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Buddhism and Islam, Teachers and Lineage

To: alt.islam,alt.religion.islam,alt.sufi,alt.consciousness,alt.magick.tyagi,talk.religion.buddhism,alt.religion.buddhism,talk.religion.misc
From: (nagasiva)
Subject: Buddhism and Islam, Teachers and Lineage
Date: 11 Apr 1996 01:30:29 -0700

49960407 (kaliyuga)

assalam alaykum, my kin

|Date: Sun, 7 Apr 1996 01:11:14 -0500

|>|Is the Buddha considered not to be a true teacher because he had no teacher
|>|and was a self-appointed teacher? 

|>...The Buddha is often depicted as having studied with two contemporaries 
|>and mastering their disciplines....

|Yes, he had two teachers, Aa.laara Kaalaama and then Uddaka Raamaputta (or
|Raamaputra in Skt). 

PHarvey translates their names as Alara the Kalama and Uddaka the son of Rama

|...both acknowledged him as fully educated in their disciplines, 

their discipline did not instruct in an intellectual fashion as much as
in the mastering of certain states of consciousness.  you are correct
that the Buddhist sutras usually describe the Buddha as having mastered
the states of mind over which these men were masters and transcending
into the substratum states of consciousness 'upon which both of these
were based', in the process becoming the master of each of his teachers

|...he himself felt there were much more important stuff left to learn. 

yes, though this is usually described as 'perceiving that what he was
taught was only part of a greater whole', founded upon more subtle
awarenesses, etc.

|He then went beyond their teachings ...and what he decided was worth 
|teaching (sometimes called the four noble truths including the fourth, 
|itself called the eight-fold path) was *not* something he had learned
|from these two teachers. 

there are some who suggest that the teachings of the Samanas with whom 
the Buddha is said to have studied aside from his teachers comprise
a great deal of what has come today to be called Buddhism and yet that
what the Buddha made popular were the secret or advanced teachings of
those individuals.  in this way some claim for him a kind of 'funda-
mental traditional origin' separate from the Brahmanism which was
practiced by many Indians of the time in his area of India

also, the way you describe it as the Buddha 'deciding what was worth
teaching' is somewhat ambiguous and may lead us astray.  rather than
get into a detailed debate about what the Buddha taught and how, I
would rather merely state alternatives I have heard and encourage the
reader to consider carefully that matters regarding Buddhism are at
times confusing and quite complex due its age and mobility) 

in any case I agree with you that the teachers of yogic concentration
with whom the Buddha studied are not usually said to have originated
what he taught.  the same is also true of Muhammad, whose live was
blessed by Allah with the recitation of _Al Qur'an_ (a revelation to
which his human friends and teachers had no previous exposure as I
understand it; corrections welcome)

|So in that relevant way, he did not have teachers.

what constitutes 'relevance' is a matter of debate.  as I said above,
some think the Buddha's teachers of a great portion of his material
may have been the Samanas, whom PHarvey describes in this way:

	The time of the Buddha was one of changing social
	conditions, where the traditions of small kin-based
	communities were bing undermined as these were
	swallowed up by expanding kingdoms, such as those of
	Magadha and Kosala.  A number of cities had developed
	which were the centres of administration and of developing 
	organized trad, based on a money economy.  The ideas 
	expressed in the *Upanisads* were starting to filter out 
	into the wider intellectual community and were being hotly 
	debated, both by Brahmins and wandering philosophers, 
	known as *Samanas*, who were somewhat akin to the early 
	Greek philosophers and mystics.  The *Samanas* rejected
	the Vedic tradition and wandered free of family ties,
	living by alms, in order to think, debate and investigate.

	_An Introduction to Buddhism_, by PHarvey, Cambridge
	 University Press, 1991; p. 11.

many Samanas in fact taught similar or the same things as the Buddha,
such as the doctrines of Rebirth and Karma which are traditionally
associated with Buddhism.  traditional Buddhist teachings also
indicate that other Samana sects or strands were evaluated and
reviewed by the Buddha, contrasting his own Middle Way with the
teachings of various others in the Samana movement

|(If you have a teacher who teaches you the alphabet and you then go off and
|start reading and composing poetry on your own, that goes way beyond what
|your teachers taught you. Just a metaphor.) 

Gotama Buddha life is a formula, an example, a shining beacon of success
to those of us who suffer and wonder how this suffering might be ended.
it did not begin at his instruction of yogic meditation.  this was a
very particular time wherein he learned subtle concentration techniques 
to which he would add a great cache of others in consequence of his
explorations in the fields of consciousness

his first instruction came as a Prince of a large kingdom in India.  he
was given everything a boy could want, though spared specific types of
phenomenon (that later became transformative for him) such as the
awareness of illness, age, death and monasticism on account of his
father's desire for him to succeed him as ruler.  there had been
prophesies concerning what would happen should he learn of these things
the bulk of the instruction concerning the life of the Buddha within
modern Buddhism was created, as so many of the mystics after him,
a half-dozen centuries after his death, compiled of various traditional
and oral accounts 

from all this I do see your point.  the Buddha discovered something NEW.
he was moving BEYOND the teachings of his contemporaries, exploring and
discussing/instructing on the various meditational methods he amassed

and yet his instruction reflects his encounter with the Real.  Buddhist
instruction variably categorizes what he engaged as 'buddha-consciousness',
'nirvana' or 'perfect enlightenment', and often qualifies all methods
taught by the Buddha and his successors as '(kausalya) upaya' or 'skilful 

upaya is reminiscent of the classification system I have heard spoken of 
by Muslims, according that a variety of rules/restrictions/practices are
available and that one's level of understanding and awareness might
dictate what practice/teaching was appropriate to the level of the
student (the guide/sheikh/master/sensei providing valuable input here)

|My question was simply about the idea that a teacher cannot be a teacher if
|the lineage of that teacher does not satisfy a particular scrutiny. 

Gotama's lineage begins with him in conservative accounts, yet there 
are also teachings which asertain the Buddha's instruction to have been
at a certain point in his innumerable lives (rebirth is a fundamental
doctrine within Buddhism and many of the surrounding religious of the
Buddha's time)  

one account has him studying under the buddha Dipankara, for example,
and some Buddhists teach that Gotama was the final and perfect One
who had been born as all previous Buddhas in a type of mystical
relation into which we might join (compare this to the 'Golden Chain'
of traditional sufism in that the buddhas form a 'chain' of rebirth
and within each is a graduated development of consciousness)

|it applied in a way not only to the Buddha but also to Mohammed himself, 
|in a way that it does not apply to those who heard from ..... who heard 
|from Mohammed. 

I would compare Muhammad's engagement of al Haqq, the Real, through His
agent Gabriel, with the Buddha's 'perfect enlightenment'.  both are
reputed to have gone into seclusion (Muhammad to a cave).  both came
away from the experience with instruction for the composition of a
new of religious practice varying from that around them (Muhammad 
contrasting his monotheism with the polytheism of the surrounding 
Meccan region)

it seems to me that the Buddha does qualify here within certain
accounts of his life/lives, but these are very extensive and may
support all manner of assertion

peace be with you, my kin


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