Author Topic: What happens to Arhats?  (Read 24613 times)

Midakpa

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #30 on: September 08, 2012, 03:29:53 PM »
A "non-returner" is someone who is free from desire. Desire is what keeps us in samsara. So he who is free from desire is liberated from samsara, or cyclic existence. He is not reborn in samsara again. He has become an arhat.

A "once-returner" is one who has attained the second stage of the path to Nirvana and will be reborn only once before attaining final liberation. This means he will become an arhat in his next life.

Do arhats go anywhere after their death? You may well ask, "Where is the Buddha now?"  As one great monk I know said, "the best answer to this question is, "the Buddha is in your mind which has realized the ultimate truth."

May you be well and happy.

Midakpa

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #31 on: October 21, 2012, 05:24:57 PM »
Geshe Tashi Tsering defines an arhat as "a practitioner who has achieved the state of no more learning accroding to the individual liberation vehicle".  Every Buddhist tradition has its Five Paths. In the Theravada or individual liberation vehicle, the path of no more learning is liberation from samsara or cessation of suffering. Cessation can be residual or nonresidual. It is residual when the mind is cleansed of all delusions but the body is still subject to the sufferings inherent in its nature. The body is still bound by sufferings such as old age, sickness and death.

Once the person dies, the body with its residual delusions and karma ceases. This cessation is pure cessation because there are no more delusions or karma in the person's continuum. This is nonresidual cessation. In the Theravada tradition, when a person achieves nonresidual cessation or liberation, everything ceases - the body and the other aggregates as well as the subtle mental continuation of the person.

But in the Mahayana tradition, it is believed that when a person achieves individual liberation as an arhat, his/her mental continuum does not stop after death. It is the continuation of samsara and delusion that is stopped, not the individual. Wherever that being takes rebirth, he/she may remain for a very long time, even eons, in a meditative state, rather than in an active role benefiting other sentient beings - but the mind nonetheless continues. (Geshe Tashi Tsering, The Four Noble Truths)

Midakpa

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #32 on: October 21, 2012, 05:50:05 PM »
What happens when a person becomes an arhat? There are different schools of thought regarding cessation of suffering. There are four Indian philisophical schools which are found in Tibetan Buddhism. All four accept two different types of cessation: liberation from samsara (of the arhats) and full enlightenment (of the Buddhas). The Vaibhashika and the Sautantrika schools believe that certain beings will never progress past the first cessation (liberation from samsara) and hence will never achieve Buddhahood. The Chittamatra and Madhyamaka schools, on the other hand, accept that all living beings will eventually attain the second cessation, full enlightenment.

According to the Vaibhashika and Sautantrika schools, when the practitioner achieves the state of residual cessation (see my earlier post), he or she makes a decision to either continue on the path or to remain in that place, accepting it as the final goal. If the practitioner makes the latter decision, upon passing away, his/her continuum ceases to exist, completely and forever. This is the stage of no more learning according to the individual liberation vehicle. A case that comes to mind is the Venerable Phra Acharn Mun, the great Thai meditation master who decided to go for arhatship because the journey to become a Buddha is just too long.

Midakpa

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #33 on: October 21, 2012, 06:08:44 PM »
In the sutras, an arhat, after death, is often compared to the image of a fire gone out after the supply or wood has been used up, or the flame of the lamp that is extinguished when the wick and oil run out. This kind of analogy indicates that everything is gone, that nothing exists after that state.

The Vaibhashika and the Sautantrika schools maintain that certain beings by their own choice will not attain full enlightenment. When the practitioner passes away, the form aggregate as well as the mental aggregates cease. There is no continuation of consciousness as if the delusions are totally integrated with the mind.

However, Mahayana Buddhists believe that delusions are separate from the mind. They are temporary. The basic nature of the mind is pure. So when true cessation (from suffering) is achieved, the practitioner's karma and delusions stop. What continue are the truth body (dharmakaya) which is the enlightened aspect of the mental aggregates, and the form body which is the enlightened aspect of the form aggregate. (Geshe Tashi Tsering, The Four Noble Truths)

Dondrup Shugden

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #34 on: February 28, 2015, 07:24:40 AM »
I have read this article and have found it extremely interesting and at the same time find the points expressed a little out of my understanding.  Having said that the contents of this post will stay in my mind for continuously reflection for insights.

As Buddha's teachings is about virtuous living to attain enlightenment, keeping the points discussed here will definitely assist us as we live through this life.

MoMo

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Re: What happens to Arhats?
« Reply #35 on: March 17, 2015, 02:36:40 PM »
As many had done research on what happens when Arahat of the level of “once-returner” and “non-returner” go to after their earthly existence and given their point of view based on Mahayana prospective.
In my point of view the “once-returner” must have attained enough or had enough of merits to be reborn into the higher realm of gods or choose a human existence as his next life.
The “non-returner” will cease to exist after their final earthly body as many had pointed out in this topic according the Theravada tradition.
This brings out an interesting question of where do the “Non-returner” Arahat go to after this?
I would like to relate to an extract of content of a book titled “everything arises, everything fall away” by the great master of Thai Forest Tradition: Ajahn Chah on page 134:
Gunamantani was a disciple of Venerable Shariputra who prepared to go on ascetic wandering. As his teacher, Sariputra wanted to check the extent of his disciple’s knowledge before he set out on his own; he wanted to find out is Gunamantani was genuinely prepared for it. Sariputra questioned him, ”Should there be some person, such as a sage or ordinary householder, who ask you. ‘ Venerable Gunamantari. When enlightened being pass away, where are they reborn?’ How will you answer them?”
The Venerable Gunamantari  replied. “ I will say to them, ‘ Form, feeling, perception, thought, and consciousness appear and then cease to be.’”
I read this when I was in my studies, and it didn’t make any sense to me. One person was asking one thing, the other is about replying something else, and the two don’t seem to meet at all. Of course, it really make sense, they really does answer the question in the most genuine way; it’s just that I was so ignorant to understand. When Gunamantari was asked what becomes of the Ariya who pass away, he didn’t say it directly. He only answered that “ Form, feeling, perception , thought and consciousness, having appeared, then cease to be,” Because such person do not die. There are merely aggregates appearing and disappearing. They don’t dwell there. They don’t die or take birth. That’s all there is to the matter.