bodom wrote:I am interested in the Bodhisattva ideal of Theravada Buddhism and have a question regarding the eight qualifications through which the aspiration for Buddhahood succeeds. According to the Treatise on the Paramis by Acariya Dhammapala it is stated that the eight qualifications for aspiration to Buddhahood can only succeed when eight factors are met. The eight qualifications through which the aspiration succeeds are: the human state, the male sex, the cause, the sight of the Master, the going forth, the achievement of noble qualities, extreme dedication, and strong desire (Bv. IIA,v.59). Now the fourth qualification is making the aspiration for Buddhahood in the presence of a living Buddha. Does this mean that those who aspire for Buddhahood and are practicing the Bodhisattva path today are practicing in vain? Is the Bodhisattva path a viable option for buddhist's today? Are these qualifications found in Mahayana literature? Could it be that in a former life i have already completed this qualification?
Hi bodom, I was researching this topic a bit as well.
There's an interesting entry
in the "Dictionary of Pali Names" by G P Malalasekera:
In the developed form of the ideas regarding Bodhisattas, a Bodhisatta's career started with his making a resolution before a Buddha (abhinīhārakarana or mūlapanidhāna) to become a Buddha for the welfare and liberation of all creatures. In later literature, the abhinīhāra is preceded by a period during which the Bodhisatta practises manopanidhi, when he resolves in his mind to desire to become a Buddha without declaring this intention to others.
As I understand it, abhinihara happens with the fulfilled 8 requisites that you've already quoted from the Treatise on paramis, but this "manopanidhi" seems to precede abhinihara, so kind of like the practice of getting ready for it - i.e. developing jhanas, abhinas and everything else required for abhinihara to be successful. Of course, I don't know what are the actual sources for this and what does "later literature" mean. Would that be Buddhavamsa and its commentary, Jatakas or something else? Don't know, haven't had a chance to read these yet. Either way, I think that manopanidhi would be comparable to the practice of "aspiring" bodhisattas, though of course, there'd be no assurance of success until a prediction is obtained from a buddha.
Another even more interesting point (to me at least) is what happens with development of insight/wisdom in case of a bodhisatta who has already made the successful abhinihara, or even in the case of the one who’s still in the manopanidhi stage (so could be compared to an ordinary savaka). I mean wisdom is one of the paramis (as well as paramitas) so the question is to what point it can be developed without resulting in stream-entry. I.e. for abhinihara to work, one has to be able to become arahant in that very life, which should mean that his insight/wisdom is well in the advanced stages already.
At the moment there seem to be two viewpoints in Theravada that I can detect – one is that he develops insight (especially in lives as a monk under different Buddhas) – but only up to the stage of sankhar’upekkha nana (equanimity towards formations), which is just one stage short of anuloma nana when the stream-entry (or higher) is initiated and irrevocable. There are two posts on dsg by Ven.Dhammanando that I found very informative regarding this viewpoint: #42575
The other viewpoint is that a bodhisatta never develops insight/wisdom past the point of the first few insight knowledges (until sammasana nana if I’m not mistaken), because at that point according to commentary one becomes a cula sotapanna – someone who’s ensured of becoming a sotapanna in that very life. This thing about cula-sotpanna is mentioned somewhere in the Path of purification as well as by Ledi Sayadaw I think.
What I don’t understand though is whether the issue of cula sotapnna applies to bodhisattas at all, because it might be possible that their vows in fact keep them from becoming a sotapanna even if their insight advances up to sankhar’upekkha nana.
As for Mahayana view on the progress of insight, I asked Ven.Pannasikhara once about this on e-sangha, but as far as I could understand him, the insight knowledges are not discussed in Mahayana, so that kind of the wisdom framework just isn’t applicable to Mahayana. Whether that means that in Mahayana insight is never developed quite as far as in Theravada (which is understandable as they are not interested in becoming a stream-enterer or higher until they have developed all the other paramis to perfection), or they just never developed a detailed system of describing development of insight as Theravada did, I simply don’t know.