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Buddhism Was Buddha a Gurmukh?

Discussion in 'Interfaith Dialogues' started by passingby, Nov 20, 2010.

  1. passingby

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    I will try to ask my question and subsequent posts respectfully but plainly and directly. If someone feels offended please point it out and I shall apologize as well as change/edit the post.

    In light of Gurbani what can be said on Buddhism? (Since Buddhism is a major world religion and has many branches, I would restrict myself to general principles of Buddhism which are common to all main branches)

    Gautama Buddha did not walk the path of Bhakti marg. His spiritual search was very psychological in nature starting with understanding the causes of human misery. He found out the very root of misery in mind and showed the path of direct insight into what is known as 'Suchness' in world of Buddhism. But since he did not worship a God, a Creator is he condemnable? Does he fall in the category of a Manmukh?

    This is a genuine query and I would be deeply grateful if you answer after careful consideration. Additionally, if this thread belongs to some other category I would be grateful for directions in this regard.
     
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    #1 passingby, Nov 20, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2010
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  3. Archived_member14

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    Dear Passingby,


    On the question of Manmukh, this is a link to SikhiWiki.

    http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Manmukh


    And this is from the beginning part of the article:

    Quote:
    >>>Manmukh literally means To follow ones mind or desires


    The word 'Manmukh' consists of two parts - Man and Mukh. The first part, "Man" means your own mind or your own desires. The second part "Mukh" literally means "Face". So the full word conveys the message "One who follows whichever way his or her mind leads or goes"; "one who follows his or her desires"; "one who does his or her mind dictates". The 'Manmukh' is attached to worldly desires, material wealth, worldly allurments and sensual enjoyments. His desires and his needs are unlimited.


    To be a Manmukh is to follow your own mind or desires without regards for anyone else. A person who is self-centred is called a Manmukh. The opposite of Manmukh is Gurmukh, which means a person who follows the teaching and life-code as narrated by the Guru. A Manmukh is the opposite of a Gurmukh. Hence, a Manmukh is a material being (egoistic or attached to worldly things) as opposed to a Spiritual Being. The people with materialistic attachment believe that everlasting happiness is attainable only in acquisition (ie Ownership) and the use of these material objects. In other words, a Manmukh is ruled by his conditioned by pleasure of his five senses and his mind. Simply stated, a Manmukh is an ego-centric person whose actions are controlled by the following urges and desires: lust, anger, greed, material attachment, self-conceit, envy and stubborn mindedness, with their numerous variations.<<<

    And later on towards the end:


    >>>A Manmukh lifestyle is void of humility, contentment, compassion, love and spiritual wisdom. Such lifestyle exhibits nothing but undesirable qualities in a person. To make us aware of Manmukhs and their conduct, Gurbani has provided us with numerous symptoms of such material beings caught in the vertex of unenlightened existence. Some of these symptoms include: egoism, ignorance, selfishness, duality, bondage, evil-mindedness, falsehood, violence, untruthfulness, doubts, superstitions, uncontrolled senses, identification with the feeling of "I, me, mine, your", lust, anger, greed, attachment, self pride, self-conceit; superstitious, jealousy and enviousness, stubborn mindedness, hatred, fanaticism, conflicts, lack of contentment, material hankering and lamentation, lack of mental control and inner peace, self-centredness, are full of quarrel and contentions, lack of faith, ritualistic, unhappy, always interested in taking instead of giving, affinity for bad association, lack of self-discipline, mental agitation, unceasing wandering (rat-race), begging material things from God, complaining, finding faults in others, unable to bear pains and sorrows of life, love for material world instead of the Self within, corruption, fraud, larceny and swindling, bribery, cheating, lying, plundering, stealing, fond of mental speculations and material logic, attachment to material world, deceitful nature, fearful, unceasing desire for sense objects, cynicism, hypocrisy, always wanting to control the world, always wanting to be appreciated, unceasing hunger for name and fame, love for titles and honor, divisiveness, prejudices, cruelty, bigotry, unnatural diet, indulgence in worldly pleasures, illusion, delusion, wrong identity, stupor, obstinate error, love of Maya or worldliness, crookedness, animosity, and so on. Opposite to these are the attributes of Gurmukhs (Spiritual Beings)<<<<end quote>

    Do you still want to ask the question?
     
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  4. passingby

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    @Confused Thank you very much for your reply. My query is not so much for finding out a fixed reply; its more for developing a opinion regarding what Sikh world thinks about the issue in context of Gurbani. My query is very wide and I shall take up different aspects one by one. I do not want to offend anyone over here hence I am treading very slowly.

    Unfortunately the wiki article you linked does not quote any Gurbani verses to back up what is being said. I need to be very sure of whatever conclusions are derived.

    In general it is logical and acceptable that Manmukh is one who follows the desires of his mind and is a materialistic being. But along with this Manmukh is also opposite of Gurmukh. As is commonly understood a Gurmukh is a person who follows Satgur. So can Buddha be kept in category of Gurmukhs? He did not have a Guru, he did not follow any authority, he did not even feel the need of a God. In fact he insisted that his followers should be a light unto themselves, to find out Truth on their own and not form beliefs based upon anybody's saying, not even himself.
    So can he be taken to be a Gurmukh?
     
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  5. spnadmin

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    :admin4:

    The opportunity to compare and contrast concepts in various dharmic traditions is rare and valuable. There are many concepts held in common by both Buddhism and Sikhi. On the other hand there are defining differences. So the thread gives us an important opportunity to keep discussion poised to explore the thread starter's questions. Let us stay on topic and do justice to both traditions. Let us try to stay close to understandings that are relevant in both traditions.

    Thinking out loud about mind, karma, guru, moksha, and the "divine." may help.


    Thank you
     
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  6. Archived_member14

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    Passingby ji,


    Quote Passingby:
    In general it is logical and acceptable that Manmukh is one who follows the desires of his mind and is a materialistic being. But along with this Manmukh is also opposite of Gurmukh.<end quote>


    Confused: I was hoping you wouldn’t insist on this aspect ;-). But I am now glad that you did, since it is encouraging to see that you are willing to put your own religion and /or your understanding of it to the test. It is not so important what arguments are put forward and what conclusions are arrived at, but I’ve always thought it a good sign that someone questions the religion they are born into, even though later they end up following it anyway. One should be careful not accept something just because it is the tradition, nor because it is written in the scriptures, nor out of respect for the teacher, nor even because one has pondered things over. This last is something to be especially wary about, since in the absence of right understanding, it serves to fortify the wrong understanding used as a starting point. It is therefore very valuable to be engaged in discussions.

    I know almost nothing about Sikhi, and am here to represent the Buddha’s teachings, but this too with very little experience in terms of what the actual texts say. But I’ll try my best.

    I hope the more informed members would shed light on what Gurmukh really means according to the original scriptures. But if indeed all what I quoted to you about the qualities of Manmukh are also mentioned, as I believe it is, then I think we need to take care not to take wrongly the implication of what it means for Gurmukh to be *opposite* of Manmukh. After all if we were to take each of those negative qualities of Manmukh one by one and identify their opposites, leaving out only those parts associated with ‘God’, we’d see that the Buddha had these good qualities to the maximum possible level.

    And with regard to the following, there is some misunderstanding which I’d like to clarify:

    Quote Passingby:
    As is commonly understood a Gurmukh is a person who follows Satgur. So can Buddha be kept in category of Gurmukhs? He did not have a Guru, he did not follow any authority, he did not even feel the need of a God. In fact he insisted that his followers should be a light unto themselves, to find out Truth on their own and not form beliefs based upon anybody's saying, not even himself.<end quote>


    Confused: When the Buddha asked his followers ‘to be a light unto themselves’, this was when he was dying. It was in relation to the fact of him not being there to answer questions anymore. But of course it is also stating the obvious that no one can cause another person to have wisdom, what they can only do, is point in the right direction. Each person will have to develop his own understanding and it is this understanding which leads the way.

    However being ‘pointed out the way’ is not only necessary at the beginning or a few more times later on, but in fact considered most vital all the way through.
    The below is from one of the discourses:

    Quote:
    >>>I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was living among the Sakyans. Now there is a Sakyan town named Sakkara. There Ven. Ananda went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, "This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie."[1]

    "Don't say that, Ananda. Don't say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, he can be expected to develop & pursue the noble eightfold path.

    "And how does a monk who has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, develop & pursue the noble eightfold path? There is the case where a monk develops right view ……

    "And through this line of reasoning one may know how admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life: It is in dependence on me as an admirable friend that beings subject to birth have gained release from birth, that beings subject to aging have gained release from aging, that beings subject to death have gained release from death, that beings subject to sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair have gained release from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. It is through this line of reasoning that one may know how admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life."<<<<end quote>

    There are many instances where the Buddha talked about the value of ‘hearing the teachings’ and in fact he said that enlightenment occurs as a result of ‘long time hearing’ (as in countless lifetimes).

    So important is continual exposure to the teachings that in fact on one occasion when asked about the Path leading to enlightenment (I can’t find the exact quote, so I will just outline the basic ideas) these were highlighted:

    The four factors for stream entry:

    1. Association with the wise.
    2. Hearing the Dhamma.
    3. Careful attention.
    4. Practice in accordance with the Dhamma.

    Now ‘stream entry’ is the first stage of enlightenment, however later in the same discourse when asked about the attainment of the three higher levels of enlightenment, these *same* four factors were stressed. This shows the powerful effect of hearing the teachings.

    So clearly in Buddhism, exposure to the teachings is vital all the way through. The Buddha on the other hand, was the one who was ‘enlightened’ to the truth and his role was to teach this to other beings at a time when such teachings did not exist. He couldn’t have heard about the truth from others in that last lifetime, the concept of ‘Buddha’ wouldn’t be necessitated if he did. Although he too would have had heard much from previous Buddha’s during his past lives.

    I’ll stop here and wait for your response.
    Thank you for initiating the discussion.
     
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  7. passingby

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    @Confused: I am so glad that you are here to share your knowledge.

    The three Gems in Buddhism are said to be:
    1. Buddha (the original nature of the heart)
    2. Dhamma (the teachings)
    3. Sangha (the community of the path)
    (from http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/pathmaps.htm)

    In Sikhism a Gurmukh connects with Guru through
    1. Naam simran (A means as well as an objective)
    2. Gurbani recitation, studying and singing (extension of Naam)
    4. Satsangat (congregation of other people on the path)

    So it appears that a buddhist devotee relies on 'Guru' similarly to a Gurmukh?
     
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  8. sunmukh

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    Material has been deleted for one or more of the following reasons: challenges to the single jyote of Nanaks 1 through 10; information that would take the thread off course and into unrelated directions; misleading the forum regarding fundamental Buddhist teachings; use of Gurbani to redirect a conversation in an unrelated direction.

    Ek OnKaar Sat Naam
    The Buddha was someone who was able to give up worldly attachments. He attained enlightenment and self-realisation.

    ....

    If one decides the Satguru is an innate guide within the mind, then turning one's mind inwards, to realise the truth revealed by that Guru implies such a person is a Gurmukh.

    ....
    The following extract from a shabd praising Guru Amar Das ji, (p1392 to 1396) suggests to me that people would not have been termed manmukh, simply on the basis that they did not follow one of the human forms of the Sikh gurus.

    ...

    Please do some research on the history and message of the Bhatts prior to interpreting their meaning.

    Sat Sri Akal
     
    #7 sunmukh, Nov 21, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 21, 2010
  9. findingmyway

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    ਤੂ ਕਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਵੇਖਹਿ ਜਾਣਹਿ ਸੋਇ ॥ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਹੋਇ ॥੪॥੨॥

    Page 12
    Waheguru created everything, Waheguru looks after it and Waheguru understands what is in the hearts of all She created. Nanak tells us, the Gurmukh is the manifestation of Ik Oankar's goodness.

    This can be read on 2 levels. One is that the Gurmukh who follows the Guru's path truly connects with Waheguru. However, the Guru's also recognised other people as enlightened and including bani from others in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji so I feel this question can possibly be extended beyond Buddha. Throughout Guru Granth Sahib Ji, when the word gurmukh is used, it relates to someone following the Guru's teachings. That begs the question, how much did Gautama Buddha's lifestyle follow the Guru's teachings even though he wasn't actually following the Guru Granth Sahib Ji (as it wasn't in existence at that point)?
     
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  10. Archived_member14

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    Passingby ji,


    You wrote:
    @Confused: I am so glad that you are here to share your knowledge.

    The three Gems in Buddhism are said to be:
    1. Buddha (the original nature of the heart)
    2. Dhamma (the teachings)
    3. Sangha (the community of the path)
    (from http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/pathmaps.htm)

    In Sikhism a Gurmukh connects with Guru through
    1. Naam simran (A means as well as an objective)
    2. Gurbani recitation, studying and singing (extension of Naam)
    4. Satsangat (congregation of other people on the path)


    C: I almost never think about the concept; however I believe that you are mistaken in comparing the Triple Gems to the Sikh way as outlined above.

    The general understanding is that the triple gems are what someone takes refuge in, in order that he is qualified as a follower of the Buddha’s teachings. The sangha here is usually taken to refer to monks (bhikkhu sangha), however this is not what it is supposed to mean.

    The significance of this is that the Buddha being the fully and self-enlightened teacher of the Dhamma, the qualities that he possesses are worthy of admiration and respect, and so one would recollect these with a mind which inspires confidence. The Dhamma are the teachings which have been proven to be true as per the individual’s level of understanding, where the Path out of suffering has been shown, so again thinking about this inspires confidence. The Sangha refers to the ‘enlightened’ followers and this can be monks or lay persons. Their significance is in that they are evidence that the Path works.

    So apparently, these are not objects to be sought. Someone who has begun to follow the teachings would not even have to talk himself into taking refuge, but at each moment that right understanding arises, he could be said to in fact have growing confidence in all these three gems. So the taking of refuge goes together with increased understanding of the teachings. In other words, the more the understanding the greater is the confidence. It follows then, that the enlightened individuals would be the ones who truly know the significance of what it means to be a Buddha, what the Dhamma is, and obviously, who the Sangha are.

    On the question of Gurmukh vs. Manmukh, the reason I drew your attention to the matter of qualities of the latter and showed that the Buddha had all the opposite ones, is to take the emphasis away from the idea of gurmukh being *opposite* of manmukh. No doubt the Buddha was not a Gurmukh, but why should this be important to you or any other Sikh? Of course we could argue the other significance of this distinction, which is that it is stating the path of the Gurmukh as being the only correct way to enlightenment, and this means that the one taught by the Buddha must be wrong. But I’m sure no one wants to start a discussion about this.

    It would be silly wouldn’t it, if this is what you wanted to do? After all, if you consider yourself in need to be rid of those qualities which qualify as manmukh and you trust the path leading to Gurmukh as being the way that this is achieved, then this is what you need to be doing. Besides as in the case of the follower of the Buddha’s Path and his relationship to the Triple Gem, the Sikh would likewise be in a better position to speak of Gurmukh only when he himself has walked the path and thereby developed enough understanding of who the manmukh really is.

    =========
    Passingby:
    So it appears that a buddhist devotee relies on 'Guru' similarly to a Gurmukh?


    C: Unless one is a Buddha-to-be, yes it is vitally important to have heard the Dhamma at least once in any particular lifetime. But then again, this must also be that it is expressed in a way which is just right for that person. After all the Dhamma being very deep and hard to understand, most people end up reading into it their misunderstandings with attachment, and so what they accumulate is also more ignorance. And the difficulty especially today, is that those who are looked upon as representative of the Dhamma are in fact full-fledged manmukhs, particularly those wearing the yellow robe. So it is a case of the blind leading the blind all over. And I’ll include here, the websites that you get your information about Buddhism from.

    In the final analysis, association with the wise and hearing the teachings comes down to one’s own accumulated wisdom. And those who really understand will encourage this, away from any attachment to their own person. This will manifest as the encouragement to being independent of mind. Indeed the Buddha once said to someone who was following him everywhere, attracted to his personality, that unless that person begins to understand the Dhamma, he wouldn’t be able to really *see* the Buddha.
     
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    #9 Archived_member14, Nov 22, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2010

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