According to ebt the arahants of the Buddha time can recall back to the extend of how many past life as per record ? I wonder if any one know ?
When my concentrated mind was thus purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to knowledge of the recollection of past lives. I recollected my manifold past lives, that is, one birth, two births, three births, four births, five births, ten births, twenty births, thirty births, forty births, fifty births, a hundred births, a thousand births, a hundred thousand births, many aeons of world-contraction, many aeons of world-expansion, many aeons of world-contraction and expansion: ‘There I was so named, of such a clan, with such an appearance, such was my nutriment, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my life-term; and passing away from there, I reappeared elsewhere; and there too I was so named, of such a clan, with such an appearance, such was my nutriment, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such my life-term; and passing away from there, I reappeared here.’ Thus with their aspects and particulars I recollected my manifold past lives.
Ah yes , this is describing the Buddha attainments not his disciples .
I am enquiring about arahant the disciples ?
The access to past lives is one of the three superhuman knowledges (tevijja), to know more about it check DN13, Iti99, AN3.58, AN3.59 .
In short, this threefold knowledge seems to be a special bonus that comes with the fruition of awakening and in fact there is a EBT (SN12.70), in which the Buddha explains how is it possible that some arahants do not gain access to them!
So, only those awakened being has this tevijja ? Could it be anyone else has the ability to see few or more past life ?
At least in EBTs, among Buddhists, you only read of arahants accessing the full memory of past lives, together with the other two superhuman knowledge that come a with awakening.
Note that DN1 suggests that occasionally contemplatives ignorant of the Dhamma gain access to that sort of memory and make up their own theories about spirituality.
Nowadays, some hypnosis techniques, which by the way are a quite recent development and I don’t believe can be traced back to the time in which Buddha was around, result in people claiming remembering past lives.
Also, some meditation masters like Ajahn Brahm suggest that if you develop the right sort of samadhi and incline your mind to the question of how past choices contribute to your present you may have some hints or even glimpses of past lives. But that’s is not comparable to what arahants in EBT gain access to.
I cannot say whether that proceeds or not but over the years I got access to memories which later on I confirmed with my parents relate to events which took place quite early in my life. But these are random memories such as the colour of a favourite plate, the day on which I gave up using a pacifier, etc.
Others are alleged to wield this power too; see e.g. DN 1:
“There are, bhikkhus, some recluses and brahmins who are eternalists, and who on four grounds proclaim the self and the world to be eternal. And owing to what, with reference to what, do these honourable recluses and brahmins proclaim their views?
“In the first case, bhikkhus, some recluse or a brahmin, by means of ardour, endeavour, application, diligence, and right reflection, attains to such a degree of mental concentration that with his mind thus concentrated, [purified, clarified, unblemished, devoid of corruptions], he recollects his numerous past lives…
Sometimes, it’s as though people want to claim that the Buddha taught the whole of Iron Age Indian culture. Boggles the mind, it does…
Thanks for pointing that one out. Do you reckon it is the same sort of recollection in power and depth?
Don’t see malice where there’s incompetence. I have no knowledge of what you mean when you mention iron age culture. Can you share with us what you know about and how it relates to the assumption that knowledge of previous life comes with awakening?
That stock passage appears in numerous places, and applies to the disciples and any meditator, who do not need to be arahants or ariya.
4th jhāna as basis for 6 abhiñña
an-uttaraṃ upekkhā-sati-pārisuddhiṃ: supreme mindfulness... MN 53: for 3 tevijja with simile of chicks break out of egg shell MN 54 equanimity based on diversity contrasted STED malleable, wieldy, steady… imperturbability. DN 2: two bonus powers + 6 abhiñña DN 3, 10 seem to repeat all the same text as DN 2 MN 4, 19, 27, 36 39 51 60 65 76 79 85 94 100 101 125 AN 3.59, 3.60, 4.198, 8.11 6ab preceded by gold simile AN 3.101 Paṃsudhovaka (purifed 4th jhana implied, no jhānas explicit) AN 3.102 another gold simile (purifed 4th jhana implied, no jhānas explicit) AN 5.23 gold contaminant simile of 5niv (hindrances), no 4j explicit AN 6.70 similar to AN 3.101 without the gold simile SN 52.12 anuruddha because of 4sp MN 119 kāya-gata-sati: mindfulness immersed in body just abhiñña #6, destruction of āsavas, preceded by 4j AN 5.75, 5.76 MN 112 : buddha describing himself
4ip (iddhi-pada) spiritual power as basis for 6 Abhiñña
SN 51 is the 4ip samyutta AN 5.68 beecause of 4ip
Could you provide further detail on where recollection of past lives would be accessed by someone still in training?
Are not the 6 abhiñña what marks the threshold of awakening?
In MN 53, the Buddha used an analogy about the hen’s chicks breaking out of their shells in 3 separate stages. The first 2 stages are for noble disciples in training who already possess the power to recollect their own or others past lives. The 3rd and last stage is where s/he makes the breakthrough to arahantship.
So, in MN53, the term ariyasāvako, translated as noble/ariyan disciple, would be an umbrella term for the three fruitions prior to arahanthood?
Sounds about right. AriyaSavako/Noble Disciple in MN 53 before the 3rd breaking out of the egg shells are those noble disciples who still have “work to be done”. Notice the title of MN 53: Sekha Sutta - Disciples in Higher Training.
I reckon that this sort of thing is the renunciate version of a pissing contest; mere boasting based on fandom.
What pre-exists the Buddha? In this case, past lives and concomitant cosmologies. He’s part of Axial Age ethicizations, which was a comparatively unique approach, but the existing cosmologies & their beings in and of themselves - the Iron Age Indian context - was left unchallenged.
I suggest that the Buddha taught within this context, as a historical obviousness; but to teach it nowadays is fraught with obfuscatory issues, among others.
Only the 6th one, destruction of āsavas, is exclusive to the buddhist arahants. The other five can be done with anyone with a high enough quality 4th jhana. One of these days I might share the story about the Chinese medicine doctor who did some work on my grandfather, that doctor learned from a Taoist immortal who could emanate mind made bodies like the iddhi (power) described here:
SN 51.17 bodhi trans.
- Ascetics and Brahmins (2)
1“Bhikkhus, whatever ascetics or brahmins in the past wielded the various kinds of spiritual power, such that: having been one, they became many … they exercised mastery with the body as far as the brahmā world—all did so because they had developed and cultivated the four bases for spiritual power.
2“Whatever ascetics or brahmins in the future will wield the various kinds of spiritual power, such that: having been one, they will become many …  … they will exercise mastery with the body as far as the brahmā world—all will do so because they will have developed and cultivated the four bases for spiritual power.
3“Whatever ascetics or brahmins at present wield the various kinds of spiritual power, such that: having been one, they become many … they exercise mastery with the body as far as the brahmā world—all do so because they have developed and cultivated the four bases for spiritual power.
4“What four? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu develops the basis for spiritual power that possesses concentration due to desire and volitional formations of striving. He develops the basis for spiritual power that possesses concentration due to energy … concentration due to mind … concentration due to investigation and volitional formations of striving.
5“Bhikkhus, whatever ascetics or brahmins in the past … in the future … at present wield the various kinds of spiritual power … all do so because they have developed and cultivated these four bases for spiritual power.”
See SN 51.11 or AN 5.28 for a standard descriptions of the 6 abhiñña.
The first one is considerably more difficult to do than the other 4 mundane abhiñña (mind reading, divine eye, past life recolleciton etc). So if SN 51.17 shows other ascetics and brhamins can do that one, they can definitely do the 4 “easier” ones.
This excerpt shows the case of arahants who can’t do the arūpa samadhis and not the first 5 abhiñña:
SN 12.70 liberated by wisdom
some monks declare arahantship, susima asks them if they have 5 abhinna, arupa samadhi, they say no.
“api pana tumhe āyasmanto evaṃ jānantā evaṃ passantā ye te santā vimokkhā atikkamma rūpe āruppā, te kāyena phusitvā viharathā”ti?
“Then knowing and seeing thus, do you venerable ones dwell in those peaceful deliverances that transcend forms, the formless attainments, having touched them with the body?”208
“no hetaṃ, āvuso”.
“ettha dāni āyasmanto idañca veyyākaraṇaṃ imesañca dhammānaṃ asamāpatti; idaṃ no, āvuso, kathan”ti?
21“Here now, venerable ones: this answer and the nonattainment of those states, how could this be, friends?”209 “”
“paññāvimuttā kho mayaṃ, āvuso susimā”ti.
22“We are liberated by wisdom, friend Susı̄ma.”210
So when start putting together pieces of evidence together, if an arahant can be an arhaant without any past life recollection, and non buddhist meditators can recollect many past lives, it becomes clear the recollection of past lives is dependent on 4th jhana quality, not anything intrinsically buddhist.
B.Bodhi translates aryiya-savako as “noble disciple”, implying an ariya with stream entry or higher attainment. Thanissaro in most cases I’ve seen, translates it as “disciple of the noble ones”, except maybe in contexts where it must be an ariya. I’ll be interested to see how Bhante @Sujato translates that. I prefer “disciple of the noble ones”, because it makes it more relevant for everyone. Otherwise, people tend to be complacent responsibility shirkers who think, “oh I don’t have to follow that teaching, that’s only for ariyas”.
The ambiguity arises because the term usually appears as a compound, and the relation between the elements is not specified. Compare, for example, ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo which must be an adjective, “noble eightfold path”, as opposed to ariyassa vinaye “the training of the noble one”.
So far as I know, we don’t have any resolved forms of ariyasāvaka in the EBTs that would determine the issue on purely grammatical grounds. It seems that the more common usage of ariya is as an adjective, which would support “noble disciple”. In addition, the general sense of it through the texts seems to support this reading.
On the other hand, the commentaries seem to prefer “disciple of the noble (Buddha)” (ariyassa Buddhassa sāvako). This would seem to be supported by DN 8, which has gotamasāvakasaṅgho and gaṇācariyasāvakasaṅghā, which must be, “the community of disciples of Gotama” and “the community of disciples of the teachers of groups” (i.e. non-Buddhist communities).
The difference in meaning is probably not as great as it might appear. In this kind of context, a “disciple of the noble one” would mean “a true disciple of the noble one”, not just someone who called themselves a follower. Usually in the texts, of course, an ariyasāvaka is one of the four pairs of awakened beings. However it does seem to be used more loosely on occasion, so needs to be read carefully in context. @Brahmali, I wonder if you have any thoughts on this?
Bhante, thanks for the grammar angle on ariya-savako.
In a similar vein, could you confirm whether I interpreted samana and brahmana correctly (they can be ascetics or brahmans that are not buddhist), from that same post #15? Since sometimes the Buddha in other context does treat samana and brahman as his disciples…
dutiyasamaṇabrāhmaṇasuttaṃ (SN 51.17)
829. “ye hi keci, bhikkhave, atītamaddhānaṃ samaṇā vā brāhmaṇā vā anekavihitaṃ iddhividhaṃ paccanubhosuṃ —
I tend to agree with what you have said here. It seems that in a number of instances the expression ariyasāvaka is used to designate the ideal conduct of a disciple, and thus primarily refers to stream-enterers. Here are a few examples:
MN2: “Bhikkhus, a well-taught noble disciple [ariyasāvaka], who has regard for noble ones and is skilled and disciplined in their Dhamma, who has regard for true men and is skilled and disciplined in their Dhamma, understands what things are fit for attention and what things are unfit for attention. Since that is so, he does not attend to those things unfit for attention and he attends to those things fit for attention.”
MN14: “Even though a noble disciple has seen clearly as it actually is with proper wisdom that sensual pleasures provide little gratification, much suffering and despair, and that the danger in them is still more, as long as he still does not attain to the rapture and pleasure that are apart from sensual pleasures, apart from unwholesome states, or to something more peaceful than that, he may still be attracted to sensual pleasures.”
MN22: ““Bhikkhus, a well-taught noble disciple who has regard for noble ones and is skilled and disciplined in their Dhamma, who has regard for true men and is skilled and disciplined in their Dhamma, regards material form thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ He regards feeling thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ He regards perception thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ He regards formations thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ He regards what is seen, heard, sensed, cognized, encountered, sought, mentally pondered thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ And this standpoint for views, namely, ‘That which is the self is the world; after death I shall be permanent, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change; I shall endure as long as eternity’—this too he regards thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’”
I believe most occurrences of ariyasāvaka in the suttas are found in contexts similar to the ones above. In these contexts the obvious translation is “noble disciple”, that is, someone who has understood the teachings through insight. I do recall, however, that there are some exceptions to this. In these other cases the term seems to be used more loosely and does not necessarily imply an ariya. Still, since the preponderance of usage refers to ariyas, I think “noble disciple” is the better translation. One just needs to keep in mind that the term is not used with absolute consistency. This is in fact true for a large number of terms. In other words, we always need to be sensitive to context.
That’s right, in fact normally samaṇabrāhmaṇa means “professional spiritual practitioners”. It is used in contexts where Buddhists may or may not be included.