Thread: The Real Buddha

  1. #1

    The Real Buddha

    I came across this article and thought I'd post it here:


    In Search of the Real Buddha

    Buddhist scholar Peter Harvey explores the facts, myths, and deeper truths of the Buddha’s life story.

    https://www.lionsroar.com/in-search-of-the-real-buddha/
    Any comments about the article?

  2. #2
    Forums Member trusolo's Avatar
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    Really nice article. I liked it primarily because it aligns with my thinking so a bit of confirmation bias. I much prefer to see the Buddha as a human with extraordinary qualities with everything in perfect balance - like perfection personified. At the same time, as the article suggests, he showed very human traits every now and then. For example, another instance of the Buddha amending his actions is, if I recall correctly, making a new rule about ordaining young kids only with parental consent because his father got angry at him for ordaining Rahula without asking him and thus leaving him completely without an heir.
    I am not sure if it is true or not but I vaguely remember reading about it somewhere a long time ago.

    I find it quite amusing that despite being a Buddha, he got yelled at by both his mom and his dad!
    Last edited by trusolo; 03 Jun 20 at 19:00.

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    On balance, I'd rather the Buddha not be a real figure than have to accept half the nonsense written about him. For me it is important that he was just this guy who found a way to enlightenment that we can all follow and, just as important, come out the other side being able to interpret what happened to us without recourse to magic. He enabled us to be the people we can be when we reassess the world without the kind of suffering that he talked about. It's enough for me to be able to experience for myself the practice he taught.

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    Forums Member Cyril's Avatar
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    Was Gotama Buddha sincere and selfless?
    Everything suggests it.
    Does Gotama Buddha's message have any value?
    Without a doubt.
    Is it necessary to know all the details of Gotama's life in order to apply his method?
    I don't think so.

    The study of Buddha's biography is -intellectually and historically- a very interesting subject ; just like the study of the biography of Laotzi, Jesus, Gandhi or Martin Luther King.
    The genius of all these men lies in their thought and self-sacrifice. It does not lie in the detail of their lives.

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    I enjoyed the article and how it explores the two extremes of how we tend to think of the Buddha, that of the mythical superman who could fly and shoot fire and water from his body vs. just a plain old human who lived in the woods and begged for food, and how the answer is likely something in between. I think the danger in the former view is that it may make people think that the Buddha was so far beyond a normal person and that only an extraordinary being can achieve what he did that it'd be pointless for them to try and follow the Buddha's path (not to mention that it's also off putting for the more skeptically minded). And the danger of the latter is that is belies the spiritual genius and achievements of the Buddha, giving one the impression that we was just another clever thinker in the ancient world and that's about it, which can make his teachings appear historically interesting but not eminently practical. And I like how this article tries to connect the Buddha's humanity with his status as a superbly gifted spiritual teacher and the groundbreaking insights he discovered and passed on to us, a connection Harvey specifically makes when he says, "Clearly there was an intent to show two sides of the nature of the Buddha. He was an enlightened being who had experienced the transcendent and had developed supernormal powers through spiritual practices over many lifetimes, yet he also shared many human frailties with those he taught."But I think that whatever perception one may have of the Buddha, the power and truth of his teachings shine through if one takes the time to read them and put them into practice, and I agree with Harvey that, "The most important aspect of the Buddha was the Dhamma he taught and embodied in order to aid others in seeing and fathoming it."

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