What can Buddhas do and not do?

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lisasimmarco
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What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by lisasimmarco » Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:47 pm

Anyone here know their scripture well?

I was at an empowerment recently and the lama during the teachings period said the Buddhas could not bring anyone out of hell. You could have knocked me off my seat. I thought they could-well, if the karma was ripe for the soul? The lama- a very good teacher - said that if that were true, everyone would be out of hell.

So, what can they do, and not do? And if they can't help anyone's karma or bring someone out of hell, what's the point of all those aspiration prayers I do for all sentient beings all the time? Might as well be a Hinayana Buddhist.

And if they can't do it, what can li'l ole me do, with all those om mani padme hum's I do every day, sending them out in all directions?

Finally, just for reference, my root teacher, Garchen Rinpoche (I'm a Drigung Kagyu Buddhist) once said that if any of us were in hell he would come and save us. He was very serious at the time. So that seems like a contradiction.

So, now I'm totatlly confused. Cited references would be great, if anyone has the time. I will say I have been very discourage in my practice since I heard this.

Thank you in advance.

Lisa

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Re: What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:51 pm

We have to work with our own Karma, regardless of the technical answer. Indeed, if Buddhas could liberate everyone there would be no need for practice. As to the mechanics of how Bodhisattvas etc. intervene, no idea.

One thing: In the Mahayana one can't discount the tremendous power of aspiration, so even if your mantra recitations aren't going out and helping others, the aspiration created through such practice is boundless, literally, boundless.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

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Re: What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by Sentient Light » Mon Nov 14, 2016 11:27 pm

lisasimmarco wrote:And if they can't help anyone's karma or bring someone out of hell, what's the point of all those aspiration prayers I do for all sentient beings all the time? ...And if they can't do it, what can li'l ole me do, with all those om mani padme hum's I do every day, sending them out in all directions?
The Ksitigarbha Sutra says that when we make offerings and prayers for the deceased, the deceased receive 1/7th of the merit of the practice. This should tell us immediately that the greatest benefit of these practices is for our own mind: we cultivate loving-kindness, generosity, compassion in order to transform our own minds first and foremost.
Ksitigarbha Sutra wrote:"When men or women laden with offenses who failed to plant good
causes die, even they can receive one seventh of any merit dedicated
to them by relatives who do good deeds on their behalves. The other
six sevenths of the merit will return to the living relatives who did the
good deeds. It follows that men and women of the present and future
who cultivate while they are strong and healthy will receive all portions
of the benefit derived."
The merit received by the objects of our practices is just a sliver of the total merit. It helps to ease their suffering. It may, but certainly is not guaranteed, to expedite their release from hell by exhausting their remaining karma. But it is always up to them to begin performing wholesome actions and thoughts in order to keep it going. We are each responsible for our own karma.
lisasimmarco wrote:Finally, just for reference, my root teacher, Garchen Rinpoche (I'm a Drigung Kagyu Buddhist) once said that if any of us were in hell he would come and save us. He was very serious at the time. So that seems like a contradiction.
Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva dwells in the hell realms, saving sentient beings. He doesn't deliver them from their punishment in hell. He doesn't instantly make it so they are reborn in another world. He goes down, abides in the hell with these beings, and teaches them dharma. That is saving sentient beings. But it still upon the beings to hear the teachings, to put them into practice.

The Buddha's name can purify past karma. Mindfulness of the Buddha can purify past karma. But the Buddha himself has no power to purify our karma. That is something we must do on our own, through the practice of the dharma that the Buddhas have laid out. It is always on us to practice, to transform our own minds.
:buddha1: Nam mô A di đà Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Quan Thế Âm Bồ tát :bow:
:bow: Nam mô Đại Thế Chi Bồ Tát :bow:

:buddha1: Nam mô Bổn sư Thích ca mâu ni Phật :buddha1:
:bow: Nam mô Di lặc Bồ tát :bow:
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Re: What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Tue Nov 15, 2016 8:22 am

Buddhas can release living beings from hell if they have created the karmic cause through sincere Tantric practice, for example, but they cannot release others from hell in general. Once a person's negative karma ripens, even a Buddha is unable to prevent their suffering. For example, Devadatta took rebirth in hell because of his negative actions towards Buddha and Buddha was unable to prevent it.

It is said that if one engages in the practice of Vajrayogini, that person will attain enlightenment in seven lifetimes. Even if the practitioner finds themselves in the deepest hell, Vajrayogini will bless them and guide them to Keajra Pure Land. This, of course, depends upon practising well and keeping one's Tantric commitments.

Please don't be discouraged in your practice. Buddhas are not omnipotent, they can only release us from samsara if we co-operate with them by going for refuge to them; but they do have the power to bless the minds of each and every living being every day, to give them peace and happiness, to ripen others' mental continuum through special blessings and to emanate whatever others might needs for their happiness and their practice. Buddhas have great power but to receive the full benefit of their enlightenment we need to rely upon them sincerely.

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Re: What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Nov 15, 2016 8:52 am

@Lisa - you're overlooking the possibility that beings decide to be in hell. If they realise that they're in a hell realm and need to escape from it, then they are already 'hearing the teaching' or at least are open to it; then the Buddha is able to help them, because they're open to being helped. But a lot of the time beings will rationalise their situation, they will have become accustomed to it, even though from our perspective it seems like hellish suffering. But if they rationalise it, or if they are in the hell-realms because of what they have chosen to pursue, nobody can take them away from that situation. They have to be ready to look for help, otherwise they won't get helped - and that is not any omission on the part of the Buddha. The Buddha only points the way, we have to walk it. So if you're practicing, then keep doing that, because that is walking it!
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by Vasana » Tue Nov 15, 2016 10:48 am

Wayfarer wrote:@Lisa - you're overlooking the possibility that beings decide to be in hell. If they realise that they're in a hell realm and need to escape from it, then they are already 'hearing the teaching' or at least are open to it; then the Buddha is able to help them, because they're open to being helped. But a lot of the time beings will rationalise their situation, they will have become accustomed to it, even though from our perspective it seems like hellish suffering. But if they rationalise it, or if they are in the hell-realms because of what they have chosen to pursue, nobody can take them away from that situation. They have to be ready to look for help, otherwise they won't get helped - and that is not any omission on the part of the Buddha. The Buddha only points the way, we have to walk it. So if you're practicing, then keep doing that, because that is walking it!
Ordinary beings don't 'decide' anything about their rebirths and intermediate states.
ཨོཾ ་ མ ་ ཎི ་ པ ་ དྨེ ་ ཧཱུྃ ། འ ་ ཨ ་ ཧ ་ ཤ ་ ས ་ མ །
Om Mani Peme Hum ། 'A Ah Ha Sha Sa Ma
'When alone, watch your mind,When with others, watch your speech' - Old Kadampa saying

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Re: What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by Vasana » Tue Nov 15, 2016 10:54 am

What the Buddha's can do ;
Dear Sāriputta, the Tathāgata Buddha has ten Tathāgata powers. The Tathāgata Buddha declares His greatness fearlessly with those powers. Like a roar of a lion, the Tathāgata Buddha also preaches the Dhamma valiantly in front of any number of groups of people with those powers. The transcendent Dhammachakka is turned by the Tathāgata Buddha with those powers. What are those ten powers?

The first power of the Tathāgata
Dear Sāriputta, the Tathāgata Buddha knows about the things that could happen and that could not happen in the world in the exact way. This is a power of the Tathāgata. It is with that power the Tathāgata Buddha is assuring His greatness fearlessly. It is with that power He is preaching the Dhamma in a fearless voice like a roar of a lion. It is with that power He is turning forward the transcendent Dhammachakka (the wheel of Dhamma), which cannot be reversed or stopped by anyone else.

The second power of the Tathāgata
Dear Sāriputta, the Tathāgata Buddha is capable of realizing the results of any action (Karma) that has been performed over the past, in the present, or in the future in detail, with reasons, and in the exact way. This is also a power of the Tathāgata. It is with that power the Tathāgata Buddha is assuring His greatness fearlessly. It is with that power He is preaching the Dhamma in a fearless voice like a roar of a lion. It is with that power He is turning forward the transcendent Dhammachakka, which cannot be reversed or stopped by anyone else.

The third power of the Tathāgata
Dear Sāriputta, if there is a journey of a being towards a birth, the Tathāgata Buddha is capable of realizing all these journeys in the exact way. This is also a power of the Tathāgata. It is with that power the Tathāgata Buddha is assuring His greatness fearlessly. It is with that power He is preaching the Dhamma in a fearless voice like a roar of a lion. It is with that power He is turning forward the transcendent Dhammachakka, which cannot be reversed or stopped by anyone else.

The fourth power of the Tathāgata
Dear Sāriputta, the Tathāgata Buddha is capable of knowing the world of many and various natures in its exact way. This is also a power of the Tathāgata. It is with that power the Tathāgata Buddha is assuring His greatness fearlessly. It is with that power He is preaching the Dhamma in a fearless voice like a roar of a lion. It is with that power He is turning forward the transcendent Dhammachakka, which cannot be reversed or stopped by anyone else.

The fifth power of the Tathāgata
Dear Sāriputta, the Tathāgata Buddha has the capability to know all divergent types of natures pertaining to the minds of beings and the differences corresponding to the deficiencies of their minds in the exact way. This is also a power of the Tathāgata. It is with that power the Tathāgata Buddha is assuring His greatness fearlessly. It is with that power He is preaching the Dhamma in a fearless voice like a roar of a lion. It is with that power He is turning forward the transcendent Dhammachakka, which cannot be reversed or stopped by anyone else.

The sixth power of the Tathāgata
Dear Sāriputta, the Tathāgata Buddha has the capability to know the extent of other beings’ and other humans’ development of skills such as Saddhā in the exact way. This is also a power of the Tathāgata. It is with that power the Tathāgata Buddha is assuring His greatness fearlessly. It is with that power He is preaching the Dhamma in a fearless voice like a roar of a lion. It is with that power He is turning forward the transcendent Dhammachakka, which cannot be reversed or stopped by anyone else.

The seventh power of the Tathāgata
Dear Sāriputta, the Tathāgata Buddha knows about the Dhyāna in the exact way. He also knows about Vimōksha, Samādhi, and about various types of Samāpatti in their exact way. He also has the capability to know about how these states of Dhyāna and Samāpatti could get tainted and how one gets up from a Samādhi. This is also a power of the Tathāgata. It is with that power the Tathāgata Buddha is assuring His greatness fearlessly. It is with that power He is preaching the Dhamma in a fearless voice like a roar of a lion. It is with that power He is turning forward the transcendent Dhammachakka, which cannot be reversed or stopped by anyone else.

The eighth power of the Tathāgata
Dear Sāriputta, the Tathāgata Buddha is capable of seeing how He spent His past lives in many ways. He has the capability to remember His past lives in terms of one life, two lives, three lives, four lives, five lives, ten lives, twenty lives, thirty lives, forty lives, fifty lives, hundred lives, thousand lives, or even hundred thousand lives. In fact, He can remember the past up to infinite time such as many Sanvatta Kalpa, Vivatta Kalpa, and Sanvatta Vivatta Kalpa.

He is capable of remembering all the past lives with all related information in a manner as follows: “I lived in that particular place, in that name, and in that family name. My skin color was this. I ate these kinds of foods and felt these and these happiness and sorrow. I died in these ways and got born in that other place. I got that particular name in that life. I had this family name. My skin color was this. I ate these kinds of foods and felt these and these happiness and sorrow. I died in these ways and got born in that other place.”

This is also a power of the Tathāgata. It is with that power the Tathāgata Buddha is assuring His greatness fearlessly. It is with that power He is preaching the Dhamma in a fearless voice like a roar of a lion. It is with that power He is turning forward the transcendent Dhammachakka, which cannot be reversed or stopped by anyone else.

The ninth power of the Tathāgata
Dear Sāriputta, the Tathāgata Buddha is capable of seeing how beings leave their present life when they die, how they are born, how they get high or low status births, how they get beautiful or ugly births, or how they are born in high-level (Sugati) or low-level (Dugati) worlds. He gets to know how the beings get their births according to their actions (Karma).

“Oh! These beings are unrighteous in their bodily actions, words, and thoughts. They have treated noble humans evilly and harmed them. They are of profane (Miccā Ditthi) behavior and act in profane believes. As a result of their evil actions, they have been born in the low-level world known as the Niraya (hell) after their deaths.

Oh! These meritorious beings are righteous in their bodily actions, words, and thoughts. They haven’t treated the noble humans evilly nor harmed them. They are of views according to excellent moral qualities (Sammā Ditthi) and act accordingly. As a result of their good actions, they have been born in the high-level world known as the Sagga (heaven) after their death.”

In this way, using the divine eye of the Tathāgata that excels the normal human eye, beings that are passing away and getting born are seen by the Tathāgata Buddha. This is also a power of the Tathāgata. It is with that power the Tathāgata Buddha is assuring His greatness fearlessly. It is with that power He is preaching the Dhamma in a fearless voice like a roar of a lion. It is with that power He is turning forward the transcendent Dhammachakka, which cannot be reversed or stopped by anyone else.

The tenth power of the Tathāgata.
Dear Sāriputta, the Citta Vimutti and Pagnna Vimukti are obtained by eradicating all the defilements. The Tathāgata Buddha lives exactly knowing these defilements-free Citta Vimutti and Pagnna Vimukti with the wisdom He attained by His own realization (enlightenment). This is also a power of the Tathāgata. It is with that power the Tathāgata Buddha is assuring His greatness fearlessly. It is with that power He is preaching the Dhamma in a fearless voice like a roar of a lion. It is with that power He is turning forward the transcendent Dhammachakka, which cannot be reversed or stopped by anyone else.

Therefore, dear devotees, our great teacher having these Tathāgata powers became the incomparable, astonishing, valiant, and the most superior spiritual leader of the world of gods and humans. Unless the Buddha himself revealed these qualities, who else would be able to find the skills He had within Him?

By
Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thero
Fromhttp://mahamevnawa.lk/buddha-ten-extraordinary-powers/
ཨོཾ ་ མ ་ ཎི ་ པ ་ དྨེ ་ ཧཱུྃ ། འ ་ ཨ ་ ཧ ་ ཤ ་ ས ་ མ །
Om Mani Peme Hum ། 'A Ah Ha Sha Sa Ma
'When alone, watch your mind,When with others, watch your speech' - Old Kadampa saying

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Re: What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Nov 15, 2016 10:58 am

Vasana wrote:Ordinary beings don't 'decide' anything about their rebirths and intermediate states.
But they are reborn according to their deeds, no?
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by muni » Tue Nov 15, 2016 11:37 am

And if they can't help anyone's karma or bring someone out of hell, what's the point of all those aspiration prayers I do for all sentient beings all the time?
It is our aspiration to save all because this is included in the path to destroy our own misperception.
It breaks the prison which we created through this very misperception, by which we suffered in a great variety of ways for so long time. And this without even knowing it, or without knowing how to break the circle. We turn unknowingly again and again into our own created samsara. All, as "hell beings” want happiness, at least temporary. Or beings are wishing everlasting peace-contentment. But in trying to find some happiness our very confused states can do the opposite.
Buddha Nature never stops to help as being Compassion, to point, to shake us in many ways, so that we let go (often bit by bit) our (hell) habitual tendencies.

If we as practitioners lose compassion for such confusion, it is our own practice we harm. Since then we fall into our habitual ignorance its’ aversion-attachment. We are then ruled by our own confusion. That is why, as far as I understand, we practice for the sake of all as method.

It can help to remember that “hell beings” are actually also Buddha Nature but temporary locked into misperception, which is very sad.
The fortress of the spacious and timeless expanse has no division into
higher or lower or in between.

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Re: What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by Vasana » Tue Nov 15, 2016 4:55 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Vasana wrote:Ordinary beings don't 'decide' anything about their rebirths and intermediate states.
But they are reborn according to their deeds, no?
Yes but the word 'de-cide' in your previous post would suggest going to hell was a conscious de-cision.
Acting out ones karma might be a concious act but that's not the same as willfully acting in a certain way as a decision to visit the hell realms.
ཨོཾ ་ མ ་ ཎི ་ པ ་ དྨེ ་ ཧཱུྃ ། འ ་ ཨ ་ ཧ ་ ཤ ་ ས ་ མ །
Om Mani Peme Hum ། 'A Ah Ha Sha Sa Ma
'When alone, watch your mind,When with others, watch your speech' - Old Kadampa saying

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Re: What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Nov 15, 2016 9:25 pm

'Karma' means 'intentional action'. There's no other cause.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by Vasana » Tue Nov 15, 2016 10:06 pm

Wayfarer wrote:'Karma' means 'intentional action'. There's no other cause.
I have no problem with that.
Earlier, you said :
you're overlooking the possibility that beings decide to be in hell.
My objection is rooted in your choice of word 'decide'. My objection is that ordinary beings do not decide to be in hell.

Intentional actions of the variety that result in hell realm vision do not equate to some kind of decision to be in hell. Hell might be a resultant effect of various accumulated actions but the expectation of Hell is not usually a concious or motivating factor in the decision-making process of someone about to kill or act in a way that would result in a hellish state.
ཨོཾ ་ མ ་ ཎི ་ པ ་ དྨེ ་ ཧཱུྃ ། འ ་ ཨ ་ ཧ ་ ཤ ་ ས ་ མ །
Om Mani Peme Hum ། 'A Ah Ha Sha Sa Ma
'When alone, watch your mind,When with others, watch your speech' - Old Kadampa saying

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Re: What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Nov 15, 2016 11:14 pm

OK, 'they're in the place they are because of their decisions'. What other way is there?
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by Vasana » Tue Nov 15, 2016 11:38 pm

Wayfarer wrote:OK, 'they're in the place they are because of their decisions'.
Which is very different from saying beings 'decide' to go to hell.

Just as it wouldn't make any sense to say that a skilled thief, having been caught stealing something, had pre-decided to go to jail.

Anyway,
:focus:
ཨོཾ ་ མ ་ ཎི ་ པ ་ དྨེ ་ ཧཱུྃ ། འ ་ ཨ ་ ཧ ་ ཤ ་ ས ་ མ །
Om Mani Peme Hum ། 'A Ah Ha Sha Sa Ma
'When alone, watch your mind,When with others, watch your speech' - Old Kadampa saying

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Re: What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by Rakz » Tue Nov 15, 2016 11:43 pm

Buddhas cant do anything besides reveal the path. Go ask Malcolm.

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Re: What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by lisasimmarco » Wed Nov 16, 2016 1:53 am

Thanks, everyone.

Sigh...sometimes I wish I was a Christian, just repent and know that Jesus died for my sins. Instant get out of jail free card.

I kind of see it like this. Say I was in hell, and I had this moment of opportunity where I cry out for forgiveness and help, or...whatever. And say a Buddha wasn't there? That they had gone on into permanent nirvana? That would be a sad thing.

So, yes, it makes sense. Also, that was helpful, these aspiration prayers slowly grind away at all these misconceptions I have, especially about that charming weasel last week who charged me $225 to detail my car, and did the same job I could have gotten somewhere else for $120.

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Re: What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Nov 16, 2016 4:27 am

Lisa wrote:Say I was in hell, and I had this moment of opportunity where I cry out for forgiveness and help, or...whatever. And say a Buddha wasn't there? That they had gone on into permanent nirvana? That would be a sad thing.
Well, if you cry out, they are there. That is 'needing help' and if you know you need help, help will come (although not always in the form you will expect).

:namaste:
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by Rakz » Wed Nov 16, 2016 7:00 am

lisasimmarco wrote:
I kind of see it like this. Say I was in hell, and I had this moment of opportunity where I cry out for forgiveness and help, or...whatever. And say a Buddha wasn't there? That they had gone on into permanent nirvana? That would be a sad thing.
Even if they were there they wouldn't be able to help you. Buddhas can't erase anyone's karma.

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Re: What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by Bristollad » Wed Nov 16, 2016 10:10 am

And say a Buddha wasn't there? That they had gone on into permanent nirvana?
For Mahayanists, for that to happen, all sentient beings would have to be enlightened. The motivation of buddhas and bodhisattvas is to constantly be of help, to everyone equally, for as long as is needed but the help they provide cannot extend to eliminating the karma of sentient beings. Otherwise, as the teacher who shocked you taught, we'd all be enlightened already!
165. By oneself is evil done; by oneself is one defiled. By oneself is evil left undone; by oneself is one made pure. Purity and impurity depend on oneself; no one can purify another.
Dhp XII PTS: Dhp 157-166, Attavagga: The Self, translated from the Pali by Acharya Buddharakkhita. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .budd.html

and
188. Driven only by fear, do men go for refuge to many places — to hills, woods, groves, trees and shrines.
189. Such, indeed, is no safe refuge; such is not the refuge supreme. Not by resorting to such a refuge is one released from all suffering.
190-191. He who has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Teaching and his Order, penetrates with transcendental wisdom the Four Noble Truths — suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the Noble Eightfold Path leading to the cessation of suffering. [16]
192. This indeed is the safe refuge, this the refuge supreme. Having gone to such a refuge, one is released from all suffering.
Dhp XIV PTS: Dhp 179-196, Buddhavagga: The Buddha, translated from the Pali by Acharya Buddharakkhita. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .budd.html

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Re: What can Buddhas do and not do?

Post by Ayu » Wed Nov 16, 2016 10:53 am

Rakz wrote:
lisasimmarco wrote:
I kind of see it like this. Say I was in hell, and I had this moment of opportunity where I cry out for forgiveness and help, or...whatever. And say a Buddha wasn't there? That they had gone on into permanent nirvana? That would be a sad thing.
Even if they were there they wouldn't be able to help you. Buddhas can't erase anyone's karma.
As far as I understand "can't erase anyone's karma" is not equal to "can't help". If the buddhas help for giving insight, help us to change the direction, help us to lessen ignorance, they do not erase our karma, but they give great aid anyhow.
They can give small impulses of relief somehow, in any situation where you are open enough to receive it.

Addition: In hell the beings are preoccupied with severe suffering, thus it is difficult for them to receive anything.
For the benefit and ease of all sentient beings. :heart:

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