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Featured How Authentic are Buddhist Scriptures?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by adrian009, May 31, 2019.

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  1. Yes

    8.3%
  2. We can't possibly know

    33.3%
  3. Maybe

    33.3%
  4. This poll doesn't reflect my thinking

    25.0%
  1. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    I've been pondering Buddhism and the Teachings of Buddha, particularly the authenticity of the sacred writings that are attributed to what the Buddha taught. Buddha's words weren't written down until centuries after his death. Words can be changed in translation or through being passed down orally. There are vast volumes of Buddhist texts so the likelihood additional material was added appears high. Perhaps some of what was written is from early Buddhists rather than the Buddha Himself.

    How can we know which of the scriptures if any attributed to Buddha are really Buddha's actual teachings? Knowing the words Buddha used and what He meant is the next issue. How can we be certain about what the Buddha really meant?

    What are some of the most useful resources you have found to assist answer this question?

    I have put this in the religious debates section to allow free discussion. I'm unlikely to engage in much debating as I'm here to learn. Thank you in advance for considering my question.
     
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  2. KelseyR

    KelseyR The eternal optimist!

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    Through my studies I can project what Buddha and Buddhism was originally about. It won't reveal his exact words, but it will unerringly portray the initial intent. Basic understanding of beliefs relativity is prerequisite, but I can tell you the following:

    Buddha was a fringe atheist. He sought a middle ground between faith and doubt and was willing to entertain the validity of magic in order to achieve this. He quick discovered that spiritualists already held the ground he wanted, if only tenuously. He saw that this disjointed group was sad: believing in an eternal series of lifetimes devoid of God and heaven. He then offered them a solution: a way to escape this cycle through the accruing of personal magic. He left what happens when we escape a mystery. This was in order to recruit as many people as possible from a steadier supply existing in those who were already predisposed to believing in magic. Elements of Hinduism were rewritten to accommodate this new (ostensibly pessimistic) belief. Rules were created to prevent badgering of the beliefs holding the two poles he tread between. He created a series of mundane wisdoms: including advocacy for a ready joy supply in freedom from possessions and ambitions: all of this consistent with a permanent exiting of life, as if in preparation for it.

    From this reasoned forward profile we can ascertain that almost all of Buddhist scripture (from both vehicles) stems from the teachings of Buddha. Exceptions would be found in the concept of lengthy torments , etc. These things originate of spiritualists adding 'colorful flavor' to Buddhism.
     
    #2 KelseyR, May 31, 2019
    Last edited: May 31, 2019
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  3. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man with a little bit of Bushido.

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    I hold them in no higher or lower regard as the Christian scriptures as being no better or worse than any ancient manuscript either in accuracy or it's historical origins.

    I'm sure it's gone through the same redactions and changes throughout the centuries as with any ancient literary work.

    Most Buddhist scriptures are attributed to monastic monks at least a century or two after the Buddha passed away of which the teachings went in many directions and have taken many forms.

    "Thus I have heard" as a common opening to scriptures is very befitting.

    I consider Buddhist scriptures to be empty as with all things.
     
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  4. Lyndon

    Lyndon "Peace is the answer" quote: GOD, 2014
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    i think you get a picture of the Buddha from the things that are repeated over and over again in the scriptures, these things I think may be fairly accurate portrayal of the Buddha's teaching, one off statements than stand out as being different and perhaps contradictory, I am less inclined to view as probably accurate.
     
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  5. Amanaki

    Amanaki Well-Known Member

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    My main source of texts come from Diga Nikaya (long discourses of the Buddha) And Yes the tradition was Oral until the first council was held. What we can be sure of is the foundation of the teaching.
    4 Noble truths and the 8 fold path are directly from Buddha himself. And then we have the 5, 8 or 10 precepts that are Buddha himself who was teaching.

    In Theravada Buddhism, it is common to say that this was all Buddha was teaching, but all the other suttas are explanations of these 3 teachings. So you will find parts from 4 noble truths, 8 folded path, and the precepts in the rest of the teachings

    So to the Suttas themselves. They are the dhamma talks that Buddha held until his death, Then it was Ananda, the closest student of Buddha who took Buddha's place as the teacher. At this moment Ananda already where an Arahant (enlighten being) and had the ability of perfect recollection of the Buddhas words.
    But then what about some hundreds of years later? can we be sure it is still the exact words of the Buddha? Here I would say, they are the closest we can get to what Buddha was speaking.

    But as long we can understand the 4 noble truths and its meanings in our life. we can have the 8 folded path and the precepts, and we do live by this. yes then we still follow/ understand Buddha's true teaching.
     
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  6. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    The identity of the person saying something seem irrelevant to me when it comes to spiritual matters. That said, at least for the Pali Nikayas, there isn't much that is inconsistent in terms of tone, philosophy etc. So I am happy to read it as "words of Buddha and the early Buddhists" and leave it at that. Specific identifications do not seem necessary and look like a distraction.
     
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  7. Amanaki

    Amanaki Well-Known Member

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    I do not know if you are Buddhist or not, But your statements that Buddha was an Atheists is not a true statement according to the Buddha. Buddha did teach that there are 33 different levels of existence with both Devas, Arahant and other Buddhas within it. But he did not say there is ONE master creator God. (so if that is the criteria for being a Atheists? )
     
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  8. Devananda

    Devananda Well-Known Member
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    I would like to think so myself, dear Adrian, but how do I know? To me, it’s the same for The Gospels. Are those the actual words of Jesus Christ? We don’t know. Even so, is it still full of wisdom and inspiration? Absolutely!
     
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  9. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man with a little bit of Bushido.

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    Authentic Buddhism has nothing to do with the silliness of gods and spirits and things like that. It's all pure nonsense, and it's not regarded as Buddhism.

    Buddhadasa Bhikkhu had put it direct and eloquent.

    Where he mentions at the very least Buddhism should be considered as an art. More specifically, The art of living.

    There is a wonderful piece from the Handbook of Mankind (Looking at Buddhism) that also addresses the authenticity of Buddhism and is a very interesting read ....

    Buddhadasa Bhikkhu - LOOKING AT BUDDHISM
     
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  10. crossfire

    crossfire Antinomian feminist heretic freak ☿
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    Buddhism is about purifying your mind: transforming the poisons (kleshas) and getting over your psychological hang ups by bringing them into consciousness and using your intellect to find a way to resolve them. It is the middle path between dedication to self indulgence (id functions) and dedication to self-affliction (suerego functions) that leads to insight, discernment, and skillfulness (ego functions.)
     
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  11. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    I think that there is enough evidence that the Tipitaka is indeed authentic, but ultimately it does not matter (or should not matter).

    The proof is in the pudding. The worth of the written Dharma is in the Dharma itself, not in its origins.
     
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  12. stvdv

    stvdv Well-Known Member

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    Not really important to know, knowing that the final step is "Kill the Buddha"
     
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  13. KelseyR

    KelseyR The eternal optimist!

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    As I stated, knowledge of beliefs relativity is prerequisite. Buddhism is an amalgam of two choices: namely, magic and discontinuation. These choices are associated with two biases, and within an understanding of sequence completion this allows us to perfectly reason that proto-Buddhism (spiritualism) came from the desire-bias side and Buddhism thus came from the reason-bias side where skeptical atheists had earlier found permanent residency. Buddha started out as a renegade atheist, and I stand by this analysis. Proof of my claim exists in what Buddhism does not teach. He began by discarding all worthwhile work gains made within both biases. These omissions signify a level of familiarity and contempt only an atheist might possess. And dare I say that Buddhism and skeptical atheism are both of a pessimistic nature; this additional link? No offense meant.

    Anyway, I gave you people additional reason to believe that all or most of Buddhism reflects what Buddha said. That someone thought I was being 'creative' I equally regard a compliment and insult.
     
    #13 KelseyR, May 31, 2019
    Last edited: May 31, 2019
  14. stvdv

    stvdv Well-Known Member

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    This is what my Master says about Buddha (for sure no atheist):
    Lord Buddha underwent great hardships to realise the truth that everyone was endowed with the same principle of Divinity (copied from below article)
    Sai Inspires from Prasanthi Nilayam - October 16, 2016

    Because Buddha did not interest himself in the study of the Vedas or in the performance of Yagas and Yajnas, he was dubbed an atheist. This is utterly wrong. Buddha was a pure hearted person (copied from below article)
    Sai Baba on Buddha
     
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  15. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    I rated your post creative as your response reflected innovation and creativity. That’s a good thing.

    I don’t believe the Buddha was an atheist but I’m aware many Buddhists, particularly those from a Western background do. We may have points of agreement as to how that came about, particularly with Buddhist Teachings emerging within Hinduism. The religions of the Indian subcontinent were not called Hinduism back then of course. Such faiths were probably struggling to enable their followers to achieve enlightenment and had become overly concerned with obscure metaphysical discussions that had no practical benefit. Buddha instead taught the futility of such preoccupations and emphasised a path of practical living. The parable of the poisoned arrow depicts this well.

    Parable of the Poisoned Arrow - Wikipedia
     
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  16. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man with a little bit of Bushido.

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    That's Hinduism in Buddhist drag.
     
  17. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    In regards the OP question I’ve voted we can’t possibly know. Buddhist writings were first written down over 400 years after Gautama Buddha’s Passing. There is a narrative about how certain Monks would memorise the actual words of Buddha and this was the instructions of Buddha Himself. I don’t think we can verify this for certain. However I agree with what others have posted in that there is clear wisdom, truth and practical advice that works for so many. Thanks everyone for your responses.

    According to Donald Lopez, criteria for determining what should be considered buddhavacana (buddha word) were developed at an early stage, and that the early formulations do not suggest that Dharma is limited to what was spoken by the historical Buddha.[4] The Mahāsāṃghika and the Mūlasarvāstivāda considered both the Buddha's discourses, and of his disciples, to be buddhavacana.[4] A number of different beings such as buddhas, disciples of the buddha, ṛṣis, and devaswere considered capable to transmitting buddhavacana.[4] The content of such a discourse was then to be collated with the sūtras, compared with the Vinaya, and evaluated against the nature of the Dharma.[5][6] These texts may then be certified as true buddhavacana by a buddha, a saṃgha, a small group of elders, or one knowledgeable elder.[5][6]

    Buddhist texts - Wikipedia
     
  18. dmap

    dmap God is good and beautiful

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    Usually word of mouth stories do not accurately reflect the underlying historical events.
     
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  19. crossfire

    crossfire Antinomian feminist heretic freak ☿
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    One thing we can do: compare the transmission of the traditions over time and geographical location. The Vinaya, in particular, is quite consistant across space and time. I have a book of English translation of some of the Chinese agamas which parallel the Pali canon, and find them to be quite interesting. For instance, it is quite easy to skim passed the Four Sublime States in the Pali version of the Kalama Sutta without recognizing them for what they are, but they are quite easy to pick out in the coresponding Chinese agama. It's not like the message or the words are different or anything like that--it just might be a matter of skill in translating each language into English.
     
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  20. ajay0

    ajay0 Well-Known Member

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    I am impressed with Buddhist psychology and philosophy that has no parallel with any other religious philosophy on earth,except perhaps for Advaita.

    Bahai religion, Islam, Judaism and Christianity might appeal to the heart and to one's insecurities and need for psychological crutches, like God, life after death and heaven/hell, and might find adherents in this regard.

    But if you want a coherent intellectual understanding on the nature of existence with precise logic, Buddhism is the key. And hence, it is not for the faint-hearted.
     
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