Many lifetimes of paramita development needed to be aryan?

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Many lifetimes of paramita development needed to be aryan?

Postby Virgo » Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:24 am

[ Split from Dharma Wheel -- Mahayana forum discussion topic - viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1106 ]
Dan74 wrote:
Hi Kevin,

That's different to my understanding. Enlightenment is possible in this lifetime, according to the tradition I practice in. But if I continue to spend lots of time on the web, it may indeed take aeons! :smile:

Hi Dan,

According to Theravada it is possible to achieve enlightenment in this lifetime, but only if you have been developing all of the perfections for many. many lifetimes already. I don't think any serious Buddhist sect ever posited otherwise.

I hope this helps,
kevin
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Re: Dharma Wheel -- Mahayana forum

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:41 am

Greetings Kevin,

Virgo wrote:According to Theravada it is possible to achieve enlightenment in this lifetime, but only if you have been developing all of the perfections for many. many lifetimes already.


That's not true at all.

What requires "developing all of the perfections for many. many lifetimes" is only for those who aspire to be Buddhas in accordance with the commentarial writings on bodhisattas.

These people must also have proclaimed their aspirational intent in the presence of a Buddha... so unless anyone here did that, it's a moot point, and by your logic then, no one else beyond these select few (or arguably nobody, since there's no record I'm aware of, of people doing this mentioned in the Pali Canon) could achieve enlightenment.

Extreme, broad-brush and factually inaccurate comments such as the above are not beneficial to anyone.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Dharma Wheel -- Mahayana forum

Postby Virgo » Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:11 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Kevin,

Virgo wrote:According to Theravada it is possible to achieve enlightenment in this lifetime, but only if you have been developing all of the perfections for many. many lifetimes already.


That's not true at all.

What requires "developing all of the perfections for many. many lifetimes" is only for those who aspire to be Buddhas in accordance with the commentarial writings on bodhisattas.

These people must also have proclaimed their aspirational intent in the presence of a Buddha... so unless anyone here did that, it's a moot point, and by your logic then, no one else beyond these select few (or arguably nobody, since there's no record I'm aware of, of people doing this mentioned in the Pali Canon) could achieve enlightenment.

Extreme, broad-brush and factually inaccurate comments such as the above are not beneficial to anyone.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Hi Retrofuturist,

This fact is clearly stated in the Commentaries. I will try to find some direct quotes for you.

All people have to practice all Ten Perfections for a very long time in order to attain the Path. That is what causes ignorance to be removed. Without that there are no causes and conditions for enlightenment (This view is held by all Buddhist schools and all of them rely on the perfections, or at least the accumulations developed by practicing the Perfections). Buddhas simply have to practice longer than everybody else since they need to practice in order to gain Omniscience, and Great Disciples have to practice for an extremely long time as well, like Sariputra did and so on. All Buddhists that want to attain the Path and Fruit need to practice the Ten Perfections, led by the Perfection of Panna, for many lifetimes. The development of the Pefection of Panna, in particular, removes the afflictions according to Theravada. That Perfection, however, is helped along and supported by the other Perfections, just as they are helped along and supported by the development of the Perfection of Panna (Wisdom).

Our afflictions are such that it is very, very hard for us to attain enlightenment. The obscurations are very thick. Therefore, it takes a very long time. Even for people of the highest capacity it takes a very long time (actually "high capacity" simply means that those people have developed the Perfections( and those Perfections have become more and more habitual in the chitta), than most others have).

All things are based on causes and conditions. Were this not the case, things would simply arise without any causes and conditions wouldn't they? For example, pink elephants would just pop out of thin air. We know that will not happen though, because there are no specific causes and conditions for that to happen. Therefore, objects do not appear in thin air without some cause, just as water does not boil without heat, disease does not arise without an imbalance in the humours or some other aggravating factor, and the planets do not remain in orbit without the pull of gravity. Just so, the taints are not removed without the development of wisdom, it being helped along by the development of nine other Perfections, for a very, very long time.

All the best,

Kevin
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Re: Dharma Wheel -- Mahayana forum

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:34 am

Greetings Kevin,

How did all those noble ones in the early days of the Buddhasasana, such as those featured in the Pali Canon, manage to spend "many. many lifetimes" prior practicing the perfections, when the Dhamma had been lost prior to the arrival of the most recent Buddha? What did they do 100 years before the Buddha set the wheel of Dhamma in motion... 200 years, 500 years, 1000 years before... how could they possibly know that this was the Dhamma and this is what they needed to be doing for enlightenment? You could attribute it to teaching of the previous Buddha, but you've then got an infinite regress in place, and solve nothing. It just doesn't stack up.

Yes, seeing some "direct quotes" such as those you claim to have, would be of interest.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Dharma Wheel -- Mahayana forum

Postby Virgo » Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:43 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Kevin,

How did all those noble ones in the early days of the Buddhasasana, such as those featured in the Pali Canon, manage to spend "many. many lifetimes" prior practicing the perfections, when the Dhamma had been lost prior to the arrival of the most recent Buddha? What did they do 100 years before the Buddha set the wheel of Dhamma in motion... 200 years, 500 years, 1000 years before... how could they possibly know that this was the Dhamma and this is what they needed to be doing for enlightenment? You could attribute it to teaching of the previous Buddha, but you've then got an infinite regress in place, and solve nothing. It just doesn't stack up.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Hi Retro,

Yes, they practiced under previous Buddhas. Also, once panna is developed in the citta it doesn't really regress. Although one may not call oneself a Buddhist, and although one may be born outside the time of a Buddhasasana, panna will still arise in the citta if it has been developed. The greater the panna is, the more natural the practice of the other Perfections will be, since panna it leads and naturally brings about the practice of the other Perfections. Therefore, if one develops some wisdom in ones practice under a Buddha, you will continue to develop the Perfections, very slowly, even when born outside of the dispensation of a Buddha.

A Buddha must practice for the longest amount of time out of all. Chief Disciples also practice for an incredibly long time. All others practitioners must practice for a very long time as well, but they do not need to practice for as long as the Chief Disciples (some of which are masters of certain aspects of Dhamma or meditation, and also must match up their realization with the Dispensation of the Buddha they serve). Nevertheless, it takes many, many lifetimes, the obscurations beings so strong.

On a positive note, most Buddhsits that take some initiative to practice, in my opinion at least, have probably practiced under past Buddhas, or under this one before. If this weren't the case, they wouldn't find much initiative to learn, study, make offerings, etc.

Kevin
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Re: Dharma Wheel -- Mahayana forum

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:46 am

Greetings Virgo,

Virgo wrote:Yes, they practiced under previous Buddhas.


There's the infinite regress that your position logically commits you to.

How did the first Buddha become enlightened without a previous Buddha to practice under?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Dharma Wheel -- Mahayana forum

Postby Virgo » Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:50 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Virgo,

Virgo wrote:Yes, they practiced under previous Buddhas.


There's the infinite regress that your position logically commits you to.

How did the first Buddha become enlightened without a previous Buddha to practice under?

Metta,
Retro. :)

Hi Retro,

He must have developed wisdom and practiced the 10 perfections for an incredibly long time, probably much longer than other Buddhas because he did not have any Aryan teachers.

Even so, the argument is not logically inconsistent. He could have very well practiced and developed for a very long time. The anatta aspect of dhammas is understood by Solitary realizers as well.

Likewise, as a Bodhisatta, he may have been taught by Solitary realizers and made aspirations under them as well. I don't think the specifics of the first Buddhas journey are terribly pertinent here.

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Re: Many lifetimes of paramitta development needed to be aryan?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:57 am

Greetings Kevin,

So it's OK for the 1st Buddha and for Paccekabuddhas to get an exemption from this elaborate scheme, but every other sucker has to have studied directly under the Buddha in order to gain enlightenment?

What about those that didn't? Is it a case of too bad, so sad? Shall we pack up and go home?

I don't buy into your pessimistic and bleak outlook on the inability of anyone to attain the higher levels of enlightenment in this day and age. This fatalistic negativity should be challenged lest it become a self-fulfilling prophecy due to everyone giving up on enlightenment.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Many lifetimes of paramitta development needed to be aryan?

Postby Virgo » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:05 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Kevin,

So it's OK for the 1st Buddha and for Paccekabuddhas to get an exemption from this elaborate scheme, but every other sucker has to have studied directly under the Buddha in order to gain enlightenment?

What about those that didn't? Is it a case of too bad, so sad? Shall we pack up and go home?

I don't buy into your pessimistic and bleak outlook on the inability of anyone to attain the higher levels of enlightenment in this day and age.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Hi Retro,

First, nope, no exemptions. The first Buddha would still have to develop the same amount of wisdom and merit, remove the same afflictions and so on through practicing the same Perfections. It would just take him god knows how much longer since he would't get the chance to be taught by Omniscient Ones. He could still develop the wisdom on his own through analysis, just as Solitary realizers do. Likewise, jhana is taught outside of Buddhist circles. He may have become proficient in jhana many times which could help his development. Also, he may have received teachings on impermanence, not-self, and most of the Dhamma from Solitary realizers. Most solitary realizers have some disciples, they just don't "turn the Wheel of Dhamma" and have many, many disciples, establishing a major movement.

Second, those who develop wisdom to a high enough degree remove attachment, aversion and delusion. Those that do not, do not. One does not need to pack up, one just needs to develop more wisdom. It is the same for all of us.

To your last point, I don't feel people cannot attain enlightenment in this day and age. I feel that people certainly can, if they have the necessary accumulations developed. It was the same with people during the life of the Buddha-- they had developed the accumulations to become enligthened over many liftemes as well.

Kevin
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Re: Many lifetimes of paramitta development needed to be aryan?

Postby BlackBird » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:43 am

Would be very keen to see some scriptural evidence to back up these ideas, preferably Nikayan.

metta
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Re: Many lifetimes of paramitta development needed to be aryan?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:53 am

Greetings,

For something which is supposedly so crucial to enlightenment, it's rather odd that there is no mention of the paramita category in original teachings of the Buddha.

The Theravādin teachings on pāramitās can be found in canonical books (Jataka, Apadana, Buddhavamsa, Cariyapitaka), and post-canonical commentaries which were written to supplement the Pali Canon at a later time, and thus they are not an original part of the Theravādin teachings.The oldest parts of the Sutta Pitaka (for example, Majjhima Nikaya, Digha Nikaya, Samyutta Nikaya and the Anguttara Nikaya) do not have any mention of the pāramitās as a category.


Quoted from Wikipedia, but fully referenced to citations from "Buddhist Sects in India" by Nalinaksha Dutt - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C4%81ram ... a_Buddhism

However, in the original teachings the Buddha did foresee that "the work of outsiders", "elegant in rhetoric" would be regarded as worth knowing, over what the Buddha actually taught.

Staying at Savatthi. "Monks, there once was a time when the Dasarahas had a large drum called 'Summoner.' Whenever Summoner was split, the Dasarahas inserted another peg in it, until the time came when Summoner's original wooden body had disappeared and only a conglomeration of pegs remained.

"In the same way, in the course of the future there will be monks who won't listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — are being recited. They won't lend ear, won't set their hearts on knowing them, won't regard these teachings as worth grasping or mastering. But they will listen when discourses that are literary works — the works of poets, elegant in sound, elegant in rhetoric, the work of outsiders, words of disciples — are recited. They will lend ear and set their hearts on knowing them. They will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.

"In this way the disappearance of the discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — will come about.

"Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — are being recited. We will lend ear, will set our hearts on knowing them, will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.' That's how you should train yourselves."


According to Bhikkhu Bodhi...

Within all the early schools, thinkers and poets alike attempted to fill in the background history to the three enlightened persons, composing stories of their past lives in which they prepared the foundations for their future achievements. Since it was the figure of the Buddha, as the founder of the Dispensation, who commanded the greatest awe and veneration, gradually a literature began to emerge depicting the evolution of the bodhisattva or "Buddha-to-be" along the arduous path of his development. In this way the figure of the bodhisattva,* the aspirant to Buddhahood, came to claim an increasingly prominent place in the popular Buddhist religious life. The culmination of these innovations was the, appearance, in about the first century B.C., of the Mahayana, the self-styled "Great Vehicle," which proclaimed that of the three vehicles to enlightenment the bodhisattva-vehicle was alone ultimate, the other two being only expedients devised by the Buddha to lead his less competent disciples to perfect Buddhahood, which they held to be the only valid spiritual ideal.


Source: http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... aramis.htm

Alas, the masses had to be appeased... (same source)

As time passed, however, perhaps partly through the influence of the Mahayana, the bodhisattva ideal must have come to acquire an increasing appeal for the minds of the Buddhist populace, and the need became felt for a work explaining in a practical manner the factors and phases of the paramita path without deviating from the established doctrinal position of the Theravada. Works expounding the bodhisattva career abounded in the Mahayana schools, since this was their axial concern, but a comparable work was lacking in Theravada circles. To meet this need, apparently, Acariya Dhammapala composed his "Treatise on the Paramis," which is found in at least two places in the Pali exegetical literature, in a complete version in the Cariyapitaka Atthakatha, and in an abridged version in the tika or subcommentary to the Brahmajala Sutta.


I finish this post with the following words from the Buddha...

SN 56.31: Simsapa Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html

At one time the Blessed One was staying at Kosambii in Si.msapaa Grove.1 Then the Blessed One, taking a few Si.msapaa leaves in his hand, said to the monks: "What do you think, monks? Which are the more numerous, the few leaves I have here in my hand, or those up in the trees of the grove?"

"Lord, the Blessed One is holding only a few leaves: those up in the trees are far more numerous."

"In the same way, monks, there are many more things that I have found out, but not revealed to you.2 What I have revealed to you is only a little. And why, monks, have I not revealed it?

"Because, monks, it is not related to the goal, it is not fundamental to the holy life, does not conduce to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, tranquillity, higher knowledge, enlightenment or Nibbaana. That is why I have not revealed it. And what, monks, have I revealed?

"What I have revealed is: 'This is Suffering, this is the Arising of Suffering, this is the Cessation of Suffering, and this is the Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering.' And why, monks, have I revealed it?

"Because this is related to the goal, fundamental to the holy life, conduces to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, tranquillity, higher knowledge, enlightenment and Nibbaana, therefore I have revealed it.

"Therefore, monks, your task is to learn: 'This is Suffering, this is the Arising of Suffering, this is the Cessation of Suffering, this is the Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering.' That is your task."


If it comes down to the words of the Buddha, or "the works of poets, elegant in sound, elegant in rhetoric, the work of outsiders, words of disciples"... I know which Sammasambuddha I'll be taking guidance from.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Dharma Wheel -- Mahayana forum

Postby Paññāsikhara » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:18 am

retrofuturist wrote:
That's not true at all.

What requires "developing all of the perfections for many. many lifetimes" is only for those who aspire to be Buddhas in accordance with the commentarial writings on bodhisattas.

Extreme, broad-brush and factually inaccurate comments such as the above are not beneficial to anyone.


According to the Theravada, developing the perfections for many, many lifetimes is also for savakas and paccekabuddhas, too, not just those on the path to great awakening.
Check out the commentary to the Theragatha, i 10.

Tadatthato pana yathā mahābodhisattānaṃ heṭṭhimaparicchedena cattāri asaṅkhyeyyāni kappānaṃ satasahassañca bodhisambhārasambharaṇaṃ icchitabbaṃ majjhimaparicchedena aṭṭha asaṅkhyeyyāni kappānaṃ satasahassañca, uparimaparicchedena soḷasa asaṅkhyeyyāni kappānaṃ satasahassañca ete ca bhedā paññādhikasaddhādhikavīriyādhikavasena veditabbā. Paññādhikānañhi saddhā mandā hoti paññā tikkhā, tato ca upāyakosallassa visadanipuṇabhāvena nacirasseva pāramiyo pāripūriṃ gacchanti. Saddhādhikānaṃ paññā majjhimā hotīti tesaṃ nātisīghaṃ nātisaṇikaṃ pāramiyo pāripūriṃ gacchanti. Vīriyādhikānaṃ pana paññā mandā hotīti tesaṃ cireneva pāramiyo pāripūriṃ gacchanti.

Na evaṃ paccekabodhisattānaṃ. Tesañhi satipi paññādhikabhāve dve asaṅkhyeyyāni kappānaṃ satasahassañca bodhisambhārasambharaṇaṃ icchitabbaṃ, na tato oraṃ. Saddhādhikavīriyādhikāpi vuttaparicchedato paraṃ katipaye eva kappe atikkamitvā paccekasambodhiṃ abhisambujjhanti, na tatiyaṃ asaṅkhyeyyanti.

Sāvakabodhisattānaṃ pana yesaṃ aggasāvakabhāvāya abhinīhāro, tesaṃ ekaṃ asaṅkhyeyyaṃ kappānaṃ satasahassañca sambhārasambharaṇaṃ icchitabbaṃ. Yesaṃ mahāsāvakabhāvāya, tesaṃ kappānaṃ satasahassameva, tathā buddhassa mātāpitūnaṃ upaṭṭhākassa puttassa ca.


Careful with those "broad-brush and factually inaccurate comments", eh?

Of course, any given person may have already been practicing for an incredibly long time before any given lifetime. The Jatakas indicate that many disciples had practiced together with the Buddha for a long time previously. It does not always mean "beginning from this lifetime!", if it did, then it would be impossible, because we are always in "this lifetime".

Furthermore, this does not paint a bleak picture of impossibility of attainment in the present age, because probably a lot of present day Buddhists have already been practicing in past lives, too. Any one of us here may already be into their fourth asaṅkhyeyyaṃ kappānaṃ even as we speak. There is no strict contradiction between "requires many lifetimes" and "possible in this lifetime", though there would be if the latter were something like "possible in this lifetime if it were the first lifetime to make any sort of spiritual practice at all".

We can always point out that the commentaries are much later, and all that sort of thing, but has the "General Theravada Forum" become the "Sutta & Vinaya Only Forum"? Not that I know of.
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Re: Many lifetimes of paramitta development needed to be aryan?

Postby Ben » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:43 am

Hi Venerable
has the "General Theravada Forum" become the "Sutta & Vinaya Only Forum"? Not that I know of.

Not that I know of either!
Thanks for your great reply. If you get the time, would you kindly translate the pali in your above post?
many thanks

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Re: Dharma Wheel -- Mahayana forum

Postby BlackBird » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:47 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:but has the "General Theravada Forum" become the "Sutta & Vinaya Only Forum"? Not that I know of.


Hah :o :embarassed:

W/re: the pali passage above, how does this translate?

metta
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Re: Many lifetimes of paramitta development needed to be aryan?

Postby ground » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:54 am

One may become an Arhat only after many lifetimes of practice.
Why?
Because "Arhat" means cessation of births and "birth" is a mark of dukkha. But the continuum of births is not said to start in just the life during which one becomes an Arhat because if this were so then the tenet of "cessation of births" would become senseless. Why should one strive to end the cycle of births if one was not born before many times? If however one was born before many times then one has had many lives before. And if one has had many lives before and one would not have practiced the dharma during those lives then the conclusion would be that becoming an Arhat happens accidentally without a cause in preceeeding lives in just one of the many lives (i.e. without preparatory practice in preceeding lives).
If however "becoming an Arhat" just happens accidentially in one of the many lives without practice in many preceeding lives would the teaching of a Buddha be necessary? If it would not be necessary then this contradicts buddhist tenets. However if it is claimed that the teaching of a Buddha is a prerequisite for one to become an arhat and if it is further claimed that there is no need to practice during many lives in order to become an Arhat then all the followers of the Buddha Gautama during his lifetime should have become Arhats in the very lifetime they listened to the teachings of Gautama because 1) there was Gautama the Buddha who taught and 2) they listened to his teachings. But the latter is not transmitted. The alternative would be that only some - upon listing to the teachings - become Arhats and others did not and that those others who did not would therefore either never become an Arhat - totally lacking the capacity - or that they would have to practice during many lives - in contrast to those who accidentally became Arhats upon listening. But this begs the question: what is the cause for the difference of qualification and capacity between those two groups if not the duration and quality of practice during many preceding lives?
Or is "becoming an Arhat" just dependent on the reading and studying of the pali canon, the belief in it and the corresponding practice? If this were so then the same arguments apply because the term "reading and studying of the pali canon" just replaces the term "listening to a Buddha".
Or is it the karma that renders one capable to become an Arhat in one specific life? Karma is however said to be collected during many lives. If it is conducive karma what are the conducive activities that caused this conducive karma other than those activities that have been called "wholesome" and "right" by the Buddhas? And if these conducive activities are the "wholesome" and "right" activities taught by the Buddhas then the corresponding conduct during the lives the karma has been collected is no different from "practice".

One may conclude that what holds true for "Arhat" also holds true for "bodhisattva" or "Buddha" and the many alternative vehicles like "vajrayana" and so forth and that the asserted differences of "duration" of practice before attaining the promoted goal which read "one life time" or "seven lifetimes" or "three kalapas" are just skillful means to generate mental effects in the minds of those being taught.

Kind regards
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Re: Many lifetimes of paramitta development needed to be aryan?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:56 am

TMingyur wrote:One may become an Arhat only after many lifetimes of practice.

Says who?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Many lifetimes of paramitta development needed to be aryan?

Postby ground » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:59 am

tiltbillings wrote:
TMingyur wrote:One may become an Arhat only after many lifetimes of practice.

Says who?

Try reason.
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Re: Many lifetimes of paramitta development needed to be aryan?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:01 am

TMingyur wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
TMingyur wrote:One may become an Arhat only after many lifetimes of practice.

Says who?

Try reason.
Not really much of an answer, is it? Given that this is the Buddha's teachings we are talking about, what did the Buddha say about it?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Many lifetimes of paramitta development needed to be aryan?

Postby fig tree » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:07 am

retrofuturist wrote:There's the infinite regress that your position logically commits you to.

How did the first Buddha become enlightened without a previous Buddha to practice under?

It's not clear to me that classical Theravada doesn't already enjoy the same kind of infinite regress; I don't have a reference handy on this, but I seem to recall that each samma sambuddha is supposed to have received a prediction from a previous one. But I also don't see why one should suppose that there was a first Buddha ever (as opposed to a first one in a given world-system, say).

My intuitions about free will clash with some ideas, but I don't find that I can make a sound argument out of that, or attribute my intuitions to Buddhism or to Theravada. For instance, there is something unsettling in the idea that certain attainments can only be realized if certain strengths of character are present, and that there might be a limit to the speed at which strengths of character can develop. In the Abhidhamma, certain things are supposed to be beyond the ability of a person lacking a "triple rooted rebirth consciousness" to attain, for example. Even if we assume that all that one needs to do to reach some attainment is to engage in certain actions (in thought, word, and deed), some previous mental development might be necessary which takes a certain time to build up. I think it's easy have the impression that freedom of will means that regardless of the past, those actions that would lead to the attainment could arise, and hence not require any previous mental development. But this also is not an idea that I can attribute to Buddhism. The way I tend to think of "free will" seems rooted in ego and unlikely to be correct. It's basically that, because it's me doing the action, I should be able to take whichever option exists, regardless. But in practice, I see myself taking bad options, and seemingly (often) because of lacks of patience, etc.; not that it's all predetermined, but that certain cause-effect relationships exist, even when it comes to what I decide to do.

I don't know which of these claims are correct, but somehow, given that we can't (nearly all of us) tell how many roots (if any) our rebirth-linking consciousness may have had, assuming there is one, or what practice of paramis our previous lives may have had, it doesn't bother me too much.

I also don't assume that the seeming lateness of the references to paramis as a group means that the Buddha didn't teach them as a group. Each is individually skillful, isn't it? The seven purifications are mentioned in a discussion between disciples, in a way that makes it sound as though they had been taught, but was the occasion where they were originally taught recorded? As I recall, it wasn't. Even if the claimed connection of paramis with the path of the bodhisatta was added later, the paramis may have been a group of virtues that had already been taught in another lost context, and then preserved by being associated with that later story. To the extent that they are skillful, when you practice you will be practicing them anyway.

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Re: Many lifetimes of paramitta development needed to be aryan?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:40 am

I remember a talk given by Chanmyay Sayādaw at Chiswick Vihāra many years ago. He said, “There is one person here who cannot attain nibbāna. Shall I tell you who it is?” Those in audience who were lacking in pāramī no doubt became alarmed, thinking that the Sayādaw would name and shame them. The Sayādaw continued — “One person here is hopeless. The lazy person is incapable of attaining nibbāna.”

Accumulated past kamma (pāramī) is like the seed. Present effort is like the soil, water, sunlight, and cultivation of the plant. Without a healthy seed, no amount of cultivation will bear fruit as a healthy plant. However, without soil, water, sunlight, and cultivation, even the best of seeds will not grow.

Past kamma only accounts for 1/16th — present kamma (hard work) accounts for 15/16ths. Unless one makes strenuous, unrelenting efforts to cultivate insight throughout the remainder of one's life without taking a break and without losing faith, one could not attribute one's failure to attain nibbāna to lack of pāramī. It is much more likely to be due to lack of effort or lack of skill.

None of knows what our full potential (pāramī) really is. Who knows what might be achieved with a good teacher and a powerful kick up the backside from life's vicissitudes?

Although I offer the facility to practise meditation for the whole day (12 hours) free of charge, I get very few customers. Most say that it is too long. I say, “It is only half a day.” To gain any significant insight one would need to practise much more than half a day. An average person would need to practice strenuously without talking for at least a week or two — that is at least 18 hours a day, without stopping during meals, and only sleeping for six hours at most out of 24.

Check out the Ledi Sayādaw's Bodhipakkhiya Dīpanī for more inspiration.
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