I have been moonlighting in mayahana buddhism on the weekends. One of my favorite sutras is, of course, the Amitabha Buddha sutra. If this is supposed to be a teaching of Shakymuni Buddha, and mayahana buddism came after the theravadin, then why is it not found in the EBT? I am confused.
Because it was not there in Early Buddhism. It came out afterwards and that even from another sources which claimed that it is teaching of Buddha. It is not the teaching of impermanence which takes one to ultimate happiness directly. Buddha dhamma is liberating.
I believe even if it is part of Buddhism it must be under extra teachings category and not under central/main teachings of impermanence (of Theravada/EBT)
When one becomes stream enterer, then one clearly understands difference (and reality) between all Mahayana teachings and the EBT/therovada teachings.
Mahayana teachings seem shiny because we haven’t realised the first noble truth of impermanence.
Sorry to have offended anyone
This is what I was trying to say…really well put!
I believe academics/researchers who state that Mahayana sutras came after the historical Buddha’s death.
I also believe that a person of average intelligence and education reading the suttas can see that not every last word in the Sutta Pitaka is the historical Buddha’s.
I think more happiness can be had by looking at what was said, more than who said it.
Very hard to, I as a human have the default desire for a divineish authority too.
I think that the ten commandments basically say the same thing as the buddhist texts. We were taught that even thinking about these “sins” amounted to the same thing as following through on the act. To have impure thoughts was the same as doing those said thoughts. If a christian was able to actually follow through with this idea, then they too would be the equivallent of an enlightened being in buddhism. Free.
I think about 1500 years or so. Which leads back to my original question…is it just made up? 1500 years is a lot of time for things to get fabricated out of thin air. I know there are some serious history buffs on here, and i am hoping they will chime in on this topic.
People such as @Khemarato.bhikkhu, i very much value his opinion!!!
I am by nature a skeptic. I can only believe the words that Shakymuni Buddha spoke becouse i believe that he spoke of things that can be proven by string theory and quantum mechanics, and they didn’t have those 2500 years ago. I really think that there is an awakening under way. Mainsream science and buddhist pholosophies are aligning with each other more and more, exponentially.
This is why i need to know if this matter of Amitabha is an actual teaching of Shakymuni Buddha. If it is so, i would place faith in it. If not, then i would dismiss it as to be bolgna, and be done with my “moonlighting” adventures.
As far as we know, Mahayana sutras started to be developed maybe around 500 years after the time of the Buddha, probably in the 1st century CE, or something along those lines.
In the 2nd century CE, a significant number of Mahayana texts were available and were being translated from Indic languages into Chinese. The 2nd century CE was also when the first texts on Amitabha Buddha were translated into Chinese.
The exact circumstances of the development of Mahayana sutras is unclear, but their development was part of a broad new movement in Indian Buddhism. In general, it would probably be fair to say that the character of Mahayana sutras is often more cosmic and more mystical.
In the first millennium of the common era in Indian Buddhism (and in many other places where it spread), some Buddhist monastics followed more conservative Buddhist teachings, while others combined those with Mahayana teachings. The same trends happened in Sri Lanka with Theravada Buddhism, but there were efforts to purge Mahayana influences and enforce a more conservative orthodoxy.
Now that we modern people can look back at the history of Indian Buddhism and see all of its developments and variations, it’s on us to decide how to interpret that history, and to make it meaningful (or not), and decide which teachings to follow, etc. SuttaCentral is based primarily around early Buddhist texts, which are the earliest historical teachings of Buddhism.
Oh Well… since you ask so nicely…
Oh, that’s interesting. What do you like about it?
It’s not. At least not of the historical Buddha. The Mahāyāna Sutras were composed later.
Their tradition explains this discrepancy in various ways, usually by saying that the Sutras were kept secretly (in heaven or underground or somewhere) for centuries until people were “ready” for these “advanced” teachings Some Theravādans even believe this about e.g. their Abhidhamma.
Oh wow, something you and I share in common then. As a kid, my grandmother sent me to Bible Camp every summer. When it came time to share our favorite passages, I’d quote Proverbs… usually the ones about hypocrites
It’s actually funny that since becoming Buddhist, I started to appreciate some other bits more… “Love is patient and kind” and so on… But yes, they definitely need some cherry picking and careful (Buddhist) exegesis
I wouldn’t quite say that. Yes, in China and Tibet many rulers throughout history appealed to and shaped Buddhism for their own reasons… but Buddhism in Thailand today is also used to justify the monarchy, patriarchy, etc.
Now, in the sense that the Mahāyāna takes people off the Noble Eightfold Path and encourages them to waste their time completing side quests in Saṃsāra, sure, that has a bit of the effect of “covering up” the Buddha’s emancipatory teachings. But, again, you can find plenty of wrong views in Thailand too and there are some e.g. Zen monks who really stick to the path diligently.
It seems (if, “a deva kept these teachings and revealed them to me” is to be believed) that most of the apocryphal Mahāyāna Sutras were actually democratic in a way: declaring that truth isn’t the sole province of elite monks in monasteries with a copy of the Tripitaka (or with enough reciters to be able to memorize the whole Pāli Canon between them). To (some of) the early Mahāyānists, truth comes about through your own experience… and if that experience is a vision of a deity telling you about some unheard-before Sutra, well… how can you argue with that!
I hope that helps make some sense of the history here… As you say, it’s 2500 years… Hard to summarize quickly! But hopefully that gives some perspective…
For the same reason all of those ancient chinese surfs, farmers, cart builders, etc.etc…liked it, i’m sure…
Becouse it looks like an easy way in, no matter what your caste situation. I am human, i am lazy, and i am late. I can look back on my life and wish i had taken a monastic path, but of course, like my dad always said…“wish in one hand and s%$t in the other, and see which one fills up faster”. Sorry about the not right speech, but that’s my favorite wish analogy. And of course, if i had been introduced to the whole premise when i was young i would have shunned it instead of embracing it as i do now. You really do have to lose everything before you can appreciate anything. Some of us do anyways.
I was seriously contemplating being able to chant amitahba buddha whole heartedly for a day straight. Not that this would be any easy feat, but at least it gives one hope. I understand that anything worth anything in life takes work, it’s not a cop-out…but as a fifty seven year old getting a late start, i’m looking for a way to not end up in a bad spot in my next rebirth. That is why it seemed so important for me to find out if this “sutra” was actually spoken by Shakymuni Buddha. Spoken by anyone else, and i would place no faith in it, it is just a legend.
Thanks to all, i think i have come to a logical solution.
I will stick to the EBTs. They make sense. They are 100% logical.
Actually not a bad practice! The words of the mantra don’t matter as much as the feeling / intention / motivation behind them. If you chant a mantra for a day straight with a wholesome motivation to practice the dhamma that will certainly have a good effect. So, in that way, I can get behind “Omitofo” as a “skillful means”
It hasn’t hurt my spirit chanting it randomly at any point in the day…it keeps me focussed, mindful…but i am sure i can come up with something else to achieve the same results…now i feel as though it would be like going around chanting “elmer fudd” all the time.
Thank you once again @Khemarato.bhikkhu, you consistantly bail me out of these dilemmas
As a person who grew up Christian as well, I find it unfortunate that Christianity in the Western world seems to be living up to Adler’s old saw:
For much the same reason, reading about about hypocrites in Proverbs immediately springs to my mind any number of religious figures…
Granted, this is my own personal experience, but most of the local Mahayana institutions in my area are very hardcore about practicing sila, observing uposatha, meditating, etc. They also have, by far, the most diverse congregations. My 3 local Theravadin temples, by contrast, function primarily as cultural centers for the thai, singhalese and burmese immigrant populations. The larger Mahayana temples have an even mix of Asian and non-asian Monastics and lay teachers, while the Theravadins are all immigrants who speak no english.
That said, there’s not a lot of “covering up” of Dhamma going on in these Mahayana groups. If I go to my local Zen Center, Roshi’s just as likely to teaching about the 8FNP from the Pali Canon as he is discussing some esoteric point of Zen from the Platform Sutra. My local Chan/Pure Land monastery regularly host weeklong meditation retreats based on the Mahasatipatthana Sutta as another example.
I am so sorry to have offended anyone with my flagged now deleted post. I will graciously let it go in accordance with the community guidlines.
In AN8.53 the Buddha in brief teaches Gotami what can be recognised as the teachings of the Buddha and what not. In general here the message seems…look at the result…look at where it brings you. Does it really lead to letting go, to relinquishment, to peace, dispassion?
I wonder, suppose there is a means in line with this, but this is not taught in the Pali sutta’s, do we know for sure Buddha would not accept this?
Regarding Mahayana. I think people have arisen who want to be like a Buddha, being able to help any being to the end of suffering. With the qualities a Buddha has. I cannot see this as wrong or bad. Is it not honouring the Buddha if one wants to be like a Buddha? One might say it is impossible. I do not know. It seems there were people after the Buddha who had also great qualities, Buddha-like.
Why would it not be great when one aims at becoming a Buddha?
Atisha was a mahayana teacher and i have seen he taught that for being able to help beings in a direct, quick and spiritual way, one need special abilities like clairvoyance, or even flying, being able to travel with the mental body, having the heavenly eye and ear etc. One must be able to read a person and situation perfectly. One must have a very deep seeing and great abilities. I feel this is true.
I’m going to be straight forward. If what I’m saying is inappropriate, Admin may remove my post.
If you just want to be a layman instead of a lay practitioner, keeping precepts, making offerings and you feel that chanting Amituofo is enough for you, this may be the path. But if you’re seeking to make progression and you want to experience what Buddha Shakyamuni had experienced, studying and practising the teachings from pali canon would be the path.
Chanting Amituofo would not lead you to the concentration as what the Buddha had described in the pali canon. The teachings of the Four Noble Truth and Eightfold path are lacking in this tradition.
Since you’re over 50 years of age, we don’t have much time to waste, you may want to really consider whether you want the truth or the truth that fit into your belief because we do not have another 5 to 10 years to realised our mistakes treading the path that we can’t find in the EBT.
I practised Tibetan Buddhism for 6 years. At that time, I didn’t know Theravada’s teachings. Naively thinking I can be a Bodhisattva. I sincerely, genuinely and earnestly treading the Bodhisattva’s path written by Shantideva, in the end it all collapsed. I questioned the teacher who teaches these teachings but only to receive humiliation. Yes, it was painful, tearful and perhaps gladful! I was ignorance.
Next, I got to know Amituofo and the Nikayas! I must admit that the nun who guided me to the Pureland teachings is well restrained in speech. I’m extremely thankful to her and who doesn’t want the shortcut! For 2 to 3 years I’ve chanted Amituofo and reading the pali suttas at the same time until one day I touched the mahayana sutras. It all went so wrong! And I began to question. I didn’t get the answers that come straight from our Buddha.
I’m glad that I’m following the path under the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. A lay practitioner can also experience deep samadhi as taught by the Buddha. But the Buddha’s teachings must be in our mind all the time. Being alone is such an enjoyment and bringing myself always to the present bring joy as well.
Lastly, I would like to thank the Sanghas for making effort to straighten and preserve the Dhamma. It is very important for those seeking the truth!