The Jataka Tales & The Origin of Mahayana Buddhism

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Dharma Flower
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The Jataka Tales & The Origin of Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Dharma Flower » Sat Jun 10, 2017 10:08 am

The Jataka tales of the Buddha's past lives are among the oldest Buddhist literature. The development of the Mahayana as a distinct tradition of Buddhism perhaps started with an effort to emulate the virtues of the Buddha in his previous lives as a Bodhisattva, leading up to his final rebirth.

While the perfections or Paramitas described in the Jataka tales were originally taken as descriptive, in order to engender reverence for the Buddha, Mahayanists took the Paramitas as prescriptive, as the model we should follow in our own Bodhisattva path to full Buddhahood.
Perhaps the earliest genre of Buddhist literature in which the pāramitās appear are the collections of Jātakas, the stories of the Buddha’s previous lives.

The pāramitās in these stories provide major underlying themes, such as self-sacrifice, ethical virtue, and patience, that demonstrate the magnificent qualities developed by the Buddha in his previous lives by carrying out moral acts as a bodhisattva on the bodhisattva path.

In the Aviṣahya Jātaka, for example, the bodhisattva cultivates the perfection of generosity (dānapāramitā) by donating alms to supplicants in spite of being reduced to poverty. The bodhisattva is a boy who refuses to steal, even after encouragement from his Brahmin teacher to do so, in the Brāhmaṇa Jātaka, to illustrate the cultivation of the perfection of morality (śīlapāramitā). In the Kṣāntivādin Jātaka, the bodhisattva is an ascetic who cultivates the perfection of forbearance (kṣāntipāramitā) by tolerating being violently disfigured by an angry king.5 Most Buddhist groups (nikāya) had collections of Jātakas that differed in length and number.

Buddhist groups and movements also understood the purport of the Jātakas differently, with mainstream groups like the Theravāda seeing the perfections in the Jātakas as qualities to be admired, while Mahāyāna movements understood the perfections in the Jātakas as models to emulate.
http://religion.oxfordre.com/view/10.10 ... 0378-e-193

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Aemilius
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Re: The Jataka Tales & The Origin of Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Aemilius » Mon Jun 12, 2017 8:52 am

Several Buddhas are mentioned by name in the Jatakas. The doctrine of boddhisattva career is thus implicit in the Jatakas from the beginning. I.e. that there have been a multitude of Buddhas in the infinite past and and a multitude of bodhisattvas who became those Buddhas, this view is implicit or present in the Jatakas. This has been put forward in the modern Madhyamaka literature, for example by C.W. Huntington.

Before the buddhist literature there was buddhist oral tradition that had lasted for centuries, or millennia. Buddhism does not start with the appearance of buddhist literature. There are some modern studies of oral traditions of the world. We don't have recordings of Buddhist oral teachings and their methods, but we know they existed and this should not be ignored. The knowledge about the still existing oral traditions in Africa, Australia etc.. should be applied to our knowledge of Buddhist history.

If you read for example the History of Indian Buddhism by Etienne Lamotte, you will find that Theravada and Sthaviravada that preceded it were a small minority, they were not the mainstream of Buddhism in ancient times! Brush up your knowledge of buddhist history.

Mahayana started in the infinite past, kalpas ago, before the present world came into existence, naturally.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
(Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1.)

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Aemilius
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Re: The Jataka Tales & The Origin of Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Aemilius » Tue Jun 13, 2017 8:40 am

Huntington's Emptiness of Emptiness on page 20 says that as many as 34 other Buddhas are mentioned in the Jatakas.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
(Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1.)

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Coëmgenu
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Re: The Jataka Tales & The Origin of Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:13 pm

It goes back even further! Even pre-Mahāyāna sects, like the Sarvāstivāda & Mahāsāṃghika, to name two, believed in the multiplicity of the Buddhas in their sūtra-literature, let alone their in Abhidharmas etc.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः
उत्पन्नाजातुविद्यन्तेभावाःक्वचनकेचन

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Aemilius
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Re: The Jataka Tales & The Origin of Mahayana Buddhism

Post by Aemilius » Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:20 am

Jatakas are pre-mahayana, that is the whole point to beging with.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
(Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1.)

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