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Alan Navarro Wijitha Bandara April 26, 2016

The lesser traveled path

In Theravada buddhism which is primarily practiced in Burma, Cambodia, Ceylon,

and Thailand; the process of becoming enlightened involves gaining awareness and insight

into the internal and external of reality.

In Theravada tradition there exists many stories of practitioners who attained

enlightenment. The title for an enlightened being is Arahat- an individual who is freed from the

ten fetters, perfected in virtue , and fully aware of the nature of true reality, whom has

extinguished all passions and defilements and is therefore free to enter nibbana. It is different

from Mahayana, originating after the first council two more councils were held to preserve the

original teachings and to reconcile the differences of the practice of buddhism and in accordance

to the tradition of Theravada the council was used to address the minor infringements some

monks who broke some of the ten unlawful practices in Vinaya." “The elder Sarvagamin (a pupil

of Ananda) was asked for an authoritative verdict on the ten points, which were condemned by

him."' Also according to the Theravada tradition, during the reign of King Ashoka around 244

B.C.E

a major difference occurred between the Mahasanghika representing the "great

community" and the Sthavira representing the "elders." The monk Mahadeva of the

Mahasanghika made five statements concerning the Arahat: first that the Arahat is still subject to

temptation, second that they can still have residue of ignorance, third that they can have doubts,

fourth that they can gain knowledge through another persons help, finally that the Arahat can fall

off the path to nibbana". These views on the Arahat were deprecated as the status of Arahat

would be viewed as one perfect in all respects identical as buddha in attainment and modern

historians see the Mahasanghika school as a break from accepting buddhas teachings to the

fullest. The path presented by buddhism which gives one a feeling of everlasting happiness

through understanding as opposed to the false happiness through the satisfaction of one's

craving. The ten fetters in Theravada are the roots that tie one into samsara and it is of upmost

importance for one to understand them in order to reach the four stages of enlightenment.

Humans are composed of five aggregates; matter, feeling, perception, mental state,

consciousness(Rupa, Vedana , Sanna, Sankhara, Vinnana). They vary in proportion however a

person does not have a permanent unique soul, and instead is a collection of ever-changing

aggregates .The difference between an ordinary person and a noble is the realization of this truth

(parmattha sacca).

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The Ten Fetters are the chains that tie one to samsara. They are; self illusion, doubt,

indulgence in wrongful rituals, sensual desire, anger, craving for existence in the world of pure

form, craving for existence in the world of non form, pride, restlessness, ignorance(sakkhaya-

diithi, vicikivvha, silibbhatapramasa, kama-raga, patigha, rupa-raga, arupa-raga, mana,

uddhacca, avijja). The first one ,the illusion of self, can be divided into three aspects of self. The

first, the possessive self is the self that owns objects and not only that but possession of other

people and even traits like intelligence. It goes beyond to the extent in which these things are

believed to make up the self the idea that one must control what is theirs. It makes one attack any

that challenges its possession. The second aspect is the conceited self which thinks that one is

superior to all. Often referred to as: pride, arrogance, egoism, and narcissism. It makes one

believe that they are permanent and contradict reality. The second fetter is Doubt (Vicikiccha)

from "vici" meaning seeking and "kicch" meaning to strain; together meaning vexation due to

perplexed thinking. Because of this type of thinking one cant decide what is right or wrong and

confusion between the mundane and supramundane world occurs. So one becomes skeptical of

kamma and the path out of suffering from the eight fold path. The third fetter is the indulgence

in wrongful rite and rituals . It comprises of one following external forms of practice that make

ones word and actions to appear wholesome. In example one could regularly donate to a charity

and believe one has the right to do as he pleases and gain respect. moreover one can appear to be

kind to another but have thought that are actually evil minded. The fourth fetter is sensual desire.

It involves craving to satisfy the senses. The fifth fetter is Hatred. called Patigha from "pati"

meaning against and "gha " meaning to strike. Hatred is an explosive feeling but can be

prevented by subduing simmering thoughts and removing it at its roots. Removing this allows

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growth and change to take place. the sixth fetter is rupa-raga the craving or existence in the

world of pure form in which the only senses are the visual auditory and mental with smell taste

and touch not present. The desire to exist is this fetter. It results in not allowing happiness from

ones current state, Its not a craving of want but a craving to keep. The seventh fetter is arupa-

raga which is the craving for existence in the world of non form. In the plane of non form one

has conquered the physical desires. It is a temporarily lived in world in which can be loosely

described as lost in thought. It detaches oneself from the ability to learn from an external source

and leads to ignorance. The eighth fetter is pride from the word mana with the root "man"

meaning to think in this case of oneself. One can be conceited of anything even moral and can

make one think that they are as good as they can possibly be which in turn stops progress. The

ninth fetter is restlessness, uddhacca , from "u" meaning over and "dhu" to excite which together

translates into excitement. Its an altered or unsettled state of mind opposed to collectedness. The

restlessness comes from dissatisfaction and is symbolically explained as a stone(an outside

element) being thrown into the fire (the mind burning with passion) lifting ash (polluting the

mind) . The tenth fetter is delusion (Avijja or pali equivalent being moha which translates into

not knowing).With ignorance one can commit wrongful deeds and not realize it and righteous

anger can occur causing them to lash out at those that are wrong. Ignorance is the source of ones

own bad kamma and an ordinary person is blind to their own righteous anger. It requires constant

practice to be aware

Traditionally these fetters are categorized into upper and lower with one

through five being the lower. They are called lower because you don't need to be an aragat to

overcome them whereas the rest higher fetters you do.

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There are four stages to becoming an arahat. The first being Sotapanna or Stream-winner.

This stage means that the fetters of self illusion, doubt, and indulgence in wrongful rituals are

eradicated. They see the universe and themselves as constantly changing. The second stage

Sakadagami or Once-returner is one in which the fetter of sensual desire and hatred are

weakened. The third stage Anagami or Never-Returner has completely removed the fetters of

Sensual desire and hatred. Finally the last stage is arahat who eradicates the remaining five

fetters of attachment to form and formless spheres, as well as conceit, restlessness, and

ignorance.

The application of the methodology of this style of buddhism is seen in social reforms in

countries such as cambodia as an effort to educate and improve the condition of society. From

self awareness to improvement of mental attitude. Applying to all social classes. Regarding

diplomatic negotiations using a spiritual path, the Venerable Mahaghosananda (who is known for

his Dhammayatra Peace Walk to bring peace and reconciliation among political factions within

Cambodia) spent ten years as a diplomat and spiritual leader behind the scenes, making countless

trips between Cambodia, the refugee camps, and Cambodian resettlement communities

worldwide. Under his guidance, Cambodian cultural preservation was carried out in many camps

in Thailand, the Philipines, and Indonesia. He was known to some as an arahat but he never

stated so. However Mahaghosananda did say "We may notice that the vase of flowers on the

table is very beautiful, but the flowers never tell us their beauty. We never hear them boast of

their sweet sense. When a person has realized nirvana, it is the same. He or she does not have to

say anything. We can sense his beauty, her sweetness, just by being there

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.Take care of the

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present, and the future will be well.The Dharma is always in the present, and the present is the

mother of the future. Take care of the mother, and the mother will take care of her child." 1

1 Maha Ghosananda, Step by Step, ed. Jane Sharada Mahoney and Phillip Edmonds

(Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1992). ,21

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Work Cited

1 Ow, Gary. “Ā nanda’s Path to Becoming an Arahat: How He Overcame the Ten Fetters to

Attain the Four Stages of Enlightenment.” Ph.D. California Institute of Integral Studies, 2000.

ProQuest. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.

2 Duong, Joanna Sokhoeun. “The Influence of Theravada Buddhism on Spiritual and

Social Reforms in Cambodia.” Ph.D. California Institute of Integral Studies, 2009. ProQuest.

Web. 8 May 2016.

3Maha Ghosananda, Step by Step, ed. Jane Sharada Mahoney and Phillip Edmonds (Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1992)

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