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Pratyekabuddha

I would like to discuss, with anyone who shares an interest, this peculiar but relevant aspect of buddhism, as it touches on very sensitive nerves as far as I am concerned, and relates to much discussion which I have witnessed on various buddhist websites, and on this one as well to some degree. What do you think about this classification of buddhas?

This very 'lone' or 'private' buddha, as wikipedia would like to describe them, achieves enlightenment by themselves regardless of any teachings, by its own power of the investigation of its mind. As a result as they are without teachers and disconnected to the historical buddha, they will generally stand as accused and opposed to the more traditional buddha teachings.

Question: is not the investigation of our mind and the result of that investigation the core principle thrust of buddhist ideology that leads to realisation?

In the Theravada tradition, which has its own class - a pacceca buddha - who attains enlightenment by and for itself, appears to have the prerequisite of a teacher.

However, let me try and explain something I have recently come to understand. A pratyekabuddha, is still a buddha and as buddha is our ultimate nature; spontaneous liberation will always be possible if it is within our natur. So a pratekyabuddha should be respected.

Sparks from a forest fire may ignite another part of the forest; that is what sparks do.

Just thought for those who like to think....

Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    In a nutshell, a student, with no books to go by, sitting alone in a bare classroom, is not going to learn as much using his own resources, as when he is sitting in front of Mademoiselle Fru-Fru, and being taught French by her....

    ...Is just my thought.

    However, teachers might come in many guises.
    I am fond of saying (because I believe it to be true) that I learnt far more OUT of school, (College de hard Knocks) from my parents and peers, than I ever did sitting in a Classroom.

    One has to be an all-rounder to become well rounded.

    So a Teacher gives you the Theory.
    The Practice is up to you....

    Bunkssatcittanandadhammachick
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @satcittananda said:
    So a pratekyabuddha should be respected.

    Pratekyabuddhas and their modern counterparts the 'Yippee ki-yay Buddhas' o:) have no need for respect. Indeed would you know any of them to offer 'respect'?

    In the Bodhi Sufi tradition, The Prophet said, 'God has hidden the men(people) of greatest wisdom'. In a similar way pratekyabuddhas may have functions of service/compassion requiring them to be undisclosed and unnoticed. They may behave in ways that expose, innoculate, shock into awakening or not teach by anything but example, independent of formal religious affiliation.

    VictoriousDhammika
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited March 30

    According to the ever-present source known as 'Wikipedia, Pratekyabuddhas

    "...are said to arise only in ages where there is no Buddha and the Buddhist teachings (Sanskrit: dharma; Pāli: dhamma) are lost."

    So not sure we even have any of those because AFAIK, no such phenomena have taken place...

    Victoriousdhammachick
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @satcittananda said:> As a result as they are without teachers and disconnected to the historical buddha, they will generally stand as accused and opposed to the more traditional buddha teachings.

    It could be argued that the historical Buddha was himself a pratekyabuddha. I'm not sure though what you mean by "opposed to the more traditional teachings". Which kind of teachings do you regard as "traditional"?

    lobsterVictorious
  • satcittanandasatcittananda UK Veteran

    @spinynorman: The ones that advocate a teacher as NECESSARY and require UNBROKEN LINEAGE TO THE HISTORICAL BUDDHA!...

    In many teachings I have received it is constantly pointed out that everything is interdependent, and I have really come to understand that in my practice.

    So as we have all been taught that everything has buddha nature, by a reasonable inference from the interdependence of absolutely everything past/present/future/and without any real leaps in faith, it is possible to conclude there will always be an unbroken lineage, and that we are ultimately our own teachers. The projections of our mind are teaching us what we are.

    So in conclusion, we are all to some degree pratyekabuddha's as humans beings. Which means, in terms of classification, its really a non-discussion point. Something to keep us busy trying to achieve that ultimate goal of enlightenment!

    Out of interest, what is that ultimate goal of realisation? To learn who we really are? It's a funny thing really, as I don't think we really want to know who we are at all, because we don't need to.

    I'm going to plant some daffodils now!

    lobster
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited March 30

    The Buddha achieved what he did with only the lore of his day to help him. Similarly there has been a collection of dharma available since then to help modern practitioners, and this is what is important, the learning of the dharma. Alongside that is the learning and aid of ones fellow practitioners.

    So it is a question whether there is such a thing as a pratyekabuddha. Even Siddhartha Gautama had the meditative practices of his day, the Veda's, as a backdrop to his efforts to enter the dhyana's. Similarly no Buddha stands alone, although perhaps a prospective Buddha with no meditative knowledge to draw upon has a much taller mountain to climb.

    Lineages are merely an aid to one's references of origins, not much more, if you ask me. For the same reasons I don't have much belief in empowerments - after all, someone had to be first.

    satcittanandalobster
  • satcittanandasatcittananda UK Veteran

    Yet that implies @kerome that someone has to be the last! And in a spontaneously arising world, it is the wrong type of thinking that we are employing. Which diverts me to something else...

    I realise the following video I was forwarded recently may not be to everyone's taste, but about halfway through it AW reaches a conclusion about our relationship with the world and our true nature and our limited linear thinking processes that I really can't disagree with.

    The most fascinating thing that I have come to consider is that I, 'the observer', use my mind (generated by my amazing brain) to be conscious of the generation in that mind an external world, and am also to place the idea of my self (an ego) within that construction, and further allow this ego to posit these relationships envisaging ourselves generating and perceiving the outside world in a unity. AMAZING! Not amazing? Think about it!

    Our mind when regarded in a scientific context, is nothing more than electrical impulses in our central nervous system.

    Let me know your thoughts if you can be bothered to go watch it. Best not to comment if you don't engage with it though...

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Only comment so far is that it's long; will have to watch it a bit later on within some 'me' time... ;)

  • satcittanandasatcittananda UK Veteran

    I'm sorry for posting something so long @federica, but there are some items, like some of the TNH's videos posted here and I've ended up thoroughly enjoying and learning from them - won't repost them them here but many deserve some reintroduction and introspection.

    Don't just look at something because it's posted, look at it because it comes with a recommendation, like I try to do.

    I often find that I'm viewing content thinking: WHAT ? WHY ?...GRRrrrrr!

    So out of 10 I would give this video a grrrrr 8 ...

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I'm not objecting in any way to the length. I'm just saying I need to make time for myself to watch it in comfort without being disturbed by anything....

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited March 31

    I'm going to plant some daffodils now!

    <3
    You are starting a daffy dancing lineage on their journey to group awareness . . .

    I wandered lonely as a cloud
    That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
    When all at once I saw a crowd,
    A host, of golden daffodils;

    https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/45521

    satcittananda
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited March 31

    @satcittananda said:
    @spinynorman: The ones that advocate a teacher as NECESSARY and require UNBROKEN LINEAGE TO THE HISTORICAL BUDDHA!...

    I remember a focus on lineage in Tibetan Buddhism, but it can all get a bit precious and lead to cultish guru devotion, and playground arguments about one teacher supposedly being more "authentic" than another.

    I prefer teachings like the three marks or four seals as a indication of authenticity for Dharma teachings, they seem more objective.

    On the other hand we all get our ideas about Buddhism from somebody, and that person got their ideas from somebody else, and so it goes.

    lobstersatcittananda
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    On the other hand we all get our ideas about Buddhism from somebody, and that person got their ideas from somebody else, and so it goes.

    Although these days it's more about the lineage of the books. You learn from such and such a tome, which can trace its thinking back to here, and here, which leads to the Lankavatara Sutra which is a bit of a monster which you could study for years.

    The Buddhism taught by Thich Nhat Hanh or certain other wester oriented teachers refers to only a smal subset of the sutra's, and much of it is modernised in translation. You could make an interesting argument about the lineage of that dharma.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @lobster said:

    I'm going to plant some daffodils now!

    <3
    You are starting a daffy dancing lineage on their journey to group awareness . . .

    I wandered lonely as a cloud
    That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
    When all at once I saw a crowd,
    A host, of golden daffodils;

    https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/45521

    That was the first poem I ever memorised. I did so at Primary School, when I was 9.
    Not for any particular reason, just because I loved it.

    ....Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
    Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

    Continuous as the stars that shine
    And twinkle on the milky way,
    They stretched in never-ending line,
    Along the margin of a bay.
    Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
    Tossing their heads in sprightly dance!

    The waves beside them danced; but they
    Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
    A poet could not but be gay,
    In such a jocund company:
    I gazed, and gazed; but little thought
    What wealth the show to me had brought...

    For oft, when on my couch I lie
    In vacant or in pensive mood,
    They flash upon that inward eye
    Which is the bliss of solitude;
    And then my heart with pleasure fills -
    And dances, with the daffodils.

    Written from memory. I remember it yet....

    satcittanandalobster
  • satcittanandasatcittananda UK Veteran
    edited March 31

    one of my favourites too:

    'For oft, when on my couch I lie
    In vacant or in pensive mood,
    They flash upon that inward eye
    Which is the bliss of solitude'

    ;-)

    One of the reasons I posted this query, was to engage with members thoughtfully. I have and I thank you all for the experience.

    Whilst solitude may be blissful life isn't just about inaction, it can appear very empty without interaction...

    I did plant some daffodils btw - very pretty they are - I was amused by the name:

    'Tete a Tete - Narcissus Cyclamens'

    lol - why am I laughing? perhaps a look at the roots of the name may enlighten a little, particularly in respect to the title of the thread... Was not intentional...

    Tete a Tete: a private conversation

    Narcissus |nɑːˈsɪsəs| Greek Mythology: a beautiful youth who rejected the nymph Echo and fell in love with his own reflection in a pool. He pined away and was changed into the flower that bears his name.

  • satcittanandasatcittananda UK Veteran

    So I come to teach myself about myself...

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @Kerome said:

    @SpinyNorman said:
    On the other hand we all get our ideas about Buddhism from somebody, and that person got their ideas from somebody else, and so it goes.

    Although these days it's more about the lineage of the books. You learn from such and such a tome, which can trace its thinking back to here, and here, which leads to the Lankavatara Sutra which is a bit of a monster which you could study for years.

    The Buddhism taught by Thich Nhat Hanh or certain other wester oriented teachers refers to only a smal subset of the sutra's, and much of it is modernised in translation. You could make an interesting argument about the lineage of that dharma.

    I would say it's about different interpretations of suttas and sutras, which leads to different assumptions and methods. I think it's also about how dharma has adapted to different cultures over the centuries, and of course that process is still going on.

    lobster
  • @satcittananda "A pratyekabuddha, is still a buddha and as buddha is our ultimate nature; spontaneous liberation will always be possible if it is within our natur. So a pratekyabuddha should be respected.

    Sparks from a forest fire may ignite another part of the forest; that is what sparks do."

    As I've been taught, a Pratyekabuddha is liberated - and keeps it to him/herself. If they speak on it, they simply repeat - like a Parrot to others. I've heard it said that they have their PhD, but not their 'teaching' training.

    Chogyam Trungpa said, "They have no wisdom." When asked about this, he said, "They don't have the wisdom to practice compassion." That means they are not Bodhisattvas.

    I get it. It takes some training to learn how to live in the world, caring for others, relating with others when Heaven and Earth seem disjunctive.

  • @satcittananda said:

    Just thought for those who like to think....

    Trying to give it up ;)

    My unformal teacher was a Prat yeka Buddha
    Easy to find. Just turned up.

    I will describe some of their qualities, some led to 'invisibility'.

    • Strange
    • Generous
    • Superficially confused/crazy/mindless
    • Happy
    • Virtuous
    • Rarely talked of religion
    • Ordinary
    • Weird
    • Service without reward

    These people exist. They are awake. Always ready ... ever mindful ...

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited October 18

    they will generally stand as accused and opposed to the more traditional buddha teachings.

    That's not really the case because when a pratyekabuddha appears, there are no other Buddha's teachings.

    A pratyekabuddha, by definition, will not appear in the world until the samyaksambuddha's (AKA Shakyamuni) teachings disappear from the world. A pratyekabuddha has spontaneous enlightenment but that's not what makes them a pratyekabuddha. A pratyekabuddha is a pratyekabuddha because they arise in a time with no other Buddhas or teachings of other Buddhas, and don't go on to teach others.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited October 19

    If buddhas do not see fit to share the dharma I would have to question the reality of their awakening.

    That would put me in an all knowing position but hey.

    dhammachick
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