An Arhat’s Altruism Found in the Sarvāstivādin Notion of Araņā by Ven. Dr. Yuan Liu

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In the study of Sarvāstivādin theory of araNā, I find a quite interesting point that an arhat’s knowledge of non-dispute is a virtue or quality developed especially to help others rather than himself. This is something rarely mentioned in the Mahāyāna tradition. In this tradition,when compared with the idea of a bodhisattva, an arhat’s effort is believed to be “self-centered” and “ego-based”. But how far this claim could be true? With an attempt to answer this question, this paper wishes to provide a Sarvāstivādin perspective on an Arhat’s altruism through an investigation to the notion of araNā from both classic Chinese and Sanskrit sources.

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1. raNa, saraNa and araNA

Literally raNa means battle (as an object of delight), war, combat, fight, conflict etc.[1] In the Buddhist context, however, it does not refer to the actual war among countries etc, but connotes the idea of verbal and mental dispute, contention and the like. The Sarvastivada specks of three types of dispute (raNa): 1) the dispute with regard to defilement (kleZa-raNa),
2)the dispute with regard to the aggregates (skandha-raNa), and
3) the dispute with regard to speech (vāg-raNa). According to the Abhidharma-mahAvibhASa-śAstra (here after as MVS), the dispute with regard to defilement refers to the 108 kinds of defilements. The dispute with regard to the aggregates refers to death. The dispute with regard to quarrel refers to the sentient beings who humiliate/insult each other through contradictive words.[2]

Sarana and arana are a pair of terms directly derived from the term rana.. Grammatically, sarana means that which have dispute or with-dispute (sa-rana), whereas arana means that do not have dispute or non-dispute (a-rana). What do they actually refer to? The Sarvastivada differentiates them from a number of aspects, one of which is with-outflow (sasrava) and outflow-free (anasrava), i.e. the with-dispute (sarana) dharma stands for the with-outflow dharma, and the non-dispute (arana) dharma stands for the outflow-free dharma.[3] They are in fact just one pair of terms employed by the Sarvastivada to analyze all dharmas, and they are found closely related with other analytical devices of dharma in one of the basic treatises (mUlaśaStra) of Sarvastivada Abhidharma, Abhidharmaprakarana-śastra as follows:

“Question: How many of the twelve abodes (ayatana-s) are with-dispute (sarana) and how many of them are non-dispute (arana)?
Answer: Ten have dispute (rana) and two - the abode of mind (mano-ayatana) and the abode of mental-object (dharma-ayatana) - need to be analyzed, i.e., if they are with-outflow (sasrava) are with-dispute (sarana); if they are outflow-free (anasrava) are non-dispute (arana). Just as the case of with-dispute (sarana) and non-dispute (arana), world (loka/laukika) and transcendent world (lokottara), falling into spheres (dhatu) and not falling into spheres, having attachment to taste and non-attachment to taste, basis of attachment and basis of detachment,[4] conducive to bondage(bandhana) or not conducive to bondage, conducive to grasping (upadana) or not conducive to grasping, conducive to envelopment (paryavathana) or not conducive to envelopment, should be understood in the same way. ”[5]

The above distinction of sarana and arana seems to too gross and vague. We find a clearer distinction of them in the discussions of MVS as follows:

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“Moreover, the Bhagavat is the one who accords with dharma (dharmayukatavadin), the heretics and so on are those who do not accord with dharma (adharmayukatavadins), the former does not have dispute (arana) by nature, and the latter have dispute (sarana) by nature.
Moreover, the Buddha accords with the world concerning the conventional [[[cbe:truth|truth]]], whereas they (i.e. the heretics etc.) do not accord with the Buddha concerning the absolute [[[cbe:truth|truth]]]
Moreover, it is because of the fact that the Bhagavat is good at cutting off the two roots of dispute, namely desire (tRSna) and view (dRSTi). Since the Buddha has permanently cut off these two roots, he is said to have non-dispute (arana), where the worldly people have not cut off [these two roots], they are said to have dispute (sarana).
The Bhadanta says: ‘The Bhagavat is the one who accords with dharma (dharmayukatavadin), the heretics and the like are those who do not accord with dharma (adharmayukatavadins), the former does not have dispute (arana) by nature, and the latter have dispute (sarana) by nature’, this is just like in the case of a horse, whose steps are either higher or lower if crossing through dangerous place; if walking in the flat road, there is not any difference in its steps.
Moreover, the Buddha is the one who sees truth/meaning (artha), dharma, wholesomeness (kuśala) and flexibility ((karmanyatva), therefore he is said to have non-dispute (arana), whereas the worldily people are not so, therefore they are said to have dispute (sarana).”[6]

The above passages reveal that an ordinary person cannot have non-dispute (arana), they can only be those who have dispute (sarana), because they still have the roots of dispute, and because they have not seen the truth and have not acted in accordance with it. The Buddha however has permanently cut off the roots of dispute, and sees the truth and acts in accordance with it; he is the one who has no dispute (arana). Dispute (rana) here stresses more on defilements rather than others, and non-dispute indicates great wisdom through which the roots of dispute can be cut off and truth can be seen. It is under this connotation, non-dispute (arana) is deemed as one of the virtues (gunas) unique to the Buddha as well as an arhat only.

2. The knowledge of non-dispute (arana-jJana) of an arhat

According to the Sarvastivada, among the virtues (guna) of the Buddha, there are three types of virtues common to an arhat only, namely, the knowledge of non-dispute (aranājJāna), the knowledge of resolution (prandhijJāna), and freedom from hindrance (pratisamvit) and so on. Here, aranā means non-dispute or absence of contention with regard to defilements, for “One should know that here it (araNā) refers to the dispute with regard to defilements, because it aims at obstructing sentient beings from producing defilements.”[7]

A knowledge that is produced to obstruct/prevent the dispute with regard to defilements is called the knowledge of non-dispute (araNājnāna). The path leading to the production of such knowledge is called the path/practice of non-dispute (araNā-pratipat). According to AbhidharmakośabhaSaya (here after as AKB), non-dispute (araNā) is a knowledge that is produced by an Arhat in order to prevent others from producing defilements by taking the Arhat himself as their object:

“Herein the so-called non-dispute [means]: a certain Arhat, knowing that the suffering of all beings originates from defilements, and knowing himself as being distinguished as one who is worth of receiving offerings, and desiring to obstruct the arising of defilements of others who take him as their object, produces a knowledge of such a form due to which the dispute of others does not arise in whatever manner. No craving (rāga) of anyone which takes him as their object is produced, neither is hatred (dveSa) or pride (māna). This path does not cause anyone whosoever to dispute at all, therefore it is called non-dispute (aranā).”[8]
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The ideal is that an Arhat himself has abandoned all defilements and therefore deserves offering. Those who still have not liberated themselves might give rise to defilements by taking him as their object. Out of compassion, he develops a special type of knowledge to obstruct the production of defilements because of him. According to MVS this is possible only at the time when an Arhat has reached well his own inner defilements as well as those of others which are outside himself:

“Question: what is the path/practice leading to non-dispute (araNa)?
Answer: when Arhats have reached well their inner [[[cbe:defilements|defilements]]], but their outer [[[cbe:defilements|defilements]]] have not been reached well. Only if they have also reached well their outer [[[cbe:defilements|defilements]]], is the path /practice leading to non-dispute so called. What does the time of inner refer to? It refers to all defilements in the series (samtati) of oneself. What does the time of the outer refer to? It refers to all defilements in the series of others. Obstructing these types of defilements is called ‘reaching well’. All Arhats have abandoned the defilements which arise in their own series. There is however no certainty for them [to obstruct] defilements which arise in others series. If they can also obstruct [the arising of this type of defilement], [this path/practice] is called the path leading to non-dispute (araNa).

Some say that ‘time’ refers to the three periods of a day, i.e., the beginning of the day, the middle of the day, and the later period of the day. During all the three periods of time, [one can] obstruct/counteract all defilements – this is called “reaching well”. All Arhats have abandoned defilements of their own series during all the three periods of time, it is however not certain with regard to defilements of others’ series during all the three periods of time. If they can also obstruct/counteract [this type of defilements] – this is call the path/practice leading to non-dispute.

Some say that ‘time’ refers to the six periods of a day, i.e., both day as well as night are divided into three periods: the beginning, the middle and the later. During all the six periods of time, [one can] abandon all defilements – this is called ‘reaching well’. All Arhats have abandoned defilements of their own series during all the six periods of time. This is however not certain with regard to defilements of others’ during all the six periods of time. If they can also obstruct [this type of defilements] – this is call the path/practice leading to non-dispute.”[9]

From the above analyses, it is clear that either in the three periods or six periods of a day, an arhat can “reach well” defilements of his own series and obstruct them from arising, because he has abandoned/cut off defilements in his own series. Nevertheless, he can not assure the non-arising of defilements from others’ series. It is only when he obstructs the arising of defilements from others’ series by taking himself as their object that an arhat is said to follow a path leading to non-dispute(arana). This should be the view of the orthodox Sarvastivadins. GhoSaka etcetera on the other hand holds that dispute (rana) is talked about in relation to only others’ defilements, but not in relation to one’s own. Therefore, an Arhat need not necessarily be without defilements within himself.

“Ven. GhoSaka says: it is not with regard to the dispute regarding defilements in one’s own series that the path/practice leading to non-dispute is named. It is only because one is able to obstruct the dispute of defilements arising in the series of others that it is named the path/practice leading to non-dispute. Why is this so? – Because dispute is a name which is with regard to others, but not with regard to oneself.”[10]
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GhoSaka was one of the four great Sarvastivada masters, well known for his theory of “lakşaņa-anyathātva”,[11] but he was also a DarStantika, who held a more rational view and could well be the forerunner of Sautratika. Here, in his view, as long as one is able to obstruct the arising of defilements in others’ series one is said to follow the path of non-dispute (arana), as the name of dispute (rana) is established with regard to others only, but not with regard to oneself. This might hint that an arhat, who still has the arising of defilements in his own series, may also produce a knowledge of non-dispute (arana-jiiana) and follow the path of non-dispute (arana-pratipat) simply by obstructing the arising of defilements in other’s series. An arhat must have abandoned all of his defilements, but the Sarvastivada accepts that an arhat is possible to fall to certain degree and his defilements may reappear unless he has attained both the knowledge of destruction (kSayajfiana) together with the knowledge of non-arising (anutpadajnana). The former guarantees the destruction of defilements is complete, whereas the later insures that these defilements will not arising again in his series. GhoSka emphasizes the obstruction of defilements in others’ series only, he might indicate that arhats of all degrees can follow the path of non-dispute (aranapratipad). In contrast, by stressing obstructing the arising of defilements in both one’s own as well as others’ series, the orthodox Sarvastivadins tend to confine the path of non-dispute (aranapratipad) only to arhats of the highest degree, the asamaya-vimuktas:

“[Question:] Who are the persons (pudgala) [in whom non-dispute (arana) can arise]?
[Answer:] they must be the nobles, not the ordinary; they are the non-learner (aśaika), not the learner (śaikSa). Among the non-learners (aśaikSas), they are the asamaya-vimuktas only, not the samaya-vimuktas.[12] Why is so? Because it is only in those who has obtained mastery over concentration (samAdhi) and whose series is no longer controlled by defilements can it (non-dispute) arise. ”[13]

Vasubandhu seems to have taken GoSka’s stand that non-dispute (araNA) is talked about only with regard to defilements of others’ seriese, but agreed with the orthodox view that only the immovable arhats can obtain the knowledge of non-dispute (araNAjJA), and not any other arhat, because another [type of Arhat] is sometimes not able to obstruct a dispute due to defilements even from his own series.[14] That is to say, if an arhat is not able to obstruct defilements arising from his own series, how would one expect him to be able to obstruct those of others’ series? In the same context, MVS gives us the flowing further explanations on the mechanism through which an arhat obstructs the arising of others’ defilements, objects to be obstructed by him and aspects to define his knowledge of non-dispute as follows:

“Question: why is obstructing defilements called ‘reaching well’?
Answer: the name of ‘reaching well’ is so called because it is only by the arising of understanding/wisdom (prajffā) that the defilements of others can be obstructed.
“Question: What dharma does the non-dispute (araNā) refer to?
Answer: that which makes the series of others operate without any impurities. That is, the defilements can be conducive to stains and various impurities. Those, who have obtained non-dispute, cannot be stained or polluted by defilements in others’ series, in the sense that they stay far away from the defilements in the series of others.
Some say: the words should be read as: there is no remaining defilements operating with regard to the series of others. That is, those who have obtained non-dispute, if they have abandoned permanently and completely the defilements in their own series; likewise, they can also obstruct the defilements arising in the series of others, assuring there is no defilement remained. In other words, [non-dispute defined here] is in the sense that one obstructs all that which make others give rise to defilements in their series.
Some say: the words should be read as: [the mind of an Arhat] operates non-distinctively with regard to others’ series. That is, one who has obtained non-dispute, if one could obstruct the defilements in the series of others who are close to one, making them not to arise, likewise, they can also obstruct defilements in the series of others who are against one and who have neutral feelings towards one, making them not to appear – this is the meaning of obstructing equally the defilement in the series of others.
Question: what distinction is there with regard to the non-operation of impurities when one has reached well the outer [[[cbe:defilements|defilements]]]?
Answer: when one has reached well the outer [[[cbe:defilements|defilements]]], understanding/wisdom (prajJā) operates without impurities [in one’s own series], and defilements do not arise [in another’s series].”[15]
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Wisdom/understanding (prajJA) is the mechanism through which an arhat abandons permanently all defilements in his own series, obstructs arising of defilements in others’ series. Therefore, it is clear the intrinsic nature (svabhAva) of non-dispute is understanding (prajJA). To be more precise, the self-nature of araNā is conventional knowledge (saMvrtijJana), because its objects are worldly things. As in the practice of non-dispute concentration is also involved, some argue that concentration should be the intrinsic nature of non-dispute:

“Question: what is the intrinsic nature of the path of non-dispute, concentration (samAdhi) or understanding (prajJA)? If so, what is the fallacy? If it is concentrationw can one explain the words? For instance, ‘at the time of reaching well the outer is called the path of non-dispute’, here ‘reaching well’ is understanding (prajJA).if it is understanding (prajJA), how can one explain the words at other place, such as ‘one should practice the concentration of non-dispute (araNA-samAdhi)’?
Answer: one should say that it is understanding (prajJA).
Question: if so, why is it said that one should practice the concentration of non-dispute (araNA-samAdhi)’?
Answer: it should be said thus: one should practice the understanding of non-dispute (araNA-prajJA).but ‘one should practice the concentration of non-dispute (araNA-samAdhi)’is so said here, it is to reveal that non-dispute (araNA) coexists with concentration (samAdhi), therefore, concentration (samAdhi) is said, but in the actual fact, understanding (prajJA) should be said to be the intrinsic nature of non-dispute (araNA).”[16]

Both understanding (prajJA) and concentration (samAdhi) are universal dharmas (mahAbhUmikas)[17] of SarvAstivAda system. Whenever a mind (citta) operates, these two and other eight necessarily co-exist with the mind. This does not mean they all function equally at each moment. In the case of non-dispute (araNA), understanding exercises the predominate function; therefore the state/nature of the mind is defined by understanding. This can be proved from the later MahAyAna text of MahAprajJApArmita-śAstra, when SubhUti is said to be the best of the Buddhist disciples who have obtained the concentration of non-dispute(araNā-samādhi)[18], it is meant to say that he has the best knowledge in understanding the ideal of emptiness (śUnyatA), but not his practice of concentration. Having said this, concentration is indeed an integral aspect of the path of non-dispute. According to the SarvAstivAda, it belongs to the stage of the fourth dhyAna, because it is the best of the easy paths (乐通行道, le tong xing dao).[19]

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As to objects of non-dispute (araNā), according to AKB, they must be defilements which are in the future, pertaining to kāmadhātu, and which have real object, for, “the defilements, which do not have a real object (avastukāstuh kleśāh), can not be obstructed, because they are the object of their own entire bhūmi of the universal defilements (sarvatagāNa kleśa).”[20] It is quite understandable that the objects must be of the future type and pertaining to kāmadhātu, because an Arhat is supposed to obstruct the arising of defilements of others by taking himself as their objects. In other words, such defilements have not yet arisen, therefore in the future. Moreover, this type of defilements is very gross and is possessed by the human beings of the three continents of the kāmadhātu.[21] Furthermore, it should be noted that the defilements must be those which have a real object, and not the sarvatagāNa type of defilement, the defilement which operates in all bhūmi-s and common to everyone. Otherwise, they cannot be obstructed by an Arhat. Suppose an Arhat says this to a person, “Do not regard me as an ātma (Soul or Self)”, this person can still regard other people as ātma, thus this kind of defilement can not be obstructed. According to SaMghabhadra, this is because the avastukāstu kleza-s when arising takes their objects whatever they may be collectively.[22] MVS explains this in terms of the defilements of svalakSaNa type:

“Question: is it the [[[cbe:practice|practice]] of non-dispute] to obstruct defilements of others with self characteristics (sva-lakSaNa) or common characteristics (sāmānya-lakSaNa)?
Answer: self characteristics alone can be obstructed, but not common characteristics. Why is this so? A defilement with common characteristics, accordingly as the case may be, at one time takes as its object collectively the body obtained from one dhātu, one bhUmi, one sthāna, one jāti, and one

location, regarding it as Self (ātma) and what pertains to self (ātmIya), as annihilation or permanence, or as without a cause, or as the first cause, or as what can purify, or as that which gives rise to the ignorance of doubt due to which one does not know that [the defilements which are] permanently endowed with and operating in all sentient beings cannot be obstructed. Hence, [the practice of non-dispute] can only obstruct/avoid defilements with self-characteristics.”[23]

3. An arhat’s altruist act found in the path of non-dispute

How can an Arhat obstruct the dispute with regard to defilements? MVS provides us with five ways of practice with details as follows:

“Moreover, by practicing/following five kinds of dharma, that Arhat can make defilements in the series of others not to arise. What are the five kinds of dharma? 1. Purifying one’s deportment (iryā-patha); 2. communicating/responding people with either words or silence; 3. Making a proper judgment with regard to staying in a certain place or leaving it; 4. Making a distinction as to whether to receive an offering or not, 5. Observing pudgala (self).
1. Purifying one’s deportment: the Arhat is previously sitting at one place. If another person approaches him, he then discerns his mind [in this manner]: ‘by what form of deportment can [i] make that person not to give rise to fetters (baddha)?’ If he knows that by this form of deportment (i.e. sitting) that person gives rise to fetters, he then gives up this form and takes other forms of deportment. If fetters do not arise in [that person], he then keeps his previous form. It is the same case with regard to other forms of deportment.
2. Encountering people with words or silence: on seeing another person approach him, the Arhat observes his mind [in this manner]: ‘Should I talk to him/her or be silent?” Having made this observation, if he notices that speech would cause that person to give rise to fetters, he keeps silent even if he badly wants to talk to the person; if he notices that silence could cause fetters rise in that person, he then talks to the person even if he does not want to do so. Walking on the road, if he sees two people approach him, he then observes to whom he may talk first. Having made the observation, if he notices that when he talks to that person, it causes fetters to arise in the other, he then talks to the other. It is the same in reverse (i.e. the first person is not happy). If he speaks to both, and this causes both people to give rise to fetters, he then keeps silent. If he does not talk to both, it is still the same case. If both talking and keeping silent still give arise fetters in then, the Arhat then obstructs going along the same road in order to prevent them from giving rise to fetters.
3. Making proper judgment as to whether to stay or leave: the Arhat observes the places where he is about to stay and immediately makes this observation: ‘Should I stay here or should I leave?’ If he notices that when he stays, it would cause others to give rise to fetters, he gives up that place and leaves it, even if that place is safe and comfortable and there is an abundance of material things, which are conducive to the kuZala dharma-s or cultivation of the ārya-s. If he notices that by leaving that place fetters will arise in others, he forces himself to stay there, even if that place is not safe, and there is a lack of material things, which is not conducive to kuZala dharma-s or cultivation of the ārya-s.
4. Making a distinction as to whether to receive an offering or not: if an almsgiver is to offer him offerings, the Arhat then observes his mind [in this manner]: ‘Should I accept the offer or not?” Having made such observation, if he notices that by accepting the offer it will give rise to fetters in the mind of the almsgivers, the Arhat does not accept the offer, even if it is what he needs; if he notices that by not accepting the offer it will give rise to fetters in the mind of the almsgivers, he then accepts the offer, even if it is not what he needs.
5. Observing pudgala (self): when the Arhat, in order to beg for food, is about to enter another’s house in the alleys of a city or town, he observes the man and woman, the old and young in that place, making sure that his entrance will not cause defilements to arise in the minds of them because of himself. If he notices that this would not cause defilements to rise in the minds of them, he then enters the house and begs for food; if he notices that this will cause defilements to arise in the mind of them, he then does not enter the house [and beg for food], even if he is extremely hungry. This is because [the Arhat’s] judgment is that which ensures such matter (i.e. defilements arise in the minds of others because himself) from occurring. If all sentient beings

give rise to defilements because of seeing the Arhat, he therefore goes to a place where there are no sentient beings, and stops taking food and dies there. This would prevent others from ever giving rise to defilements because of him.

The Arhat, by following this five-fold practice, can therefore obstruct defilements in the series of others, preventing them from appearing.”[24]

The above practices of an arhat tell us how an arhat would do to prevent others from giving rise to defilements when he is in contact with others. It has become clear from our earlier discussions that by doing so or not the Arhat himself will not give rise to defilements because he is already a liberated person. However, in doing so, an Arhat has to restrain himself and thus bring more inconvenience upon himself. Why would an Arhat choose to do so? MVS further explains:

“Question: why does an Arhat, who has attained liberation, cultivate this dharma to bound/restrain himself?
Answer: that Arhat has previously been the nature of a Bodhisattva family/clan (gotra), who cannot bear to see sentient beings doing evil and causing suffering to themselves. In order to uplift their suffering, [he] constantly applies his mind to reflect thus: from beginingless time, sentient beings and

I who have been bound to each other, revolving the five destines, suffering great pain and sorrow. I who now have fortunately escaped this should in my turn help others. He makes further reflection thus: from the beginingless time, I have been in a low and despicable position such as that of a prostitute or a scarlet woman and so on. Hundreds and thousands of sentient beings have produced fetters with regard me, and because of this they have suffered pain and sorrow in the ‘long night’. Now I have escaped from craving, hatred and ignorance, and I have become the field of virtue of the world. [When others] produce fetters with regard to me, [it will] not cause suffering to me. It is for this reason I should now not again be the cause of [their] defilements. Hence, although an Arhat has attained self-liberation, for the sake of sentient beings, he again initiates the practice of non-dispute.”[25]

The intention of an arhat’s practice of non-dispute (araNA-pratipad) is not for the wellbeing of himself, but to help other sentient beings. In other words, these practices of an arhat are acts of altruism, which are not often found in the texts, but here it is quiet clear! In the MahAyAna tradition, an arhat is generally portrayed as “self-centered” and “ego-based”, cares nothing more than his own liberation. Putting and helping others at the first place is mostly the acts of a bodhisattva. Because of this, some even go to the extent to claim that the intrinsic nature of non-dispute is compassion, but this claim was declined by SaMghabhadra:

“Some say: the essence (dravya) of non-dispute (araNA) is compassion (karuNA), because one cultivates non-dispute out of pity on sentient beings. How can one say that the non-dispute (araNā) is different from compassion, because of entering into non-dispute by having compassion as its gateway?
This saying does not accord to logic, as it is not certain. For, to the cultivation of non-dispute (araNā) is not necessarily derived from compassion. The mode of activity (AkAra) of uplifting pains and sorrows of sentient being is only to make them not to arise; contemplation (dhyAna) is the gateway leading to it. If [non-dispute] certainly has compassion as its gateway, one still cannot say that [non-dispute] has compassion as its intrinsic nature, for [it is the same case to say that] because wisdom (prajJA) is initiated through concentration (samAdhi), the intrinsic nature of wisdom is concentration.”[26]

An importance message given by SaMghadhadra is that an arhat’s acts of non-dispute (araNā) are not necessarily always performed out of compassion. Could this be a distinction between an arhat’s altruism and those of a bodhisattva? Another interesting data given in the explanation on the intention of an arhat’s non-dispute (araNā) is that the Arhat has previously been the nature of a Bodhisattva family/clan (gotra). How would we interpret this? Does it mean that an arhat’s altruistic act is due to his previous bodhisattva nature rather than his knowledge of non-dispute? Whatever interpretation there might be, one thing for sure here is that the practices of non-dispute discussed above are certainly acts of altruism, and the performer is indeed an arhat.

4. Conclusion

RaNa has the basic meanings of dispute, conflict, quarrel and the like. It could refer to a dispute either with regard to defilements, death or speech, but the dispute with regard to defilements is the most important connotation. The Sarvāstivāda distinguishes a pair of term, saraNa(with-dispute) and araNā(non-dispute), which are derived from raNa. They are one of the analytical devices utilized to analyze all dharmas, just like the division of sāsrava (with-outflow) and anāsrava (outflow-free). With-dispute (saraNa) is of with-outflow (sārava) nature, and non-dispute (araNa) is of outflow-free (anāsrava) nature. The knowledge of non-dispute (araNā-jGāna) is a unique virtue/quality (guNā) of a Buddha as well as an arhat only. But it is not any arhat who can obtain the knowledge of non-dispute (araNā-jGāna), because he must ‘reach well’ or obstruct defilements arising from both his own series and well as others’ series at all time. Only an immovably arhat who has abandoned his defilements permanently can obstruct defilements arising from others’ series by take himself as the object, although some say that the name of non-dispute(araNa)is established only with reference to others’ defilements, not that of an arhat. MVS informs us how an arhat would obstruct the arising of defilements in others’ series by taking him as the object in five different circumstances. An immovable arhat is already a fully liberated person, who has no more defilement to arise. Why would he trouble to obstruct/avoid the arising of defilements from others series? Because whether others give rise to defilements by taking him as the object or not has no effect on him. On the contrary, doing so, it only brings him more strains or inconvenience. The clear reason given by MVS is an arhat’s compassion. Therefore this is no more than an altruistic act, which is quite similar to that of a bodhisattva. The text adds more confusion by explaining that the arhat was previously of a bodhisattva nature. The problem here is: an arhat’s altruism is due to his bodhisattva nature or his arhat nature (if we may express this way)? Or if we put this question in this way the answer would be very easier: does an arhat has altruism by nature? According to Sarvāstivāda, an arhat indeed has compassion by nature! Because the Sarvāstivāda has explicit discussions on the differences between the Buddha’s Great Compassion (mahākaruNā) and a Listener’s (śrāvaka i.e. an arhat) compassion (karuNā). However, we have never come cross a comparison between a bodhisattva’s compassion and that of an arhat. In the Mahāyāna tradition, a bodhisattva is well known for his/her compassion, little is known about an arhat’s compassion, so as to leave us an impression that an arhat has only egoism but not altruism. Through our investigation to the Sarvāstivādin notion of non-dispute (araNā) we find a clear evidence of an arhat’s altruism in both theory and practice, it may somewhat different from that of a bodhisattva in the Mahāyāna tradition though.

Abbreviations

Reference

1. Pruden Leo M., tr., English translation of L’Abhidharmako a de Vasubandhu, Vols. VI, La Vallée Poussin, Lious, de, Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press, 1988.
2. Ven. Dhammajoti, K.L. Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma, Hongkong, 2010
3. Cox, Collett Davis, Disputed Dharmas: Early Buddhist Theories of Existence, Tokyo: the International Institute for Buddhist Studies, 1983.

Footnotes

  1. Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Sir Monier-williams, New Delhi, 1988, 3rd reprint, P863c
  2. T27n1545, p899a22-24
  3. T26, p689a
  4. The defiled sensations of joy (sukha), sorrow (daurmanasya) and equanimity (upekSA) are the bases of attachment; conversely the wholesome sensations of the three are the bases of detachment.
  5. T26, 696c
  6. T27, 255c
  7. T27n1545, p899a25
  8. AKB, p417, 2-5: tatra araNA nAma kazcit eva arhan klezaprabhavaM sattvAnAM duHkhaM viditva AtmAnaM ca dakSiNIya-vizeSaM pareSAM tat-AlambanaM kleza-utpAdaM parihartukAmah tAdRzaM jJAnam utpAdayati bhena pareSAM sarvathA api raNaM notpAdayati / na kasyacit tat-Alambano rAgah utpadyate dveSah mAnah vA / na eSA pratipat kaMcit eva raNayati iti araNA
  9. T27n1545, p898a18-b2
  10. T27, p899c
  11. According to this theory, when a dharma operates in the three periods of time, future, present and past, there is a difference/change of characteristic of the dharma, but not of its essence. Thus, establish the main thesis of “sarvaM asti”.
  12. asamaya-vimukta is one who has liberated without the condition of time, i.e. his liberation is a complete one, and will not retroprogress at any time, he is an immovable arhat. Samaya-vimukta refers to one has liberated understand to condition of time, i.e. at the time of difference condition, this liberation may not be safe.
  13. T27, p899c
  14. AKB, p417, 10-12: akopya-dharmaNaH / na anyasya arhataH / anysa hi svasaMtAnAt api kadAcit klezaraNaM parihartu na zaknoti
  15. T27n1545, p898b3-22
  16. T27, p899a
  17. The ten universal dharmas are: sensation (vedanA), volition (cetanA), ideation (saMjJA), predilection (chanda), contact (sparśa), understanding (prajJA), mindfulness (smRti), mental application (manaskAra), resolve/determination (adhimokSa) and concentration (samAdhi).
  18. T25, p136c
  19. AKB, p417, 9: caturthadhyAna bhUmikA sukhapratipadAm agratvAt /
  20. AKB, p417, 17-18: avastukAstuh klezAh na zakyAH parihartuM sarvatra-gANAM sakala-svabhUmi-AlambanatvAt
  21. AKB, p417, 14: avastukAstuh klezAh na zakyAH parihartuM sarvatra-gANAM sakala-svabhUmi-AlambanatvAt / SaMghabhadra explains that this is because humans in these three continents are of strong and sharp nature. (also see T29n1562,p750b13-14 )
  22. T29n1562,p750b15-16:
  23. T27n1545, p899a07-12
  24. T27n1545, p898b23-c25
  25. T27n1545, p898c26-899a-6
  26. T29, p752b