What really works? By Ajahn Sumedho

Buddhism now

Question: An academic friend of mine has done some research and come up with the theory that the historical Buddha didn’t really live, that the Buddhist teachings were of a later period. Is the personality of the Buddha important for Buddhist practice?

The Buddha Shakyamuni, Five Past Buddhas, and Maitreya. ca. 15th century, Tibet © Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ajahn Sumedho: It’s a convention. It doesn’t matter whether there was ever a Buddha or not, it still works. If you want to say there was nobody like Siddhattha Gotama who became the Buddha, and this was all made up by Joe Bloggs, or somebody, it still wouldn’t make any difference in terms of practice. People, now, want to prove that Jesus Christ never existed. There’s a great deal of interest in history, in trying to prove that this didn’t actually happen, or this person didn’t really exist, but that is being very simplistic and shows a blind faith in history as being reality.

What works?…

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