[Buddha-l] Re: Nirvana si, bodhi no!

Richard P. Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Wed May 18 16:57:53 MDT 2005

On Wed, 2005-05-18 at 03:05 -0500, Bruce Burrill wrote:

> This raises an interesting question. In the Pali suttas there seems to be a 
> fushion of the Buddha and the arahant. Words such as tathagata and buddha 
> are not infrequently used for the arahant. 

Every day, like many Buddhists, I chant "namo tassa bhavato arahato
sammaa-sambuddhassa" pretty much incessantly, at least when I'm not
reading Nietzsche, Jung, James, Peirce, Taylor or Ganeri or writing
something of my own. Perhaps I am excessively literal and naive, but I
have always taken that phrase to suggest that a buddha is an arahant.
And I have also also assumed that the only difference between an arahant
and an anuttara-sammaa-sambuddha is that the later did not have a buddha
teaching him the dhamma, while everyone else does. (Reminds me of an
observation once made by someone to account for why Groucho Marx was so
prone to depression: "He was the only person in the world who didn't
have Grouch Marx to cheer him up.")

> So, the questions: what exactly in the suttas (not the commentaries) is 
> bodhi, and how does it differ, if at all, from that of the arahant?

As far as I am aware, there is no difference at all. Buddhas and
arahants both have exactly the same set of bojjhangas. The only
difference, I think, is that an arahant had the help of the teachings of
a buddha in acquiring the bojjhangas, and a pacceka-buddha and anuttara-
sammaa-sambuddha have no such help.

> Anyway, you thoughts on this would be of interest, if not
> entettainment.

Entettainment? I take it that's the Pali spelling of entertainment.
Sorry, but I'm not anywhere near the scholar of the Pali canon that you
are, so I have nothing to say on this matter that you and Robert
Morrison and Lance Cousins could not say with more more authority and
insight than I can muster (even on a good day). I have stated my
uninformed prejudices on the matter, so now I wait to see what someone
who knows the literature has to say about the passages you have

Richard Hayes
Department of Philosophy
University of New Mexico

More information about the buddha-l mailing list