Gil Fronsdal - The Bodhisattva and the Arhat: Walking Together Hand-in-Hand

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kirtu
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Gil Fronsdal - The Bodhisattva and the Arhat: Walking Together Hand-in-Hand

Post by kirtu » Sun Sep 23, 2018 9:41 pm

The Bodhisattva and the Arhat: Walking Together Hand-in-Hand, by Gil Fronsdal, From the Fall 2011 Issue of Inquiring Mind
At the age of 21 when I began my Buddhist training, I had no interest in liberation or compassion. The great Buddhist ideals of the arhat, bodhisattva and buddha held no attraction for me. Rather, having discovered how satisfying meditation felt when I became settled in the present moment, I took up Buddhist practice as a way to have a more calm presence in my life. As a new practitioner of Buddhism, I began to find a peacefulness that was more meaningful than any of the other ways I experienced myself.

Eventually I learned that Buddhist practice involves more than simple presence and peacefulness. I came to find great meaning in the Buddhist goals of liberation and compassion. I also came to appreciate the different idealized portrayals of people connected to these goals, i.e., the Buddha, bodhisattva, and arhat. A Buddha is someone who discovers the path to liberation; a bodhisattva is someone training to become a Buddha; an arhat is someone who is liberated by following the teachings of a Buddha. Now, after years of practice, my approach to these ideals has become somewhat idiosyncratic. Rather than focusing on their literal meaning, I view the arhat as representing our capacity for liberation; the bodhisattva, our ability for compassion; and the Buddha as how liberation and compassion work together in partnership. To the degree that I distinguish the arhat and the bodhisattva, I prefer to see them as walking hand-in-hand.

My approach is in stark contrast to that of people who emphasize one practice ideal at the expense of the other. It is also in contrast to the historical tendency to use the bodhisattva/arhat distinction to separate from and condemn other Buddhists. I experienced this when I practiced in Asia. After practicing Zen in Japan on the bodhisattva path, I practiced Vipassana in Thailand where the focus is on the arhat path. In Thailand, I was told that the Japanese bodhisattva path was heretical. When I returned to Japan, my Zen teacher told me that in Thailand I had been practicing with Mara, the Buddhist devil.
....
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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Re: Gil Fronsdal - The Bodhisattva and the Arhat: Walking Together Hand-in-Hand

Post by Supramundane » Mon Sep 24, 2018 12:12 pm

very interesting text and will surely stimulate conversation. the semantics over what a Buddha --- Arhat etc. etc. are divide people.

i have dabbled with the idea that while entering the jhanas, the insight that Gautama gained was the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.

Enlightenment is thus not a supernal state or supermundane condition, but simply an understanding of the nature of reality. He had not applied the Eightfold Path at that point. So logically it would seem that he was not yet a Buddha.

in this sense, many people are already enlightened because they see deeply into the nature of reality.

(this is not to conflate enlightenment with Nirvana, which is a completely different kettle of fish.)

i also like the emphasis on Buddhism as a practice, as a method, rather than a particular path through the thicket of opinion.

nice post.

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Re: Gil Fronsdal - The Bodhisattva and the Arhat: Walking Together Hand-in-Hand

Post by Astus » Mon Sep 24, 2018 2:35 pm

"Beyond the effect of arhathood, not a single atom or a single dharma of surplus remains — how much less could the truth of samyaksaṃbodhi remain?"
(Arakan by Dogen, in SBGZ, BDK ed, vol 2, p 275)
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: Gil Fronsdal - The Bodhisattva and the Arhat: Walking Together Hand-in-Hand

Post by narhwal90 » Mon Sep 24, 2018 7:24 pm

He is a frequent contributor to the audiodharma.org podcasts. OTOH personally I tend to gravitate towards Andrea Fella talks.

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Re: Gil Fronsdal - The Bodhisattva and the Arhat: Walking Together Hand-in-Hand

Post by Virgo » Wed Sep 26, 2018 3:39 am

I find it interesting that he redifined the terms to suit his own lack of acceptance or lack of understanding of them, and then set up straw-man caricatures of the traditional definitions to make his own definitions seem more credible or viable. But I am not surprised. I knew he was going to do that the second I read the title.

Kevin...
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Re: Gil Fronsdal - The Bodhisattva and the Arhat: Walking Together Hand-in-Hand

Post by kirtu » Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:06 am

Virgo wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 3:39 am
I find it interesting that he redifined the terms to suit his own lack of acceptance or lack of understanding of them, and then set up straw-man caricatures of the traditional definitions to make his own definitions seem more credible or viable. But I am not surprised. I knew he was going to do that the second I read the title.
Rely on the meaning, not on the words;
I think you are being too hard on him. He is presenting his own experience and his own insight. As HHST said a few years ago, there are actually an infinite variety of Buddhadharma paths - so each person can have their own flavor of ice cream personalized to fit their needs wrt purification and the elimination of kleshas. I personally find following a kind of arhat oriented approach within the Bodhisattva-yana is personally valuable to me, but I am naturally inclined to forms of "asceticism" (the Eight Mahayana Vows and Nyungne for example). Other friends more naturally can transform the experience of nightly disco's ect. directly into pure view.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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Re: Gil Fronsdal - The Bodhisattva and the Arhat: Walking Together Hand-in-Hand

Post by passel » Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:50 pm

If Dipa Ma wasn't a bodhisattva and a siddha
then I'm a monkey's uncle.
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

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Re: Gil Fronsdal - The Bodhisattva and the Arhat: Walking Together Hand-in-Hand

Post by Malcolm » Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:52 pm

kirtu wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:06 am
Virgo wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 3:39 am
I find it interesting that he redifined the terms to suit his own lack of acceptance or lack of understanding of them, and then set up straw-man caricatures of the traditional definitions to make his own definitions seem more credible or viable. But I am not surprised. I knew he was going to do that the second I read the title.
Rely on the meaning, not on the words;
...there are actually an infinite variety of Buddhadharma paths
There are really only two: the paths based on sems (citta), and the path based on ye shes (jñāna).
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: Gil Fronsdal - The Bodhisattva and the Arhat: Walking Together Hand-in-Hand

Post by kirtu » Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:33 am

Malcolm wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:52 pm
kirtu wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:06 am
Virgo wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 3:39 am
I find it interesting that he redifined the terms to suit his own lack of acceptance or lack of understanding of them, and then set up straw-man caricatures of the traditional definitions to make his own definitions seem more credible or viable. But I am not surprised. I knew he was going to do that the second I read the title.
Rely on the meaning, not on the words;
...there are actually an infinite variety of Buddhadharma paths
There are really only two: the paths based on sems (citta), and the path based on ye shes (jñāna).
That's true but I am referring to the forms taken within the paths. Also within the discussion of the apparent dichotomy of the Bodhisattva and Arhat paths this statement is irrelevant since both ultimately result in the yeshe path.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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Malcolm
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Re: Gil Fronsdal - The Bodhisattva and the Arhat: Walking Together Hand-in-Hand

Post by Malcolm » Thu Sep 27, 2018 4:22 am

kirtu wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:33 am
Malcolm wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:52 pm
kirtu wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:06 am




...there are actually an infinite variety of Buddhadharma paths
There are really only two: the paths based on sems (citta), and the path based on ye shes (jñāna).
That's true but I am referring to the forms taken within the paths. Also within the discussion of the apparent dichotomy of the Bodhisattva and Arhat paths this statement is irrelevant since both ultimately result in the yeshe path.

Kirt
The paths based on citta are variegated, since the term citta is derived from citra, to be variegated. But the path based on ye shes is the sole vehicle. The point of view of the paths based in mind are predicated on cause and effect. The path based on ye shes is beyond cause and effect.

Of course, when one is functioning from the point of view of mind, and not ye shes, then all the usual warning labels apply.
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: Gil Fronsdal - The Bodhisattva and the Arhat: Walking Together Hand-in-Hand

Post by Supramundane » Mon Oct 01, 2018 4:37 am

In the Mahaparinirvana sutra, it is stated that all sentient beings possess Buddha-nature; the Tathagathagarba sutra espouses a similar concept. the Platform sutra is also on this wavelength.

In contrast, Madhyamika thinking stresses 'emptiness' and, in many ways, intuitively i would say that it is more faithful to the Buddha's thinking in that it reflects the Middle Way while the Tathagathagarba schools of thought seem to have strayed to an eternalist way of thinking.

in the final analysis, one may say that the two are equivalent: although the Madhyamika way of thought would not state "all sentient beings have Buddha-nature", it would concur that all sentient beings are empty and thus there is a co-relation between the two ways of thinking.

one could argue that the Tathagathagarba is an example of 'skillful means' since after the Buddha's death, once a path to enlightenment was established, the danger is that it could become something remote and even worse, even 'academic'. the idea of Buddha-nature reminds us that enlightenment is here and now and is omnipresent.

such distinctions such as Arhat and Bodhissatva may be simply be semantics.

Sorry for any liberty i may take, but i see it sort of like boxing: once you can box, no one asks to see your certificate in boxing or your transcripts: if you can box, you can box. period.

if your are enlightened, then what is the point asking for certificates or references, etc.

either you got it or you don't.

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