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Thread: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

  1. #1

    The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Just kind of throwing this subject out there, as a practicing Buddhist and with no disrespect but, although it is very easy to find not only solace and wisdom of the teachings of the Buddha but, a great peace and true happiness in the application of Buddhist thought, it dosen't take much investigation to see the many ways in which the story of the Buddha jibes with that of Christ, Dionysus, mythra, and even in some ways to Quetzalcoatl.
    For example...

    Both Buddha and Jesus were baptized in the presence of the "spirit" of G--d. (De Bunsen, p. 45; Matthew 3:16.)
    Both went to their temples at the age of twelve, where they are said to have astonished all with their wisdom. (Ibid., p. 37; Luke 2:41--48.)
    When Buddha died: "The coverings of [his] body unrolled themselves, and the lid of his coffin was opened by supernatural powers." (De Bunsen, p. 49.)
    Buddha answered the "devil": "Get you away from me." (De Bunsen, p.38) Jesus responded: "...begone, Satan!" (Matthew 4:10). Both experienced the "supernatural" after the "devil" left: For Buddha: "The skies rained flowers, and delicious odors prevailed [in] the air." (Ibid.) For Jesus: "angels came and ministered to him" (Matthew 4:11).
    Source http://www.tektonics.org/copycat/buddha01.html
    I suppose my question is...
    Is it fair to say that these are misconceptions from the western translation of the vedic story of Shakyamuni Buddha, or is this story of Buddha among many Buddhas not important to applied Buddhism as defined as those who seek awakening.

  2. #2

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Hello,

    I'm not sure Ernest de Bunsen is a reliable source on this particular question. If it is the same Ernest de Bunsen that lived in the 19:th century, his knowledge of Buddhism would be scarce at best. If it is not the same de Bunsen, my apologies.

    To my recollection, Buddha was never "baptized in the presence of the spirit of God", nor did he excel at the temple when he was 12 (he wasn't a Buddha when he was 12 to start with). As far as I know, he didn't get buried in a coffin, and I have never heard that the lid of said coffin was removed by supernatural powers.

    Apart from a virgin birth (which in the Buddha's case is part of the Jatakas, a collection of legendary tales) I also fail to see the similarities with, say, Quetzalcoatl. Please, explain more, if you so wish.

    I don't understand when you say "the vedic story of Shakyamuni Buddha". What Vedic story is this? The only Vedic story I know that could be considered similar is the birth of Indra, but that is not a story of the Buddha at all. Perhaps you refer to later Hindu stories of how Buddha is an avatar of a Hindu deity? From this perspective, no, I don't think it would be fair to say that this is a misconception from the western translation.

    You ask about Buddha among many Buddhas, but again I fail to see what this has to do with the comparison between Jesus and Buddha. The story of Buddhas among Buddhas is important to applied buddhism, because it means that we can all be awakened, awakening does not belong to just one (supernatural) person.

    I am very sorry if I have misunderstood your questions. Please correct me where you see fit.

    All the best,

    Anista

  3. #3

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Hi,

    Yes, I am not familiar with most of these stories and descriptions of the life of the Buddha, and I am doubtful. There are some interesting similarities in legend however, perhaps the same story that traveled around the world? For example ... the Buddha's (well, Sariputta's) walking on water:

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/btg/btg86.htm

    Miracle stories abound!

    Buddha or any Ancestor, Jesus or any Saint (imho) dies and ... century by century ... those in the religion (looking from afar at what those attainments actually were on the part of their "religious heroes") start to imagine and fantasize and exaggerate their wonderful nature into something super-human. What was merely "Great, Profound and Wonderful" must become "Miraculous, Wondrous and (often) Ridiculous". The result is called an "hagiography", and what may be seen here.

    A hagiography is a biography, usually of a saint or saintly person, and usually written to idealize their life or justify their sainthood. In other words, a hagiography is usually a positive presentation of a life, rather than an objective or critical biography. When using a hagiography as a research source, the purpose and style must be taken into consideration, as the writer probably omitted negative information and exaggerated, or even created, positive information about the subject of the hagiography. Lives of the saints are typically hagiographies.
    Gassho, Jundo

  4. #4
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    To my recollection, Buddha was never "baptized in the presence of the spirit of God", nor did he excel at the temple when he was 12 (he wasn't a Buddha when he was 12 to start with)
    Anista,

    I would defer to your knowledge of these things, but was not Shakyamuni a Buddha when he was 12? My understanding has always been that we are all Buddha, but please correct me if I am mistaken.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  5. #5

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    To my recollection, Buddha was never "baptized in the presence of the spirit of God", nor did he excel at the temple when he was 12 (he wasn't a Buddha when he was 12 to start with)
    Anista,

    I would defer to your knowledge of these things, but was not Shakyamuni a Buddha when he was 12? My understanding has always been that we are all Buddha, but please correct me if I am mistaken.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Hi Dosho,

    I might summarize the Mahayana Doctrine of "Original Buddhahood" this way: We are all Buddha all along, but it may take much work (perhaps lifetimes and lifetimes of work, although it can also be realized in an instant) to realize that fact and actually step into those big shoes.

    So, the Buddha was not Buddha before he became Buddha ... although we are always all Buddha so nothing more to become! :shock:

    Gassho, J

  6. #6

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    To my recollection, Buddha was never "baptized in the presence of the spirit of God", nor did he excel at the temple when he was 12 (he wasn't a Buddha when he was 12 to start with)
    Anista,

    I would defer to your knowledge of these things, but was not Shakyamuni a Buddha when he was 12? My understanding has always been that we are all Buddha, but please correct me if I am mistaken.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Dosho,

    He may have been a Buddha in ultimate truth, but not in conventional. Buddha is a title he himself started using once he was awakened, at the age of 30-something. Or, once he realized his own Buddha nature. Or, once he became what he already was. And all that. So he may be called a "Buddha", as in "we are all Buddhas", but he was not the awakened one. In this case, I'm pretty sure we are talking about conventional truth.

    On the other hand, the concept that we are all Buddhas, doesn't mean that we have all realized our inherent Buddha nature. If so, we wouldn't need to practice at all, which was what lead Dogen to his search for the truth about that statement So, even in ultimate truth there is a Buddha, and there is a Buddha. No discrimination exists between them, yet one sees and one does not.

    EDIT: Jundo beat me to it!

  7. #7
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Anista & Jundo,

    Thanks for the clarification!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  8. #8

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Quote Originally Posted by thirst_for_knowledge
    Is it fair to say that these are misconceptions from the western translation...
    All of history is misconception. I guess I don't understand where you're going with this...

  9. #9

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    The stories of Buddha being tempted by Maya (the Devil) both before his enlightenment (including during a sojourn in the desert) ... and after, at many times in his later life ... have some parallels. Stephen Batchelor has a lovely series of essays on that ... on how the Buddha needed temptation and delusion to realize and live Buddhahood ... on how the freedom and richness of life allow us the constant choice of good over the harms of evil ... in his wonderful book "Living with the Devil".

    http://www.amazon.com/Living-Devil-Medi ... 1573222763

    It is the kind of book though, so rich in each sentence and paragraph, that is best taken slowly, putting it down after each few pages. I took about a year, enjoying small bites each day. I will probably read it again at some point ... in small bites.

    Perhaps we might say that Buddha needs the devil in much the way a fireman needs fire to be a fireman, or a cook needs well managed fire to make a feast!

    Gassho, Jundo

  10. #10

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Buddha exists in Christianity, in the story of Barlaam and Josaphat.

  11. #11

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Quote Originally Posted by fendis
    Buddha exists in Christianity, in the story of Barlaam and Josaphat.
    Hmmm interesting. I had never heard of this. But it seems the story changed and developed quite a great bit as it moved down the silk road.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barlaam_and_Josaphat

    Anyway, stories are but stories. It is the Truths at the Heart of all stories that are most important.

    Gassho, Jundo

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    I do remember this story in its retelling on their feast, Novemeber 19 (which happened to correspond to my birthday and made them special to me!). The Eastern Church, in its "simplicity", taught that these Indian princes and prophets became Christian; but the Church, in its "complexity", admits that this is a hagiographic retelling of Buddha's story to illustrate that the quest for spiritual liberation is universal.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  13. #13

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Greetings:
    While both of these iconic leaders shaped the spiritual paths of humanity for millennia after their lives, I find they represent fundamentally opposite paths and possibly opposing destinations. To me, this becomes clear after looking past all the miracles and supernatural stuff.
    First, Jesus was born in humble circumstances and grew to claim the titles “King of the Jews” and “Savior of mankind.” Siddhartha, born about six-hundred years earlier, entered life as a prince and blessed with the adoration of all in his word. He later renounced this title and gave up all he had. But the most important distinction between the two is how we attain what could be referred to as salvation.
    Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” This is not an isolated statement, but the overriding theme of the New Testament. No matter how you live your life, it is only through grace and belief in Christ that you can achieve salvation.
    The message of Buddha is just the opposite. No matter how great your teacher is, or how many people you have helping you, enlightenment can only be achieved by you. It is within your power alone and is ultimately your responsibility. I think it is important to keep those differences in mind as we each choose our path.
    Thanks…Rob

  14. #14
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Quote Originally Posted by captkid
    Greetings:
    While both of these iconic leaders shaped the spiritual paths of humanity for millennia after their lives, I find they represent fundamentally opposite paths and possibly opposing destinations. To me, this becomes clear after looking past all the miracles and supernatural stuff.
    First, Jesus was born in humble circumstances and grew to claim the titles “King of the Jews” and “Savior of mankind.” Siddhartha, born about six-hundred years earlier, entered life as a prince and blessed with the adoration of all in his word. He later renounced this title and gave up all he had. But the most important distinction between the two is how we attain what could be referred to as salvation.
    Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” This is not an isolated statement, but the overriding theme of the New Testament. No matter how you live your life, it is only through grace and belief in Christ that you can achieve salvation.
    The message of Buddha is just the opposite. No matter how great your teacher is, or how many people you have helping you, enlightenment can only be achieved by you. It is within your power alone and is ultimately your responsibility. I think it is important to keep those differences in mind as we each choose our path.
    Thanks…Rob
    I never noticed this before... *facepalm*

  15. #15

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Quote Originally Posted by captkid
    Greetings:
    While both of these iconic leaders shaped the spiritual paths of humanity for millennia after their lives, I find they represent fundamentally opposite paths and possibly opposing destinations. To me, this becomes clear after looking past all the miracles and supernatural stuff.
    First, Jesus was born in humble circumstances and grew to claim the titles “King of the Jews” and “Savior of mankind.” Siddhartha, born about six-hundred years earlier, entered life as a prince and blessed with the adoration of all in his word. He later renounced this title and gave up all he had. But the most important distinction between the two is how we attain what could be referred to as salvation.
    Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” This is not an isolated statement, but the overriding theme of the New Testament. No matter how you live your life, it is only through grace and belief in Christ that you can achieve salvation.
    The message of Buddha is just the opposite. No matter how great your teacher is, or how many people you have helping you, enlightenment can only be achieved by you. It is within your power alone and is ultimately your responsibility. I think it is important to keep those differences in mind as we each choose our path.
    Thanks…Rob
    Hi Rob,

    I am not so sure that it is this simple. Most Buddhist folks in Asia are as worshipful of Buddha as their "Messiah and Savior" (a "Messiah" who came from "Buddha Heaven" to save all beings) as most Christian folks are of Jesus. Jesus also emphasized self responsibility for one's conduct too ... and most Buddhists think that faith in Buddha is the "my way or the highway" way. I could go on and on with the parallels and/or differences, but let us just say ... depends how you look at these things.

    The first words out of the Baby Buddha's mouth (he was born walkin' and talkin') are said to be these ... although just "miracles and supernatural stuff" ... and although just "how the words are interpreted" ...

    On being born, it is said, the Buddha took seven steps in each of the four cardinal directions, pointed with one hand up and one hand down, and said, “Above the heavens, below the earth, I alone am the world honored one.”

    Of course, other versions have the words a bit different (for example, the official "Soto-shu" web page has the quote as "“Heaven, earth and I are all one person”), and words are just words. I tend to look at "Buddha" as a human being of flesh and blood, a psychologist and philosopher, and man of great wisdom and compassion. He also was/saw/embodied something sacred, beyond what the eye can usually discern ... but so are/is/can you and me!

    Anyway, many paths up the mountain for different folks, and many ways two climbers will interpret the very same path!

    Gassho, Jundo

  16. #16

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    I would really tend to agree with Rob. Jesus presents himself as the son of God and the real deal ( at least in the four gospels choosen by the early Church). Buddha never said he was the choosen one and insisted on being one s own lamp in this world. That said, both paths share many aspects.

    Gassho

    Taigu

  17. #17

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Buddha never said he was the choosen one and insisted on being one s own lamp in this world. That said, both paths share many aspects.
    Digha Nikaya Sutta 26, the Buddha said: "Monks, be a lamp unto yourselves, be a refuge unto yourselves, with no other refuge. Take the Dhamma as your lamp, take the Dhamma as your refuge, with no other refuge."

    John 8:12 (NIV) When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

    Anyway, I am a Zen Buddhist monk/rabbi name Cohen. I have no horse in this race. 8)

    Gassho, J

  18. #18

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    And in the Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures ("Old Testament"):

    "Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (Psalm 119:105 RSV)

    But to Taigu"s point, Christians do claim that Jesus personified himself as the light of the world.

    I think this is Taigu's point, I think.

    Gasho,

    James.

  19. #19

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Indeed, James. As I learn to appreciate again the Christian path, I also clearly perceive differences. These are not bad, and my perception is not biased. It is just the way it is. Christ is the light , Christ is the lord for Christians. Now, what is Christ? If you describe Christ as being the original face, the true self, then ...I am a christian. But for Christians it is different and more than that, and I know for having been the victim of religious discrimination quite a few times. Like Rumi, like any of us my dance is human. At the same time, I am a Buddhist and Christ is not my lord, guide and light. Unlike my brother Jundo, I cannot be be a rabbi... or a shaman or a sufi teacher or do anything else. I am a man of one path, and I practice a single thing. No horse and no race. One taste.
    (And I know my brother Jundo does too, just a question of wording, really)

    gassho

    Taigu

  20. #20
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Same, yes.
    Different, yes.

    They are certainly not one.
    But they are not exactly two either, if you look at their overall message (not individual scriptures).

    We are conditioned to look for differences and similarities, but how often do we think to look for wholeness?

  21. #21

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Hello,

    just my two deluded cents coming up As often, it seems to depend on one's perspective IMHO. I tend to passionately agree that a whole range of essential insights seem to completely overlap when one looks at certain individuals and currents within the Christian and Buddhist tradition. Depending on the branch of Christianity and/or Buddhism one is looking at however, one will come to massively different conclusions as to the "percentage" of this overlap. If one takes e.g. Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart, Shankara, Rumi and Nagarjuna, one might find vast similarities in essence....however one could equally pick a list of individuals who have been no less influential in defining/shaping their religious currents with views that couldn't be more distant from one another.

    What they all have in common is the fact that humans expressed something about their own experiences of reality in the light of their culture and times. It'd actually be very strange indeed to not find extreme similarities (probably not because, but in spite of religious traditions).


    I am also absolutely in favour of trying to look for similarities rather than to look for what differences we might find (otherwise we're doomed in an age of nuclear warfare). What I find less positive though is a trend I've observed that likes to gloss over major historical facts for the sake of forcefully creating harmony, where a healthy "we agree to disagree" might lead to a deeper mutual understanding in some cases in the long run.

    True inter-faith interaction has to really approach the knitty-gritty bits as well. It is easy to talk about peace and have some freshly baked scones at a local house of worship, but when it comes down to it, what do one's religiously motivated ethics tell you regarding e.g. contraception, homosexuality, abortion, apostasy?

    Much more relevant in the short term IMHO are questions we can ask ourselves as practitioners of Shikantaza. Why do I look for sameness/difference? What is it that is mainly influencing my outlook on a topic? What do I truly believe? Who is this "I" that feels like it is believing? What is that non-space I enter when I drop even those questions?

    Obviously one should not think intellectually think about such matters WHILE sitting Shikantaza


    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen

  22. #22
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hans
    I am also absolutely in favour of trying to look for similarities rather than to look for what differences we might find
    This has always been my mantra, and one for which I've often received a "slap upside-the-head". Conversations that end up with the "yes, but" defense usually indicate that one or both parties were never going to be willing to admit the other had a valid point.

    There is no sensible way to absolutely equate the journeys and teachings of Buddha and Jesus, or Krishna, or Zoaroaster, or Dogen and Merton; yet, for me, I see a core that is alike, the same and shared experience that their cultures' ethos and language may color but should not blind us from the truth of it even though we are looking from a distance, and another land.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  23. #23

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyrillos
    Quote Originally Posted by Hans
    I am also absolutely in favour of trying to look for similarities rather than to look for what differences we might find
    This has always been my mantra, and one for which I've often received a "slap upside-the-head". Conversations that end up with the "yes, but" defense usually indicate that one or both parties were never going to be willing to admit the other had a valid point.

    There is no sensible way to absolutely equate the journeys and teachings of Buddha and Jesus, or Krishna, or Zoaroaster, or Dogen and Merton; yet, for me, I see a core that is alike, the same and shared experience that their cultures' ethos and language may color but should not blind us from the truth of it even though we are looking from a distance, and another land.

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill
    Fr. K speaks my mind.

    I believe many folks have had a bad experience in growing up with their childhood religion, or have only encountered certain narrow or harsh forms of that religion. Therefore, they tend to judge the entire religion as primarily negative, and as simply incompatible with Buddhist practice.

    However, it all depends on how one looks at these things, how one encounters Jesus, Moses or Buddha.

    Again, many folks would be very surprised to learn that the "Pure Land" Buddhism "Messiah" known as "Amida Buddha" is a figure parallel to "Jesus" on many levels, and that (in China, Vietnam, Korea and some schools in Japan) "Pure Land" teachings and Zen teachings merged long ago. Buddhist "theologians" long ago figured out how to find common ground between these traditions. (It is not the flavor of Zen Buddhism I practice or encourage here at Treeleaf, but it is the way it is practiced by countless Zen Buddhists in Asia. Here is a very detail scholar's history of how that 'common ground' was found).

    http://books.google.com/books?id=GwPy3f ... nd&f=false

    Simply, if that "common ground" could be found between Amida and Zen ... then it can be found between Jesus and Zen.

    It depends on the person and how they encounter and interpret these things. One can practice Zen Buddhism and believe in Jesus, Moses, Allah ... one can practice Zen Buddhism and not believe in Jesus, Moses, Allah.

    Gassho, Jundo

  24. #24
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Thank you all. There is great wisdom here. And I am one that formally left the Catholic church, for various reasons. Zen is zen for me. But Zen can be zen and Christ still the living Christ for someone else ... At the same time. "Big Mind" contains all.
    Gassho with thanks,
    Soen

  25. #25

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    So true Jundo,

    and when one practices Zen, only Zen.
    When one prays Amida , Jesus or Alah , just this prayer.


    gassho


    Taigu

  26. #26

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    This morning I was reading one of the accounts of the Buddha's earthly death, this from the Pali Sutta ... the Maha-Parinibbana Sutta (an even more miracle filled account can be found in the Mahayana version). It is true that the Buddha throughout emphasizes again and again that "it is not about me, the Buddha, but about the Teachings" ...

    Ananda, the Tathagata has no such idea as that it is he [the Tathagata] who should lead the community of bhikkhus, or that the community depends upon him. So what instructions should he have to give respecting the community of bhikkhus?

    "Now I am frail, Ananda, old, aged, far gone in years. This is my eightieth year, and my life is spent. Even as an old cart, Ananda, is held together with much difficulty, so the body of the Tathagata is kept going only with supports. It is, Ananda, only when the Tathagata, disregarding external objects, with the cessation of certain feelings, attains to and abides in the signless concentration of mind, that his body is more comfortable.

    33. "Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge.
    But there are definitely "mixed messages" in this Sutta (and in most other Sutta and Sutra) on the subject of worship and refuge in the Buddha ... for example, his power of miracles (of course, one can take these literally, or as symbolic of more subtle truths, such as the "raft to the other shore") ...

    When the Blessed One came to the river Ganges, it was full to the brim, so that crows could drink from it. And some people went in search of a boat or float, while others tied up a raft, because they desired to get across. But the Blessed One, as quickly as a strong man might stretch out his bent arm or draw in his outstretched arm, vanished from this side of the river Ganges, and came to stand on the yonder side.

    34. And the Blessed One saw the people who desired to cross searching for a boat or float, while others were binding rafts. And then the Blessed One, seeing them thus, gave forth the solemn utterance:


    They who have bridged the ocean vast,
    Leaving the lowlands far behind,
    While others still their frail rafts bind,
    Are saved by wisdom unsurpassed.
    There is also his claimed ability to live beyond ordinary human lifespan should he desire (It is implied that, had Ananda merely so requested, the Buddha would have done so) ... another tale that can be taken literally or as pointing to a subtle truth ...

    And the Blessed One said: "Whosoever, Ananda, has developed, practiced, employed, strengthened, maintained, scrutinized, and brought to perfection the four constituents of psychic power could, if he so desired, remain throughout a world-period or until the end of it. The Tathagata, Ananda, has done so. Therefore the Tathagata could, if he so desired, remain throughout a world-period or until the end of it."

    4. But the Venerable Ananda was unable to grasp the plain suggestion, the significant prompting, given by the Blessed One. As though his mind was influenced by Mara, he did not beseech the Blessed One: "May the Blessed One remain, O Lord!. May the Happy One remain, O Lord, throughout the world-period, for the welfare and happiness of the multitude, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well being, and happiness of gods and men!"

    5. And when for a second and a third time the Blessed One repeated his words, the Venerable Ananda remained silent.
    Miracles accompany his sickness and passing ... although the Buddha also directs these toward the teachings ...

    Then the Blessed One lay down on his right side, in the lion's posture, resting one foot upon the other, and so disposed himself, mindfully and clearly comprehending.

    4. At that time the twin sala trees broke out in full bloom, though it was not the season of flowering. And the blossoms rained upon the body of the Tathagata and dropped and scattered and were strewn upon it in worship of the Tathagata. And celestial mandarava flowers and heavenly sandalwood powder from the sky rained down upon the body of the Tathagata, and dropped and scattered and were strewn upon it in worship of the Tathagata. And the sound of heavenly voices and heavenly instruments made music in the air out of reverence for the Tathagata.

    5. And the Blessed One spoke to the Venerable Ananda, saying: "Ananda, the twin sala trees are in full bloom, though it is not the season of flowering. And the blossoms rain upon the body of the Tathagata and drop and scatter and are strewn upon it in worship of the Tathagata. And celestial coral flowers and heavenly sandalwood powder from the sky rain down upon the body of the Tathagata, and drop and scatter and are strewn upon it in worship of the Tathagata. And the sound of heavenly voices and heavenly instruments makes music in the air out of reverence for the Tathagata.

    6. "Yet it is not thus, Ananda, that the Tathagata is respected, venerated, esteemed, worshipped, and honored in the highest degree. But, Ananda, whatever bhikkhu or bhikkhuni, layman or laywoman, abides by the Dhamma, lives uprightly in the Dhamma, walks in the way of the Dhamma, it is by such a one that the Tathagata is respected, venerated, esteemed, worshipped, and honored in the highest degree. Therefore, Ananda, thus should you train yourselves: 'We shall abide by the Dhamma, live uprightly in the Dhamma, walk in the way of the Dhamma.'"
    Deities came to pay homage to his final talks ... though complaining about their seats for the show ...

    7. At that time the Venerable Upavana was standing before the Blessed One, fanning him. And the Blessed One rebuked him, saying: "Move aside, bhikkhu, do not stand in front of me." And to the Venerable Ananda came the thought: ... What now could be the reason, what the cause for the Blessed One to rebuke the Venerable Upavana, saying: 'Move aside, bhikkhu, do not stand in front of me'?"

    The Blessed One said: "Throughout the tenfold world-system, Ananda, there are hardly any of the deities that have not gathered together to look upon the Tathagata. For a distance of twelve yojanas around the Sala Grove of the Mallas in the vicinity of Kusinara there is not a spot that could be pricked with the tip of a hair that is not filled with powerful deities. And these deities, Ananda, are complaining: 'From afar have we come to look upon the Tathagata. For rare in the world is the arising of Tathagatas, Arahants, Fully Enlightened Ones. And this day, in the last watch of the night, the Tathagata's Parinibbana will come about. But this bhikkhu of great powers has placed himself right in front of the Blessed One, concealing him, so that now, at the very end, we are prevented from looking upon him.' Thus, Ananda, the deities complain."
    The Buddha encouraged Stupas [Sacred Towers] to be built as places of pilgrimage for his life and relics ...

    16. "There are four places, Ananda, that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence. What are the four?

    17. "'Here the Tathagata was born!' This, Ananda, is a place that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.

    18. "'Here the Tathagata became fully enlightened in unsurpassed, supreme Enlightenment!' This, Ananda, is a place that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.

    19. "'Here the Tathagata set rolling the unexcelled Wheel of the Dhamma!' This, Ananda, is a place that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.

    20. "'Here the Tathagata passed away into the state of Nibbana in which no element of clinging remains!' This, Ananda, is a place that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.

    21. "These, Ananda, are the four places that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence. And truly there will come to these places, Ananda, pious bhikkhus and bhikkhunis, laymen and laywomen, reflecting: 'Here the Tathagata was born! Here the Tathagata became fully enlightened in unsurpassed, supreme Enlightenment! Here the Tathagata set rolling the unexcelled Wheel of the Dhamma! Here the Tathagata passed away into the state of Nibbana in which no element of clinging remains!'

    22. "And whoever, Ananda, should die on such a pilgrimage with his heart established in faith, at the breaking up of the body, after death, will be reborn in a realm of heavenly happiness."
    He seems at times to say at other points, though, that this is for "householders" and other lay folks who cannot approach the Teachings and Practice in another way ... that monks should not give special value to the body ...

    "Do not hinder yourselves, Ananda, to honor the body of the Tathagata. Rather you should strive, Ananda, and be zealous on your own behalf, for your own good. Unflinchingly, ardently, and resolutely you should apply yourselves to your own good. For there are, Ananda, wise nobles, wise brahmans, and wise householders who are devoted to the Tathagata, and it is they who will render the honor to the body of the Tathagata." ...

    And why, Ananda, is a Tathagata, an Arahant, a Fully Enlightened One worthy of a stupa? Because, Ananda, at the thought: 'This is the stupa of that Blessed One, Arahant, Fully Enlightened One!' the hearts of many people will be calmed and made happy; and so calmed and with their minds established in faith therein, at the breaking up of the body, after death, they will be reborn in a realm of heavenly happiness.
    The Buddha is spoken of in the most reverential terms, as our Light and Lamp ... although the emphasis is that the "light" is the teachings that the Buddha leaves us ...

    Excellent, O Lord, most excellent, O Lord! It is as if, Lord, one were to set upright what had been overthrown, or to reveal what had been hidden, or to show the path to one who had gone astray, or to light a lamp in the darkness so that those having eyes might see — even so has the Blessed One set forth the Dhamma in many ways. And so, O Lord, I take my refuge in the Blessed One, the Dhamma, and the Community of Bhikkhus. May the Blessed One accept me as his disciple, one who has taken refuge until the end of life."
    So, rather mixed message on the nature and worship of Buddha. I dare say that one might also look at Jesus as best honored for his Teachings, not just the sacred personage. Perhaps such religious and worshipful views are 'hard wired' into human beings, East or West, and not so different after all.

    Gassho, J

  27. #27

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    There are indeed differences and to gloss over them is to invite syncretism that could eventually be counterproductive to the original or originating beliefs. On the other hand, adhering to historical prejudices however recent, i.e, homosexuality, contraception, even abortion, may betray some ignorance of the original teaching which may now be buried under layers of subsequent historical biases. The revolution of Vatican II was to encourage, in spite of recent reactionary pronouncements, going back to those original beliefs or teachings of Christ which have at the very core the Rule of Love, "Love your enemies", "Pray for those who persecute you".

    Should we proceed with our prejudices and never come to some common dialogue with each other? Or should we at least, for the time being, for the purpose of dialogue, discover what is common among us in order that we can agreeable disagree if our differences cannot at the present moment be bridged?

    In the interfaith dialogues that I've been involved in, we first look for common ground, celebrate what unifies us, and then perhaps talk/dialog/discuss those difficult, even hurtful things that have separated us.

    This is not unlike what I have experienced here at Treeleaf.

    Gasho,

    James.

  28. #28

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Thank you, Fr. James.

    I would like to present the opening words of the Mahayana version of the Buddha's worldly death in the Para-nirvana Sutra. The Buddha has there certainly taken on superhuman qualities even beyond the Pali version. He is said quite clearly to be the refuge of sentient beings who absolves them of their "sin". The parallels are very clear to my eyes.

    Thus have I heard. At one time, the Buddha was staying at Kusinagara in the land of the
    Mallas, close to the river Ajitavati, where the twin sal trees stood. At that time, the great
    bhiksus [monks] as many as 80 billion hundred thousand were with the Blessed One. They
    surrounded him front and back. On the 15th of the second month, as the Buddha was about
    to enter Nirvana, he, with his divine power, spoke in a great voice, which filled the whole world
    and reached the highest of the heavens. It said to all beings in a way each could understand:
    "Today, the Tathagata [i.e. Buddha] the Alms-deserving and Perfectly Awakened One, pities,
    protects and, with an undivided mind, sees beings as he does his [son] Rahula. So, he is the
    refuge and house of the world. The greatly Awakened Blessed One is about to enter Nirvana.
    Beings who have doubts may all now put questions to him."

    At that time, early in the morning, the World-Honoured One emitted from his mouth
    rays of light of various hues, namely: blue, yellow, red, white, crystal, and agate. The rays
    of light shone all over the 3,000 great-thousand Buddha lands. Also, the ten directions were
    alike shone upon. All the sins and worries of beings of the six realms, as they were illuminated,
    were expiated. People saw and heard this, and worry greatly beset them. They all sorrowfully
    cried and wept: "Oh, the kindest father! Oh, woe is the day! Oh, the sorrow!" They raised
    their hands, beat their heads and breasts, and cried aloud. Of them, some trembled, wept, and
    sobbed. At that time, the great earth, the mountains, and great seas all shook. Then, all of
    them said to one another: "Let us for the present suppress our feelings, let us not be greatly
    smitten by sorrow! Let us speed to Kusinagara, call at the land of the Mallas, touch the feet of
    the Tathagata, pay homage and beg: "O Tathagata! Please do not enter Parinirvana, but stay
    one more kalpa [aeon] or less than a kalpa." They pressed their palms together and said again:
    "The world is empty! Fortune has departed from us beings; evil things will increase in the world.
    O you! Hurry up, go quickly! Soon the Tathagata [i.e. Buddha] will surely enter Nirvana." They
    also said: "The world is empty, empty! From now on, no one protects us, and we have none to
    pay homage to. Poverty-stricken and alone! If we once part from the World-Honoured One, and
    if doubts arise, whom are we to ask?"
    http://bodhimarga.org/docs/Mahaparinirv ... e_2007.pdf
    Again, one can take such tales and legends on many levels, more or less literal or figurative and symbolic of some subtle truths. This Mahayana Sutra was always very much cherished in the Zen Schools, and is quoted by Master Dogen throughout the Shobogenzo.

    Gassho, J

  29. #29

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Hi Again,

    Just a couple more comments on the above postings ...

    The Mahayana translation I cited does use the word "sins" ...

    All the sins and worries of beings of the six realms, as they were illuminated,
    were expiated.


    I am trying to check against the Chinese original, but I am assuming that "sins" is not the best translation. Probably, the sense is closer to "bad acts" and Karma.

    Also, I often write the following, posted today on another thread. I tend to take such wild Mahayana descriptions and images for their figurative, symbolic pointing at something sacred and subtle. I do not usually take them literally, although they are pointing toward something oh so real.

    SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: I Don't Believe in Buddha!!

    ... I think there's a lot of "bull" to how Buddha is typically portrayed. I think many of the utterly fantastic Mahayana Sutra stories of Buddhas are ridiculous ... hyper-exaggerated ... just unbelievable! (meaning that they cannot be literally believed any more than children's fairy tales). The imagery is incredibly beautiful ... but the tale just incredible nonsense, purely the product of human imagination. I think the image of a "Perfect Buddha" ... either in this world or some Buddha Land ... as a flawless being beyond all human weakness, conflict and ignorance ... is a fable, a religious myth. I think most of the old miracle filled stories are well meaning fictions, sometimes holy lies, and the golden statues and paintings of Buddhas are but depictions of exaggerated dreams.
    [b]++

    ++ NOTE: I would also like to emphasize how such "I don't believe in Buddha" essay ends, because some missed that point:

    The Buddhist Path is Real



    Liberation is Real



    Buddha is Real

    Gassho, J

  30. #30

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Very eye-opening excerpts, Jundo. Thanks for sharing. A lot of hocus pocus indeed... The Para-nirvana bit in particular just seems so ridiculous.

  31. #31

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matto
    Very eye-opening excerpts, Jundo. Thanks for sharing. A lot of hocus pocus indeed... The Para-nirvana bit in particular just seems so ridiculous.
    Hi Matt,

    Well, I would not go to the other extreme either. Story, poetry, legend, symbolism ... these are fingers pointing to the moon, expressing subtle Teachings and Truths that are not easy to express. WHAT they are pointing to is so Wondrous that it is sometimes described by artists via wondrous creative images to be easier to grasp.

    Don't confuse the fancy, colorful, playful wrapping paper for the Real Gift. 8)

    Gassho, J

  32. #32

    Re: The story of the Buddha compared to that of Christ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Don't confuse the fancy, colorful, playful wrapping paper for the Real Gift. 8)
    I certainly don't... it's the people who do (in any tradition) that worry me! :?

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