Seems a bit strange to quote my own post, but perhaps it would be helpful, as nobody seems to have noticed the Pali.
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.
Extreme, broad-brush and factually inaccurate comments such as the above are not beneficial to anyone.
I was responding to Retro's statement ""developing all of the perfections for many. many lifetimes" is only for those who aspire to be Buddhas
" (emphasis added).
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.
Mahabodhisattas (ie. those seeking full awakening) need four incalculable and 100 000 aeons of accumulating the requisites to awakening. ...
Paccekabodhisattas (ie. those seeking paccekabuddha awakening) need two incalculable and 100 000 aeons ...
Savakabodhisattas (ie. those seeking arhatship) have distinctions: chief savakas (eg. like Sariputta and Moggalana) need one incalculable and 100 000; great disciples (the top 80, eg. Mahakassapa) need 100 000 aeons.
Now, that is sufficient to refute Retro's comments that it is only Mahabodhisattas seeking full Buddhahood, but not sufficient to support Virgos claims that basically everyone requires it. Moreover, these claims are viz final awakening, not ariya status. However, given max distance is 7 lifetimes, the point still stands, 100 000 aeons minus 7 lives is still basically 100 000 aeons (rounding up!)
I also asked Prof T Endo (formerly of Kelaniya Uni, Sri Lanka, now at HKU) about this, and I've sat through a lot of his classes, and this is also how he understands it. He's a specialist in this area, actually, having written a nice book about the idea of the Buddha in the Theravada, from early to late periods.
That regular (sic) arhats or ariyas are not mentioned is the difficulty I mention above. The above does not confirm it, but it is suggestive that a heck of a lot of time is needed in general. Claims of suttas like the Satipatthana etc. are not conclusive to me either, they only indicate that from the point of cultivating that particular requisite, attainment made swiftly be made. However, the perfections include others, like giving, and I feel that these are in general cultivated prior. But for how long? Starting from when? This is the difficulty.