Buddha Mythology

None of the Buddhist sutras, early or late, Theravadin or Mahayana, are historical documents and they should not be considered as such. They are spiritual works and all of them contain a certain amount of mythology, legend, and as well, include stories and concepts that came from sources outside of Buddhism. 

The Mahayana sutras represent an evolution of the Buddha’s dharma, while at the same time, in certain respects, they also represent an attempt to return to the original spirit of the historical Buddha’s teachings, for example, the sense that nirvana is actually found in the here and now, and not some other place or unimaginable time in the future.

 It’s quite true that the Buddhist texts are primarily spiritual scriptures, and this needs to be the main focus of understanding them. But I think it’s going to far to say they are not historical documents. In fact, they do purport to tell of many real world, actual events; and while some of the texts are obviously inventions, much of what is described may well have happened in fact.

 The story of the Buddha’s birth is rich with myth and symbolism. 

 The Sacred Story of Shin Buddhism is a saga of great love, compassion, sacrifice and triumph. It is derived from the Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life, which uses mythical language and metaphor (symbols) to convey the unexplainable nature of nirvana, the universal enlightened reality and its primordial activity, which is beyond conceptual thought. That is to say, the Sacred Story is not to be read as literal truth but as a metaphor


Buddhism was introduced to China in the first century CE and has been adapted by the Chinese so that the mythologies of the indigenous faiths and the imported are intertwined. Early Buddhism consciously created a mythology to give meaning to its practices and beliefs.

Even the advent of Buddhism is mythologized in the tale of the Emperor Ming. His dream of a golden man who could fly led him to dispatch messengers to Afghanistan to bring back the Buddhist scriptures.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Buddhism has its own stubborn fundamentalists who insist on literal belief in the twenty-five various Buddhas of Buddhist “history.” These devout folks are fully as scandalized at scholarly debunking of the myths of Dipankara, Amitabha, and others as the detractors of the Jesus Seminar are. But it is safe to say that Buddhism as a whole has a much larger place for those, say, Zen masters, who minimize the importance, à la Bultmann, of a historical Buddha.

 On The Long Search, a BBC television series surveying world religions, host Ronald Eyre inquired of a Zen abbot, “Does the Buddha exist?” The answer was, “For those who need the Buddha to exist, he exists. For those who do not need him to exist, he does not exist.”

 The real and relevant Buddha is the Buddha-nature latent in all sentient beings. Can we imagine a Christianity willing to make the same admission about Christ? “If you meet the Christ on the road to Emmaus — kill him.”

 § 13. The Buddha Myth.

 Buddha MYTH 

 Satan is good and evil, love and hate. It is the gray; the totality of reality undivided into arbitrary dichotomies. Satan is not a real being, not a living entity, not conscious, nor a physical thing that can be interacted with. It is a symbol, something ethereal, something that exists as an emotional attachment and personal dream. Just like Buddhists do not worship Buddha, Satanists hold up Satan as an ultimate principle rather than an object of literal worship. Satan inspires and provokes people, so, like all (honest) religions the ultimate point is self-help. God-believers have a different opinion on what Satan is, but their opinion is a result of their religion, steeped in mankind's ignorant past. 

Satanism's Satan is much more eclectic and multicultural than to be defined by Christianity or Islam.Satan is the dark force in nature representing the carnal nature and death of all living things. The vast majority of the Universe is cold, uninhabitable and lifeless. The only part of the Universe that we know contains life is tied to a system of predator-and-prey: the natural world is violent, desperate, bloody and amoral. If there is a god, it is surely evil

Satan, and Satan alone, best represents the harshness of reality.


 As an analogy, there is substantial evidence showing that the sources of some of Christianity's most sacred beliefs, such as the Resurrection of Christ, are to be found in the pre-Islamic Persian religions of Mithraism and Zoroastrianism. It is believed that Mithraic and Zoroastrian doctrines were disseminated by wayfarers and traders from Persia in the Holy Land, where they were then incorporated into what was to become the Christian faith. 

As much as the book Jesus and Buddha deals with issues that leave to chance how Christianity and Buddhism are rendered by the individual, collective, and historical imagination, it comes down to being a spiritual guide for those who seek moral instruction and inner strength from the best of what both religions have to offer. In coming together "in an encounter of the spirit in the West," as Jack Kornfield writes, Buddha's and Jesus' words are designed to lead the faithful on the same "path of liberation from our anxious grasping, resurrection into a new way of being, and transformation into the compassionate life."

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