SuttaCentral

Am I wrong to say that as long as one is human one can't be an arahant?

Because I don’t think they are even human if I am not mistaken there’s a sutta where buddha denied that he is human

Source:SuttaCentral
An4.36
At one time the Buddha was traveling along the road between Ukkaṭṭhā and Setabya, as was the brahmin Doṇa.

Doṇa saw that the Buddha’s footprints had thousand-spoked wheels, with rims and hubs, complete in every detail. It occurred to him, “It’s incredible, it’s amazing! Surely these couldn’t be the footprints of a human being?”

The Buddha had left the road and sat at the root of a tree cross-legged, with his body straight and his mindfulness established right there.

Then Doṇa, following the Buddha’s footprints, saw him sitting at the tree root—impressive and inspiring, with peaceful faculties and mind, attained to the highest self-control and serenity, like an elephant with tamed, guarded, and controlled faculties. He went up to the Buddha and said to him:

“Sir, might you be a god?”

“I will not be a god, brahmin.”

“Might you be a fairy?”

“I will not be a fairy.”

“Might you be a native spirit?”

“I will not be a native spirit.”

“Might you be a human?”

“I will not be a human.”

“When asked whether you might be a god, fairy, native spirit, or human, you answer that you will not be any of these. What then might you be?”

“Brahmin, if I had not given up defilements I might have become a god … a fairy … a native spirit … or a human. But I have given up those defilements, cut them off at the root, made them like a palm stump, obliterated them so they are unable to arise in the future.

Suppose there was a blue water lily, or a pink or white lotus. Though it sprouted and grew in the water, it would rise up above the water and stand with no water clinging to it. In the same way, though I was born and grew up in the world, I live having mastered the world, and the world does not cling to me.

Remember me, brahmin, as a Buddha.

I could have been reborn as a god,
or as a fairy flying through the sky.
I could have become a native spirit,
or returned as a human.
But the defilements that could bring about these rebirths
I’ve ended, smashed, and gutted.

Like a graceful lotus,
to which water does not cling,
the world doesn’t cling to me,
and so, brahmin, I am a Buddha.”

Note that every buddha is arahant but not every arahant is a buddha so it’s obvious that no arahant is man or woman or transgender no one amongst them is homosexual or heterosexual and not only I don’t think they are human, I don’t think they are even being and I will back up my statement with this sutta

Source:SuttaCentral
Sn23.2
At Sāvatthī.

Seated to one side, Venerable Rādha said to the Buddha:

“Sir, they speak of this thing called a ‘sentient being’. How is a sentient being defined?”

“Rādha, when you cling, strongly cling, to desire, greed, relishing, and craving for form, then a being is spoken of. When you cling, strongly cling, to desire, greed, relishing, and craving for feeling … perception … choices … consciousness, then a being is spoken of.

And buddha goes one step further by encouraging people to destroy their body , feeling and other aggregates

Suppose some boys or girls were playing with sandcastles. As long as they’re not rid of greed, desire, fondness, thirst, passion, and craving for those sandcastles, they cherish them, fancy them, treasure them, and treat them as their own. But when they are rid of greed, desire, fondness, thirst, passion, and craving for those sandcastles, they scatter, destroy, and demolish them with their hands and feet, making them unplayable.

In the same way, you should scatter, destroy, and demolish form, making it unplayable. And you should practice for the ending of craving. You should scatter, destroy, and demolish feeling … perception … choices … consciousness, making it unplayable. And you should practice for the ending of craving. For the ending of craving is extinguishment.”

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I think it depends on what you mean by ‘to have a gender or sex’.

You could say “the Buddha was male” and mean something like “By the social conventions of my time, the Buddha would be placed in the social category ‘male’”.

But others might have different views; it seems some think of male and female as essences, or as terms for bodies with such and such type of genitalia.

So, I guess it brings up the question what does it mean to be male or female? Should we expect arahants to have a different relationship to their gender identity than non-arahants?

It seems to me gender also has a lot to do with how other people treat you, so even though someone internally is not male or female, they might get treated as male or female based on their outward appearances.

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I think that it also depends on the conceptual framework that you use for differentiating. If you use a ‘Boolean’ type of conceptual framework, then there is only a choice between male and female. If you use a different framework (that we sometimes see employed in the suttas), you then have the options of both-male-and-female and neither-male-nor-female.

Which conceptual framework you choose will probably depend on which framework you normally use.

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This is about self veiw… I am - a person, a man, smart, whatever… they are all self view. This is destroyed with the penetration of No Self. One is merely a conglomeration of aggregates, interacting with conditions via contact. Identifying with descriptors like that becomes non-sensical…

If you focus on Dependent Origination, it will help break through the delusion of a Self and all self-referential attributes held by a Self.

Added:
Of course, in order to be effective the preliminaries need to be done first. Sila > enables Samadhi > leads to Panna. Focusing on Dependent Origination simply as an intellectual pursuit will have very limited results and more likely to result in Views rather than Insight. :slight_smile: :pray:

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This refers to the developing stage of practice:

“A man does not attend inwardly to his masculine faculties… masculine charms. He is not excited by that, not delighted by that… does not attend outwardly to feminine faculties… feminine charms. He is not excited by that, not delighted by that… does not want to be bonded to what is outside him, does not want whatever pleasure & happiness that arise based on that bond. Not delighting, not caught up in his masculinity, a man does not go into bondage with reference to women. This is how a man transcends his masculinity. (similarly for a woman)” —AN 7. 48

The arahant has transcended identity, but recognizing conventional reality for the conditioned element, would still use its terms:

He, beyond any concept, wise,
would say, ‘I speak’;
would say, ‘They speak to me.’

Skillful,
knowing harmonious gnosis
with regard to the world,

he uses expressions
just as expressions.”—SN 1.25

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I think you are confusing the conventional world (made of natural laws, labels, ideas and perceptions, in other words, formations) and the act of going beyond it. This has to do with the concept of non-self. If you reach a state of non-self, whatever you might be conventionally does not matter any longer. The Buddha, as any enlightened being will have no other re-birth, so he cannot be anything as a definition.
In a world like today where attachment to identity as the convention has shifted from class to economic, to ethnicity to gender (moving along the line community to individual), the idea that all those things are empty conventions is challenging to accept. Due to mass media, ideology and politics, it will be increasingly challenging to free ourselves from labels, opinions, and perceptions of ourselves and others. Our eyes more and more will be blinded by the need for affirming conventions.
Although this is the current reality and ideology permeates nearly any aspect of life, I strongly suggest you use compassion and equanimity. Albeit conventions are conventions, and many of them can become a colossal obstacle to their spiritual development, we must acknowledge that they might be important to particular individuals or communities. And even if you may have reached a stage for which you are not clinging to that special convention, it is part of love and kindness to show respect to it if it makes a person feel well. Of course, this only for conventions that do not breach the precepts.
So I think what Buddha said there is profound teaching about what we must aim to be: free from the attachment to conventions, even those we have conventionally classified as part of our analysis and understanding of nature: natures which we never can reach ontologically.

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I’ve looked into the meaning of this sutta. Because people often bring it up to say that the Buddha wasn’t human. But many teachers (including those teaching straight from the suttas) still refer to the Buddha as human. So what’s going on here?

In Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of the Anguttara Nikaya, the footnotes explain that the future tense is significant here. The Buddha is saying he won’t be reborn in any realm in the future. This is supported by his explanation later when questioned about what he meant.

However, the future tense changes to present tense in the Chinese parallels. Which is apparently not as significant as it sounds. Because the meaning is that the Tathagatha has transcended all realms regardless of what tense is used.

But in order to interpret it this way, we need to zoom out and look at the text as a whole. If we focus on the statement that the Tathagatha isn’t/won’t be human, we miss the bigger picture.

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Actually according to bhante Thanissaro it is spoken in present tense not future tense

Source:AN 4:36  Doṇa Sutta | With Doṇa
Master, are you a deva?”
“No, brahman, I am not a deva.”

“Are you a gandhabba?”

“No….”

“… a yakkha?”

“No….”

“… a human being?”

“No, brahman, I am not a human being.”

Yes the Thanissaro translation match with agama, it’s significant because we want to know whether the present buddha not the future buddha is human or not

Furthermore the questioner asked this question because The present buddha’s footnote not the future buddha’s footnote is very different from human, the context is present not future

Update 1
The verb itself bhavissāmī is in future form not present form

Update 2
I think there’s transmission error because the question is not in future form but present form

Yes, the questioner’s intent is to find out what the Buddha is, here and now. I’m only trying to point out that it may be worthwhile to interpret the section I highlighted in context of the explanation given later. Which takes the statement “I will not be human” and places it into a much wider context.

With that context, the tense the Buddha uses at first loses some of its importance because the big picture remains the same.

We can speculate endlessly about the implications of different interpretations. But it seems that the sutta goes far beyond ontological statements about whether the Buddha was human. That’s all I’m really saying.

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If that’s the case buddha should answer the question correctly if he answered it using future tense people will think buddha didn’t know how to answer a question correctly so it’s much better here to dismiss the sutta and refers instead to the agama equivalent which is in present tense

Even if you argue that buddha wanted to change the topic he usually will say “don’t talk about that or your question is not correct” or he would be silent so he have many options

Furthermore the sentence “I won’t be a human” imply that he is a human now and that contradicts the other sutta which said an arahant can’t be called a being let alone a human even at present so this sutta contradicts the other sutta

I need to add that it seems by being buddha means craver or clinger because the moment you stop being a craver or clinger you stop being a being too

Update 1 I correct the title

I think if you are heterosexual or lgbtqa+ you can’t be an arahant as long as you are human you can’t be an arahant

Now I want to know whether this view of mine is wrong or not

Wow! Thank you so much for posting this! I have not read this sutta before. I looked up AN 7.48 on sutta central but it’s a different sutta. Can you point me in the right direction?

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It’s AN 7.51 in the Sutta Central numbering.

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It is possible for the lay person to overcome socialization and avoid the patterns of gender. There are few role models for this, so it’s a matter of blocking out convention and following sutta instructions in general. The first thing to contemplate is that gender identity is a function of conventional reality where it maintains population, it is not an agent of the Buddhist path. Abandoning it frees up a space for development of the factors of awakening.

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