Jump to content
BANGKOK
Sign in to follow this  
Grover

Fully Enlightened Monks

Recommended Posts

I wonder how that works - when you meet an elevated person, they seem to spread their peace/wisdom/kniowledge and serenity?

It might be the same thing as when you hang around a negative person for 3 months, he or she drags you down to their level. When you hang around an energetic optimistic person some of this energy rubs off onto you.

It is written in the Suttas that many people became arahants shortly after meeting the Budda, sometimes it was just a word that triggered a spontaneous enlightenment. I am not sure exactly how this works but the presence of an Arahant must act as a catalyst, the student percieving or absorbing something on a level different to the 5 senses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Most Mahayanists will assert the bodhisattva is 'fully enlightened,' but this may not be representative of the original ideas. As all outgrowths of Buddhism have their original base in Pali, any ambiguity in Pali terms could be purportred to extend thereto. Parinibbana, when in the form of the past participle is parinibbuta, which is seen in the Tipitaka to refer to a broad range of things-- from the enlightenment of the Arahant or Buddha, to a more common meaning of tranquility, or even to the taming of a horse. Additionally, the term 'satta' in Pali has 3 possible analogs in Mahayanist Sanskrit (due to the larger alphabet of Sanskrit)-- it can mean 'seven', 'aspiring to', or 'being.' Depending on the translation to Sanskrit, a bodhisattva can thus be one who is 'being/having bodhi', or one who is 'aspiring to bodhi'-- hence we see two interperetations existing side by side in Mahayana. Of course, I guess he could also be 'bodhi 7' but that doesn't really work, unless its like a superhero team or something.

From what I understand of an Arahant, the definition of a 1st level fully enlightened person (parinibbana) is one who has escaped the wheel of birth and rebirth. A bodhisattva is one who reaches this threshold (parinibbana) yet holds back in order to get rebirth and to teach & help others spiritually. So not having gone beyond this threshold to reach the place beyond birth and rebirth, the Theravadas at least would consider a Bodhisattva not *fully* enlightened, (disclaimer) I think.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Good point rikpa. I was talking about the very same idea with a gtoup of Mahayana guys the other day. We concluded that it was not possible to pinpoint an exact definition of the bodhisattva in Mahayana. As you pointed out, a bodhisattva may be one who has merely taken (and practiced) the bodhisattva vow, or a realized being.

Hi Tycann,

This more flexible defitinition may be the case in other Mahayana sects, but at least in the Tibetan Geluk-pa school, it is very clear, that a Bodhisattva is anyone who merely has the aspirational wish to achieve enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. The distinctions are further explained in places like the Abhidharmakosa, the Mayahana equivalent of the Abhidhamma pitaka. These divisions recapitulate the "two truths", or the divisions between conventional reality, and ultimate reality. This is just another way of restating the distinction between dependent origination (conventional truth) and anatta (ultimate truth).

The primary division between Bodhisttvas is on the nature of Bodhicitta (mind of enlightenment) itself. In a nutshell, these two primary divisions are aspirational Bodhicitta and ultimate Bodhicitta. Aspirational being the wish to achieve liberation for all sentient beings, and actualized being the wisdom that knows things-as-they-are directly. To digress a bit, the categorizations of the Bodhisattva bhumis track the paramis in the Tripitika, but the divisions are a bit different from the delineations of the "four fruits" or the "ariya magga phalas"; all Mahayana schools I am aware of break this out into the ten bhumis. The bhumis are rough equivalents of the Pali versions, but both begin at the actualization of direct insight into things-as-they-are, so Bodhisattvas who have realized ultimate Bodhicitta are at least ariya puggalas by the Pali definition.

One could add that there is a third class of bodhisattva in Mahayana-- the archetypal bodhisattva, who is not meant to necessarily represent a historical person but rather serve as the embodiment of a characteristic (Avaloketishvara, etc.) When we discussed the enlightenment of the 2nd type mentioned above, there is a bit of confusion.

Great point. This is how I prefer to see people like the Dalia Lama. Not in an idealized way, but there are some people who do seem to embody qualities ascribed to various deities like Avalokiteshvara or Majushri. I do not take this in any literal sense, but find it a more interesting way to look at things.

Most Mahayanists will assert the bodhisattva is 'fully enlightened,' but this may not be representative of the original ideas.

I am not so sure I agree with this, but I do not know "most" Mahayanists! :o

As all outgrowths of Buddhism have their original base in Pali, any ambiguity in Pali terms could be purportred to extend thereto. Parinibbana, when in the form of the past participle is parinibbuta, which is seen in the Tipitaka to refer to a broad range of things-- from the enlightenment of the Arahant or Buddha, to a more common meaning of tranquility, or even to the taming of a horse. Additionally, the term 'satta' in Pali has 3 possible analogs in Mahayanist Sanskrit (due to the larger alphabet of Sanskrit)-- it can mean 'seven', 'aspiring to', or 'being.' Depending on the translation to Sanskrit, a bodhisattva can thus be one who is 'being/having bodhi', or one who is 'aspiring to bodhi'-- hence we see two interperetations existing side by side in Mahayana. Of course, I guess he could also be 'bodhi 7' but that doesn't really work, unless its like a superhero team or something.

Ah, now you got me! I love it when someone can play with the Sanskirt and Pali the way you just did, because I always end up learning so much (I don't speak either, I just parrot the opaque technical terms I had to learn!)!

It is interesting (but not surprising) that sattva can be taken three ways in the original Sanskrit. But, there is one point that may be useful. Bodhisattva translates into Jangchub-sempa in Tibetan. Jangchub = bodhi and sempa = sentient being. The Tibetan "sems" (mind) it the root for sem-pa, so it follows that at least in the Tibetan interpretation, that "sattva" was translated very directly into “sentient being”.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
From what I understand of an Arahant, the definition of a 1st level fully enlightened person (parinibbana) is one who has escaped the wheel of birth and rebirth. A bodhisattva is one who reaches this threshold (parinibbana) yet holds back in order to get rebirth and to teach & help others spiritually. So not having gone beyond this threshold to reach the place beyond birth and rebirth, the Theravadas at least would consider a Bodhisattva not *fully* enlightened, (disclaimer) I think.

Hi Grover,

I think this is a very common misunderstanding of the term "Bodhisattva". The Mahayanins are quite clear that a Bodhisattva seeks full enlightenment as quickly as possible, for the simple reason that only a fully enlightened being (a Buddha) has the capacity (i.e. omniscience) to fully liberate sentient beings.

Not to get into the fine distinctions between what the Pali and the Mahayana say about the definition of Buddhahood here, but suffice it to say that a Buddha in both schools is qualified by the omniscience that fully understands dukkha and its origins and the path that leads to the end of dukkha, as well as perceives directly the kamma of all sentient beings, and is therefore in the very best position to help in liberating all beings. For this reason the aim in the Mahayana is to become a Buddha (an arahant minus the "obscurations to omniscience") as quickly as possible.

So in both the Tripitika and the Mahayana, it is "full speed ahead" with regards to awakening.

To underscore this point, there is a Tibetan parable of "eating the meat first."

It is a deep Tibetan winter, and there is a starving family, and there is only enough meat for one person to survive outside, that if one person eats the meat, there is a hope to save the family by going out and foraging for more food. The point is to "eat the meat first" and be the one to take the energy to go out, find more food, and thus save the entire family. This parable is often used to describe the importance of seeking awakening first, since only the awakened mind has the power to help liberate all sentient beings.

Edited by rikpa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
One of the monks told me that when the DL met her it was very special.

After I shook his hand, I couldn't stop laughing for 3 days. It was like being on drugs :o

I wonder how that works - when you meet an elevated person, they seem to spread their peace/wisdom/kniowledge and serenity?

That is great Neeranam! I have "only" been to teachings by the Dalai Lama, we have never met in person. But it is so true that the Dharma can be transmitted in the simplest of ways, though small gestures and actions. It truly is a wonderful thing to be blessed in this way.

Edited by rikpa
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From what I understand of an Arahant, the definition of a 1st level fully enlightened person (parinibbana) is one who has escaped the wheel of birth and rebirth. A bodhisattva is one who reaches this threshold (parinibbana) yet holds back in order to get rebirth and to teach & help others spiritually. So not having gone beyond this threshold to reach the place beyond birth and rebirth, the Theravadas at least would consider a Bodhisattva not *fully* enlightened, (disclaimer) I think.

Hi Grover,

I think this is a very common misunderstanding of the term "Bodhisattva". The Mahayanins are quite clear that a Bodhisattva seeks full enlightenment as quickly as possible, for the simple reason that only a fully enlightened being (a Buddha) has the capacity (i.e. omniscience) to fully liberate sentient beings.

Not to get into the fine distinctions between what the Pali and the Mahayana say about the definition of Buddhahood here, but suffice it to say that a Buddha in both schools is qualified by the omniscience that fully understands dukkha and its origins and the path that leads to the end of dukkha, as well as perceives directly the kamma of all sentient beings, and is therefore in the very best position to help in liberating all beings. For this reason the aim in the Mahayana is to become a Buddha (an arahant minus the "obscurations to omniscience") as quickly as possible.

So in both the Tripitika and the Mahayana, it is "full speed ahead" with regards to awakening.

To underscore this point, there is a Tibetan parable of "eating the meat first."

It is a deep Tibetan winter, and there is a starving family, and there is only enough meat for one person to survive outside, that if one person eats the meat, there is a hope to save the family by going out and foraging for more food. The point is to "eat the meat first" and be the one to take the energy to go out, find more food, and thus save the entire family. This parable is often used to describe the importance of seeking awakening first, since only the awakened mind has the power to help liberate all sentient beings.

:D Ok, maybe ive made some misunderstanding, but is it true a Bodhisattva is not free from the wheel of rebirth? :o This is an important distinguishing factor in Theravada for determining the level of enlightement.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All this information is fantastic. :o Nevertheless I am still back at square one as far as finding a Arahant monk goes. Maybe ill try asking the abbot at the local temple, fingers crossed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
:D Ok, maybe ive made some misunderstanding, but is it true a Bodhisattva is not free from the wheel of rebirth? :o This is an important distinguishing factor in Theravada for determining the level of enlightement.

Hi Grover,

Technically, a Bodhisattva is still bound to the wheel of rebirth, as the definition of a Bodhisattva is someone who has not yet shattered the ten fetters and removed the obscurations to omniscience. The definition of someone who has broken the chain of grasping and the ten fetters (samyojanas) and removed the obscurations to omniscience, is the Mahayana definition of a Buddha.

In other words, a Bodhisattva ceases to be a Bodhisattva at the moment he or she beciomes a Buddha.

But more to the point, a Bodhisattva is not someone who seeks to languish in samsara for aeons, but someone who seeks to break the chains of grasping as quicky as possible.

I know about the Theravaada's idea that it takes three kappas to become a Buddha, but there is sharp disagreement in the Mahayana about this, which believes it is possible to realize Buddhahood in a single lifetime, in the same way the Satipatthana Sutta speaks of realizing the fruits of arahantship in as few as seven days, if the teaching is followed correctly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
All this information is fantastic. :D Nevertheless I am still back at square one as far as finding a Arahant monk goes. Maybe ill try asking the abbot at the local temple, fingers crossed.

Grover, Grover...

Have you happened upon Wat Mahatat? They teach really great Satipatthana suff there. Or Goenka? Or done a sesshin at a Zen Center? Or trained in Tibetan Dzogchen? Come on! Why would you need to meet an arahant, except in the mirror! :o

Edited by rikpa
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All this information is fantastic. :D Nevertheless I am still back at square one as far as finding a Arahant monk goes. Maybe ill try asking the abbot at the local temple, fingers crossed.

Grover, Grover...

Have you happened upon Wat Mahatat? They teach really great Satipatthana suff there. Or Goenka? Or done a sesshin at a Zen Center? Or trained in Tibetan Dzogchen? Come on! Why would you need to meet an arahant, except in the mirror! :D

yeh yeh yeh. there is no arahant in my mirror, i'm not sure what you are suggesting but that smile looks suspicious.

Why would I need to meet an arahant? obvious, no? Ask any aspiring golfer if they want to meet Tiger Woods. Ask any football fan if they want to meet, say, David Beck. The answer is inspiration. Anyway it is nothing serious, I would just like to meet a spiritually advanced person (ie. Arahant) one day. :o

Edited by Grover

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi rikpa, thanks for the info, quite educational.

I love the dramatic terminology. Next time someone asks me why I want to meet an arahant, ill say "I am bored of languishing in samsara for aeons, and would like to meet an Arahant to shatter the ten fetters and break the chain of grasping to remove the obsucations to omniscience." :o

Edited by Grover
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Has anyone actually met a fully enlightened monk in Thailand? I'm asking because I would like to meet one. I believe there must be at least a handful somewhere in Thailand, living in the forests somewhere.

If you find an arahant, what will you ask him?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
QUOTE(Grover @ 2006-10-04 16:06:07)

Has anyone actually met a fully enlightened monk in Thailand? I'm asking because I would like to meet one. I believe there must be at least a handful somewhere in Thailand, living in the forests somewhere.

If you find an arahant, what will you ask him?

I'd ask for some guidance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Has anyone actually met a fully enlightened monk in Thailand? I'm asking because I would like to meet one. I believe there must be at least a handful somewhere in Thailand, living in the forests somewhere.

If you find an arahant, what will you ask him?

I have no specific question to ask at this stage. I think I would spend time observing his body movements. I would be very very interested in the way he drinks tea, eats, walks, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have no specific question to ask at this stage. I think I would spend time observing his body movements. I would be very very interested in the way he drinks tea, eats, walks, etc.

The reason I asked is that Ajahn Chah (another possible arahant) said he felt like a monkey in a cage because people used to come and look at him all the time. I myself wouldn't know what to ask an arahant. It seems to me that what we need to do is pretty clear from the suttas. The problem is we don't do it. :o

Some people say Ajahn Boowa is an arahant, but others disagree. You can check him out on his web page. He's still going strong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...