What was Siddharta really trying to teach?

Discussion in 'Buddhism' started by Peterness, May 26, 2006.

  1. Peterness

    Peterness Member

    This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately.

    Of course it's clear he taught the nature of suffering and how to end suffering. But what i'm getting at is different peoples interpretations of his teachings that has resulted in many different forms of Buddhism all over asia. Was the philosophy of Siddharta ever supposed to become a religion?

    I'm certain it wasn't. I believe Siddharta was trying to get us to practice independent spirituality. But I feel what we see today in Buddhist countries wasn't what he had in mind.

    In most countries and cultures the teachings have mixed with older religions and beliefs to make bastardised versions of the core teachings. Zen Buddhism, Japanese Buddhism are so heavily influenced by Shintoism and Taoism are they even valid and effective methods to enlightenment?
    And it's the same everywhere you go. You go to Thailand and they have people selling acged birds on the street. The idea is you buy one and set it free and thus you generate good karma...Isn't that just 'sold out' Buddhism!?
    It's also important to remember Siddharta taught everyone to not worship him as a god. But then you can enter a wat anywhere from Tibet to Vietnam and there you'll have it; a big gold and diamond statue of the the man himself! You'll probably see people bowing to it too...

    It's just through all of this I get the impression 95% of people totally misunderstood the teachings.

    I have much much more to discuss but that'll have to wait for now...So please add your thoughts on this.
  2. MeAgain

    MeAgain Dazed and Confused Staff Member Super Moderator

    There are those who contest the belief that there really was an historical Buddha named Gautama.

    And remember there have been at least 28 Buddhas...and more to come.

  3. Zen came from a teaching of the Buddha's in India, but it has definately changed over time. Regardless of whether it is exactly what the Buddha taught, what matters, at least in my opinion, is that you act with love and compassion.

    When we bow or offer incense to a statue of the Buddha, we do not do it as worship of a god, but rather as a recognizance of that potential, and possibility inside of ourselves.
  4. Peterness

    Peterness Member

    Yeah i've heard this a million times over and over again from various buddhist monks and teachers in various countries from various traditions...Personally i'm not convinced. If you are not bowing or worshipping a statue then who are you offering the incense too? Who are you bowing too?

    It doesn't seem logical you are bowing to a piece of metal in order to recognize your own potential and the buddha nature within. Infact it's almost counter-productive because you are directing your energy outwards to the exterior, in this case a conceptual form of a statue, when we are taught the buddha nature can only be realised by looking within ourselves.

    Meagain; This is an excellent point. Though I find the archaelogical and historical evidence for the existence of a prince Gotama too overwhelming, I am not convinced that his original teachings have remained intact...I'm sure certain Buddhists over the years have 'edited' the scriptures and sutras. This has happened with virtually every other mainstream religion and many philosophies so I see no reason why it hasn't happened with Buddhism.
  5. MeAgain

    MeAgain Dazed and Confused Staff Member Super Moderator

    So, I've never really seen any definitive archeological evidence. I've heard of finger bones and such, but who knows where they come from?

    Here's a pretty good list of Buddhis tsites in India. A lot of them claim that the Buddha was here or there.

    The Buddhist Archaeology of India-

    But, whatever, I think you must dig pretty deep to get to the central teachings.
  6. Peterness

    Peterness Member

    thanks i'll look at that later.

    By the way, i'm not that bothered about the bowing to statues of images of buddha, it's just I dont feel comfortable doing it and don't see the point. Fine if others feel it helps though.
  7. Hikaru Zero

    Hikaru Zero Sylvan Paladin



    Think of it like this. The bow is an act of reverence. There is certainly something to be revered in wisdom; a typical person would not bow to a fool.

    But is the man to be revered, or the wisdom?

    Since wisdom does not have a carnal form, and since wisdom is relative to a being, we bow to such a being as the Buddha because he represents the pinnacle of wisdom.
  8. MollyThe Hippy

    MollyThe Hippy get high school

    Buddha was trying to teach the emptyness of material relationships... my bf and i just had a big fight which helped to refuel my faith in the buddhist tenets
  9. Bhaskar

    Bhaskar Members

    Is that a statue only? If you look at all things deeply, you will percieve that by interbeing, the entire universe is present in them. The statue contains the metal, but it also contains the artist who moulded it, and the fire that melted the metal, the tools that shaped it, and thr Buddha that inspired it. If there was no Buddha, there would no statue, so who are you bowing to? The Buddha nature that is present in all things, from a hunk of metal to you.

    What is within and what is outside? The same Buddha nature in you is in the statue and you are also in the statue and the statue is in you. Everything is in everything - that is the essence of emptiness and fullness. All things are empty of individual existence, but full of everything. Whether you bow to the statue or to the Buddha himself or to a banana peel on I-275, you are bowing to the all, the emptiness, the universe.

    You are not diverting your energy outside, you are merely expanding the inside to embrace that which seems to be outside. We are taught, however, that both inside and outside are illusions.
  10. Peterness

    Peterness Member

    Fair enough.

    I knew someone would start getting analytical about the statue though lol...Is it a piece of metal? Look at it deeper, peel off the layers, what was it made from, how far can you trace back the origination of the statue? To the craftsman who made it? To the ore in the ground? To the cosmic processes, the death and birth of stars?
    Ok, so the statue holds the whole universe within it, so we bow to the universe/to emptiness...

    *Bows to his cheese sandwhich*

  11. Bhaskar

    Bhaskar Members

    If you don't want to look deeper, how do you expect to get anywhere? A shallow well gives no water.

    Instead of bowing to the sandwich, eat the sandwich mindfully.
  12. Peterness

    Peterness Member

    it was a joke.

    I ate the sandwich mindfully.
  13. Hikaru Zero

    Hikaru Zero Sylvan Paladin

    lol ...

    *sits there quietly eating his sandwich mindfully* ^_^
  14. scrap_rat

    scrap_rat Member

    Buddhism in the West is still in it's infancy. I respect that. Nevertheless, it seems part of American culture to want to take things apart, discard the parts we like, in this case by identifying them "as what the Buddha taught" and discarding what we don't as cultural bastards.

    For myself, a better approach has been to take more or less working Dharmas, learn about them, and tweak them just enough that they work for me. I just prefer to respect the integrity of the sects I learn from as much as possible. I don't have to strip my Chevy pickup down to something as basic as what Henery Ford might have created in order to learn how to drive.
  15. Green

    Green Iconoclastic

    Well, thats how people are. They did the same thing with Jesus and every other person that preached and is remembered.
  16. themnax

    themnax Senior Member

    perhapse only the avoidance of self deception.

  17. Chodpa

    Chodpa -=Chop_Chop=-

    It's hard to lose what you never had. People everywhere are not concerned about the reality of the underlying truth of their religions. Especially when a religion becomes established as a religion as opposed to being a path of self discovery.

    I have all sorts of lamas who follow what they preach and are shining examples of living Buddhism and its continued outpouring of grace.

    One cannot judge anything absolutely in this world. To do so shows a miserly mental apparatus.
  18. Peacebucket

    Peacebucket Member

    seems to me that a lot of religons didn't start out with the goal at being a religon. Many religons today started out with a teacher (like buddah, or jesus) and they had followers at that time, and later as time went on they got more and more followers until it just became a religon
  19. dd3stp233

    dd3stp233 -=--=--=-

    There is a story of the Buddha, shortly after becoming enlightened, he sat with two other people. He spoke to them of the path to enlightenment. He said if you understand what I am saying, then leave me. One of them, got up and said "I understand" and left, not to return. The other stayed and became the Buddha's first disciple. A disciple is someone that does not understand.
  20. Chodpa

    Chodpa -=Chop_Chop=-

    This story is a case of someone saying someone saying someone saying. It is not so. Quotes from Buddha must be presented with some certain veracity and must therefore be presented with their citation from the Tripitaka. otherwise I could say Buddha said, eat shit and die. And who would be the wiser? Let's not ascribe sayings to The Buddha which are merely self serving.

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