Arhat From The Perspective Of Mahayana

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Arhat From The Perspective Of Mahayana

Postby Lotus_Bitch » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:55 pm

Taking this from wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arhat_(Buddhism)#In_the_early_Buddhist_schools

In the early Buddhist schools

A range of views on the relative perfection of arhats existed amongst the early Buddhist schools. In general, the Mahāsāṃghika branch, such as the Ekavyāvahārikas, Lokottaravādins,[9] Bahuśrutīyas,[10] Prajñaptivādins, and Caitika[11] schools, advocated the transcendental and supermundane nature of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, and the fallibility of arhats.[12] The Caitikas, for example, advocated the ideal of the bodhisattva (bodhisattvayāna) over that of the arhat (śrāvakayāna), and they viewed arhats as being fallible and still subject to ignorance.[13]

According to A.K. Warder, the Sarvāstivādins held the same position as the Mahāsāṃghika branch regarding arhats, considering them to be imperfect and fallible.[14] The Kāśyapīya school also held the doctrine that arhats were fallible and imperfect, similar to the view of the Sarvāstivādins and the various Mahāsāṃghika sects.[15] The Kāśyapīyas believed that arhats have not fully eliminated desires, that their "perfection" is incomplete, and that it is possible for them to relapse.[16]


Can anyone explain the specifics on how the Hinayana Arhats are "fallible and imperfect" and "possible for to relapse?"

My main source of information (on how Yogacara makes the distinction) is from Tsongkhapas Ocean of Eloquence translated by Gareth Sparham. In it (if I remember correctly) they differentiate the difference of the attainments of the Arhat, in contrast to bodhisattvas on the pure gounds and that of buddhas in these ways: That the alaya-vijnana has "ceased" for the (post-learner) arhats and they are no longer subject to the 7th consciousness taking the alaya as its objective support (and are hence always in samadhi.) Though, Yogacara says that the continuum of the klista manas for the arhats cease while in nirodhi samapatti (9th jhana of cessation.) Yet, they say that bodhisattvas on the pure grounds (8th bhumi and up) the continuum of the seeds of the 7th consciousness cease entirely in both the absorption and post-absorption period. While of course for buddhas, the alaya is "overturned" or "transformed" into the wisdoms of a buddha.

So if anyone could help clarify (and correct) the specifics for me, it would be greatly appreciated. :smile:
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Re: Arhat From The Perspective Of Mahayana

Postby Huifeng » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:43 am

If you can get your hands on a copy of Bareau's book on the schools of the lesser vehicle, it has all the details of each school's position vis-a-vis arhats and their possible regression. Note that only some schools believed this, other schools did not. I suspect that this is where Warder may have got his information, because he doesn't read Chinese (where most of the information we now have on the Sarvastivada and probably the Mahasamghika is to be found).

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Re: Arhat From The Perspective Of Mahayana

Postby Indrajala » Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:54 am

Lotus_Bitch wrote:Can anyone explain the specifics on how the Hinayana Arhats are "fallible and imperfect" and "possible for to relapse?"


As has been pointed out, there were and still are differing opinions on the matter.

The Mahāsāṃghikas, from which the Mahāyāna was born, are a good example of the position that postulated the fallibility of Arhats. Mahādeva, charged with having initiated schism in the sangha, is said to have been an early advocate of the Mahāsāṃghika school. He is reported to have held five "heretical" views:


-Arhats can be led astray by others;
-Arhats are still subject to ignorance (despite their awakened state);
-Arhats are subject to doubt;
-Arhats can be taught by others (and are therefore not omniscient);
- [various forms, all revolving around the notion that] it is [somehow] permissible or good to say "Oh, the suffering!" [etc.]


From DDB.

Whether Mahādeva really existed and/or held such views aside, this at the very least indicates some people very early on considered Arhats to be subject to doubt and ignorance, which was enough to prompt polemics from the Sthaviravāda.

I suspect this view arose as a result of some individuals considering the Buddha as transcendental and while nominally being an Arhat, actually being well beyond Arhatship. This would mean arhatship is not the ultimate state to achieve. The Mahāsāṃghika perspective is summarized nicely by Venerable Guang Xing in his work The Concept of the Buddha (page 53) as follows:

The Mahāsāṃghikas’ religious philosophy was based more on faith than on reason, and accepted whatever was said by the Buddha or, more precisely, whatever was taught in the Nikāyas and the Āgamas. As a result, they developed the concept of a transcendental (lokottara) Buddha based on the superhuman qualities of the Buddha, as discussed in Chapter 1 above. Two aspects of the Mahāsāṃghikas’ concept of the Buddha can be identified: the true Buddha who is omniscient and omnipotent, and the manifested forms through which he liberates sentient beings with skilful means. Shakyamuni was considered but one of these forms. The true Buddha supports the manifested forms that can appear in the worlds of the ten directions. In Mahayana Buddhism, the former aspect – the true Buddha – was developed and divided into the concept of the dharmakāya and the concept of the sambhogakāya; the latter aspect – the manifested forms – was developed into the concept of nirmaṇakāya. Thus, the Mahāsāṃghikas are the originators of the idea of the nirmaṇakāya, and the manifested forms can have many embodiments. Furthermore, they also introduced the theory of numerous Buddhas existing in other worlds.


One might gather from this perspective that there is something beyond arhatship and that arhats themselves, subject to ignorance and doubt, are clearly not perfected beings. This is of course the seeds for the early Mahāyāna which would have raised questions about whether or not sentient beings might attain the same state as the Buddha and not just mere liberation from samsara, which the Arhat is credited as having accomplished.

"possible for to relapse?"


Again, if an Arhat is said to be subject to ignorance and doubt, then presumably they might carry out karma which would initiate retrogression. In much of early Śrāvakayāna it was assumed that the driving force behind involuntary rebirth was desire (kāma), which is why it was said that lust in an Arhat is simply non-existent. From that point of view, then it is unimportant if an Arhat is still ignorant and not in possession of omniscience because the whole goal is cessation of desire. The twelve links of dependent origination are "propelled" as it were by desire.

However, some might have suggested that the real cause for rebirth was ignorance with desire being a secondary by-product of that ignorance, in which case the ignorant Arhat, despite having achieved cessation of desire, could still be subject to eventual rebirth regardless.

This is actually what much of the Mahāyāna came to insist: Arhats are reborn due to their ignorance, albeit in favourable circumstances. Not all Mahāyāna thinkers agreed with this. However, this simply has to be the case for the proponents of Ekayāna (the "one-vehicle") which insist that all beings regardless ultimately do attain unexcelled perfect enlightenment as buddhas. That means both icchantikas and arhats alike. This question is addressed by Nāgārjuna in his Mahāprājñā-pāramitôpadeśa as follows:


問曰:阿羅漢先世因緣所受身必應當滅,住在何處而具足佛道?
答曰:得阿羅漢時,三界諸漏因緣盡,更不復生三界。有淨佛土,出於三界,乃至無煩惱之名,於是國土佛所,聞《法華經》,具足佛道。如《法華經》說:「有羅漢,若不聞《法華經》,自謂得滅度;我於餘國為說是事,汝皆當作佛。 (CBETA, T25, no. 1509, p. 714, a9-15)


Question -- Arhats in their past lives must have extinguished all the conditions and conditions to receive a new body. Where do they abide and perfect the Buddha's path?

Answer -- When one attains arhatship all contaminated causes and conditions of the three realms are extinguished and one is no longer reborn in the three realms. There is a pure Buddha-land beyond the three realms, even being without the word 'defilements'. In this realm, the place of the Buddha, they hear the Lotus Sūtra, and perfect the Buddha's path. As the Lotus Sūtra says, "There are arhats who, if they have not heard the Lotus Sūtra, think of themselves as having attained cessation. In another realm I explain this - you all will become buddhas."


Arhats are then said to be reborn outside the the three realms. This is another matter that the Mahāyāna addressed: Arhats have complete knowledge of the three realms, but incomplete knowledge of things outside the three realms.

My main source of information (on how Yogacara makes the distinction) is from Tsongkhapas Ocean of Eloquence translated by Gareth Sparham.


Yogācāra does not advocate Ekayāna. They also postulate the existence of icchantikas such as in the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra. These are beings who can never be liberated from samsara ever. Their ideas on the eventual fate of arhats would be of a similar vein: once the causes for rebirth are severed, then one is "extinguished" forever with no possibility of being reborn or interacting with reality ever again. This is of course a reification of cause and effect, being settled in conventional truth without understanding of ultimate truth, that is easily refuted with Nāgārjuna's dialectic. Hence, Yogācāra is not true Mahāyāna. Their views are easily refuted and what we have then is the capacity for all beings to achieve buddhahood, i.e., buddha-nature.

What this means is that arhats, while fallible and perhaps subject to varying levels of regression, do not achieve absolute cessation.

This is important to note because if arhats were infallible and actually did achieve absolute cessation of existences, then there would be no ultimate truth -- there would only be conventional truth of cause and effect.
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Re: Arhat From The Perspective Of Mahayana

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:02 am

Over here: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 81#p174513 I mentioned Ven Sujato's speculation that parts of the Pali Sutta MN 29 Maha Saropama Sutta: The Longer Heartwood-simile may have been added later to bolster the Theravada point of view that an Arahant cannot "fall away".
mikenz66 wrote:Being diligent, he attains perpetual liberation. And it is impossible for that bhikkhu to fall away from that perpetual deliverance.

BB: MA quotes the Patisambhidamagga (ii.40) for as definition of asamayavimokkha (literally "non-temporary" or "perpetual" liberation) as the four paths, four fruits, and Nibbana, and of samayavimokkha (temporary liberation) as the four jhanas and four formless attainments.
See also MN 122 http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh087-u.html
“Indeed, Ānanda, that a bhikkhu delighting in company, enjoying company, devoted to delight in company, delighting in society, enjoying society, finding satisfaction in society should enter upon and dwell in either the temporary, or the permanent and unshakeable, delectable mind deliverance, that is not possible. But when a bhikkhu lives alone, apart from society, that he may be expected to enter upon and dwell in the temporary, or the permanent and unshakeable, delectable mind deliverance, that is possible.


Ven Sujato notes that the Chinese Agama version of the sutta does not have the line:
    And it is impossible for that bhikkhu to fall away from that perpetual deliverance.
and the known Sarvastivada nikayas do not have this sutta at all.
Whether liberation is permanent or not was a point of disagreement between sects, so this line may be a late addition to the Theravada version.


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Re: Arhat From The Perspective Of Mahayana

Postby Huifeng » Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:13 am

The Mahāsāṃghikas, from which the Mahāyāna was born, are a good example of the position that postulated the fallibility of Arhats.


Actually, according to Bareau's sources (pg. 66), for the Mahāsāṃghikas

37. The Stream enterer (srotāpanna) can have elements of falling back (parihāṇidharma) but the Arhant does not have elements of falling back.120
When one has attained the state of Srotāpanna, having abandoned the defilements by means of a single seeing (darśana) but not yet by cultivating (bhavanā), i.e., by means of frequemtly repeated practice, one still has delusion (moha) and, as a result, not yet being firmly established on the Path of deliverance, one can fall to a lower state. For the converse reasons, the Arhant cannot have elements of falling back.

120 Vasumitra, thesis 34. – Vinītadeva, thesis 20. – Vibhāṣā, T.S. 1545, p. 931b-933c : The Srotāpanna has
falling back. – Kathāvatthu, II, 3, opposite thesis among some Mahāsāṇghikas according to which the
Arhant does have elements of falling back.


That the arhat can can regress is a tenet of the following schools (tenet # according to Bareau, appendices) Sarvāstivāda 14; Vātsīputrīya 13; Sammitīya 2, 14; Bhadrayāna; Pūrvaśaila 15. Those schools that said that the arhat cannot regress are: Theravāda 2; Mahāsāṇghika 37; Mahīśāsaka 17; Vibhājyavāda 18. One can look up the book itself, rather than copying and pasting it all here.

This is actually what much of the Mahāyāna came to insist: Arhats are reborn due to their ignorance, albeit in favourable circumstances. Not all Mahāyāna thinkers agreed with this. However, this simply has to be the case for the proponents of Ekayāna (the "one-vehicle") which insist that all beings regardless ultimately do attain unexcelled perfect enlightenment as buddhas.


The whole Ekayāna issue is more the domain of East Asian Buddhism, and never really took off in India.

Yogācāra does not advocate Ekayāna. They also postulate the existence of icchantikas such as in the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra. These are beings who can never be liberated from samsara ever. Their ideas on the eventual fate of arhats would be of a similar vein: once the causes for rebirth are severed, then one is "extinguished" forever with no possibility of being reborn or interacting with reality ever again. This is of course a reification of cause and effect, being settled in conventional truth without understanding of ultimate truth, that is easily refuted with Nāgārjuna's dialectic. Hence, Yogācāra is not true Mahāyāna. Their views are easily refuted and what we have then is the capacity for all beings to achieve buddhahood, i.e., buddha-nature.


It is correct that "Yogācāra does not advocate Ekayāna". However, I do not believe that the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra even uses the term "icchantika" - though one could argue that the term "agotra" which it does us is the equivalent. Whatever the case, there are several streams of Yogācāra. So, one would have to show that all of these streams held the notion of icchantikas to then use the above to conclude that "Yogācāra is not true Mahāyāna". Though even then, it would still require a lot of assumptions, such as "true Mahāyāna" must hold the notion of universal Buddhahood. One would have to provide good reasons why we should accept this assumption. So, this statement "Yogācāra is not true Mahāyāna" needs some serious qualifications, and shouldn't be so broadly thrown out there. (Even of the most sectarian tenet systems of later times, I've yet to see one that makes such a claim.)

In fact, when we look at some of the earlier strata of Mahāyāna, the very fact that they so stridently warn aspiring bodhisattva's against attaining the fruitions of the two vehicles, because this would mean game over from saṃsāra, shows that this strata of literature at least believed that arhats really did attain final release. If for this strata the Ekayāna notion was at the forefront, the big question - not yet answered - is why they would make such a warning, after all, one can still continue to Buddhahood after attaining the state of an arhat, what's the problem?

So, we may need to be a little more specific with texts, strata of texts, schools, and sub-schools. Arguments about which texts are ultimately definitive and which require further drawing out will of course come up in the face of multiple sources and traditions that - superficially at least - are saying difference, or even contradictory, things. When this happens, we will need to be objective, stating who and what says what, rather than a priori assuming one to be correct, and the other ... "not true".

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Re: Arhat From The Perspective Of Mahayana

Postby Malcolm » Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:30 am

Huseng wrote:However, some might have suggested that the real cause for rebirth was ignorance with desire being a secondary by-product of that ignorance, in which case the ignorant Arhat, despite having achieved cessation of desire, could still be subject to eventual rebirth regardless.



But then we have the POV of Vasubandhu that Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas are subject to a non-afflictive ignorance, hence this will not drive rebirth.

Retrogression of Arhats, BTW, just means they return to the state of a never returner, not that they regress to being ordinary beings.

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Re: Arhat From The Perspective Of Mahayana

Postby Indrajala » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:27 am

Huifeng wrote:
Actually, according to Bareau's sources (pg. 66), for the Mahāsāṃghikas

37. The Stream enterer (srotāpanna) can have elements of falling back (parihāṇidharma) but the Arhant does not have elements of falling back.120
When one has attained the state of Srotāpanna, having abandoned the defilements by means of a single seeing (darśana) but not yet by cultivating (bhavanā), i.e., by means of frequemtly repeated practice, one still has delusion (moha) and, as a result, not yet being firmly established on the Path of deliverance, one can fall to a lower state. For the converse reasons, the Arhant cannot have elements of falling back.

120 Vasumitra, thesis 34. – Vinītadeva, thesis 20. – Vibhāṣā, T.S. 1545, p. 931b-933c : The Srotāpanna has
falling back. – Kathāvatthu, II, 3, opposite thesis among some Mahāsāṇghikas according to which the
Arhant does have elements of falling back.



Sure, that's fine, but they were still seen as fallible and subject to ignorance. What this means post-mortem is important in consideration of later Mahāyāna scriptures which attest to the idea that Arhats do not achieve absolute cessation of existence, but are actually reborn, albeit in favourable circumstances and not as ordinary sentient beings. They might not fall back, but they're still subject to ignorance. Hence why Nāgārjuna can insist that they are reborn outside the three realms. Whether you call that "regression" or not is subjective I suppose -- for someone aspiring for cessation of all existence, it might seem like regression being reborn outside the three realms.


This is actually what much of the Mahāyāna came to insist: Arhats are reborn due to their ignorance, albeit in favourable circumstances. Not all Mahāyāna thinkers agreed with this. However, this simply has to be the case for the proponents of Ekayāna (the "one-vehicle") which insist that all beings regardless ultimately do attain unexcelled perfect enlightenment as buddhas.


The whole Ekayāna issue is more the domain of East Asian Buddhism, and never really took off in India.


What is your source for this?

In any case, even this is so, it does not negate the value of Ekayāna ideas. Reconstructed Indian Buddhism (and I say reconstructed because much of it is) does not have a monopoly on truth, nor is it the absolute measuring stick for all Buddhism.


It is correct that "Yogācāra does not advocate Ekayāna". However, I do not believe that the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra even uses the term "icchantika" - though one could argue that the term "agotra" which it does us is the equivalent.


Correct. It does assert that there are beings that cannot achieve perfect enlightenment:

《瑜伽師地論》卷35〈1種姓品〉:「住無種姓補特伽羅無種姓故。雖有發心及行加行為所依止。定不堪任圓滿無上正等菩提。」


Whether you say "icchantika" or not is important. They believed that even with aspirations, said beings could not achieve perfect enlightenment. This suggests to me a lack of understanding on their part when it came to buddha-nature and emptiness.


Though even then, it would still require a lot of assumptions, such as "true Mahāyāna" must hold the notion of universal Buddhahood. One would have to provide good reasons why we should accept this assumption.


True Mahāyāna embraces all beings, just as suchness "permeates" all phenomena.


So, this statement "Yogācāra is not true Mahāyāna" needs some serious qualifications, and shouldn't be so broadly thrown out there. (Even of the most sectarian tenet systems of later times, I've yet to see one that makes such a claim.)


Yogācāra believes that some beings cannot be liberated despite being presented scriptural and rational reasoning to the contrary, which is equivalent to abandoning them. It is a rejection of sutra. True Mahāyāna embraces all beings.


In fact, when we look at some of the earlier strata of Mahāyāna, the very fact that they so stridently warn aspiring bodhisattva's against attaining the fruitions of the two vehicles, because this would mean game over from saṃsāra, shows that this strata of literature at least believed that arhats really did attain final release.


Some might have believed this to be the case, or this was merely sectarian concerns during a time when Mahāyāna was subject to a lot of criticism. A lot of early Mahāyāna texts take a clearly antagonistic stance against their Hīnayāna counterparts, even discouraging disciples from associating with Hīnayāna practitioners. It would be reasonable to assume that such sectarian sentiments would also be related the fear of disciples becoming arhats and failing to fulfill their bodhisattva aspirations.
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Re: Arhat From The Perspective Of Mahayana

Postby Indrajala » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:30 am

Namdrol wrote:
Huseng wrote:However, some might have suggested that the real cause for rebirth was ignorance with desire being a secondary by-product of that ignorance, in which case the ignorant Arhat, despite having achieved cessation of desire, could still be subject to eventual rebirth regardless.



But then we have the POV of Vasubandhu that Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas are subject to a non-afflictive ignorance, hence this will not drive rebirth.

Retrogression of Arhats, BTW, just means they return to the state of a never returner, not that they regress to being ordinary beings.

N


What drives their rebirth outside the three realms as Nāgārjuna suggests?

This is also stated in the Śrīmālā-sūtra, Anuttarāśraya-sūtra, Treatise on Buddha Nature and Ratnagotravibhāga-mahāyānōttaratantra-śāstra
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Re: Arhat From The Perspective Of Mahayana

Postby kirtu » Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:03 pm

Namdrol wrote:Retrogression of Arhats, BTW, just means they return to the state of a never returner, not that they regress to being ordinary beings.


So particular schools assert this but which major scholars asserted this?

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Re: Arhat From The Perspective Of Mahayana

Postby AdmiralJim » Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:57 pm

So what is the reason that Arhats aren't fully enlightened? It is an idea that I have never really accepted.
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Re: Arhat From The Perspective Of Mahayana

Postby kirtu » Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:35 pm

AdmiralJim wrote:So what is the reason that Arhats aren't fully enlightened? It is an idea that I have never really accepted.


Arhats are not omniscient, they still have cognitive obscurations so their wisdom is not complete. Secondly they do not have the compassion of a Buddha. So who asserts this? I don't know for sure because my notes are in storage but I believe it can be found in Chandrakirti and probably Shantideva.

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Re: Arhat From The Perspective Of Mahayana

Postby cdpatton » Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:42 am

Lotus_Bitch wrote:Taking this from wikipedia

Can anyone explain the specifics on how the Hinayana Arhats are "fallible and imperfect" and "possible for to relapse?"


Aside from the relapse issue, it was also sometimes held that arhats still retained "remnants" of the defilements. There are passages in the Commentary on the Perfection of Wisdom that cites stories about idiosyncratic personality flaws, such as Pilindavatsa's arrogance, Sariputra's stubbornness, etc. (Cf. Chapter 1, Part 4, sections 2-3.)

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Re: Arhat From The Perspective Of Mahayana

Postby cdpatton » Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:43 am

Huseng wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
Huseng wrote:However, some might have suggested that the real cause for rebirth was ignorance with desire being a secondary by-product of that ignorance, in which case the ignorant Arhat, despite having achieved cessation of desire, could still be subject to eventual rebirth regardless.



But then we have the POV of Vasubandhu that Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas are subject to a non-afflictive ignorance, hence this will not drive rebirth.

Retrogression of Arhats, BTW, just means they return to the state of a never returner, not that they regress to being ordinary beings.

N


What drives their rebirth outside the three realms as Nāgārjuna suggests?

This is also stated in the Śrīmālā-sūtra, Anuttarāśraya-sūtra, Treatise on Buddha Nature and Ratnagotravibhāga-mahāyānōttaratantra-śāstra


An author's imagination? How can rebirth outside of existence be possible in any case?!

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