Can an arahant know someone is an arahant?

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Can an arahant know someone is an arahant?

Postby Stephen K » Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:50 pm

If two arahants meet, can they know of each other that they are arahants without asking?
With metta,
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Re: Can an arahant know someone is an arahant?

Postby David2 » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:15 pm

I don't think so, at least not instantly.

Without testing, i.e. observing the behavior for a long time or asking questions, how should this be possible?
Sometimes I have the impression that the powers of an arahant are overestimated by some.
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Re: Can an arahant know someone is an arahant?

Postby Aloka » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:17 pm

Stefan wrote:If two arahants meet, can they know of each other that they are arahants without asking?


That sounds rather like a brain-teaser, Stefan ! Perhaps one needs to be an arahant to answer the question ?

kind wishes

Aloka :)
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Re: Can an arahant know someone is an arahant?

Postby santa100 » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:18 pm

Provided that both are truely arahants, then yes, according to the suttas:

"If he wants, he knows the awareness of other beings, other individuals, having encompassed it with his own awareness. He discerns a mind with passion as a mind with passion, and a mind without passion as a mind without passion. He discerns a mind with aversion as a mind with aversion, and a mind without aversion as a mind without aversion. He discerns a mind with delusion as a mind with delusion, and a mind without delusion as a mind without delusion. He discerns a restricted mind as a restricted mind, and a scattered mind as a scattered mind. He discerns an enlarged mind as an enlarged mind, and an unenlarged mind as an unenlarged mind. He discerns an excelled mind[2] as an excelled mind, and an unexcelled mind as an unexcelled mind. He discerns a concentrated mind as a concentrated mind, and an unconcentrated mind as an unconcentrated mind. He discerns a released mind as a released mind, and an unreleased mind as an unreleased mind. He can witness this for himself whenever there is an opening."
~~ Samadhanga Sutta ~~ (ref: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html )
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Re: Can an arahant know someone is an arahant?

Postby Aloka » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:21 pm

Thank you very much for the reference, santa ! _/\_
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Re: Can an arahant know someone is an arahant?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:28 pm

No. To know the attainments of another requires psychic powers, and not just the end of defilements. Not all Arahants have psychic powers to read the minds of others.
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Re: Can an arahant know someone is an arahant?

Postby David2 » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:39 pm

@Santa

Imo, your quoted sutta does not answer the question. I would not read the suttas 100-% literally.
How can one tell if a person is a non-returner or an arahant by looking just a moment at that person? It's impossible.
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Re: Can an arahant know someone is an arahant?

Postby santa100 » Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:07 pm

Greeting Bhante, I agree that an arahant doesn't necessary have to master every single psychic powers. But the specific question is whether he's able to read the mind of his fellow arahant. And again, we need to assume both truely are arahants first. This brings up an interesting logical inquiry:

1. If one could read other's mind, then one is an arahant
2. If one is an arahant, then one could read other's mind.

We could be fairly sure that statement 1 is not true because there're many yogis during the Buddha's time who had mastered psychic powers and yet, still hadn't attained arhantship. But for statement 2, it doesn't seems logical that an arahant is unable to read other's mind. Afterall, if someone who has clearly known beyond the shadow of a doubt that "birth has ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world." and yet unable to read someone's mind, I'd naturally have to raise question on his/her assertion that s/he absolutely will not come back the next life.
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Re: Can an arahant know someone is an arahant?

Postby vidar » Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:59 am

santa100 wrote:We could be fairly sure that statement 1 is not true because there're many yogis during the Buddha's time who had mastered psychic powers and yet, still hadn't attained arhantship. But for statement 2, it doesn't seems logical that an arahant is unable to read other's mind. Afterall, if someone who has clearly known beyond the shadow of a doubt that "birth has ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world." and yet unable to read someone's mind, I'd naturally have to raise question on his/her assertion that s/he absolutely will not come back the next life.


The arahants in the Susima Sutta had no psychic powers. They clearly were unable to read others mind, and thus, they could not know the attainments of others:

(...)
"Then, having known thus, having seen thus, do you know the awareness of other beings, other individuals, having encompassed it with your own awareness? Do you discern a mind with passion as a mind with passion, and a mind without passion as a mind without passion; a mind with aversion as a mind with aversion, and a mind without aversion as a mind without aversion; a mind with delusion as a mind with delusion, and a mind without delusion as a mind without delusion; a restricted mind as a restricted mind, and a scattered mind as a scattered mind; an enlarged mind as an enlarged mind, and an unenlarged mind as an unenlarged mind;an excelled mind [one that is not on the most excellent level] as an excelled mind, and an unexcelled mind as an unexcelled mind; a concentrated mind as a concentrated mind, and an unconcentrated mind as an unconcentrated mind; a released mind as a released mind, and an unreleased mind as an unreleased mind?"

"No, friend."


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

:anjali:
All the world is on fire, All the world is burning, All the world is ablaze, All the world is quaking. That which does not quake or blaze, That to which worldlings do not resort, Where there is no place for Mara:That is where my mind delights. (SN 5.7)

By degrees, little by little,
from moment to moment,
the wise purify themselves,
as a smith purifies silver.
—Dhammapada 239
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Re: Can an arahant know someone is an arahant?

Postby santa100 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:45 pm

Thanks a lot Vidar, for showing the Susima Sutta. Ven. Susima certainly wasn't the only one who raised the interesting question.. :tongue: One thing I've learned from this Sutta was that one could be an Arahant without possessing ANY kind of psychic powers. Afterall, this can only be good news for all of us for the end goal is not impossible as long as we put all effort into the training on the Five Khandhas and the Twelve DO's. Thanks again for the great link! (ref: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html )
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Re: Can an arahant know someone is an arahant?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:15 pm

vidar wrote:The arahants in the Susima Sutta had no psychic powers.
Thanks for that link. You must have read my mind :)

I was thinking of posting a link to that discourse, but I couldn't remember its name.
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Re: Can an arahant know someone is an arahant?

Postby Clarence » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:49 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
vidar wrote:The arahants in the Susima Sutta had no psychic powers.
Thanks for that link. You must have read my mind :)

I was thinking of posting a link to that discourse, but I couldn't remember its name.


Venerable,

Can an unlightened being with the psychic power to read minds read the mind of an Arhant or Buddha? Would that being get anything from reading such a mind, i.e. would insight dawn as a result of taking a peek into a mind without afflictions?
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Re: Can an arahant know someone is an arahant?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:34 pm

Anyone might get some benefit from meeting an Arahant.

The story of Vangisa Thera is interesting.
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Re: Can an arahant know someone is an arahant?

Postby Clarence » Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:48 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Anyone might get some benefit from meeting an Arahant.

The story of Vangisa Thera is interesting.


Thanks Venerable. Nice story.
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