Why Tezuka’s ‘Buddha’ Is No Buddha

The Daily Enlightenment, December 3, 2014

Singapore -- In Osamu Tezuka’s ‘Buddha’ comic book series, controversial themes is depicted towards the end of the fourth book, and adapted into ‘Buddha 2', part of its animated trilogy. The book’s scenes are summarised below, followed by commentary on why they are all seriously wrong depictions of the life story of the Buddha.

Scene [1]: An old man comes to congratulate the Buddha, announcing that the Buddha is now enlightened.

Corrections: While gods who were aware of the Buddha’s enlightenment did come to honour him, he did not need be told that he had become supremely enlightened. Full enlightenment, after all, is the very state of having realised total awareness of all truths of the universe, what more to say, of one’s own state of mind. This scene suggests that the old man (Brahma) is spiritually superior to the Buddha, as he was more aware of him being enlightened than the Buddha himself. The truth is, in Buddhism, the Buddha is really a ‘Teacher Of Humans And Gods’, whom even great gods pay homage to, and listen to for learning the Dharma, as they are yet to be enlightened like him.

Scene [2]: The Buddha does not recognise him and asks who he is. The old man looks on in silence, as if in exasperation. The Buddha suddenly recognises him as Brahma.

Corrections: As the Buddha has total mastery of his mind, which maximises all possible supernormal powers, including the ability to read minds directly, it is impossible for the Buddha to not recognise anyone.

Scene [3]: Brahma says he had predicted to him long ago, that he would attain enlightenment under a Pippala [Bodhi] tree and teach many till his death.

Corrections: Only other Buddhas, being also equally supremely enlightened, are capable of conferring accurate predictions of when and how someone will attain Buddhahood, and what they will do thereafter. Also, the Buddha never died later, as he had already attained total liberation from the cycle of birth and death. The Buddha entered parinirvana instead, which is the relinquishment of his body, for manifestation elsewhere to teach with his endless compassion and wisdom.

Scene [4]: The Buddha kneels, stammers in sweaty desperation, and asks how is he to teach others, saying he cannot get anyone to understand what he had awoken to. Brahma replies that he should still teach.

Corrections: The Buddha, being supremely enlightened, would never prostrate before any lesser being. He would also not express lack of confidence or doubt in his own abilities to facilitate the awakening of others. As such, he would not need any vague, unhelpful and commanding instruction of any unenlightened being to urge him to do what he definitely will – to teach, with his perfect compassion for all beings and perfect wisdom on all things.

Scene [5]: Breaking out in more cold sweat, the Buddha says that as the world is crooked and people are jaded, no one will listen. Brahma replies firmly again, that he can do it. The Buddha again says he is not sure he can.

Corrections: According to the Ayacana Sutta, the Buddha was fearlessly surveying the world for who he could teach, when the anxious and sincere Brahma Sahampati, the highest Brahma god of the form heavens, came to invite him to teach those who are ready. This expresses how even the greatest god of a world system will honour the Buddha and treasure the precious Dharma he has to offer the world. This is the direct opposite of a god repeatedly talking down to the Buddha, as featured. It should be noted that Brahma Sahampati is not Maha Brahma, who is a much lower god, whom, according to the Buddha’s further teachings, mistaken himself to be the creator of the world.

Scene [6]: Brahma points at the Buddha and blazes upon his forehead his ‘urna’, as he holds his head in agony. Brahma vaguely says ‘This is the sign.’ As the Buddha looks up in shock, Brahma says it is a holy sign, that now on, he will be called ‘Buddha’, and be called so by others.

Corrections: As the urna is one of the Buddha’s 32 magnificent physical characteristics, from where he is capable of radiating his light of compassion, it arose naturally upon attainment of Buddhahood, not forcefully and painfully ‘given’ by any lesser being. As we can see in the Dona Sutta, since the Buddha clearly knew he was fully awakened to perfect compassion and wisdom, he was the one who personally called himself ‘Buddha’, which means ‘awakened one’.

Scene [7]: Turning to leave, Brahma again says the Buddha will teach others for the rest of his life. The Buddha, still kneeling, reaches out to him, asking him to wait, again saying that he cannot teach. Brahma says farewell and disappears in a blaze of light.

Corrections: In this last scene, the Buddha still expresses existential fret and fear. However, having become fully enlightened, the Buddha does not have any of the all too typical human weaknesses above. If he does, how is he much different from us? The most severe misgiving was to depict the Buddha as being lesser than a god, which displaces his supreme spiritual nature, which is the basis of why Buddhists go to him for refuge.

Merely from three pages from the series, the above illustrates but the tip of the iceberg, of a long list of many other misrepresentations of the life and character of the Buddha, and that of other historical persons who arose in his time. Please do not imagine the comics and its animated versions come even close to telling the true story of the Buddha. As above, it is almost as far away from the truth as it can get at times – for Tezuka did not even get the spiritual status and character of the Buddha right, much more to say his actual teachings.

With overboard creative licence, Tezuka’s ‘Buddha’ is destructive with its wrong depictions of the Buddha and Buddhism, capable of confusing many who are new and unfamiliar with the Buddhadharma. Sadly, such commercialised distortion of the Buddhism is prevalent. As true Buddhists, we must be certain not to promote such misconceptions, and to correct them instead, for no one should be more responsible and capable of upholding the integrity of the Buddha’s teachings than us – unless we are not true Buddhists, in the case of which, we would be letting the Buddhadharma down.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv