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Response to Rich

Jan 11, 1999 12:56 PM
by Jerry Schueler

>Here's a different, "overview" method, and you will see both the skill and
>idiosyncrasy of HPB.  This is my paraphrasing of Buddhist definitions, and
>invite other students of Buddhism to back me up or show that I am wrong:
>(1) Arhats are graduates of the Hinayana (small vehicle) path.  They are
>considered "freed from impurities" and thus freed from the wheel of
>They are free to go on to Nirvana.  "Arhat" literally means "one who has
>the enemies."  Arhats are NOT enlightened, not omniscient, only "free."

Enlightenment is relative and has degrees.  I think that most Buddhists
would acknowledge at least some degree of enlightenment in an Arhat.

>(2) Pratyekabuddhas *are* considered higher adepts, by *BUDDHISM* (which is
>what I wrote, if you bothered to check).  These beings are considered
>enlightened (meaning far-seeing and wise) as well as free from bondage
>karmically.  Their name means literally "prati-eka" (by oneself) "buddha"

Vajrayanist sometimes call them a rhinocerous to indicate
their solitary nature.  But they are Buddhas none the less.

 > But they did not put in the lifetimes of compassion to develop
>the higher virtues of skill-in-means and compassion to be able to help
>Thus, in a spiritual sense, they are wise but selfish.  Not in the sense of
>selfish as in "hurting others" but in the sense of "leaving them to their
>fate" and proceeding on to Nirvana.  No one in Buddhism, southern or
>worships the Pratyekabuddhas, though both traditions mention them as

You are clearly speaking here from a Mahayana viewpoint.  The Thervadin
would argue that compassion is no longer necessary or even desirable
after direct realization of maya--that all "persons" or entities are
I see this as two ways of looking at things, and to be honest I am
not sure which is "right" because it has more to do with attitude than
anything else.

>(3)  Bodhisattva.  A "wisdom-being," one who has taken a vow to become a
>Buddha, and is variously progressed along that path.  Many of us on this
>have taken the vow, but I suspect we are more "embryonic bodhisattvas."
>Still, our heart is in the right place.

As far as I know, the "vow" is to NOT become a Buddha until all living
beings can be Buddhas too.  Am I wrong here?

Jerry S.

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