the greatness of Gautam, why?

Susma Rio Sep

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I am not a Buddhist, but I do read about Buddhism and Gautama.

And from what I have been reading so far, I am really at a loss to understand the greatness of the man, greatness as shown in the praises sung by his followers, in the giant statues of the man, and also art works.

So, what gives here?

Right off the cuff I can say that his greatness must lie in his teachings. And what did he teach mankind? How to live and enjoy life? which is what I am after, live and live long and well and enjoy life, without however going to extremes which will earn me troubles as I know from experience and history.

What then is the teaching from him by which he is great?

There is a Russian ruler known as Ivan the Great, and there is also a Russian ruler known as Ivan the Terrible.

Not wanting to be irreverent, but perhaps for some people who don't find anything of to him genuine worth in the teachings of Gautama, he could also be styled Gautama the Terrible, for inspiring so many men and women to give up their best years and all their life years in pursuit of emptiness in isolation from home, family, and community, that is, in the sangha (read that monastery).


Susma
 

toujour_333

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namaste susma,

well, you have kinda answered your own question really. basically, the reason why he is seen by many as such a great person is by his teachings, not to mention the fact that he was the buddha, which is greatness in and of itself. but, what is so important about the teachings is that they relieve beings from suffering. now, that is definitely disputable, but so if the validity of jesus christ, mohammad, and other great people. basically, its all in what your perspective is on the issue. if you understand the teachings of gotama to be that of an enlightened being, that which brings many beings away from suffering, then im sure that you can understand then how he can be seen as a great man. however, if you see his teachings as vague or not worthy of greatness, then obviously you wont understand how others view him as a great person. its all about prespective really. however, prespective is hard to argue since we all have a different prespective on what truth is and what is worthy of greatness and reverance. i, personally, see his teachings as amazing and completely worth giving all those things that you hold so dear up. however, its all in what makes u happy and what brings u closer to truth and enlightenment. i hope that i have made sense and answered your questions.

be well in peace
 

moseslmpg

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Not wanting to be irreverent, but perhaps for some people who don't find anything of to him genuine worth in the teachings of Gautama, he could also be styled Gautama the Terrible, for inspiring so many men and women to give up their best years and all their life years in pursuit of emptiness in isolation from home, family, and community, that is, in the sangha (read that monastery).
Well personally, I don't see how one cannot get anything at all from the teachings of Gautama, and I also don't see how he would deserve a title of The Terrible. He elucidated the middle path, he was the one who was not too strict and not too lax; he didn't advocate asceticism or hedonism, nihilism or eternalism. He didn't even say you had to become a Buddhist, he just basically said that he taught about suffering and the way to end it. If you don't have a problem with suffering, then there's no real reason to even pay attention to Gautama. Calling Gautama the Terrible, is like accusing Gandhi of the same thing. Whether or not you believe in their teachings, I think that it's apparent that these guys weren't out bothering anyone.

The people who "throw away" their lives to go cultivate emptiness are not Gautama, and he is not responsible for their actions. But consider that in the same way, I presume, that you are willing to do certain things to "live long and well and enjoy life," there are certain things people are willing to do to end suffering. Unless you've found a way to end suffering in some other way, then you don't have much to critique or argue with Gautama's teachings about.

The Buddha Shakyamuni was great in that he brought the Dharma down to our level, he "discovered" it for us to take advantage of. However, the way I understand it, there is no point to worship him or even acknowledge his greatness in Buddhism, because we all have Buddha nature and worshipping an Indian prince isn't going to get you enlightenment.

That's my take on it anyway. I'm not Buddhist either but this is how I understand things from my readings.
 

Francis king

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you make me laugh, susma....gotama the terrible...

ppl are prone to worship idols, to see not men but gods, to offer up praises to statues and to blindly follow traditions for the sake of being in the gang...

as moses states- this isn't sakyamuni's fault...

as for the greatness of gotama... go means bull, or ox, but when used to describe a person it means stupid... tama, means darkness, or the realm of darkness/ignorance, and so gotama would be a stupid ignorant darkie- hardly a term of endearment, is it?

and yet, if we look at the name he was given in birth, siddhartha, then we see "(someone who) questions/asks questions (artha) about the powers"- siddha, as u may or may not know, describes power, not a temporal power, but a spiritual power... there are a few siddhas, and they include- knowing past and future times, clairvoyance, and telepathy, to name but a few, and we look at the name he is known by- sakyamuni, then we have a sage of the clan of Sakya, a man from the sakya ppls who was wise or a holy man, and as well as wise, knew things about thinking (budh-dha), and asked questions about "the powers" (siddhartha).

the story goes that when buddha went into the villiage close to his enclosed palace complex he noticed things which in his cosseted privileged world he hadn't noticed before- he noticed death, suffering, sickness, old age, and he wanted to escape such for himself... at that time, the only way to transcend old age, sickness and death was to become some kind of holy man or sadhu, buddha wasn't a bramhin, or a priest, he was a ksatriya, or warrior-prince... so, the only way for him to be all holy was for him to become a hermit in the woods, whats known as an aranyaka, or "forest dweller"... these forest dwellers would meditate, think about god, fast and cover themselves in ash, they would perform all those rituals and meditations that are considered to bring about ur spiritual awakening and live in solitude, existing by begging and offering blessings for money, in so doing they would attain a state of being where death, old age and sickness did not effect them...

buddha reputedly tries all these things, the tapas, or austerities, and still doesn't find what he's looking for... half starved, he staggers out of the woods, about to go home when he meets a cow herd girl, and she sees him, the holy man, and makes an offering, of milk, from her own unwashed hands, and he greedily drinks this...

after he has given her his blessing, he goes back into the woods and meditates some more, and eventually gets the enlightenment he's looking for...

so... what does this suggest? well, to me, it suggests that when he first went into the woods, his motivation was all wrong- he wanted to prevent himself suffering, wanted to escape old age and sickness and death, but even holy men die in the end, and so did buddha... rather, after the girl had given him the milk (and this is pure speculation, although if u think about it, the story is told in a certain way for a reason) he went back into the woods, and instead of seeking enlightenment from the position of frightened posh bloke desperate to avoid misery, he went into the woods with the mindset of a holy man, and that was why he found what he was looking for...

now, after his enlightenment, he supposedly meets up with the other aranyakas in the woods, and he tells them about what he has found, and they laugh at him. they tell him that he hasn't gone about things in the right way, and he isnt one of them. Holy men were not supposed to touch women, as this would make them unpure, and they dont have any faith in him and buddha goes home...

now, instead of teaching ppl about the rituals and complex visualisations and the mantras etc that he has been contemplating in the woods, and which he feels didnt get him anywhere, instead of teaching them about the gods and dazzling them with his magic powers for money, he instead teaches two different strains of wisdom- he teaches them the basic "how to escape suffering" stuff, gives them the mahadanas, the precepts, not to kill, etc, and he also teaches them a type of psychology which goes beyond the self, and the gods... jung, freud, maslow, nobody had heard of them, they hadn't been born yet, yet this "stupid ignoramus" sits off and teaches ppl about "the chain of causation" and conditioning, he teaches them about the nature of self, and, ultimately, he teaches them that the siddhas are mental processes, and to have them for urself u need a certain type of mindset, and he teaches them how to achieve that for themselves, which was not only heretical and unorthodox, but powerful enough to still today be considered worthy of merit...
 
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Susma Rio Sep

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Re: the greatness of Gautama, why?

I guess we do have at this point of the thread a consensus of three Buddhists or Buddhism sympathizers on the greatness of the man, Gautama: his greatness being due to his teaching on how to end suffering.

Now I would like to address like a child this question to the three members here in this comparative religion forum, and also anyone else who might read this thread:

Do you or did you have any kind of suffering from which the teaching of Gautama has ridden you of -- for good?​


Susma
 

moseslmpg

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Well, considering that I am not Buddhist and I really suck at meditation right now and cannot fold my legs, I would have to say that his teachings have not rid me of suffering for good. But then, I've only been reading about his teachings so far, so I don't think my case counts.

If you're looking for a way to personally discredit Buddha's teachings by their efficacy on a few forum dwellers, I think you should re-evaluate your tactics. Getting rid of suffering is not some kind of instantaneous event, in fact I don't know of anything that is. Depending on how you practice, attaining enlightenment could take your whole life or a few lifetimes. The only person that can really tell you that the Buddha's teachings has rid them of suffering forever have become enlightened, and I very much doubt that they would be on this forum. I'm not sure how else to explain this.

Also, again his greatness is not really his greatness. All he did was discover the Dharma and achieve enlightenment, which is no small feat to be sure. He is something to aspire to because he was successful in what Buddhists try to achieve. There may be some people who call themselves Buddhists and worship the Buddha, but that does not mean that this is what Buddhism is about. Then again, there's no real reason not to say that the Buddha was a great man, even though it will do nothing for your spiritual practice.
 

toujour_333

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namaste,

well, first off, i dont really agree with francis' viewpoint of gotama and buddhism, but i guess that we must have different perspectives.

as far as teachings ridding me of sufferring, i can honestly say yes, it has helped rid me of much suffering. when i first started studying buddhism, i had a major problem with depression, anxiety, and also a seizure disorder causing me to go into convulsions almost daily. i saw the best doctors in my state, top neurologist, the best psychologist, everyone that my money could buy. no one helped me. i was on many different medications and therapy and nothing helped.

but, when i started meditating, everything stopped. my seizures stopped, i stopped being depressed, and my anxiety disorder went away too. now, i guess that it could be something that just happened at the same time as my meditating, but i dont believe that. i tried everything to help myself, and it wasnt until i started meditating that everything stopped. i cant explain it.

as for worshipping buddha as an idol, i dont think that this is the intention of gotama. he didnt mean for his followers to see him as a god and he said that he was not a god, but a man who was awake, which is what buddha translates to. also, as far as francis' translations of the word 'gotama' i have never heard such a translation before, and i would suggest getting a second opinion. but, either way, no one can tell you what is truth. u have to figure that out for urself. not to mention, expecting a god or being that is enlightened just to tell u what u need to know to be enlightened is kind of a cheap way of looking at things, dont ya think? u have to look for it urself and make an effort. but then again, thats my perspective on things and i dont expect u or anyone else to agree with me. just do ur own searching for truth, experiment with things, and see what u find. thats my best advice.

be well in peace
 

Agnideva

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“Toujour” said:
as far as francis' translations of the word 'gotama' i have never heard such a translation before, and i would suggest getting a second opinion.
Namaste Toujour,

I don’t want to hijack this thread, but I just thought I’d provide a second opinion on the word Gotama and Gautama. The birth name of Buddha was of course Siddhartha Gautama. As it was the custom back then, all the priestly and warrior classes claimed lineage from ancient sages. Maharishi Gotama is a name of an ancient sage, and the Shakya clan claimed lineage from this sage. Gautama means “of Gotama.” And the word Gotama is derived, as far as I know, from two words: go and uttama. The term go has two meanings: one meaning implies a bovine (cow or bull or ox), the other esoteric meaning is light. And uttama means best or greatest. So, Gotama can be translated as “greatest light” or “best bull”.

OM Shanti,
A.
 
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alphone

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Because the Buddha wishes to save all living beings and wishes to suffer instead of them.

If you can do the same, you will also deserve to be known as a great sage.
 

Susma Rio Sep

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Re: the greatness of Gautama, why? Thanks, everyone, really.

I have not read so edifying messages for a very long time. Thanks everyone for your contributions to my education and spiritual instruction.

About the name of Gautama or Gotama, what's in a name? a rose by any other name is just as fragrant; or what's Susma? a guy by any other name is just as dummy.

There definitely is something of greatness in the man Gautama that fellow humans have accorded him sincere eulogies and monuments and inscriptions, raising him to the level of the divinely good and honest and righteous.

We can't be certain of whatever or better whether his promoters say about his followers getting anything at all after death, for that is one realm if it does exist at all is not accessible to evidence and logic.

But in the realm prior to death of each individual Buddhist there is something he finds genuinely of worth to himself, after filtering out those perks of fad and fancy that is the basis of a lot of human bandwagoning.

Perhaps I might be right in saying that the man with his teachings and self-examples has given to or enabled his followers to attain peace within themselves, and also in particular cases visible healing which visibility has to be focused on body and feeling.

For those guys who do find peace and bodily and emotional healing, congratulations to you and also kudos to your teacher, Gautama; and for which I will grant him the title of Buddha, an enlightened being, enlightened in his own right and in the light of his followers who do reap benefits from his teachings and inspiration and examples.

Having said all that above, I am still and I honestly confess a critic of Buddhism and Buddhists. What is a critic? A guy who judges what is sense and nonsense, fact and fiction, truth and error or deceit, real and apparent, useful and useless, constructive and wasteful, evidentiary and credulous, safe and risky, serious and laughable, logical and absurd, solid and shallow. And on what grounds or whose criteria? I am apologetic to say, on my own of course limited but still what I judge myself to be certain knowledge and applicable, and by all means critical.


Susma
 

Susma Rio Sep

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Re: the greatness of Gautama, why? Organize a group of beneficiaries.

. . . . .

as far as teachings ridding me of suffering, i can honestly say yes, it has helped rid me of much suffering. when i first started studying buddhism, i had a major problem with depression, anxiety, and also a seizure disorder causing me to go into convulsions almost daily. i saw the best doctors in my state, top neurologist, the best psychologist, everyone that my money could buy. no one helped me. i was on many different medications and therapy and nothing helped.

but, when i started meditating, everything stopped. my seizures stopped, i stopped being depressed, and my anxiety disorder went away too. now, i guess that it could be something that just happened at the same time as my meditating, but i dont believe that. i tried everything to help myself, and it wasnt until i started meditating that everything stopped. i cant explain it.

. . . . .

Perverse skeptics call that anecdotal evidence, perverse because they worship skepticism like the golden calf. I call that testimonial evidence which for me is worth a lot of examination on the one hand and also adoptation on the other, for it might just also work for you, cheaper and better all around than the chemistry and knife of scientific medicine.

But tell me, toujour, when you started meditating the Buddhist way, did you stop your medication and consultation with Western psycho experts?

Did you go back to these practitioners of Western scientific medicine of body and mind and heart to tell them how swell you are and feel now which they could not achieve for you but Buddhism has?

Have you thought for the good of other humans also suffering in body, mind, and heart, to get together fellow Buddhists who can give testimony of their own experience of therapeutic benefits derived from Buddhism?


Susma
 

toujour_333

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Re: the greatness of Gautama, why? Organize a group of beneficiaries.

Perverse skeptics call that anecdotal evidence, perverse because they worship skepticism like the golden calf. I call that testimonial evidence which for me is worth a lot of examination on the one hand and also adoptation on the other, for it might just also work for you, cheaper and better all around than the chemistry and knife of scientific medicine.

But tell me, toujour, when you started meditating the Buddhist way, did you stop your medication and consultation with Western psycho experts?

Did you go back to these practitioners of Western scientific medicine of body and mind and heart to tell them how swell you are and feel now which they could not achieve for you but Buddhism has?

Have you thought for the good of other humans also suffering in body, mind, and heart, to get together fellow Buddhists who can give testimony of their own experience of therapeutic benefits derived from Buddhism?


Susma

well, to answer ur questions, yes, i did quit talking with doctors and i did quit my medications. i did go back to some of my doctors and told them of the amazing effects that buddhism and buddhist meditation on my life. many of them were stunned that something like that had such an effect on my conditions. others were less impressed. either way, it doesnt matter what they think, i know what has worked for me. and for your last question, yes, i have thought of my fellow humans who are sufferring just like myself. i constantly remind myself of the suffering of all people everyday. and i do try to share my experiences with the people i happen to meet everyday. however, i dont want to be pushy in my religion, and therefore i dont share much about it unless asked to do so. i dont want people to think badly upon myself and my religion because i go around forcing my beliefs on people. buddhists arent in a race to have the largest religion. really, to me, it doesnt matter how many people are practicing buddhism. what matters more to myself is the number of people who are suffering in the world, and how i can try and stop them from suffering. i hope that i have answered all of your questions susma and if u have any more questions, please feel free to ask.

be well in peace
toujour
 

samabudhi

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We can't be certain of whatever or better whether his promoters say about his followers getting anything at all after death, for that is one realm if it does exist at all is not accessible to evidence and logic.

Chuangtse and Hueitse had strolled on to the bridge over the Hao, when the former observed, "See how the small fish are darting about! That is the happiness of the fish."

"You not being a fish yourself," said Hueitse, "how can you know the happiness of the fish?"

"And you not being I," retorted Chuangtse, "how can you know that I do not know?"

"If I, not being you, cannot know what you know," urged Hueitse, "it follows that you, not being a fish, cannot know the happiness of the fish."

"Let us go back to your original question," said Chuangtse. "You asked me how I knew the happiness of the fish. Your very question shows that you knew that I knew. I knew it (from my own feelings) on this bridge."

- Chuang Tzu
 

seattlegal

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<snip>
And the word Gotama is derived, as far as I know, from two words: go and uttama. The term go has two meanings: one meaning implies a bovine (cow or bull or ox), the other esoteric meaning is light. And uttama means best or greatest. So, Gotama can be translated as “greatest light” or “best bull”.

OM Shanti,
A.
I did not know that. Thanks, Agnideva. :)
 

wil

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a figment of your imagination
Chuangtse and Hueitse had strolled on to the bridge over the Hao, when the former observed, "See how the small fish are darting about! That is the happiness of the fish."

"You not being a fish yourself," said Hueitse, "how can you know the happiness of the fish?"

"And you not being I," retorted Chuangtse, "how can you know that I do not know?"

"If I, not being you, cannot know what you know," urged Hueitse, "it follows that you, not being a fish, cannot know the happiness of the fish."

"Let us go back to your original question," said Chuangtse. "You asked me how I knew the happiness of the fish. Your very question shows that you knew that I knew. I knew it (from my own feelings) on this bridge."

- Chuang Tzu
"Ah" says Hueitse, "If your conclusion is correct, then since you asked me how can I know that you do not know, that very question by your very argument conludes that I do know that you don't know"

Chuangtse jumps off the bridge in frustration.

-wil
 

samabudhi

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"It was never my argument," replied Chuangtse.

Hueitse expected an answer for his question.
Chuangtse's question was rhetorical.
 

Francis king

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well, as far as my crappy sanskrit studies have took me, when go is used to refer to a person, it means ur calling them stupid, and ut-tama would be- ut, fly up/or fall down, -tama, darkess/ignorance... so although I see where u get the light thing from, with uttama, I still think my version is bestest...

...because of "euphonic combination rules" of vowel letters in sanskrit, for it to be gauttama, and translate as u say, it would be go-uttama, and as u can't have that "ou" combo in sanskrit, the o and the u get changed into another vowel, in this case usually a u with a line above it, like a double u... the double t combo of uttama wouldn't be changed into a single t, and so, therefore, he wouldn't be referred to as gautama, but guttama... which he ain't... da dahh!

feel free though to contradict me though... especially if u remember ur euphonic combination rules more accurately than me...
 

Agnideva

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Namaste Francis,

The etymology of Gotama is not mine, but that of Indian Sanskritists. As is the case with many ancient languages, a word may have multiple etymologies. For what it’s worth, I’ve come across the derivation that you posted here as well. I am neither a sanskritist nor a linguist. But, it is my understanding that Gotama is not a literal combination of go + uttama, but of go + tama, tama being a suffix for uttama. Tama can mean darkness as a noun, or it can also be a suffix that implies the superlative degree, as you can see from these sources:
gautama Aica (31)
gotama [go (ox, cattle) + suffix (most) = the largest amongst the oxen, the most valuable, name of one of the Rshis (poets) in the Rgveda; name of a disciple of mahAvIra; name of a few other Rshis and other important personages] + suffix (son of) = descendant of gotama, name of number of important personages including buddha. {Source}
From the Apte-Sanskrit Dictionary:
meanings of "tama" [1]
n.{a-stem}
1.darkness;
2.the tip of the foot
meanings of "tama" [2]
m.{a-stem}
1.an epithet of raahu;
2.the tamaala tree;
3.darkness
meanings of "tama" [3]
1.a taddhita affix of the superlative degree applied to nouns, adjectives and also to verbs and indeclinables in which latter case it is changed to tamaam
GOTAM
Gender: Masculine
Usage: Indian
Means "the best ox" from Sanskrit go "ox, cow" and tama "best". In Hindu legend this was the name of an ancient sage.
{Source}
GAOT[FONT=&quot]Ǝ[/FONT]MA, an Avestan proper name only attested in Yt. 13.16: "An eloquent man will be born, who makes his words heard in verbal contests, whose judgment is sought after, who comes away from the discussion victorious over the defeated Gaotəma." The word is a superlative formation of Av. ga„- "neat, cow" (Kellens, p. 404, but it cannot be excluded that it is a borrowing from Skt. go‚tama- or gautama- (descendant of Gotama), also epithet of Buddha (Pâli gotama-).
{Source}
In any case, this is completely off topic and I don’t want to derail this thread further, so this will be my last message on the topic (or should it be off topic?) ;).

OM Shanti,
A.
 

Susma Rio Sep

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Re: the greatness of Gautama, why? ...derails as fertilizers.

Namaste Francis,

The etymology of Gotama is not mine, but that of Indian Sanskritists. As is the case with many ancient languages, a word may have multiple etymologies. For what it’s worth, I’ve come across the derivation that you posted here as well. I am neither a sanskritist nor a linguist. But, it is my understanding that Gotama is not a literal combination of go + uttama, but of go + tama, tama being a suffix for uttama. Tama can mean darkness as a noun, or it can also be a suffix that implies the superlative degree, as you can see from these sources:
In any case, this is completely off topic and I don’t want to derail this thread further, so this will be my last message on the topic (or should it be off topic?) ;).

OM Shanti,
A.

I really don't go for moderators trying to stop socalled off-topic postings in a thread, or derails, etc.; because in the process of discussion on a topic other subjects and questions can arise which can be even more interesting and most important the really relevant issues to pursue.

Here is what I think how mankind found out that excrement is very good and healthy fertilizer -- recall that in Japan previously I don't know now, they would collect night soil systematically for use in their what, orchards, i.e., fruit gardens or plantations, and hotel personnel would ask guests whether they preferred Western latrine or the local kind which is designed to collect feces -- how did mankind discover the fattening power of feces, simple: where there was feces in the ground there plants grow luxuriantly.

Try this experiment which I do at home in the garden myself: when you collect the dogs' and cats' droppings, throw them in that patch of plants in the garden where there are thick shrubs, and the excreta there will not smell and and will be composted, i.e., decomposed into choice fertilizer. Now, get soil from that patch for use with other plants, no need to buy artificial and environmentally harmful chemically compounded enrichments.

Similarly, in the process of criticizing Buddhism I seem to get more shall we say if I may, spiritual? Yes, I believe religion is one thing and spirituality is another; spirituality must dictate religion, not the other way around.


Susma
 
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