Looking for sutta definitions of: Tathāgata

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Faelig
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Looking for sutta definitions of: Tathāgata

Post by Faelig » Wed Jul 27, 2016 10:17 pm

Dear Dhamma friends,

I am looking for internal definitions of a ‘Tathāgata’ within the suttas themselves; such as this one:

AN 4.23 The World (translation by Bhikkhu Bodhi) Link
[…] (1) “Bhikkhus, in this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, among this population with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans, whatever is seen, heard, sensed, cognized, reached, sought after, examined by the mind—all that the Tathāgata has fully awakened to; therefore he is called the Tathāgata.
(2) “Bhikkhus, whatever the Tathāgata speaks, utters, or expounds in the interval between the night when he awakens to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment and the night when he attains final nibbāna, all that is just so and not otherwise; therefore he is called the Tathāgata.
(3) “Bhikkhus, as the Tathāgata speaks, so he does; as he does, so he speaks. Since he does as he speaks and speaks as he does, therefore he is called the Tathāgata.
(4) “Bhikkhus, in this world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, among this population with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans, the Tathāgata is the vanquisher, the unvanquished, the universal seer, the wielder of mastery; therefore he is called the Tathāgata.” […]

(Note: In this sutta the expression ‘therefore he is called the Tathāgata’ seems particularly indicative of a definition/characterization of Tathāgata)

Could you provide me with links or references of other suttas with such formal definitions of a ‘Tathāgata’?

Thanks in advance for your help,
With metta,

Remi

PS: I found an old topic discussing the interpretations of ‘Tathāgata’ here, but it’s more general so I created a new topic to discuss sutta definitions only, hope it's ok.

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Re: Looking for sutta definitions of: Tathāgata

Post by santa100 » Wed Jul 27, 2016 11:39 pm

Similar definitions are also at Iti. 112

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tiltbillings
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Re: Looking for sutta definitions of: Tathāgata

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Jul 28, 2016 1:11 am

That which is the destruction of greed, hatred and delusion is asankhata, free from the conditioned." SN IV 359 and SN IV 362

That which is the destruction of greed, hatred and delusion is nibbana. SN IV 251 and IV 321

The destruction of greed, hatred, and delusion is arahantship. SN IV 252.

"Whoever frees himself from the passions of greed, hatred, and ignorance, they call him, one who is self developed, made divine, thus-gone [tathagata], awake (buddha), one who has left fear and hatred, and one who has let go of all." Itivuttaka 57

Since a tathagata, even when actually present, is incomprehensible, it is inept to say of him – of the Uttermost Person, the Supernal Person, the Attainer of the Supernal – that after death the tathagata is, or is not, or both is and is not, or neither is nor is not SN III 118 (For the full text of this passage, see: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/su ... 2-086.html )
(SN III 116: a tathagata is describing a tathagata.}

Of this Bhikkhu Bodhi states: “This should establish that “the Tathagata” here is not just “a being” [as the commentary states], but a Buddha or an arahant…” pg 1080 n163.
There is the case where a monk's conceit 'I am' is abandoned, its root destroyed, like an uprooted palm tree, deprived of the conditions of existence, not destined for future arising. This is how a monk is a noble one with banner lowered, burden placed down, unfettered.

"And when the devas, together with Indra, the Brahmas, & Pajapati, search for the monk whose mind is thus released, they cannot find that 'The consciousness of the one truly gone
(tathagata) [ftns: 11/226] is dependent on this.' Why is that? The one truly gone (tathagata) is untraceable even in the here & now. – MN I 139
Ven Thanissaro’s FN: 11. The term "tathagata" is often, but not always, reserved for the Buddha. Sometimes, as in the case here, it is used to refer to the arahant.

Bhikkhu Bodhi’s fn 226, p 1210: “Thus Gone” is, in Pali, Tathagata, the usual epithet of the Buddha, but here applied more broadly to the arahant [following the commentary].”

Thich Nhat Hanh translates the Chinese version of the above as: “the Buddha says: Indra, Prajapati, Brahma, and the other gods in their entourage, however hard they look, cannot find any trace or basis for the consciousness of a Tathagata.”

As for untraceable see:
Dhp 179-180

Whose conquest can't be undone,
whose conquest no one in the world
can reach;
awakened
[buddha], his pasture endless,
pathless:
by what path will you lead him astray?
In whom there's no craving
— the sticky ensnarer —
to lead him anywherever at all;
awakened
[buddha], his pasture endless,
pathless:
by what path will you lead him astray?
Another text where Tathagata and buddha can be understood to include the arahants:
Dhp 254-5: There's no trail in space,
no outside contemplative.
People are smitten
with complications,
but devoid of complication are
the Tathagatas.
There's no trail in space,
no outside contemplative,
no eternal fabrications,
no wavering in the Awakened
[buddha].
In the Sutta-Nipata take a look at the sutta that starts with v 455. Take note of the use of tathagata starting in v 467.

I.B. Horner states in her introduction to her translation of the Majjhima Nikaya, THE MIDDLE LENGTH SAYINGS, Vol 1 p xvii:
  • ‘Five reason why a Tathagata is called are given at D. iii 135 (cf A. ii. 24; It. P. 121) and the Commentaries provide another eight reasons (…). Each is somewhat complex, so it would appear that the word Tathagata had no simple, narrow or rigid meaning but was, on the contrary, one with a wide sweep. In sense probably “Accomplished One” or “Perfect One” comes nearest although having no etymological justification and being, moreover, equally applicable to any arahant, the perfect one who has done all there is to be done.’
It is not only tahagata that gets used for the arahant but, as we can see, also buddha.
Dhammapada 181: They, the enlightened, intent on jhana,
delighting in stilling
& renunciation,
self-awakened
[sambuddha] & mindful:
even the devas
view them with envy.
Dhammapada 398: Having cut the strap & thong,
cord & bridle,
having thrown off the bar,
awakened
[buddha]:
he's what I
[the Buddha] call
a brahman.
Dhammapada 419: "Who knows in every way the passing away and rebirth of beings, unattached, well-gone [sugata], awake [buddha], That one I [the Buddha] call brahmana."
Dhammapada 422: A splendid bull, conqueror,
hero, great seer —
free from want,
awakened
[buddha], washed:
he's what I call
a brahman.
>> 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.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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cooran
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Re: Looking for sutta definitions of: Tathāgata

Post by cooran » Thu Jul 28, 2016 1:21 am

Thanks Tilt - great references.

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
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Re: Looking for sutta definitions of: Tathāgata

Post by Mkoll » Thu Jul 28, 2016 1:53 am

Thank you for putting that together, tilt.

:anjali:
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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tiltbillings
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Re: Looking for sutta definitions of: Tathāgata

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:02 am

Mkoll wrote:Thank you for putting that together, tilt.

:anjali:
Actually, that goes back to E-Sangha days. A Mahayanist made a comment in the Theravada section about the arahants being lesser than a tathagata, and that was part of my response. The other part is that the Pali suttas show that the bodhi, awakening, of a an arahant is not different from that of the Buddha. The suttas are far more radical than they are given credit for being.
>> 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.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Looking for sutta definitions of: Tathāgata

Post by Dmytro » Thu Jul 28, 2016 8:28 am

23. ‘‘Loko, bhikkhave, tathāgatena abhisambuddho. Lokasmā tathāgato visaṃyutto. Lokasamudayo, bhikkhave, tathāgatena abhisambuddho. Lokasamudayo tathāgatassa pahīno. Lokanirodho, bhikkhave, tathāgatena abhisambuddho. Lokanirodho tathāgatassa sacchikato. Lokanirodhagāminī paṭipadā, bhikkhave, tathāgatena abhisambuddhā. Lokanirodhagāminī paṭipadā tathāgatassa bhāvitā.

‘‘Yaṃ, bhikkhave, sadevakassa lokassa samārakassa sabrahmakassa sassamaṇabrāhmaṇiyā pajāya sadevamanussāya diṭṭhaṃ sutaṃ mutaṃ viññātaṃ pattaṃ pariyesitaṃ anuvicaritaṃ manasā, sabbaṃ taṃ tathāgatena abhisambuddhaṃ. Tasmā ‘tathāgato’ti vuccati.

‘‘Yañca, bhikkhave, rattiṃ tathāgato anuttaraṃ sammāsambodhiṃ abhisambujjhati yañca rattiṃ anupādisesāya nibbānadhātuyā parinibbāyati, yaṃ etasmiṃ antare bhāsati lapati niddisati sabbaṃ taṃ tatheva hoti, no aññathā. Tasmā ‘tathāgato’ti vuccati.

‘‘Yathāvādī, bhikkhave, tathāgato tathākārī, yathākārī tathāvādī. Iti yathāvādī tathākārī, yathākārī tathāvādī. Tasmā ‘tathāgato’ti vuccati.

‘‘Sadevake, bhikkhave, loke samārake sabrahmake sassamaṇabrāhmaṇiyā pajāya sadevamanussāya tathāgato abhibhū anabhibhūto aññadatthu daso vasavattī. Tasmā ‘tathāgato’ti vuccati’’.

"The world1 has been fully awakened to by the Tathagata. From the world, the Tathagata is disjoined. The origination of the world has been fully awakened to by the Tathagata. The origination of the world has, by the Tathagata, been abandoned. The cessation of the world has been fully awakened to by the Tathagata. The cessation of the world has, by the Tathagata, been realized. The path leading to the cessation of the world has been fully awakened to by the Tathagata. The path leading to the cessation of the world has, by the Tathagata, been developed.

"Whatever in this world — with its devas, Maras, & Brahmas, its generations complete with contemplatives & priests, princes & men — is seen, heard, sensed, cognized, attained, sought after, pondered by the intellect, that has been fully awakened to by the Tathagata. Thus he is called the Tathagata.

"From the night the Tathagata fully awakens to the unsurpassed Right Self-awakening to the night he is totally unbound in the Unbinding property with no fuel remaining, whatever the Tathagata has said, spoken, explained is just so (tatha) and not otherwise. Thus he is called the Tathagata.

"The Tathagata is one who does in line with (tatha) what he teaches, one who teaches in line with what he does. Thus he is called the Tathagata.

"In this world with its devas, Maras, & Brahmas, its generations complete with contemplatives & priests, princes & men, the Tathagata is the unconquered conqueror, all-seeing, the wielder of power.2 Thus he is called the Tathagata."

Loka Sutta AN 2.23
Itivuttaka 112
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#iti-112

188. ‘‘Iti kho, cunda, atītānāgatapaccuppannesu dhammesu tathāgato kālavādī [kālavādī saccavādī (syā.)] bhūtavādī atthavādī dhammavādī vinayavādī, tasmā ‘tathāgato’ti vuccati. Yañca kho, cunda, sadevakassa lokassa samārakassa sabrahmakassa sassamaṇabrāhmaṇiyā pajāya sadevamanussāya diṭṭhaṃ sutaṃ mutaṃ viññātaṃ pattaṃ pariyesitaṃ anuvicaritaṃ manasā, sabbaṃ tathāgatena abhisambuddhaṃ, tasmā ‘tathāgato’ti vuccati. Yañca, cunda, rattiṃ tathāgato anuttaraṃ sammāsambodhiṃ abhisambujjhati, yañca rattiṃ anupādisesāya nibbānadhātuyā parinibbāyati, yaṃ etasmiṃ antare bhāsati lapati niddisati. Sabbaṃ taṃ tatheva hoti no aññathā, tasmā ‘tathāgato’ti vuccati. Yathāvādī, cunda, tathāgato tathākārī, yathākārī tathāvādī. Iti yathāvādī tathākārī, yathākārī tathāvādī, tasmā ‘tathāgato’ti vuccati. Sadevake loke, cunda, samārake sabrahmake sassamaṇabrāhmaṇiyā pajāya sadevamanussāya tathāgato abhibhū anabhibhūto aññadatthudaso vasavattī, tasmā ‘tathāgato’ti vuccati.

And so, O Cunda, concerning things past, future and present the Tathāgata is a prophet of the hour, a prophet of fact, a prophet of good, a prophet of the Norm, a prophet of the Discipline.

For this is he called Tathāgata.

Whatever, O Cunda, in this world with its devas and Māras and Brahmās, is by the folk thereof, gods or men, recluses or brahmins, seen, heard, felt, discerned, accomplished, striven for, or devised in mind,—all is understood by the Tathāgata.

For this is he called Tathāgata.

And all that in the interval between the night, O Cunda, wherein the Tathāgata was enlightened in the supreme enlightenment, and the night wherein he passed away without any condition of rebirth remaining,—all that, in that interval, he speaks in discourse or conversation or exposition:—all that is so, and not otherwise.

For that is he called Tathāgata.

As the Tathāgata says, O Cunda so he does; as he does, so he says.

Inasmuch as he goeth even according to his word, and his word is according to his going, for that is he called Tathāgata.

As to the world, O Cunda, with its Māras and its Brahmās, of all its folk, divine or human, recluses or brahmins, the Tathāgata hath surpassed them, hath not by them been surpassed, surveys them with sure vision, disposer of things.

For that is he called Tathāgata.

Pasadika sutta DN 3.134
https://suttacentral.net/en/dn29

Faelig
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Re: Looking for sutta definitions of: Tathāgata

Post by Faelig » Sat Jul 30, 2016 10:51 pm

tiltbillings on Thu Jul 28, 2016 3:11 am wrote:
In the Sutta-Nipata take a look at the sutta that starts with v 455. Take note of the use of tathagata starting in v 467.
Hi Tilt: Thanks a lot for your references and notes, I pieced together most of the stuff in your post (it took me a while though I'm still unfamiliar with the various styles of sutta references!) but I could not find these Sutta-Nipata verses... Which website would you recommend to find these references? or could you post a link?

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Re: Looking for sutta definitions of: Tathāgata

Post by Faelig » Sat Jul 30, 2016 10:54 pm

Thank you all for your help!
I tried to summarize the information gathered so far (edited with information from subsequent posts as well):

1) Sutta definitions:
So it would seem that there are three suttas which directly explain why a Tathāgata is called a Tathāgata (interestingly these three suttas are in three different books):
DN 29 The Delectable Discourse
AN 4.23 The World
Iti 112 The World

Here is a comparison of the three suttas:
Image
The 1st characteristic is only present in DN29, while the four other ones are present in the three suttas.

2) Characterization of a Tathāgata in the gradual training:
On top of these formal definitions (above), the beginning of the gradual training (often) starts with a stoke description of the Tathāgata (eg. MN27, but as well in 23 other suttas! (according to Leigh Brasington):
"A Tathāgata appears in the world, accomplished, fully enlightened, perfect in true knowledge and conduct, sublime, knower of worlds, incomparable leader of persons to be tamed, teacher of gods and humans, enlightened, blessed. He declares this world with its gods, its Māras, and its Brahmās, this generation with its recluses and brahmins, its princes and its people, which he has himself realised with direct knowledge. He teaches the Dhamma good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, with the right meaning and phrasing, and he reveals a holy life that is utterly perfect and pure." (translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi)

3) Characterization of a Tathāgata in comparison to the arahant or ordinary person:
Some characteristics seem to be inferred by comparisons with other beings.

MN 1 The Root of All Things
Here the Tathāgata is comparing the Tathāgata, arahants, disciples in higher training and ordinary persons.
1st distinction: "the Tathāgata has fully understood it to the end"
2nd distinction: "he has understood that delight is the root of suffering, and that with being as condition there is birth, and that for whatever has come to be there is ageing and death. Therefore, bhikkhus, through the complete destruction, fading away, cessation, giving up, and relinquishing of cravings, the Tathāgata has awakened to supreme full enlightenment"

SN 22.58 The Perfectly Enlightened One
"“Therein, bhikkhus, what is the distinction, what is the disparity, what is the difference between the Tathagata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, and a bhikkhu liberated by wisdom?” [...]
“The Tathagata, bhikkhus, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, is the originator of the path unarisen before, the producer of the path unproduced before, the declarer of the path undeclared before. He is the knower of the path, the discoverer of the path, the one skilled in the path. And his disciples now dwell following that path and become possessed of it afterwards."
“This, bhikkhus, is the distinction, the disparity, the difference between the Tathagata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, and a bhikkhu liberated by wisdom.”
(translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi)

AN 1.170-186 A Certain Person
170 "Bhikkhus, a certain person is born in the world for the welfare and pleasantness of gods and men. Who is it? It is the Thus Gone One, worthy and rightfully enlightened, born out of compassion for the world.
171. Bhikkhus, a certain person's appearance in the world is rare. Who is it? It is the Thus Gone One, worthy and rightfully enlightened, his appearance is rare in the world.
172. Bhikkhus, a certain person is born supreme in the world. Who is it? It is the Thus Gone One, worthy and rightfully enlightened. He is born supreme in the world.
173. Bhikkhus, a certain person's demise brings remorse to many. Who is it? It is the Thus Gone One, worthy and rightfully enlightened. His demise brings remorse to many.
174. Bhikkhus, a certain person is born in the world without a compare, to achieve the not yet achieved without a counterpart and chief among men. Who is it? It is the Thus Gone One, worthy and rightfully enlightened. He is born in the world without a compare, to achieve the not yet achieved without a counterpart and chief among men.
175-186. Bhikkhus, a certain person's arising in the world, is the arising of, great vision, an effulgent light, the six superior states, the fourfold mastership in analysis, the innumerable elements and the various elements, realizing the fruits of release with understanding, realizing the fruits of entering the stream of the teaching, realizing the fruits of returning once, realizing the fruits of not returning and realizing the fruits of arahantship. Who is it? It is the Thus Gone One, worthy and rightfully enlightened. Who is it? It is the Thus Gone One, worthy and rightfully enlightened. Who is it? It is the Thus Gone One, worthy and rightfully enlightened. Bhikkhus, his arising in the world is the arising of, great vision, an effulgent light, the six superior states, the fourfold mastership in analysis, the innumerable elements and the various elements, realizing the fruits of release with understanding, realizing the fruits of entering the stream of the teaching, realizing the fruits of returning once, realizing the fruits of not returning and realizing the fruits of arahantship." (transaltion by Sister Uppalavana)

Or in a table:
Image

4) But some suttas use the term Tathāgata as a synonym for arahant:
See Tilt's post above: links to suttas MN22, Dhp 254-255, Iti 68, Snp 3.4

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I think that will do it for me for now. Thanks again for the help!

With metta,
Remi
Last edited by Faelig on Sun Jul 31, 2016 11:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Looking for sutta definitions of: Tathāgata

Post by tiltbillings » Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:43 pm

Faelig wrote:.... 4) But some suttas use the term Tathāgata as a synonym for arahant:
See Tilt's post above and suttas MN22, Dhp 254-255, Iti 68
An impressive, neatly, well done amount of work. Also, Sutta-Nipata starting with v 455, taking note of the use of tathagata starting in v 467.
Last edited by tiltbillings on Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
>> 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.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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katavedi
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Re: Looking for sutta definitions of: Tathāgata

Post by katavedi » Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:53 pm

Yes, very nice work, Remi. Thank you for sharing it.

Here is a link to Tilt's sutta reference. The relevant portion starts a little less than halfway down the page. I think your table is about to get significantly bigger...

Kind wishes,
katavedi
“But, Gotamī, when you know of certain things: ‘These things lead to dispassion, not to passion; to detachment, not to attachment; to diminution, not to accumulation; to having few wishes, not to having many wishes; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to socializing; to the arousing of energy, not to indolence; to simple living, not to luxurious living’ – of such things you can be certain: ‘This is the Dhamma; this is the Discipline; this is the Master’s Teaching.’”

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Re: Looking for sutta definitions of: Tathāgata

Post by tiltbillings » Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:55 pm

katavedi wrote:Yes, very nice work, Remi. Thank you for sharing it.

Here is a link to Tilt's sutta reference. The relevant portion starts a little less than halfway down the page. I think your table is about to get significantly bigger...

Kind wishes,
katavedi
Thanks.
>> 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.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Will
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Re: Looking for sutta definitions of: Tathāgata

Post by Will » Sun Jul 31, 2016 1:39 am

Regarding the meaning of Thus Gone One, this part of the Nagara Sutta suggests that the way He took or travelled was ancient and specific:
I saw an ancient path, an ancient road, traveled by the Rightly Self-awakened Ones of former times. And what is that ancient path, that ancient road, traveled by the Rightly Self-awakened Ones of former times? Just this noble eightfold path: right view, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. That is the ancient path, the ancient road, traveled by the Rightly Self-awakened Ones of former times. I followed that path.
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
Nietzsche

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Re: Looking for sutta definitions of: Tathāgata

Post by Faelig » Sun Jul 31, 2016 11:23 am

katavedi wrote: Here is a link to Tilt's sutta reference. The relevant portion starts a little less than halfway down the page. I think your table is about to get significantly bigger...
Thanks a lot for the link Katavedi.
tiltbillings wrote: Also, Sutta-Nipata starting with v 455, taking note of the use of tathagata starting in v 467.
Done! I edited the previous summary post to include Katavedi's link to this sutta. Thanks for pointing it out.
Will wrote:Regarding the meaning of Thus Gone One, this part of the Nagara Sutta suggests that the way He took or travelled was ancient and specific:
Thanks Will for this quote. I really enjoyed reading this simile of the ancient road and ancient city. It seems to illustrates well the characteristic of a Tathāgata found in the sutta SN22.58 (line 18 in table above):
the Tathāgata [...] is the originator of the path unarisen before, the producer of the path unproduced before, the declarer of the path undeclared before. He is the knower of the path, the discoverer of the path, the one skilled in the path. And his disciples now dwell following that path and become possessed of it afterwards.
Thanks all :anjali:

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Re: Looking for sutta definitions of: Tathāgata

Post by CedarTree » Tue Jun 27, 2017 10:51 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
That which is the destruction of greed, hatred and delusion is asankhata, free from the conditioned." SN IV 359 and SN IV 362

That which is the destruction of greed, hatred and delusion is nibbana. SN IV 251 and IV 321

The destruction of greed, hatred, and delusion is arahantship. SN IV 252.

"Whoever frees himself from the passions of greed, hatred, and ignorance, they call him, one who is self developed, made divine, thus-gone [tathagata], awake (buddha), one who has left fear and hatred, and one who has let go of all." Itivuttaka 57

Since a tathagata, even when actually present, is incomprehensible, it is inept to say of him – of the Uttermost Person, the Supernal Person, the Attainer of the Supernal – that after death the tathagata is, or is not, or both is and is not, or neither is nor is not SN III 118 (For the full text of this passage, see: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/su ... 2-086.html )
(SN III 116: a tathagata is describing a tathagata.}

Of this Bhikkhu Bodhi states: “This should establish that “the Tathagata” here is not just “a being” [as the commentary states], but a Buddha or an arahant…” pg 1080 n163.
There is the case where a monk's conceit 'I am' is abandoned, its root destroyed, like an uprooted palm tree, deprived of the conditions of existence, not destined for future arising. This is how a monk is a noble one with banner lowered, burden placed down, unfettered.

"And when the devas, together with Indra, the Brahmas, & Pajapati, search for the monk whose mind is thus released, they cannot find that 'The consciousness of the one truly gone
(tathagata) [ftns: 11/226] is dependent on this.' Why is that? The one truly gone (tathagata) is untraceable even in the here & now. – MN I 139
Ven Thanissaro’s FN: 11. The term "tathagata" is often, but not always, reserved for the Buddha. Sometimes, as in the case here, it is used to refer to the arahant.

Bhikkhu Bodhi’s fn 226, p 1210: “Thus Gone” is, in Pali, Tathagata, the usual epithet of the Buddha, but here applied more broadly to the arahant [following the commentary].”

Thich Nhat Hanh translates the Chinese version of the above as: “the Buddha says: Indra, Prajapati, Brahma, and the other gods in their entourage, however hard they look, cannot find any trace or basis for the consciousness of a Tathagata.”

As for untraceable see:
Dhp 179-180

Whose conquest can't be undone,
whose conquest no one in the world
can reach;
awakened
[buddha], his pasture endless,
pathless:
by what path will you lead him astray?
In whom there's no craving
— the sticky ensnarer —
to lead him anywherever at all;
awakened
[buddha], his pasture endless,
pathless:
by what path will you lead him astray?
Another text where Tathagata and buddha can be understood to include the arahants:
Dhp 254-5: There's no trail in space,
no outside contemplative.
People are smitten
with complications,
but devoid of complication are
the Tathagatas.
There's no trail in space,
no outside contemplative,
no eternal fabrications,
no wavering in the Awakened
[buddha].
In the Sutta-Nipata take a look at the sutta that starts with v 455. Take note of the use of tathagata starting in v 467.

I.B. Horner states in her introduction to her translation of the Majjhima Nikaya, THE MIDDLE LENGTH SAYINGS, Vol 1 p xvii:
  • ‘Five reason why a Tathagata is called are given at D. iii 135 (cf A. ii. 24; It. P. 121) and the Commentaries provide another eight reasons (…). Each is somewhat complex, so it would appear that the word Tathagata had no simple, narrow or rigid meaning but was, on the contrary, one with a wide sweep. In sense probably “Accomplished One” or “Perfect One” comes nearest although having no etymological justification and being, moreover, equally applicable to any arahant, the perfect one who has done all there is to be done.’
It is not only tahagata that gets used for the arahant but, as we can see, also buddha.
Dhammapada 181: They, the enlightened, intent on jhana,
delighting in stilling
& renunciation,
self-awakened
[sambuddha] & mindful:
even the devas
view them with envy.
Dhammapada 398: Having cut the strap & thong,
cord & bridle,
having thrown off the bar,
awakened
[buddha]:
he's what I
[the Buddha] call
a brahman.
Dhammapada 419: "Who knows in every way the passing away and rebirth of beings, unattached, well-gone [sugata], awake [buddha], That one I [the Buddha] call brahmana."
Dhammapada 422: A splendid bull, conqueror,
hero, great seer —
free from want,
awakened
[buddha], washed:
he's what I call
a brahman.

Thanks Tilt, as always awesome work :)


Practice, Practice, Practice


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