First time posting but have been checking out various threads here for a while. It seems like a wonderful and supportive community. I live in Ireland and I very rarely get to meet other practitioners, so online communitites like these are great!
Anyway, I have some questions regarding DN16 if anyone can help shed some light on the matter?
Approaching the end of his life, the Buddha said to Ananda:
"The Realized One has developed and cultivated the four bases of psychic power, made them a vehicle and a basis, kept them up, consolidated them, and properly implemented them. If he wished, the Realized One could live on for the eon or what’s left of the eon.”
This was a hint which apparently was lost on Ananda:
But Ānanda didn’t get it, even though the Buddha dropped such an obvious hint, such a clear sign. He didn’t beg the Buddha: “Sir, may the Blessed One please remain for the eon! May the Holy One please remain for the eon! That would be for the welfare and happiness of the people, for the benefit, welfare, and happiness of gods and humans.” For his mind was as if possessed by Māra.
Later, when he learns that the Buddha will soon die, Ananda says:
“Sir, may the Blessed One please remain for the eon! May the Holy One please remain for the eon! That would be for the welfare and happiness of the people, for the benefit, welfare, and happiness of gods and humans.”
In response to this, the Buddha refuses Ananda’s request and appears to admonish him for not picking up on this hint (a hint which the Buddha has dropped many times already):
“Ānanda, the misdeed is yours alone, the mistake is yours alone. For even though the Realized One dropped such an obvious hint, such a clear sign, you didn’t beg me to remain for the eon, or what’s left of it. If you had begged me, I would have refused you twice, but consented on the third time. Therefore, Ānanda, the misdeed is yours alone, the mistake is yours alone.”
I gotta say, I felt pretty bad for Ananda at this point!! I have only recently started reading the Suttas, so perhaps something is going over my head here, but this felt strange to me. I’ve pondered this for a while and can’t quite figure out what the Buddha’s intention may have been in dropping a hint about something so potentially seismic! Couldn’t he have been more up-front with Ananda? Why didn’t he just say it out straight and offer to stay around or, decide to do so for himself, if he felt that it would indeed be beneficial? And furthermore, I felt it was pretty harsh on Ananda, being told that it was all his fault that humanity couldn’t benefit from the Buddha continuing to exist for another eon. That’s gotta be a tough burden to carry!
Apologies if this comes across as being disrespectful. I know that I’m probably missing something and/or misinterpreting something, so I’m saying it like this to illustrate that point. If I have caused any offence then I apologise for that.
I would love to hear some thoughts on this if anyone would care to discuss it.