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Re: The Buddha as omniscient

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  • rjkjp1
    Dear Stephen and Nina, I remember reading a Tika which said something to the effect that only certain beings have a fixed destiny. These are ones like leading
    Message 1 of 19 , May 31, 2006
      Dear Stephen and Nina,

      I remember reading a Tika which said something to the effect that
      only certain beings have a fixed destiny. These are ones like
      leading disciples who have gained a prediction from a past Buddha
      that in the future they will become such and such a disciple under
      this or that future Buddha.
      It might be that the comment in the Patisambhidhimagga is given some
      qualification in the tikas. In any event the range of a Buddha's
      knowledge is one of the unknoawables, impossible to imgaine how vast
      it is.
      Robert
      In Pali@yahoogroups.com, nina van gorkom <vangorko@...> wrote:
      >
      > Dear Stephen,
      > op 31-05-2006 15:53 schreef Stephen Hodge op s.hodge@...:
      > In the discussion to which Robert kindly pointed me, Nina quoted
      the
      > > Patisambhidamagga Ch 72 (p. 131)...
      >
      > > To come back to the issue which prompted this discussion, the
      question then
      > > is whether the traditional understanding of "omnscience" is
      mistaken or else
      > > do the teachings of the Buddha ever state or imply that choice
      in one's
      > > course of actions is illusory. I tend take the former view,
      though I might
      > > be wrong.
      > ----
      > N: If we approach the problem with western logica we may keep on
      being
      > puzzled. Perhaps this quote can help:
      > we read VII, 32:
      > <Herein, the Blessed One's possession of clear vision consists in
      the
      > fulfilment of Omniscience (Ps. I, 131) , while his possession of
      conduct
      > consists in the fulfilment of the Great Compassion (Ps. 1, 126).
      He knows
      > through omniscience what is good and harmful for all beings, and
      through
      > compassion he warns them of harm and exhorts them to do good. >
      >
      > He helps people to see the disadvantage of akusala and the benefit
      of
      > kusala. He had this in mind. We read that he surveyed the world
      with his
      > Buddha Eye to see whether someone's understanding was ripe so that
      he could
      > attain enlightenment. This does not mean that people are slaves of
      > predestination.
      > We have a superficial knowledge of people's inclinations and can
      predict
      > more or less how their reactions will be, even on a list like
      this. The
      > Buddha had an unobstructed knowledge of all such things.
      > We can also reduce the problem to: people act according to the
      conditions
      > that make them act, and where is the free will if whatever one
      does is
      > conditioned, as Jacques mentioned. With this approach the dilemma
      will not
      > be solved. One can reason on endlessly.
      > The more we study the teachings the more we become impressed by
      the Buddha's
      > wisdom. He found out all the different types of conditions that
      operate in
      > our life. All about cittas and cetasikas, and their intricate
      conditions,
      > the many ways they condiiton one another. All about ruupas. That
      is the
      > meaning of his omniscience. All that is formed, in other words,
      conditioned,
      > and unformed, in other words nibbaana. If we approach the question
      in this
      > way we shall have a little more understanding of what the Buddha's
      wisdom
      > is. We hear the word omniscience, but this may only be a word to
      us if we do
      > not develop understanding of what he taught.
      > Nina.
      >
    • Jacques Huynen
      Dear All, I was not writing about omniscience but about the apparent paradox of believing at the same time of us as being conditioned and free which is typical
      Message 2 of 19 , Jun 1, 2006
        Dear All,

        I was not writing about omniscience but about the
        apparent paradox of believing at the same time of us
        as being conditioned and free which is typical of
        Buddhism, and a few other philosophies.

        But about omniscience, there are even occurences, I
        think in the Sutta Nipata, where Sakyamuni definitely
        denies being omniscient. When I retrieve them I send
        the references to this group.

        In the Dhamma,

        Jacques Huynen



        --- rjkjp1 <rjkjp1@...> wrote:

        > Dear Stephen and Nina,
        >
        > I remember reading a Tika which said something to
        > the effect that
        > only certain beings have a fixed destiny. These are
        > ones like
        > leading disciples who have gained a prediction from
        > a past Buddha
        > that in the future they will become such and such a
        > disciple under
        > this or that future Buddha.
        > It might be that the comment in the
        > Patisambhidhimagga is given some
        > qualification in the tikas. In any event the range
        > of a Buddha's
        > knowledge is one of the unknoawables, impossible to
        > imgaine how vast
        > it is.
        > Robert
        > In Pali@yahoogroups.com, nina van gorkom
        > <vangorko@...> wrote:
        > >
        > > Dear Stephen,
        > > op 31-05-2006 15:53 schreef Stephen Hodge op
        > s.hodge@...:
        > > In the discussion to which Robert kindly pointed
        > me, Nina quoted
        > the
        > > > Patisambhidamagga Ch 72 (p. 131)...
        > >
        > > > To come back to the issue which prompted this
        > discussion, the
        > question then
        > > > is whether the traditional understanding of
        > "omnscience" is
        > mistaken or else
        > > > do the teachings of the Buddha ever state or
        > imply that choice
        > in one's
        > > > course of actions is illusory. I tend take the
        > former view,
        > though I might
        > > > be wrong.
        > > ----
        > > N: If we approach the problem with western logica
        > we may keep on
        > being
        > > puzzled. Perhaps this quote can help:
        > > we read VII, 32:
        > > <Herein, the Blessed One's possession of clear
        > vision consists in
        > the
        > > fulfilment of Omniscience (Ps. I, 131) , while his
        > possession of
        > conduct
        > > consists in the fulfilment of the Great Compassion
        > (Ps. 1, 126).
        > He knows
        > > through omniscience what is good and harmful for
        > all beings, and
        > through
        > > compassion he warns them of harm and exhorts them
        > to do good. >
        > >
        > > He helps people to see the disadvantage of akusala
        > and the benefit
        > of
        > > kusala. He had this in mind. We read that he
        > surveyed the world
        > with his
        > > Buddha Eye to see whether someone's understanding
        > was ripe so that
        > he could
        > > attain enlightenment. This does not mean that
        > people are slaves of
        > > predestination.
        > > We have a superficial knowledge of people's
        > inclinations and can
        > predict
        > > more or less how their reactions will be, even on
        > a list like
        > this. The
        > > Buddha had an unobstructed knowledge of all such
        > things.
        > > We can also reduce the problem to: people act
        > according to the
        > conditions
        > > that make them act, and where is the free will if
        > whatever one
        > does is
        > > conditioned, as Jacques mentioned. With this
        > approach the dilemma
        > will not
        > > be solved. One can reason on endlessly.
        > > The more we study the teachings the more we become
        > impressed by
        > the Buddha's
        > > wisdom. He found out all the different types of
        > conditions that
        > operate in
        > > our life. All about cittas and cetasikas, and
        > their intricate
        > conditions,
        > > the many ways they condiiton one another. All
        > about ruupas. That
        > is the
        > > meaning of his omniscience. All that is formed, in
        > other words,
        > conditioned,
        > > and unformed, in other words nibbaana. If we
        > approach the question
        > in this
        > > way we shall have a little more understanding of
        > what the Buddha's
        > wisdom
        > > is. We hear the word omniscience, but this may
        > only be a word to
        > us if we do
        > > not develop understanding of what he taught.
        > > Nina.
        > >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >


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      • Dhammanando Bhikkhu
        ... I am coming into this a little late and am surprised that no one has yet mentioned the Sandaka Sutta (MN 76). This would surely be the obvious starting
        Message 3 of 19 , Jun 1, 2006
          Keren:
          > I'm looking for the Pali word for omniscient, and maybe a
          > reference...?

          I am coming into this a little late and am surprised that no
          one has yet mentioned the Sandaka Sutta (MN 76). This would
          surely be the obvious starting point for any discussion of
          sabba~n~nutaa in Pali Buddhism.

          Jaques:
          > I was not writing about omniscience but about the apparent
          > paradox of believing at the same time of us as being
          > conditioned and free which is typical of Buddhism, and a few
          > other philosophies.

          If anyone is interested in how this problem has been handled
          in western thought, there are four fine articles in the
          Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

          Timothy O'Connor, _Free Will_
          http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/freewill/
          Carl Hoefer, _Causal Determinism_
          http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/determinism-causal/
          Michael McKenna, _Compatibilism_
          http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/
          Randolph Clark, _Incompatibilism_
          http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/incompatibilism-theories/

          After reading these you will be ready to tackle Linda
          Zagzebski's _Divine Foreknowledge & Free Will_
          http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/free-will-foreknowledge/
          which is perhaps the one most pertinent to the present
          discussion.

          Then, if you are still unsatiated, check out the wonderful
          collection of papers at The Determinism and Freedom
          Philosophy Website
          http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctytho/dfwIntroIndex.htm

          Best wishes,
          Dhammanando
        • lighthisertim
          ... Hi, Jaini, Padmanabh S. “On the Sarvanatva of Mahavira and the Buddha.” Collected Papers on Buddhist Studies. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass
          Message 4 of 19 , Jun 1, 2006
            --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, "keren_arbel" <keren_arbel@...> wrote:

            > I'm looking for the Pali word for omniscient, and maybe a reference...?

            Hi,

            Jaini, Padmanabh S. “On the Sarvanatva of Mahavira and the Buddha.” Collected Papers on
            Buddhist Studies. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. 2001. 97â€" 121.

            hth,

            Tim Lighthiser
          • Stephen Hodge
            Dear Bhante Dhammanando, ... I am not sure how this gives much help with the question of a Buddha s omniscience . Could you indulge me and spell things out a
            Message 5 of 19 , Jun 1, 2006
              Dear Bhante Dhammanando,

              > the Sandaka Sutta ... discussion of sabba~n~nutaa in Pali Buddhism.
              I am not sure how this gives much help with the question of a Buddha's
              "omniscience". Could you indulge me and spell things out a bit ?

              > If anyone is interested in how this problem has been handled
              > in western thought, there are four fine articles ...

              Thank you for these interesting URLs -- lots of reading there.

              Best wishes,
              Stephen Hodge
            • joseph
              ... Buddhism. ... Buddha s ... Hello friends theres an article here http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha234.htm (my only reserevation is that The Theory
              Message 6 of 19 , Jun 6, 2006
                --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, "Stephen Hodge" <s.hodge@...> wrote:
                >
                > Dear Bhante Dhammanando,
                >
                > > the Sandaka Sutta ... discussion of sabba~n~nutaa in Pali
                Buddhism.
                > I am not sure how this gives much help with the question of a
                Buddha's
                > "omniscience". Could you indulge me and spell things out a bit ?
                >
                > > If anyone is interested in how this problem has been handled
                > > in western thought, there are four fine articles ...
                >
                > Thank you for these interesting URLs -- lots of reading there.
                >
                > Best wishes,
                > Stephen Hodge
                >


                Hello friends
                theres an article here

                http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha234.htm
                (my only reserevation is that The Theory of Quantum Mechanics'
                which seem to establish That
                We perceive only our pre-conceived `givens'
                is actually science,
                although probably Different from the popular notion of it.)

                I wish to thanks The Venerable Dhammanando
                and hope The Venerable will not consider it improper
                as I tried some answer too:

                Free Will and Freedom
                Lessons from the Sandaka Sutta (M.N. 67) – The discourse with
                Sandaka

                In the Discourse, The Venerable Ananda , probably as a response to
                the Wanderer's lack of discipline, Explains about choices.
                Eight major ways that negate the holy life:

                Four kinds of `holy life without consolation'
                Since the fruit of these practices are not different from lay life.
                These ways may be accepted even in contemporary society
                And probably reflect more on the long term karmic effects.

                1 no reward for good deeds
                2 no retribution for evil.
                3 no merit, no purification possible, no cause, no effect.
                4 The universe is determined, as shown in varied speculations about
                the natural and the supernatural, no individuality or personal
                development is possible, one's Kamma is utterly fixed and
                unalterable.

                All these ways are based on wrong view, which is wrong knowledge,
                wrong assumptions about reality, hence, any application of choice
                does not make any sense. And do not leave any meaning to a `free
                choice'.

                Further four ways that `a wise man would certainly not live the
                holy life
                Or will not attain', thereby.
                The faults of this second group are more obvious, can be easily
                noticed in casual
                Encounter and easily rejected.
                As `free choice', obviously, has to be an intelligent one as well.

                1 abandonment, no understanding of cause and effect, one is driven
                by destiny alone.
                2 adherences to tradition, no freedom, as some ideas and observances
                are right, some are wrong.
                3 same, but based on logic, same results.
                4 skeptic, a denial of any possibility of positive knowledge or
                development.

                Next, the Buddhist path is expounded, with its fruit and benefits.

                The Dhamma leads one on' and that takes heart and faith.
                Faith is caused by suffering (and/or the understanding of the first
                noble truth)
                `Dhukha pahoti Saddha' (UpanisaSutta)

                `Self will' raises the question of a self,
                `selfless ness' – `Anatta' as a fundamental `emptiness' -
                No center, no possibility of control, no tenable position.

                "Dhammata' is the natural way,
                A different choice surely indicates a delusional mind.

                `Freedom is a choiceless state' (J. Krishnamurth),

                This point, which we try to investigate, is questioned further by
                Sandaka.
                In the form of three questions, all deeply concerning the subject of
                free choice:

                1 an arahat can never transgress,
                And by interpretation,
                The Five percepts, the primary `choice' of a Buddhist,
                Are, then, simulations of the `Normal Mind'.

                2 The second, by extension, is that an accomplished one
                Knows a fact only when he puts his mind to it.
                (a direct answer to the omnisience question, although only a variant
                of an answer we allready had)

                3 the third is about the `emancipators' – `Niyyaataaro'
                The creation of Sankharas – mental determinations – is described as
                "By oneself or influenced by others",
                The inquiry, discipline and practice generate
                .`KussalaDhammaa - Wholesome mind objects' as the cause of
                liberation.

                Metta
                Jothiko

                What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters
                compared to what lies within us." Ralph Waldo Emerson
              • Dhammanando Bhikkhu
                Dear Stephen, Sorry for the late reply. I have not been reading the posts for some time. ... I m inclined to agree, it really doesn t help at all. The reason I
                Message 7 of 19 , Jul 18, 2006
                  Dear Stephen,

                  Sorry for the late reply. I have not been reading the posts
                  for some time.

                  Dhammanando:
                  >> I am surprised that no one has yet mentioned the Sandaka Sutta
                  >> (MN 76). This would surely be the obvious starting point for
                  >> any discussion of sabba~n~nutaa in Pali Buddhism.

                  Stephen Hodge:
                  > I am not sure how this gives much help with the question of
                  > a Buddha's "omniscience".

                  I'm inclined to agree, it really doesn't help at all. The reason
                  I called it "the obvious starting point for a discussion" is not
                  because it helps but because in my experience most discussions on
                  this topic DO in fact start by somebody citing the Sandaka Sutta
                  as negative evidence against the omniscience claims made in the
                  Pa.tisambhidaamagga, Milindapa~nhaa and Commentaries. Of course
                  they have to interpret the sutta in their own way rather than the
                  Pali commentaries' way in order to claim that it supports their
                  position. As a result, much of the discussion of sabba~n~nutaa
                  comes down in the end to a wrangle about just how the Sandaka
                  Sutta should be read. In the traditional reading it is assumed
                  that the Buddha is ridiculing only the omniscience claims of
                  titthiya teachers; but certain modern scholars (Jayatilleke and
                  Kalupahana come to mind) read the sutta as ridiculing the very
                  idea of omniscience.

                  Best wishes,
                  Dhammanando
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