“Tʜᴇ Pᴀᴛʜ ᴏғ Bᴏᴅʜɪsᴀᴛᴛᴠᴀ ᴀɴᴅ Aʀᴀʜᴀɴᴛ”
Vɪᴘᴀssᴀɴᴀ Mᴀsᴛᴇʀ Aᴄʜᴀʀᴀᴠᴀᴅᴇᴇ Wᴏɴɢsᴀᴋᴏɴ
During my childhood, I used to wonder why King Rama 9 did not ordain for his whole life to become an Arahant which should be the ultimate merit. Why did he remain a layman and perform such endless duties for his people? Finally, I had the answer.
The level of merit and perfection (parami) in each person is different. If a person who has the great power of merit is the head of the country but then he gets ordained for the whole life, that means he abandons his duty, leaving the people who need his support behind. The person who has accumulated great merit thus normally performs meritorious acts on the path of Bodhisattva which is to save all beings, to support both Buddhism and society, to help all beings escape from suffering and to give an opportunity to people to make good deeds until their virtue is completed. If that person determines to be ordained, he will have tremendous limitations to relate to people, thus he cannot help those who are in trouble.
The world of Dhamma divides the path for people who have high power of merit and perfection into Arahant and Bodhisattva. The Arahants are the model for people to see how to behave and practice in order to get rid of suffering and soon attain enlightenment.
The path of Bodhisattva is to make sacrifice and help people prepare their mind and body on the noble path for them to escape from suffering, without leaving anyone behind. Thus, there is no separation between monkhood and layman life which can be a big obstacle such as having to leave the family that still needs his support. The person who walks the Bodhisattva path needs to highly sacrifice and is strongly determined to cultivate all good deeds until his perfection reaches the ultimate level in order to become a Buddha in the future. At the same time, the people who are supported by the Bodhisattva will become his supporters to maintain Buddhism further on.
The supramundane world is very delicate, thoughtful and never leaves anyone behind. We therefore have to respect both Bodhisattvas and Arahants without thinking who are superior. However, Venerable Somdej Phra Puttajarn Toh Phrommarangsi said that the spiritual world respects Bodhisattva more than Arahant. This is because sometimes, though Bodhisattvas could be free from samsara by their meditation practice, they were still willing to be reborn in the cycle of samsara to support humans for them not to lose hope and have faith in goodness, not to fall below human realm.
Those on the path of Arahant are the role model and inspiration for us to see that in a person’s life, he has to experience eight worldly conditions; gain and loss, fame and obscurity, praise and blame, happiness and pain. If you want to get away from this mental and physical pain, you have to discard the attachment to the world.
If you want to build your perfection in making sacrifice and to become a Buddha in the future, you have to walk the Bodhisattva path. If you want to quickly end the cycle of suffering, you need to go for Arahant path. But if you want to attain nirvana without ordination, you can also do it but great willpower is required in order not to fall into worldly habits. Both Arahant and Bodhisattva path are the working process of supramundane world to support all beings.
An excerpt from “The Last Door”, 5000s Magazine, Issue 41
Please read the full article at https://www.techovipassana.org/post/the-last-door-en
The supramundane world is very delicate and thoughtful.
We have to respect both Bodhisattvas and Arahants without thinking who are superior.
Both Arahant and Bodhisattva path are the working process of supramundane world to support all beings.
Translation: Porawan Sathawarawong