Path to Buddhahood

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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby ancientbuddhism » Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:22 pm

The Development and Elaboration of the Arahant Ideal in the Theravāda Buddhist Tradition, by George D. Bond

This was just added to the Early Buddhism Resources thread.

This paper may be helpful to the discussion. Bond outlines an accretion of textual development and treatment of the arahant ideal in the Pāḷi Nikāyas; viz. what started as an immediate liberation fairly accessible to the ordinary person in the present life (diṭṭhe va dhamme), morphed into later developments of the discourses, where, as the doctrinal tenets regarding the path and the noble person are padded-out, the means becomes increasingly difficult and attainment of liberation more rarified to meet in one lifetime.

This paper also discusses commentarial treatment of the arahant, and some amusing scholarly missteps in interpretation.
Katamo ca bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo: samatho ca vipassanā ca. Ayaṃ vuccati bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the path leading to the unconditioned? Calm and insight. This, bhikkhus, is called the path leading to the unconditioned.” SN. 43.2 – Samathavipassanāsuttaṃ

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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby daverupa » Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:02 pm

The difference here seems to be over whether the scholastic materials of the Theravada are taken to be primary sources or secondary sources. In response to the idea that arahants were around during the compilation of these materials, one wonders how we can assign these alleged arahants solely to the Theravada school, and therefore to none of the others. In any event, the four great references ask us to compare these materials to the dhammavinaya, tacitly supporting the primacy of that early stratum.

Even here however, one ought to note that, as Analayo's comparative analysis of the Majjhima Nikaya discusses, even the Nikayas/Agamas show signs of commentarial and scholastic editing. Their great commonality is quite encouraging, but one is able to discern social valuations in much of the material in this way (e.g. Pali materials stress the way to heaven and the three knowledges more than the Chinese materials, which often stress the four ariyan categories and only present the third knowledge - the destruction of the asavas. This is just one example among many.).

Taking a hard-line scholastic approach ignores these subtleties, to deficient effect, i.e. additions can be taken as original and necessary rather than as embellishments rooted in a felt need for the development of social capital in the religion after the Buddha's final nibbana (for example).

It's complex.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:57 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:First of all I am not talking about "omniscience." Secondly, the Buddha, as the texts I quoted clearly show, had a lot to say about bodhi, so it is not a matter of conjecture.

"Bodhi" is a designation referring to the realization of knowledge. The Buddhist tradition has maintained, from a very early period, that the Buddha's knowledge included omniscience, whereas the knowledge of arahant disciples didn't.
Interestingly, you provide no texts here to support your contention. On the other hand I have provided large number of texts to support mine:

http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 4&#p149864
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 4&#p149866

tiltbillings wrote:One person on a a forum that was not Dhamma Wheel, but you said persons, and when asked you reaffirmed that "persons" was in the plural, and when asked to back up your claim, you give no specifics. Your complaint here is meaningless.

Stop posting your novel opinions on the Discovering Theravāda forum.
So, you exaggerate about the "persons"; it turns out there is only one person, a holder of eccentric views, who posted on a different forum, not at all referencing this forum or my posts; you cannot show that what he said had a thing to do with what I said, particularly since I was not discussing omniscience, and now you are telling me where to post? I am assuming you are referring to this posting in "Discovering Theravada"?: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 91#p148391 which is in the context appropriate to the discussion. As for my "novel opinion," it is shared by Ven Bodhi: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 02&#p21902 Now, you are pushing this into the realm of meta-discussion, which not allowed here. If you have an actual textual argument using the suttas, please feel free to start a new thread and show us that I am wrong. I very well may be wrong and I would welcome to be shown to be so, but as of yet you have done no more than simply assert it without any actual support for your claim.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby Nyana » Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:15 pm

daverupa wrote:The difference here seems to be over whether the scholastic materials of the Theravada are taken to be primary sources or secondary sources.

What are you referring to by "scholastic materials of the Theravāda"? (Personally, I would consider the entire contents of the Tipiṭaka, especially the Suttapiṭaka & Abhidhammapiṭaka, to be the scholastic materials of the Theravāda.)

daverupa wrote:In response to the idea that arahants were around during the compilation of these materials, one wonders how we can assign these alleged arahants solely to the Theravada school, and therefore to none of the others.

I certainly wouldn't make such an assertion. Given this current climate of preference for text-critical analysis and comparative analysis, what would be helpful would be text-critical and comparative studies of the extant early systematic and commentarial sources of various sects in order to uncover the common features that are shared across traditions. This would help illustrate aspects of proto-abhidhamma. Of course, research into this strata of texts requires extensive skills in multiple languages and considerable intellectual capacity to learn and understand a number of large and complex texts.

daverupa wrote:In any event, the four great references ask us to compare these materials to the dhammavinaya, tacitly supporting the primacy of that early stratum.

The four great references set a standard for excluding new ideas that would not be supported by the sutta and vinaya materials. They don't establish criteria for commenting upon and developing what is already present in these collections, whereas the Paṭisambhidāmagga, the Peṭakopadesa, and the Nettippakaraṇa do.
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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby Nyana » Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:23 pm

tiltbillings wrote:If you have an actual textual argument using the suttas, please feel free to start a new thread and show us that I am wrong. I very well may be wrong and I would welcome to be shown to be so, but as of yet you have done no more than simply assert it without any actual support for your claim.

I have offered several criticisms, supported by references, but they all relate to one central criticism: Your premise that dhamma principles can be sufficiently analyzed by exclusively relying on sutta strata materials is faulty.
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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:53 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:If you have an actual textual argument using the suttas, please feel free to start a new thread and show us that I am wrong. I very well may be wrong and I would welcome to be shown to be so, but as of yet you have done no more than simply assert it without any actual support for your claim.

I have offered several criticisms, supported by references,
But you did not show that your references related to the question of bodhi directly or even indirectly, though you claimed it to be so. Your "criticisms," however, were not actual arguments for your position against mine, they were your assertions without an actual argument.
but they all relate to one central criticism: Your premise that dhamma principles can be sufficiently analyzed by exclusively relying on sutta strata materials is faulty.
So you claim, but as of yet, you have made no real argument. Rather than this meta-discussion, you might actually present an actual argument supporting your position, showing that mine is wrong.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby daverupa » Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:20 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
daverupa wrote:The difference here seems to be over whether the scholastic materials of the Theravada are taken to be primary sources or secondary sources.

What are you referring to by "scholastic materials of the Theravāda"? (Personally, I would consider the entire contents of the Tipiṭaka, especially the Suttapiṭaka & Abhidhammapiṭaka, to be the scholastic materials of the Theravāda.)


"The Suttapitaka" doesn't exist. The Theravada Suttapitaka in large part reflects pre-scholastic conditions; the contents of the Nikayas/Agamas are somewhat broadly agreed upon across scholastic boundaries, but there are quite a few rather interesting differences.

As different schools have widely divergent abhidhammapitakas and vinayapitakas, while their suttapitakas are largely in accord, therefore the whole of the Theravada Abhidhammapitaka and most of the Theravada Vinayapitaka are the scholastic materials of the Theravada, just as these collections in other schools are their scholastic materials.

---

Ñāṇa wrote:Your premise that dhamma principles can be sufficiently analyzed by exclusively relying on sutta strata materials is faulty.


How so? Because

They don't establish criteria for commenting upon and developing what is already present in these collections, whereas the Paṭisambhidāmagga, the Peṭakopadesa, and the Nettippakaraṇa do.


is putting the cart before the horse (i.e. taking Theravada scholasticism as inviolate before it is held against the sutta strata).
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:45 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Your premise that dhamma principles can be sufficiently analyzed by exclusively relying on sutta strata materials is faulty.


How so? Because

They don't establish criteria for commenting upon and developing what is already present in these collections, whereas the Paṭisambhidāmagga, the Peṭakopadesa, and the Nettippakaraṇa do.


is putting the cart before the horse (i.e. taking Theravada scholasticism as inviolate before it is held against the sutta strata).
There is no reason, whatsoever, that one cannot look at what the suttas say about a particular subject without reference to the later interpretative materials. Looking to the later material is reasonable if one wants to see what a set of particular interpretations of the suttas material is, given that the latter material is interpretative, which gives a particular point of view that defines a particular school, which is to painfully state the obvious.

Looking at the the Paṭisambhidāmagga, the Peṭakopadesa, the Nettippakaraṇa, etc is fine if one wants a secific Theravadin understanding of the sutta material.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:58 pm

The Paṭisambhidāmagga is supposedly "penned" by Sariputta, even though it represents material that is clearly later than the suttas, but why would we favor the Theravada Psm over an equivalent but different text that reflects the Sarvastivadins' point of view that was supposedly "penned" by Sariputra?

I am certainly not going to say to hell with the commentaries and the VM and the like. Unlike some sutta-wallahs, I see a great of value in these later texts, but that does not mean that one cannot look to the suttas themselves to see what they say about something, and it seems that the Buddha in the suttas had a fair amount to say about the question of bodhi, and interestingly he never, that I have found, tied bodhi to such things a omniscience and other specific powers supposedly unique to him. The view in the suttas of bodhi is really quite radical, which gets lost in the later Buddhists valorizatrion of the Buddha.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby Nyana » Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:14 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Your "criticisms," however, were not actual arguments for your position against mine, they were your assertions without an actual argument.

Your unwillingness to accept the authority of the Pāli sources I've cited precludes the possibility of meaningful discussion. This unwillingness on your part is par for the course in the wild west of speculative interpretation.

tiltbillings wrote:There is no reason, whatsoever, that one cannot look at what the suttas say about a particular subject without reference to the later interpretative materials.

I've seen more than enough of the rather pathetic results of this methodology to conclude that it is entirely insufficient for comprehensive analysis.

tiltbillings wrote:Looking to the later material is reasonable if one wants to see what a set of particular interpretations of the suttas material is, given that the latter material is interpretative, which gives a particular point of view that defines a particular school, which is to painfully state the obvious.

There are a number of valid reasons to carefully consider and use the Paṭisambhidāmagga, the Peṭakopadesa, and the Nettippakaraṇa. Firstly, Theravāda Buddhism is a living tradition and these texts establish important Theravāda doctrines and interpretive methods. And beyond this, these texts offer other perspectives for looking at the suttas and pursuing research into sutta passages which one might not have thought of otherwise. This in itself is an invaluable asset.

tiltbillings wrote:Looking at the the Paṭisambhidāmagga, the Peṭakopadesa, the Nettippakaraṇa, etc is fine if one wants a secific Theravadin understanding of the sutta material.

Given that this is a Theravāda forum it's entirely reasonable to give preference to these texts, and if you choose to disagree with what they have to offer then the onus is entirely upon you to demonstrate why they are mistaken and you are not.
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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby Nyana » Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:23 pm

daverupa wrote:"The Suttapitaka" doesn't exist.

Of course it exists. I gave you a link to the online edition of it just the other day.

daverupa wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:Your premise that dhamma principles can be sufficiently analyzed by exclusively relying on sutta strata materials is faulty.


How so? Because

They don't establish criteria for commenting upon and developing what is already present in these collections, whereas the Paṭisambhidāmagga, the Peṭakopadesa, and the Nettippakaraṇa do.


is putting the cart before the horse (i.e. taking Theravada scholasticism as inviolate before it is held against the sutta strata).

The suttas are not a comprehensive, systematic presentation of the dhamma, and there is no evidence that they were ever meant to be. Moreover, there is no evidence that the suttas were ever meant to be understood without recourse to further commentary (oral, then later, written commentary). The four great references don't address these issues at all.
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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:56 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Your "criticisms," however, were not actual arguments for your position against mine, they were your assertions without an actual argument.

Your unwillingness to accept the authority of the Pāli sources I've cited precludes the possibility of meaningful discussion. This unwillingness on your part is par for the course in the wild west of speculative interpretation.
It precludes looking at the question of bodhi outside of a particular sectarian point of view, for those are the perimeters I have drawn. There is no reason that we cannot look at the question of bodhi from the standpoint of the suttas alone, given that the Buddha in the suttas did have a fair amount to say on the subject.

You throw out such inflammatory stuff as "the wild west of speculative interpretation," which, by your lights, Ven Bodhi would be guilty of such "wild west of speculation," but you have yet to show that that is, in fact, the case. As it stands this accusation of "the wild west of speculative interpretation" carries no weight.

tiltbillings wrote:There is no reason, whatsoever, that one cannot look at what the suttas say about a particular subject without reference to the later interpretative materials.

I've seen more than enough of the rather pathetic results of this methodology to conclude that it is entirely insufficient for comprehensive analysis.
You say stuff like this, but you make no real case for your dismissal. As it stands, without a carefully done rebuttal, it is meaningless. Either get on with an actual critique showing that the suttas do not say what I have shown them to say, or let it go.

tiltbillings wrote:Looking to the later material is reasonable if one wants to see what a set of particular interpretations of the suttas material is, given that the latter material is interpretative, which gives a particular point of view that defines a particular school, which is to painfully state the obvious.

There are a number of valid reasons to carefully consider and use the Paṭisambhidāmagga, the Peṭakopadesa, and the Nettippakaraṇa. Firstly, Theravāda Buddhism is a living tradition and these texts establish important Theravāda doctrines and interpretive methods. And beyond this, these texts offer other perspectives for looking at the suttas and pursuing research into sutta passages which one might not have thought of otherwise. This in itself is an invaluable asset.
But I am not talking about Theravada tradition. I am talking about the suttas, which may not always be in lock step with the suttas. Also, you were the one above appealing to other traditions in addition to the Theravada.

There is nothing wrong with the Theravada tradition, and there is nothing wrong with appealing to it, but in looking at the suttas, that is not what I am doing, and there is no reason why one can not ask specific questions of the suttas to see what sort of answer they may yield.

tiltbillings wrote:Looking at the the Paṭisambhidāmagga, the Peṭakopadesa, the Nettippakaraṇa, etc is fine if one wants a secific Theravadin understanding of the sutta material.

Given that this is a Theravāda forum it's entirely reasonable to give preference to these texts, and if you choose to disagree with what they have to offer then the onus is entirely upon you to demonstrate why they are mistaken and you are not.
Theravada, being a living tradition, should be open to questions, to having its core texts and its history carefully looked at. If that cannot be done, then the Theravada is not a living tradition. It is all a matter of ongoing dialogue, of which one should not be afraid.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby Nyana » Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:24 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Looking at the the Paṭisambhidāmagga, the Peṭakopadesa, the Nettippakaraṇa, etc is fine if one wants a secific Theravadin understanding of the sutta material.Theravada, being a living tradition, should be open to questions, to having its core texts and its history carefully looked at. If that cannot be done, then the Theravada is not a living tradition. It is all a matter of ongoing dialogue, of which one should not be afraid.

Agreed. Other than the Visuddhimagga the core texts are sadly neglected.

tiltbillings wrote:It precludes looking at the question of bodhi outside of a particular sectarian point of view, for those are the perimeters I have drawn... But I am not talking about Theravada tradition. I am talking about the suttas, which may not always be in lock step with the suttas.

Which is why I don't accept you analysis. You'd be hard pressed to find any Sarvāstivāda text, or any text by any other sect, which denies that omniscience was a part of the Buddha's awakening. This in itself wasn't a controversial issue (although some of the specifics of just what that entails was). If it were a controversial issue then it's entirely plausible that some redactor would have explicitly tied a passage like the one from AN 4.24 to a sutta like SN 56.11. Just because this wasn't done doesn't establish anything.

tiltbillings wrote:there is no reason why one can not ask specific questions of the suttas to see what sort of answer they may yield.

No, there isn't. But the caveat is that any conclusions that diverge significantly from the received tradition are speculative at best.
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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby Nyana » Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:31 pm

tiltbillings wrote:You say stuff like this, but you make no real case for your dismissal. As it stands, without a carefully done rebuttal, it is meaningless. Either get on with an actual critique showing that the suttas do not say what I have shown them to say, or let it go.

The only rebuttal necessary is to point out that your analysis contradicts the Paṭisambhidāmagga, which is an authoritative, canonical Theravāda text.
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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby daverupa » Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:46 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:You say stuff like this, but you make no real case for your dismissal. As it stands, without a carefully done rebuttal, it is meaningless. Either get on with an actual critique showing that the suttas do not say what I have shown them to say, or let it go.

The only rebuttal necessary is to point out that your analysis contradicts the Paṭisambhidāmagga, which is an authoritative, canonical Theravāda text.


Your earlier simplification of the textual issues into "Pali sources" shows a willing ignorance of these important issues, many of which bear directly on practice.

To 'contradict' the Paṭisambhidāmagga is of no more or less consequence than to 'contradict' the Shorter Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra; both have a solid history of evolution and development within a certain scholastic group.

Theravada has a unique history, which most of us appreciate to some extent, hence this forum. But to adhere to the whole of the Theravada corpus is to make a choice of interpretation; it is not a choice to "be right".

:heart:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby Nyana » Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:55 pm

daverupa wrote:Your earlier simplification of the textual issues into "Pali sources" shows a willing ignorance of these important issues, many of which bear directly on practice.

I'm not aware of any Pāli, Sanskrit, Chinese, or Tibetan Buddhist sources which deny that omniscience was a part of the Buddha's awakening.

daverupa wrote:To 'contradict' the Paṭisambhidāmagga is of no more or less consequence than to 'contradict' the Shorter Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra....

Within the context of Pāli commentary it certainly is.

daverupa wrote:Theravada has a unique history, which most of us appreciate to some extent, hence this forum. But to adhere to the whole of the Theravada corpus is to make a choice of interpretation; it is not a choice to "be right".

I'll expand my criteria just for you Dave: The only rebuttal necessary is to point out that tiltbillings' analysis contradicts the Paṭisambhidāmagga as well as every extant Buddhist tradition.
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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:30 am

Ñāṇa wrote:The only rebuttal necessary is to point out that tiltbillings' analysis contradicts the Paṭisambhidāmagga as well as every extant Buddhist tradition.
That is not a rebuttal; not even close. That is an informal logical fallacy of appeal to authority. Appealing to the Psm does not show that my textual analysis is wrong in any way. At best all that does is shows that what I said does not agree with a particular, after the death of the Buddha text, that is championing a particular interpretation.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sat Sep 15, 2012 1:25 am

I don't want to offend you with this question, Nana, it's just another angle from which to aproach the matter.

Are there two kinds of Nibbana?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Sep 15, 2012 1:29 am

Modus.Ponens wrote:I don't want to offend you with this question, Nana, it's just another angle from which to aproach the matter.

Are there two kinds of Nibbana?
You mean a Buddha's nibbana as opposed to an arahant's nibbana?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Path to Buddhahood

Postby Nyana » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:32 am

Modus.Ponens wrote:Are there two kinds of Nibbana?

Except for the distinction between the nibbāna component with fuel remaining (saupādisesa nibbānadhātu) and the nibbāna component with no fuel remaining (anupādisesa nibbānadhātu), the Theravāda tradition has always maintained that there are not.
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