Is the idea of multiple "degrees" of Arhat a later development?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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Zom
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Re: Is the idea of multiple "degrees" of Arhat a later development?

Post by Zom » Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:12 am

Is there a reason the Chinese text is by default considered corrupt when there is a conflict with the Pali? Why is it not the other way around?
In this particular case it is corrupted simply because jhana idea is so central to Buddha's original teaching and many many times it is hinted that jhana is so necessary for arahantship, where MN 64 says directly it is 100% needed. This is why there is no doubt that this Chinese text was, lets say, "wrongly memorized". I think this Chinese text even in conflict with MN 64 Chinese (Agama) version. Need to check that work by Ven. Analayo, but I'm almost sure that is the case.

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Re: Is the idea of multiple "degrees" of Arhat a later development?

Post by aflatun » Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:38 pm

thomaslaw wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:51 am
...
Zom wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:12 am
...
Thank you for the responses!
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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TheSynergist
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Re: Is the idea of multiple "degrees" of Arhat a later development?

Post by TheSynergist » Fri Feb 23, 2018 1:18 am

Just to chime in again, this time in regards to the Chinese Agama version of the Susima Sutta --- Gombrich argued in "How Buddhism Began" that the Chinese version was trying to suggest that the monks were lying:
At this point we turn to the Susima Sutta (SN, Nidana-saÅyutta,
Mahavagga dasamaÅ XII, 70 SN II, 119–128). As
mentioned above, I need to devote a separate article to this text,
since I wish to demonstrate that it is an incoherent reworking of a
text which originally made quite different points. This original
text, or something like it, is preserved in Chinese translation. In
that version (which is too long to reproduce here) Susima, an
intelligent non-Buddhist renunciate of some kind, gets into the
Buddhist Order because he wants to discover the secret of the
Buddhists’ success with the public. He spends the first fortnight
picking up the rudiments of what is being taught, so that he has
some idea of what Enlightenment should consist of. A newcomer,
he is not socially integrated into the group of monks in that
monastery. One of them, to put him down, says that all of them
are already Enlightened. Susima, who has learnt what this should
involve, cross-examines the monk, who is immediately shown
up: he cannot even claim that they are free of greed and hatred.
Susima then betakes himself to the Buddha, who realises –
perhaps because he is aware of the preceding conversation – that
Susima shows promise. The Buddha then teaches him the chain
of dependent origination. On receiving this teaching, Susima
naturally makes some spiritual progress, and the result – indeed
the outward sign – of this progress is that he confesses to having
entered the Order as a spy. The Buddha then commends him and
the text ends by implying that Susima is now headed towards further
spiritual improvement.
pp 123-124

He goes on to suggest the story was changed because it was too unflattering to monks. Unfortunately, I cannot seem to find the article where Gombrich talks about this Sutta/Agama more.

So even if the Chinese were original, it doesn't necessarily mean Jhanas are unnecessary. It could be suggesting the exact opposite, in fact.

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Re: Is the idea of multiple "degrees" of Arhat a later development?

Post by thomaslaw » Sun Feb 25, 2018 12:33 am

TheSynergist wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 1:18 am
...

So even if the Chinese were original, it doesn't necessarily mean Jhanas are unnecessary. It could be suggesting the exact opposite, in fact.
According to Choong Mun-keat, the knowing of the four noble truths is part of the practice, which includes practising 'concentrative meditation' (pp. 237-238 in The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism):

"The knowing of the four noble truths, as part of the practice is made clearer in SN 56. 25 and its counterpart SA 384. The SN version records the Buddha as saying:

Bhiksus, I declare that extinction of the influxes (aasavaana.m khaya.m) is in one who knows (jaanato), who sees (passato), not in one who does not know, who does not see.
Bhiksus, in one who knows, who sees "this is suffering, this is the arising of suffering, this is the cessation of suffering, this is the way leading to the cessation of suffering," there is extinction of the influxes.

The corresponding SA version states:

If by a bhiksu the noble truth of suffering has been known, has been understood; the noble truth of the arising of suffering has been known, has been eliminated; the noble truth of the cessation of suffering has been known, has been attained; the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering has been known, has been cultivated, then such a bhiksu is called arhant, he has extinguished the influxes ...

The two versions differ in expression, but they say in common that knowing (wisdom) or seeing (insight) refers to knowing or seeing the four noble truths; and knowing or seeing is essential in the practice, leading the mind to liberation from the influxes.

For knowing or seeing the four noble truths, both traditions encourage the practice of concentrative meditation. In SN 56. 1 the Buddha says:

Bhiksus, practise (bhaavetha) concentration (samaadhim). The bhiksu who is concentrated (samaahito) knows (pajanati) [things] as they really are (yathaabhuutam). And what does he know as they really are?
In this connection, he knows as it really is: this is suffering, this is the arising of suffering, this is the ceasing of suffering, this is the way leading to the ceasing of suffering.

Similarly, in SN 56. 2 he says "Bhiksus, apply yourselves to solitary meditation (pa.tisallaane yogam aapajjatha)." The corresponding SA 429 and 428 have almost the same content. Thus, both versions indicate that practising concentrative meditation is a means to knowing or seeing the four noble truths. "
-----

Here the practising 'concentrative meditation' can refer to jhanas. I think at least the first jhana is needed for attaining the level of the wisdom-liberated arhat. :meditate:

Thomas

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Re: Is the idea of multiple "degrees" of Arhat a later development?

Post by James Tan » Sun Feb 25, 2018 8:33 am

:reading:

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