Coyote wrote:Playing Devil's advocate here: Although the Dhamma is timeless, what if what the commentaries says is true - that it is not longer possible that someone can attain arhantship at this time? Given the enormous good kamma needed to be born in a time where the Buddha is teaching, why would it not be possible for there to be a cutoff point when it is no longer possible to become enlightened? Unless you want to posit that we have the same tendancies and good kamma as those born at the time of the Buddha. /devilsadvocateover.
The fact is no-one can know, unless they try and fail - and even then it is not wasted energy. So personally, I wouldn't worry about it, given that even those who say arhantship is not possible say that anagami is.
There's something confusing about the commentary regarding that. In a footnote on p.1805 of Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Anguttara Nikaya, he says the commentary says there will be arahants who have attained the analytic knowledges for the first thousand years, dry-insight arahants for the second thousand, non-returners for the 3rd thousand, once-returners for the 4th thousand, and stream enterers for the 5th thousand. So going by that, no arahants should have appeared after somewhere around 1600 AD at the latest. And our current time frame would allow for non-returners.
But my puzzlement is that, by definition, even stream-enterers are destined for arahantship within 7 additional lifetimes at most. So let's say someone achieves stream entry in the last thousand year period. Then they must be destined for arahantship either within that thousand year period or later. In which case, would that not count as an arahant appearing?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230