a few years ago you had a “myth busting” workshop. i listened to some of the episodes, my impression was that the “myth” term in that context was truth and falsehood, rather than sacred story. did i misunderstand? i’m not trying to give anyone a hard time, just trying to understand more clearly what the term “myth” means, so i don’t use the word and mislead others.
(1) ajahn mun after his arahantship, perhaps even before, regularly had groups of devas, nagas visiting him many nights every week. i re-read his biography frequently, so many interesting details. one of the deva groups was even led by Sakka. Devas and nagas would usually take on the appearance of humanoid forms, dressed according to rank in their society. a skeptical non-buddhist buddhist-scholar i read believed that the sutta accounts of Sakka and Brahma were outright fiction as a way to bolster buddhism against other religions by converting the gods to buddhism.
(2) in the vinaya, there’s the rule where nagas (dragon-like beings, not elephants or arahants) are not allowed to ordain as bhikkhus. in SN 46.1, first sutta of bojjhanga samyutta, the standard definition of 7 bojjhanga devlelopment has a beautiful simile of how a naga starts off as a tiny baby in a small stream in the himalayas, gradually moving downards into larger rivers and fully mature, enters into the ocean, a powerful naga.
(3) when the buddha was born, right after he came out of the womb he took sevens steps, pointed one finger up and said, “i am the greatest.” (something like that).
(4) the buddha felt that the humans weren’t ready for abhidhamma so he went up to tavatimsa heaven of 33, (whoops! wasn’t his mom reborn in tusita?) to teach abhidhamma. when he came back to the human realm to take his daily meal he would teach sariputta. sariputta taught his 500 close disciples and that’s how it was transmitted all the way till today. so, let me get this straight. abhidhamma is supposed to be for the most wise, not even the other chief arahants disciples were taught this. and humans today are learning the abhidhamma. so they’re wiser than ananda? mahakasssapa? mahamoggallana?
(5) according to mahayana, a month after the first council, ananda was secretly called back where they then recited all the secret mahayana sutras.
(6) also according to mahayana, don’t know if this is compatible with the account in #5, but the buddha knew the mahayana was too advanced for his hinayanist disciples, so he taught the dragon king and the mahayana sutras were recorded in scrolls under the sea to be re-discovered 500 years later. something like that, i don’t remember the exact details.
(7) in the mahayanas abhidhamma division, which differs in content and meaning quite significantly from theravada, they classifiy it as a commentary, not as the actual word of the buddha, which is quite different than theravada’s account from #4. The mahayana sutras on the other hand, they insist is the actual word of the buddha.
(8) vajrayana comes along with more super secret sutras that came directly from the mouth of the buddha, but mahayana does not agree with that, and neither does theravada.
What a mess. they’re all sacred stories, but are they all properly labeled as “myth”?