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Questions​ on pre-anagami status

Pardon my ignorance if I am misinformed, but these tulkus are not believed to be “truly” independent beings, but rather, emanations of bodhisattvas of avaivartika [non-retrograding] bhūmis, such as Avalokiteśvara, who emanates the manifestation of the Dalai Lama tulku. Avalokiteśvara does not perish every time that the Dalai Lama perishes, according to the internal worldview of Mahāyāna Buddhism, as best as I understand it, so the issue of how the Dalai Lama is able to “apparently” reincarnate several times similarly is somewhat sidestepped by this postulation of avaivartika bhūmis, coupled with the belief in the supernatural long lives of celestial bodhisattva like Avalokiteśvara.

It seems that it is an issue of differing Buddhavacana that is fundamental here, as this discourse is largely absent from non-Mahāyāna Buddhism, even absent from schools who believed the Buddha was some sort of quasi-eternal Dharma protector (my phrasing). This absence is something that hampers the ability of schools that have this extra layer of teachings to communicate with the older tradition, which lacks it. Concepts cannot be explained because the content of the Buddhadharma is simply larger, more seems to have to be taken on faith (when will I even be able to verify an avaivartika bhūmi?).

I am not trying to speak negatively of any tradition, I am just saying something about the lack of ability to communicate between the schools, in some cases, due to them having different “basic assumptions” about what the Buddha taught.

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I once read some Tibetan masters have written commentaries tracing parallels between the super-human attainments found in EBTs and the late boddhisatta sutras’ bhumis. Do you happen to know of any text which does that?

[quote=“gnlaera, post:10, topic:5606”]
I once read some Tibetan masters have written commentaries tracing parallels between the super-human attainments found in EBTs and the late boddhisatta sutras’ bhumis. Do you happen to know of any text which does that?
[/quote]The person to ask would be Malcolm Namdrol-la, who you can probably reach on DharmaWheel, he is the only person I know who is easily reachable and familiar with the body of Tibetan commentaries that preserves late Indian Vajrayāna Buddhism before its disappearance (as his profession (?) as a translator of Tibetan, I think). I assume he would be more familiar with commentarial material on tantric practices, but he might know something about this.

He would be the only one I would know who might know them.

Sure. It would be great to see him around here as well.

This is what I found in Alexander Berzin’s StudyBuddhism.com:

The division scheme of aryas into stream-enterer (rgyun-zhugs), once-returner (phyir-‘ong), non-returner (phyir mi-‘ong), and arhat (dgra-bcom) is unique to shravaka and pratyekabuddha aryas. It does not apply to arya bodhisattvas.

Source: The Five Paths: Advanced Presentation

Clearly you do not know Malcolm. :stuck_out_tongue:

But yes, he’s very responsive on Dharma Wheel.

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Yes, those are three of them. I’ll post some more later. Got an ordination to attend now.

:lotus:

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Actually, there are plenty of stories of sekhas being reborn in sensual heavens, as Bhante @Dhammanando and @Deeele pointed out. So they clearly didn’t have strong jhana practice, otherwise they would have gone to a jhana realm.

It is debateable whether a stream-enterer needs jhanas. I think that there are very good reasons to think that they don’t, but I don’t want to derail the thread into a discussion on stream-entry and jhanas. :wink:

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You’re right. So, a come back as a deva is possible, but what about as a human? EBTs don’t seem to indicate that is a very likely outcome right?

What do the folklore and mainstream beliefs of Theravadin countries like Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka tell us about the topic?

I have never heard of Thai Buddhist masters claiming or hinting they are “career” stream-winners / stream-enterers themselves. There is no such a thing as tulku systems over there right?

This is what the suttas say about the three types of streamwinners you have mentioned above (ekabiji, kolamkolo, sattakkhattuparamo), for example at AN9.12 (quotes from Bhikkhu Bodhi):

… With the utter destruction of three fetters, this person is a one-seed attainer who, after being reborn once more as a human being, makes an end of suffering.
… With the utter destruction of three fetters, this person is a family-to-family attainer who, after roaming and wandering on among good families two or three times, makes an end of suffering.
…With the utter destruction of three fetters, this person is a seven times-at-most attainer who, after roaming and wandering on among devas and humans seven times at most, makes an end of suffering. …

I heard a story that there are occasionally “special” children in Thailand who are drawn to monastics and enjoy meditation at a very early age. Anyway, folklore and mainstream beliefs can be very misleading, so I wouldn’t consider that reliable evidence.
I know someone who had a very strong sense of recognition when she came in contact with the Dhamma, and she has very strong practice.

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Some are drawn to spiritual practice and meditation at an early age, before one’s higher brain functions have biologically matured whereas others are not. Some are born in Buddhist countries to good Buddhist families, being exposed to and thus conditioned by Dhamma at a young, impressionable age whereas others are not. Some are drawn to Dhamma in a sudden, urgeful way whereas for others it takes time for its importance to sink in.

I don’t see these phenomena that are essentially out of our control as coincidental or having come to be purely by chance.

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I know of a Thai monk who is claimed (by others) to have been born as an anagami. When he talks about his child- and young adulthood it sounds like he was exceptionally morally pure and resolute.

I have no idea obviously if there’s any truth to it, just wanted to relate how this is possible perceived by contemporary folk theravadins.

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Yes, you are right. Some well respected Ajahns are known to have been ordained since early age, usually starting as samanneras as early as primary school age.

Maybe the common Thai practice of ordaining boys as samanneras was started as a way to “fish” those individuals into the Sangha as early as possible in their lifetimes!

http://www.thaibuddhist.com/ordination-of-novice-monks/

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[quote=“gnlaera, post:12, topic:5606”]
[quoting from studybuddhism.com]

The division scheme of aryas into stream-enterer (rgyun-zhugs), once-returner (phyir-‘ong), non-returner (phyir mi-‘ong), and arhat (dgra-bcom) is unique to shravaka and pratyekabuddha aryas. It does not apply to arya bodhisattvas.
[/quote]I know that a lot of Mahāyāna schools do believe in stream-entry as the first stage of significant progress, but it seems that some also do not think stream-entry is a part of Bodhisattvayāna.

I would disagree with this, as it contradicts a lot of Mahāyāna sūtras, but each schools gets to decide what they keep and reject, I suppose.

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[quote=“Dhammanando, post:14, topic:5606”]
Yes, those are three of them. I’ll post some more later.[/quote]

I will just give the names. The sources can be found in the Dictionary of Pali Proper Names. Link

Sotāpannas reborn in Cātummahārājikā
King Bimbisāra

Sotāpannas reborn in Tāvatiṃsa
Uttarā Nandamātā
Rohiṇī, sister of Anuruddha
Sunandā the garland-maker’s daughter

Sotāpannas reborn in Tusita
Anāthapiṇḍika
Tambadāṭhika
Mahādhana

Sotāpannas reborn in Yāma
Sirimā, sister of Jīvaka

Sotāpannas reborn in Nimmānarati
Visākha Migaramātā

Sakadāgāmins reborn in Tusita
Purāṇa
Isidatta
Sumanā, daughter of Anāthapiṇḍika

Sakadāgāmins reborn in the Mahābrahmā heaven
Ghaṭikāra (in the time of Kassapa Buddha; though he attained anāgāmitā at the moment of birth and was then reborn in the Avihā Suddhāvāsa)

Anāgāmins reborn in the Suddhāvāsa
Bhaddiya Thera
Piṅgiya
Citta Gahapati
Ugga of Hatthigāma
Ugga of Vesāli
Hatthaka Āḷavaka
Upaka
Asokā of Ñātika
Kāliṅga of Ñātika
Nandā of Ñātika
Tuttha of Ñātika
Subhadda of Ñātika

(There are probably a lot more anāgāmins than these, but as the thread is about pre-anāgāmin sekhas this list will suffice).

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@Dhammanando. Something I struggle with about the suttas, particularly in the AN, is how rebirth as a god seems to be taken as both positively & negatively, to the point where I am not sure if this Buddhist development was embracing the Brahman gods or debunking the Brahman gods.

For example, unless I am mistaken, suttas such as MN 1 seem to incorporate the Brahma realms as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th jhana (which I personally struggle to believe the Buddha would do that to his teaching, particularly when considering Western monks such as @Sujato, @Brahmali & @Brahmavamso seem to claim the Buddha discovered jhana). The Buddha was often ruthlessly strict about his teaching not being misrepresented yet the glory of his Noble Eightfold Path, namely, the four jhanas, start to be described in terms of Brahmanistic gods.

So did the Buddha really discover jhana or did the Buddha discover the Brahma gods?

The point I am making here is AN 4.123, for example. Here, it appears a person identifies as being a Brahma god & thus ends up reborn in hell, which is a horrible outcome for putting in all that time & effort for jhana but making a tiny error of identifying with jhana.

There is the case where an individual, withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He savors that, longs for that, finds satisfaction through that. Staying there—fixed on that, dwelling there often, not falling away from that—then when he dies he reappears in conjunction with the devas of Brahma’s retinue. The devas of Brahma’s retinue, monks, have a life-span of an eon. A run-of-the-mill person having stayed there, having used up all the life-span of those devas, goes to hell, to the animal womb, to the state of the hungry shades. But a disciple of the Blessed One, having stayed there, having used up all the life-span of those devas, is unbound right in that state of being. This, monks, is the difference, this the distinction, this the distinguishing factor, between an educated disciple of the noble ones and an uneducated run-of-the-mill person, when there is a destination, a reappearing. AN 4.123

:neutral_face:

I’ve never claimed this, and in fact I think it is clearly unfounded and in addition, unhelpful. I have attempted to persuade Ajahn Brahm of this, without success.

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My apologies for misrepresenting your view, Bhante Sujato.

However, this is unrelated to my curiosity & skepticism about the imputing of Brahma realms onto jhana in the EBTSs and then associating those Brahma realms with hell.

Regards :seedling:

I have never made this claim, either. Nevertheless, I think it is interesting. The Canon says that the Buddha-to-be jhānamabujjhi, “awoke to jhāna” (AN 9.42). Although the exact interpretation of this is uncertain, it is still a rather striking statement. Moreover, there are indications that the Buddha-to-be’s attainment of samādhi under Ālāra Kalāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta may not have been as profound as it appears from reading the Pali suttas, e.g. MN 26. I am neither willing nor able to draw a definite conclusion from this. All I can say is that the evidence is not as one-sided as it is sometimes claimed.

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Thanks very much for the list, Bhante @Dhammanando.

Please pardon my interruption, sir. I think Uttarā Nandamātā is clearly Anāgāmin and hence cannot be reborn outside the pure abodes. This can be seen in AN 7.53 “Nandamātā”. Towards the end of the sutta, she declared to Sariputta that she has abandoned all five lower fetters taught by the Blessed one, and was duly praised by the Chief Disciple himself. She was also given special mention by the Buddha as being the foremost of female lay followers amongst meditators in AN 1.262.

With Metta and Upekkha,
Nick

Possibly, but I don’t think it’s certain.

In the Nandamātāsutta the listener is called Veḷukaṇṭakī Nandamātā, not Uttarā Nandamātā.

So, if the commentaries are right in identifying the Uttarā of the Uttarāvimānavatthu story with Uttarā Nandamātā, then Veḷukaṇṭakī must have been a different woman and the mother of some other man called Nanda.

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