Arhat, or Arahant in Pali, is a term you hear a lot in Buddhism. Someone who has achieved liberation. But what does it actually mean? Well the etymology is ambigous. The traditional school reports arhat as meaning: one who is worthy. But apparently, recent research suggests that it is cognate with sanskrit Arihan: one who kills or destroys enemies. The Tibetan translation of Arhat – dgra bcom pa – means: one who has destroyed the foes of afflictions. Continue reading “Just what is an arhat”
Just because we’ve had an awakening of sorts doesn’t mean that we’ve been transfigured. It’s a long journey. In astrological symbolism we reverse the wheel in Libra, transform the emotional nature in Scorpio, silence our thoughts in Sagittarius and become transfigured in Capricorn.
I think people misunderstand the concept of sudden enlightenment. Satori itself is sudden and fully transformative, but getting to that point can take lifetimes. Buddha himself after making his vow when he first saw Dipankara took a number of lifetimes.
To think that people don’t stumble along the path is naive. We do, we say things that are cutting, we entertain selfish thoughts, we eat things it would be best not to, etc. etc. And that is one of the reasons we must generate compassion towards ourselves, not just towards others.
The other problem is the idea that we are perfecting our nature. In Zen we are not perfecting anything, just preparing the ground for enlightenment.
As a parting thought try this, in the enlightened mind the universe is already whole. There is no difference between you and the universe. As Alan Watts put it The inside and the outside are one. Where is there not Alaya?
The Taliban are in process of destroying all the statues of the Buddha. And people are outraged, buddhists are outraged.
There’s a story about the Zen master Mu-nan who had only one successor. His name was Shoju. After Shoju had finished his training, Mu-nan called him into his room. “I am getting old,” he said, “and as far as I know, Shoju, you are the only one who will carry on this teaching. Here is a book. It has been passed down from master to master for seven generations. I also have added many points according to my understanding. The book is very valuable, and I am giving it to you to represent your successorship.” Continue reading “What are you doing?”