In this light, when we consider issues such as
- * Interpreting the 31 planes of existence literally
* Post-mortem rebirth
* The validity of the Abhidhamma
* 3-Life interpretation of Dependent Arising
- how much do we place our trust in the Arahats of the ancient times?
If the orthodox point of view is correct, then Arahats took a prominent place in preserving the Pali Canon and related material. This gives a lot of weight to the traditional interpretations of the canon. If the Arahats of the 3rd council did not agree with the material of the Abhidhamma, would they have let it be passed on as part of the official canon? If Buddhagosa did not receive the stamp of approval to his interpretation of dependent arising from the Arahats of Maha Vihara, then would it have become the prominent book it came to be?
I once read a diet and exercise book written by a professional bodybuilder. In it, he said that when he was training, sometimes he saw different advice coming from the bodybuilders and the scientists. He looked at the scientists and saw that many of them were overweight and not in good shape. He looked at the bodybuilders and saw that they were in good shape, so he decided to follow their advice instead of the scientists'. Similar advice may apply here: is it not better to follow the advice of people who achieved what we now want to achieve?
If issues such as listed above need to be changed in present times, then it seems to me that either
- * Arahats are not really as smart as we think; they can be wrong about even straightforward issues like rebirth, devas, etc.
- * The 'Arahatas' were not really Arahats (as Ven. Ñanavira would postulate, for example); how do we know that these people were really Arahats?
I think these are important criticisms that need to be addressed and discussed. So my question is, how much do we place our faith in the Arahats of the Theravada tradition?