Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

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dazdaryl
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Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by dazdaryl » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:11 pm

It is my opinion that a Buddha is one who has attained total liberation from reincarnation, and that therefore Buddha is dead. My core argument for this proposal is historical more so than being based on the scriptures. Hinduism has a kind of problem, whereby people are forced into reincarnation without a choice, so begins the story of Buddhism; maybe somebody doesn't want to be reincarnated because this world is suffering and that the reason people are being reincarnated is because of emotional attachments such as desires, regrets and vengefulness are forcing them to be returned to earth.

In this way I argue that a Buddha simply dies and fades into oblivion, where the rest of us are forced to undergo a million more lifetimes as all sorts of beings, and I argue this in comparison to so many Buddhists I know who pray to Shakyamuni Buddha, believing that he can answer their prayers or that he is some sort of omnipresent figure or angelic heavenly deity. If Buddha was just another good diety then I see suggest that Buddhism would just be another flavor of Hinduism, and that Buddha might as well just be another incarnation of Vishnu. History seems to suggest Buddhism was the answer to the Hindu conundrum of this unfortunate immortality.

After all this is in line with the core idea of a Bodhisattva, if a Bodhisattva was to become a Buddha you wouldn't be able to pray to them any more because they would have transcended the state of existing.

Of course this brings up many other issues, like what does it mean to "exist" and in simply knowing the word Buddha, Buddha still exists, so that the Buddha is not really the Buddha, but someone like the Buddha who we can never really know, because our knowing of that "Buddha" might create an attachment and cause them to be reborn.

This is probably starting to get a little bit on the side of speculation here, so I'll reel things back in a little bit.

I am not saying that we as Buddhists, are just trying to die, I would argue that the story is metaphorically important, I'm sure most well educated Buddhists would agree that questions like "happens to the individual at death?" are overshadowed by the question of "whether or not behind the eyes there was ever an individual at all?" and I would say that the Four Dharma Seals would be an excellent example of this sort of introspection.

I could say more about this and cite more evidence, but I want to see how people react to this here on dharmawheel.net, a lot of Buddhists I know haven't reacted very positively to this, and I've received a variety of reactions from monastics, one nun I knew seemed to think it was quite insightful, where as another thought it was a waste of time to think about such things and another didn't really like the idea of it because she really likes the whole praying, chanting and giving fruit to the Buddha.

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Re: Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by Admin_PC » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:21 pm

Mod note: This isn't really an academic discussion, but one of interpretation. Moving this thread from Academic subforum to Exploring Buddhism, unless it necessitates a later move to Open Dharma.

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Vasana
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Re: Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by Vasana » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:32 pm

You should study what the texts & commentaries actually say and use citations to substantiate your claims.

Different vehicles say different things.

1 of the 14 questions Buddha refused to answer ;

11. Does the Tathagata (Buddha) exist after death?
The Buddha remained silent when asked these fourteen questions. He described them as a net and refused to be drawn into such a net of theories, speculations, and dogmas. He said that it was because he was free of bondage to all theories and dogmas that he had attained liberation. Such speculations, he said, are attended by fever, unease, bewilderment, and suffering, and it is by freeing oneself of them that one achieves liberation.
In Mahayana, the Bodhisattva ideal is present. You vow not to attain complete liberation until all sentient beings are free of suffering.

Then we get to Vajrayana where we speak of the 3 Kayas. At this point, a Buddha is unborn, unceasing and a buddha's nature continuously and effortlessly fulfills the benefit of all beings without any dualistic grasping at being/buddha/samsara/nirvana etc
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: Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by DGA » Mon Dec 07, 2015 3:10 pm

dazdaryl wrote:It is my opinion that a Buddha is one who has attained total liberation from reincarnation, and that therefore Buddha is dead. My core argument for this proposal is historical more so than being based on the scriptures. Hinduism has a kind of problem, whereby people are forced into reincarnation without a choice, so begins the story of Buddhism; maybe somebody doesn't want to be reincarnated because this world is suffering and that the reason people are being reincarnated is because of emotional attachments such as desires, regrets and vengefulness are forcing them to be returned to earth.

In this way I argue that a Buddha simply dies and fades into oblivion, where the rest of us are forced to undergo a million more lifetimes as all sorts of beings, and I argue this in comparison to so many Buddhists I know who pray to Shakyamuni Buddha, believing that he can answer their prayers or that he is some sort of omnipresent figure or angelic heavenly deity. If Buddha was just another good diety then I see suggest that Buddhism would just be another flavor of Hinduism, and that Buddha might as well just be another incarnation of Vishnu. History seems to suggest Buddhism was the answer to the Hindu conundrum of this unfortunate immortality.

After all this is in line with the core idea of a Bodhisattva, if a Bodhisattva was to become a Buddha you wouldn't be able to pray to them any more because they would have transcended the state of existing.

Of course this brings up many other issues, like what does it mean to "exist" and in simply knowing the word Buddha, Buddha still exists, so that the Buddha is not really the Buddha, but someone like the Buddha who we can never really know, because our knowing of that "Buddha" might create an attachment and cause them to be reborn.

This is probably starting to get a little bit on the side of speculation here, so I'll reel things back in a little bit.

I am not saying that we as Buddhists, are just trying to die, I would argue that the story is metaphorically important, I'm sure most well educated Buddhists would agree that questions like "happens to the individual at death?" are overshadowed by the question of "whether or not behind the eyes there was ever an individual at all?" and I would say that the Four Dharma Seals would be an excellent example of this sort of introspection.

I could say more about this and cite more evidence, but I want to see how people react to this here on dharmawheel.net, a lot of Buddhists I know haven't reacted very positively to this, and I've received a variety of reactions from monastics, one nun I knew seemed to think it was quite insightful, where as another thought it was a waste of time to think about such things and another didn't really like the idea of it because she really likes the whole praying, chanting and giving fruit to the Buddha.
It would be interesting for you to compare your opinions with what Shakyamuni Buddha had to say on the topic of his own lifespan. This is recorded in the Lotus Sutra, chapter 16.

Enjoy your studies!

odysseus
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Re: Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by odysseus » Mon Dec 07, 2015 4:38 pm

dazdaryl wrote:It is my opinion that a Buddha is one who has attained total liberation from reincarnation, and that therefore Buddha is dead.
To be picky, the term in Buddhism is called rebirth, not "reincarnation". But no, Buddha is not dead. Nirvana is not the same as being physically dead. To put it in modern, fun terms: Buddha didn't die, he rather walked through "a dimension door".

:namaste:

smcj
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Re: Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by smcj » Mon Dec 07, 2015 5:30 pm

To be picky, the term in Buddhism is called rebirth, not "reincarnation".
It's the same word in Pali, no difference.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

odysseus
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Re: Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by odysseus » Mon Dec 07, 2015 5:46 pm

smcj wrote:
To be picky, the term in Buddhism is called rebirth, not "reincarnation".
It's the same word in Pali, no difference.
Maybe your translator just is lazy. "Reincarnation" is a Hindu term which includes an eternal soul - something that is not found in Buddhism. Therefore, we prefer the term "rebirth".

:namaste:

smcj
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Re: Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by smcj » Mon Dec 07, 2015 5:57 pm

odysseus wrote: Maybe your translator just is lazy. "Reincarnation" is a Hindu term which includes an eternal soul - something that is not found in Buddhism. Therefore, we prefer the term "rebirth".
The translator was Stephen Batchelor.
...I certainly have difficulty with the traditional way which Buddhists understand the doctrine of rebirth or reincarnation. It’s the same word in Pali.
http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2010/06/bg ... t-atheist/
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

odysseus
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Re: Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by odysseus » Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:02 pm

smcj wrote:
odysseus wrote: Maybe your translator just is lazy. "Reincarnation" is a Hindu term which includes an eternal soul - something that is not found in Buddhism. Therefore, we prefer the term "rebirth".
The translator was Stephen Batchelor.
He's surely a nice man, but is he your god..?

:namaste:

smcj
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Re: Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by smcj » Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:08 pm

odysseus wrote:
He's surely a nice man, but is he your god..?
Believe me, this is probably the only thing he has said that I will quote in support of a position I take.

If ever there was someone that would be trying to make a distinction between rebirth and reincarnation, it would be him. However as a translator he seems boxed in. The distinction is a modern one, albeit with the understanding that Hindus version has whatever goes between lives having as an individuating aspect that is not subject to change.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

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jundo cohen
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Re: Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by jundo cohen » Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:26 pm

Hi,

The Buddha is said to have often refused to answer such speculative questions, not conducive to Practice now and mere philosophical speculation. They were perhaps not vital to the central issues he was addressing. These unaddressed question include ...
Does the Tathagata (Buddha) exist after death? ...or not? ...or both? ...or neither?
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
A nice Koan that speaks (non-speaks) for itself ...
Dogo and Zen-gen went to a house [holding a funeral] to show sympathy. Zen-gen hit the coffin and asked, "Alive or dead?" Dogo replied, "I won't say alive, I won't say dead." Zen-gen demanded, " Why won't you say?" Dogo repeated, "I won't say." On their way home, Zen-gen cried, "Tell me right now teacher, alive or dead; if you don't tell me, I will hit you." Dogo said, "You may hit me, but I won't say." Zen-gen hit him.

Later after Dogo died, Zen-gen went to Seki-so and told him the foregoing story. Seki-so said, "I won't say alive, and I won't say dead." Zen-gen said, " Why won't you say?" Seki-so repeated, "I won't say, I won't say." At these words Zen-gen came to awakening.

One day, Zen-gen took a hoe into the Buddha hall and crossed back and forth, from east to west and west to east. Seki-so asked, "What are you doing?" Zen-gen said," I am looking for my teacher's relics." Seki-so said, "Vast waves spread far and wide, foaming billows flood the skies - what relics of our late master are you looking for?"

Zen-gen said, "It is a way of repaying the kindness of my old teacher." Fu of T'ai Yuan said, "The late masters relics are still present. "

Blue Cliff Record 55


Where is the Buddha after death when one drops all thought of "birth" "death" and "Buddha" "rebirth" and "reincarnation"?

Gassho, Jundo
Priest/Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha. Treeleaf Zendo was designed as an online practice place for Zen practitioners who cannot easily commute to a Zen Center due to health concerns, living in remote areas, or work, childcare and family needs, and seeks to provide Zazen sittings, retreats, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online. The focus is Shikantaza "Just Sitting" Zazen as instructed by the 13th Century Japanese Master, Eihei Dogen. http://www.treeleaf.org

smcj
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Re: Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by smcj » Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:33 pm

Does the Tathagata (Buddha) exist after death? ...or not? ...or both? ...or neither?
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
I believe that answer specifically is in regards to the status of a Tathagata after death, not you and me.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

odysseus
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Re: Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by odysseus » Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:41 pm

Does the Tathagata (Buddha) exist after death? ...or not? ...or both? ...or neither?
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
I believe that answer specifically is in regards to the status of a Tathagata after death, not you and me.
The simplest and direct answer to this is that Nirvana is something unconditioned, therefore the terms "life" and "death" are not applicable anymore. Buddha wanted his followers to not over-speculate too much before we know for ourselves, that's all.

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Re: Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by Techno Yogi » Mon Dec 07, 2015 8:13 pm

dazdaryl wrote:It is my opinion that a Buddha is one who has attained total liberation from reincarnation, and that therefore Buddha is dead.
That's a nice opinion. The Buddha explicitly discounted this view.

In fact there's an entire section of the Tripitaka devoted to discounting this view, and indeed any view of the status of the Buddha after death.

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Paul
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Re: Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by Paul » Mon Dec 07, 2015 8:16 pm

odysseus wrote:
smcj wrote:
To be picky, the term in Buddhism is called rebirth, not "reincarnation".
It's the same word in Pali, no difference.
Maybe your translator just is lazy. "Reincarnation" is a Hindu term which includes an eternal soul - something that is not found in Buddhism. Therefore, we prefer the term "rebirth".

:namaste:
This meme gets trotted out all the time, but there is no reason at all to not use the word "reincarnation". Reincarnation etymologically means "to enter a body again", which is exactly what a mind does according to the Buddha's teachings. This doesn't have anything to do with whether a soul exists or not as there is no requirement at all to conflate a soul with the mind.
Look at the unfathomable spinelessness of man: all the means he's been given to stay alert he uses, in the end, to ornament his sleep. – Rene Daumal
the modern mind has become so limited and single-visioned that it has lost touch with normal perception - John Michell

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Re: Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by odysseus » Mon Dec 07, 2015 8:32 pm

Paul wrote:
odysseus wrote: Maybe your translator just is lazy. "Reincarnation" is a Hindu term which includes an eternal soul - something that is not found in Buddhism. Therefore, we prefer the term "rebirth".

:namaste:
This meme gets trotted out all the time, but there is no reason at all to not use the word "reincarnation". Reincarnation etymologically means "to enter a body again", which is exactly what a mind does according to the Buddha's teachings. This doesn't have anything to do with whether a soul exists or not as there is no requirement at all to conflate a soul with the mind.
Incarnate mainly means "reappearing in another form" (with the same identity) - again, this is different from rebirth.

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Paul
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Re: Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by Paul » Mon Dec 07, 2015 8:44 pm

odysseus wrote:
Paul wrote:
odysseus wrote: Maybe your translator just is lazy. "Reincarnation" is a Hindu term which includes an eternal soul - something that is not found in Buddhism. Therefore, we prefer the term "rebirth".

:namaste:
This meme gets trotted out all the time, but there is no reason at all to not use the word "reincarnation". Reincarnation etymologically means "to enter a body again", which is exactly what a mind does according to the Buddha's teachings. This doesn't have anything to do with whether a soul exists or not as there is no requirement at all to conflate a soul with the mind.
Incarnate mainly means "reappearing in another form" (with the same identity) - again, this is different from rebirth.
There's nothing in the term, either in use or in its etymology that requires a 'soul', even if that may usually be an assumption in its usual use. It literally means to be embodied in flesh again. The same 'soul' objection can be raised against 'rebirth', ie you are positing as soul that is being born again. So reincarnation is a perfectly suitable term.
Look at the unfathomable spinelessness of man: all the means he's been given to stay alert he uses, in the end, to ornament his sleep. – Rene Daumal
the modern mind has become so limited and single-visioned that it has lost touch with normal perception - John Michell

odysseus
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Re: Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by odysseus » Mon Dec 07, 2015 9:29 pm

Paul wrote:... So reincarnation is a perfectly suitable term.
Yes, it's usually OK and not a problem. But I care to disagree and I keep using "rebirth".

:focus:

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Re: Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by DGA » Mon Dec 07, 2015 9:58 pm

jundo cohen wrote:Hi,

The Buddha is said to have often refused to answer such speculative questions, not conducive to Practice now and mere philosophical speculation. They were perhaps not vital to the central issues he was addressing. These unaddressed question include ...
Does the Tathagata (Buddha) exist after death? ...or not? ...or both? ...or neither?
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
I don't think that's so for Mahayana, though. As I suggested earlier in this thread: Lotus Sutra, Chapter 16. It does not leave much room for interpretation on this point. Buddha Shaykaymuni spells out his position clearly and directly.


PS thank you for the koan--I'll take that with me for the rest of the day

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Re: Buddha, true death and escape from reincanation.

Post by Astus » Wed Dec 09, 2015 1:39 pm

Techno Yogi wrote:In fact there's an entire section of the Tripitaka devoted to discounting this view, and indeed any view of the status of the Buddha after death.
And as the suttas explain it very clearly, the reason it makes zero sense to ask whether there is or isn't a Tathagata after death, is because even before death the Tathagata cannot be pinpointed as this or that. This is a very important point that people seem to forget almost every time, or they just not have heard about it.
DGA wrote:I don't think that's so for Mahayana, though. As I suggested earlier in this thread: Lotus Sutra, Chapter 16. It does not leave much room for interpretation on this point. Buddha Shaykaymuni spells out his position clearly and directly.
There are a number of ways to interpret the meaning of an "eternal buddha". Even what a buddha is needs some clarification.

Chapter 22 of Nagarjuna's Middle Treatise (MMK) discusses the nature of the Tathagata. Here are some conclusions:

This stanza shows the error in the assumption of the OP:

"One who holds firmly
That the Tathāgata exists
Will have to fabricate his nonexistence
After having achieved nirvana."

(MMK 22.13, tr from Ocean of Reasoning)

And solves it by:

"Since he is essentially empty,
Neither the thought that the Buddha exists
Nor that he does not exist
After having achieved nirvana is tenable."

(v 14)

The following stanza (v 15) matches with the Diamond Sutra (ch 26):

"Someone who tries to discern me in form
Or seek me in sound
Is practicing non-Buddhist methods
And will not discern the Tathāgata"
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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