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Recently, I discovered in the Pāli Canon there is a text titled Buddhavamsa that describes the lives of 28 Buddhas. Now, I am familiar with the significance of Gautama Buddha and Maitreya Buddha, however not the previous 27 Buddhas. I am curious, what is the religious significance of the previous 27 Buddhas for teaching the dharma? How does reflecting on the 27 or 29 Buddhas help one reach enlightenment?

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Buddhist men at the Sule Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar, paying homage to the 28 Buddhas described in Chapter 27 of the Buddhavamsa. Courtesy of DiverDave.

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As a quick answer, I think we can think about how rare it is to have a Buddha and his teachings. It took so many Kalpas (aeon) for 28 Buddha to appear. So we can reflect on this and think how urgently we need to practice the Dhamma.

  • Just an FYI... I didn't give the down vote. Your answer starts off on a good point, which I believe would integrate nicely as a theme in a more detailed answer. Thanks for the answer. – DharmaEater Jul 13 '14 at 4:24
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    Sorry NeilD. Yes wanted to add and elaborate more. Thanks – samnish Jul 13 '14 at 6:28
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I came across this webpage which is a concise guide to chanting in salutation of the 28 Buddhas. It mentions that the Buddhas of the past are infinite in number; however 28 is the number of known Buddhas and it lists the name and a trait of each of the 28. Gotama Buddha and the 3 that preceded him are the Buddhas of our current world cycle. Maitreya will be the upcoming and last Buddha of our current world cycle.

It is noted that all of the Buddhas have exactly the same qualities. So one can see that reflecting on the qualities of Gotama Buddha can be expanded to reflecting on the qualities of all the known 28 Buddhas and indeed all the infinite number of Buddhas known and unknown. This can give one a sense of the continuation of the Dhamma over incalculable periods of time, which could lead an individual to have greater faith in the teachings.

http://www.jaibheem.com/BV-Page-9.htm

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