The attainment of the Arhats

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Konchog1
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The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Konchog1 » Wed Mar 01, 2017 5:28 am

I was thinking about this today.

Usually, people just say they're in the Arhat's sphere and after many eons the Buddhas rouse them and teach them Bodhicitta after which the Arhats attain Enlightenment.

But let's think about this in detail.

The first clue is that in the Mahayana, Buddhas are described in positive term. They have this body, this mind, this wisdom, this realm, etc.

In the Hinayana, Arhats are described in negative terms. They are the burned out fire, they are spent etc.

I just realized these two separate teachings (not even in the same canonical language) are complementary.

The four elements exist as potentials in all things. When fire burns out it doesn't disappear. It returns to the passive state waiting for activation.

In the same way, Arhats free of karma are not reborn. They don't disappear, but abide in a passive state waiting for a cause of rebirth. Namely, Bodhicitta. Whereupon they gain all the positive qualities described in the Mahayana.

The only issue is if they are abiding between death and rebirth (in the bardo), wouldn't they be abiding in the clear light since it's the base of the mind? So wouldn't that enlighten them?
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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Re: The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Astus » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:19 am

Konchog1 wrote:The first clue is that in the Mahayana, Buddhas are described in positive term. They have this body, this mind, this wisdom, this realm, etc.
Most of the qualities describing the buddhas are from Hinayana.
In the Hinayana, Arhats are described in negative terms. They are the burned out fire, they are spent etc.
There are also positive terms for them.
When fire burns out it doesn't disappear. It returns to the passive state waiting for activation.
Are you proposing some sort of eternal fire hiding in a special realm? That is not the meaning of the metaphor, since once the fuel is burnt you cannot light it again.
In the same way, Arhats free of karma are not reborn. They don't disappear, but abide in a passive state waiting for a cause of rebirth. Namely, Bodhicitta. Whereupon they gain all the positive qualities described in the Mahayana.
What state is it exactly where they abide? Arhats are free from all the realms of samsara, so they certainly do not wait for any rebirth, as there is no more cause of rebirth for them.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:37 pm

I understand that they take rebirth in Hinayana Pure Lands.

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Re: The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Rakz » Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:49 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:I understand that they take rebirth in Hinayana Pure Lands.
Does it say this anywhere in the suttas?

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Re: The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Astus » Wed Mar 01, 2017 1:41 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:I understand that they take rebirth in Hinayana Pure Lands.
What is that? The pure abodes (suddhavasa) are where non-returners go, but arhats do not and cannot be born anywhere.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Wed Mar 01, 2017 2:53 pm

Astus wrote:
Tsongkhapafan wrote:I understand that they take rebirth in Hinayana Pure Lands.
What is that? The pure abodes (suddhavasa) are where non-returners go, but arhats do not and cannot be born anywhere.
Yes, they are born in the Suddhavasa, the last five levels of the fourth form realm. This is the place where Hinayana Superiors are reborn, including Hinayana Foe Destroyers if they choose to. They are called Not Great, Without Pain, Excellent Appearance, Great Seeing, and None Higher. They choose to be reborn here where they can experience solitary peace for as long as they wish. It is from here that the Buddhas rouse them to follow the Mahayana path.

Where else could they abide?

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Re: The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Wed Mar 01, 2017 2:57 pm

Rakz wrote:
Tsongkhapafan wrote:I understand that they take rebirth in Hinayana Pure Lands.
Does it say this anywhere in the suttas?
My Teacher told me this, I don't have a Sutta reference for you.

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Re: The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Astus » Wed Mar 01, 2017 3:00 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:Yes, they are born in the Suddhavasa
Those are the non-returners, not the arhats, who take birth there. Arhats have no afflictions to bind them to any birth, otherwise the whole existence of arhats is simply denied.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Wed Mar 01, 2017 3:21 pm

Astus wrote:
Tsongkhapafan wrote:Yes, they are born in the Suddhavasa
Those are the non-returners, not the arhats, who take birth there. Arhats have no afflictions to bind them to any birth, otherwise the whole existence of arhats is simply denied.
As I said, Arhats CHOOSE to be reborn there. For them it is not the form realm of samsara but nirvana because they have abandoned delusion obstructions and so their subjective experience is completely different to Never-Returners. This is like a Buddha choosing to emanate in the human realm to teach Dharma; they are not human and do not have human experiences. Even though they appear to abide in the realms of samsara, it is not samsara for them.

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Re: The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Astus » Wed Mar 01, 2017 3:50 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:As I said, Arhats CHOOSE to be reborn there.
Why would they choose any birth when the whole point of attaining arhatship is to be free from every forms of birth? If they were still attached to having some form of birth, they would be non-returners, who still could not let go of their clinging to the form and formless realms.
For them it is not the form realm of samsara but nirvana because they have abandoned delusion obstructions and so their subjective experience is completely different to Never-Returners.
And you base that on what scripture?
This is like a Buddha choosing to emanate in the human realm to teach Dharma; they are not human and do not have human experiences. Even though they appear to abide in the realms of samsara, it is not samsara for them.
Buddhas have non-abiding nirvana, furthermore, both buddhas and bodhisattvas have great compassion. Neither of those apply to arhats. So, why would an arhat do that?
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Wed Mar 01, 2017 4:36 pm

Astus wrote: Why would they choose any birth when the whole point of attaining arhatship is to be free from every forms of birth? If they were still attached to having some form of birth, they would be non-returners, who still could not let go of their clinging to the form and formless realms.
They are not attached to rebirth or any form of rebirth which is why they are able to choose. The only object of abandonment of living beings is contaminated rebirth, not rebirth per se.
Where do you say they exist?
And you base that on what scripture?
It's an oral instruction from my Teacher.
Buddhas have non-abiding nirvana, furthermore, both buddhas and bodhisattvas have great compassion. Neither of those apply to arhats. So, why would an arhat do that?
The Hinayana Arhat's intention is to abide in a place where they can experience uninterrupted solitary peace. 'Pure Land' here doesn't mean the Pure Land of Buddha, it's a place where there are no true sufferings and there are no true sufferings because an Arhat is completely free from delusion obstructions. They experience completely pure appearances.

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Re: The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Astus » Wed Mar 01, 2017 4:49 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:They are not attached to rebirth or any form of rebirth which is why they are able to choose. The only object of abandonment of living beings is contaminated rebirth, not rebirth per se.
Rebirth is contaminated, because the root cause is ignorance/three poisons. As long as there is ignorance, there is birth. No ignorance, no birth. This is the basic teaching of the twelve nidanas, also known as dependent origination.
Where do you say they exist?
That is the wrong question, as it assumes a self. Please check what the Buddha taught To Anuradha about it.
The Hinayana Arhat's intention is to abide in a place where they can experience uninterrupted solitary peace.
The goal of the shravaka path is nirvana, the end of any kind of birth. That is because they recognise that every form of existence, no matter how heavenly, is impermanent, and what is impermanent is suffering.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Wed Mar 01, 2017 6:42 pm

Astus wrote: Rebirth is contaminated, because the root cause is ignorance/three poisons. As long as there is ignorance, there is birth. No ignorance, no birth. This is the basic teaching of the twelve nidanas, also known as dependent origination.
Rebirth is not contaminated from its own side. The root cause, according to the 12 dependent-related links, is dependent-related ignorance. No ignorance, no contaminated rebirth but that doesn't mean that one can't have a pure rebirth. Bodhisattva Arhats take rebirth in samsara with complete freedom and control (Tulkus) and beings take rebirth in a Buddha's Pure Land. Such rebirths are not the nature of suffering.
That is the wrong question, as it assumes a self. Please check what the Buddha taught To Anuradha about it.
There is a self, even after nirvana - a merely imputed self. Nirvana is not the extinction of self, it's the abandonment of the deluded view of self. Arhats exist after nirvana is attained, otherwise do they simply cease to exist? If there is no self, there is no existence at all. Buddha's teaching on selflessness is not that there is no self at all.
The goal of the shravaka path is nirvana, the end of any kind of birth. That is because they recognise that every form of existence, no matter how heavenly, is impermanent, and what is impermanent is suffering
Impermanence is not the cause of suffering, delusion and contaminated karma is. A Buddha's mind is completely pure and impermanent and it is not the nature of suffering. Impermanent beings abide in the Pure Lands of Buddha and never experience suffering.

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Re: The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Astus » Wed Mar 01, 2017 7:26 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:Rebirth is not contaminated from its own side.
What is the cause of rebirth itself then, if not ignorance?
The root cause, according to the 12 dependent-related links, is dependent-related ignorance.
OK, so it is ignorance.
No ignorance, no contaminated rebirth but that doesn't mean that one can't have a pure rebirth.
What is the cause of rebirth if not ignorance?
Bodhisattva Arhats take rebirth in samsara with complete freedom and control (Tulkus) and beings take rebirth in a Buddha's Pure Land.
Tulku - nirmanakaya - illusory body, also called emanation body. That is not rebirth.
There is a self, even after nirvana - a merely imputed self.
Has it not been merely imputed before nirvana?
Nirvana is not the extinction of self, it's the abandonment of the deluded view of self. Arhats exist after nirvana is attained, otherwise do they simply cease to exist? If there is no self, there is no existence at all. Buddha's teaching on selflessness is not that there is no self at all.
If seeing the self as a mere imputation is the correct view, and not the deluded one, then since being an imputation means that it is imaginary - like when seeing a trunk as a human the human is merely imputed - then there has never actually been a self in any form but as a misconception. However, you seem to say that not only there is really a self - not as a mere imputation - but that it is eternal, since arhats exist forever. But of course arhats do not cease to exist, since there has never been a self to begin with, so there is nothing to cease.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Malcolm » Wed Mar 01, 2017 7:47 pm

Rakz wrote:
Tsongkhapafan wrote:I understand that they take rebirth in Hinayana Pure Lands.
Does it say this anywhere in the suttas?

No, this idea advanced by TKF finds no scriptural basis in sūtra, tantra, vinaya, abhidharma or anywhere else.

I know because I looked.

Also, the five pure abodes are not buddhafields/pure lands. They are perishable realms in the sense that beings are born there and pass away. They are in fact part of samsara.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:54 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Rakz wrote:
Tsongkhapafan wrote:I understand that they take rebirth in Hinayana Pure Lands.
Does it say this anywhere in the suttas?

No, this idea advanced by TKF finds no scriptural basis in sūtra, tantra, vinaya, abhidharma or anywhere else.

I know because I looked.

Also, the five pure abodes are not buddhafields/pure lands. They are perishable realms in the sense that beings are born there and pass away. They are in fact part of samsara.
There you go, grasping at samsara existing from its own side. For a being with a pure mind, samsara doesn't exist and the five pure abodes are pure lands - Hinayana pure lands though, mind you, not Buddhalands.

If you have a better answer for the OP I'd like to hear it.

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Re: The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Tsongkhapafan » Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:06 pm

Astus wrote:
What is the cause of rebirth itself then, if not ignorance?
The cause of a bodhisattva's rebirth is bodhichitta. The cause of the Hinayana Foe Destroyer's rebirth in the Hinayana Pure Lands is the wish to enjoy solitary peace.

Tulku - nirmanakaya - illusory body, also called emanation body. That is not rebirth.
It is. Not all beings who are Tulkus are enlightened, they can also be highly realised Tantric practitioners. When Tulkus appear in this world, they take rebirth from ordinary mothers. Even Buddha Shakyamuni, the Supreme Emanation Body, did this.
Has it not been merely imputed before nirvana?
Yes, but we do not perceive it existing in this way. We perceive our I as inherently existent but arhats are free from this ignorance.

If seeing the self as a mere imputation is the correct view, and not the deluded one, then since being an imputation means that it is imaginary - like when seeing a trunk as a human the human is merely imputed - then there has never actually been a self in any form but as a misconception. However, you seem to say that not only there is really a self - not as a mere imputation - but that it is eternal, since arhats exist forever. But of course arhats do not cease to exist, since there has never been a self to begin with, so there is nothing to cease.
The idea that there is no self at all is very curious. Even Buddhas have an I - this is the defining characteristic of a person. The problem is imputing an inherently existent I where there is not one; we simply see the I as existing in a way in which it does not, so no-self does not mean no self at all. My understanding from what you are saying is that you view any sense of self as a deluded notion, but this is going too far and putting out of existence something that does exist.

If an Arhat lacks any sense of I at all, who is it that Buddha's arouse from solitary peace and set on the Mahayana path? If there is no self, it would be pointless for Buddhas to do this.

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Re: The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Malcolm » Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:11 pm

Tsongkhapafan wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Rakz wrote: Does it say this anywhere in the suttas?

No, this idea advanced by TKF finds no scriptural basis in sūtra, tantra, vinaya, abhidharma or anywhere else.

I know because I looked.

Also, the five pure abodes are not buddhafields/pure lands. They are perishable realms in the sense that beings are born there and pass away. They are in fact part of samsara.
There you go, grasping at samsara existing from its own side. For a being with a pure mind, samsara doesn't exist and the five pure abodes are pure lands - Hinayana pure lands though, mind you, not Buddhalands.
They are not pure lands. They are the top five "heavens" of the 17 form realm "heavens." Thus, they are part of samsara. You know, conventionally speaking.

For a being with a pure mind, Avici hell is no different than Akaniṣṭha Ghanavyuha, the buddhafield of Vairocana/Vajradhara.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:22 pm

Astus wrote:What is the cause of rebirth itself then, if not ignorance?
I read this in a statement by the Dalai Lama on reincarnation:
There are two ways in which someone can take rebirth after death: rebirth under the sway of karma and destructive emotions and rebirth through the power of compassion and prayer. Regarding the first, due to ignorance negative and positive karma are created and their imprints remain on the consciousness. These are reactivated through craving and grasping, propelling us into the next life. We then take rebirth involuntarily in higher or lower realms. This is the way ordinary beings circle incessantly through existence like the turning of a wheel. Even under such circumstances ordinary beings can engage diligently with a positive aspiration in virtuous practices in their day-to-day lives. They familiarise themselves with virtue that at the time of death can be reactivated providing the means for them to take rebirth in a higher realm of existence. On the other hand, superior Bodhisattvas, who have attained the path of seeing, are not reborn through the force of their karma and destructive emotions, but due to the power of their compassion for sentient beings and based on their prayers to benefit others. They are able to choose their place and time of birth as well as their future parents. Such a rebirth, which is solely for the benefit of others, is rebirth through the force of compassion and prayer.


http://www.dalailama.com/messages/state ... ncarnation

I had been taught that the latter understanding is unique to the Mahāyāna, in fact one of the differentiators between Mahāyāna and the earlier schools. That is because bodhisattvas are able to be voluntarily re-born - as the statement says - out of 'compassion and prayer' rather than being compelled by karma and klesa. But, nowhere does this statement say that Arhats are re-born anywhere, I had understood that the whole condition of the Arhat was 'no further re-birth'.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: The attainment of the Arhats

Post by Astus » Thu Mar 02, 2017 12:35 am

Tsongkhapafan wrote:The cause of the Hinayana Foe Destroyer's rebirth in the Hinayana Pure Lands is the wish to enjoy solitary peace.
Why would an arhat have such a wish? While the arhat is alive he is already unaffected by anything and enjoys complete peace, i.e. nirvana, regardless of the circumstances. If there were still the delusion that any environment can provide peace, such a person would not be an arhat.
The idea that there is no self at all is very curious. Even Buddhas have an I - this is the defining characteristic of a person. The problem is imputing an inherently existent I where there is not one; we simply see the I as existing in a way in which it does not, so no-self does not mean no self at all.
Of the five aggregates which one is the merely imputed self that necessarily exists in your opinion?
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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