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 Post subject: Arhats and Bodhisattvas
PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 9:37 am 
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I was listening to Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi's second talk on the Sutta Nipata and towards the end, he makes a comment about arhats and bodhisattvas that I found very memorable. Here is a word for word transcript.

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There’s a tendency sometimes amongst Buddhists of different followings to oppose arhats and bodhisattvas and to see which one is superior to which. And then it leads to conflict, friction, between followers of different vehicles.

Followers of Mahayana say bodhisattvas are superior to arhats. Arhats are narrow, selfish, small-minded. Followers of the Theravada say followers of the bodhisattva vehicle are deluded or taking too much time following an impossible course, something to difficult, that one should just aim quickly for one’s own liberation. And so this leads to certain conflicts, quarrels, frictions.

The way I see it, both sides, followers of both paths, have to respect each other. First of all, if there were no bodhisattvas, there could be no Buddhas because Buddhas arise from bodhisattvas. Every Buddha is the end product of one who has followed the bodhisattva course.

But also, if there were no arhats, there could be no Buddhas. Because what is the task of a Buddha? A Buddha is one who aspires to achieve Buddhahood in order to liberate many, many sentient beings. And those beings who are liberated by the Buddha are liberated by attaining arhatship. If nobody followed the Buddha’s instructions and attained arhatship, then the Buddha could not be a Buddha. He would just be teaching pointlessly.


Opinions? Thoughts?

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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 9:40 am 
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Its unusually liberal...Theravada teaching.


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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 10:07 am 
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It reminds me of the common criticism found in the popular versions of Mahayana (e.g. Zen and Tantra), that the common path of the bodhisattva, as it is actually presented by most of the sutras, takes too long and it is too difficult. What hardly anyone dares to consider is that those popular versions actually teach sravakayana under the pretence of "buddhahood in this life". Also, both Zen and Tantra are famous for emphasising discipleship (sravaka-hood). So, I'd add to Bhikkhu Bodhi's quote that hardly anyone wants to take the bodhisattva path, and all the arguments against Theravada are practically valid against the same people who use them.

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"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)


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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 3:25 pm 
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Astus wrote:
It reminds me of the common criticism found in the popular versions of Mahayana (e.g. Zen and Tantra), that the common path of the bodhisattva, as it is actually presented by most of the sutras, takes too long and it is too difficult. What hardly anyone dares to consider is that those popular versions actually teach sravakayana under the pretence of "buddhahood in this life". Also, both Zen and Tantra are famous for emphasising discipleship (sravaka-hood). So, I'd add to Bhikkhu Bodhi's quote that hardly anyone wants to take the bodhisattva path, and all the arguments against Theravada are practically valid against the same people who use them.


Indeed. Early Buddhism already had ideas such as "Buddha without marks" (e.g. Upagupta, who was only 2 generations removed from the Buddha), which does seem like the "Buddhas" produced by "Buddhahood in this lifetime" schools.

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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2014 1:56 pm 
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Brilliantly and very knowledgeably said.

Thank you for sharing. :smile:


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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2014 3:22 pm 
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Astus wrote:
It reminds me of the common criticism found in the popular versions of Mahayana (e.g. Zen and Tantra), that the common path of the bodhisattva, as it is actually presented by most of the sutras, takes too long and it is too difficult. What hardly anyone dares to consider is that those popular versions actually teach sravakayana under the pretence of "buddhahood in this life". Also, both Zen and Tantra are famous for emphasising discipleship (sravaka-hood). So, I'd add to Bhikkhu Bodhi's quote that hardly anyone wants to take the bodhisattva path, and all the arguments against Theravada are practically valid against the same people who use them.


"Buddhahood in the this life" means completing the two accumulations which lead to both freedom and omniscience.

It is impossible for someone to has generated bodhicitta to experience the fruit of an arhat, i.e. cessation, indeed, it is against the very principles of the bodhisattva path to do so.

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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2014 4:16 pm 
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Then we have the exalted status of the awake to contend with. Less labels more experiential awakening would be useful . . . :twothumbsup:

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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2014 8:58 pm 
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Malcolm wrote:

"Buddhahood in the this life" means completing the two accumulations which lead to both freedom and omniscience.

It is impossible for someone to has generated bodhicitta to experience the fruit of an arhat, i.e. cessation, indeed, it is against the very principles of the bodhisattva path to do so.


Thank you for pointing that out. :smile:


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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2014 9:09 pm 
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Malcolm wrote:
It is impossible for someone to has generated bodhicitta to experience the fruit of an arhat, i.e. cessation, indeed, it is against the very principles of the bodhisattva path to do so.


Not true - bodhisattvas can fall from their path into Arhathood from the 1st to 7th bhumis. So bodhicitta (which they need to fully blossom before they enter the 1st bhumi) is no guarantee until the pure bhumis.

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- The Open-Ended Proof from The Panoplia Prophetica


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PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2014 10:09 am 
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Malcolm wrote:
"Buddhahood in the this life" means completing the two accumulations which lead to both freedom and omniscience.

It is impossible for someone to has generated bodhicitta to experience the fruit of an arhat, i.e. cessation, indeed, it is against the very principles of the bodhisattva path to do so.


Completing the two accumulations by what? If killing people in a dream is not the same karma as actually being a mass murderer, imagining doing the paramitas and actually practising them for at least three immeasurably long cosmic time periods might not be equal either. Or we can say that there is the buddha-nature already perfect and complete that requires no such accumulation of anything, although this practically means non-attachment to the aggregates.

As for cessation being the fruit, that is claiming that the Buddha answered the question regarding the life of a Tathagata after death with a negative statement.

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"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)


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PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2014 12:42 pm 
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pueraeternus wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
It is impossible for someone to has generated bodhicitta to experience the fruit of an arhat, i.e. cessation, indeed, it is against the very principles of the bodhisattva path to do so.


Not true - bodhisattvas can fall from their path into Arhathood from the 1st to 7th bhumis. So bodhicitta (which they need to fully blossom before they enter the 1st bhumi) is no guarantee until the pure bhumis.


Citation please?

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http://www.sakyapa.net
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

How can you not practice the highest Dharma
at this time of obtaining a perfect human body?

-- Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen


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PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2014 3:40 pm 
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Malcolm wrote:
pueraeternus wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
It is impossible for someone to has generated bodhicitta to experience the fruit of an arhat, i.e. cessation, indeed, it is against the very principles of the bodhisattva path to do so.


Not true - bodhisattvas can fall from their path into Arhathood from the 1st to 7th bhumis. So bodhicitta (which they need to fully blossom before they enter the 1st bhumi) is no guarantee until the pure bhumis.


Citation please?



I'm not sure what the benefits are from haggling about technicalities, lists and levels. I doubt very much if most of us here have even gone beyond the two accumulations yet.

:geek:

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 7:56 am 
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=http://www.shakyamunidhamma.jimdo.com


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2014 4:40 pm 
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Mkoll wrote:
Opinions? Thoughts?

The difference between Bodhisattvas and Arhats is not compassion, since both generate the four immeasurable. But Arhats still maintaining the illusion of a state that is permanent and eternal: nirvana, while Bodhisattvas wander between samsara and nirvana, until achieve perfect enlightenment, beyond both.
But I have noticed that people use the concept of Mahayana to feed their egos and the idea that they are great and higher, spiritual materialism as Trungpa Rinpoche called.

Red Pine's commentary on the Heart Sutra is a source on this subject: http://amzn.com/1593760825

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And then with “mine”, they grow attached to things,
Helplessly, they wander like a turning waterwheel."
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