Did the Buddha get angry?

If you haven’t seen it already @dougsmith uploaded a very interesting Video about famous passages where the Buddha seems to be angry. This has always seemed to me to be a troubling passage. While there’s nothing wrong with the Buddha trebly correcting Sati’s mistake. I wonder why the Buddha was so, well rude about it? I feel like even the mods on this site would lock a comment if someone called another poster stupid or foolish man LOL.

How do you all read this passage :thinking:

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It does seem odd doesn’t it? How can someone who proscribes harsh speech possibly speak in this manner? Are they actually angry?

A similar thought once occurred to Nigantha Nataputta… :laughing:

MN58
“Come, Prince, go to the monk Gotama and say thus: ‘Venerable sir, would a Tathāgata utter such speech as would be unwelcome and disagreeable to others?’ If the monk Gotama, on being asked thus, answers thus: ‘A Tathāgata, Prince, would utter such speech as would be unwelcome and disagreeable to others’, then say to him thus: ‘Then, venerable sir, what is the difference between you and an ordinary man? For an ordinary man also utters such speech as would be unwelcome and disagreeable to others.’ But if the monk Gotama, on being asked thus, answers thus: ‘A Tathāgata, Prince, would not utter such speech as would be unwelcome and disagreeable to others’, then say to him: ‘Then, venerable sir, why has Devadatta been declared by you to be thus: “Devadatta belongs to the states of deprivation, Devadatta belongs to hell, Devadatta will remain in hell for the aeon, Devadatta is incorrigible”? Devadatta was disturbed and dissatisfied with that speech of yours.’ When the monk Gotama is posed this two-horned question by you, he will not be able either to gulp it down or throw it up.

You can directly read Buddha’s justification in the sutta!

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ach ja, we do not really know, ofcourse, what happened.

It might also suggest that we think wrong about awakening as a total inability to become angry, loose patience, an inability to become emotional.

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Sujato has ‘Silly man’ (which sounds quite playful) and Bodhi has ‘Misguided man’ (which sounds quite earnest and is a nice fit for me). The dictionaries seem to be ruder than both of these for sure

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The difference seems to be wisdom. The Buddha has the wisdom to know which speech is harmful regardless of appearance and which speech is not harmful regardless of appearance. Acting out of compassion, the Buddha always chose not harmful speech regardless of appearance. The Teacher chose that speech which was most likely to help in the long term the most sentient beings out of compassion for the welfare of sentient beings.

It seems that to truly understand which speech is harmful and which speech is not harmful, one must have wisdom. The more wisdom one has, the more one is able to differentiate truly between harmful speech and speech which does not cause harm. The less wisdom one has, the less one is able to differentiate truly between harmful speech and speech which does not cause harm.

Appearances can be deceiving. Judging the truth of a thing behind the appearance can only be done with discerning wisdom. At least that is my take away from this sutta reference. Thank you for the reference!

An interesting aside: it seems the Teacher did not possess a power that would allow him to totally control how his actions would appear to others. In the alternative, if he did have such a power, he purposefully neglected to use it in the case of Devadatta.

:pray:

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I’ve always preferred “hollow man,” which I think is the literal Pali but not idiomatic in English.

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If you refer to the Pali word ‘moghapurisa’, I always understood it to be the same as ‘moha’:
Delusion, ignorance, etc.

Perhaps you are influenced by TS Eliot?

According to DPD/PED, the literal meaning is empty.

What would be the root?

From PED

Vedic mogha for the later Sk. moha, which is the P. noun moha; fr. muh. BSk. mohapuruṣa

(I like Eliot’s Hollow Men:

Shape without form, shade without colour…)

No idea. I just blindly trust the dictionary, lol.

I see.
Well, we both can hopefully trust the PED entry I cited above.

Eliot studied Sanskrit and Pali at Harvard, we can’t all be so lucky.

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The expression was actually used by TS Eliot: The Hollow Men Poem Summary and Analysis | LitCharts

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Yes, that’s why I cited some lines from the poem above.

We can’t actually know how the Buddha’s speech would have sounded in that context though.

Take a word like nincompoop, will historians 2500 years later be able to work out the vibes of calling someone that?

I think we just have to live with being a bit agnostic about these things that depend so much on the context, IMO :woman_shrugging:

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Written language lacks communication elements such as delivery, body language, tone of voice and facial expressions.

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Buddha does say unpleasant and unwelcome words to other in the suttas. Does that mean he is angry? An Arahant is one who cut off the roots of greed, angry and ignorance. Buddha is an Arahant, he is incapable to be angry any more. In fact from anagami onwards, a Noble one is incapable to be angry as he has cut off ill will, which is one of the five lower fetters (SN45.179)

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Sometimes, it appears that the Buddha, despite being perfectly enlightened, could express annoyance or perhaps even crankiness :slight_smile: which could come across as harsh to some.

For instance, we have the following exchange found in MN 67 (the Cātuma Sutta):

As the story goes, the Tathāgata once sent away a group of 500 newly ordained bhikkhus. These bhikkhus had never seen the Buddha before and were perhaps young. Having also never met the Buddha Sangha, upon their arrival, they were noisy and loud as they enthusiastically greeted the resident monks and settled their belongings. Although they were expressing their excitement of seeing other monks for the first time, and despite travelling all the way to see the Buddha for the very first time, the Tathāgata deemed their behaviour to be inappropriate and summarily sent them away.

“[newly ordained] Mendicants, what’s with that dreadful racket? You’d think it was fishermen hauling in a catch!”

And [the new bhikkhus] told him what had happened. (That is to say, while exchanging pleasantries with the resident mendicants, preparing their lodgings, and putting away their bowls and robes, made a lot of noise.)

“Go away, mendicants, I dismiss you. You are not to stay in my presence.”

“Yes, sir,” replied those mendicants. They got up from their seats… they set their lodgings in order and left, taking their bowls and robes.

After this incident, the Sakyans of Cātumā and even Brahmā Sahampati had to present themselves to the Buddha in order to persuade the Buddha to reconsider and to recall all of these newly ordained monastics that he sent away for having been noisy when they arrived.

Brahmā Sahampati appeared in front of the Buddha, arranged his robe over one shoulder, raised his joined palms toward the Buddha, and said:

"May the Buddha support the mendicant Saṅgha now as he did in the past! There are mendicants here who are junior, recently gone forth, newly come to this teaching and training.

“If they don’t get to see the Buddha they may change and fall apart. If young seedlings don’t get water they may change and fall apart. … If a young calf doesn’t see its mother it may change and fall apart. In the same way, there are mendicants here who are junior, recently gone forth, newly come to this teaching and training. If they don’t get to see the Buddha they may change and fall apart.”

The Buddha thusly rescinded his earlier dismissal order and sent word that these new bhikkhus were welcome to return. After they returned, he then taught a short lesson, but not before taking the opportunity to publicly scold Sāriputta in front of the “500” newly ordained.

Gotta love Sahampati! He’s one of my favourites, and he always seems to show up just when needed to give the Buddha a gentle nudge or poke in the right direction :laughing:

It seems that there is much that can be discussed and learned from this sutta.

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Excellent point. Someone even tries to call him out on it. See MN 58 Abhayarājakumāra

As you say, the Buddha (by definition) does not have the root of anger in his mind. This is all we need to know.

I think a lot of “problems” like this are solved if we give the Buddha the benefit of the doubt. He has earned it, no?

From DPD

mogha: adj. useless; pointless; futile; ineffective; unprofitable; vain; lit. empty [√muh + *gha]

Pāḷi mogha
Grammar adj, from muyhati
Root Family √muh
Root √muh・3 ya (be deluded, confused)
Construction √muh > moh + *gha

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That looks correct, and in accord with PED.
(See above)