SuttaCentral

Character of the Buddha

When studying the suttas I find that sometimes the Buddha does things which does not fit what I expect a buddha to be like.

For example:
The buddha says he does not glorify himself and puts others down, but then he is saying he is the best in the world and some people are drooling idiots.

Sometimes when people have wrong views he seems to be really harsh with them, and he himself taught that one should only say what is pleasing to others.

There are other situations that I don’t remember now, how do you manage reading stuff like this snd remaining faithful?

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To be fair, there really are alot of drooling idiots running around. I am American. Trust me. I am swimming in them.

On the other hand, the Buddha didn’t speak out of anything other than compassion; how that compassion came out was highly contextual. Sometimes (rarely) compassion dictates delivering unto someone a swift kick in the rear. I have need that myself at a few points in my life.

I don’t think the problem is in what the Buddha said, but is our problem in how we may misinterpret it.

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Let me analyze it for you.

When one who is fully awaken (with perfect freedom of knowledge, perfect clarity of mind, perfect morality, perfect/straight view), and know that no one in this & other world is equal to him.

What would one say? He is free of all mental sickness, free of emotion. As he said in other Sutta(discourses), he has made the roots of suffering like palm stump which can’t arise then and in future.

Also, note when he said it. He declared it mainly for people who has take refuge or one who heard from his disciple.

One who has taken refuge is one who know the complete path and practice diligently day and night (that is having the right view). One who has know the path will agree on this statement and has no single doubt about the awakening of Buddha or the path.

One who know the path is a son who born from his mouth (aka “his teaching”). Buddha didn’t have to teach, but he had. As a devotee, all that take refuge will always happy and love the teaching. There can’t be any other teaching that is superior than one who has fully awaken from the dream of existence (“the matrix”).

He taught the dhamma, out of compassion for people who want to hear and practice to free from all mental sufferings. Unfortunately this teaching is not for all human that is still enjoy life/existence or stuck with views or duality. To be in the path is to let go of all views.

Finally, only when one is enter the door to deathless is called a devotee. That is one who have a right view or view that is straight. Then the training and practice is officially start.

Every other people may think they have practiced, but unfortunately they have not even enter the path.

Haha. As an American, I understand what you meant. But as a disciple of the Buddha, one shouldnt get crazy with those folks.:sweat_smile:

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This is not true at all. For just one example, please see Abhayarājakumārasutta.

My advice, which will not be welcomed by many people, is that when we see something we think is a contradiction, our default (although not necessarily final) stance should be to check our own understanding rather than blame the texts or the Buddha.

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Sidestep the superfluous material, practice the core teaching, and prove it for oneself. Doubt is a hindrance:

“he should cut off any penchant
to conjecture or worry.”—Sn 4.16

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Thanks for pointing out my mistake.

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I think you are confusing expressions with meaning. The Buddha did not see himself as a Self but as a door to service to humanity and beyond.
His qualities are not “his” since all Buddha of all times has. There cannot be self-glorification as you seem to imply when the “glorification” is a condition of blessing. Indeed to remember the quality of the Buddha is not for the Buddha’s joy or benefit but yours since it shows what you can become in potential. In other words, how a mirror can be arrogant? It shows what there just that is.
For your second point, the “fool” is a particular character in the Pali Canon.
It’s the person that for merit met the Buddha (or his Dhamma teaching) and burnet it! Things about that: how fool that person can be to live billions of millions of billions of life come across a Buddha or Dhamma taught by him and rejects it! Oh my, the foolish of things, how many more lives does that person have (with associated pain) in all realm of existence before arriving at the same point?
I suggest that you read this Sutta
https://suttacentral.net/an4.111/en/sujato?layout=plain&reference=none&notes=asterisk&highlight=false&script=latin#a
If you read that as you did the others you mentioned, you will conclude that the Buddha will suggest killing those who do not follow sila and the path. Of course, he does not kill any being directly, yet a Buddha that gives up teaching to you is worse than death. It is just the confirmation of your incapacity for who knows how many eons even to start the journey towards liberation.

He does not glorify himself or put down another being debased by pride.

Buddhas speak the truth when appropriate.

I don’t understand this need of keeping an image of the Buddha that is squeaky clean. For certain devotees, sure. But the attitude of “as a good Buddhist you don’t dare to see any flaw in the teacher” is not healthy for many people. It speaks for a maturity of mind to be able to hold the tension of veneration for certain things on the one hand and criticism on the other. The criticism or doubt shouldn’t become an identity, rather a means for fruitful dialogue. Have we not learned from the history of religion that suppression of doubt is immature and leads to projection, defensiveness, etc?

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Well, it depends. In the canon, there is a clear point about that repeated many times. It is also clear that you cannot be a stream entry if you have doubts about the teaching and the Buddha, and in numerous suttas it’s clear that faith is a fundamental part of the path. So I do not see the issue to think that enlightened beings are not perfect but beyond perfection, since perfection and not perfection, clean and unclean are samsara concepts.

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That is true. But again, it’s mentally immature if the consequence is that someone who wants to consider themselves a serious Buddhist follower must join an “everything is awesome” club. We have to deal with doubt, yes, but to shut up the doubting voice and think “the Buddha is perfect, so every flaw I see must be mine” is not constructive.

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I think it depends. If you have strong faith, how do you have doubts? If you have doubts, how can you have a strong faith?
I think it depends where each single individual is with one’s faith. If you have reached a certain level of faith, your doubt voice is silenced (how can it be different?). If not, the doubt will be there, and more time might be needed. Indeed doubt is one of the mental hindrances.
Yet Buddha clearly stated that people should have doubts, practice and investigate. Yet he also said the doubt would at a certain point disappear for never return.
The most important thing is not to be judgemental about our or other people’s doubts or lack of those. In the end, everything is uncertain till we arrive at the end of the path. :smile:

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I can have faith in anatta or samadhi for example, and at the same time doubt that the Buddha walked around praising himself as the awesomest supreme supadupa thing in the universe. Or I can have faith in him as the supreme teacher and doubt that the transmission that brought us the suttas was flawless. There are literally a thousant possibilities to have faith in one aspect and doubt another. And while some of these doubts will affect one’s practice, others will not.

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Let me analyze this for you. To raise your urgency!

If you understand this statement from MN 56 (also other Sutta), you will know.

Just as a clean cloth rid of stains would properly absorb dye, in that very seat the stainless, immaculate the Dhamma-Eye arose in Upāli.

The stream enterer mind (Mano – cognitive mind) has been wiped clean. Their view has been straightened up (i.e. They only think about 4 noble truths if they practice).

There will be no doubt for a stream enterer (path attainer – Magga) about path, Buddha, Dhamma, Ariya-Sangha. However, it will take time for the knowledge & morality to mature (path to fruit), this maturity is not within the next 1 moment like Abhidhamma explained it. The knowledge & morality will mature:

  • At most by end of his current life or
  • Less than 1 day (if he has perfect morality already and very wise),

Buddha has explained this in Sutta.

Once the knowledge is matured, the 3 low fetters fall off right away. No need any teachers to declare for them.

What is the proper way for stream enterer to declare they are stream enterer?

They will say they have unshakable confidence based on direct experience on Buddha characters, dhamma characters, ariya-sangha characters, and they have a perfect morality that is loved by the other noble devotees that lead to samadhi.

Why?

Because there can’t be any other path to reach Nibbana. Everyone reaches Nibbana or Arahant or becoming a Buddha with this Noble Eightfold Steps only.

Also, There can never be any major transgression once a person has attained a path.

The other question, how can one attain a stream enterer?

They need to have a right view. Only 2 conditions for this to arise (MN 43): the words of another (another Ariya explained it for you and you hear it with your own ear) and focus attention to the source (when the teaching is being explained by the Ariya).

Also, Look SN 55.5 and SN 55.7 for 4 factors of stream enterer.

To conclude,

To become Ariya you need to see and know personally another Ariya as explained in MN 2 and other Sutta.

Take an educated noble disciple who has SEEN the other noble devotees (Ariya), and is skilled and trained in the teaching of the noble devotees. They’ve seen good persons (Sappurisa), and are skilled and trained in the teaching of the good persons.

Note: This is not a hearsay by someone or book reference. Also, this can’t happen even for people who study by their own the Sutta or other works.

Regarding faith, please read DN 9. If you truly understanding, you will know a stream enterer always has a sight of Nibbana (if they check). This Nibbana is here and now, not in future.

So what now?

Try to seek an Ariya or someone know one is an Ariya. Any Ariya can explain to you the complete path. So, Not only an Arahant (Perfected One) can explain to you. Even a Stream Enterer can bring a Puthujjana (common folk) to become a stream enterer.

Don’t look at the Figure, because that person is Well Known

If they are an Arahant, they should be able to bring anyone to be a stream enterer shortly. Otherwise, they might not be the real one.

Note: This doesn’t involve any single meditation practice, if there is, it is just to calm the mind to accept the teaching.

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