All of our knowledge about the world, about empirical matters, is conjectural, even though for some of it we can claim very high probability. The best example is that I feel sure that when the Buddha preached against the idea of the atman , the soul or self, he was alluding to that concept as it was expounded in the early Upanishads.
As Johannes Bronkhorst has recently argued, other models for the evolution of Indian religious ideas in the first millennium BCE are possible. Given the nature of our sources in this case, recovering a historical likeness may not be possible.
Walpola Rahula, so clear in most things, misses the mark when discussing nirvana. This may be the oldest such legal system in the world. Liberate this article! A third misconception, very common outside the Theravada countries, is that the Buddha had an idealist ontology—in other words, that he thought that the world existed only in our minds.
How do you feel about studying Buddhism, and what does it mean to you? I take the story of his early life to be for the most part an allegory, aiming to paint his renunciation in the starkest terms, which indeed it does very well. Modern scholarly studies of the figure of the Buddha have tended in one of two directions.
Arnold Richard Gombrich writes, he says, out of exasperation and admiration.
I think we should struggle against injustice, but we have to accept that it persists and that we shall never eliminate it.
It is clear from his references to early Upanishads that he knew those important texts; they were not yet written down, so he must have heard them orally, and probably he could not have done that unless he had a high social status. I am not saying that any Buddhist is likely to claim that the Buddha was incoherent, but when one learns about Buddhism, the ideas tend to be presented somewhat piecemeal.
One example of this may be that the Abhidharma says that nirvana is always an identical phenomenon. I have put a lot of my slender financial resources into it, as well as most of my most important resource, time.
Rupert Gethin. Not for a moment was the Buddha denying that we have a sense of personal identity.
Otherwise there could not be the moral choice on which the law of karma depends. Motilal Banarsidass, 1970 , 309. When the Buddha gave an account of the origins of human society involving realms and beings other than human, he intended this simply as a satirical joke, which his unimaginative followers failed to get and took literally. This was indeed taught by the Yogacara school of Mahayana philosophy, but the Buddha did not have any ontology in the sense of a general theory of existence: Much that is original in my work comes from my acquaintance with Brahmanical texts to which the Buddha was responding.