What happens if we resuscitate an arahant?

Let’s say we have a confirmed arahant, who dies, which we resuscitate afterwards (probably a terrible and most evil kamma, but such is our thought exercise).

  1. Perhaps there’s just no way to resuscitate an arahant after death, no matter what you do to the body.

  2. Assuming the lifeforce returns to the body, what’s going on?


Maybe Jesus was an Arahant. :thinking:

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If there are no attachments to life there should be no more conditions for life in that body. I’m thinking an arahant leaves the world immediately. For any other person there’s still doubt, craving, there’s still time for resuscitation: the condition that sustains life, the attachment to itself, is still binding. Think of one case as being lighter than light, arrival to the destination is instantaneous, while the other, still wishing for materiality, will have weight and can only travel so far before being brought back to it. It is “bound” to return.

As a complementary question we could also ask, if a non arahant has been reborn into a new body, can you resuscitate them back to their previous body?

As a guess, I would suggest that if we can resuscitate someone (anyone) then they haven’t died, or our definition of ‘died’ is wrong or at the very least our definition is incomplete. Thinking about it, the definition of death in the country I live in (it’s different in different countries) has changed probably 3 times since I was a child. Back then if you weren’t breathing, then you were dead, later we had heart stopping as a definition of death and later still there have been two different types of brain death. I wonder what it will be next? But really death isn’t an event, it’s a process (that starts at birth - the closer you are to completing death, the further away you are from birth). If you come back to the body, I guess the process hasn’t completed yet.


The human body of the arahant is still a human body composed of essentially the same arrangement of organs and tissues like that of your body or my body or any other human body. There is no reason why that human body would respond differently to the interventions we would provide in a resuscitation attempt. The body is a body. In short, I don’t think someone’s spiritual attainment per se has any impact on resuscitation success.

I don’t know anything about lifeforce. But physiologically, the heart’s function is to pump blood to the body. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients and removes carbon dioxide and wastes. If the cells that tissues and organs are composed of don’t get blood flow, they will die. So the heart is of paramount importance. When the heart stops pumping, it’s called cardiac arrest. Someone who experiences cardiac arrest quickly loses consciousness because blood flow to the brain has ceased. That’s when we use basic and advanced life support (BLS and ACLS) interventions to get it pumping again and support other vital functions like breathing. When it’s successful, the heart is pumping again and blood flow is restored. When it’s not, they’re truly dead.

When a resuscitation is successful and we bring someone back, the condition of the patient can vary greatly. It runs the spectrum from patients who recover as though nothing happened to patients who become brain dead and everything in between. There are many factors that influence this such as how long before CPR was started, how good the CPR was, how long the resuscitation was, the baseline condition of the patient, and many others. Recovery of neurological function comes down to oxygen delivery to the brain.

Even with timely intervention in the hospital, most people who have a cardiac arrest die during the resuscitation or some time after and for those who survive there are usually serious consequences. It’s not like in TV or the movies where it seems most people survive with barely a scratch. I know that if I end up in the hospital in a bad way, I’ll want a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order in my chart so the medical personnel know not to try resuscitating me. By default, at least here in the US, everybody in the hospital is a “full code” meaning resuscitation will be fully attempted if they have a cardiac arrest.

Source: I worked as a registered nurse in cardiac and medical ICUs for 3 years. I’ve taken part in many resuscitations and cared for patients and their families in the aftermath.


Interesting way of putting things, since “have” implies “being” and confirmed implies that it’s so and nothing else.
That’s rather far away from the teachings.

If you had asked the Buddha, he would depending on the way you worded the question remain silent, or enquiry on how you identify “arahant” without resorting to the aggregates.
Where he, with each aggregate, would tell you that the arahant does not identify with this, nor can be identified by it, nor by the combination of them. You cannot find the arahant in the aggregates.
Yet that’s exactly what you did with this question, you assume that there is an arahant, whatever it may be, who dies, however that may happen, and then is brought back to life, however that may happen, and you start wondering about this.

The answer is that body remains body, feeling remains feeling, thoughts remain thoughts, perception remains perception and consciousness remains consciousness.
When it’s present it’s present, when it’s not present it’s not present.
The arahant does not identify with these, yet since the sustaining factor for life was not completely exhausted it was possible for continuation of the aggregates and with that continuation of the disturbances related to life itself.

I also wonder how you consider that resuscitation implies bringing someone back from dead. As presented above there is continuation of the aggregates and we do not call this dead, although we might call it near dead.
Dead in our world is where something once had life, that life ends, and it does not return again (in that form). If it returns it was not dead.

I consider the question coming from a distorted view on both arahant, aggregates and what we call life, and not something we can align with Buddhist teachings.

But in the case of a bhikkhu who is an arahant—one whose taints are destroyed, who has lived the spiritual life, done what had to be done, laid down the burden, reached his own goal, utterly destroyed the fetters of existence, one completely liberated through final knowledge (…) AN3.37

Both before and now I say to you that an arahant monk whose mental fermentations are ended, who has reached fulfillment, done the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, totally destroyed the fetter of becoming, and who is released through right gnosis, cannot possibly transgress these nine principles. AN9.7

“It seems the Buddha speaks of giving up and letting go all these things through direct knowledge.” Reflecting like this, Venerable Sāriputta’s mind was freed from the defilements by not grasping. MN74

Then a mendicant went up to the Buddha (…) And that mendicant became one of the perfected. SN22.36

He understood: “Rebirth is ended; the spiritual journey has been completed; what had to be done has been done; there is no return to any state of existence.” And Venerable Māluṅkyaputta became one of the perfected. AN4.257

Someone who has completed and fulfilled these five faculties is a perfected one. .SN48.14

It is thus, monks, that a monk is a perfected one. MN39

That’s how to define a mendicant who is a perfected one , with defilements ended, who has completed the spiritual journey, done what had to be done, laid down the burden, achieved their own true goal, utterly ended the fetters of rebirth, and is rightly freed through enlightenment. MN35

I could go on and on. The point is, the suttas are full of perfected ones described as such, and suttas and vinaya has extensive questioning and procedures on how to confirm a person’s attainments. Buddha calls himself an arahant all the time, calls people out as arahants, it’s done in abundance.

It is done in the suttas. MN112 should be of interest to you especially:

Take a mendicant who declares enlightenment: ‘I understand: “Rebirth is ended, the spiritual journey has been completed, what had to be done has been done, there is no return to any state of existence."’

(An extensive list of questionnaires here)

Saying ‘Good!’ you should applaud and cheer that mendicant’s statement, and then say to them: ‘We are fortunate, reverend, so very fortunate to see a venerable such as yourself as one of our spiritual companions!’”

That is what the Buddha said. Satisfied, the mendicants approved what the Buddha said.

There’s a difference between clinical death and and biological death. Maybe I should’ve specified, I didn’t think I had to be pedantic with it.

Thank you for your perspective @Jos. :slight_smile:

If he don’t wanna come back they won’t be able to revive him.

If he wanna come back, by his mercy, he’ll come back.

After all he was here in the first place.

What’s more powerful, Dhamma or dying?

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I think the looming question above all is if an Arhat that wishes to remain in Parinibbana can be resurrected by God :slightly_smiling_face: on the Last Day, in Christian or Islamic mythology.

This question is kind of like a funny joke, but to be taken seriously, because God would certainly respect the Nibbana of the Arhat and not allow his or her resurrection if they didn’t want it because they have already attained an extinction similar to that of Heaven in their Nibbana. In the same way, after death, there may be no way to revive an Arhat if they wish to be in Parinibbana, because of the Law of the Dhamma. So don’t lose faith in Buddhism. Strengthen it.

An Arhat has mystical powers over dying and living in the Saha World, since they have attained the Deathless.

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I am doubtful about it.

The fact said he crucifixed on friday, entombed on sabbath & awaken on sunday, showed us all that he was born again as a “rupa” based heavenly being who roamed the earth for 40 days. 1st rebirth.

After 40 days roaming the earth, he ascended to the heaven in the presence of God, means he was born again as another heavenly being who does not roamed the earth. 2nd rebirth as a “rupa” based being.

And at last, once again he will come to the during the Apocalypse era. 3rd rebirth as a “rupa” based being.

It is confirmed that he is not someone who can escape the wheel of life yet.

But I do believe Jesus is someone with a very advance “metta”. And, maybe he will be the next Metteyya, for the Gotama Buddha has spoken that the next Buddha will based on " metta", maybe.

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I understand. Is it possible that there is a mistake in common doctrine about this? When I first heard of it, from my standpoint, I thought “oh that’s easy, of course they don’t get reborn in Samsara or the Saha World, they can simply Emanate into it if they do decide, maintaining Parinibbana, and not touching the wheel of life and death, they can be freed from this world while people perceive them to be in it, in order to preach the Law of the Dhamma.” I don’t think Arahants fear this world, but they certainly wish to get the Dhamma across, even more than the average Buddhist, so there may be a reality in understanding the Emanation process. I think it’s highly important in Buddhism.

I do agree that there are arahants in this world.
What I am thinking about is SN44.2 which ends with

In that case, Anurādha, since you don’t actually find a realized one in the present life, is it appropriate to declare:

That’s the issue at hand as far as I’m concerned.

The way I see it, one is about the inadequacy of the language to explain the state of arahant, another is about practical realisation and declaration and confirmation of end of rebirth. Even the statement “arahants are beyond statements” is a statement in-of itself that can be confirmed.

I think the suttas are very clear about how to approach confirming the declaration, which is even repeated in the sutta you linked:

They understand: ‘Rebirth is ended, the spiritual journey has been completed, what had to be done has been done, there is no return to any state of existence.’

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Interestingly, I have been watching dozens of NDE videos- no particular reason, just saw one and found it fascinating! The available stories are very consistent and DO NOT report rebirth into another human form. The descriptions are not always a “heavenly” type realm, but a no-physical form of light is very common (quite like the deva realms described in the EBT). Often, people report ‘hanging around’ the old body for a while, often above looking down, but otherwise in the vicinity.

EBT often have the phrase “when the body breaks down” the person moves on to the next life. I have often wondered whether there is a period of an in-between existence while there is some attachment still to THIS rupa after which there might be movement to another form (rupa or not)…who knows till we have our own experience.

Agree, but it isnt a question of the rupa, it is a question of the other bits! By definition, the arahant must have NOT been an arahant when born into this birth, and then achieved arahantship, and is now ‘biding time’ till the breaking down of this body. When this body dies and there is no attachment left, I can see that being the end and no resuscitation being possible.

When you describe the physiological processes, I am completely with you. However, the idea that we know what is going on is where you lose me. It isnt as simple as the things we can see and measure IMHO…

The following excerpt from SN 22.85 teaches that the Tathāgata or arahant can’t even be apprehended in this very life, let alone at death.

Then, in the evening, the Venerable Sāriputta emerged from seclusion. He approached the Venerable Yamaka and exchanged greetings with him, after which he sat down to one side and said to him: “Is it true, friend Yamaka, that such a pernicious view as this has arisen in you: ‘As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed is annihilated and perishes with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death’?”

“Exactly so, friend.”

“What do you think, friend Yamaka, is form permanent or impermanent?”—“Impermanent, friend.”…—“Therefore … Seeing thus … He understands: ‘… there is no more for this state of being.’

“What do you think, friend Yamaka, do you regard form as the Tathagata?”—“No, friend.”—“Do you regard feeling … perception … volitional formations … consciousness as the Tathagata?”—“No, friend.”

“What do you think, friend Yamaka, do you regard the Tathagata as in form?”—“No, friend.”—“Do you regard the Tathagata as apart from form?”—“No, friend.”—“Do you regard the Tathagata as in feeling? As apart from feeling? As in perception? As apart from perception? As in volitional formations? As apart from volitional formations? As in consciousness? As apart from consciousness?”—“No, friend.”

“What do you think, friend Yamaka, do you regard form, feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness taken together as the Tathagata?”—“No, friend.”
“What do you think, friend Yamaka, do you regard the Tathagata as one who is without form, without feeling, without perception, without volitional formations, without consciousness?”—“No, friend.”

“But, friend, when the Tathagata is not apprehended by you as real and actual here in this very life, is it fitting for you to declare: ‘As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed is annihilated and perishes with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death’?”

“Formerly, friend Sāriputta, when I was ignorant, I did hold that pernicious view, but now that I have heard this Dhamma teaching of the Venerable Sāriputta I have abandoned that pernicious view and have made the breakthrough to the Dhamma.”

Note that Venerable Yamaka goes from wrong view to stream-entry just by understanding this teaching. SN 44.2 also says something similar.

Also see MN 63 where the Buddha explains why he didn’t declare an answer to the question of whether an arahant exists after death, doesn’t exist, etc. This teaching is repeated enough times in the suttas that it has its own name: the 10 indeterminate/unanswerable questions.

The suttas mentioned above are high-yield, well worth reading in full and meditating upon.

I agree.


Do we know that? I agree with you that in a cardiac arrest the heart stops pumping, the blood flow to the brain ceases, the glucose supply ceases, the high energy brain environment is starved of the substrate and functions cease. The problem with your wording is the “quickly”. What do you mean by that? There is evidence that function continues for minutes.

Another example: if a man is being choked and the grip completely prevents cerebral blood flow, he might fight back looking into the eyes of his attacked for minutes. Whereas, if the man is beheaded by a swift sword blade the supply is cut instantly and he instantly “dies”. Physiologically, why cant he continue to look with this eyes, move them around, take note of his surroundings etc etc for the same length of time?

Why does someone shot in the heart fatally, not walk around for 3 or 4 minutes, go over to the table and write down the name of the attacker for the police. The cessation of the heart pumping has no immediate effect on the brain or actin/myosin fibres in the muscles and the bones and tendons have months before they will disintegrate…I just dont think things are as explained as we think in medicine (PS I am a doctor).

I just want to say, this is the kind of “highdeas” discussion I was hoping to generate. :slight_smile:

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I don’t know exactly how long takes for the subjective experience of someone who goes from awake to cardiac arrest changes. From an outside perspective, it certainly appears quick.

I would say that there is a lot we do not know, but there is also a lot we do know and have accomplished. There is no better time to be alive as a human being when it comes to medical and surgical treatments for the physical sufferings of the human body.

Hi Hasantha, Bhante Sujato discusses the idea of an in-between existence in the third video on this page: Karma & Rebirth Workshop 1: Myth-busting

I think I probably see NDE’s as exactly that NDE (Near Death Experiences) rather than DE (Death Experiences)