The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Post by ground » Sun Jan 31, 2010 10:31 am

Hi pt1
pt1 wrote:
TMingyur wrote:what is meant is naked exposure to pure being after having seen the equalness of samsara and nirvana by means of "prajnaparamita".
Hi TMingyur,

With respect, this seems to be vajrayana terminology and I’m not sure how to interpret it correctly. Could you please clarify:

“naked exposure to pure being” – this would be vipassana I guess?
You are right. Sorry, I drifted into a wording that actually is not appropriate, i.e. wrong imaginative wording (speech) not being grounded on reason. Such kind of speech may cause projections and speculations thus I committed a fault. Sorry for that. Speaking from the right conventional perspective of the two truths only "putting on the armor of prajnaparamita" is the correct wording and I should have left it at that.
pt1 wrote: “having seen the equalness of samsara and nirvana” – afaik, according to Theravada, nirvana as a dhamma is experienced for the first time with magga citta – path consciousness, which can be of four kinds and resulting in stream-entry, once-returning, non-returning or arahantship. Since I believe none of those four are acceptable for bodhisattvas, then what kind of magga citta do bodhisattvas experience in order to experience nirvana and conclude on that basis that samara and nirvana are equal? Or perhaps they can exprience nirvana without magga citta? Then with what kind of a citta?
You are right all four kinds of magga cittas are inacceptable for bodhisattvas according to Mahayana. Actually the boddhisattva will practice prajnaparamita in alternation with (i.e. accompanying) the practice of the other paramitas and those will get more and more integrated in the course of travelling the paths and bhumis. Never will the boddhisattva "enter" nirvana (or one of the magga cittas) in the sense of abiding "there" and the antidot against "abiding" is said to be authentic "bodhicitta".

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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Post by pt1 » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:09 pm

Thanks for clarifications Ven.Pannasikhara and TMingyur.

If you have time, I'm trying to understand why is bodhicitta given such a prominent role in Mahayana and I'm wondering how is bodhicitta different from the paramis (if it is at all)? I mean, to me bodhicitta seems like an amalgamation of three theravadin paramis of adhitthana (determination, resolution), wisdom and metta.

Reading about paramitas on wikipedia, though only six are listed for Mahayana, it is also stated that Dasabhumika sutra adds four paramitas more of which pranidhana (vow, resolution, aspiration, determination) is one, and it seems to correspond to theravadin adhitthana parami. Further, reading about bodhicitta on wikipedia, the first definition is that it is the wish to attain complete enlightenment (buddhahood), so I'm wondering how is this wish aspect of bodhicitta different from adhitthana?

The second definition of bodhicitta is that it is the union of compassion and wisdom, so I'm wondering how it is different from the two theravadin paramis of wisdom and metta? I understand that it could be said that metta isn't exactly karuna, but, if considered that non-aversion as one of the kusala roots is in essence the base of metta, and that karuna as a kusala cetasika can only accompany a kusala citta with non-aversion as one of the roots, and that one can extended mahametta and mahakruna with attaniment of (if I'm not mistaken) fourth jhana, it seems then that these two paramis of wisdom and metta in developed form are equivalent to bodhicitta.

Please correct me if I'm misunderstanding/misrepresenting what bodhicitta is. Thanks.

Best wishes

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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Post by ground » Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:08 am

Hi pt1
pt1 wrote: If you have time, I'm trying to understand why is bodhicitta given such a prominent role in Mahayana and I'm wondering how is bodhicitta different from the paramis (if it is at all)? I mean, to me bodhicitta seems like an amalgamation of three theravadin paramis of adhitthana (determination, resolution), wisdom and metta.

Reading about paramitas on wikipedia, though only six are listed for Mahayana, it is also stated that Dasabhumika sutra adds four paramitas more of which pranidhana (vow, resolution, aspiration, determination) is one, and it seems to correspond to theravadin adhitthana parami. Further, reading about bodhicitta on wikipedia, the first definition is that it is the wish to attain complete enlightenment (buddhahood), so I'm wondering how is this wish aspect of bodhicitta different from adhitthana?
Since my knowledge and experience are both very limited I can only try to repeat what I have been taught and take the responsibility for any error.
There are several aspects of bodhicitta that are given different qualifying names: conventional and ultimate bodhicitta, aspirational and engaging bodhicitta.
"conventional" refers to conventional reality expressed in words and thought.
"ultimate" refers to the direct realization of emptiness.
"aspirational" refers to the mere wish.
"engaging" refers to taking the vow and learning, practicing the paramitas.
So actually the "conventional" comprises the "aspirational" and the "engaging" whereas the "ultimate" refers to the wisdom that is the culmination of the practice of the 6th paramita.

On Dharma Wheel Ven. Huifeng has provided a quote which covers both, the conventional and the ultimate aspect of bodhicitta:
Huifeng wrote: An excellent example of what is meant by bodhicitta is to be found in the Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra (aka: the Diamond Sutra). Conze's translation has:

The Lord said: Here, Subhuti, someone who has set out in the vehicle of a Bodhisattva should produce a thought in this manner: 'As many beings as there are in the universe of beings, comprehended under the term "beings" egg-born, born from a womb, moisture-born, or miraculously born; with or without form; with perception, without perception, and with neither perception nor non-perception, as far as any conceivable form of beings is conceived: all these I must lead to Nirvana, into that Realm of Nirvana which leaves nothing behind. And yet, although innumerable beings have thus been led to Nirvana, no being at all has been led to Nirvana.' And why? If in a Bodhisattva the notion of a 'being' should take place, he could not be called a 'Bodhi-being'. 'And why? He is not to be called a Bodhi-being, in whom the notion of a self or of a being should take place, or the notion of a living soul or of a person.'

It involves the compassion to lead beings to nirvana, and also the wisdom of emptiness that sees that ultimately there is no "living being".
Now the crucial point is the altruistic intention which is directed towards all other beings and that the wisdom aspect does not negate this "directedness". This "altruism being directed towards others" is the mark of the path and must not be abandoned at any time, because the moment it is abandoned in the context of [motivation for] practice one immediately lapses from the path of the bodhisattva. "Mindfulness" for a bodhisattva also means to permanently hold bodhicitta in his/her mind and to practice on the basis of bodhicitta and dedicate any result of practice to perfect buddhahood for the benefit of other beings which actually means to give all "merits" that may have been collected by means of practice to other beings (which is an aspect of the 1st paramita).

pt1 wrote: The second definition of bodhicitta is that it is the union of compassion and wisdom, so I'm wondering how it is different from the two theravadin paramis of wisdom and metta? I understand that it could be said that metta isn't exactly karuna, but, if considered that non-aversion as one of the kusala roots is in essence the base of metta, and that karuna as a kusala cetasika can only accompany a kusala citta with non-aversion as one of the roots, and that one can extended mahametta and mahakruna with attaniment of (if I'm not mistaken) fourth jhana, it seems then that these two paramis of wisdom and metta in developed form are equivalent to bodhicitta.
The basis of conventional bodhicitta actually are the four immeasurables:
- impartiality (sometimes called "equanimity") and the intention to "give" this impartiality to others because partiality is the root of samsara
- love which is the wish and the intention to give happiness to others and to provide/train all the causes for happiness
- compassion which is the wish and the intention to eliminate other's suffering and the causes
- prevent that others undergo lower "re-births" and establish them in liberation through skillful means

A type of "union of compassion and wisdom" may be the merging of prajnaparamita and altruistic bodhicitta (manifested in the "method aspect" of the paramitas) on the 8th bhumi and the following. The 8th bhumi is said to be point where the practitioner achieves either liberation/cessation of an arhat if bodhicitta has been abandoned in the course of the path and has not been re-established or she/he continues further to the 10th level if bodhicitta has been kept "intact". More experiential presentations of this "union" one may find in the vajrayana.

Kind regards

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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Post by fig tree » Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:59 am

pt1 wrote: Reading about paramitas on wikipedia, though only six are listed for Mahayana, it is also stated that Dasabhumika sutra adds four paramitas more of which pranidhana (vow, resolution, aspiration, determination) is one, and it seems to correspond to theravadin adhitthana parami.
Dhammapala discusses how you get different numbers: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el409.html. Look for "how many are there". As I recall, the four ones added to get ten again are thought of as a way of breaking down one of the six.

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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Post by Paññāsikhara » Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:28 am

fig tree wrote:
pt1 wrote: Reading about paramitas on wikipedia, though only six are listed for Mahayana, it is also stated that Dasabhumika sutra adds four paramitas more of which pranidhana (vow, resolution, aspiration, determination) is one, and it seems to correspond to theravadin adhitthana parami.
Dhammapala discusses how you get different numbers: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el409.html. Look for "how many are there". As I recall, the four ones added to get ten again are thought of as a way of breaking down one of the six.

Fig Tree
The six were also used by non-Vaibhasika Sarvastivadins, probably around Gandhara (but not Kasmir).
The Kasmiri Vaibhasikas had four. They argue that the other two are already included.
(But this may also reflect notions of a non-arya bodhisattva who doesn't perfect dhyana - lest it result in awakening too soon.)

The Dasabhumika stuff is a fair bit later. But still no where near as late as Dhammapala's Theravada bodhisatta contributions.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.

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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:49 am

Paññāsikhara wrote: (But this may also reflect notions of a non-arya bodhisattva who doesn't perfect dhyana - lest it result in awakening too soon.)
And good gawd, we would not want that.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

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

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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:57 am

:jumping:
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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Post by Sanghamitta » Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:05 am

:smile: I should be so unfortunate.
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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Post by Paññāsikhara » Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:12 am

I was chuckling to myself as I wrote it, too.

The Sarvastivada did have a very interesting bodhisattvology, though, very detailed in a number of ways.
I think that a number of schools probably had similar ideas to those mentioned in that last post.
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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Post by pt1 » Sat Feb 06, 2010 3:40 am

Thanks TMingyur, Fig Tree and Ven.Pannasikhara for the extra info. Much appreciated.

Best wishes

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Re: Bodhisattva Path of Theravada

Post by DooDoot » Mon Nov 20, 2017 7:14 pm

Dharmasherab wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:15 pm
The Maireya Bodhisattva lived during the time of Gautama Buddha, where the Gautama Buddha approved of the actions of Maitreya Bodhisattva.
Is there a Pali sutta in Theravada that affirms the above view? Thanks
Dharmasherab wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:15 pm
It is known that taking Bodhisattva vows does not prevent one from reaching Jhanas where it required to escape from the 5 Hindances (4 of which overlap with the Samyojana).
The suppression of the five hindrances appears unrelated to Samyojana. (Please start a new topic about this). Uddhacca-kukkucca hindrance is not the same as Uddhacca Samyojana. Vicikicchā as a hindrance to concentration is not the same as vicikicchā samyojana is relation to giving up self-view & thus doubt about the four noble truths & what is the noble path.
Dharmasherab wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:15 pm
Had those who took Bodhisattva vows were just 'puthujjana' then such individuals wont be able to reach even a Jhana.
In the Pali suttas, my impression is there is only one Bodhisatta, namely, the Buddha-To-Be.
DooDoot wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:31 am
There's a common misunderstanding that the Theravada school teaches only the savaka path, but a glance at Theravada history will show that many Theravadins have vowed to become bodhisattvas and have undertaken the practice of the ten perfections as set forth in the Theravadin Jatakas."
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu, The Ten Perfections: A Study Guide
This is merely Thanissaro Bhikkhu's opinion, who is not the Buddha. It appears there is no Bodhisatta path in the Pali suttas. The Jataka are not Pali suttas (words of Buddha) but texts composed hundreds of years after the Buddha, which logically appear to have laid down the foundation for Mahayana doctrine & which appear to show Mahayana evolved out of Theravada Jataka. Any Theravadins who vowed to become bodhisattva obviously did not comprehend the sutta path & started their own religion. Just as Thanissaro Bhikkhu is not the Buddha, neither where these Theravadins who vowed to become bodhisattva the Buddha. It appears the Lord Buddha did not teach any Bodhisatta path. The suttas shows those who understand the Buddha attained stream-entry & arahantship.

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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Post by Dharmasherab » Mon Nov 20, 2017 8:44 pm

Unfortunately I couldnt find this post yesterday but not what I found it I am seeing some very useful responses which I am hoping to go through as I started a thread as I am also interested in learning about the Bodhisattva path in Theravada. I myself am a Vajrayana/Mahayana Buddhist which means that the Bodhisattva element is compulsory so I am also hoping to incorporate teachings, elements and factors from Theravada on Bodhisattva path into my practice.

Here are some useful things which I found some of which I am about to read.

The Ten Perfections: A Study Guide by Bhikkhu Thanissaro
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/stu ... tions.html

The Theravada section within the Bodhisattva article in Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhisatt ... a_Buddhism

I am also considering reading on an article on the Bodhisattva ideal within Theravada which was published in The Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies.

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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Post by Dharmasherab » Mon Nov 20, 2017 8:51 pm

A lengthy article which I hope to read which I think others might find useful.

The Bodhisattva Ideal in Theory and Practice by Jeffrey Samuels
https://info-buddhism.com/Bodhisattva-I ... muels.html

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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Post by DooDoot » Tue Nov 21, 2017 3:46 am

Dharmasherab wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 8:44 pm
The Theravada section within the Bodhisattva article in Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhisatt ... a_Buddhism
As Wiki says, the only Bodhisatta in Theravada is the Buddha-To-Be. Once the Bodhisatta became a Buddha, he revealed the path to us. It appears those Theravadins who think they must follow a bodhisatta path (which is nothing the Buddha taught) think they must reinvent the wheel. :roll:

It is important to see with our own eyes & intelligence the majority of people of the earth have no interest in the idea of billions of past & future lives. It is not possible to save all sentient beings using Jataka & Mahayana ideology because most sentient beings are not interested in toiling over billions of lifetimes before they might find liberation. Jesus said: 'my yoke is easy & my burden is light'. Or moral people, with family values, want to follow a strict moral path, such as Islam (rather than the wishy washy sexual so-called 'morality' of Tibetan & Western Buddhism).
Islam set to become world's largest religion by 2075, study suggests
Data analysis finds population with no religion will shrink while number of Muslims and Christians is expected to grow

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/ ... e-20-years

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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Post by Saengnapha » Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:16 am

DooDoot wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 3:46 am
Islam set to become world's largest religion by 2075, study suggests
Data analysis finds population with no religion will shrink while number of Muslims and Christians is expected to grow

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/ ... e-20-years
No birth control.

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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:51 am

Greetings DooDoot,
DooDoot wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 3:46 am
Or moral people, with family values, want to follow a strict moral path, such as Islam (rather than the wishy washy sexual so-called 'morality' of Tibetan & Western Buddhism).
What "sexual so-called 'morality' of Tibetan & Western Buddhism" are you talking about here?

Do you mean things like sexual tantric practices and/or the way in which whatever one wishes to subjectively define as "skilful means" is allowed to trump the objective teachings of the Vinaya?

Or something else?...

Metta,
Paul. :)
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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Post by DooDoot » Tue Nov 21, 2017 12:38 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:51 am
What "sexual so-called 'morality' of Tibetan & Western Buddhism" are you talking about here?
Thanks Paul. I suppose I was expressing my personal skepticism on the Western Liberal Save All Sentient Beings Mahayana movement; which seems to have members thinking they can covert Muslims or ex-Muslims to Buddhism & who praise ex-Muslims who attack Islam. While I am merely generalizing, my impression is people who leave a religion often do so due to sexual & other forms of liberalism. For example, I remember the last time I went to church as a young person (which was due to my parents wishes) was when I was 13yo & a sexy girl I knew was sitting next to me doing strange movements with her legs &, I, always being an honest person, said to myself: "This church is no longer the place for me" (due to my own independence). I suppose I am saying that people who are strongly attracted to morality, particularly family values, would be more drawn to Christianity or Islam rather than to Western or Tibetan Buddhism, which seems to have an image of liberalism. In short, I think Buddhism probably has not made any significant inroads into non-Asian mainstream society & probably never will. Where as I imagine Christianity is making strong inroads into non-Western mainstream culture.
Foreign scholars estimate that there are 67 million to 100 million Christians in China — compared with 87 million Communist Party cadres. Yang estimates that China will be home to 250 million Christians by 2030.Dec 23, 2015

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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Post by Dharmasherab » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:29 pm

Its a shame that some people try to make negative stereotypes of other forms of Buddhism because of some actions of a few misguided individuals and such people make effort to make that unacceptable behaviour appear as something accepted within those traditions when such people who make such statements have no clue as to what they are talking about.

I feel that some people read too much into posts and make strawmen from their own mistaken perceptions by making statement like "trying to convert Muslims and ex-Muslims to Buddhism" as if that is something wrong in that. I personally know lot of Muslims who converted to Buddhism from their own choice. Also the Dhamma is for everyone to take benefit from as long as they are willing to look for it. The Dhamma does not discriminate between who is Christian, who is Hindu, who is Muslim or who is Jewish. Anyone from their own choice can access the Dhamma as they wish. All sentient beings are vulnerable to suffering and the gift of Dhamma excels all other gifts.

Anyway bringing back this thread to the topic its about the Bodhisattva path of Theravada. Just to share a thought, Ajahn Mun once saw into his past lives during meditation and found that in a previous life he had taken the Bodhisattva path. But later in that life as 'Ajahn Mun' he relinquished the Bodhisattva commitment and decided to go for Arahanthood. His choices need to be respected no different from the respect shown to those who take up the Bodhisattva path.

Also I was having a discussion with a friend of mine who is an academic in Buddhism. He did tell me that what Buddha really means is to be an Arahant in a world where there are no enlightened being. I dont know how correct that is. It made me question whether the 3 yana (Buddha, Pacceka Buddha and Arahant) was a concept that arrived later after the Buddha's time of not.

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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Post by Dhammanando » Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:40 am

Dharmasherab wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:29 pm
Also I was having a discussion with a friend of mine who is an academic in Buddhism. He did tell me that what Buddha really means is to be an Arahant in a world where there are no enlightened being. I dont know how correct that is.
I don't think it's really precise enough, for it would apply equally to a Sammāsambuddha and a Paccekabuddha. It would also apply to the last remaining arahant disciple of a Buddha after all the others have passed away.

What distinguishes a Sammāsambuddha is his rediscovery of the Dhamma in an age when it has been lost and his founding of a dispensation (sāsanā) to preserve and transmit it. A Paccekabuddha also rediscovers the Dhamma but does not found a sāsanā.

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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Post by Dharmasherab » Wed Nov 22, 2017 9:48 am

But is there an inherent different between an Arahant and a Samma Sam Buddha in terms of quality and skill? Because I originally thought they did even back when I was a Theravada Buddhist.

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