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The Dalai Lama's rebirths

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  • #16
    if a Buddha is so powerful why could he not migrate freely between Nibbana and the realms that make up Samsara?
    I guess you could say that the Buddha was still in samsara up until his passing away or parinibbana. Until then he still had the suffering of the body and the senses. Having attained parinibbana he could not freely migrate back to samsara... because there was nothing left to return.

    samsara is nirvana
    I'm no aficionado of Mahayana buddhism, so I don't know where this reference points to.

    a tennis coach for a world champion tennis player does not necessarily need to be a world champion tennis player - he needs to be a good coach.
    A fair enough point. I'm working off a point of Dhamma taught to me by Ajahn Brahm (a bit of irony here...). He says the suttas say that for one to become a stream winner they must have both samadhi and "the word of another". Ajahn Brahm indicates that this means the word of an Arian. I'll ask Ajahn Brahmali if he knows the source of this bit of Dhamma.

    With metta,



    • #17
      Many thanks for your reply Bhante _/\_



      • #18

        If I may....

        As samsara and nibbana are not necessarily physical places in and of themselves, it is then possible that both are integral facets of the same existence, occupying the same space at the same time. In my understanding, they are really not anything save the overall state of consciousness/awareness. Yu cannot draw a line on a map of any heavenly or earthly realm from one to another. You either live in a state of samsara because it is the natural tendency to do so once one is inducted into the cycle, or you choose to get out of the cycle and live in an unconditioned state, nibbana. Nibbana requires that we do something (be mindful, vigilant in our thoughts then actions...etc), hence it's seemingly inherent difficulty. Just another two cents.


        • #19
          As samsara and nibbana are not necessarily physical places in and of themselves
          Samsara includes all places physical or otherwise. Nibbana is simply the end of wandering in these places.




          • #20

            Thank you for that clarification.


            • #21
              Please allow me to explain to the best of my knowledge as a novice in Mahayana Buddhism.

              In Mahayana Buddhism it is taught that a practitioner should cultivate her bodhicitta - the heart that aspires for the enlightenment of all sentient beings. Broadly speaking, anyone who is committed to her bodhicitta can be considered a bodhisattva - a sentient being aspiring for enlightenment for all sentient beings. This is taught to be the cause that will eventually result in the consequence of buddhahood.

              I understand that stream-entry is a path taken by Theravada Buddhists, and not taken by those who walk the bodhisattva path.

              The bodhisattva path has many levels of enlightenment. The highest is anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, literally unsurpassed correct enlightenment, which a buddha achieves. A bodhisattva can achieve any level of enlightenment below that. That means, there is a point where a bodhisattva becomes enlightened so that he is no longer bound to samsara. He may choose to reside in a pure land, where he can continue his progression to become a buddha, or he re-enter a world with suffering, e.g. our Saha world.

              Bodhisattva and their fruits, whatever they choose to do, are products of their aspirations. A bodhisattva may aspire to become a buddha as soon as possible and then help sentient beings. He may alternatively postpone becoming a buddha until a certain point of time or certain conditions are met. This means such kind of bodhisattva will remain bodhisattva and continue their progression in enlightenment and merit accumulation.

              A classic example is Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva. His aspiration is not to reach anuttara-samyak-sambodhi and become a buddha until the hell is empty. It won't take forever, but it sure is going to be a long long time. Afterall, the ultimate goal of all bodhisattva is to have all sentient beings in all worlds liberated and enlightened, i.e., everyone becomes a buddha. This will definitely happen one day, however far it is from now.

              You may ask, where is this Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva now? The answer is, virtually everywhere. In every corner of our Saha world, including the hell realm, within every dust. Sakyamuni Buddha in a sutra applauded Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva and commented that he is essentially functioning at a level no differently to a buddha. This is a kind of nirvana/nibbana different to that achieved by an arhat.

              There is another type of bodhisattva that has already become a buddha in the past. The classic example is Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva, or Guanyin in Chinese, or Chenrezig in Tibetan Buddhism. The Dalai Lama is believed in Tibetan Buddhism to be an avatar of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva.


              • #22
                Dear Thomas,

                Thank you for explaining the Mahayana point of view. :-)

                With metta,




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