The Lesser-Streams

 

 

Nine: The Lesser-Streams

[*This section must be prefaced noting the outstanding source of the translation: The Diamond Sutra {Chin-Kang-Ching} or Prajna-Paramita translated from the Chinese with an introduction and notes by William Gemmell. This was published in 1912 and is now available through re-print editions. A PDF of the original is now uploaded in our texts section. It is chosen for this particular section since it defines terms like Scrotapatti right along in the verse itself. Gemmell’s translation is an indispensible tool that highlights refined nuances (through excellent footnotes) that empowers one to have a greater in-depth appreciation of the source material.]

The Lord Buddha enquired, What do you think, Subhuti? May a Scrotapatti (having entered the stream [stream-enterer] which bears on to Nirvana; no-longer subject to rebirth in the lower subhuman realms) thus contemplate within himself, ‘ I  have obtained the fruits’ commensurate with the merit of a Scrotapatti ‘ ? ”

Subhuti replied, saying : ” No, Blessed One! And why ? Because, Scrotapatti is simply a descriptive term signifying ‘ having entered the stream.’ A disciple who avoids the seductive phenomena of form, sound, odour, taste, touch, and Dharma, is named a Scrotapatti.”

The Lord Buddha again enquired of Subhuti, saying: “What do you think? May a Sakridagami (who is subject only to one more reincarnation [once-returner]) thus muse within himself, ‘ I have obtained the fruits consonant with the merit of a Sakridagami ‘? ”

Subhuti replied, saying: “No!  Blessed One! And why? Because, Sakridagami is merely a descriptive title denoting ‘ only one more reincarnation’ but in reality there is no such condition as ‘only one more reincarnation,’ hence Sakridagami is merely a descriptive title.”

The Lord Buddha once again enquired of Subhuti, saying: “What do you think? May an Anagami (having entire immunity from reincarnation [non-returner] ) thus reflect within himself, ‘ I have obtained the fruits which accord with the merit of an Anagami ? ‘ ”

Subhuti replied, saying : ” No, Blessed One ! And why? Because, Anagami is merely a designation meaning ‘ immunity from reincarnation ‘but in reality there is no such condition as ‘immunity from reincarnation,’ hence Anagami is merely a convenient designation.”

The Lord Buddha yet again enquired of Subhuti, saying : “What do you think ? May an Arhat ‘ (having attained to absolute quiescence of mind) thus meditate within himself, ‘ I have obtained the condition of an Arhat ‘ ? ”

Subhuti replied, saying : ” No, Blessed One! And why? Because, there is not in reality a condition synonymous with the term Arhat. Blessed One, if an Arhat thus meditates within himself, ‘ I have obtained the condition of an Arhat,’ there would be obvious recurrence of such arbitrary concepts as an entity, a being, a living being, and a personality. O, Blessed One! When the Lord Buddha declared that in absolute quiescence of mind, perfect observance of the Law, and true spiritual perception, I was preeminent amongst the disciples, I did not cogitate thus within myself, ‘ I am an Arhat, freed from desire !  ‘  Had I thus cogitated, ‘ I have obtained the condition of an Arhat,’ the ‘Honored of the Worlds ‘ would not have declared concerning me, ‘ Subhuti delights in the austerities practiced by the Aranyaka’; but, in reality, Subhuti was perfectly quiescent and oblivious to phenomena ; hence the allusion, ‘ Subhuti delights in the austerities practiced by the Aranyaka.’”

*Mu Soeng notes that this section successfully “deconstructs all assumptions based on stream-entry through the prism of shunyata by insisting that the four categories do not exist in reality.” (Mu Soeng, pg.102)

Arhat: Love Gemmell’s translation as ‘having attained to absolute quiescence of mind.’ Subhuti himself, while not yet blessed with Bodhisattvahood, was established as an Arhat. Gemmell’s footnote is worth including in full:

Arhat: ” Explained by Fuh-Ko — the Fruit of Buddha (Buddhaphalam). The original meaning of Arhat (deserving, worthy) is overlooked by most Chinese commentators, who explained the term as if it were written Ari-Hat—Destroyer of the Enemy. The following two explanations are given, Shah-Tseh—Destroying the Enemy, and Puh-Seng—not to be reborn, i.e., except from transmigration. There is, however, a third explanation which is based on the original meaning of Arhat, namely Ying-Kong—deserving worship. The Arhat is the perfected Arya (one who has mastered the four spiritual truths —Sz-Ti—and thereby entered the path to Nirvana called Arya-Marga), and the state of Arhat can accordingly be attained only by passing through the different degrees of saintship. Arhatship implies possession of supernatural powers, and is to be succeeded either by Buddhaship or by immediate entrance into Nirvana.” —Handbook of Chinese Buddhism. ElTEL. [This “Handbook” is also an indispensible tool.]

Subhuti’s “quiescence of Mind” is reflective of “direct Mind-intuition” alone, sans any outside stimuli.

Aranyaka: fascinating term whose essential meaning is one living in “retirement and seclusion.” It’s interesting how my own Lankavatarian Path has led to “official retirement <due to recurring health-issues>” from the outside world with the sole purpose of devoting one’s energies to study of the Buddhadharma; I suppose one could say that I’m a semi-Aranyaka—not in total and “exclusive seclusion” [still maintaining contact with family and friends], yet indeed embracing a “hermit-like” existence.

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