Possible to Become Arahant Now?

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  • #3585

    Can a person become an arahant at this time in history? Some say no because there is no living Tathagatha; some say yes but only if one becomes a monk.

    Per Digha Nikaya 33 Sangiti Sutta (The Chanting Together) 3.2(4), Sariputta lists nine unfortunate, inopportune times for leading the holy life. (i) says, “No Tathagata has arisen…and this person is born in the Middle Country [central, civilized area] and is intelligent, not stupid, and not deaf or dumb, and well able to tell whether something has been well said or ill said.” Does this mean now is an inopportune time to lead the holy life since there is no Tathagata?

    Please comment and include your information source(s).

    #3586

    Chris Gagne
    Member

    Yes, I believe it is possible for a lay person to become an arahant now.

    I do not have scriptural sources to back up my statement. However, I believe that such beings already exist quietly (and sometimes less quietly) in our world. I believe I have met at least two.

    Which is more useful to believe? That it is possible, or it is not? If it is and I believe it is not, I will likely never attain it. If it is not and I believe that it is, I may yet attain something worthwhile even if it isn’t arahantship.

    #3587

    Oded
    Member

    Of course, it is! 🙂

    It’s possible to become an Arahant today just as it was in the past, and it will remain a possibility in the future as well.

    Awakening, enlightenment, Nirvana, and Arahanthood can be achieved by anyone who’ll work patiently, diligently and effectively. Those who follow the detailed meditation instructions in TMI can reach their final goal within a few years, and there’s more than a single known success story.

    Training the mind is no different than training the body. If you believe you can become muscular and strong by regularly working out at the gym or turn flexible by practicing Yoga every day, then believe you can become fully-liberated through daily meditation. There’s nothing magical or mystical about awakening; it’s an inherent capability of the human mind. TMI accelerates the awakening process tremendously by its clear and simple instructions, making it accessible to everyone, laymen included.

    Many Arahants live among us today, both privately and publicly. The firsts that come to mind are Culadasa (obviously), Daniel Ingram, Rupert Spira, Adyashanti, Mooji, and more.

    Should you wish to see and hear a few Arahants in person, I highly recommend listening to some of the interviews at Buddha at the Gas Pump:
    https://batgap.com/

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 2 days ago by  Oded.
    #3590

    Ivan Ganza
    Member

    There is a great saying which always comes to mind with threads like these:

    “There are no enlightened individuals, only enlightened behavior”


    Cheers,
    -Ivan/

    (DT Teacher)

    #3592

    Oded
    Member

    Enlightened behavior is indeed an excellent measuring stick to arahanthood.

    Having said that, we mustn’t forget that enlightenment is first and foremost a *cognitive* event, which holds profound implications over the individual’s emotional well-being. It’s marked by gaining Insight into the true nature of existence and achieving Nirvana — personal, subjective experiences. The enlightened behavior is an external manifestation of that fundamental internal shift.

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 2 days ago by  Oded.
    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 2 days ago by  Oded.
    #3595

    Pierre
    Member

    In the Buddhist cosmology, as in the ancient Indian cosmology, the world has no beginning nor end and is cyclical (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_cosmology#Temporal_cosmology). There are periods when the last Buddha’s teachings are lost. If you are born during such a period, you are out of luck… (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Ages_of_Buddhism). But after a Buddha is born and teaches, his/her teachings continue to be passed on and practiced for thousands of years, and people can awaken during those times. The Buddha does not need to be alive for people to benefit from her/his teachings. We are lucky to be living during one of those epochs when we have access to the Buddhadharma. ‘All’ we have to do is to practice it diligently.

    #3597

    Ivan Ganza
    Member

    Hi Oded,

    It is important to note however — there is no such thing as an “individual”.

    The cognitive event you speak of can be said to occur to/within the mind-system.

    I might be just duelling with semantics though — I feel it’s important — the term individual brings up feelings of a solidly-existing entity moving along a timeline.

    That idea can never become enlightened or awaken.

    The mind-system however can experience a cognitive event which changes it’s existing mental models — aka: Awakening.

    #3598

    Oded
    Member

    Very true!

    So, to be most precise:

    “There are no enlightened individuals, only an enlightened state” 🙂

    #3599

    I appreciate the optimism of folks on this thread, which can help with the enlightenment factor of effort. However, I am looking for rational, realistic responses. A currently living arahant would be proof that arahantship can be attained at this time. So, the next question would be, is any arahant currently living, and if so, how to identify his attainment of arahantship?

    Chris Gagne, who are the two people you met who you think are arahants?

    Oded, do you think all 518 people interviewed at https://batgap.com/ are arahants? One of them is Thomas Hubl, with whom I studied, and he does not appear to be an arahant since he is not teaching about the nature of suffering and liberation.
    Do you think non-dualists like Rupert Spira and Adyashanti are arahants — for instance, have they stopped using money, owning possessions, and taking what is not given (i.e. following the no stealing precept)?

    Pierre, have you met any people you would consider arahants (if so, what are their names)?

    #3600

    Oded
    Member

    Your followup questions indicate that we might not have the same definition to the word Arahant. By my definition, an Arahant is someone who has:

    1. Experientially accumulated the five Insights which lead to awakening (Impermanence; suffering; no-self; emptiness; interconnectedness)
    2. Realized the true nature of reality
    3. Reached Nirvana
    4. Became liberated from desire, aversion, ignorance, and suffering

    Arahants can still use money and have possessions; they simply realize that their happiness or misery is not conditioned by them. They can keep using their name; they just don’t assume any selfhood. They may enjoy the pleasants of life, yet they don’t crave them or attach to them. This state of being is achievable by mortals, you and I included.

    Is your concept of Arahanthood different, and if so, in what way?
    Also, would it be possible that these questions are preliminary to a deeper question you’re yet to ask?

    #3603

    Chris Gagne
    Member

    Dear InnerKnowledgeSeeker,

    I thought carefully as to whether or not to mention people by name at start. Since I am not qualified to gauge whether or not someone is an arahant and thus it is only my uninformed opinion, I felt comfortable sharing that opinion but not going so far as to name names. These individuals have not told me directly that they are arahants, further compounding my hesitation to name them. I offered my unqualified opinion to help break the perspective that it is not possible, but largely from the perspective that absolutes such as never and always risk closing our minds to new possibilities.

    This is a sticky situation because many of the people who are arahants would not say so publicly, and many who believe that they are but are not would claim to be so publicly. There are also working different definitions. For instance, I don’t know if Daniel Ingram and Culadasa would agree on what an arahant is.

    Also keep in mind that arahants may have achieved their own liberation but are not necessarily particularly good teachers. There are also good teachers who may not have really attained much liberation of their own. I don’t wish to name names, but rather to create the possibility that this exists for your own investigation.

    Ultimately, I have met people whose behavior I admire and would like to emulate. They seem to profusely exude ease, peace, love, and happiness and I am not sure these can be faked. Whether or not we can call them arahants is up for debate. I have tested the practices they used and found them to be of benefit, so I will continue to practice them. Whether or not I become enlightened or an arrant is also irrelevant. All I can do is all I can do.

    Love,

    Chris

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks ago by  Chris Gagne.
    #3605

    Greetings Oded,

    I have not heard of Gotama Buddha speaking of the five insights for awakening that you listed. For instance, Buddha rejected the notion of interconnectedness. See SN 12:48 The Cosmologist – Lokāyatika Sutta.

    What is an arahant? Buddha has said that an arahant with taints destroyed has “lived the holy life, done what had to be done, laid down the burden, reached his own goal, destroyed the fetters of being, and is completely liberated through final knowledge” (Majjhima Nikāya 1). For a list of the 10 fetters, see AN 10.13 Sanyojana Sutta: Fetters.

    As I understand about money: A person who uses money is stealing in the Noble sense of taking what is not given. The government has stolen by imposing taxes and subsequently printed money from tax receipts. This is taking what is not given. Therefore, working to earn money is stealing. Upon deeper analysis, one can see that working to earn money is motivated by greed, which leads to lying and the chain of dependent origination. Therefore, using money appears to be stealing. That said, there may also be an arahant without taints destroyed, who is still attached to sensuality — this I am still researching.

    No deeper question other than finding and identifying a living arahant. To me, identifying a current arahant can be useful to see a living example and to seek guidance and inspiration for accurately reaching Nibbana.

    Interested to hear folks’ thoughts, and thanks to all for contributing to this discussion :).

    #3607

    Ivan Ganza
    Member

    The feeling I get is that you may be ready to open up to these teachings, yet might be feeling some understandable hesitation before fully embracing what the Buddha offered? It’s hard to tell as we are exchanging little glowing slabs of text 😉 So let us know if I’m on the right rack…

    It’s totally natural to feel some hesitation and test the waters before diving in…; I think we are genetically predisposed to that type of behavior anyhow —

    Sometimes a little bit of faith is needed to jump start the process. I found that faith in my own way, by listening to the talks on the DT site (especially the teaching retreats) — those being a huge catalyst.

    You can trust that following what the Buddha taught, informed via the TMI book as an initial filter, does work. Are you guaranteed to have the experience of an Arahant? Or how about the experience of a stream entrant? or something more? Something less? Who can say…

    I said Filter because (in my experience) one must be careful to separate out information directly related to the awakening process vs. rules and procedures based on necessity, and cultural context, that has been added over time. The TMI book can help serve as a filter because (in my opinion) the information presented gives you enough context to filter out what is directly related to awakening.

    In relation to being paid or accepting money:

    The criteria for whether or not my acceptance of money is skillful, is strictly related to the intention behind accepting the money, and if clinging/craving are involved. I invite you to start listening to the talks by Culadasa over a long period of time. He goes into great detail about intention, right lively, and so on, etc…; hopefully that will kindle your fire to jump in!

    Give all those talks a good listen!!

    Cheers,
    -Ivan/

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks ago by  Ivan Ganza.
    • This reply was modified 3 weeks ago by  Ivan Ganza.
    #3610

    Filipe
    Member

    “In the Buddhist cosmology, as in the ancient Indian cosmology, the world has no beginning nor end and is cyclical (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_cosmology#Temporal_cosmology). There are periods when the last Buddha’s teachings are lost. If you are born during such a period, you are out of luck… (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Ages_of_Buddhism). But after a Buddha is born and teaches, his/her teachings continue to be passed on and practiced for thousands of years, and people can awaken during those times. The Buddha does not need to be alive for people to benefit from her/his teachings. We are lucky to be living during one of those epochs when we have access to the Buddhadharma. ‘All’ we have to do is to practice it diligently. ”

    This is extremely intersting! Thanks for refering this.

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 6 days ago by  Filipe.
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