Lay Arahants. Why not?

How long is the present Buddha’s dispensation meant to last before it is lost completely - in the record - before Metteya Buddha begins his dispensation? The numbers are staggering! :slightly_smiling_face:

DN14 Mahāpadāna Sutta: The great discourse on lineage has Vapassi arising 91 aeons prior to Buddha Gotama

It is now ninety-one aeons ago, brethren, since Vipassī, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, arose in the world. It is now thirty-one aeons ago, brethren, since Sikhī, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, arose in the world. It was in that same thirty-first aeon, brethren, that Vessabhū, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, arose in the world. It was in this present auspicious aeon, brethren, that Kakusandha, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, arose in the world. It was in this auspicious aeon, brethren, that Koṇāgamana, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, arose in the world. It was in this auspicious aeon, brethren, that Kassapa, the Exalted One, Arahant, Buddha Supreme, arose in the world. It is in this auspicious aeon, brethren, that now I, an Arahant, Buddha Supreme, have arisen in the world

Aeon is a bit to abstract for me can you put it in years - the first in the list? Years minus 2,600 years when I suppose these visionary teachings were shared with the Sangha.

A really long time ago in a land far far away :wink:
1 aeon is approximately 16 million years.
So 91 aeons is 1.4 Billion years for Vipassi Buddha

Once we have established how many years ago this earliest Buddha is said to have been on Earth, in a relatively civilized society, the next question I would like to ask is: on what grounds would we believe it possible that these events actually took place? My friend, who I started this inquiry with said he takes these accounts to be factual records of actual historical events - correct?

In suttas like MN4 the Buddha talks about the expansion and contraction of world systems. As in Big Bang, big crunch.

It was life Jim, but not as we know it

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I take these accounts as traceable to the Buddha. As I have not attained any of the superhuman knowledges he has attained to I do so out of trust that there is some factual truth in it.

I therefore take as meaningful the record found in EBTs such as the Vinaya of the Buddha Gotama telling his disciples how different were the previous Buddhas in of teaching styles and how similar they were in terms of establishing people in a contemplative lifestyle (aimed at bringing about awakening).

Again, that is a personal choice. We can choose whatever we want to justify our points of views. The only thing we cannot do is change the words we already find written down in what we take as a source of truth for what the Buddha spoke and said about matters as this.

I just feel we are perpetuating a debate that should not take place. The original question was related to your speculation on lay Buddhas. I pointed to a text and said that EBTs are consistent in indicating all previous Buddhas, mythical or not, seem to have advocated and adopted themselves a lifestyle of renunciation.

While it may not be the case for you, that is already enough for me to discard the fantasy of a householder Buddha, in jeans and within a family.

If you want to convince me or anyone else of the contrary then we need to identify some sort of hint in EBTs that is possible! I am skeptical about that being likely!



Now that’s an image :slight_smile:

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We don’t need superhuman knowledge just basic arithmetic. These accounts are not about a place far far away! These Buddha’s - before ‘Gotama the Buddha’ had their dispensations on Earth. Just like ‘Metteya Buddha’ will come after ‘Gotama the Buddha’ here - on Earth - to turn the ‘Wheel of the Dhamma’. Those of us who are stragglers may be lucky enough to take rebirth when ‘Metteya Buddha’ is teaching the Dhamma. There will be no need to be reborn on another planet - somewhere far away - to hear the teachings of the Metteya Buddha. Likewise, these previous Buddha’s delivered their teachings here - on Earth - before the present Buddha cycle. That means 1.4 billion years ago on Earth, ‘Vipassi the Buddha’ delivered teachings to a human Sangha - human beings with a similar appearance to modern humans, who had clothing on and, lived the lifestyles of ascetics and lay people.

You say, you don’t see the relevance of this to the issue of whether there were lay or renunciate Buddha’s before ‘Gotama the Buddha’. That is what you said? You are basically saying that you have no problem believing that 1.4 billion years ago there was a Buddha on Earth who was a renunciate and this is evidence that Buddha’s are always renunciates and not lay people? Sometimes we need to take a reality check!

There were others as well - is that right - before ‘Vipassi Buddha’? I wonder when the first one was here on Earth giving teachings? Vipassī was the 998th Buddha of the ‘vyuhakalpa’. Were the earlier (997) Buddha’s before him, teachers on Earth?

You said: “I pointed to a text and said that EBTs are consistent in indicating all previous Buddhas, [mythical] or not, seem to have advocated and adopted themselves a lifestyle of renunciation.”

This means that you would take the account of a mythical Buddha as valid evidence for the assertion: there were only renunciate Buddha’s in the past? How can we take the evidence provided by a mythical or non-existent Buddha as evidence for something actual, factual? Thats like saying, I heard that Santa Claus had a favourite reindeer named ‘Rudolph’ and I take this as evidence that Rudolph was Santa’s favourite deer - it makes no sense?

The “Age of Dinosaurs” is the Mesozoic Era, which is divided into three periods: the Triassic (245-208 million years ago), Jurassic (208-145 million years ago), and Cretaceous (145-66 million years ago).

The age of the Earth?

4.54 billion years
By dating the rocks in the ever-changing crust, as well as neighbors such as the moon and visiting meteorites, scientists have calculated that Earth is 4.54 billion years old, with an error range of 50 million years.

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Poor Gotama got such flack for leaving his wife (and doing austere penances) maybe Metteyya Buddha will be like oh, no I’m not doing that again. There’s more renunciation and seclusion not having to lay down rules for an entire sangha, having to put up with assassination attempts, and dead bodies of prostitutes dumped in his temple and the wrath of the established religions on him and his followers, but putting up with the difficulties of having wife and children and living a normal lay life and maybe …just maybe, using the internet to preach to those with little dust in their eyes! Besides women’s rights are gaining more and more prominence in the world- it wouldn’t be right if he left his wife?

with metta

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Hello @Laurence,

Arithmetic is a good start, but why would you limit the unknown universe to earth as the only place were life could happen?

We know that there are billions of stars, almost countless amount to be honest (i.e. the deepr we dig the more we find!).

Once it is proven that life can appear in a star system such as ours, it also proves that life can happen elsewhere.

Not to throw in the fact that time is without discernable beginning or end… the chances that “we humans” are not alone in the universe are huge.

So personally, I wouldn’t bet on the fact that another Buddha would appear in this planet and not somewhere else, just as I wouldn’t bet on the fact that this I am living a singleton life and that I’ll be done without remainder at the end of it…

Dear Sukha, I did not say: there is no life on other planets. Stephen Hawking speculated about an advanced civilization in the core of the sun. Anything is possible? There may be unknown forms of life here - and elsewhere - subtle and gross, visible and invisible. If there is life on other planets they may suffer as well? Some of these sentient beings may be able to ask questions about suffering and seek answers. Some may have found the answers and they may be wise and compassionate in helping their fellow beings to be free of suffering. Actually, Buddhism teaches all of this - as far as I know.

What I had to say pertains to the Buddha’s that have come and gone on Earth and the enormous amounts of time involved in this process. It does not add-up to anything credible when you do the maths. :slightly_smiling_face:

Agreed :smiley: .

It doesn’t add up in the way we do math (on earth?).

Still, I can’t quite consider that buddha’s arising in the world would equate to arising on this earth particularly.

I don’t see a direct correlation between the world back then (ninety one aeon ago * ) and our world today. And as you said yourself, the maths don’t add up, so most likely something’s broken in our formula .

* also note that the definition of an aeon in our modern age and what it meant back then may not be the same by any means.

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We know what periods of time we are considering. We are talking about times on Earth long before the dinosaurs. Perhaps before an oxygenated atmosphere on Earth.

Sorry, I don’t know :blush:!

I thought an aeon (kalpa) was one expansion and contraction of the universe.

With metta


That’s interesting, could you please provide any quote from the Canon supporting that the Buddha meant this very planet we are living in?

For the record, I don’t have any specific opinion about the veracity of the past Buddhas’ stories.

Quite a few monks ins staunchly Theravadin countries like Sri Lanka do watch morality tales and even traditional dance shows alright. And the presence of numerous monastics on this very website proves that some bhikkhus and bhikkhunis not averse to the Internet as a means of teaching the Dhamma. What is the difference between a lay follower and a monastic person, then?

Which again brings me to one of my favourite problems, namely that of terminology. Could you please give your definition of a lay person and monastic so that we could agree what a lay arahant would look like in your opinion?

See if you can find the ‘Chronicle of the Buddha’s’ - online - I think that is what it is called.

Ajahn Sujato lives in a monastery where Ajahn Brahm is the abbot. Ajahn Brahm trained under Ajahn Chaa in Thailand. Many of Ajahn Chaa’s disciples believed that he was an Arahant. Ajahn Chaa gave some advise that went something like this: don’t be a Bodhisattva and don’t be an Arahant, be nobody!

If you are a complete nobody going nowhere then you are fully awake. If you believe you are a somebody going somewhere then you will have some kind of baggage to lug around. An Arahant is lighter than a feather - without a burden. They are ready to leave without notice. What had to be done has been done. There is no more coming and going and no standing still. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Buddhavamsa? Well, this is one of the latest texts in the entire Pali Canon, which makes it extremely improbable that we should put much faith into the veracity of this text. It maz have mythological and literary value but I don’t think we can use it as a reliable source of the Buddha’s words. @Gabriel_L can correct me if I am wrong, but I do not think he bases his faith into the stories about the past Buddhas on teh Buddhavamsa, rather on the mentions of these Buddhas in the Nikayas.

On the other hand, ti was wrong of me to ask you for a text from the Pali Canon, that was unfortunate. Please let me be more specific: could you please provide a Nikaya (Digha, Majjhima, Samyutta, Anguttara, earlier texts from the Khuddaka) texts that unambiguously point out we are talking about our very planet? Again, this is not to prove you are wrong, I don’t have any opinion on the matter one way or the other.

And a working definition of a lay person would be helpful as well :grinning: :pray:

I am making inferences from what I read in the Chronicle. We are talking about ascetics and lay followers, teachers and disciples, civilized culture’s that appear to resemble the culture that Gotama the Buddha lived in. However, we are talking about this kind of scenario in an extremely distant past. You might like to direct your question to Ajahn Sujato. You could ask him if he thinks these ancient Buddha’s were residents of planet Earth or, is there any suggestion that they lived on other planets?