MN 123: The circumstances of the Buddhas birth seem contradictory

One thing I’ve always liked about the suttas is how the Buddhas is portrayed as being more important than various divine beings, and his teachings as being more important than him. A slick way of redirecting people from distractions.

In this sutta all sorts of fantastic circumstances of his birth are described, but at the end the Buddha points that the most fantastic circumstance above them all is some of his core teachings:

“Well then, Ānanda, you should also remember this as an incredible and amazing quality of the Realized One. It’s that the Realized One knows feelings as they arise, as they remain, and as they go away. He knows perceptions as they arise, as they remain, and as they go away. He knows thoughts as they arise, as they remain, and as they go away. This too you should remember as an incredible and amazing quality of the Realized One.”

What bothers me about MN 123 is that description of his birth seems contradictory with other descriptions. His mother dies after giving birth. The Buddha gets up, walks, talks, as an infant proclaiming he knows he is on his last life.

This doesn’t fit with other accounts of him not knowing that, his father not knowing if he will be a king or spiritual leader, and Siddhartha himself having to figure out the path for himself.

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Interestingly, I don’t think there is actually any valuation of the point he adds over the ones Ven. Ānanda gives. It’s just one more thing to the list.

My understanding is that the speaking/walking/knowing things are one time things that have to do with his birth. We don’t have any other accounts, as far as I know, that he continued these things from the moment of his birth.

Denial is not a river in Egypt.
Sudhodana was told by several people, but I believe he just didn’t want it to happen.

That’s one of the universal qualities of a Buddha. Not sure why it would be contradictory.

What’s the other accounts from other parts of the suttas which contradict these? Also it’s 7 days for the mother to die, not immediately. Do remember that it’s his step mother who raised him up and became the first Bhikkhuni.

Knowing one is on the last life is not exactly the same as knowing how to attain to enlightenment. Like I know that I will finish the exam on graduate level Physics if I sit in it and get A, based on my past knowledge and skills on undergraduate physics. But I might not yet have studied graduate level physics (maths part). So I still need to do my studies to score the exams.


What other account?
The only other account about His life in sutta is about his life in luxury inside 3 palaces, his meditation under rose apple tree when he attain jhana at first time, and he left home despite his parents sadness.

There is also some stories in sutta nipata about Sage Asita who saw gods partying because Bodhisatta was born.

He is mindfully entering the womb of his mother. I think it is normal if he can talk as soon as he was born. We can say that he had been reborn as human too many times before, so talking and walking has already become habit.

We can speculate that this part of sutta was later addition.
But to the faithful, this can be rationalized. Many modern examples of children who remember their past lives, lost their memories after they grew up.

One prominent example is the Dalai Lama 14th, who has stories about remembering where his predecessor kept his fake teeth, as soon as he as a child enter Dalai Lama official residence. But he said that he doesn’t remember anything after he become adult.

We can speculate that Siddhartha also lost his memory after he grew up. Maybe his father really trap him in luxury and entertainment, and he successfully distract Bodhisatta until later in life.

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