Posted by Savaka (22.214.171.124) on May 17, 2000 at 16:51:39:
In Reply to: Re: The Enlightened Ones posted by Mister Hebat on May 17, 2000 at 15:51:59:
What an interesting parable, dear friend. I do believe I've never encountered this one yet. And so Dhamma is shared between us. Thank you for giving me this parable.
If I apply Theravadin principles to the parable. Then the man who decided to go out and help others find the oasis is comparable to two types of enlightened ones: the Samma Sambuddha, and certain Arahants.
The difference is in the method. A man helping others to locate the oasis in the way of the Samma Sambuddha will be able to locate exactly where the other lost men are. This man will not have to search everywhere; with powers of the mind, he can know where the other lost men are and get to them in a very short time. And if they are sick or are blind or whatever, this man will have the means to lead them to the oasis.
A man helping others to locate the oasis in the way of the powerful Arahants will have to scour the desert in search of lost men, and having found them, give them the directions. If the lost men are sick or blind or whatever, this man may or may not have the means to lead them, depending on his capabilities.
Those who remain by the oasis are likened to Pacceka Buddhas and the less powerful arahants. But there is nothing selfish in the act. Leading someone to enlightenment is NO JOKE! If we do not know the correct means of doing thus, we may end up bringing more trouble to those men. Thus it is sometimes better not to act than to act and make things worse.
The bodhisatta, in accordance with Theravadin thought, cannot be said to have reached the oasis, which is Nibbana.
The bodhisatta is regarded as one who had the opportunity to become an Arahant in the presence of a Samma Sambuddha. But because he aspires to attain Samma Sambuddha powers as well, he does not enter Nibbana, and remains in Samsara, perfecting the 10 Perfections.
He increases the strength of his being through very, very, very, very, very long periods of time. Until one day, he finds that he cannot perfect himself more than what he has already done. And from heaven, he comes to Earth by way of rebirth. He appears and eventually renounces the world to attain Nibbana.
When he attains Nibbana, all the bonuses of his struggle as a bodhisatta comes along. He becomes a Samma Sambuddha endowed with powers that we can only imagine. And he uses these powers to help individuals attain Nibbana as well.
Until he has attained Nibbana, he cannot be said to have arrived at the oasis.
That is how the Theravadin thought view this.
The path of the bodhisatta is a long, painful and lonely one. Bodhisattas don't always lead their lives wearing clean white robes, holding willow leaves and flying on clouds. There are times when bodhisattas face many great dangers. How many men will run into a burning house to save a child? How many of us will sell off all we have to help another?
If a Buddhist does not aspire to Samma Sambuddha-hood, it should not be seen as a weakness.
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