[Buddha-l] Re: Brahma Sahampati (was: angels)

r.g.morrison sgrmti at hotmail.com
Thu May 26 14:38:18 MDT 2005

: >Robert Morrison writes :
: >So one question is whether overcoming the desire for sensual
: >pleasures alone is enough to make one a non-returner.

Herman Zelders replies:

: Again, I'm not an expert, but I remember having read somewhere (Gombrich 
: that dilligent practice of the 'brahmavihaara's' may result in
: 'non-returner'-ship.

Yes, Gombrich says something to this effect in his 'How Buddhism Began'.  If 
I remember correctly, one can attain ceto-vimutti through cultivating the 
brahma-vihaaras, and he makes a good case for ceto-vimutti and 
pa~n~naa-vimutti being the same thing.  So in that case, cultivating the 
brahma-vihaaras can lead at least to becoming a once-returner, not just a 
happy rebirth. So perhaps some brahmaas are on the ariyan path, but there 
are plenty, according to the suttas, that are clearly not - for example, 
those like Mahaa Brahmaa, who think they created the world [see Kevaddha 
Sutta, D i. 211ff]!

: It is clear that Brahma Sahampati functions in the
: legend as a personification of compassion, and helps the Bodhisattva to
: overcome his very last egotistical impulse, as a result of which the 
: opened his "golden mouth", and began to preach. So we have a lot to thank
: him for, at least our hobbies, and some of us their professions.

But if Brahma Sahampati is non other than the personification of the 
Buddha's arising compassion, then we have only the way things really are 
(i.e. the Dharma) to thank (i.e. in dependence upon Awakening arises 
compassion)!  But this shows that there are many ways of intelligently 
interpreting this passage.

Robert Morrison 

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