The Arahant (fully Enlightened monk) Who Was Restless About His Friend 🤔

Dear friends,
I remember reading a story in the Pali scriptures; I believe it was Visuddhimagga, but I can’t find the story anymore. It is quite important for me because it proves that an Anāgāmī (Non-Returner) can be restless and explains how.

In this story, which I cannot find anymore, an Anāgāmī older monk, and an Arahant younger monk, two friends travel to a distant place. On their way, laypeople invite these two bhikkhus to come and stay in a resthouse. They accept, but the Anāgāmī, who is an older monk, receives a safe and beautiful room, whereas the Arahant young monk receives a non-safe and ugly room. Throughout the night, the Anāgāmī old monk does not sleep because he is vexed and worries about his young friend, who is in a dangerous and ugly room. However, the Arahant young monk happily meditates throughout the night despite the low quality of his residence.

So, do you have any idea where this is in the Pāḷi texts? I used both Chaṭṭha Saṅgāyanā Tipiṭaka 4.0 software as well as Tipiṭaka Pāḷi Reader to find this text. I searched the words anāgāmī NEAR āvasathāgāra, distance max. 20 words. I also searched anāgāmī NEAR uddhacca. I could find many references that Anāgāmī has no kukkucca (remorse) but still has uddhacca (restlessness), but the story I need seems to have disappeared (?).

Or did I make up this story? Or did I dream that I read this story? :upside_down_face: Any help to find this story or any other story that shows how Anāgāmī is restless will be most appreciated, please.

Thank you all very much. :sun_with_face:


I read about this story somewhat resembling what you are looking for:

The commentary [to MN] tells the following story to illustrate this point: Once, a senior monk and his novice disciple spent the rains retreat at a forest monastery. Unfortunately there were only enough accommodations at the monastery to provide lodging for the senior monk but not for the novice. The senior monk was so concerned about his novice’s lack of shelter that he could not enter the attainment of fruition during the entire three months of the rains retreat. The novice, on the other hand, was able to enjoy his attainment of fruition during those three months. After the rains retreat, the novice inquired, “Venerable sir, was this forest monastery a suitable place to stay?” The senior monk replied, “This forest monastery was not suitable for me.” The novice in this story was an arahant constantly engaged in tranquility and insight meditation, and so he could enter the fruition whenever he wished, even though he did not have any accommodation. The senior monk was an arahant, but he was not constantly engaged in tranquility and insight meditation. Because of his concern for the novice he could not enter fruition. Those noble ones who want to enter the attainment of fruition whenever they wish must live their lives constantly engaged in insight meditation (Mahāsi Sayadaw: Manual of Insight, p. 634. Wisdom Publications. Kindle Edition).

With respect! :pray:


If Thanuttamo’s citation from Mahasi Sayadaw is the one you had in mind, then it’s from the commentary to the Gaṇakamoggallānasutta.

Satisampajaññāya cā ti satisampajaññāhi samaṅgibhāvatthāya. Dve hi khīṇāsavā satatavihārī ca nosatatavihārī ca. Tattha satatavihārī yaṃkiñci kammaṃ katvāpi phalasamāpattiṃ samāpajjituṃ sakkoti, no satatavihārī pana appamattakepi kicce kiccappasuto hutvā phalasamāpattiṃ appetuṃ na sakkoti.

Tatridaṃ vatthu – eko kira khīṇāsavatthero khīṇāsavasāmaṇeraṃ gahetvā araññavāsaṃ gato, tattha mahātherassa senāsanaṃ pattaṃ, sāmaṇerassa na pāpuṇāti, taṃ vitakkento thero ekadivasampi phalasamāpattiṃ appetuṃ nāsakkhi. Sāmaṇero pana temāsaṃ phalasamāpattiratiyā vītināmetvā ‘‘sappāyo, bhante, araññavāso jāto’’ti theraṃ pucchi. Thero ‘‘na jāto, āvuso’’ti āha. Iti yo evarūpo khīṇāsavo, so ime dhamme ādito paṭṭhāya āvajjitvāva samāpajjituṃ sakkhissatīti dassento ‘‘satisampajaññāya cā’’ti āha.


Yes, please, exactly this one. Thank you all so much, excellent work. :sun_with_face:

1 Like

After two reminders from another venerable monk I’ve just realized that it is not really about any Anāgāmī, it is about two Arahants. So, an Arahant basically can be restless. This flies in the face of the Buddha’s teachings that an Arahant is free from all restlessness (viz. AN 4 & 10 Saṃyojana Suttas).

This reminds me of the teacher of venerable Vaṅgīsa, venerable Nigrodhakappa, who was suspected to not be an Arahant on account of his restless hands. It is a story explained in the Suttanipāta Commentary (SNA 2.12. Nigrodhakappa Sutta Comy), although there it is clearly reasoned that this was a vāsanā, a habit from many previous lives. :thinking:

Together with Ven. Moggallāna, who threw a monk out of a room, and Ven. Mahāpanthaka who prohibited a monastery donor from giving any food to his brother, novice Cūḷapanthaka (just because the novice had weak learning abilities), I am getting a very interesting picture of Arahants. :thinking:

Indeed, being an Arahant is not necessarily about peace, power, or freedom. It is most importantly about freedom from rebirth. :thinking:

Once I visited a great master in Myanmar, in Magway (Mya Kinn Daung Sayadaw). He was believed to be an Arahant and introduced to me as such by the Prime Minister of the Magway Region. He was very kind to me and visited me in my room several times to support me in my meditation. The great master Mya Kinn Daung was calm, kind, generous, and very benevolent. At the same time, he was also very serious. He was also very patient explaining to me the meditation practice. He wanted to hand over to me the whole lineage of his teachers, so I would be a successor. I politely refused that because his meditation method did not suit me (an elaborate, progressive technique of meditating on breath) and I was not successful in it at all (I got headaches while practicing it). Later he passed away and relics (incombustible parts of the body) appeared at the cremation. Seems like there are many Arahants around us, we just can’t know? :thinking:

1 Like

I think that Arahants are so skilled in Meditation, similarly to the Buddha, that they’re not emotionless, they simply know how to use their emotion in every instance for the benefit of bringing all beings to the Path. It’s complex, but there is an inner-world within that doesn’t need Ego or Self, therefore there is neither a need for an Arahant to only use Skillful Means to be free from suffering. Can one being Skillfully suffer to benefit another? In the Bible it is mentioned how Jesus Christ had the power to lay His life down for His friends, then take it back up again. Such is the power of Wisdom that may go beyond what most people in this Age seek.

Thank you very much Venerable for this interesting message!

Being an arahant, i like to think, is most about being a really authentic person. No slave anymore of tendencies, inclinations, also not good ones. This means, one has arrived at dispassion, purity. Most of the time we only have a compulsive habitual way of dealing with things. And that is not really me, mine, myself. It is not really authentic. When you investigate this, then it is also not skillfull. It does not come from dispassion and purity. It is not based upon the Noble Path.

It also means, i believe, that any process of hardening, becoming insensitive, alienation, becoming hateful, cruel is not authentic, it is not you, not me.

Passion in combination with avijja let us be born in all kinds of mindstates that start to rule our intentions, speech, action, but it can really be felt is not me, mine, myself. Like the sutta’s state, this is all adventitious. It is more like our bagage we have collected in this life and many lifes before this.
During the day this suitcase of patterns, inclinations, habits opens all the time and we take on these cloths for a moment. Also that is a tendency.

I like to believe this compulsive habitual moment to moment dress up party does not happen anymore to an arahant. But i think that he still can choose to dress up. Whatever is needed and skillfull.
To expect no dressing up at all, is, i believe, expecting a kind of rigidness that does not match with the nature of sensitivity and concern for the welfare of all beings.

Ofcourse this all has relation to rebirth too.

Could you tell us more about this story, Venerable. I’m curious what was the habit that lead to his restless hands.

Unfortunately, we do not get to learn this detail from the Commentary:

"… he /Vaṅgīsa/ was not present at the time his preceptor attained final nibbāna, and he had previously seen [in his preceptor] some old habits such as restless movements of the hands and so forth. And such behavior occurs in non-arahants and also in arahants because of previous habituation. [Bhikkhu Bodhi’s footnote no. 1211 "Tādisañca akhīṇāsavānampi hoti khīṇāsavānampi pubbaparicayena. This is the basis for what come to be called the vāsanā, the habitual formations. “] Thus in the afternoon Piṇḍolabhāradvāja used to go to the park of King Udena to pass the day, [347] because in a past life, when he was a king, he enjoyed himself there; this occurred because of previous habituation. The Elder Gavampati would go to an empty celestial mansion in the Tāvatiṃsa heaven, because in a past life, when he was a young deva, he enjoyed himself there; this occurred because of previous habituation. Pilindavaccha used to address the bhikkhus as “outcast,” because in five hundred past births, without a break, he had been a brahmin and spoke in such a way; this occurred because of previous habituation. Therefore, in the case of Vaṅgīsa, because he /Vaṅgīsa/ was not present /at his teacher’s Parinibbāna moment/ and because of the habits he /Vaṅgīsa/ had seen /at his teacher/, the following reflection arose in his /Vaṅgīsa’s/ mind: Did my preceptor attain final nibbāna or not?”
(The Suttanipata – An Ancient Collection of the Buddha’s Discourses Together with Its Commentaries by Bhikkhu Bodhi, PDF p.505 )

  • A little note on the “outcast” address used by the venerable Pilindavaccha. According to the Pāḷi-Burmese dictionary, caṇḍāla actually means a slave. We can however read, that venerable Pilindavaccha did not address the king by the world “slave” but instead “great king”, likewise he did not address as “slave” other monks, such as ven. Moggallāna, and of course the Buddha. My understanding is that ven. Pilindavaccha addressed as slaves simply his students who were not yet Enlightened, to show them, that they are slaves of Māra. :sun_with_face: But I agree that this explanation would not be sufficient for the disappointed monks, and so the Buddha had to show a condition from a past life. :sun_with_face:
1 Like

Enlightenment’s primary symptom is Compassion and it’s fruits. If your Compassion is the cornerstone of your Buddhist practice, it doesn’t matter whether you’re rough around the edges or polished. Time both roughens some according to their practice, and smoothens others according to their practice, that does not mean both scenarios don’t contain Understanding seekers. A once returner, once returned, is on their Way to Nibbana soon enough, but before that they must learn to crawl again. And then walk, and then talk again.

Turn to the Formless Realm for your questions, because if someone is an Arhat, the symptoms of them being an Arhat are in their Metta. Nothing else.

Doesn’t seem to be true. Look at what did ven. Mahākāla, the Arahant brother of the young Cūḷakāḷa. The Arahant made sure that his young brother, a novice, will get nothing to eat, just because the young monk was not able to memorize a verse.

Loving-kindness, although one of the 10 perfections, is not something we can probably comprehend until we are Arahants. Or Loving-kindness of an Arahant does not necessarily have to be loving or kind, if it comes as a choice side-by-side with wisdom.

Or think of the Buddha how he spoke about Māgaṇḍiyā, when she was forced by her father to come and see the Buddha for marriage. The Buddha said he would not touch her even by His foot. If it is true that the Buddha knew the future, He would surely also know that his words would have a dire consequence for Māgaṇḍiyā. Māgaṇḍiyā, because of the Buddha’s words, later burnt to death the Stream-Enterer Sāmāvatī and her 500 court-ladies and then Māgaṇḍiyā was tortured by the king Udena: the executioner cut off pieces of Māgaṇḍiyā’s flesh and she had to eat them. What kind of loving-kindness did the Buddha have for Māgaṇḍiyā when He said He would not even touch her by his foot?

As you can see, loving-kindness is by no means an essence of Enlightenment. Instead, essence of Enlightenment is Wisdom.

Fools who have loving-kindness will cause troubles anyway by their foolish ideas and later they are born in hell anyway. Wise men & women who do not have loving-kindness (in the way we imagine it) may sometimes cause suffering here and there but it is always for a good reason. E.g., Mahākāḷa Arahant potentially wanted to preserve the good reputation of educated monastic Saṅgha by removing monks/novices who were unable to learn even a single verse. And the Buddha probably knew that saying what he said was the only way how he could make both parents of Māgaṇḍiyā attain Anāgāmī (Non-Return) right on the spot.

See Velāma Sutta of Aṅguttara Nikāya 9, where the Buddha compares Loving-Kindness power and power of Wisdom (Insight) in value. While Loving-Kindness for as long as smelling a flower is of high virtue, insight practice for as long as the lightning-flash is even more valuable. :sun_with_face:

There is no any difference between freedom from all negative mental states and freedom from rebirth. Both of these are neutralised by the same thing, namely cessation of conceit “I am”.

All depends on which sources of information one believes to be trustworthy. I don’t want to enter into dialectic whether only Suttas should be trustworthy (which to be honest is precisely my position) but merely that there is such dialectic.