist further for a while.

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Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Can we have a relationship with the Buddha?
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2017, 04:52:40 am »
Fundemental to Theravadan Buddhist practice is the tradition of taking refuge in The Triple Gem:  The Buddha, The Dhamma, and The Sangha.
Quote
I. Buddham saranam gacchami: I go to the Buddha for refuge.

Ordinarily, for the world to experience happiness and harmony, there has to be a teaching or tradition generally respected as good. This being the case, Bodhisattvas arise — people who develop goodness on the grand scale for the sake of attaining right self-awakening. Once they have reached this goal, they are termed 'Buddhas,' Awakened Ones. For Bodhisattvas to succeed in this direction, they have to devote themselves to perfecting ten virtues —

1 Dana-parami: charity.
2 Sila-parami: morality.
3 Nekkhamma-parami: renunciation of sensuality (and of the household life).
4 Pañña-parami: the search for discernment.
5 Viriya-parami: persistence.
6 Khanti-parami: endurance, patience.
7 Sacca-parami: truthfulness.
8 Adhitthana-parami: determination.
9 Metta-parami: benevolence.
10 Upekkha-parami: equanimity (in proper cases, i.e., in areas that are beyond one's control).
These ten perfections are the factors that enable a Bodhisattva to succeed in becoming an arahant, a Pure One. Once he attains this state, three qualities — called 'actualized virtues' — arise in his heart:

Visuddhi-guna: purity.
Pañña-guna: sharp discernment.
Karunadhiguna: compassion for living beings throughout the world.
These qualities enable the Buddha to teach the Dhamma in a beneficial way. His conduct in this area is of three sorts: Having achieved his own purposes (attattha-cariya), he acts for the benefit of living beings throughout the world (lokattha-cariya) and teaches the Dhamma to his own circle of relatives (ñatattha-cariya).

There are three aspects to the Buddha:

1) The physical aspect — the body (elements, aggregates (khandha), and sense media), which is the external aspect of the Buddha, called 'Buddha-nimitta,' or the symbol of the Buddha. (This is like the bark of a tree.)
2) The good practices he followed — such as virtue, concentration, and discernment, which are aspects of his activity. These are called 'dhamma-nimitta' of the Buddha, symbols of his inner quality. (These are the sapwood.)

3) Vimutti — release from ignorance, craving, attachment, and kamma; attaining nibbana, the supreme quality, a quality that does not die (amata-dhamma). (This is the heartwood, or essence of the Buddha.)

A person of little intelligence will use bark to build himself a home; a person of medium intelligence will use sapwood; while a person of sharp intelligence will build his home of heartwood. So it is with those of us who take refuge in the Buddha. But in any case we're better off than people without a home. Like rats or lizards who have to live in the hollows of trees and are in for trouble if people set the trees on fire: If we place our trust in our life, our bodies, or our worldly possessions, we'll have no refuge when the fires of death reach us. Or as when a boat sinks in the middle of the ocean: A person without a life-vest is in serious danger. For this reason, we should educate ourselves so as to find a refuge that will benefit us both in this life and in lives to come.

Another comparison: The sages of the past used the term 'Buddha-ratana,' comparing the Buddha to a jewel. Now, there are three sorts of jewels: artificial gems; gemstones, such as rubies or sapphires; and diamonds, which are held to be the highest. The aspects of the Buddha might be compared to these three sorts of jewels. To place confidence in the external aspect — the body of the Buddha or images made to represent him — is like dressing up with artificial gems. To show respect for the practices followed by the Buddha by giving rise to them within ourselves is like dressing up with rubies and sapphires. To reach the quality of deathlessness is like dressing in diamonds from head to toe.

But no matter what sort of jewels we use to dress up in, we're better off than savages who go around hanging bones from their necks, who look unkempt and — what's more — are bound to be haunted by the bones they wear. The bones, here, stand for the body, i.e., our attachment to the body as really being ours. Actually, our body comes for the most part from the bodies of other animals — the food we've eaten — so how can we seriously take it to be our own? Whoever insists on regarding the body as his or her own is like a savage or a swindler — and, as a swindler, is bound to receive punishment in proportion to the crime. Thus, we should regard the body as money borrowed for the span of a lifetime, to be used as capital. And we should search for profits so as to release ourselves from our debts, by searching for another, better form of goodness: the qualities of the Buddha that he left as teachings for all of his followers. These qualities, briefly put, are —

1 Sati: the continual mindfulness (wakefulness) found in the factors of jhana.
2 Pañña: the intuitive discernment that comes from developing mental concentration.

3 Vimutti: release from defilement

These are qualities that all Buddhists should develop within themselves so as to gain Awakening, following the example of the Buddha, becoming Savaka Buddhas (Disciple Buddhas), an opportunity open — without exception and with no restrictions of time or place — to all who follow his teachings.

Buddhists who revere the Buddha in the full sense of the word should have two sorts of symbols with them, to serve as reminders of their tradition —

1 Buddha-nimitta: representatives of the Buddha, such as Buddha images or stupas in which relics of the Buddha are placed. This sort of reminder is like a nation's flag.
2 Buddha-guna: the qualities that form the inner symbol of the Buddha, i.e., the proper practice of his teachings. Whoever takes a stand in this manner is bound to be victorious both within and without, safe from such enemies as temptation and mortality.

Our nation's flag and the people of our nation are two different things. Just as our flag will have value only if the people of our nation are good and preserve the fullness of the nation's qualities; so too, we Buddhists have to respect both our flag — images of the Buddha — and the qualities of the Buddha if we are to be good Buddhists. Otherwise, we will suffer from not having fulfilled our responsibilities.

To take an example, we Thai people, in order to be Thai in the full sense, have to possess a number of qualifications: the ability to speak and to read Thai, acquaintance with Thai customs and traditions, the ability to benefit ourselves (attattha-cariya) and to spread those benefits to help care for the needs of our parents, spouses, and children (ñatatthacariya). And not only that: If we have the ability and the energy — physical, mental, financial, or the energy of our virtues — we should expand those benefits to help our fellow human beings in general throughout the nation (lokatthacariya). This is what it means to be Thai in the full sense of the word. In the same way, we who revere the image of the Buddha and the Buddha's good qualities should have them with us at all times if we are to receive the full benefits that come from being Buddhist and to maintain the peace and well-being of Buddhists at large.



resource for further study:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/triplegem.html
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.

 


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