Death of the Arhat

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Death of the Arhat

Postby Astus » Wed May 19, 2010 7:59 pm

What happens to the arhat after death from the traditional Mahayana perspective(s)?

I know of two options:
- Attains parinirvana.
- Becomes a bodhisattva.

If he attains parinirvana, is that the same as of a buddha, or not? If it is the same, do buddhas remain active saving beings or no? If they do, obviously arhats would do the same. Same if they don't stay. If it is different, what is the difference? Can there be higher and lower freedom from samsara?

If he becomes a bodhisattva, what is the cause? If it is the decision of the arhat, did he make that decision before, or after death? If before, he was already on the bodhisattva path before death and not that of the arhat. If after, then what mental factor could cause such a decision considering he has released all reliance on the aggregates and the aggregates dispersed at the time of death since there was no reason for them to be born. But if there were some attachments left, how could he be called someone free from samsara, an arhat? Or if the joining of the path of the bodhisattva was caused by somebody else, like a buddha, where could that influence take its effect? If it happened before death, again, it wasn't a death of an arhat. If after, what was influenced?
"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: Death of the Arhat

Postby kirtu » Wed May 19, 2010 9:57 pm

Astus wrote:What happens to the arhat after death from the traditional Mahayana perspective(s)?

I know of two options:
- Attains parinirvana.
- Becomes a bodhisattva.


From a Tibetan perspective both sort of happen and this is based on sutra (although I do not know the specific sutric references). Other Mahayana schools may have other answers.

1. Upon death an Arhat does attain a kind of parinirvana but ...
If he attains parinirvana, is that the same as of a buddha, or not?


My understanding is that an Arhat's parinirvana and a Buddha's parinirvana are different. Arhats still have some defilement from the Tibetan POV - the defilement or obscuration of complete wisdom or knowledge. The Arhat remains in their parinirvana for a long, long time and then is eventually aroused by a Buddha from that state wherupon ...

If he becomes a bodhisattva, what is the cause? If it is the decision of the arhat, did he make that decision before, or after death?


they are reborn voluntarily as 6th (or maybe 7th) bhumi bodhisattvas.
The cause is the rousing by the Buddha, the realization by the Arhat that their nirvana isn't perfect and the decision to take rebirth for the sake of all beings. And they did make this decision after death. They made it upon being roused from nirvana by a Buddha.

I hope that this doesn't degenerate into a fight. I love our Theravadin brothers and sisters but the above is from a Tibetan Buddhist POV. Also please note that Arhats are actually objects of refuge in Tibetan Buddhism.

Kirt
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Re: Death of the Arhat

Postby Astus » Wed May 19, 2010 11:10 pm

Kirt,

According to my intention this has nothing to do with Theravada but only the Mahayana view(s) on arhats.

The version you told me is I think the most usual nowadays everywhere. However, it raises a few problems, I think.

What is that parinirvana where an arhat goes to? If it is within samsara, that defies the definition of an arhat. If it is liberation, there is no place or state of mind an arhat could be found. Because it is said an arhat still has some obscurations (jneyavarana), it should mean it is within birth and death. Another option - but I've heard about this only in Tiantai - is that there is a special buddha-realm like dimension where arhats stay. But beyond that I know nothing about such an arhat-realm.

Is there anywhere a clarification of what sort of parinirvana an arhat is exactly in?
"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: Death of the Arhat

Postby kirtu » Wed May 19, 2010 11:21 pm

Astus wrote:What is that parinirvana where an arhat goes to? ... Another option - but I've heard about this only in Tiantai - is that there is a special buddha-realm like dimension where arhats stay. But beyond that I know nothing about such an arhat-realm.


I think that is correct but I have never heard a Tibetan Buddhist teacher actually say that it is a special Arhat realm.

I'll check with my teachers.

How does Tiantai assert a special realm? Surely they have a sutric reference or two?

Kirt
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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
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Re: Death of the Arhat

Postby Indrajala » Thu May 20, 2010 12:05 am

I don't think there is a single Mahayana view on the matter.

Some assert that Arhats attain cessation and like Theravada propose this is permanent and irreversible. Nirvana is asaṁskṛta-dharma (not conditioned), so it makes little sense that saṁskṛta-dharma could pull an Arhat out of cessation (they've also eliminated all causes for bhava, so how could they come to exist again?).
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Re: Death of the Arhat

Postby Tatsuo » Thu May 20, 2010 12:29 am

The Lotussutra states, that Arhats,too will finally attain Buddhahood ("The twelve hundred Arhats, they too will all attain Buddhahood.", Chapter 2). It also states, that an Arhat under the direct guidance of a Buddha will embrace the teachings of the Lotussutra/Mahayana and seek Anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Only at the time, when there is no Buddha present, an Arhat will not embrace the Mahayana (but still will achieve Buddhahood in the distant future, which means, he doesn't attain parinirvana).
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Re: Death of the Arhat

Postby Huifeng » Thu May 20, 2010 3:29 am

Huseng wrote:I don't think there is a single Mahayana view on the matter.



Yup.
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Re: Death of the Arhat

Postby Dexing » Thu May 20, 2010 3:51 am

Hi everyone,

My understanding is basically as previously stated.

An Arhat is free from false views of self, and therefore free from unwillful birth and death; i.e. free from Samsara. But their Nirvana is only "freedom from suffering", not freedom from phenomenal distinctions, and is like a convenient rest-stop they were lead to by a Buddha. They are simply free from further unwillful rebirth until.....

A Buddha or Bodhisattva after some time would then arouse them and show them the path toward Annutara-samyak-sambodhi. What would then bring them to enter birth and death again would not be ignorance and attachment, but Bodhicitta, the compassionate mind to save all other beings.

However this type of birth and death cannot be seen as the same Samsara suffered by ordinary beings which is unwillful birth and death which they cannot endure.

Therefore, an Arhat, Bodhisattva, and Buddha are all free from such Samsara. A Bodhisattva, Buddha, and eventually an Arhat's (turned Bodhisattva) birth and death is really true Nirvana in action, not resting like an Arhat, nor the Samsara created by the ignorance of ordinary beings.

Hope that helps.

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Re: Death of the Arhat

Postby Astus » Thu May 20, 2010 7:00 am

There is this teaching of arhats becoming bodhisattvas after a stay in, well, where exactly? And then buddhas wake them up from, what? So that bodhicitta arises in their, what?

I see a not so small problem with saying that although arhats ended birth they are still born somewhere. Is there somewhere outside samsara? How?
If it is dependent origination they are in, there is no freedom from birth. Independent origination, however, is not possible.

Kirt,

Regarding Tiantai's view, I've just heard about it but don't know any details.
"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: Death of the Arhat

Postby kirtu » Thu May 20, 2010 2:20 pm

Astus wrote:And then buddhas wake them up from, what?


Buddhas wake Arhats up from their state of bliss.

So that bodhicitta arises in their, what?


Bodhicitta arises in their mindstream.

If it is dependent origination they are in, there is no freedom from birth. Independent origination, however, is not possible.


Dependent origination is never negated, cut or ended. One moment of mind creates a next moment of mind endlessly. In the Arhat's bliss experience it is the same.

Regarding Tiantai's view, I've just heard about it but don't know any details.


Well I have not been able to see my Khenpo's on this. One isn't scheduled to be here for awhile and the other who lives here is traveling at the moment.

Tibetan Buddhism would not base their view strictly on the Lotus Sutra so that cannot be the origin of this view of an Arhat in Tibetan Buddhism. Dexing - which Mahayana school do you follow?

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Re: Death of the Arhat

Postby Indrajala » Thu May 20, 2010 2:54 pm

Astus

One theory is that Arhats achieve a samadhi of non-abiding. Obviously both Theravada and all classical forms of Sravakayana would not accept this, but for Mahayana thinkers it does explain how an Arhat could be roused from their nirvana to enter onto the Bodhisattva path.

Basically from this perspective the Arhat's nirvana is not absolute and is only provisional.
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Re: Death of the Arhat

Postby Inge » Thu May 20, 2010 3:45 pm

Maybe this quotes by Hsuan Hua is of relevance?:

"3. Free of rebirth. What is meant by "free of rebirth"? It means they have ended birth and death. They no longer suffer its misery. However, they have only ended share section birth and death. They have not yet ended change birth and death, so they are only Arhats."

From: http://www.longbeachmonastery.org/Arhats-e.htm
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Re: Death of the Arhat

Postby Astus » Thu May 20, 2010 4:25 pm

Kirt,

Yes, by bringing the eternal mind-continuum ("soulriver") into the equation it can be solved, saying that there is no such thing as end of rebirth, end of dependent origination, end of samsara. Thus whatever nirvana an arhat imagines is false. Thinking about the possiblities this was the only one which sounded plausible to explain an arhat's ongoing quest for buddhahood.

On the other hand, this eternal mind-continuum sounds, well, like a liquidified atman, with the result that one's mind is eternal, this time a changing, moving, feeling mind, not eternal in components but eternal in continuum. So, like a river and its drops, the rever is eternally flowing but the drops keep changing. Funny, it is much like the reverse of the view that there are eternal elements (dharmas) making up an impermanent whole. Is this really an acceptible view?
"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: Death of the Arhat

Postby Dexing » Fri May 21, 2010 12:37 am

kirtu wrote:Dexing - which Mahayana school do you follow?


My lineage is Caodong Chan, and also study Chinese Weishi.

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Re: Death of the Arhat

Postby kirtu » Fri May 21, 2010 2:08 pm

Astus wrote:Kirt,

Yes, by bringing the eternal mind-continuum ("soulriver") into the equation it can be solved, saying that there is no such thing as end of rebirth, end of dependent origination, end of samsara.


Well this is loaded. The mind-continuum is in a sense eternal in that one moment of mind conditions the next moment of mind. Ultimately this is transformed into wisdom and in that sense the mind ends.

As for no end of rebirth - yes there is an end to rebirth. The problem of rebirth for ordinary beings is uncontrolled rebirth driven by karma and obscurations. There is an end to that.

There is no end to samsara except for the individual because beings are actually infinite. We will always be dredging the depths of samsara.

On the other hand, this eternal mind-continuum sounds, well, like a liquidified atman, with the result that one's mind is eternal, this time a changing, moving, feeling mind, not eternal in components but eternal in continuum. So, like a river and its drops, the rever is eternally flowing but the drops keep changing. Funny, it is much like the reverse of the view that there are eternal elements (dharmas) making up an impermanent whole. Is this really an acceptible view?


The river analogy is just that - an analogy. One moment of mind conditions the next and gives rise to the next moment of mind. Actually we should look at the Abidharma teachings on this. Mind is however not a thing or entity but a Dependant arising. Therefore it is not an atman.

Kirt
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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
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Re: Death of the Arhat

Postby Dexing » Fri May 21, 2010 5:51 pm

kirtu wrote:The mind-continuum is in a sense eternal in that one moment of mind conditions the next moment of mind. Ultimately this is transformed into wisdom and in that sense the mind ends.


This is my understanding as well. The mind-continuum and unwillful rebirth aka Samsara is a thing of ordinary beings. None of it is permanent, because the eight types of consciousness of a sentient being are transformed into four types of wisdom in a Buddha. Their action is then a spontaneous manifestation of their great wisdom. It's not slow and ignorant as in an ordinary being.

So the Eighth Consciousness is described as an ever-flowing river so that one doesn't mistake it for a solid self. But the continuum of consciousness is also impermanent- ultimately transformed into wisdom, so it also cannot be taken as a ever-changing eternal self.

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Re: Death of the Arhat

Postby Astus » Fri May 21, 2010 9:08 pm

"The mind-continuum is in a sense eternal in that one moment of mind conditions the next moment of mind. Ultimately this is transformed into wisdom and in that sense the mind ends."

Regarding the eternally continuing mind-moments MMK 16:1 has the refutation:

"Suppose compounded phenomena cycle:
If they are permanent, they do not cycle.
Even if they are impermanent, they do not cycle.
The same approach applies to sentient beings."

On the third line of the stanza Tsongkhapa (Ocean of Reasoning, p. 331-333) gives an explanation how the concept of an impermanent, changing mental continuum cannot be the one to go around in samsara.

"As for no end of rebirth - yes there is an end to rebirth. The problem of rebirth for ordinary beings is uncontrolled rebirth driven by karma and obscurations. There is an end to that."

I guess you mean that liberated beings can choose their birth. That would actually suppose a being outside of samsara making a decision about where to be born. And even if it is within samsara, where does the decision originate from? If the decision is caused by former mental factors, it couldn't be called controlled choice. If it is independent of other factors, that is the case of something out of nothing, or a case of an independent self.

"Actually we should look at the Abidharma teachings on this. Mind is however not a thing or entity but a Dependant arising. Therefore it is not an atman."

What Abhidharma teaching do you think of here? Certainly, mind is dependently arisen. Thus, it can dependently end - with the elimination of ignorance there is no further cause for the arising of consciousness, birth and suffering.
"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: Death of the Arhat

Postby muni » Sat May 22, 2010 7:58 pm

Astus wrote: So that bodhicitta arises in their, what?



.


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Re: Death of the Arhat

Postby kirtu » Thu May 27, 2010 5:57 pm

Astus wrote:What Abhidharma teaching do you think of here? Certainly, mind is dependently arisen. Thus, it can dependently end - with the elimination of ignorance there is no further cause for the arising of consciousness, birth and suffering.


Your objections have me at a disadvantage but I am suggestion that these problems with Arhats, their arousal from their nirvanic bliss and their rebirth has been addressed somewhere in the Mahayana abhidharmic literature (although I don't know where exactly).

Kirt
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Re: Death of the Arhat

Postby Huifeng » Fri May 28, 2010 1:47 am

kirtu wrote:
Astus wrote:What Abhidharma teaching do you think of here? Certainly, mind is dependently arisen. Thus, it can dependently end - with the elimination of ignorance there is no further cause for the arising of consciousness, birth and suffering.


Your objections have me at a disadvantage but I am suggestion that these problems with Arhats, their arousal from their nirvanic bliss and their rebirth has been addressed somewhere in the Mahayana abhidharmic literature (although I don't know where exactly).

Kirt


How much "Mahayana abhidharmic literature" can there be? By name, only the Abhidharma-samuccaya comes to mind. Or do you refer to the northern Sarvastivada / Vaibhasika etc. Abhidharma literature, eg. the Kosa?
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