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Brahma's Entreaty to the Buddha to Teach
著者 Shimoda, Masahiro
掲載誌 The Middle Way: Journal of the Buddhist Society
巻号v.78 n.4
出版年月日2004.02
ページ213 - 220
出版者The Buddhist Society
出版サイト http://www.thebuddhistsociety.org/
出版地London, England, UK [倫敦, 英格蘭, 英國]
資料の種類期刊論文=Journal Article
言語英文=English
抄録I would like to examine the close relationship between the story of how the god Brahma persuaded the Buddha to teach, which appears in many of the biographies of the Buddha dating back to early Buddhist texts, and the teaching of upayakausalya (skilful means), which is a dominant theme of the second chapter of the Lotus Sutra, one of the representative Mahayana sutras.

Although virtually no scholar has paid attention to this connection, there can be no doubt that the later teaching was carefully formulated on the basis of the earlier story. This provides an important example of how words play a significant role in Buddhism and it also reveals an important characteristic of Buddhist truth.

Many biographies of the Buddha corroborate the story that the Buddha Gautama, immediately after attaining Nirvana, showed great reluctance to teach the Dharma and maintained a peaceful silence. At this point the god Brahma appeared and urged the Buddha to overcome his hesitation. Eventually he persuaded the Buddha to change his mind and deliver his first sermon.

This tale may sound rather odd to modern-day Buddhists, more used to regarding the Buddha as a saviour. Previous studies have generally given the story a conventional interpretation, aimed at ensuring for Buddhism authenticity in the Indian religious world, with the supreme god paying homage to the Buddha and pleading with him to present his insight into the Dharma.

Such an understanding may not be entirely wrong in explaining secondary effects brought about by the event but it is far from satisfactory when we take into account the following two points. Firstly, the advantages of enhancing the relative position of Buddhism to Brahmanism are outweighed by the disadvantages of degrading the Buddha's image as a saviour. I refer here to the crucial scene in which the Truth, once discovered by the Buddha, ought by right to be transmitted to and shared among the people suffering in pain and misery. However, the Buddha's attitude of wishing to retreat into an inner life of personal contentment and showing no compassion for the poor irretrievably damages his image. Secondly, this story, in view of its syntactical structure, apparently functions not so much to enhance the Buddha's image over that of the god Brahma as to emphasize his hesitation to speak on the Dharma.

The main elements of the story can be summarized as follows:
1 The Buddha rises up from meditation;
2 An inspired thought occurs to the Buddha: The Truth (Dharma) I have obtained is so profound that no one can understand its meaning;
3 The god Brahma appears and thrice entreats him to teach;
4 The Buddha, encouraged by the god, observes the world with compassionate eyes;
5 He becomes aware of the wide range of sentient beings;
6 This observation is translated into the metaphor of various appearances of lotus flowers;
7 At last he decides to begin his first teaching.

The statement 'The Truth (Dharma) I have obtained is so profound that no one can understand its meaning' expresses the difficulty of communicating to people in words the content of the Buddha's Enlightenment.(FN1) The first chapter of the Mahavagga begins with a scene in which the Buddha, having reached Nirvana, sits in meditation contemplating the truth of Dependent Origination (pratityasamutpada) with profound satisfaction. In the light of this, the above statement can be elaborately paraphrased as 'the truth of Dependent Origination, itself the verbal expression of the Buddha's experience of Nirvana, is beyond the range of understanding using worldly language'. Certainly, for the Buddha himself the truth of Dependent Origination is the result of his effort to verbalize his experience of Nirvana. But he remains sceptical, and with reason, as to whether the concept can be made equally comprehensible to people who have no experience of the felicity he is now enjoying. As a result, he hesitates to rely on w
ISSN00263214 (P)
ヒット数1124
作成日2009.09.30
更新日期2020.11.04



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