Individuality of beings after enlightenment

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Individuality of beings after enlightenment

Postby Orlando098 » Sun Jun 10, 2012 7:50 pm

Hello

In Theravada the issue of what remains of an enlightened person after they die seems to me to be usually left very vague, whereas in the Mahayana, Bodhistattvas and Buddhas are, it seems to me, considered to still exist as individual beings, though perhaps dwelling in other realms etc. Is that a fair comment? And if so, if, as is often said, there is no true individual self - it is just a collection of aggregates that moves from life to life etc.. - then what is left to constitute their individuality, once all delusion has gone?

Thanks,
Orlando
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Re: Individuality of beings after enlightenment

Postby steveb1 » Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:46 pm

I am no scholar, and I can't reply from the Theravadan tradition. But the following url offers the view that Buddha did not teach that there was no self at all, but rather a "True Self":

http://www.nirvanasutra.net/
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Re: Individuality of beings after enlightenment

Postby Orlando098 » Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:04 am

OK, thank you, I'll check that out.I have also come across a few Theravada teachers who say/said that there is a kind of pure mind that is truly real and eternal, and realising that is the goal, not stripping away everything so there is nothing left at all but complete emptiness and nothingness (though ones who plainly say that seem a minority, but to include some very respected people historically). Perhaps this is also comparable to the ideal of "Buddha nature", that is more of a Mahayana concept, I believe?
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Re: Individuality of beings after enlightenment

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:12 am

A Buddha "stands nowhere like infinite space" in that they have no sense of agency, a point of reference and "self" because all such delusions which could produce such cognitions are gone. A buddha is a force among beings that arises due to their sufferings. Where beings suffer, the tathāgata arises, yet a tathāgata does not perceive beings to be liberated, as such perceptions are delusional, and a buddha is without delusion.

A bodhisattva on the first bhumi and beyond until buddhahood is still a sattva, but just awakened (though not yet having conquered all afflictions). We are also sattva (beings). Sattva are still subject to delusion in varying degrees and possess a sense of mistaken self-identity.
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Re: Individuality of beings after enlightenment

Postby Wayfarer » Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:31 am

My advice is that it is futile to speculate about such topics as 'whether beings exist after enlightenment'. I don't believe it is something that can ever be figured out. Maybe it can be understood on an intuitive level, if you are very dedicated to the teachings, but trying to get a picture of it on the level of discursive reason is just about impossible.

Interestingly, the question of 'whether the Buddha does or does not exist after pari-nirvana' is one of the 'undetermined questions'. These are a series of questions, generally regarded as being 'metaphysical' in nature, to which the Buddha would nearly always respond with 'noble silence'. If you're interested I can provide the link to the relevant passage in the Pali suttas.
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Re: Individuality of beings after enlightenment

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:46 pm

jeeprs wrote:My advice is that it is futile to speculate about such topics as 'whether beings exist after enlightenment'. I don't believe it is something that can ever be figured out.


It has already been figured out.

At the stage of the path of seeing (darśana-mārga) one is a noble being (ārya), i.e, "enlightened". This is where there is clear view of the Four Noble Truths and untainted wisdom (anāsrava-jñāna) is attained. This is equivalent to a srotāpanna (stream-enterer) or a bodhisattva on the first bhūmi. This is where afflictions produced by discrimination in this lifetime (parikalpa-samutthita) are removed. The following stage is the path of cultivation (bhāvanā-mārga).


Maybe it can be understood on an intuitive level, if you are very dedicated to the teachings, but trying to get a picture of it on the level of discursive reason is just about impossible.


It isn't impossible. It has already been carefully explained in countless tomes of Buddhist literature and translated into numerous languages.
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Re: Individuality of beings after enlightenment

Postby LastLegend » Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:29 pm

Orlando098 wrote:Hello

In Theravada the issue of what remains of an enlightened person after they die seems to me to be usually left very vague, whereas in the Mahayana, Bodhistattvas and Buddhas are, it seems to me, considered to still exist as individual beings, though perhaps dwelling in other realms etc. Is that a fair comment? And if so, if, as is often said, there is no true individual self - it is just a collection of aggregates that moves from life to life etc.. - then what is left to constitute their individuality, once all delusion has gone?

Thanks,
Orlando


Well enlightened beings (in Theravada or Mahayana) has got rid of the attachment of self. Think of a rock. If you are a rock, you don't need to think you are a rock. If you are enlightened, then you don't think that you are enlightened. If you still think that you are you, then that's not the real you-you are grasping conceptually to you. So the real you will reveal once the fake you is gone. In Zen, it is often said see your own nature.
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NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

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must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―
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Re: Individuality of beings after enlightenment

Postby Challenge23 » Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:58 pm

Orlando098 wrote:Hello

In Theravada the issue of what remains of an enlightened person after they die seems to me to be usually left very vague, whereas in the Mahayana, Bodhistattvas and Buddhas are, it seems to me, considered to still exist as individual beings, though perhaps dwelling in other realms etc. Is that a fair comment? And if so, if, as is often said, there is no true individual self - it is just a collection of aggregates that moves from life to life etc.. - then what is left to constitute their individuality, once all delusion has gone?



I think that logically that there has to be at least some form of individuality after Enlightenment happens. I say that based on examination of the one example of Enlightenment that all Buddhists agree on, Buddha Shakyamuni.

Even though there is lots of disagreement in regards to what he taught there are some things that everyone seems to agree on. He did mundane things like walk from place to place, talk, eat food, etc. In order to do mundane things like that there would have to be at least some form of individuality, otherwise he wouldn't be able to do mundane things as there would be no distinction between Shakyamuni, the road he walked on, the people he talked to, or the food he ate.

How he interacted with/the exact nature of this individuality is very much up for debate but unless you question the existence of historical Buddhas the fact that there had to have been individuality there in at least some sense of the word is pretty definite.
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Re: Individuality of beings after enlightenment

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:42 am

Huseng wrote:It isn't impossible. It has already been carefully explained in countless tomes of Buddhist literature and translated into numerous languages.


What I was referring to in my second paragraph was understanding the way the Buddha exists after 'pari-nirvana', that is, after death. What I said was one of the 'undetermined questions' was the question as to 'whether the Buddha exists after death'.

ChallengeAccepted wrote:I think that logically that there has to be at least some form of individuality after Enlightenment happens.


It is significant that the Buddha is generally said to have referred to himself in the third person, as 'tathagatha', which can be translated both as 'thus gone' and 'thus come'. In the various scriptural sources, the Buddha does not usually refer to himself in the first person.
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