Author Topic: Bodhicitta and Arhatship  (Read 7562 times)

hope rainbow

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Bodhicitta and Arhatship
« on: June 20, 2012, 04:07:46 AM »
Bodhicitta is a mind totally directed towards achieving buddhahood for the sake of helping all sentient beings to be free from all types of sufferings.

But what does it mean? A few questions:

(1) Does it mean that Buddhas (thus Bodhisattvas) do assist sentient beings in becoming Arhats? Or in becoming Buddhas?
Arhats or Buddhas?

(2) Is it easier to achieve arhatship than to achieve buddhahood?

(3) Isn't the "work" of a Buddha made easier every time another being has attained buddhahood? Thus, isn't it more efficient, more logical that Buddhas push for sentient beings to achieve buddhahood and not "only" arhathood?

(4) but if arhathood is easier to gain (if), wouldn't it be more efficient to assist sentient beings towards arhathood "only"?

(5) or would it be a case-per-case situation according to the karma of the sentient being, and according to the answer to this question: "what does help that sentient being the best at this point of time"?

yontenjamyang

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Re: Bodhicitta and Arhatship
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2012, 06:45:24 AM »
Bodhicitta is a mind totally directed towards achieving buddhahood for the sake of helping all sentient beings to be free from all types of sufferings.

But what does it mean? A few questions:

(1) Does it mean that Buddhas (thus Bodhisattvas) do assist sentient beings in becoming Arhats? Or in becoming Buddhas?
Arhats or Buddhas?

(2) Is it easier to achieve arhatship than to achieve buddhahood?

(3) Isn't the "work" of a Buddha made easier every time another being has attained buddhahood? Thus, isn't it more efficient, more logical that Buddhas push for sentient beings to achieve buddhahood and not "only" arhathood?

(4) but if arhathood is easier to gain (if), wouldn't it be more efficient to assist sentient beings towards arhathood "only"?

(5) or would it be a case-per-case situation according to the karma of the sentient being, and according to the answer to this question: "what does help that sentient being the best at this point of time"?

Hope Rainbow. Boddhicitta is only associated with the Boddhisattvas and Boddhicitta is the differentiating factor between the Boddhisattvas and Arhats. That is not to say that the Arhats do not have compassion. It is only the Arhats do not make helping others to achieve Liberation as a goal when the aspiring Arhats practice the path. Upon achieving Arhatship, an Arhat can still become a Buddha with the practice of Boddhicitta.

In the scriptures, the Buddha Sakyamuni has been referred to as an Arhat many times and yet he became a Buddha. In the Lamrim, Arhatship is the goal of the medium scope practice. It is a path SHARED with the great scope. So that means the Great scope practitioner still needs to practice the medium scope or the Arhat scope. In the Great Scope section the main addition is the practice of Boddhicitta. Wisdom is a practice for both Arhat's and Boddhisattva's path. This is important not to be confused.

So to answer you questions:

1) Both depending on the aptitude of the person.
2)Arhat is "easier" to achieve being the medium scope.
3) Yes. If a someone achieve Buddhahood then the Buddhas have another "member" to help sentient beings. So marginally the "work" is easier. Plus one less sentient beings to worry about. So in this sense for someone to achieve Arhatship, the Buddhas have one less to worry about but no new "member" to help. However, the Arhat can still generate boddhicitta and become a boddhisattva.
4) Again depends on the person. There are other religion that we believe the founders were Boddhisattvas who only steer the "flocks" towards better rebirth. It depends on the "flocks". The priority is to offer relieve from suffering. For how long depends on the karma and condition.
5)You are spot on. It depends on the karma of the person(s) at that time.

Ensapa

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Re: Bodhicitta and Arhatship
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2012, 07:22:58 AM »
Bodhicitta is a mind totally directed towards achieving buddhahood for the sake of helping all sentient beings to be free from all types of sufferings.

But what does it mean? A few questions:

(1) Does it mean that Buddhas (thus Bodhisattvas) do assist sentient beings in becoming Arhats? Or in becoming Buddhas?
Arhats or Buddhas?

(2) Is it easier to achieve arhatship than to achieve buddhahood?

(3) Isn't the "work" of a Buddha made easier every time another being has attained buddhahood? Thus, isn't it more efficient, more logical that Buddhas push for sentient beings to achieve buddhahood and not "only" arhathood?

(4) but if arhathood is easier to gain (if), wouldn't it be more efficient to assist sentient beings towards arhathood "only"?

(5) or would it be a case-per-case situation according to the karma of the sentient being, and according to the answer to this question: "what does help that sentient being the best at this point of time"?

I'll answer this to the best of my understanding as I studied Theravarda before.

1) It is not to say that arahats do not benefit people, it is just that they are beings or individuals who wanted peace and that is what they want and what they have achieved. Their minds are rid of all traces of karma and thus is no longer able to experience any types of feelings at all, be it happiness or suffering or anything else. This also means that they are also free of all other types of mental processes as well since they no longer have the karma to create them or sustain them. Arahats are able to assist people, but their abilities are very limited as compared to bodhisattvas and that is only and only if they have vowed to come back and help. This has been explained to me by a theravardan monk when I asked him when I was around 14 about this exact question.

2) Both are equally hard. Today, there are virtually no arahats around. The last one entered parinivarna during the 80s-90s if I was not mistaken. My father had a picture of him many years back and told me that he was the last arahat that exist during our time. However, I have no idea at all if he is verified, or how they are verified to be an arahat.

3) It will never be easier as sentient beings are infinite in nature. Even if there are infinite Buddhas, there will always be living beings that need saving. Some living beings who are too tormented, or whose minds have become far too narrow to accept any other views or have cut off their understanding or capability to understand something else other than what they want to know, can only be arahats and thus the Buddhas cater this path for them.

4) The path of an arahat and the path of the bodhisattva are equally difficult. To the untrained mind, to those who have problems comprehending mahayana, their salvation is arahatship because Buddhism has a place for everyone . It is not easier to be an arahat as compared to a bodhisattva, in fact it is much harder as there are 4 stages: Sotapanna (Stream enterer) , Sakadagami (once returner), Anagami (never returner) and Arahat. A stream-enterer reaches arahantship within seven rebirths upon opening the eye of the Dharma. A once returner takes one last rebirth before not taking birth again and the never returner never returns. In our times, to achieve even sotapanna is rare and hard in between.

5) It depends on whether or not that being has destroyed his or her capability to understand the mahayana teachings. there are many staunch theravardans who hold views that degrade mahayana into a hindu-buddhist impure tradition and regard bodhisattvas as hindu creations, and who do not investigate but instead hold on to that view. this eradicates any chance or seed for them to ever hear mahayana teachings, even if they did it would not go in or strike a chord. So for these beings, arahatshiphood is their only hope.

ratanasutra

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Re: Bodhicitta and Arhatship
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2012, 02:38:07 PM »
1) Does it mean that Buddhas (thus Bodhisattvas) do assist sentient beings in becoming Arhats? Or in becoming Buddhas?
Arhats or Buddhas?
They assist us in order to becoming Arhat and Buddha. From their teachings, inspiration, practice, guidance etc. We do believe that HH the 14th Dalai lama is Avalokiteshvara and he gave lot of teaching and practice to people in order for us to achieve Buddhahood.

(2) Is it easier to achieve arhatship than to achieve buddhahood?
Those are depends on the same practice and discipline and realization.

(3) Isn't the "work" of a Buddha made easier every time another being has attained buddhahood? Thus, isn't it more efficient, more logical that Buddhas push for sentient beings to achieve buddhahood and not "only" arhathood?
By practical yes, but during the time that the arhats were practicing they also give teaching and benefit other same as bodhisattva, they did not only did practice alone as if they are  selfish they won’t be able to attain arhathood either.

(4) but if arhathood is easier to gain (if), wouldn't it be more efficient to assist sentient beings towards arhathood "only"?
I don’t think arhathood is easier to gain, otherwise it should be lot of arhat nowadays.

(5) or would it be a case-per-case situation according to the karma of the sentient being, and according to the answer to this question: "what does help that sentient being the best at this point of time"?
This is a degenerate time where there are many things which create our delusions mind easily but it also the advantage for us to access to Dharma via cyber, media etc so it easy for us to learn and know about dharma. The importance part is the mind training, how is our progress in the practice it will depend on how the mind has been transformed. 

Dondrup Shugden

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Re: Bodhicitta and Arhatship
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2015, 09:18:40 AM »
Bodhicitta is a mind totally directed towards achieving buddhahood for the sake of helping all sentient beings to be free from all types of sufferings.

But what does it mean? A few questions:

(1) Does it mean that Buddhas (thus Bodhisattvas) do assist sentient beings in becoming Arhats? Or in becoming Buddhas?
Arhats or Buddhas?

(2) Is it easier to achieve arhatship than to achieve buddhahood?

(3) Isn't the "work" of a Buddha made easier every time another being has attained buddhahood? Thus, isn't it more efficient, more logical that Buddhas push for sentient beings to achieve buddhahood and not "only" arhathood?

(4) but if arhathood is easier to gain (if), wouldn't it be more efficient to assist sentient beings towards arhathood "only"?

(5) or would it be a case-per-case situation according to the karma of the sentient being, and according to the answer to this question: "what does help that sentient being the best at this point of time"?

1) Yes the Buddhas will assist us to become Arhats or Bodhisattvas with their scriptures and teachings. Even in current times, the Dharma is taught endlessly by great teachers and it is our choice to take the teachings and cultivate our path.

2) In the samsara that we are in, it takes great efforts to achieve either Arhathood and Buddhahood.  However if we believe in Shakyamuni's teaching, we all can as we all have the Buddha nature. 

3) The work of Buddhas will become easier once we achieve either Buddhahood or Arhathood.  There is not that much difference as arhats are also highly attained beings.  For instance if the whole world become arhats, would that not be a Buddhaland?

4) Arhathood is not easy to attain.  Either arhats or Buddhas are not easy.

5) From my humble knowledge the practice most appropriate would be the mind transformation as taught in the Vajrayana doctrine under 8 verses of mind transformation.

psylotripitaka

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Re: Bodhicitta and Arhatship
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2015, 02:29:00 AM »
It is worth noting here that according to Buddhas final vehicle Highest Yoga Tantra, the nirvana/liberation explained in Sutra is not actual liberation because emptiness is realized with a gross mind and the gross mind ceases at the time of death. The realizations of tranquil abiding and superior seeing aspects of the gross mind, even though they are powerful. Actual nirvana/liberation is a direct realization of emptiness with the very subtle mind of clear light. This is explained in various Tantras and in the commentaries and teachings of the lineage Gurus.

Therefore, Sutra practitioners must eventually enter the final vehicle to achieve actual liberation. Our fortune to be able to practice Highest Yoga Tantra is thousands of times rarer than achieving a precious human life which itself is already likened to the rarity of a piece of dry rice sticking to a wall when we've thrown a handful at it. If we constantly impute that we are not qualified and insist on following the long strict path (whose time has passed), we may miss an extremely important opportunity. Then, when we happen to eventually be a bodhisattva in a pure land, we'll remember in the distant past we had the opportunity and we'll kick ourself. It is said that bodhisattvas in pure lands other than Keajra (Kechara) pray to be reborn in the human realm with the conditions to practice Highest Yoga Tantra(hyt). If we truly appreciated how horrifying our samsara is and the real danger we're in, we would consider receiving a hyt initiation sooner than later. I know a special situation where a highly realized Yogi had a conversation with someone who was concerned about not being properly prepared to practice hyt. The Siddha explained that if one can keep the most basic commitment of reciting the 4-line prayer of 6 session Guru Yoga 6 times a day (even all 6 times in less than 2 minutes), and keep a mantra commitment (even promising to recite 1 mantra a day) for the rest of their life, they are a suitable vessel to receive the initiation. By receiving the initiation, the door is opened for them to practice more deeply in time, and that even the most concise Yidam sadhanas contain the entire lamrim practice within them. If we committed to the 3 Jewels, then receiving hyt empowerment gives us the opportunity to begin planting seeds and ripening imprints. Meanwhile, we also meditate on lamrim and lojong and perhaps work on various ngondro practices. If we were to wait to get an empowerment until we have completed ngondro, and achieved powerful realizations of lamrim, most of us would never be qualified in this lifetime. If the time for strict requirements for "qualified" disciples was not passed, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche and other Lamas would not be giving hyt empowerment so openly. It is not only because time is running out, but many people have powerful imprints of practicing hyt in the past that are ready to ripen. Fascination and strong interest in Tantric Yidams does not arise from nothing! It comes from our previous tendencies. So now is the time.

If you wanna discuss the traditional strict approach and the dangers of getting initiation early, I'm happy to discuss this further.

yontenjamyang

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Re: Bodhicitta and Arhatship
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2015, 02:48:12 AM »
I would like to invite newer members of this forum to comment on this thread. They is a different between Arhatship and Buddhahood and it is so because the Buddha taught both path. Are these path contrary or the same? What are the defining differences between these 2? How is it laid out in the Lamrim.

Better understanding of these path would help one to understand our practice better.

Midakpa

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Re: Bodhicitta and Arhatship
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2015, 02:49:07 PM »
Here are my answers to Hope Rainbow's questions:

(1) Buddhas can help followers to achieve arhatship or Buddhahood through their teachings. During the Buddha's time, many of his followers became arhats. However there is a difference in the goal of different Buddhist traditions. In Southern Buddhism, the goal is arhatship or individual liberation because the belief is that there is only one Buddha in any given age, so the best one can hope for is arhatship. In Mahayana Buddhism, the ideal is the achievement of Buddhahood for the sake of others. Thus, achieving only arhatship is not enough because one will be of only partial benefit to oneself and others. An arhat has not abandoned all that has to be abandoned or achieved every good quality. Later,the arhat will have to enter the Mahayana path at its most basic level. This is like entering the stream twice, thus wasting a lot of time. Thus Mahayana masters would encourage the practitioner to enter the Mahayana at the outset and strive for Buddhahood.

(2) Arhatship is easier to achieve. Both Mahayana and Southern Buddhism recognize that the path of the arhat is essential. Both arhats and bodhisattvas go through the first six stages on the path to enlightenment, cultivating wisdom. While the arhat is stuck at stage six, the Bodhisattvas move on to stages seven, eight, nine, and ten.

(3) I agree with this view.

(4) No, although it is easier to achieve arhatship, it is still better to enter the Mahayana path at the outset because one achieves full enlightenment faster than the arhat who, even after being roused by the buddhas from their blissful absorption, will find it very hard to develop bodhicitta. The danger for the arhat is that he/she is stuck at stage six of becoming "enchanted by the bliss of the samadhis" and thus "pass to their nirvana" without completing the path to full enlightenment. In the Lamrim, it is said that they stay in this absorption for many eons and have no wish ever to leave it.

(5) There is no doubt that the ideal of the Mahayana is the better choice. For example, Manjushri was praised by the Buddha for his skillful means when he taught 60 monks Mahayana Dharma before they were given Hinayana teachings by the shravaka Kashyapa. This was to make sure they did not become arhats and become stuck in this path. The two major disciples of Buddha, Shariputra and Maudgalyayana, said, "The Teacher has taught both the Mahayana path and its results. These are most wondrous, but we are like wood already consumed by the fire: we could not have done more." According to Pabongka Rinpoche, this does not apply to people like Shariputra, because they were emanations of buddhas taking the form of shravakas. (Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, p. 501)

DharmaSpace

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Re: Bodhicitta and Arhatship
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2015, 06:44:38 AM »
3) I would think after Shakyamuni and just before Maitreiya appears and attain enlightenment, there are no more buddhist teachings around, so any Buddhist organization and teachings have to start from scratch again?

I suppose there are many buddhas who have perfected the methods to train students and ripen them, so it would not be any easier if the time period crosses to the next Buddha period. It is easier within the same Buddha period I would assume.   

fruven

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Re: Bodhicitta and Arhatship
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2015, 10:48:42 PM »
It is said that for an arhat to enter the path of Mahayana this person needs to start from the beginning again. Therefore it takes longer to achieve Buddhahood. If one starts from Mahayana then one can achieve Buddhahood faster than an arhat. This seems contradictory because Buddhahood is higher that arhatship and therefore would take longer and more effort. However for the same person it would take much longer to achieve arhatship followed by Buddhahood.