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Thread: Immeasurable means, Ganges sands, Arhats, Pratyekabuddhas, etc

  1. #1

    Immeasurable means, Ganges sands, Arhats, Pratyekabuddhas, etc

    Moved from another thread:

    I am speaking of things i know nothing about. Please forgive my haughtiness.
    I think if you understand the basics of buddhism you understand everything. Perhaps buddhism is nothing but profound basics. Of course the only was to fathom the basics is to study the details, and the only way to understand all details is to fathom the basics.... so where do we start?

    Anyway, I have read some of the lotus sutra and i have a few questions i was hoping you could answer or direct me to an answer.

    What is Arhats, Pratyekabuddhas and voice-hearers? From what I understand, these titles are associated with the way a being has achieved enlightenment.

    Also, who is the Thus Come One?

    And what is Ganges sands. It is always used to describe the vastness of a quantity.

    And Immeasurable Means?
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  2. #2
    Arhat: The definition

    Contrary to popular belief, an Arhat is not one who has mastered the skill of "Genuine Art of Shaolin One Finger Lifting Engorged Veiny Cock".

    An arhat means "One worthy, worthy one." One who achieves arhatship has nothing more to learn, has achieved nirvana, as evidenced by being free of needs, desires, and cravings. An arhat takes the teachings brought forth by the Buddha, and uses the teachings in his way of life to put an end to his suffering, He does not have the ability to teach others to end their suffering, nor does he have the wisdom to create the teachings; he can only follow them. He has overcome the "Three Poisons (Desire, Hatred and Ignorance), and, at the end of his natural life, is no longer reborn into the cycle of rebirth and suffering.

    He follows the three ways of practice: good conduct, mental development and wisdom. He strictly observes the Five Precepts (no killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, falsehoods and intoxicants -actually, the inclusion of intoxicants was to help the arhat to be follow the first four precepts), and avoids the Ten Grave Precepts (killing, stealing , sexual misconduct, telling lies, tale bearing, harsh speech, idle talk, greed, anger and wrong views).

    The Chinese refer to these beings as "lohan".

    Bhikku, the Pali word for monk, aspired to become an arhat. Bhikku, literally, means beggar. Monks historically have begged for food.


    There are four types of arhats. I quote other websites to descfribe these, as I don't fully understand it:


    THE FOUR TYPES OF ARAHATS:

    I. Sukkhavipassaka: First of the Four Types of worthy ones. Those who have attained the noble path through Mindfulness Leading to Insight (wisdom), observation or investigation of reality of life, and the soul detached from The Five Aggregates. They have at least reached the first stage of absorption (First Jhanic State) to realize the true meaning of life and reached the stage of sainthood. They enjoy the happiness of Nirvana through comprehension of the fruits that they have attained. See also Vipassana.

    Those who practice the four foundations of mindfulness will attain Nirvana by wisdom, but they will not see ghosts or any sentient beings in hells or heavens or Brahma. They have no miraculous powers of mind. They do not see Nirvana or Buddha, but they realize there are many planes of existence and there is real eternal supreme happiness that they can enter after they die.

    II. Tevijja (threefold knowledge of the worthy ones): The second type of worthy ones are those Arahats or Enlightened people who have attained the noble path through super-knowledge from forty subjects of meditation such as the following three :

    The knowledge of previous lives (Pubbeniva sanusstinana).

    The super-knowledge of passing away and rebirth of beings (Cutupapata-nana). On what plane will they be born whether in a state of misery or on a heavenly plane ?

    The super-knowledge of emancipation. Those Enlightened people have easily abandoned the passions of the body (five aggregates of hatred, anger, craving, attachment, all worldly possessions) with the highest state of absorption in concentration meditation. They have realized the true meaning of life, nature, and the universe, through the highest wisdom. They have entered the noble path and attained Nirvana, the supreme happiness.

    III. Chalabhinna (sixfold knowledge of the worthy ones). The third type are Enlightened people that enjoy the eternal peace or Nirvana and have been liberated from the cycle of life and death by the forty methods of meditation and have gained miraculous psychic power and supernatural knowledge far beyond that of scientists. They have practiced meditation with the eight devices (kasina) until they have reached the fourth stage of absorption (one-pointedness of mind) in each device. They are able to walk on water, fly in the air, or become visible or invisible and can go anywhere within seconds. They perform many miraculous powers which we ordinary people cannot understand. The sixfold path of supernatural knowledge or super-wisdom is as follows:

    1. IDDHIVIDHA - THE POWER OF TRANSFORMATION.

    The Buddha said "If a monk should frame a wish as follows: "Let me exercise the various magical powers, let me being one become multiform., let me being multiform become one, let me become visible, become invisible, go without hindrance through walls, ramparts or mountains as if through air, let me rise and sink in the ground as if in the water, let me walk on the water as if on unyielding ground, let me travel through the air like a winged bird, let me touch and feel with my hand the moon and the sun mighty and powerful though they are, and let me go without my body even up to the Brahma world," then must he be perfect in the precepts (Sila), bring his thoughts to a state of quiescence (Samadhi), practice diligently the trances (Jhana), attain to insight (Prajna) and be frequenter to lonely places." (see)

    2. DIBBASOTA - CELESTIAL HEARING.

    The Enlightened One expounded thus: "If a monk should frame a wish as follows: Let me hear with a divinely clear hearing, surpassing that of men, sounds both celestial and" human, far and near," then he must be perfect in the precepts, bring his thoughts to a state of quiescence, practise diligently to the trances, attain to insight and be a frequenter to lonely places.

    3. CETOPARIYA. - THE POWER OF DISCERNMENT OF THE MIND OF OTHERS.

    The Omniscient One amplified thus: "If a monk should frame a wish as follows:- "Let me by my own heart investigate and discern the hearts of other beings, the hearts of other men, let me discern a passionate mind to be passionate, let me discern a mind free from passion to be free from passion, let me discern a mind full of hatred to be full of hatred, let me discern a mind free from hatred to be free from hatred, let me discern an infatuated mind to be infatuated, let me discern a mind free from infatuation to be free from infatuation, let me discern an intent mind to be intent, let me discern a wandering mind to be wandering, let me discern an exalted mind to be exalted, let me discern an unexalted mind to be unexalted, let me discern an inferior mind to be inferior, let me discern a superior mind to be superior, let me discern a concentrated mind to be concentrated, let me discern an unconcentrated mind to be unconcentrated, let me discern an emancipated mind to be emancipated, let me discern an unemancipated mind to be unemancipated" then must he be perfect in the precepts etc. (as mentioned above).

    This power may be far superior to the highest form of modem thought-reading now largely practised all over the world.

    4. PUBBENIVASA - POWER OF KNOWING PREVIOUS EXISTENCES.

    The All-knowing One further elucidated thus: "If a monk should frame a wish as follows:- Let me call to my mind many previous states of existence, to wit one birth, two births, three births, four births, five births, ten births, twenty births, thirty births, forty births, fifty births, one hundred births, one thousand births, one hundred thousand births, many destructions of a world cycle (Kappa), many renovations of a world cycle, many destructions and many renovations of a world cycle: I lived in such a place, had such a name was of such a family, of such a caste, had such a maintenance, experienced such happiness and such miseries had such a length of life. Then I passed from that existence and was reborn in such a place. There also I had such a name, was of such a family, of such a caste, had such a maintenance, experienced such happiness and such miseries, had such a length of life. Then I passed from that existence and was reborn in such a place. There also I had such a name, was of such a family, of such a caste, had such a maintenance, experienced such happiness and such miseries, had such a length of life. Then I passed from that existence and was reborn in this existence." Thus let me call to my mind many former states of existence and let me specifically characterise them," then must he be perfect in the precepts etc. -

    This power is sorely attributable to the expounding of the Theory of Rebirth and 'Samsara' by the Buddha for all living beings in the entire Universe.

    5. DIBBA-CAKKHU - CELESTIAL VISION.

    The Blessed One also amplified thus: "If a monk should frame a wish as follows :- "Let me with a divinely clear vision, surpassing that of men, behold beings as they pass from one existence and spring up in another existence, let me discern the base and the noble, the handsome and the ugly, those in a higher state of existence and those in the lower state of existence undergoing the result of their deeds, so that I can know as follows:- 'Alas! these beings, having been wicked of body, wicked of voice, wicked of mind, slanderers of noble people, wrong in their views, acquirers of false merit under wrong views, have arrived after the dissolution of the body, after death, at a place of punishment, a place of suffering, perdition, hell; or again, these other beings, having been righteous of body, righteous of voice, righteous of mind, not slanderers of noble people, right in their views, acquirers of merit under right views, have arrived, after the dissolution of the body, after death, at a place of happiness, a heavenly world." Thus let me with a divinely clear vision, surpassing that of men, discern beings as they pass from one existence and spring up in another existence; let me discern the base and the noble, the handsome and the ugly, those in a higher state of existence and those in a lower state of existence undergoing the result of their deeds," then he must be perfect in the precepts etc. This refers to the power of knowing the Truth of Karma.

    6. ASAVAKKHAYA - SUPRA-MUNDANE KNOWLEDGE OR POWER RELATING TO DESTRUCTIONOF ASAVAS AND THE RECOGNITION OF THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS.

    The Compassionate One further illustrated thus:

    "If a monk should frame a wish as follows;- Let me through destruction of depravity, in the present life and in my own person, attain to freedom from depravity, to deliverance of the mind, to deliverance by wisdom, then he must be perfect in the precepts (Sila) and bring his thoughts to a state of quiescence, (Samadhi) practise diligently the trances (Jhana), attain to insight (Prajna) and be a frequener of lonely places."

    It must be understood, however, that the Buddha did not consider every trance to be necessarily good, for it must aim at the right end. He was cognizant of the fact that there are those who devote themselves to yogic exercises only to acquire supernatural powers. The Buddha refined the practice by telling devotees that acquisition of supernatural powers does not confer any special spiritual advantage ( Akankheyya Sutta, S. B. E. Vol. XI, ). It was for this reason that the Buddha forbade his disciples to work miracles for display. Craving for supernatural powers and taking delight therein after acquirement does not help to free one from The Three Poisons of desire, hatred and ignorance. It is advised that anyone striving along the path of holiness toward final liberation guard themselves to not get caught up in it all and forget the true purpose. (see)

    IV. Patisambhidhapatta (The fourth type of Enlightened or Worthy Ones). Those who practice all forty subjects of meditation and four foundations of mindfulness and liberate themselves from the cycle of life and death attain Nirvana. They are very intelligent with many kinds of super-knowledge and can perform miraculous, powerful actions, especially the super-knowledge of sacred texts and languages can simply explain any difficult problems and make it easy for other people to understand the super-knowledge of all Buddha's teachings.

    This type of enlightenment is a combination of Tevijja-Arahat and Chalabhinna-Arahat. They achieve the fourth stage of absorption in form devices and another four formless devices called The Eight Jhana States. They attain Nirvana with special kinds of super-knowledge and super-power performance. (source)

    Sometimes two other Arahats are mentioned, often extrapolated from a combination of the above four, blending delineation or borrowing aspects. Those two are:

    (1) Pannavimutta-Arahat: one who is emancipated through Pranja(wisdom), similar to or the same as the Sukkhavipassaka Arahat above.

    (2) Ubhatobhagavimutta-Arahat: one who is emancipated in two ways, namely by arupa jhana and by ariyamagga.



    There are four stages that one goes though to become an arhat.

    From other websites:

    The Four Stages of Becoming an Arahat

    Progress on the path of an Arahat is measured by the person's ability to weaken or eliminate The Ten Fetters which bind him to the cycle of birth and death, and which keep him from attaining Nirvana. there are four recognizable stages which mark his progress along the path. These are explained in relation to the Ten Fetters below.

    The First Stage:

    At the first stage is the Stream-winner (Sotapanna), that is, one who has entered the "stream" that eventually leads to the "Ocean of Nirvana". When he is at this stage, his insight is powerful enough to remove the first three fetters, namely:

    (1) the belief in the existence of permanent self;
    (2) doubt in the ability of the Triple Gem to lead him towards the goals;
    (3) the mistaken belief that moral rules and ascetic rites alone are sufficient to lead a person to Enlightenment. (Silabbata Paramasa)

    On attaining this first stage, the would be Arahat will no longer be reborn in any of the lower realms of existence. He will be reborn no more than seven times in the human or heavenly plans of existence before he attains Nirvana.

    The Second Stage:

    As he makes further progress and perfects his insight still more, he reaches the second stage of the Once-Returner (Sakadagami). After this life, he will be reborn only once more as a human being. In that rebirth, he would attain Nirvana. At this stage, he has also succeeded in weakening the fourth and fifth fetters. These are:

    (4) attachment to sensual desire;
    (5) ill will.

    The Third Stage:

    The third stage is that of the Once-returner, the Anãgãmi. At this stage, he completely removes the fourth and fifth fetters of attachment to sensual desire and ill will. The Non-Returner will no longer be reborn in the human realm; he will be reborn in one of the Pure Abodes in the heavens where he will attain Nirvana. At this stage, the first five fetters have been totally removed.

    The Fourth Stage:

    At the fourth stage, he makes the final advance towards becoming a Perfect One (Arahat) who attains Nirvana because he has broken all the Ten Fetters, the last five of which are:

    (6) desire for existence in the worlds of Form;
    (7) desire for existence in the Formless Worlds;
    (8) conceit;
    (9) restlessness;
    (10) ignorance.

    The career of the Arahat is like the career of a student in that development is measured by the highest stage or level he has achieved so far. When a secondary school student progress in stages from secondary One to Secondary Four, his knowledge and mastery of skill increase with each higher level achieved. Eventually, he graduates from school when he passes his final year examinations. In the same way, the would be Arahat overcomes more and more of the fetters at each higher stage of his development. When he successfully passes the fourth stage, he reaches the end of his career and is no longer subject to Rebirth.

    However, even in light of all of the above, The Ten Fetters and other various offerings, it should be remembered true Enlightenment, as experienced by the Buddha and transmitted through the patriarchs, is independent of verbal explanations, including the record of the Buddha's teachings (i.e., scriptures) and later doctrinal elaborations.



    Make sense?
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  3. #3
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    That is interesting. Very interesting.
    I think it makes very good sense.
    From what I understand these are the types of arhats:
    1) these arhats have taken cognizance of the existence of the Buddha and Nirvana and the many planes of existence, but they do not see it yet and have no supernatural powers. They will attain Nirvana when they die.
    2) these arhats have attained Nirvana and have wisdom and knowlegde far beyond that of scientists. They are completely free from the passions of the body.
    3) these arhats have all the abilities of the above, but on much higher level. They also have physical supernatural powers.
    4) these arhats have all the abilities of the #3, but they are able to teach other people to make it very easy for them to understand any of the Buddha's teachings.

    And the rest is really just combinations of the above i guess.


    But what about Pratyekabuddhas? What sort of category are those then?

  4. #4
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    Are those (the pratyekabuddhas) anything like the bodhisattvas?

    (perhaps I'm further confusing things, perhaps I'm just adding more info to this resouce, but here goes)

    As far as I've been taught the boddhisattvas were beings that were once men and women who had attained enlightenment. However instead of entering into the ocean of nirvana they chose to forsake nirvana until all beings had come to that state. Therefore they wander the earth helping us all towards nirvana until the day when we all get there. Thus they are venerated in a manner somewhat similar to christians saints.
    Show me a man who has forgotten words, so that I can have a word with him.

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    funny thing.

    It's a funny thing, that forsaking nirvana. I mean, I stopped listening to them really after the first album. I'm not much into nonsense lyrics.

    But seriously, how does one forsake nirvana?

    This is one case where I think a bunch of people who don't know what they are talking about made something up and it stuck. I don't think nirvana is something forsakeable- like today I choose not to be in nirvana so I can help people.

  6. #6
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    I think it was based upon a theravada buddhist idea that you could not simultaneously be in this world and in nirvana at the same time, that you had to up and leave the first to enter the second. Obviously the school which fathered that idea did not agree with those buddhists who preached that "Samsara is Nirvana".
    Show me a man who has forgotten words, so that I can have a word with him.

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    OK, now I'm more confused...

    Or am I not confused at all


    Seriously though, I was never aware of the different types, but it seems more like different levels of Arhat.... I wonder if one can "skip" a grade? IMHO, some of that is just so objective, and I guess that is in that spectrum of thinking.
    practice wu de

  8. #8
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    A lot of this is just philosophical categorizing. It, in my opinion, doesn't work like that in actual practice. It is similar to climbing a staircase, your not concentrating on what step number you're but the fact that you want to get to the top. Except that in Buddhism we try to be at peace even though we are still climbing the stairs.

    And another thing is is that you have to actually climb the stairs, not just read books about it or listen to what other people say about the steps but get in there and do it.

    We have that problem a lot, particularly here in America. Everyone wants to know it right away, they all want to understand it intellectually but no one wants to do it to understand it intuitively.

    Well, that's enough for me.

    Oh, btw, a pratyekabuddha is one who is Awake but doesn't teach.

    Enjoy.
    "For some reason I'm in a good mood today. I haven't left the house yet, though. "

    "fa hui, you make buddhism sexy." -Zachsan

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  9. #9

    A definition of Pratyeka Buddha

    Here's a good definition that I found on the web:

    Sanskrit: Pratyeka is a compound of two words: prati, prepositional prefix meaning "towards" or "for"; and eka, the numeral "one"; thus we can translate the compound by the paraphrase "each one for himself."


    The Pratyeka Buddha, he who achieves buddhahood for himself, instead of feeling the call of almighty love to return and help those who have gone less far, goes ahead into the supernal light -- passes onwards and enters the unspeakable bliss of nirvana. Though exalted, nevertheless he does not rank with the unutterable sublimity of the Buddha of Compassion.


    The Pratyeka Buddha concentrates his energies on the one objective -- spiritual self-advancement -- he raises himself to the spiritual realm of his own inner being, enwraps himself therein and, so to speak, goes to sleep. The Buddha of Compassion raises himself, as does the Pratyeka Buddha, to the spiritual realms of his own inner being, but does not stop there, because he expands continuously, becomes one with All, or tries to, and in fact does so in time. When the Pratyeka Buddha in due course emerges from the Nirvanic state in order to take up his evolutionary journey again, he will find himself far in the rear of the Buddha of Compassion. Compare the Pratyeka Buddha in some contrast with Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi, the Buddha's consummation of incomparable Enlightenment.


    The transliteration of the Sanskrit pratyekabuddha is usually translated into Japanese as byakushibutsu and Chinese as yuanjiao ("enlightened by contemplation on dependent origination") and ("self-enlightened"). One of two kinds of lesser vehicle sages, the other being a 'hearer' (s`raavaka). This practitioner attains liberation without the direct guidance of a teacher by analyzing the principle of conditioned origination.


    The following is extracted from G. De Purucker's Golden Precepts of Esotericism:


    The Pratyeka Buddhas are very great men, very holy men, very pure men in every way, whose knowledge is wide and vast and deep, whose spiritual stature is great; but when they reach Buddhahood, instead of feeling the call of almighty love to return and help those who have gone less far, they go ahead into the supernal light -- pass onwards and enter the unspeakable bliss of nirvana -- and leave mankind behind. Such are the Pratyeka Buddhas.
    The Pratyeka Buddha, he who achieves Buddhahood for himself, does NOT do it selfishly, however; does not do it merely in order to gratify self, and he does no harm to others; if he did he could never reach even his solitary Buddhahood. But he does it and achieves nirvana automatically, so to speak, . . .
    According to the most authoritative Mahayanists, the accepted view in respect to the Pratyeka Buddhas is the following:


    Self-Enlightened (Skt. Pratyeka) Buddhas do not teach the Doctrine publicly, but merely do good to those who come into personal contact with them, whereas Omniscient Buddhas, of Whom was the Buddha Gautama, preach the Doctrine widely. . . .
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  10. #10
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    actually practicing...

    as far as what i have come to understand in my own practice, it is that the intellectual understanding is not so important. All these definitions seem to me to be of that flavor, the intellectual understanding.

    It is of course very important, but not so important...

    What is absolutely important is to develop that intuitive comprehension of the Dharma. That has to be the most important. The Dharma is not these definitions, it's not a stack of books explaining sutras, it's not a set of rules or laws, a category of enlightenment- this kind of understanding of what the dharma is, it has to be seen to be understood and even then it is probably very perilous to witness it.

    It has to change everything. If you ever saw, say, Mother Theresa at work, that must be very perilous if you can comeprehend the dharma as it is actually practised.

    Lord knows my life has been greatly affected.

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