Re: Knowledge

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Posted by David S. ( on October 17, 2000 at 07:42:41:

In Reply to: Knowledge posted by Jon on October 17, 2000 at 06:47:08:

Another good question Jon. And something we all want to know about at some point in our study/practice.

I suspect you already know about the Sutra involving Malunkalyaputra (sp?) and his asking the Buddha a full round of cosmological questions. Funny but important Sutra. Maybe that's why you refer to these types of questions as unskillful. But hey, most of us are not THAT skillful yet anyway.

The short answer from me is that I don't know exactly what the Buddha knows and what he doesn't... for obvious reasons :) But, the Buddha does say in the Sutras that what he teaches he knows for himself directly. So all those things you asked about ("the cosmology of the universe - reincarnation, no creator God etc."), the Buddha does know directly. Anything he taught regarding the mind, regarding this world, and regarding the "cosmos", he knew for himself from his own insight.

As for how much the Buddha knows and did not speak of...or didn't know... well.. I guess only Buddhas know. Interestingly, though, I only know of one example off hand where the Buddha says that he DOES NOT know something, and that is in the Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva (Ksitigarbharaja Bodhisattva). In this Sutra, the Buddha asks a particular Bodhisattva if he can count the number of beings that have come from the ten directions to hear the Buddha speak in the Trayastrimsha Heaven. The Bodhisattva says he cannot, and then the Buddha says that even with his Buddha eye he also can not count the number. Those beings, by the way, are those that Earth Store Bodhisattva "has taken across, is taking across, or will take across" to liberation. That number is generally refered to "uncountable", I guess for good reason!

Well, not to get long winded, but essentially the Buddha spoke of nothing concerning cosmology that he did not himself know to be true. That is why Buddhism, while definitely requiring faith, also requires us ouselves to selflessly look into the way things are.

Personally, I think you can put your trust in the Buddha's teachings.

Best Wishes,

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