Why do non-returners exist?

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Why do non-returners exist?

Postby Individual » Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:44 am

Why do non-returners exist as a distinct category?

In other words, why is it that to be a stream-enterer or a once-returner or an Arahant requires some kind of distinct effort, yet the last 5 fetters (Conceit, Restlessness, Ignorance, Rupa-raga & Arupa-Raga) can simply be overcome by dying and being reborn in a Pure Abode?

Why can't there be heavens where people can overcome the first 5 fetters (and all 10), without any chance of failure? Or how is it that non-returners never fail once they are in Pure Abodes? Is it the Pure Abodes themselves or something special about the process of dying?

And lastly (perhaps most importantly of all), what exactly is it that Arahants have or do that non-returners do not, that allows them to overcome such things? The last 5 seem the most problematic, because to even attempt to go about eliminating them is itself an act of entertaining (and therefore furthering) their existence.
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Re: Why do non-returners exist?

Postby cooran » Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:11 am

Hello Individual, all,

It is just the way things really are.

Hope this is of some assistance:

Anagami or Anagam
An anagami is one who has attained anagami magga and phala. He (or she) can enjoy the peace of Nibbana whenever he wishes by developing the ecstatic absorption corresponding to anagami-phala samapatti.
Anagami literally means 'no returner'. An anagami will not be reborn in the sense sphere. If he does not attain the arahatship in the present life yet, he will be reborn in a Brahma realm or Pure Abode Suddhavasa), where he will attain arahatship and pass to Nibbana.
Since the anagami-magga eliminates the kilesa dosa (hatred) and the two Fetters—namely, kamaraga (sense desire) and patigha (hatred or illwill), an anagamiwill no longer experience anger, hatred, worry, despair, fright, and any unpleasant mental feeling, neither will he enjoy sense pleasures.
His mind will always be in peace and he will enjoy the ecstatic peace of Nibbana whenever he wishes by developing anagami-phaIa-samapatti. If he attains all the eight jhanas, he can also enjoy Nirodha samapatti during which all consciousness and mental activity are temporarily suspended.
There are five types of anagamis:
(1) Those who attain arahatship within the first half of the life of the Pure Abode where they are reborn,
(2) Those who attain arahatshipwithin the second half of the life of the Pure Abode where they are reborn,
(3) Those who attain kilesa-parinibbana (i.e., arahatship) without having to struggle very hard,
(4) Those who attain kilesa-parinibbanaafter struggling very hard,
(5) Those who do not attain arahatship in the four lower abodes of the five Pure Abodes, but attain arahatship in the highest Pure Abode (i.e., Akanittha).
http://web.ukonline.co.uk/buddhism/mtinmon4.htm

Qualities of Ariya Persons
http://web.ukonline.co.uk/buddhism/ariyas4.htm

with metta
Chris
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---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Why do non-returners exist?

Postby Kenshou » Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:25 am

I think there is supposedly no chance of failure because the non-returner never falls from the pure abodes, that's all, not that just being there get's you enlightened. Those existences are finite of course but they tend to just come back in the same general territory, which is due to the fact, so I recall, that without the first 5 fetters there isn't enough ignorance or craving or whatnot to cause them to be reborn somewhere lower. But then they do still need to put forth effort to overcome those fetters, as far as I know.

And lastly (perhaps most importantly of all), what exactly is it that Arahants have or do that non-returners do not, that allows them to overcome such things? The last 5 seem the most problematic, because to even attempt to go about eliminating them is itself an act of entertaining (and therefore furthering) their existence.


Why is that?
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Re: Why do non-returners exist?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:32 am

Greetings Individual,

My understanding (though I doubt it will go close to answering all your questions) is that once stream-entry is attained, the knowledge attained is such that from that point on, acting in ways that accord to one's harm rather than one's good go against (the combination of) one's intuition and preference for what is not dukkha. The grades of once-returner and non-returner simply designate the passing of key landmarks in wisdom &/or mental purification. The further one is advanced along that path, the more counter-intuitive it would be to cause dukkha for oneself... much like not touching an electric fence because you intuitively know the consequences.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Why do non-returners exist?

Postby Individual » Mon Sep 27, 2010 1:24 pm

Kenshou wrote:
And lastly (perhaps most importantly of all), what exactly is it that Arahants have or do that non-returners do not, that allows them to overcome such things? The last 5 seem the most problematic, because to even attempt to go about eliminating them is itself an act of entertaining (and therefore furthering) their existence.


Why is that?

Not sure if I will explain this well.

As I understand them: The desire to be reborn physically, the desire to be reborn mentally, the habitual thinking and judging in terms of self, anxiety, and ignorance --- not mundane ignorance like, "I don't know calculus," but a deeper form of ignorance of not knowing ourselves and where and how our deepest mental formations originate, which is also the cause for the deepest anxiety.

These things cannot be eliminated with even a trace of desire or self-view, which goes against how we think. I cannot overcome rupa-raga and arupa-raga by the desire to no longer exist, nor can I overcome them by the desire to "get something", like a Buddha-mind or Buddha-body. I cannot overcome conceit and ignorance through any particular thoughts, concepts, and actions. The mind simply must choose to stop chasing after things which do not exist, to let go of existing concepts without needing to be yoked to a new one.

Whereas this isn't true for all the other fetters: For instance, hatred can be replaced with positive mental qualities, supported by pride.

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Individual,

My understanding (though I doubt it will go close to answering all your questions) is that once stream-entry is attained, the knowledge attained is such that from that point on, acting in ways that accord to one's harm rather than one's good go against (the combination of) one's intuition and preference for what is not dukkha. The grades of once-returner and non-returner simply designate the passing of key landmarks in wisdom &/or mental purification. The further one is advanced along that path, the more counter-intuitive it would be to cause dukkha for oneself... much like not touching an electric fence because you intuitively know the consequences.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Makes sense.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: Why do non-returners exist?

Postby Kenshou » Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:46 pm

Individual wrote:These things cannot be eliminated with even a trace of desire or self-view, which goes against how we think. I cannot overcome rupa-raga and arupa-raga by the desire to no longer exist, nor can I overcome them by the desire to "get something", like a Buddha-mind or Buddha-body. I cannot overcome conceit and ignorance through any particular thoughts, concepts, and actions. The mind simply must choose to stop chasing after things which do not exist, to let go of existing concepts without needing to be yoked to a new one.

Whereas this isn't true for all the other fetters: For instance, hatred can be replaced with positive mental qualities, supported by pride.


Okay, I see what you're getting at. It is simply a matter of letting go, and to a very refined degree at that, not chasing after getting something, which is becoming. However I seem to recall that the desire for awakening isn't necessarily an impediment towards progress, but at the moment of awakening that desire and restlessness is overcome. I swear that I've read a sutta that goes something like "by conceit, conceit is overcome" or something like that, but I honestly cannot remember. But it's a tricky thing in any case, obviously.

And I'd say that the last 5 fetters can still be "replaced" by the wisdom of seeing the drawbacks and the dukkha involved, but I guess that's sort of redundant.
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Re: Why do non-returners exist?

Postby bodom » Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:05 pm

However I seem to recall that the desire for awakening isn't necessarily an impediment towards progress, but at the moment of awakening that desire and restlessness is overcome.


From Analayo's Satipatthana commentary:

At S V 272, Ananda countered the proposal that to overcome desire using desire would be a task without end with the argument that the desire for realization will automatically subside once realization is gained. Similarly, according to A 11 145, it is on the basis of "craving" (for the destruction of the influxes) that craving (in general) will be overcome. Also Sn 365, where the Buddha spoke approvingly of someone longing to attain nibbana. The importance of "desire" as an aspect of the path leading to realization is also exemplified in the canonical presentation of the four roads to power (iddhipadda), one of which is desire (chanda).


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The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Why do non-returners exist?

Postby Individual » Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:18 pm

bodom wrote:
However I seem to recall that the desire for awakening isn't necessarily an impediment towards progress, but at the moment of awakening that desire and restlessness is overcome.


From Analayo's Satipatthana commentary:

At S V 272, Ananda countered the proposal that to overcome desire using desire would be a task without end with the argument that the desire for realization will automatically subside once realization is gained. Similarly, according to A 11 145, it is on the basis of "craving" (for the destruction of the influxes) that craving (in general) will be overcome. Also Sn 365, where the Buddha spoke approvingly of someone longing to attain nibbana. The importance of "desire" as an aspect of the path leading to realization is also exemplified in the canonical presentation of the four roads to power (iddhipadda), one of which is desire (chanda).


:anjali:

What numbering system are you using there? Those are PTS page-numbers, right?

I assume S means Samyutta Nikaya and A means Anguttara, but in which nipata is "V 272" and in which vagga is "11 145"?

And by Sn 365, you mean "the 365th sutta", right?

Sorry if this question seems a bit stupid. I've tried to learn these different citation systems and it still goes over my head.
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Re: Why do non-returners exist?

Postby bodom » Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:23 pm

What numbering system are you using there? Those are PTS page-numbers, right?


Im assuming Analayo is using the PTS system, and to be honest I never understood it myself.

I assume S means Samyutta Nikaya and A means Anguttara, but in which nipata is "V 272" and in which vagga is "11 145"?


V would be roman numeral for 5 so it would be in the 5th Vagga or book of the Samyutta, possibly sutta 272. As far as 11.145 its in the second book in the Anguttara.

And by Sn 365, you mean "the 365th sutta", right?


That would be the 365th verse in the Sutta Nipata.

Sorry if this question seems a bit stupid. I've tried to learn these different citation systems and it still goes over my head.


Not stupid at all, I struggle w/ it as well. It is unnecessarily complicated. I wish Ven D. was here as he is very knowledgeable on the whole numbering system. Hope I somewhat helped!

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Why do non-returners exist?

Postby Guy » Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:56 pm

Kenshou wrote:I swear that I've read a sutta that goes something like "by conceit, conceit is overcome" or something like that, but I honestly cannot remember. But it's a tricky thing in any case, obviously.


Bhikkhuni Sutta
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm
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Re: Why do non-returners exist?

Postby fig tree » Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:40 am

Individual wrote:I assume S means Samyutta Nikaya and A means Anguttara, but in which nipata is "V 272" and in which vagga is "11 145"?

The PTS page numbers as well as the other divisions are given at accesstoinsight.org, so for suttas appearing there you can cross-reference. Texts of the Pāli canon also sometimes are annotated with various systems. Probably there ought to be a Frequently Asked Question page about it if there isn't already. Some systems I've gotten used to, but then now and then I run into one that I don't know.

S.V 272 is indeed page 272 of volume 5 of the PTS version of the Saṃyutta Nikaya, and the "Brāhmaṇa sutta" starts just before the top of the page. It's SN 51.15 or the 15th sutta of the 51st samyutta, the iddhipāda samyutta, which is in the mahā vagga.

A. ii 145 is likewise page 145 of volume 2 of the PTS version of the Aṅguttara Nikaya. The "Bhikkhunī sutta" starts a bit before the top of the page. It's AN 4.159 or sutta 159 in the Book of Fours.

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