Arahants in Early Buddhism

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.

Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:12 am

Over here:
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=11481#p174513
I mentioned Ven Sujato's speculation that parts of MN 29 Maha Saropama Sutta: The Longer Heartwood-simile may have been added later to bolster the Theravada point of view that an Arahant cannot "fall away", an opinion not shared by all of the early schools.

Ven Sujato notes that the Chinese Agama version of the sutta does not have the line:
    And it is impossible for that bhikkhu to fall away from that perpetual deliverance.
and the known Sarvastivada nikayas do not have this sutta at all.
Whether liberation is permanent or not was a point of disagreement between sects, so this line may be a late addition to the Theravada version.

It's worth knowing that this controversy existed, and, in particular, that disagreement over this point pre-dates the Mahayana, lest one mistakenly accuse Mahayana schools of starting this idea...

Here is a discussion on DharmaWheel:
http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.ph ... t=0#p86672

:anjali:
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Re: Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:21 am

mikenz66 wrote:Over here:
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=11481#p174513
I mentioned Ven Sujato's speculation that parts of MN 29 Maha Saropama Sutta: The Longer Heartwood-simile may have been added later to bolster the Theravada point of view that an Arahant cannot "fall away", an opinion not shared by all of the early schools.

Ven Sujato notes that the Chinese Agama version of the sutta does not have the line:
    And it is impossible for that bhikkhu to fall away from that perpetual deliverance.
and the known Sarvastivada nikayas do not have this sutta at all.
Whether liberation is permanent or not was a point of disagreement between sects, so this line may be a late addition to the Theravada version.

It's worth knowing that this controversy existed, and, in particular, that disagreement over this point pre-dates the Mahayana, lest one mistakenly accuse Mahayana schools of starting this idea...

Here is a discussion on DharmaWheel:
http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.ph ... t=0#p86672

:anjali:
Mike
The question would be what other suttas support the idea of awakening as being attainted is not something that can be lost. I would not tie the whole of the question to one sutta.
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.

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Re: Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:53 am

tiltbillings wrote:The question would be what other suttas support the idea of awakening as being attainted is not something that can be lost. I would not tie the whole of the question to one sutta.

I guess the key point I wanted to put out there is that the early schools disagreed on this issue. I wasn't trying to argue one way or the other.

Ven Sujato opines that most such doctrinal disagreements revolved around issues that were somewhat ambiguous in the Suttas, and therefore speculates that this passage may have been added to bolster the Theravada opinion. I've certainly not got the scholarship background to offer any particular opinion.

However, I think it's worth keeping in mind that if one attaches importance to examining the sutta-vinaya-abhidhamma-commentary texts of various schools from an analytical-scholarly point of view it seems clear that the suttas developed over time, and that the suttas of particular schools show evidence of changes to reflect the doctrine of the school.

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Re: Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:09 am

mikenz66 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:The question would be what other suttas support the idea of awakening as being attainted is not something that can be lost. I would not tie the whole of the question to one sutta.

I guess the key point I wanted to put out there is that the early schools disagreed on this issue. I wasn't trying to argue one way or the other.
I know, to the last sentence. I was commenting in general.

Ven Sujato opines that most such doctrinal disagreements revolved around issues that were somewhat ambiguous in the Suttas, and therefore speculates that this passage may have been added to bolster the Theravada opinion. I've certainly not got the scholarship background to offer any particular opinion. [/quotew]Sujato's supposition is likely to remain a supposition.

However, I think it's worth keeping in mind that if one attaches importance to examining the sutta-vinaya-abhidhamma-commentary texts of various schools from an analytical-scholarly point of view it seems clear that the suttas developed over time, and that the suttas of particular schools show evidence of changes to reflect the doctrine of the school.
What is interesting around all of this is the status of the Buddha vis a vis the arahant. One could also suppose that the more a school valorized the Buddha the more arahant was downplayed, so maybe it was not the Theravadins who altered there documents.
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: Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:30 am

tiltbillings wrote:What is interesting around all of this is the status of the Buddha vis a vis the arahant. One could also suppose that the more a school valorized the Buddha the more arahant was downplayed, so maybe it was not the Theravadins who altered there documents.

Well, yes, that's also a possibility, though I gather Ven Sujato's argument is that if it was there in the first place there would not be any disagreement between the early schools.

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Re: Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:56 am

mikenz66 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:What is interesting around all of this is the status of the Buddha vis a vis the arahant. One could also suppose that the more a school valorized the Buddha the more arahant was downplayed, so maybe it was not the Theravadins who altered there documents.

Well, yes, that's also a possibility, though I gather Ven Sujato's argument is that if it was there in the first place there would not be any disagreement between the early schools.

:anjali:
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I would not say that, given the disagreements over what is in the texts. It probably is a easy to delete something as it is to add something.
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: Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby vinasp » Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:05 pm

Hi everyone,

Two things which might be relevant to this question:

1. The wrong path in its tenfold variant, ends with "wrong liberation",
does anyone know what this is?

2. There are passages where the Buddha says that not every person who
declares gnosis (anna), is genuine, some "over-estimate themselves".

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby Virgo » Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:47 pm

Hi,

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

Two things which might be relevant to this question:

1. The wrong path in its tenfold variant, ends with "wrong liberation",
does anyone know what this is?

This, in my opinion, is simply stated that way so the verses would be symmetrical (the correct term for this in English writing escapes me). Just as the opposite of Right Speech is Wrong Speech, and so on, the opposite of Right Liberation (what the path actually leads to-- note the word "right" here is used for matters of symmetry as well) is Wrong Liberation, or probably more accurately, 'non-liberation'.


vinasp wrote: 2. There are passages where the Buddha says that not every person who
declares gnosis (anna), is genuine, some "over-estimate themselves".

Regards, Vincent.

This seems to refer to people who think they have an ariyan attainment but do not, it does not necessarily mean that it refers to any class of people that were ariyans but are not any longer.

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Re: Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby Virgo » Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:52 pm

From http://www.accesstoinight.org:

Sotaapanno Sutta: The Sotaapanna ('Stream-winner')
translated from the Pali by
Maurice O'Connell Walshe
© 2007–2012

The Pali title of this sutta is based on the PTS (Feer) edition.

[At Saavatthii the Blessed One said:] "Monks, there are these five groups of clinging. What five? The body-group of clinging, the feeling-group, the perception-group, the mental-formation-group, the consciousness-group of clinging.

"And when, monks, the Ariyan disciple understands as they really are the arising and the passing away, the attractiveness and the danger, and the deliverance from the five groups of clinging, he is called an Ariyan disciple who is a Stream-winner, not liable to states of woe,[1] assured of final enlightenment."

Notes

1.
The Stream-winner (sotaapanna) is assured of enlightenment and will not be reborn more than seven times, or in any state lower than the human. See also SN 55.24, n. 7.


The above sutta talks about the assurance of stream-winners gaining final release. How could sotapannas be assured final release if it is possible for them to fall away as Arahants (or before)?

There are many similar Suttas in the Cannon.

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Re: Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby Virgo » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:16 pm

Who has a copy of the Kathavatthu? This subject is treated well in that. Did the bhikkhu research that for opposing ideas? I don't think so.

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Re: Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby vinasp » Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:45 pm

Hi everyone,

From MN 105 - Sunakkhatta Sutta - ATI version:

"Sunakkhatta the Licchavin heard that "A large number of monks, it seems, have declared final gnosis in the Blessed One's presence: 'We discern that "Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world."'" Then Sunakkhatta the Licchavin went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "I have heard, lord, that a large number of monks have declared final gnosis in the Blessed One's presence: 'We discern that "Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world."' Now, have they rightly declared final gnosis, or is it the case that some of them have declared final gnosis out of over-estimation?"

"Sunakkhatta, of the monks who have declared final gnosis in my presence... it is the case that some have rightly declared final gnosis, whereas others have declared final gnosis out of over-estimation. As for those who have rightly declared final gnosis, that is their truth. As for those who have declared final gnosis out of over-estimation, the thought occurs to the Tathagata, 'I will teach them the Dhamma.' Yet there are cases when the thought has occurred to the Tathagata, 'I will teach them the Dhamma,' but there are worthless men who come to him having formulated question after question, so that his thought, 'I will teach them the Dhamma,' changes into something else."

So some monks that declare final knowledge are actually deluded, they believe
what they are saying, but it is not really true.

This amounts to a claim to be an arahant, but was such a claim ever confirmed
officially? Was such a claim ever denied officially?

Perhaps these individuals were left to realise their mistake by themselves.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby Zom » Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:19 pm

In pali SN there is a corrupted sutta, where it is said, that Arahant has to develop 5 indriyas. I guess, this was the reason why this debate appeared over time.

:reading: :spy:
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Re: Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby vinasp » Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:52 pm

Hi everyone,

Seven persons are described in MN 70.14 to MN 70.21, two of these seem
to be arahants:

1. The one liberated-in-both ways - "... his asavas are destroyed by his
seeing with wisdom."

2. The one liberated-by-wisdom - "... his asavas are destroyed by his
seeing with wisdom."

So there may be two kinds of arahants in the Theravada teachings.

But, some of the other Schools speak of six or nine types of arahants,
of which, some are "permanently" liberated, and some are not.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby vinasp » Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:53 pm

Hi everyone,

From: The Literature of the Personalists of Early Buddhism by
Bhikshu Thich Thien Chau, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi 1999.

The secondary theses of the Pudgalavadins - number 13 -The Arhat is
susceptible to regression. [ page 205 ]

"It is clearly affirmed that the Pudgalavadins maintained the thesis:
the Arhat is susceptible to regression; as the Tds, 21a 15, deals with
the three faculties of the Arhat: the sharp, the middling and the weak.
Each faculty consists of three categories. He-who-regresses belongs to
that of the weak faculty; he who regresses falls either into inferior
states, (but) not from (comprehension of) the Noble Truths, or to the
stage of cultivation (cf. Tds, 21a 25-26). Regression does not mean
falling into the worldly state of living beings (cf. Ssu, 6c 14) n756

The causes of regression are sickness, business, quarrels, arbitrations,
long journeys (cf. Tds, 21a 28, and Ssu, 6c 15-16). A. Bareau affirmed
that the Vatsiputriyas 'maintain that the mind of the Arhat is pure and
endowed with omniscience, but recognise that he can regress and remain
subject to the mechanism of the fruition of actions' n757
This affirmation conforms to what was said by Buddhaghosa in the
Kathavatthu n758.
Although the Buddha did not say that the Arhat is susceptible to
regression, he stated the dangers to which the Arhat is exposed:

"Monks, even for a monk who is an Arahant whose impurities are destroyed,
I say that gains, honours and renown are dangers." n759 [SN II 239]

Equally, in AN III 173, the Buddha spoke of five causes of regression
for an occasionally delivered (samayavimukta) monk who, according to
the Abhidharmakosa, is an Arhat (n760) or one of two categories of
him-who-is-doubly-delivered (n761), or, according to Tds, one of the
nine categories of Arhat, he-who-has-attained-complete-deliverance n762.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby vinasp » Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:49 pm

Hi everyone,

The reference to AN III 173, is The Book of Fives # 149

The PTS English translation by E. M. Hare reads, (page 131), as follows:

"Monks, these five things lead to the falling away of a monk who is
occasionally released (1). What five?
Delight in (body) work, in gossip, in sleep, in company and he does
not look at the mind apart (2) as released.
Verily, monks, these are the five ..."
( But the opposite five do not lead to a falling away.) (3)

Notes:
1. Samaya-vimutta, ...... Were it not that the idea of 'temporary
release' recurs at Sn. 54, one might judge it to be a late
development. It occurs seldom. See K.S. i, 150 n. The sutta is
quoted at Pts. of Contr. 70.

2. Paccavekkhati, to view something over against (pati).

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby vinasp » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:18 pm

Hi everyone,

The reference to Sn 54, appears to be a verse from Sn 1.3 The Rhinoceros-horn:

54. It is an impossibility for one who delights in company to obtain (even)
temporary release. Having heard the voice of the sun's kinsman, one
should wander solitary as a rhinoceros horn.

[ The Rhinoceros Horn (Sutta Nipata), K.R. Norman, PTS London. page 8 ]

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby Virgo » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:23 pm

Hi Vinasp,

Temporary release, in both instances refers to the temporary release of jhana.

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Re: Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:27 pm

Greetings,

So many of the similes and explicit teachings in the suttas point towards the inevitability of complete destruction of all fetters once the stream has been entered. Talk of going backwards is totally inconsistent with that, and is suggestive to me of agendas to diminish the status of the arahant - either to promote something higher (like a bodhisattva path), or to pull it down to one's own level (like Daniel Ingram) in order to enjoy the prestige of "being an arahant". As Kevin observed, the Kathavatthu would be a relevant source in information in this regard.

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Re: Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:29 pm

Hi Friend
vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

Two things which might be relevant to this question:

1. The wrong path in its tenfold variant, ends with "wrong liberation",
does anyone know what this is?

2. There are passages where the Buddha says that not every person who
declares gnosis (anna), is genuine, some "over-estimate themselves".

Regards, Vincent.

You answer your own question here! #2 is the answer to #1
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Arahants in Early Buddhism

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:38 pm

Hi Friends,
If you can slide back from enlightenment there would be little point in striving for it, as you would only be reborn again anyway, may as well just aim for an easier target like the Deva realms or the formless realms, they last long enough to make samsara bearable.

but I understand that the early schools were consistent in that Enlightenment isn't something you can rejoin samsara from, you are either enlightened or not.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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