Author Topic: What happens to Arhats?  (Read 23832 times)

Big Uncle

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2011, 06:01:23 PM »
is it possible to just gain enlightenment, instead of being an arhat first?

Did a bit more research and studying up on Arhats. Here's what I learnt.
There are two types of obscurations -
1. Obscuration of Liberation
2. Obscuration of Omniscience

To become a Buddha, we need to rid off both obscurations.

Arhats have attained liberation from samsara, thus they have rid themselves of obscuration of liberation..but not obscuration of omniscience.

To gain enlightenment requires one to rid off all the obscurations and the seeds/stains. Honorific titles (for lack of a better word) are given to show the attainments. In this case..."arhats", "tathagathas" etc.... 

Our goal is not to become an arhat but to be fully enlightened. Thus, Je Tsongkhapa's teachings on both compassion and wisdom is so precious. I think in this lineage, with the guidance of a qualified Guru, it is possible to be enlightened without having to become an arhat. Please correct me if it is an incorrect view.

If one is liberated from Samsara but has not attained total omniscience. What's the point in attaining total omniscience? We are already out of Samsara right? That's what matters most, right? What's the point in attaining total omniscience when we don't have to suffer in Samsara?

Hope rainbow says that we are not out of Samsara when we are not fully enlightened. Arhats are not fully enlightened but in the highest heavens? That means they are still in Samsara, right? That means their experience of joy and bliss will come to an end?

More questions! Sorry guys...

hope rainbow

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2011, 08:20:20 AM »
Eventually, if (if) there is such an option as being out of samsara and enjoy this freedom without generating  compassion and altruism over the beings that are still stuck in samsara and suffer greatly, I don't see how this could be a state of "peace of mind", not to mention bliss?
There must be a thought arising at one moment: "what about all others? Can I actually do something for them?"
Eventually, that thought is meant to overcome the numbing comfort of "bliss", because it seems to me as being the only thought that makes sense.

Example: I manage to get on board a small rescue boat after the Titanic has sunk, and I hear the screams and sighs of the other passengers freezing, drowning, dying. Sure I would not have a peace of mind... unless I generate no compassion.

vajrastorm

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2011, 08:46:58 AM »
In Pabongka Rinpoche’s “Liberation in The Palm of Your Hand”, Day 4, The Refuge Visualizations, we are told that for the fourth Object of Refuge- the Sangha- the Arhats (the Shravakas and the Pratyekabuddhas)and Boddhisattvas are the Sutric Sangha and the Dakas, Dakinis and Dharma Protectors are the Tantric Sangha. If the Arhats are the Sangha we take refuge in, they can’t possibly be still in Samsara, can they? 

hope rainbow

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #18 on: April 12, 2011, 03:03:35 PM »
In Pabongka Rinpoche’s “Liberation in The Palm of Your Hand”, Day 4, The Refuge Visualizations, we are told that for the fourth Object of Refuge- the Sangha- the Arhats (the Shravakas and the Pratyekabuddhas)and Boddhisattvas are the Sutric Sangha and the Dakas, Dakinis and Dharma Protectors are the Tantric Sangha. If the Arhats are the Sangha we take refuge in, they can’t possibly be still in Samsara, can they? 

This is what I say on this:
Being a Sangha member does not equate with being enlightened.
Being a Sangha member equates with "living by the Buddha's teachings" and is relevant to vows taken to that effect.
Sangha is like a spiritual nurse.
Buddha (enlightened being) is like a spiritual doctor.
The nurse does not qualify as a doctor, but the doctor can act as a nurse.

fruven

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #19 on: June 24, 2012, 12:51:35 PM »
If Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can emanate themselves into samsara to teach Dharma to sentient beings, do Arhats can perform emanation feat as well?

ratanasutra

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #20 on: June 25, 2012, 06:38:27 PM »
Thanks for the explanation of the Arhats and enlightenment.

I heard from few of senior practitioners in Theravada school that some of senior monks aim his practice to gain enlighten but when the time he passing he changed to enter to Arhatship instead of continue to Buddhahood, is this possible?



 

bambi

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #21 on: June 26, 2012, 05:07:59 AM »


If one is liberated from Samsara but has not attained total omniscience. What's the point in attaining total omniscience? We are already out of Samsara right? That's what matters most, right? What's the point in attaining total omniscience when we don't have to suffer in Samsara?

Hope rainbow says that we are not out of Samsara when we are not fully enlightened. Arhats are not fully enlightened but in the highest heavens? That means they are still in Samsara, right? That means their experience of joy and bliss will come to an end?

More questions! Sorry guys...
[/quote]

Dear Big Uncle,
If I may. Hope it helps.

I did a few research and found that arhats are free from rebirth but that doesn't mean that they enlightened as they lacked ability in skillful means to progress as bodhisattvas toward complete enlightenment.

Free of rebirth. What is meant by "free of rebirth"? It means they have ended birth and death. They no longer suffer its misery. However, they have only ended share section birth and death. They have not yet ended change birth and death, so they are only Arhats. If you can cultivate the 250 precepts, then you will accomplish your study of the precepts. If you value purity in all things, then you will accomplish your study of samadhi. If you cultivate the Way of the Four Truths, then you will accomplish your study of wisdom. In this way, you will cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom to perfection; and you will destroy greed, hatred, and stupidity. Once you have destroyed greed, hatred, and stupidity, you become an Arhat. There are four kinds of Arhats: first, second, third, and fourth stage Arhats. One who accomplishes the fourth stage of Arhatship truly ends birth and death.

The four stages are :

1. Stream-entrant when one has profound faith in what one is doing because the results are emerging and the process is very obvious. If we compared the path of meditation to unblocking a drain, it is at this stage that -after poking for ages with the rods- the blockage clears and the water starts to flow swiftly.

2. Once-returner when one has purified so much of one's mind and karma that there will be only one more rebirth in the world.

3. Non-returner when one is living that last life in which one becomes an Arhat.

4. Arhat the final achievement when every trace, gross or subtle, of ego-delusion and its subsequent desires, anger, jealousy, pride and confusion are all irreversibly eliminated from the mind and the mind will rest continuously in deep, far-reaching meditation.


Nirvana is not something in particular: not something that is . Nirvana means "suffering transcended". In other words, it is defined by what it isn't: it isn't suffering. It means that you have got free from suffering forever. It is like saying, "got out of the fire". One is no longer being burnt by the sufferings of life. But this does not tell us where we actually are: in a swimming-pool, up a mountain, in a space-capsule. It only tells us that we are out of the fire. So this word nirvana can cover many possibilities. This will become important when we look at the way of the bodhisattva. We will find that the bodhisattva is trying to achieve a much higher nirvana than that of the Arhat. Both are nirvana in as much as both have gone beyond the suffering of the world because both have ceased creating the karma that causes suffering. But the bodhisattva aims to become a Buddha and a Buddha has far more qualities than an Arhat and has removed more blockages from the mind.

To give an analogy: if we think of worldliness as the planet Earth, the Arhat has gone beyond the Earth's gravitational field and is floating in the space of meditation. The Buddha has also gone beyond the Earth's gravity but has reached the heart of the Sun of Wisdom.

Now let us return to the way of the Arhat. It consists of the Triple Training: Conduct, Meditation and Wisdom. I think you may know these. The basis for the Arhat's path to the Arhat's nirvana is a very pure ethical and moral conduct in all one says, all one does physically and also in one's profession. In one respect, it is similar to the careful attention to karma of the first type of valuable human being. But the motivation is different. Here the pure conduct is aimed at switching off the video of life, not at making it into a better film! This different motivation channels things differently. It is like earning the same amount of money but investing it in another account. The Arhat's good karma is not paying the worldly mortgage - it is going in to the permanent retirement fund.

http://www.samyeling.org/index/the-ways-of-the-arhat-and-of-the-bodhisattva

yontenjamyang

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #22 on: June 26, 2012, 07:50:13 AM »
In the Lamrim teachings it is said that the motivation to be an Arhat (medium scope) is inferior to the motivation of boddhicitta (great scope). The analogy given is that if one is training in the Arhat's path and becomes the abbot and then enters the Mahayana path, this abbot will need to work from the bottom ie, do the cleaning, cooking. So of course it is better to enter into the Mahayana path from the beginning.

Also, I have asked the Dharma teacher (lay teacher), where is the Arhat in relation to the Mahayana path. His reply is that it is equal to the first ground boddhisattva on the path of seeing. I think all the replies on this topic support this. The Arhats perceive emptiness directly. There can chose to practice Boddhicitta and proceed to achieve the higher grounds all the way to the ground of "No More Learning" ie Buddhahood. The reason is that only Buddhas has no obscurations to Omniscience and hence can be the of the maximum benefit to all sentient beings.

Vajraprotector

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #23 on: June 26, 2012, 09:29:10 PM »
There are references, such as in Mahayana texts like the Saddharmapundarika Sutra, where the arahant is said not to have reached final nirvana. Essentially, they're seen as being intoxicated with the bliss of the samadhi of cessation, not the nirvana that's attained by a fully enlightened buddha.

Only the Buddhas are able to awaken these individuals from their temporary cessation in order for them to continue towards complete Buddhahood, which is characterized by omniscience. This is said to be due to Buddhahood being the result of wisdom and merit accumulation, and not just the eradication of afflictions.

As Thubten Chodron explains it:
In the Sanskrit canon, or at least in the Tibetan tradition, when you have arhatship without remainder you abide in meditative equipoise on emptiness for a long, long time. So consciousness still exists, the person still exists, it's merely labeled in dependence upon those aggregates, which are not tainted aggregates, but not completely purified aggregates. Although they're free from ignorance, so they're untainted. Yes, they would be untainted. They still have the cognitive obscurations but they would be untainted.

So you abide in the nirvana for eons in your meditative equipoise until eventually the Buddha wakes you up and says, “You have to work for the benefit of sentient beings, your job isn't really done.” So that's from a Mahayana viewpoint, what's happened to the arhats.

fruven

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #24 on: June 29, 2012, 05:08:21 AM »
In the Lamrim teachings it is said that the motivation to be an Arhat (medium scope) is inferior to the motivation of boddhicitta (great scope). The analogy given is that if one is training in the Arhat's path and becomes the abbot and then enters the Mahayana path, this abbot will need to work from the bottom ie, do the cleaning, cooking. So of course it is better to enter into the Mahayana path from the beginning.

Also, I have asked the Dharma teacher (lay teacher), where is the Arhat in relation to the Mahayana path. His reply is that it is equal to the first ground boddhisattva on the path of seeing. I think all the replies on this topic support this. The Arhats perceive emptiness directly. There can chose to practice Boddhicitta and proceed to achieve the higher grounds all the way to the ground of "No More Learning" ie Buddhahood. The reason is that only Buddhas has no obscurations to Omniscience and hence can be the of the maximum benefit to all sentient beings.

If a person already has a medium scope motivation, to move towards great scope motivation, won't it be easier compare to someone who has small scope, although he would need to work from bottom again? He would be progressing way much faster than those who has not much scope to speak off ;D

I heard of we aim for the highest 100%, we may gain 100%, we don't close up the possibilities. But to some the thought of even thinking of 50% or 25%, I am not sure medium scope is how many percent, is also very hard.

Midakpa

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #25 on: August 26, 2012, 06:08:34 PM »
Phra Acharn Maha Boowa Nyanasampanno in his book on the Venerable Phra Acharn Mun (1976:318) defines an arhat as "one who is purified, an enlightened one". He mentions that arhats are divided into four types. Apparently each type of arhat is endowed with particular achievements:

1. Those who have achieved full-final attainment without any by-products. Their minds are absolutely purified, perfected is their task with regard to mind-development, there being for them no more rebirth. In other words, they have met the minimum requirement for such an attainment and are endowed with no additional qualities.

2. Those who have achieved full-final attainment with the three-fold knowledges: recollection of past lives, clairvoyance (into the births and deaths of other beings), and the attainment of insight.

3. Those who have full-final attainment blessed with the sixfold psychical feats. In addition to insight, the minimum requirement, the others are: psychic feats of all kinds (levitation, for example), clairaudience, mind-reading, recollection of past lives, and clairvoyance.

4. Those who have achieved full-final attainment with fluency of discernment which are four in number: fluency in giving explanations or discernment with regards to results, fluency in summarizing or discernment with regards to causes, fluency in the use of words or language, fluency in the manners of application and adaptation.


Midakpa

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #26 on: September 02, 2012, 06:01:16 PM »
What's the difference between an arhat and a Buddha? An arhat is an enlightened being who is liberated from the cycle of death and rebirth. A Buddha is an enlightened being who has realized the ultimate wisdom and has attained perfection. Within the Buddha, there is not even the slightest defilement. But the arhat, although he has ended all vexation and suffering, subtle traces of anger or hatred still remain in him.

There is a story recorded in the Buddhist scriptures that shows the difference between an arhat and a Buddha. Once Buddha and his disciples were on a trip, and one day they came to a vast forest. Suddenly, they saw a little bird, terrified and frantic, being chased by an eagle. Seeing this, a disciple quickly sheltered the little bird under his clothes. Having barely escaped from the jaws of death, the little bird was still trembling all over. The Buddha thereupon took the little bird and held it softly in his bosom. The bird finally calmed down, settled into peace, and was no longer in fear.

This shows that the disciple, who was an arhat, was not able to offer refuge to the bird due to the subtle defilements within him. The Buddha, however, had cleared away all his defilements and hence, was a refuge for all. In the presence of the Buddha, all sentient beings feel completely secure and relieved of fear.

buddhalovely

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #27 on: September 05, 2012, 01:09:17 PM »
I know of two options:
- Attains parinirvana.
- Becomes a bodhisattva.

If he attains parinirvana, is that the same as of a buddha, or not? If it is the same, do buddhas remain active saving beings or no? If they do, obviously arhats would do the same. Same if they don't stay. If it is different, what is the difference? Can there be higher and lower freedom from samsara?

If he becomes a bodhisattva, what is the cause? If it is the decision of the arhat, did he make that decision before, or after death? If before, he was already on the bodhisattva path before death and not that of the arhat. If after, then what mental factor could cause such a decision considering he has released all reliance on the aggregates and the aggregates dispersed at the time of death since there was no reason for them to be born. But if there were some attachments left, how could he be called someone free from samsara, an arhat? Or if the joining of the path of the bodhisattva was caused by somebody else, like a buddha, where could that influence take its effect? If it happened before death, again, it wasn't a death of an arhat. If after, what was influenced?

Ensapa

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #28 on: September 05, 2012, 03:39:06 PM »
I have found this passage about Arahats, quoted from the Sutra and I thought that it would be extremely relevant to this thread.

Quote
The Lankavatara Sutra: Self-Realisation of Noble Wisdom

Chapter X : Discipleship: Lineage of the Arhats

Then Mahamati asked the Blessed One: Prey tell us how many kinds of disciples there are?

The Blessed One replied: There are as many kinds of disciples as there are individuals, but for convenience they may be divided into two groups: disciples of the lineage of the Arhats, and disciples known as Bodhisattvas. Disciples of the lineage of the Arhats may be considered under two aspects: First, according to the number of times they will return to this life of birth-and-death; and second, according to their spiritual progress. Under the first aspect, they may be subdivided into three groups: The "Stream-entered," the "Once-returning," and the "Never-returning."

The Stream-entered are those disciples, who having freed themselves from the attachments to the lower discriminations and who have cleansed themselves from the twofold hindrances and who clearly understand the meaning of the twofold egolessness, yet who still cling to the notion of individuality and generality and to their own egoness. They will advance along the stages to the sixth only to succumb to the entrancing bliss of the Samadhis. They will be reborn seven times, or five times, or three times, before they will be able to pass the sixth stage. The Once-returning are the Arhats, and the Never-returning are the Bodhisattvas who have reached the seventh stage.

The reasons for these graduations is because of their attachment to the three degrees of false-imagination: namely, faith in moral practices, doubt, and the view of their individual personality. When this three hindrances are overcome, they will be able to attain the higher stages. As to moral practices: the ignorant, simple-minded disciples obey the rules of morality, piety and penance, because they desire thereby to gain worldly advancement and happiness, with the added hope of being reborn in more favorable conditions. The Stream-entered ones do not cling to moral practices for any hope of reward for their minds are fixed on the exalted state of self-realisation; the reason they devote themselves to the details of morality is that they wish to master such truths as are in conformity with the undefiled out-flowings. As regards the hindrance of doubt in the Buddha’s teaching, that will continue so long as any of the notions of discrimination are cherished and will disappear when they disappear. Attachment to the view of individual personality will be gotten rid of as the disciple gains a more thorough understanding of the notions of being and non-being, self-nature and egolessness, thereby getting rid of the attachments to his own selfness that goes with those discriminations. By breaking up and clearing away these three hindrances the Stream-entered one will be able to discard all greed, anger and folly.

As for the Once-returning Arhats; there was once in them the discrimination of form, signs, and appearances, but as they gradually learned by right-knowledge not to view individual objects under the aspect of quality and qualifying, and as they became acquainted with what marks the attainment of the practice of dhyana, they have reached the stage of enlightement where in one more rebirth they will be able to put an end to the clinging to their own self-interests. Free from this burden of error and its attachments, the passions will no more assert themselves and the hindrances will be cleared away forever.

Under the second aspect disciples may be grouped according to the spiritual progress they have attained, into four classes, namely, disciples (sravaka), masters (pratyekabuddha), Arhats, and Bodhisattvas.

The first class of disciples mean well but they find it difficult to understand unfamiliar ideas. Their minds are joyful when studying about and practising the things belonging to appearances that can be discriminated, but they become confused by the notion of an uninterrupted chain of causation, and they become fearful when they consider the aggregates that make up personality and its object world as being maya-like, empty and egoless. They were able to advance to the fifth or sixth stage where they are able to do away with the rising of passions, but not with the notions that give rise to passion and, therefore, they are unable to get rid of the clinging to an ego-soul and its accompanying attachments, habits and habit-energy. In this same class the disciples are the earnest disciples of other faiths, who clinging to the notions of such things as, the soul as an external entity, Supreme Atman, Personal God, seek a that is in harmony with them. There are others, more materialistic in their ideas, who think that all things exist in dependance upon causation and, therefore, that Nirvana must be in like dependence. But none of these, earnest though they be, have gained an insight into the truth of the twofold egolessness and are, therefore, of limited spiritual insights as regards deliverance and non-deliverance; for them there is no emancipation. They have great self-confidence but they can never gain a true knowledge of Nirvana until they have learned to disciple themselves in the patient acceptance of the twofold egolessness.

The second class of masters are those who have gained a high degree of intellectual understanding of the truths concerning the aggregates that make up personality and its external world but who are filled with fear when they face the significance and consequences of these truths, and the demands which their learning makes upon them, that is, not to become attached to the external world and its manifold forms making for comfort and power, and to keep away from the entanglements of its social relations. They are attracted by the possibilities that are attainable by so doing, namely, the possesion of miraculous powers such as dividing the personality and appearning in different places at the same time, or manifesting bodies of transformation. To gain these powers they even resort to the solitary life, but this class of master never gets beyond the seductions of their learning and egoism, and their discourses are always in conformity with that characteristic and limitation. Among them are many earnest disciples who show a degree of spiritual insight that is characterised by sincerity and undismayed willingness to meet all the demands that the stages make upon them. When they see that all that nakes up the objective world is only a manifestation of mind, that it is without self-nature, un-born and egoless, they accept it without fear, and when they see their own ego-soul is also empty, un-born and egoless, they are untroubled and undismayed, with earnest purpose they seek to adjust their lives to the full demands of these truths, but they cannot forget the notions that lie back of these facts, especially the notion of their own conscious ego-self and its relation to Nirvana. They are of the Stream-entered class.

The class known as Arhats are those earnest masters who belong to the returning class. But their spiritual insight they have reached the sixth and seventh stages. They have thoroughly understood the truth of the twofold egolessness and the imagelessness of Reality; with them there is no more discrimination, nor passions, nor pride of egoism; they have gained an exalted insight and seen into the immensity of the Buddha-lands. By attaining an inner perception of the true nature of Universal Mind they are steadily purifying their habit-energy. The Arhats has attained emancipation, enlightement, the Dhyanas, the Samadhis, and his whole attention is given to the attainment of Nirvana, but the idea of Nirvana causes mental perturbations because he has the wrong idea of Nirvana. The notions of Nirvana in his mind is divided: he discriminated Nirvana from self, and self from others. He has attained some of the fruits of self-realisation but he still thinks and discourses on the Dhyanas, subjects for meditation, the Samadhis, the fruits. He pridefully says: "There are fetters, but I am disengaged from them." His is a double fault: he both denounces the vices of the ego, and still cling to its fetters. So long as he continues to discriminate notions of dhyana, dhyana practice, subjects fro dhyana, right-knowledge and truth, there is a bewildered state of mind,- he has not attained perfect emancipation. Emancipation comes with the acceptance of imagelessness.

He is master of the Dhyanas and enters into the Samadhis, but to reach the higher stages one must pass beyond the Dhyanas, the immeasurables, the world of no-form, and the bliss of the Samadhis into the Samapattis leading to the cessation of thought itself. The dhyana-practicer, dhyana, the subject of dhyana, the cessation of thought, once-returning, never-returning, all these are divided and bewildering states of mind. Not until all discrimination is abandoned is there perfect emancipation. Thus the Arhats, master of the dhyanas, participating in the Samadhis, but unsupported by the Buddhas yields to the entrancing bliss of the Samadhis – and passes to his Nirvana.

Disciples and masters and Arhats may ascend the stages up to the sixth. They perceive that the triple world is no more than mind itself; they perceive that there is no becoming attached to the multiciplicites of external objects except through the discriminations and activities of the mind itself; they perceive that there is no ego-soul; and, therefore, they attain a measure of tranquilisation. But their tranqulisation is not perfect every minute of their lives, for with them there is something effect-producing, some grasped and grasping, some lingering trace of dualism and egoism. Though disengaged from the habit-energy of passion and, becoming intoxicated with the wine of the Samadhis, they will have their abode in the realm of the out-flowings. Perfect tranqulisation is possible only with the seventh stage. So long as their minds are in confusion, they cannot attain to a clear conviction as to the cessation of all multiplicity and the actuality of the perfect oneness of all things. In their minds the self-nature of things is still discriminated as good and bad, therefore, their minds are in confusion and they cannot pass beyond the sixth stage. But at the sixth stage all discrimination ceases as they become engrossed in the bliss of the Samadhis wherein they cherish the thought of Nirvana and, as Nirvana is possible at the sixth stage, they pass into their Nirvana, but it is not the Nirvana of the Buddhas.

rossoneri

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #29 on: September 08, 2012, 08:24:53 AM »
An arhat (this is Pali; the Sanskrit is arahant) is, in simplest terms, a follower of the Buddha who has attained her or his own Enlightenment.  In Southern Buddhism, this was the Ideal.  There is only one Buddha in any given Age, according to the Southerners, and the best that anyone else can hope for is Arhatship.  This is attained through intense meditation, which leads to Wisdom.  When we come to Mahayana Buddhism, a shift in the Ideal takes place.  Those who consider Wisdom and the attainment of Enlightenment for themselves to be the goal, and who pursue this without thought for the Enlightenment of others, are deemed selfish or, at the least, truncated somehow.  In one scheme, portrayed in the Lankavatara Sutra, there are Ten Stages on the Way to Bodhisattvahood.  There is a danger at Stage Six of becoming "enchanted by the bliss of the Samadhis" and thus "pass to their Nirvana" without completing the Way--thus being Arhats, not Bodhisattvas.

However, both Mahayana and Southern Buddhism recognize that the Path of the Arhat is essential; even Bodhisattvas must go through these first six stages, cultivating Wisdom, before moving on to Stages Seven, Eight, Nine, and Ten. So the Arhats have been a common motif in Chinese art from the earliest days.

The Chinese call these eighteen the "Lohan."  This is derived from "a-lo-han," a phonetic approximation to the Sanskrit "Arahant."  In Japan, the abbreviated "lohan" has become "rakkan."

The group of Arhats is often called "The Assembly at Vulture Peak."  In Mahayana tradition, the Buddha often met on Mount Gridhrakrta in central India--the peak of which is shaped like a vulture's head--with an astonishing assembly of natural and supernatural beings: "monks and arhats, Boddhisattvas of foreign lands, incalculable numbers of gods, dragons, yaksas, asuras, and other sentient beings."  Here he would deliver his sermons, later to become sutras.  So the Arhats were key attendants of the Buddha's teachings, and later came to be seen as guardians.

Following are the famous 18 Arhats:

Pindola, The Arhat with Long Eyebrows (1): (Also called Pindola the Bharadvaja) 
This Pindola is leader of the Arhats.  Sometimes shown with long eyebrows, he and Ajita are sometimes switched, so he is sometimes shown riding a deer.  The name "Pindola the Bharadvaja" is sometimes used because one of the candidates for inclusion as a 17th or 18th Arhat is a second Pindola.  The eyebrows indicate longevity, signifying seniority and, thus, leadership.  Another legend says that he was born with these eyebrows!  It seems he had been a monk in a previous life who tried--but failed--to gain Enlightenment.  He hung on to life, striving for attainment, for such a long time that finally all that was left were the two long eyebrows!

Kanakavatsa, The Jolly Arhat (2): (Also called Kanaka the Vatsa) 
He was a great debater and orator.  When seekers asked what happiness was, he would say it came from the five senses; but when asked about Bliss he said it came, not from the outside, but from the inside.  Not being subject to changes on the outside, it could then be sustained indefinitely.  He is sometimes seen banging cymbals in his joy.

Kanakabharavaja, The Alms Holding Arhat (3): (Also called Kanaka the Bharadvaja) 
He was famous for begging with his bowl-and his eyes-upraised, accepting gifts without shame.  He is often portrayed with one foot in the air; this may be the position of "royal ease" (one raised knee), but looks more like he is dancing like Shiva!  In any case, he represents one who can receive gifts graciously.

Subinda, The Pagoda Holding Arhat (4): (Also called Nandimitra) 
This was the last disciple to meet the Buddha before his death; afterward, he carried a pagoda to remind him of the Buddha's earthly presence.  The scholar Watters says that he is sometimes portrayed with an alms bowl and an incense burner next to him; he holds a scroll in his left hand, and is snapping the fingers of his right.  Watters says, "This gesture is indicative of the rapidity with which he attained spiritual insight."  Given how briefly he knew the Buddha, it may also signify his understanding of the impermanence of things.

Nakula, The Silently Seated Arhat (5): (Also called Vakula) 
It is said that Nakula was a former warrior with immense strength; all of the violence of his former life led to deep concentration as a monk.  Nevertheless, even in meditation, he exuded strength.  He is sometimes portrayed holding a rosary, with a small boy by his side.  Other portrayals show him with a mongoose, or a three-toed frog; these are perhaps due to associations with other folk figures.

Bhadra, The Arhat Who Crossed the River (6): (Also called Bodhidruma) 
Little is known of Bhadra, but much can be said about the attribute of "crossing the river."  From the crossing of the Jordan to the crossing of the Rubicon; from dreams of "the other shore," to the silly joke about the chicken and the road, to today's New Age life-after-life show "Crossing Over": This image is widely used for attainment of "the other side," which symbolizes some exalted spiritual state.  The Pope is called the "Supreme Pontiff," meaning bridge-builder; the Jain leaders were called "Tirthankara," meaning ford-maker.  Almost every religion uses this imagery, and here it is embodied in the slim little figure of Bhadra.

Kalika, The Dust Cleaning Arhat (7):
He is sometimes a dust-cleaner; in other depictions he is an elephant tamer.  Can these be reconciled? Easily: The mind is the elephant, and needs to be tamed; the mind is dusty, and needs to be cleaned.  These are both traditional Buddhist metaphors for the process and goal of spiritual practice.  Both processes require patience, concentration, and diligence.  Kalika represents these.

Vajraputra, The Persuading Arhat (8):
This is another tough character to track down.  In some iconography, he is a "persuader" who convinced Ananda that both practice and understanding were necessary to achieve Wisdom; in other traditions, he is a "persuader" who tames lions!  Having been a lion-killer before becoming a monk, he was later joined by a lion cub who seemed grateful that he had given up his former profession.  So he is often portrayed with a lion by his side.

Jivaka, The Heart Exposing Arhat (9): (Also called Gobaka) 
Oh, to have the heart of the Buddha!  Jivaka was a crown prince, meant to become king.  But he wanted to be a monk, and attain Enlightenment.  So he went to his second brother and said, "I relinquish the throne, and I will go off to be a monk."  His brother, distrustful, thought it best to eliminate him immediately, lest he come back later with an army and stage a coup.  "No need," he said, "I have the Buddha in my heart."  And in proof, he opened his garments, revealing the image we see at the Temple.

Panthaka, The Arhat with Stretched Arms (10): (Also called Maha-Panthaka, Great Panthaka, or Pantha the Elder) 
His name, like his younger brother Culapanthaka's ("Little Panthaka") means "born on the road," and legend says that the brothers were born while their mother was traveling.  Others believe the name signifies that they are "on the path" of Buddhism.  This elder Panthaka is often considered to have had magical powers; others ascribe to him a leadership role in the early Sangha, and some even say he was a Prince.  He is sometimes seen with raised hands indicating that he has just come out of meditation.

Rahula, The Arhat in Deep Concentration (11):
This is the Buddha's son (and one of the original "Four Great Sravakas").  His father left home to seek Enlightenment the day Rahula was born; his name means "fetters," perhaps suggesting that his father saw him as a bond to the householder's life.  As a young boy, Rahula sought out his father and asked for his inheritance; the Buddha taught him the Path to Enlightenment.  His gentle appearance here betokens his youth in comparison with the other Arhats.

Nagasena, The Ear Cleaning Arhat (12):
The cleaning (or scratching) of his ear signifies that Nagasena ("Dragon Army") was anxious to hear everything correctly.  He has been identified with the great scholar Nagasena, who answered King Menander's questions in the famous early Buddhist dialogue The Questions of King Milinda.  If so, his careful listening paid off, as King Menander threw at him some of the toughest possible questions, and he answered them thoroughly.

Angaja, The Arhat with a Sack (13): (Also called Angida) 
Because of the sack, he has sometimes been confused with Maitreya Bodhisattva, and portrayed as fat and jolly.  I have also heard that Maitreya did not take good things out of his sack, but put evil things in.  This may be due to confusion with Angaja, who was a snake-catcher by trade.  He would catch snakes in his sack, de-fang them, and release them-exchanging bad for good.  This kindness allowed him to achieve Enlightenment.

Vanavasin, The Arhat Under the Banana Tree (14): (Also called Vanavasa) 
Legend says he was born under a banana tree, or that he was born during a heavy downpour when the banana trees were making a lot of noise.  In a homely imitation of the Buddha, he sat under a banana tree where he gained Enlightenment.  He is sometimes shown seated on a banana leaf.

Ajita, The Arhat Riding a Deer (15): (Also called Asita)
As mentioned above, he is sometimes confused with Pindola.  This comes from a legend that he (or Pindola?) had once left the service of a king and snuck off to become a monk.  After his Enlightenment, he rode back into the place (presumably from the mountains) on a deer, was immediately recognized by the guards, and was ushered into the king's presence, where he taught him the Dharma.  The king turned the throne over to his son and followed the Arhat out to become a monk.

Cudapanthaka, The Door Watching Arhat (16): (Also called Culapanthaka, or Pantha the Younger) 
This is the younger brother of Panthaka above; his name means "Little Panthaka," or Road-born.  There are two famous stories about him.  One is that he was slow-witted, and unable to learn even a single verse.  But the Buddha, using skillful means, taught him to sweep (in some versions, to wipe) and repeat a simple verse, such as "Sweeping broom," to focus his mind.  This simple method led him to Enlightenment.  Another story says that he used to knock roughly on people's doors to beg for food.  Once, he knocked on an old, rotten door, and it fell to pieces!  So the Buddha gave him a ringed staff (like that held by Bhadra next to him) and told him to pound the ground with it, instead of pounding on the door with his fist.  Through this (and the sweeping association) he came to be thought of as one who guards the doors of the senses, letting only pure things in.

Maitreya, The Tiger Taming Arhat (17 or 18):  This is one of our "guest" Arhats. 
His identity as Maitreya is something of a problem.  Remember that, originally, the Arhats were to remain "on duty" guarding the Dharma until Maitreya came.  Well, if Maitreya is one of them, then how…?  Anyway, for Maitreya's story, refer back to the section entitled "In the Hall of the Bodhisattvas."  The tiger here represents the passions; one story of the tiger-tamer (attributed to the second Pindola--remember, the name is not as important here as the attribute) says that there had been a tiger harassing a town; when the Tiger-Taming Arhat arrived in the area, he suggested feeding the tiger to prevent its depredations.  Naturally, the food given was all vegetarian, and the tiger thus became tame!

Mahakassapa,
The Dragon Subduing Arhat (17 or 18): (Also called Kasyapa)  This is our second "guest" Arhat, who could be designated "X, The Dragon Subduing Arhat."  That he is subduing a dragon--symbol of our deepest inner motivations--is more important than his name, since that changes.  However, that he is sometimes the Great Kasyapa, first of the original "Four Great Sravakas" assigned by the Buddha to stay and guard the Dharma, is very interesting indeed.  I do not know how he came to be "restored," but here he is.  He is best known for the Buddha's famous "Flower Sermon."  It is said that on that occasion, the Buddha simply held up a flower, and said nothing.  Only Kasyapa signified-by a wordless look-that he understood the Buddha's point, that the Truth is beyond words.  Some trace the Zen/Ch'an lineage back to this moment.