lowlydog wrote:By full awakening I meant Arahantship, but this only equates to the 8th bhumi if I'm understanding this correctly. 9-10th bhumis lead to buddhahood.
The reason why it is often considered that the 8th bhumi is equivalent to the arhat's attainment is due to the complete eradication of the kleshas upon entering the 8th bhumi, which is also the reason why the 8th-10th bhumis are called the 3 pure stages. However, that's the only similarity between the two (as in both the bodhisattva and arhat are free of afflictions). By this time, the bodhisattva's accumulation of merit and wisdom is vastly ahead of the arhat. I have come across presentations that state that the arhat can embark on a bodhisattva path from the 8th, and also presentations that state the arhat have to start from the path of accumulation, though it won't be as arduous for them due their already formidable accomplishments.
lowlydog wrote:My understanding to date is that a human being is human being and the teaching must be universal. Different techniques may be used as we each have led different karmic paths, but ultimately we must pass through the same stages as the enlightened ones before us have. My point being that all factions of buddhism are ultimately the same teaching under a different disguise, basically a different description of the same stages.
Well, the stages are not exactly the same, since their paths are different. Also, the gotras of the arhat and bodhisattva are different too (see the Ratnagotravibhaga/Uttaratantra). And of course, their goals are also different. Though most people take the Lotus' perspective that eventually the Sravaka Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas will continue their path and attain Buddhahood, this is not exactly the case if you examine the broad spectrum of Mahayana sutras. For example, Nagarjuna was very explicit that for a Bodhisattva to fall into the state of an Arhat, that means the final end of his career and he will never attain Buddhahood.
lowlydog wrote: Now if one is practicing within a Theravaden tradition and becomes an arahant, what would prevent this being from going further and becoming a buddha?
Let's assume that we are taking the Lotus/Ekayana perspective, then the only thing preventing the Arhat from proceeding forward is to fail to produce Bodhicitta.
lowlydog wrote: Gotama reached the level of arahant and concluded no one would understand his teaching, he then was begged by a brahman to teach. It seems the overcoming of this obstacle is equivalent to 9-10th bhumi?
Shakyamuni attained the state of a Buddha Arhat - not the state of a Sravaka Arhat. By the time he was approached by Brahma Sahampati, he had already surpassed the 10th bhumi and crowned Dharmaraja.
lowlydog wrote: If so, a Christian following a path of deep contemplation could reach a similar stage of saintlyness(arahantship) and go on to become the next Buddha(only call it something else).
Well, personally I think it is highly unlikely that a Christian would reach any arya stage, since their paths of contemplation are not the same as the ones taught by the Buddha. Their faith is centered around the idea of a Creator - so no matter how lofty their meditations are, they cannot escape this view, unless they deviate from Christian doctrine and teachings.
Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.