What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

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What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:26 pm

I've never fully understood the differences between Arhats and Bodhisattva.Are Arhats higher than Bodhisattva,are they the same,or are they different?Is one superior to another or are both equal?
A person once asked me why I would want to stop rebirth. "It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want to be reborn."
I replied. "Wanting to be reborn is like wanting to stay in a jail cell, when you have the chance to go free and experience the whole wide world. Does a convict, on being freed from his shabby, constricting, little cell, suddenly say "I really want to go back to jail and be put in a cell. It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want that?"
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Re: What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

Postby purple rose » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:32 pm

Please note: Topic moved from "Dharma-free-for-all" to "Exploring Buddhism"
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Re: What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:34 pm

Virgo wrote:Bodhisattvas are superior.

Kevin


Could you explain more than just that?Why are they superior?
A person once asked me why I would want to stop rebirth. "It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want to be reborn."
I replied. "Wanting to be reborn is like wanting to stay in a jail cell, when you have the chance to go free and experience the whole wide world. Does a convict, on being freed from his shabby, constricting, little cell, suddenly say "I really want to go back to jail and be put in a cell. It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want that?"
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Re: What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

Postby Virgo » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:49 pm

Red Faced Buddha wrote:
Virgo wrote:Bodhisattvas are superior.

Kevin


Could you explain more than just that?Why are they superior?

Because they possess the most precious jewel known in the three times: bodhicitta.

Kevin
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Re: What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

Postby Astus » Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:30 pm

First of all, there is a variety of interpretations about how arhats differ from bodhisattvas. Generally we can say that arhats are permanently free from samsara, while bodhisattvas have chosen to remain within samsara in order to help beings and accumulate merit to become buddhas. Because bodhisattvas eventually can become buddhas, it is said that because of their wish to become buddhas, they are superior to arhats in the sense that they have greater aspiration based on greater compassion, and that compassion and aspiration is what bodhicitta is.
"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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Re: What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

Postby Terma » Fri Oct 12, 2012 1:45 am

Red Faced Buddha wrote:I've never fully understood the differences between Arhats and Bodhisattva.Are Arhats higher than Bodhisattva,are they the same,or are they different?Is one superior to another or are both equal?


In the first chapter of Chandrakirt's text Madhyamakavatara, this is discussed I believe. I think among other things, Bodhisattva's are considered higher due to their vast accumulations of both merit and wisdom. Perhaps on a more subtle level (and one that would be a discussion on its own) would be the Bodhisattva's understanding of emptiness, but then we would have to determine which bhumi Bodhisattva we are talking about. Chandrakirti goes into detail about this as well in the verse where he is giving praise to the arhats (sravaka's).

For what it's worth, I found Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche's commentary to this text quite helpful.

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Re: What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Oct 12, 2012 2:09 am

Arhats and Bodhisattvas are beyond samsara, but an Arhat is said to seek their own liberation resulting in an abiding nirvana, whereas Bodhisattvas seek to liberate all beings, resulting in a non-abiding nirvana. If we follow Astus' account, a Bodhisattva is not endowed with wisdom, and they would be inferior to Arhats.
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Re: What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

Postby tomamundsen » Fri Oct 12, 2012 2:29 am

deepbluehum wrote:Arhats and Bodhisattvas are beyond samsara, but an Arhat is said to seek their own liberation resulting in an abiding nirvana, whereas Bodhisattvas seek to liberate all beings, resulting in a non-abiding nirvana. If we follow Astus' account, a Bodhisattva is not endowed with wisdom, and they would be inferior to Arhats.

Yes, this is what I have been taught.

I'm probably going too far off-topic for this particular forum, but I remember Malcolm saying that Dzogchen results in an abiding nirvana at the 16th bhumi, unlike all other Mahayana systems. Do you know anything about that, DBH, or anyone else?
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Re: What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Oct 12, 2012 2:34 am

tomamundsen wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:Arhats and Bodhisattvas are beyond samsara, but an Arhat is said to seek their own liberation resulting in an abiding nirvana, whereas Bodhisattvas seek to liberate all beings, resulting in a non-abiding nirvana. If we follow Astus' account, a Bodhisattva is not endowed with wisdom, and they would be inferior to Arhats.

Yes, this is what I have been taught.

I'm probably going too far off-topic for this particular forum, but I remember Malcolm saying that Dzogchen results in an abiding nirvana at the 16th bhumi, unlike all other Mahayana systems. Do you know anything about that, DBH, or anyone else?


It's true. Dzogchen results in abiding nirvana. But it is said to differ from the Arhat's level, because Arhat's haven't realized lhundrub and so cannot recognize kadak-chenpo, the od kyi lus and ja lus phowa chenpo, i.e, the rainbow body of great transference.
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Re: What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

Postby tomamundsen » Fri Oct 12, 2012 2:54 am

deepbluehum wrote:
tomamundsen wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:Arhats and Bodhisattvas are beyond samsara, but an Arhat is said to seek their own liberation resulting in an abiding nirvana, whereas Bodhisattvas seek to liberate all beings, resulting in a non-abiding nirvana. If we follow Astus' account, a Bodhisattva is not endowed with wisdom, and they would be inferior to Arhats.

Yes, this is what I have been taught.

I'm probably going too far off-topic for this particular forum, but I remember Malcolm saying that Dzogchen results in an abiding nirvana at the 16th bhumi, unlike all other Mahayana systems. Do you know anything about that, DBH, or anyone else?


It's true. Dzogchen results in abiding nirvana. But it is said to differ from the Arhat's level, because Arhat's haven't realized lhundrub and so cannot recognize kadak-chenpo, the od kyi lus and ja lus phowa chenpo, i.e, the rainbow body of great transference.

Cool. Any more info? For example, why is an abiding nirvana desirable in this context? Also, what does abiding nirvana exactly mean? I assume it means that those who attain yeshe lama (16th bhumi) can manifest appearances in Samsara to help sentient beings whereas those in non-abiding nirvana cannot. Is it something like that?
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Re: What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:13 am

tomamundsen wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:
tomamundsen wrote:Yes, this is what I have been taught.

I'm probably going too far off-topic for this particular forum, but I remember Malcolm saying that Dzogchen results in an abiding nirvana at the 16th bhumi, unlike all other Mahayana systems. Do you know anything about that, DBH, or anyone else?


It's true. Dzogchen results in abiding nirvana. But it is said to differ from the Arhat's level, because Arhat's haven't realized lhundrub and so cannot recognize kadak-chenpo, the od kyi lus and ja lus phowa chenpo, i.e, the rainbow body of great transference.

Cool. Any more info? For example, why is an abiding nirvana desirable in this context? Also, what does abiding nirvana exactly mean? I assume it means that those who attain yeshe lama (16th bhumi) can manifest appearances in Samsara to help sentient beings whereas those in non-abiding nirvana cannot. Is it something like that?


Yes, almost. 16th Bhumi is also non-abiding. The difference is the realization of Clear Light's extent of qualities viz kadag and lhundrub, self-perfected qualifications. Arhat's are limited, whereas 16th Bhumi are beyond all limitations, i.e., Rainbow Body of Great Transference.
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Re: What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

Postby tomamundsen » Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:23 am

deepbluehum wrote:16th Bhumi is also non-abiding.

Wait, I thought we already established that it was abiding here:

deepbluehum wrote:It's true. Dzogchen results in abiding nirvana


Or is this result you're talking about here not the 16th bhumi?
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Re: What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

Postby Ransom » Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:04 am

Perhaps I have been given different information than most of you, but I was taught that an Arhat (which is the Sanskrit spelling of the Pali "Arahant") is a person who has attained Nirvana through the teachings of the Buddha. Basically the same thing as a Buddha. The difference being that Gautama attained Nirvana on his own and this is why he is referred to as the Buddha, The One Who is Awake, while all others are Arhats/Arahants (AKA: saints).

A Bodhisattva, "Awakening Being", is someone who is close to becoming a Buddha, or is on the path to attaining Nirvana.

I hope that helps!! ^_^

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Re: What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

Postby tomamundsen » Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:20 am

Ransom wrote:Perhaps I have been given different information than most of you, but I was taught that an Arhat (which is the Sanskrit spelling of the Pali "Arahant") is a person who has attained Nirvana through the teachings of the Buddha. Basically the same thing as a Buddha. The difference being that Gautama attained Nirvana on his own and this is why he is referred to as the Buddha, The One Who is Awake, while all others are Arhats/Arahants (AKA: saints).

A Bodhisattva, "Awakening Being", is someone who is close to becoming a Buddha, or is on the path to attaining Nirvana.

I hope that helps!! ^_^

:buddha1:

Yes, that is the view from the Theravada side of things. In Mahayana, things are viewed differently. And since DharmaWheel is dedicated to Mahayana, people around here are pretty quick to accept Mahayana teachings over Theravada.
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Re: What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

Postby Ransom » Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:24 am

tomamundsen wrote:
Ransom wrote:Perhaps I have been given different information than most of you, but I was taught that an Arhat (which is the Sanskrit spelling of the Pali "Arahant") is a person who has attained Nirvana through the teachings of the Buddha. Basically the same thing as a Buddha. The difference being that Gautama attained Nirvana on his own and this is why he is referred to as the Buddha, The One Who is Awake, while all others are Arhats/Arahants (AKA: saints).

A Bodhisattva, "Awakening Being", is someone who is close to becoming a Buddha, or is on the path to attaining Nirvana.

I hope that helps!! ^_^

:buddha1:

Yes, that is the view from the Theravada side of things. In Mahayana, things are viewed differently. And since DharmaWheel is dedicated to Mahayana, people around here are pretty quick to accept Mahayana teachings over Theravada.


I'm not going based on any tradition. Rather the definitions of the words themselves. =)

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Re: What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

Postby tomamundsen » Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:36 am

Ransom wrote:
tomamundsen wrote:
Ransom wrote:Perhaps I have been given different information than most of you, but I was taught that an Arhat (which is the Sanskrit spelling of the Pali "Arahant") is a person who has attained Nirvana through the teachings of the Buddha. Basically the same thing as a Buddha. The difference being that Gautama attained Nirvana on his own and this is why he is referred to as the Buddha, The One Who is Awake, while all others are Arhats/Arahants (AKA: saints).

A Bodhisattva, "Awakening Being", is someone who is close to becoming a Buddha, or is on the path to attaining Nirvana.

I hope that helps!! ^_^

:buddha1:

Yes, that is the view from the Theravada side of things. In Mahayana, things are viewed differently. And since DharmaWheel is dedicated to Mahayana, people around here are pretty quick to accept Mahayana teachings over Theravada.


I'm not going based on any tradition. Rather the definitions of the words themselves. =)

:buddha1:

Yes, well the thing is that the semantics of the words are different according to the different traditions.

In Theravada, an arahant and a Buddha are only different in that the Buddha attained nibbana first. In Mahayana, a Buddha has also removed all cognitive obscurations and is omniscient. Arahants/Arhats only remove emotional obscurations. Furthermore, bodhisattas are simply those who will eventually become buddhas. But in Mahayana, there is emphasis that bodhisattvas possess bodhicitta. For this reason, people typically use "arahant" to refer to the term from the Nikaya perspective and "arhat" from the Mahayana perspective; similarly bodhisatta and bodhisattva. However, Buddha is quite a confusing term as pretty much all traditions have slightly different views even though they use the same word.
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Re: What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

Postby Rakshasa » Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:16 am

It is common for Buddhists to often talk about Arhats in a disparaging tone while comparing them with the Bodhisattvas, almost like the Arhats are not only lower compared to the Bodhisattvas, they are in fact lower to average Buddhist lay disciples (humans) also. This is not a good thinking in all schools of Buddhism.

Arhats are superior to all the Devas, including the Brahmas, so they do deserve their own respect and veneration. In comparison to Bodhisattvas, Arhats are superior to even Bodhisattvas of the 8th Bhumi (will need to confirm this though).

In the end, Arhats attain Nirvana.
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Re: What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

Postby Astus » Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:40 am

Just to add to this plethora of interpretations and ideas, in East Asian Buddhism - based primarily on the Lotus Sutra - arhats attain only a seeming nirvana and once they're awaken from it by the buddhas they continue their path to liberation as high level (8th bhumi) bodhisattvas. So, according to this view, there is only one kind of nirvana, that of the buddha.
"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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Re: What is the difference between an Arhat and Bodhisattva?

Postby muni » Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:49 am

Rakshasa wrote:It is common for Buddhists to often talk about Arhats in a disparaging tone while comparing them with the Bodhisattvas,.


I think so, when there is insight, seeing clear, there is no need to compare, and so quarrels about never arise.

We can only rejoice for fellows good practice.

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