The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

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The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby bodom » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:26 pm

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?

: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: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby bodom » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:36 pm

And now that i read further into this commentary qualification 5 states (5) The going forth (pabbajjaa): The aspiration succeeds only when made in the presence of the Exalted Buddha by one who has gone forth (into the homeless state of a monk), either as a bhikkhu or as an ascetic who maintains the doctrine of kamma and the moral efficacy of action; it does not succeed for one living in the household state.

And qualification 6 states: Aspiration only succeeds when made by one who has gone forth and gained the eight meditative attainments and the five mundane types of direct knowledges.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el409.html

This is not looking very promising. I would like to undertake the Bodhisattva path but not through the Mahayana tradition and these qualifications make it look rather bleak. Are there any here who aspire to the Bodhisattva path through the Theravadin tradition?
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: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby Sekha » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:45 pm

bodom wrote: I would like to undertake the Bodhisattva path but not through the Mahayana tradition and these qualifications make it look rather bleak. Are there any here who aspire to the Bodhisattva path through the Theravadin tradition?


Are you prepared for several asankheyyas of becoming? It took 4 to Gotama. 'Mahayanists' totally neglect this fact. I feel there is a lot of building up ego under this fashion.
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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby bodom » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:54 pm

Dukkhanirodha wrote:
bodom wrote: I would like to undertake the Bodhisattva path but not through the Mahayana tradition and these qualifications make it look rather bleak. Are there any here who aspire to the Bodhisattva path through the Theravadin tradition?


Are you prepared for several asankheyyas of becoming? It took 4 to Gotama. 'Mahayanists' totally neglect this fact. I feel there is a lot of building up ego under this fashion.


Yes i am aware of the length of time it takes to perfect the paramis. From the commentary:

As a minimum, four incalculables (asa"nkheyya) and a hundred thousand great aeons (mahaakappa); as a middle figure, eight incalculables and a hundred thousand great aeons; and as a maximum, sixteen incalculables and a hundred thousand great aeons.

For the sake of the supreme enlightenment, the Great Being, striving for enlightenment, should first of all surrender himself to the Buddhas thus: "I offer myself up to the Buddhas."
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: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:45 am

Dukkhanirodha wrote:
bodom wrote: I would like to undertake the Bodhisattva path but not through the Mahayana tradition and these qualifications make it look rather bleak. Are there any here who aspire to the Bodhisattva path through the Theravadin tradition?


Are you prepared for several asankheyyas of becoming? It took 4 to Gotama. 'Mahayanists' totally neglect this fact. I feel there is a lot of building up ego under this fashion.


Re: 'Mahayanists' totally neglect this fact. - this statement is incorrect.

There are some groups that have other interpretations, but the vast majority of practicing Mahayana Buddhists, ie. Chinese Buddhists, all very clearly and explicitly accept a Mahayana path of many asamkhya kalpas to complete.
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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:49 am

bodom wrote:
This is not looking very promising. I would like to undertake the Bodhisattva path but not through the Mahayana tradition and these qualifications make it look rather bleak. Are there any here who aspire to the Bodhisattva path through the Theravadin tradition?


The Treatise by Acariya Dhammapala calls it the "Mahabodhiyana".

Perhaps you are thinking that the "Mahayana" is a doctrinal system, ie. a "vada".
Actually, it is not, but a "vehicle / path", ie. a "yana".
It is possible to have different vadas for different yanas, eg. Madhyamaka vada for Sravaka-yana; or Thera-vada for Maha-yana.
eg. see the "Theravadin Mahayanikas" that Xuan Zang met whilst in South India during the 7th century.

The basic definition of "mahayana" is the yana that leads to anuttara samyak sambodhi (in Skt or Pali).
So, the Treatise by the Acariya is a Mahayana treatise, and also Theravadin, too. There is no necessary contradiction here.
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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby bodom » Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:51 am

After reading Ledi Sayadaws Manual of the excellent man it seems there are additional factors to be cultivated leading towards fulfillment of the eight qualifications and the Noblest Aspiration.

Ledi says "The four conditions, the four root causes, and the six inclinations are the factors for declaring the Noblest Aspiration and for taking up the higher perfections."

The four conditions are: exceptional energy, a keen intellect, steadfastness, compassion.

The four root causes: perfections, compassion, fortitude, friendship.

The Six Natural inclinations are sees the danger in greed, hate, delusion, sensuality, socializing and the danger of birth.
Last edited by bodom on Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby bodom » Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:57 am

Thank you for the clarification Bhante. So these eight conditions are found in the Mahayana tradition also? Am i able to undertake this path as a Theravadin buddhist despite the fact of not knowing if i have completed any of these qualifications in a past life or will in this or a future life? Is it enough in this life to just take the vows and practice the paramis?

: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: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby suanck » Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:07 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:There are some groups that have other interpretations, but the vast majority of practicing Mahayana Buddhists, ie. Chinese Buddhists, all very clearly and explicitly accept a Mahayana path of many asamkhya kalpas to complete.


Dear Bhante,

My own experience with many Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhist friends (they are "ordinary" Buddhists, not scholar monks/nuns) is different: To them, there is no clear distinction between "Buddha" and "Samma Sambuddha"; to become a Buddha just means to be enlightened and it can be instant (intstant enlightenment), not several kalpas. To follow the Bodhisatva path, to them, is just a inspiring vow to make ones more engaged in social services.

Suan.
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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:56 am

THE BODHISATTVA IDEAL IN THERAVAADA

http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/jeffrey2.htm
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: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby bodom » Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:10 am

tiltbillings wrote:THE BODHISATTVA IDEAL IN THERAVAADA

http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/jeffrey2.htm


Yes tilt thank you i have read through that article as well as this one by Bhikkhu Bodhi:

Arahants, Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas by Bhikkhu Bodhi

http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha335.htm

: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: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:59 am

suanck wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:There are some groups that have other interpretations, but the vast majority of practicing Mahayana Buddhists, ie. Chinese Buddhists, all very clearly and explicitly accept a Mahayana path of many asamkhya kalpas to complete.


Dear Bhante,

My own experience with many Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhist friends (they are "ordinary" Buddhists, not scholar monks/nuns) is different: To them, there is no clear distinction between "Buddha" and "Samma Sambuddha"; to become a Buddha just means to be enlightened and it can be instant (intstant enlightenment), not several kalpas. To follow the Bodhisatva path, to them, is just a inspiring vow to make ones more engaged in social services.

Suan.


Of course to them there is no difference between "buddha" and "samma sambuddha", because to them they are the same thing, but something very very different from either an arhat or pratyekabuddha.

I only used the term to make a distinction here, amongst Theravadins, who may well say that arhats are also buddhas, because they have realized bodhi. I wouldn't disagree with them in the Theravadin context, but that context is inappropriate for most Chinese Buddhists.

As for "instant enlightenment", even for Chan, most will say that that is just a basic insight, not full awakening.

I'm not sure about the groups you associate with, but those that I do would explain it as I have here. That include "ordinary" buddhists, too. The groups I associate with make a key point of explaining the Buddhist doctrines, and not just doing Dharma services and rituals. We may also wish to make a distinction between those who just mix up any and all east asian religions, (usually coming out with a pot pourri of Dao-Fo-Ru mashed together) and those who are often considered "orthodox" Buddhists, who know the difference between the three.
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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:03 am

bodom wrote:So these eight conditions are found in the Mahayana tradition also?


In many "mahayana" traditions, the arising of the aspiration to attain full awakening is sufficient to make one a bodhisattva.
However, others indicate that certain attainments are necessary, and some of them bear close resemblance to srotaapannatva in terms of the absence of identity views (satkaya-drsti), etc.
There is no single "mahayana" POV on a large range of issues. That's why it is a "yana", and not a "vada".
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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby bodom » Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:05 am

I came across this excellent article:

Bodhisattva Ideal in Buddhism Ven. Dr. W. Rahula

http://www.viet.net/~anson/ebud/ebdha126.htm

: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: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby pt1 » Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:26 am

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 and #42602

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.

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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Jan 26, 2010 5:07 am

The north western Sthaviravadins also had a few distinctions between when the bodhisattva has the aspiration to when they personally know, and then externally declare that they are on the bodhisattva path.

Lamotte, 2001: 212
During the first asaṃkhyeya, the bodhisattva does not know if he will become a Buddha or not. - During the second asaṃkhyeya, he knows that he will be Buddha but does not dare to proclaim: "I shall be Buddha." - During the third asaṃkhyeya, he knows confidently that he will be Buddha and he dares to proclaim fearlessly (bhaya): "Later I shall be Buddha."438

438 Passage taken from the Vibhāṣā, T 1545, k. 176, p. 886c.


For the Mahayana position viz srotaapanna, etc. remember that there are various Mahayana "vada" on these matters. Some are Sthavira based (eg. Yogacara), but others are Mahasamghika based (eg. probably Madhyamaka).

Even if one looks at any given Mahayana sutra, there may be different strata whereby initially one position is given, only to have that shifted elsewhere as the sutra was added to, or bulked up on. This is the case in the Prajnaparamita at least, and I would also suspect elsewhere.
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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby Abyss » Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:08 pm

I think that the path of a Bodhisattva, as imagined and stated by many, contradicts certain discourses of the Buddha. For example: To me it doesn't make sense to strive for countless aeons in order to attain Buddhahood and then, after Buddhahood is finally attained, to hesitate like this:

SN 6, 1 wrote:"This Dhamma that I have attained is deep, hard to see, hard to realize, peaceful, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise. But this generation delights in attachment, is excited by attachment, enjoys attachment. For a generation delighting in attachment, excited by attachment, enjoying attachment, this/that conditionality and dependent co-arising are hard to see. This state, too, is hard to see: the resolution of all fabrications, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding. And if I were to teach the Dhamma and if others would not understand me, that would be tiresome for me, troublesome for me."

Just then these verses, unspoken in the past, unheard before, occurred to the Blessed One:

Enough now with teaching
what
only with difficulty
I reached.
This Dhamma is not easily realized
by those overcome
with aversion & passion.

What is abstruse, subtle,
deep,
hard to see,
going against the flow —
those delighting in passion,
cloaked in the mass of darkness,
won't see.

As the Blessed One reflected thus, his mind inclined to dwelling at ease, not to teaching the Dhamma.

The sutta tells us further that a request of Brahma Sahampati was necessary to change the Buddha's mind. If you ask me: Those are not the thoughts of someone whose goal was from the start to teach the Dhamma to the world.

There is also the problem that the wisdom of such a Bodhisattva has to stay below the level of a stream-enterer for all those countless aeons, because otherwise he would enter nibbana after a maximum of seven lifes. So the Bodhisattva's understanding of the Four Noble Truths, dependent origination, impermanence, not-self, nibbana etc. has to remain shallow, i. e. he must not see them for himself.

Dhammapada 166 wrote:The welfare of oneself should not be neglected for the welfare of others, however great; recognizing the welfare of oneself, one should be devoted to one's own welfare.

Someone who delays the developement of his own wisdom now for the welfare of others later - isn't the abovementioned verse addressed to him too?
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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby Heavenstorm » Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:59 pm

bodom wrote: 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?


I can't really answer that question. But according to historical records, there were past examples of several kings in Theravada SrI Lanka who are making the Bodhisattva inspirations. If its impossible, then they shouldn't be doing it, so the requirement might not be that stringent after all.

However, due to the rarity of Bodhisattva practitioners and the lack of an active tradition in Theravada, there are still various unknowns in the equations.

Is the Bodhisattva path a viable option for buddhist's today?


I remember reading about stories of Arahants who were Bodhisattvas previously before giving up on the path. This really show how hard Bodhisattva path can be. And to answer your question, I think its viable as there are still people doing it.

Are these qualifications found in Mahayana literature? Could it be that in a former life i have already completed this qualification?


In Mahayana, if one have the aspiration to save other beings or (as its called) Bodhicitta and take the vows, it will be suffice. One could have taken them in the previous life but most of them wouldn't know. As a result, their determination might not be as strong and might enter the stream and become Arahants in seven lives like in Theravada.

I would like to undertake the Bodhisattva path but not through the Mahayana tradition


Actually, I have meet some people in the Mahayana that are aiming for a stream entry or non returner (anagamis) rather than a Buddha or Bodhisattva. Not everyone in Mahayana is practicing for all sentinel beings just like not all in Theravada aim for personal liberation. So, its pointless to stereotype. The most important thing is one's aspiration and determination, not traditions. (Which are secondary considerations)

The sutta tells us further that a request of Brahma Sahampati was necessary to change the Buddha's mind. If you ask me: Those are not the thoughts of someone whose goal was from the start to teach the Dhamma to the world.


Buddha was only trying to show the preciousness of His Teachings, to give Dharma away cheaply will reveal disrespect for it. And the Brahma was actually a non returner.
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Re: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby bodom » Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:53 pm

Thank you pt1 and Abyss for raising good questions which i have also wondered about but have no answers for and thank you to heavenstorm for your insightful comments. I am now wondering how far i can take my satipatthana practice? Can and should i practice satipatthana at all? How do i cultivate the parami of wisdom without attaining sotapanna? Maybe this goes to show how really difficult it is just to attain the level of sotapanna?

: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: The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:11 pm

Greetings Bodom,

bodom wrote:I am now wondering how far i can take my satipatthana practice? Can and should i practice satipatthana at all? How do i cultivate the parami of wisdom without attaining sotapanna?

Please don't see this as a personal attack because I assure you it's not, but based on what you've read in the suttas, how do you think the Buddha would have responded to these questions?

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)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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