The Enlightened Ones

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Posted by Savaka ( on May 17, 2000 at 12:51:37:

In Reply to: Questions......need help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 posted by Mister Hebat on May 16, 2000 at 16:01:56:

Dear friend,

You ask questions that will bring you different replies from different traditions of Buddhism. I speak from the Theravadin tradition.

There are three classes of enlightened ones. The Samma Sambuddha (Fully Enlightened One), the Pacceka Buddha (Silent Buddha), the Arahant (the Worthy One.

The Samma Sambuddha attains enlightenment through his own independent efforts and without taking pupilage from another. He further possesses the skill to enlighten others. His wisdom, or vehicle of enlightenment, is known as samma sambodhi.

The Pacceka Buddha attains enlightenment through his own independent effort as well. But he does not possess the skills to enlighten others. And such, he does not preach the Dhamma, although he does speak on the virtues of morality and concentration. Another thing worth mentioning is that when a Samma Sambuddha arises in the world, no Pacceka Buddhas exist. Pacceka Buddhas only appear in worlds before a particular Samma Sambuddha attains enlightenment and teaches the Dhamma. His vehicle of enlightenment is known as pacceka bodhi.

The Arahant is an enlightened disciple of the Samma Sambuddha. Through his pupilage, Arahants come to understand the Four Noble Truths and the universe as they really are. Arahants possess myriad skills. Some are wholly capable of helping other disciples attain arahantship. Others are armed with magnificent psychic powers. Yet others quietly disappear, never to be seen again. The Arahants' vehicle of enlightenment is called savaka bodhi.

All of the above noble beings are those who have attained Nibbana, the end of Samsara.

Yes, one of the titles of the Buddha is Arahant. Just like every editor is a journalist. But not every journalist is an editor. So too, All Buddhas (including Pacceka Buddhas) are arahants, but not all arahants are Buddhas.

A bodhisatta (Sanskrit: bodhisatva) is not an enlightened being. He is one who has taken a vow to strive for enlightenment. In particular, he is one who seeks to become a Samma Sambuddha. By this vow alone, he is a great being. Not everyone is ambitious, or even egotistical, enough to aspire to the strengths of someone like Gotama Buddha.

An Arahant does not think of bodhisatta-hood. He has attained enlightenment. Whenever the suttas speak of a disciple attaining arahantship, a stock phrase is used to describe his thoughts:

"Rebirth has ended. The Holy Life has been lived. Done what was to be done. There is nothing left to do. This is my last birth."

In the Theravadin tradition, arahantship is held in great value for reason that it is the attainment of the end of this endless cycle of birth and death and suffering. There are other traditions, however, which denounces the attainment of arahantship, but it is unwise for me to elaborate.

I hope my little bit of sharing is of use to you, dear Buddhist. Happy Wesak Day. And may you attain Nibbana.

Savaka - Disciple of the Blessed Lord,

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