It has always been my understanding that the point of the practices is to become Awakened, to become a Buddha (no matter what term is used to describe an awakened person). Understanding why one would approach the path with aspirations to anything less than the full possible development of their potential is very tricky at times.
In Buddhism, at least from the earliest Sravakayana teachings to the earlier forms of Mahayana, the point of the practice is to be free from suffering, free from the bonds of Samsara. So in terms of their liberation from suffering, the three fruits - Sravakabodhi, Pratyekabodhi and Anuttarasamyaksambodhi - are the same, in that they are all free from suffering forever.
I really appreciate you using the technical terms. If I understand it right:
Sravakabuddha - Achieving nirvana by listening, or hearing the dharma from a Sammasambuddha.
Pratyekabuddha - Achieving nirvana entirely on their own, and giving no teaching.
- "This is a Sanskrit term refering to the perfect and universal enlightenment of a Buddha. It is variously translated as meaning "Utmost, right and perfect enlightenment," "Supreme, orthodox, and equal awakening", or the like. The commentarial traditions indicate that the term includes the levels of enlightenment of the Bodhisattva and Arhat within that of the Buddha. This Dharma is level and equal, with no high or low. Therefore, it is called anuttarasamyaksambodhi. "
What about Samyaksambuddha, the "active form" of a Pratyekabuddha?
These all seem to point to various methods of achieving enlightenment, as you say.
Which is why is many of the earlier Mahayana sutras, the main point of training to be a Buddha is to let sentient beings to liberation, and in the course if you can set others onto the Bodhisattva path, that is wonderful too. Which is why Bodhisattvas have to master all myriad paths, so that you can liberate those who are inclined towards Sravakabodhi, guide those suited to solitary paths to Pratyekabodhi,
This is very well put.
and train the most foolhardy ones on the long long road to Buddhahood. So the initial main idea is not to produce more Buddhas, but free sentient beings.
I see, essentially what you are getting at. I was referring to one who had achieved Nirvana, as a Buddha, one who has Awakened.
You seem to be referring to methods of Awakening, and what the person does after the Awakening occurs. Breaking it up into parts, so to speak. I appreciate the help.
A 'free sentient being' is a Buddha though, yes?
Then a bit later came the idea/teaching that actually the lower 2 fruits are not the end of the road for them, but that they will be roused towards the bodhisattva paths to full Buddhahood, so really the main point is to only teach the Buddha path. This is exemplified in the Lotus Sutra.
The four fruits are stream enterer, once returner, non-returner, arhant, right? And this seems also to refer to four approaches, identified by types of karma, or actions. It makes sense that a person may be best fit to reach fulfillment of one or more of these, and may have to work harder at others. Since the fourth fruit is that of arhant, I will have to maybe re-read this thread to see where the four fruits concern the bodhisattva, unless they all do.
I admittedly have troubles with the idea of arhant vs bodhisattva. This seems to be a type of duality that, depending on who one speaks to, one gets elevated over the other.
Then later came the idea actually attaining Buddhahood is not going to take that long, as long as you have wonderful techniques, empowerments, a lot of hard work and be of the very best calibre.
I think the hard work is definitely some sort of requirement.
Then yet later came the idea that hard work is not really that important, but rather you have to have the essence pointed out to you.
That would be the Sravakabuddha, right? But of course, it would have to be pointed out by a Buddha. I imagine that in lieu of direct contact and personal teaching, this last one would be rather hard to accomplish. For the idea of upaya, or skillful means, is that a Buddha has the ability to speak directly towards a person. I can see how that would help loosen the hold of samsara, possibly break it, but then the person may lack the training necessary to deal with such a thing and continue to function sanely and intelligently within a society.