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Aspirations of an Arahant

August 26, 2013

Q: What are your aspirations? Is there anything you’d like to do, now that you’re an Arahant?

The Arahant: Nothing special; truly, I’d just like to be left alone. Maybe when my cottage is finished, I’ll plant a garden: some flowers and medicinal herbs. I like to help out around the monastery, but at my age, the other monks won’t let me work very hard.

Q: No plans for a great school? influential writings? world domination?

The Arahant: [laughs] Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not a superman. Those things are full of passion and ego, and are a deviation from the path:

“In the same way, brahman, there is the case where a certain son of good family, out of conviction, goes forth from the home life into homelessness, (thinking,) ‘I am beset by birth, by aging-&-death, by sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs, beset by stress, overcome with stress. Perhaps the end of this entire mass of stress might be discerned!’ Having thus gone forth, he encounters gain, offerings, & fame. He is gratified with that gain, offerings, & fame, his resolve fulfilled. Because of that gain, offerings, & fame he exalts himself and disparages others: ‘I am a person with gain, offerings, & fame, but these other monks are unknown & of little influence.’ He doesn’t generate desire or exert himself for the realization of those qualities that are higher & more sublime than gain, offerings, & fame. He is drooping & lax.” — Cula-saropama Sutta (MN 30)

I find myself mostly empty these days. My main aspirations are peace and quiet, lots of time for meditation, and an easy death.

Of course I do aspire for certain things after that, but they can hardly be put into words. Let’s just say I look forward to exploring and/or creating alternate space-time continuums. Only as a hobby, of course…

Actually I have no need to do anything. I don’t want to complicate my life by teaching or becoming famous. There are few if any qualified students these days, anyway.

In my opinion, the lack of morality due to the influence of western culture and media has created a generation of useless people. They are incapable of the careful study, surrender and self-discipline necessary to attain enlightenment. It is better to wait and see what happens.

When a great empire reaches its peak, it begins to degenerate. Lack of truthfulness and integrity, overindulgence in physical pleasures and the degeneration of trust in business, politics and family life are the symptoms of its decay. It is not a good time to try to expand the influence of the Buddha’s teaching.

Maybe once the whole thing crashes and we are back to honest manual labor and horse-and-wagon technology, we can come down from the mountains and people will be ready to hear us. More’s the pity that this generation, that most needs to hear the Buddha’s teaching, is the least interested. Oh, they’re happy to take ineffective substitutes that promise enlightenment without real change, but that is just self-deception.

“This Dhamma that I have attained is deep, hard to see, hard to realize, peaceful, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise. But this generation delights in attachment, is excited by attachment, enjoys attachment. For a generation delighting in attachment, excited by attachment, enjoying attachment, this/that conditionality and dependent co-arising are hard to see. This state, too, is hard to see: the resolution of all fabrications, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding. And if I were to teach the Dhamma and if others would not understand me, that would be tiresome for me, troublesome for me.” — Ayacana Sutta (SN 6.1)

In the past, before I realized the sublime teaching of the Buddha, I was attracted to things like teaching, writing and fame. And I achieved them! But in all honesty they brought me nothing but trouble. The ego likes to fabricate epic stories of self-importance and grandiloquence. Being free from that unnecessary labor is such a relief, I would not part with that delicious ease even for mastery of the whole universe.

From → Q&A

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