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a few questions

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  • TINA JOHAN
    Namo Buddhaya, I have a few questions i d like to ask: 1. We sometimes ask help from devas, and it is said that devas can help and protect us. Usually this
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 5, 2005
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      Namo Buddhaya,
      I have a few questions i'd like to ask:

      1. We sometimes ask help from devas, and it is said that devas can help and protect us. Usually this is done by reciting parittas. If we can ask help from devas, why can't we just ask help and protection from Buddha?

      2. In Mahayana, there are Amitabha Buddha, Baisajyaguru Buddha, Vairocana Buddha, etc. There are also Bodhisatvas, Avalokitesvara Bodhisatva is the most popular and the most worshipped. Which are unknown in Theravada. Why? So as a buddhist, should I believe in these Buddhas and Bodhisatvas or not?
      3. Mahayana sutras were written in sanskrit, and they were different from pali tipitaka. Obviously Mahayana sutras and pali tipitaka were written by different group of people. The third buddhist council were held because of the need to refute "false and heretical view". Could it be Mahayana?. Does it mean that Mahayana sutras are forgery? Again, as a buddhist should I believe in these sutras or not?
      4. Some Mahayana teachings are very strange to me, especially Pure Land buddhism. I know there are 31 planes of existence, but where is Pure Land? Could you please explain this Pure Land teaching in Theravada view. I believe Pure Land buddhism teaches by reciting Amitabha Buddha, we will be born in Western Pure Land. I find this teaching very strange and different compared to basic teaching of buddhism. This teaching is very popular in Mahayana.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Bhikkhu Pesala
      ... help and protect us. Usually this is done by reciting parittas. If we can ask help from devas, why can t we just ask help and protection from Buddha? The
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 6, 2005
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        > 1. We sometimes ask help from devas, and it is said that devas can
        help and protect us. Usually this is done by reciting parittas. If we
        can ask help from devas, why can't we just ask help and protection from
        Buddha?

        The Buddha attained Parinibbana, so he was not reborn anywhere. Deities
        and Bodhisattas are still suffering in samsara, so they can help us. They
        are like wealthy and virtuous human beings, who can help us if we pay
        respect to them. The Buddha, though he is no longer in samsara, was the
        most powerful of living beings. If we taking refuge in the Buddha, it is
        the greatest protection available. Please refer to the Dhajagga Sutta for
        the reason why taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha, is more
        potent than taking refuge in deities.

        http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Library/Suttas/Paritta/paritta.html

        He who has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha, sees
        with right knowledge the four Noble Truths — Sorrow, the Cause of Sorrow,
        the Transcending of Sorrow, and the Noble Eightfold Path which leads to
        the Cessation of Sorrow. This, indeed, is refuge secure. This, indeed,
        is refuge supreme. By seeking such refuge one is released from all sorrow.
        (Dhammapada 190-192)

        >2. In Mahayana, there are Amitabha Buddha, Baisajyaguru Buddha,
        Vairocana Buddha, etc. There are also Bodhisatvas, Avalokitesvara
        Bodhisatva is the most popular and the most worshipped. Which are unknown
        in Theravada. Why? So as a buddhist, should I believe in these Buddhas
        and Bodhisatvas or not? <

        If I tell you not to believe in these bodhisatvas and Buddhas, should you
        believe me or not? They are not mentioned in the Theravada texts, but all
        Bodhisattas and Buddhas are worthy of respect. However, paying respect to
        an imagined deity, Bodhisatta, or Buddha is problematic. It is best to
        pay respect to Gotama Buddha, whose existence is not in any doubt.

        > 3. Mahayana sutras were written in sanskrit, and they were
        different from pali tipitaka. Obviously Mahayana sutras and pali tipitaka
        were written by different group of people. The third buddhist council
        were held because of the need to refute "false and heretical view". Could
        it be Mahayana?. Does it mean that Mahayana sutras are forgery? Again,
        as a buddhist should I believe in these sutras or not? <

        The Mahayana developed over a period of many centuries following the Third
        Buddhist Council. The term includes many schools of Buddhism - basically
        all schools other than the Theravada. To know which sutras are forgeries
        and which are genuine, the Buddha gave Four Great References in the
        Mahaparinibbana Sutta of the Dighanikaya.
        http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/sutta/digha/dn16.html#37

        If one has a thorough knowledge of the Tipitaka, it is easy to see that
        some Mahayana Sutras are forgeries, but those who have studied the
        Mahayana Sutras before studying the Tipitaka might believe that they are
        genuine. Again, if I tell you not to believe in this or that Sutra, should
        you believe me or not? In the end, you have to trust your own judgement.
        See the Buddha's advice in the Kalama Sutta.
        http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Library/Suttas/Kalama/kalama.html

        If they are forgeries, one should reject them in their entirety. Putting
        one's own teachings in the mouth of the Buddha is about the most serious
        lie that anyone can tell. Short of claiming to be an Arahant or a Buddha,
        when one is not, it is hard to think of a more serious lie.

        Those monks who explain what is not Dhamma as Dhamma, work for the harm,
        misery, and loss of gods and men. They make much demerit and cause the
        disappearance of the true Dhamma.

        Those monks who explain what is not Dhamma as not Dhamma, work for the
        welfare, happiness, and benefit of gods and men. They make much merit and
        preserve the true Dhamma.

        > 4. Some Mahayana teachings are very strange to me, especially Pure
        Land buddhism. I know there are 31 planes of existence, but where is Pure
        Land? Could you please explain this Pure Land teaching in Theravada view.
        I believe Pure Land buddhism teaches by reciting Amitabha Buddha, we will
        be born in Western Pure Land. I find this teaching very strange and
        different compared to basic teaching of buddhism. This teaching is very
        popular in Mahayana.<

        How do you know that there are 31 planes of existence? How do you know
        that there is not a Pure Land? There is no way to explain the Pure Land
        from the Theravada view, because it is not a teaching that is found in the
        Theravada.

        There are celestial realms, such as those where leading disciples of the
        Buddha were reborn, e.g. Anathapindaka or Vesakha. If one were to be
        reborn in those same celestial planes, one might have a chance to study
        the Dhamma further. However, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
        It is better to study the Dhamma in this existence, than to pray for
        rebirth in an imaginary or real Pure Land.

        If you think that this human life is too hard to practice the Dhamma,
        maybe you should visit some other countries to seek a more conducive
        environment, or to realize how fortunate you are already.

        If one could practise Vipassana Meditation and attain the very high stage
        of a Non-returner, one would be reborn in Suddhavasa Brahmaloka, a realm
        where only Non-returners are reborn. That would surely be a Pure Land.
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