Spotting an Arahant

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Spotting an Arahant

Postby unspoken » Sat Feb 26, 2011 4:30 am

For a long time I see that people would sometimes identify if someone who claims themselves as an Arahant. To see he is a real or a fake Arahant by the "factors of Arahant" something like that. But how do we actually know that person is an Arahant if, he do not claim himself as Arahant but he is one?
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Re: Spotting an Arahant

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Feb 26, 2011 4:47 am

There are several previous threads on this topic.
This is something I wrote some years ago in response to a similar question on another forum.

How would you know when you have gained enlightenment?
14/7/2003

It is possible for an unenlightened person to be deluded about that, but an enlightened person could know by reading such books as "The Progress of Insight."

It is also possible that an enlightened person would not know, due to lack of scriptural knowledge. It is very difficult to know whether another person has attained a certain stage or not, but a person with good scriptural knowledge might know with some degree of certainty. Only someone like the Buddha or Venerable Anuruddha would know by direct knowledge.

The Mirror of the Dhamma in the Mahaparinibbana sutta gives four criteria:
  1. Unshakeable confidence in the Buddha
  2. Unshakeable confidence in the Dhamma
  3. Unshakeable confidence in the Sangha
  4. Morality that is stainless and without defect
Anyone who kills, steals, commits sexual misconduct, or tells lies is definitely not a Stream-winner. I also doubt very much whether they would drink alcohol. I met several individuals in Burma, who I was confident had gained stream-winning or higher stages. Their conduct and mental demeanour was markedly different to most other good people, but anyone inexperienced in meditation or lacking in scriptural knowledge would not be able to distinguish them from an unenlightened person of good character.

This little story nicely illustrates the difficulty of measuring an enlightened person.
A certain monk was living in dependence on an Arahant. Living in dependence meant that he shared the same room as his teacher, did all the duties for him, and carried his almsbowl for him while walking behind for alms. One day, while walking for alms, the pupil asked, “Venerable sir, how can one know whether another person is an Arahant?”

The Arahant replied, “It is not easy, friend, to know if another person is an Arahant. Even if one lived in dependence on an Arahant, did all the duties for him, and carried his almsbowl while walking behind him for alms, one might not know that his teacher was an Arahant.”

Even when given such a broad hint as this, the pupil did not realise that his teacher was an Arahant. The Arahants have stainless minds free from all pride and conceit. They do not boast of their attainments, unless there is no other way to help people.
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Re: Spotting an Arahant

Postby plwk » Sat Feb 26, 2011 6:56 am

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
A well-read layman was conversing with Luang Pu, saying,
"I firmly believe that in our present day and age there are not just a few monks who have practiced to the point of reaching the paths, fruitions, and nibbana. So why don't they make their knowledge public, so that those who are interested in the practice will know of the levels of Dhamma they have attained, as a way of giving them encouragement and hope so that they'll accelerate their efforts to the utmost of their ability?"

Luang Pu answered,
"Those who have awakened don't talk of what they've awakened to, because it lies above and beyond all words."
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

Anguttara-Nikaya: Ekanipata: Ekadhammapali: Pañhamavagga
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Re: Spotting an Arahant

Postby unspoken » Sat Feb 26, 2011 9:11 am

Sadhu!
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Re: Spotting an Arahant

Postby ajahndoe » Sat Feb 26, 2011 9:21 am

You wouldn't believe them if they told you, because you see enlightenment as something special and beyond normal reach. They see simply what is here, fully accepting the temporal nature of their lives and all phenomena. Mind and matter. Sights, sounds, tastes, bodily sensations, smells and mental formations. They are the least special of all, being at once everything and nothing in particular, no more than part of the stream of life we all share.

It will never serve you to seek the Buddha, any Buddha, outside of your own mind.
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Re: Spotting an Arahant

Postby PeterB » Sat Feb 26, 2011 11:23 am

Which mind ?
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Re: Spotting an Arahant

Postby ajahndoe » Sat Feb 26, 2011 7:54 pm

The mind that sees, hears, smells, tastes, feels (body/touch), thinks/cognizes, perceives, remembers, is aware of emotional feelings.
The mind that sees these words.
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Re: Spotting an Arahant

Postby Annapurna » Sat Feb 26, 2011 8:08 pm

unspoken wrote:For a long time I see that people would sometimes identify if someone who claims themselves as an Arahant. To see he is a real or a fake Arahant by the "factors of Arahant" something like that. But how do we actually know that person is an Arahant if, he do not claim himself as Arahant but he is one?


Why would it be important to know?
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Re: Spotting an Arahant

Postby unspoken » Sun Feb 27, 2011 12:44 pm

Because If I am so lucky enough to saw one,I can ask him on how and what should I do in my meditation
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Re: Spotting an Arahant

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Feb 27, 2011 1:14 pm

The problem is, that its so very difficult to know about the inner purity of another.

Anyone can be happy and gay as long as life goes along his own way
but the man worth while is the man with a smile, when everything goes dead wrong.

An intelligent person can observe a teacher for a long time, while living closely together with him or her, and after seeing no trace of anger or lust, even in ways of speech, they may come to regard that teacher as an Arahant, or on the path to Arahantship.

For example, I heard that at one time, when the Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw was taking his meals, a heavy ceiling fan crashed to the ground beside him. Had it hit him it could easily have killed him. Apparently, he was completely unshaken by this event, whereas most of us would have been deeply shocked. Such anecdotal evidence about great teachers is not proof of anything very much, but still it is possible to gain confidence in a teacher after a long association.

On the other hand, unintelligent and gullible persons can easily be misled by false teachers. After seeing a few magic tricks they are deeply impressed, and regard their teacher very highly. It is a very dangerous situation for such devotees. If anyone points out that their guru is just a charlatan, they will get very angry and defensive. They donate lavishly, and lose their wealth, perpetuating the myth to all of their friends. Their friends are swept away in the flood.

So, one should not concern oneself too much with the teacher's reputation, but listen carefully to the teaching, comparing it with the Dhamma and Vinaya that one has heard elsewhere, to see if it fits in with it. Best of all, is to practice hard and gain personal realisation through insight, then one will be quite independent of any teacher.

The Story of Suppabuddha
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Re: Spotting an Arahant

Postby nobody12345 » Sun Feb 27, 2011 2:29 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:On the other hand, unintelligent and gullible persons can easily be misled by false teachers. After seeing a few magic tricks they are deeply impressed, and regard their teacher very highly. It is a very dangerous situation for such devotees. If anyone points out that their guru is just a charlatan, they will get very angry and defensive. They donate lavishly, and lose their wealth, perpetuating the myth to all of their friends. Their friends are swept away in the flood.
The Story of Suppabuddha

Great post.
Showing off supernatural powers to impress others is the sign that the person is a charlatan.
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Re: Spotting an Arahant

Postby Annapurna » Sun Feb 27, 2011 3:06 pm

unspoken wrote:Because If I am so lucky enough to saw one,I can ask him on how and what should I do in my meditation


Dear, just ask a good meditation teacher, is all you need for now.

Like, if I want to learn how to cook well , I don't need a famous master cook who has all the Michelin stars and Gault Milleau stuff, but is hard to get at.

You will automatically gravitate towards higher goals from there once you are ready.

At least imo. :smile:
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Re: Spotting an Arahant

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:06 am

In terms of magic tricks- it is interesting that the Buddha discouraged 'magic tricks', yet he openly admitted that he was not 'just' a normal human being. There is something in us humans that get drawn into the mysterious- something bigger and beyond ourselves. If there is genuinely something to that effect, and it helps to help others, I wonder what the ethics of revealing such a thing is...

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Re: Spotting an Arahant

Postby AnonOfIbid » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:39 am

Don't worry about others. Just worry about yourself, then when YOU become an arahant, that'll settle it. No more questions, right?
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Re: Spotting an Arahant

Postby aardgoat » Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:13 pm

Annapurna wrote:
unspoken wrote:Because If I am so lucky enough to saw one,I can ask him on how and what should I do in my meditation


Dear, just ask a good meditation teacher, is all you need for now.

Like, if I want to learn how to cook well , I don't need a famous master cook who has all the Michelin stars and Gault Milleau stuff, but is hard to get at.

You will automatically gravitate towards higher goals from there once you are ready.

At least imo. :smile:

Agreed.
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