Brahma Sahampati

In MN26, Brahma Sahampati is begging the Buddha to teach the Dhamma.

As far as I understand it, Brahma is the “creator God”.

What is his motivation to ask the Buddha to teach the Dhamma. Is he conscious of his creation being defective, or does he think that it would be perfect with everybody practising the Dhamma?

Or asked in different words: Is the notion that the 1st and 2nd noble truths imply that “creation” is inherently flawed a Western idea foreign to Bhuddism?

Hello @Malunkyaputta

I think a more interesting question is what was the motivation for the Teacher to relate this story about Brahma Sahampati? If we have faith in MN26, I think it must derive from the belief this story came from the Teacher, yes? So what was the Teacher’s intention with relating this private interaction with Brahma Sahampati?

My best hypothesis is that the Teacher is relating this to give his motivation for spreading his dhamma:

Then, understanding Brahmā’s invitation, I surveyed the world with the eye of a Buddha, because of my compassion for sentient beings.

And I saw sentient beings with little dust in their eyes, and some with much dust in their eyes; with keen faculties and with weak faculties, with good qualities and with bad qualities, easy to teach and hard to teach. And some of them lived seeing the danger in the fault to do with the next world, while others did not.

It’s like a pool with blue water lilies, or pink or white lotuses. Some of them sprout and grow in the water without rising above it, thriving underwater. Some of them sprout and grow in the water reaching the water’s surface. And some of them sprout and grow in the water but rise up above the water and stand with no water clinging to them.

In the same way, I saw sentient beings with little dust in their eyes, and some with much dust in their eyes.

This serves as both an answer to what might have been a common question of what motivates him to teach his dhamma - compassion - and a warning for those who listen, that this teaching is not going to be easy to understand or accomplish and perseverance and diligence along with intellectual faculties and faith will be required; that not all will understand or appreciate his dhamma due to, “too much dust in their eyes.”


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Whether there are new creations are probably best defined by the ability for beings caught in Samsara to achieve Enlightenment. So there is some mercy in Brahma’s request. Only a Buddha can fulfill the true purpose of Brahma’s creation (if you want to call it that). And today, we know the Buddha’s mercy

Did you intend to quote this part?

I did not. Thanks for pointing out! :pray:

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I think this is a very deep answer, if one reflects this compassion. Thank you

In which sutta does the Buddha say that ? :slightly_smiling_face:

Here is more the Buddha’s version of how things evolved, from the Agganna Sutta:

  1. ‘There comes a time, Vasettha, when, sooner or later after a long period, this world contracts.825 At a time of contraction, beings are mostly born in the Abhassara Brahma world. And there they dwell, mind-made, feeding on delight, self-luminous, moving through the air, glorious — and they stay like that for a very long time. But sooner or later, after a very long period, this world begins to expand again. At a time of expansion, the beings from the Abhassara Brahma world, [85] having passed away from there, are mostly reborn in this world. Here they dwell, mind-made, feeding on delight, self-luminous, moving through the air, glorious826 — and they stay like that for a very long time.
  1. ‘Then some being of a greedy nature said: “I say, what can this be?” and tasted the savoury earth on its finger. In so doing, it became taken with the flavour, and craving arose in it.829 Then other beings, taking their cue from that one, also tasted the stuff with their fingers. They too were taken with the flavour, and craving arose in them. So they set to with their hands, breaking off pieces of the stuff in order to eat it. And [86] the result of this was that their self-luminance disappeared. And as a result of the disappearance of their self-luminance, the moon and the sun appeared, night and day were distinguished, months and fortnights appeared, and the year and its seasons. To that extent the world re-evolved.

Here’s Bhikkhu Sujato’s Translation of the full Sutta: Aggaññasutta—Bhikkhu Sujato.

The idea of a world created by a Creator, or beings created by a Creator is not supported in the EBT.

Apparantly in the time of the Buddha people already honoured, praised a Creator. In the sutta’s he is called MahaBrahma. He has more or less the same names as Christian God: Ruler, Maker, Creator, Al-Knowing, Father.

I do not know what to think about this, but Buddha is portrayed as someone who understand that there is no Creator, and it is all a misunderstanding to believe in such a Creator (DN1).

God as some first causeless cause of everything is subject of DN24 and ofcourse one can ask…but what has caused God…

The concept of a God was also related to how people believed pleasure and pain arise. Some religious people, also now but also then, believe that pleasure and pain are Gods creative activity. This is subject of AN3.61. MN101 also deals with this. Like, all is will of God. Also this can be seen nowadays.

But sutta’s do not teach there are no beings with a great influence and reign. MahaBrahma is seen as existing being and also with enormous powers. You can read this in MN49, AN10.29,

AN5.170 is also interesting. Some believe the sight of MahaBrahma is foremost, like seeing God, but the sutta’s teaches that this sight is foremost that if one sees it, it makes an end to all defilements.

Also Buddha was once MahaBrahma, that Being that believes he is eternal and creator of other beings. Iti22, AN7.62. The existence of that Being is not rejected, but what is rejected is that he is really eternal and that he really is a Creator. He believes he is and other being believe he is. But the sutta’s portray all this as a mistake (DN1).

Well, what to think about all this? When i read this for the first time i was surprised that people long ago already discussed all these things and wondered what or who rules, how things happen, why things happen etc. I feel that is wonderful. We still do.

I personally feel a bit uncomfortable when a think about …no beginning can be discovered. I do not like this idea, i notice. I cannot really believe that this socalled lifestreams, or streams of vinnana’s have just always existed. I feel there is something wrong about it :blush: But that is my gut-feeling again.
somehow i feel it is wrong to take this all literally.

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I hope if you can certainly accept that there is no beginning, no first beginning knowable, then you can have faith that there also isn’t a final end. :wheel_of_dharma:

Very good message Green, thank you for the reading ! :green_heart:

But don’t use too much your nerves on this matter. Some people are really determined to believe certain things and they won’t change their opinions despite the EBTs saying otherwise.

Nope. This is not what the Buddha taught. The Buddha taught for the end. End of rebirth means end of the world. End of all.

It’s inherently not symmetrical in time.

The end of suffering, the end of rebirth. That I agree with.

I mean in another sense. There is no end to the Stream of Nibbana for example. I think that’s why people crave it so much. Isn’t it a beautiful thing? I really Love Buddha and what He did for us. :grin:

Nibbāna, by which we mean parinibbāna here is not an endless heaven type of thing which can be described using stream.

It’s the end. No 5 aggregates to point to to refer as a person, so soul to identify a person, no causes for any future arising.

I see what you are saying. There is no experience in Nibbana. I think we can’t really describe what goes on in Nibbana. Buddha only points to it. As we seek the Way, words cannot describe it, but at the same time though there is nothing in “the All” that can be or describe Nibbana, there still may be something Higher in that step beyond all experience. We can only hope to achieve it by Buddhist practice. Thank you.

You’re still not getting it if you think of something left after parinibbāna.

Brahmā Sahāṃpati obviously in the Buddhist tradition is a supporter of the Buddha and of his Dhamma.

Just a question. So if it’s minus, minus, minus this experience, then absolute nil, why point to anything at all? Isn’t that what the Buddha referred to the annihilationists of His time in erring in some way? I’m not sure. Let me know.

annihilation is the term used for when a self is assumed.

Since there’s no self, annihilation doesn’t apply.

5 aggregates ceases completely, their causes ceases completely. 6 sense bases ceases completely, and their causes too.

No mind to know anything after parinibbāna.

Hello @Dharma,

What Venerable is referring to is a common viewpoint on this website that sometimes goes by the label “mere cessation.” This viewpoint has been debated many many times on this website by devotees and detractors alike. You are relatively new to the site, but it should be possible to find threads with hundreds (thousands?) of comments debating all aspects of this viewpoint.

This viewpoint does not seem germane to this thread so if possible can anyone wishing to discuss it further use one of those threads mentioned? Thank you. :pray:

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