Message Boards Message Boards

Practice Logs

AN awakened one - THE awakened one

Toggle
AN awakened one - THE awakened one
buddha
Answer
12/18/19 12:16 PM
I have been trying to figure this out, and I'm interested in other folk's input for the sake of interest. 

So an Arhat/Arahant is an awakened being as opposed to the Buddha who was the awakened one. Most woke, if you will, was ole Uncle Sid. 

Anyway - is there something yet to be done for an Arhat to attain "perfect" enlightenment in the way the Buddha is described and/or how the (apparently) next prophesied Buddha (Maitreya) will realize "perfect enlightenment?" My (admittedly limited) understanding is that Buddha was clear he was no diety and that these things were attainable by all beings who followed the path - but was there a limitation built in I'm unaware of? Or was that instituted after the fact by his followers in the way religions do? Is Arhat as woke as possible for a mere mortal? That feels antithetical to what Buddha was saying, but again... limited knowledge here.

I'm genuinely curious and wondering if anyone else has mulled this over around these parts. 

RE: AN awakened one - THE awakened one
Answer
12/18/19 2:11 PM as a reply to T.
The Mahayana and Vajrayana attempt to make this distinction, but most of the time this is pure sectarian blathering, same as it ever was.

The purported distinction is that an Arhat is anyone who has overcome dukkha, whereas a Buddha has to overcome dukkha and then go proclaim the dharma/bring it into the world in a new way, as the historical figure of Gotama Buddha did. In other words, an Arhat is anyone who has reached the other shore, whereas a Buddha is specifically one who reaches the other shore, turns around, and helps others cross.

Make of this distinction what you will. On the one hand, I think it provides some useful nuance by emphasizing the creative potential of Buddhahood. On the other hand, it's often used as a pernicious jab from one tradition against another.