Can liberation be spontaneous?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Wind
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Can liberation be spontaneous?

Postby Wind » Sun Mar 28, 2010 2:35 am

There are some stories in the Suttas where monks becomes liberated after a sermon by the Buddha. And there are a few who are liberated through some kind of incident. So does that mean liberation can also happen spontaneously instead of the usual way through meditation?

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Re: Can liberation be spontaneous?

Postby appicchato » Sun Mar 28, 2010 3:07 am

Basically, for the yet-to-be liberated, all we have to go on is the 'stories in the suttas'...so, if you give credence to the suttas, it would seem that way...

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Re: Can liberation be spontaneous?

Postby Ben » Sun Mar 28, 2010 3:23 am

My apologies to Venerable Appichatto for appearing to contradict you but my understanding is that regardless of how rapid the progress from putthujhana to Arahant, all go through the intervening stages of sotapanna, sakadagami, and anagami. I hope to dredge out some references after work tonight. Hopefully, someone else can provide something for you in the interim.
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Re: Can liberation be spontaneous?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Mar 28, 2010 3:57 am

Wind wrote:There are some stories in the Suttas where monks becomes liberated after a sermon by the Buddha. And there are a few who are liberated through some kind of incident. So does that mean liberation can also happen spontaneously instead of the usual way through meditation?


What do you mean by "liberation" exactly? eg. arahant? does sotaapanna count, yet?
And,
what do you mean by "spontaneous" exactly? eg. without cause? without meditation? (if so, what do you classify as "meditation"? - a tiny bit, access, first jhana, fourth jhana?...)

The usual explanation is that liberation from the bonds occurs through insight, not through meditation. Though some degree of meditation is required for insight.

Having an "incident" occur does not necessarily deny the presence of either meditation (in some form or another) or insight, either.
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Re: Can liberation be spontaneous?

Postby Virgo » Sun Mar 28, 2010 4:16 am

If people had samatha as their vehicle, they would attain the jhanas and use it as a basis for insight. Other people were sukkhavipassana-yanika, the dry-insight vehicle. They only developed vipassana bhavana through hearing the dhamma and reflecting on it/understanding it. Some did both. It depends on conditions.

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Re: Can liberation be spontaneous?

Postby bodom » Sun Mar 28, 2010 4:18 am

In the first edition of this book I stated here that the four paths have to be passed through sequentially, such that there is no attainment of a higher path without first having reached the paths below it. This certainly seems to be the position of the commentaries. However, the suttas sometimes show individuals proceeding directly from the stage of a worldling to the third or even the fourth path and fruit in rapid succession, the canonical texts themselves give no indication that this has transpired but suggest an immediate realization of the higher stages without the intermediate attainment of the lower stages. - Bhikkhu Bodhi The Noble Eightfold Path

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Re: Can liberation be spontaneous?

Postby Wind » Sun Mar 28, 2010 5:14 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:What do you mean by "liberation" exactly? eg. arahant?


Yes by liberation I meant arahantship.

what do you mean by "spontaneous" exactly? eg. without cause? without meditation? (if so, what do you classify as "meditation"? - a tiny bit, access, first jhana, fourth jhana?...)



By spontaneous I meant it happen rapidly through a sudden insight realized, seemingly without an active intent like it would be through meditation. By meditation I mean in&out breathing etc, also include going through jhanas.


The usual explanation is that liberation from the bonds occurs through insight, not through meditation. Though some degree of meditation is required for insight.

Having an "incident" occur does not necessarily deny the presence of either meditation (in some form or another) or insight, either.


I'm sure insight is what occur definitely. But some stories doesn't seem to indicate any active meditation was involved, although it could have been but the way it was told gave me the opposite impression.
Last edited by Wind on Sun Mar 28, 2010 5:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Can liberation be spontaneous?

Postby Wind » Sun Mar 28, 2010 5:18 am

bodom wrote:In the first edition of this book I stated here that the four paths have to be passed through sequentially, such that there is no attainment of a higher path without first having reached the paths below it. This certainly seems to be the position of the commentaries. However, the suttas sometimes show individuals proceeding directly from the stage of a worldling to the third or even the fourth path and fruit in rapid succession, the canonical texts themselves give no indication that this has transpired but suggest an immediate realization of the higher stages without the intermediate attainment of the lower stages. - Bhikkhu Bodhi The Noble Eightfold Path

:anjali:


Yes this is what I meant, although some of the individuals actually attain full released with sudden and immediate realization. If this is to be the case, I wonder how does it happen?

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Re: Can liberation be spontaneous?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sun Mar 28, 2010 6:43 am

I seem to remember reading (or hearing) that those close to the Buddha were able to attain enlightenment more rapidly in that life because of kamma of previous existences. Hard work lifetime after lifetime coming to fruit as the Buddha taught them the last key needed for enlightenment.

I can't think of a reference for this right now but I'll keep thinking.

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Re: Can liberation be spontaneous?

Postby IanAnd » Sun Mar 28, 2010 6:51 am

Wind wrote:
bodom wrote:In the first edition of this book I stated here that the four paths have to be passed through sequentially, such that there is no attainment of a higher path without first having reached the paths below it. This certainly seems to be the position of the commentaries. However, the suttas sometimes show individuals proceeding directly from the stage of a worldling to the third or even the fourth path and fruit in rapid succession, the canonical texts themselves give no indication that this has transpired but suggest an immediate realization of the higher stages without the intermediate attainment of the lower stages. - Bhikkhu Bodhi The Noble Eightfold Path


Yes this is what I meant, although some of the individuals actually attain full released with sudden and immediate realization. If this is to be the case, I wonder how does it happen?

Bhikkhu Bodhi's amended statement above is actually indicative of how this process can truly occur. If you read the discourses carefully, there are a number of different individuals to whom this occurred in the suttas. Sariputta, Mahamoggallana, and Bahiya are just three who are mentioned. A good book to read about the events surrounding these first two would be Great Disciples of the Buddha.

The first two of these individuals, according to the impressions of them given in the suttas, were highly intelligent, capable, and discerning individuals who achieved arahanthood rather quickly after having met and become disciples of the Buddha.

The third individual, Bahiya, encountered the Buddha just once, was given some advice, and according to the sutta, achieved liberation just before he was killed by a cow that attacked him. That story is in the Udana (Ud. 1.10; John D. Ireland translation), a volume contained in the Khuddaka Nikaya. It is well worth reading and studying if you have an interest in this process. It may give you some insight into that process.
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Re: Can liberation be spontaneous?

Postby Alexei » Sun Mar 28, 2010 7:22 am

IanAnd wrote:The third individual, Bahiya, encountered the Buddha just once, was given some advice, and according to the sutta, achieved liberation just before he was killed by a cow that attacked him. That story is in the Udana (Ud. 1.10; John D. Ireland translation), a volume contained in the Khuddaka Nikaya. It is well worth reading and studying if you have an interest in this process. It may give you some insight into that process.

There is some explanation about Bahiya liberation: http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... ACHING.htm

Original story: Ud. 1.10

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Re: Can liberation be spontaneous?

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun Mar 28, 2010 8:00 am

does a fruit ripen on a tree spontaneously? or is it due to specific conditions, it being the right season for it to happen and so forth?
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Re: Can liberation be spontaneous?

Postby Sönam » Sun Mar 28, 2010 8:03 am

To be at the same time, in the same place than Bouddha Sakyamuni ... is it not a "special" condition ? there is no hazard, those being there at that time had the karma for ...

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Re: Can liberation be spontaneous?

Postby PeterB » Sun Mar 28, 2010 8:08 am

Exactly so Sonam.


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