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The suttas were as far as I heard transmitted orally, and it was only several hundred years later that the teachings were put on to paper. Now my questions:

i) Do you believe in every sutta? For example: That a person suddenly attained sottapanna or arahantship? Notice: It doesn't matter whether it happened or not because it has not real implications on me, but it's as always this easy and unrealistic kind of thinking that people often employ

ii) Couldn't it be the case that there are also many 'later alterations' to fit the dhamma to one's own/to culture's liking?

iii) Connected to question i): How do you interpret devas? And how do you verify 'post-morten' rebirth? Isn't it in contradiction of anatta? Didn't the Buddha teach that the Dhamma can be experienced in the here and now? Why do the 4NT (and N8P) not mention rebirth?

iv) Most people do not translate suttas by their own. They take the words from scholars and monks, which often copy from each other. Is this the critical thinking that Buddhists often speak of?

closed as too broad by Andrei Volkov Dec 3 '18 at 19:53

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    I think this question of this form, "Do you believe...", is theoretically off-topic -- it's a "polling question", i.e. the same kind of form as "How many users of this site belong to which schools of Buddhism?" And answers may provoke discussions and arguments. But perhaps this is a practical question as well, i.e. "How do you handle this problem/uncertainty?" I don't see how to reword it and I'm not sure I should vote to close it. – ChrisW Dec 3 '18 at 6:59
  • A way to reword it might be to ask "What's the doctrine of a[ny specific] school of Buddhism on the subject of...", instead of, "Do you believe...?" -- but maybe that's not what you want to ask. – ChrisW Dec 3 '18 at 7:03
  • I didn't understand, "It doesn't matter whether it happened or not because it has not real implications on me, but it's as always this easy and unrealistic kind of thinking that people often employ." Are you saying, "It doesn't matter to me because my mind is already made up, but I'm positing this to criticise, or to invite you to criticise, other people who have "easy and unrealistic" beliefs?" Because that would be off-topic, and ought to be closed. – ChrisW Dec 3 '18 at 7:06
  • I count several questions -- 1) Do you believe every sutta and how do you justify that belief given the history? 2) What are devas? 3) How do you verify post-mortem rebirth (i.e. whether that doctrine is true), and/or how does that fit with the anatta doctrine? 4) Why do the 4NT and N8P not mention rebirth? 5) Why do you trust translators and should you? -- I think these are quite separate questions, maybe this is "too broad". OTOH the policy says you may ask questions which are too broad, but can then expect "shallow" answers in reply. – ChrisW Dec 3 '18 at 7:12
  • Theoretically one might (and perhaps we should) put this question on hold (i.e. close it temporarily), and invite people to a new specific-question topic on Meta to discuss whether it ought to be permitted, or closed, or edited before reopening it... – ChrisW Dec 3 '18 at 7:23
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When people attained arahantship or stream entry just after listening to a discourse then that mean they must have comtemplated what the Buddha said and they was able to attained stream entry or arahantship because of their paramis. I don’t think there are any latter additions but they could have been written down at a later period but that doesn’t mean that people just made up the sutta on their own. It is possible that the sutta was so long so they didn’t finish writing it. Devas are real beings just like humans and animals. Being able to see devas is one of the fruit of contemplative live. Rebirth was never a contradictions to anatta. I am not an arahant so I will just say why rebirth is not a contradictions to anatta in my opinion. Believing that the same person is reborn is an eternalist view. Believing that the person who is reborn is different from the person who dies is an annihilationist view. Dependent origin is the Buddhist’s view. Going to other realms like heaven or hell can be experienced here and now if you develop powers from the fourth jhana. It’s one of the fruit of contemplative live. Monks can’t show their powers so it’s not surprising that laymen have no ideas that they exist. Rebirth is in the noble eight fold path. It is right view. Rebirth is also in the four noble truth. The four noble truth is basically there is suffering, dependent origin, cessation of dependent origin and the noble eight fold path. Rebirth is the dependent origin. It shows that as long as Nibbana is not attained you will also be reborn. Physical death is not the end.

  • I marked this answer down because the sutta teachings on kamma & "rebirth" are very clear in that it is the same person that is "reborn". They are moral teachings; unrelated to anatta. Also, "rebirth" is not mentioned in the noble truths. Words such as "jati" and "bhava" do not mean "rebirth". – Dhammadhatu Dec 3 '18 at 20:47
  • DD, so you think that Buddha employed skillful means with lay people and (certain) monks to teach them kamma, which results to frighten them of literal hell (which a lot of people believed back them due to superstition), and to give them insight that their actions do have consequences and that is in their efforts to cultivate body, speech and mind. – Val Dec 3 '18 at 20:58
  • Dhammadhatu I think some or most of Buddhist laymen and women in Buddha’s time was ignorant of the four noble truth because the Buddha didn’t taught it until a layman ask Sariputta to teach it to lay people too. So most Buddhist laymen and women might have assumed that self is reborn or something like that. They wouldn’t even know the dependent origin because Buddha never taught it to them until a later time. I think an arahant would believe in rebirth without self. – TheDBSGuy Dec 3 '18 at 21:02
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    Val different people have different opinions. I am not attacking any person’s belief but this is what I think. The Buddha never lies or deceive even for the good of people. Rebirth is real. There’s a way to see it without self just like believing that “you” and “I” exist. My advice is don’t think that rebirth is fake or metaphorical. Ignore rebirth whenever it comes into your mind. Seeing heavens, hells are one of the fruits of contemplative life. You can’t deny if you have never seen it. The Buddha Dhamma invites us to come and see for ourself. So don’t deny it until you experience it – TheDBSGuy Dec 3 '18 at 21:27
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    How can’t you deny rebirth if wise people like Buddha and those arahants from the sangha said that it’s one of the fruit of contemplative? You can’t deny if you have never seen it. Just keep an open mind. The Buddha Dhamma invites us to come and see for ourself. So don’t deny it until you experience it. Keep an open mind. I have to post another comment because it was too long so this site didn’t let me comment it together – TheDBSGuy Dec 3 '18 at 21:28
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i) Do you believe in every sutta?

Definitely not.

ii) Couldn't it be the case that there are also many 'later alterations' to fit the dhamma to one's own/to culture's liking?

Yes. And also to create a religion that appeals to more people.

iii) Connected to question i): How do you interpret devas?

Devas are the rich, powerful or angels (people with physic powers).

And how do you verify 'post-morten' rebirth?

It cannot be verified. Most teachings about 'rebirth' are not "post-mortem" but the later teachings about 'rebirth' are. The basic teachings about rebirth are about results of actions.

Isn't it in contradiction of anatta?

No. The teaching of anatta does not mean 'self-view' does not arise in the minds of ignorant people. Thus 'rebirth' is the re-arising of self-view due to results of kamma.

Didn't the Buddha teach that the Dhamma can be experienced in the here and now?

The Buddha not only taught this but also defined his Dhamma as this. Therefore, anything outside of here & now realisation is not really the Buddha's true teaching.

Why do the 4NT (and N8P) not mention rebirth?

Because the Buddha's true teaching is not about "rebirth". MN 117 explains there are two sorts of teachings: (i) the true teaching for liberation and (ii) impure teachings for morality. This is pretty basic stuff for those with faith in the Buddha (rather than for those who get lost in social media Buddhism).

iv) Most people do not translate suttas by their own. They take the words from scholars and monks, which often copy from each other. Is this the critical thinking that Buddhists often speak of?

In many suttas, particularly to Brahmins, the Buddha condemned blind faith. But later Buddhism became exactly what the Buddha condemned; probably because the later Buddhist clergy attempted to covert as many people as possible.

The above said, these issues should not concern a noble practitioner. These issues are the way of the world. Every religion gets twisted. For example, as soon as Mohamed (PBUH) passed away, this companions were squabbling and making up teachings. In Islam, there are literally millions of 'hadiths' claiming to be utterances of Mohamed. Then in Christianity, there is a multitude of varying scriptures. And the Hindus keep adding new stuff but claiming it is 1000s of years old. Why would Buddhism be any different; with writings like the Jataka Takes, claiming the Buddha was different kinds of animals in past lives that performed miraculous feats?

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