Brian

Jivanmuktas and Bodhisattvas

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I was recently introduced, in another thread, to the Jivanmukta (thanks, dwai!) and a cursory examination (mainly perusing Wikipedia for a few minutes) suggests some parallels with the Bodhisattva -- but not a one-to-one match.

 

Being completely unfamiliar with the former until a few days ago, I am hoping some Bum (or more than one) will take a few minutes to compare & contrast these two.

 

Thanks in advance!

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The differences between the two are pretty significant if you just look at the texts describing them.  With a Jivanmuka, it is described in the Naradaparivrajaka Upanishad, as a liberated individual who:

  • he is not bothered by disrespect and endures cruel words, treats others with respect regardless of how others treat him;
  • when confronted by an angry person he does not return anger, instead replies with soft and kind words;
  • even if tortured, he speaks and trusts the truth;
  • he does not crave for blessings or expect praise from others;
  • he never injures or harms any life or being (ahimsa), he is intent in the welfare of all beings;
  • he is as comfortable being alone as in the presence of others;
  • he is as comfortable with a bowl, at the foot of a tree in tattered robe without help, as when he is in a mithuna (union of mendicants), grama (village) and nagara (city);
  • he doesn‚Äôt care about or wear sikha (tuft of hair on the back of head for religious reasons), nor the holy thread across his body. To him, knowledge is sikha, knowledge is the holy thread, knowledge alone is supreme. Outer appearances and rituals do not matter to him, only knowledge matters;
  • for him there is no invocation nor dismissal of deities, no mantra nor non-mantra, no prostrations nor worship of gods, goddess or ancestors, nothing other than knowledge of Self;
  • he is humble, high spirited, of clear and steady mind, straightforward, compassionate, patient, indifferent, courageous, speaks firmly and with sweet words.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jivanmukta

 

One who is beyond issues like personal desire and has dropped emotions like "anger". While great bodhisattvas shake worlds with their spiritual powers and stick around to help by using there (now) "practical knowledge of equally saving all sentient beings".

 

From the Avatamsaka Sutra...

Great bodhisattvas have no attachment to Buddha and do not develop attachments; 
they have no attachment to the teachings and do not develop attachments; they have 
no attachment to lands and do not develop attachments; they have no attachments 
to sentient beings and do not develop attachments. They do not see that there are 
sentient beings, yet they carry on educational activity, civilizing and teaching ways 
of liberation; they do not give up the practices of bodhisattvas with great compassion 
and great commitment. Seeing buddhas and hearing their teachings, they act accordingly; 
trusting the buddhas they plant roots of goodness, ceaselessly honoring and serving them. 

They are able to shake infinite worlds in the ten directions by spiritual powers; their minds are 
broad, being equal to the cosmos. They know various explanations of truth, they know how 
many sentient beings there are, they know the differences among sentient beings, they know 
the birth of suffering, they know the extinction of suffering; while knowing all acts are like reflected 
images, they carry out the deeds of bodhisattvas. They sever the root of all subjection to birth. 

They carry out practices of bodhisattvas for the sole purpose of saving sentient beings and yet 
do not practice anything. Conforming to the essential nature of all buddhas, they develop a mind 
like an immense mountain. They know all falsehood and delusion, and enter the door of omniscience. 
Their knowledge and wisdom are broad and vast and unshakable, due to the attainment of true enlightenment. This is the insight of practical knowledge of equally saving all sentient beings in the ocean of birth and death.

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Hello,

 

This is a good thread but it would be helpful to me and I am certain others also if there was a better idea of what each is in the first place.

 

At another thread http://www.thedaobums.com/topic/43199-gateway-to-limitless-being/page-7 

 

I asked the following but this seems a better place for the question.

 

 

What is a Buddha?

 

 

Jeff Replied But, to your Buddha question... A buddha is one who has fully realized "emptiness". In later buddhist traditions, they introduced the "vow" to help sentient beings realize as part of the highest realization.  Such a buddha it classic descriptions has three kayas (bodies at different layers of reality - the carved block in TTC 28) to help out and teach at the various levels of "reality".
 

 

I asked: Was Siddhartha from the book by Hermann Hesse the first Buddha?
 
It is a work of fiction but it sure did a good job of explaining the process of becoming a Buddha or so it seemed anyway. Have you read the book? Is that what a Buddha is?
 

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The differences between the two are pretty significant if you just look at the texts describing them.

 

<snip>

That's very helpful, Jeff. Thank you!

 

EDIT: Jeff's post trimmed for thread sanity.

Edited by Brian
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Hello,

 

This is a good thread but it would be helpful to me and I am certain others also if there was a better idea of what each is in the first place.

 

At another thread http://www.thedaobums.com/topic/43199-gateway-to-limitless-being/page-7 

 

I asked the following but this seems a better place for the question.

 

I asked: Was Siddhartha from the book by Hermann Hesse the first Buddha?

 

It is a work of fiction but it sure did a good job of explaining the process of becoming a Buddha or so it seemed anyway. Have you read the book? Is that what a Buddha is?

 

Sorry, I am not at all familiar with the book. Is the above definition regarding great bodhisavattas an approximation of what you may be looking for? Not sure what you mean by the question.

 

Thanks.

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I was recently introduced, in another thread, to the Jivanmukta (thanks, dwai!) and a cursory examination (mainly perusing Wikipedia for a few minutes) suggests some parallels with the Bodhisattva -- but not a one-to-one match.

 

Being completely unfamiliar with the former until a few days ago, I am hoping some Bum (or more than one) will take a few minutes to compare & contrast these two.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

A jivanamukta is one who is liberated while in the body and alive (Free from Jivahood).

Etymology - Jiva - Living Being, Mukta - Free.

The other option wrt. liberation in this context is to attain videha mukti - ie. liberation upon death.

Etymology - Videha - Vi - without, Deha - Body, Mukti - Liberation/freedom.

 

So what is the Liberation? It is freedom from opposites, positions, suffering and re-incarnation. This is the primary goal of dharma. 

 

There are no bodhisattvas in Hindu dharma. There are avatars - who are incarnations of God/Brahman who are already fully liberated, but take human form to guide people towards the right direction. 

Jivanamuktas may or may not choose to help others seek liberation voluntarily. However, since they are free already, their very presence can help others get liberated, if the conditions are satisfied -- i.e. the "others" have ripened karmically (so to speak). Then the jivanamukta's grace (none other than that of Ishvara) will liberate them too.

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[...]I asked: Was Siddhartha from the book by Hermann Hesse the first Buddha?

 

It is a work of fiction but it sure did a good job of explaining the process of becoming a Buddha or so it seemed anyway. Have you read the book? Is that what a Buddha is?

 

Haven't read it, but judging by parts of the wikipedia summary: "Siddhartha does not follow, claiming that the Buddha's philosophy, though supremely wise, does not account for the necessarily distinct experiences of each person. [...] Siddhartha realizes that time is an illusion and that all of his feelings and experiences, even those of suffering, are part of a great and ultimately jubilant fellowship of all things connected in the cyclical unity of nature. [...] Siddhartha replies that for every true statement there is an opposite one that is also true; [...]  Siddhartha simply urges people to identify and love the world in its completeness."

 

-Siddhartha from the book isn't Siddhartha Gotama (the Buddha). They are different people with different understandings.

-Buddhism deals with the fundamental structures of experience, so while people do have distinct experiences and need to adjust their practice accordingly, all experience follows the same framework (as ice and steam and water are all H2O).

-Whether or not time, as a metaphysical thing, is an illusion, is irrelevant. The experience of things arising, changing and ceasing is real.

-'Ultimately jubilant fellowship of all things' contradicts the first noble truth.

-The opposite of a true statement is false. 

-Loving sentient beings is good, but 'loving the world in its completeness' sounds like attachment to an idea of a mystical Absolute sort of thing.

 

By all accounts it's a cool book, but I wouldn't consider it Buddhist teaching.

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A jivanamukta is one who is liberated while in the body and alive (Free from Jivahood).

Etymology - Jiva - Living Being, Mukta - Free.

The other option wrt. liberation in this context is to attain videha mukti - ie. liberation upon death.

Etymology - Videha - Vi - without, Deha - Body, Mukti - Liberation/freedom.

 

So what is the Liberation? It is freedom from opposites, positions, suffering and re-incarnation. This is the primary goal of dharma. 

 

There are no bodhisattvas in Hindu dharma. There are avatars - who are incarnations of God/Brahman who are already fully liberated, but take human form to guide people towards the right direction. 

Jivanamuktas may or may not choose to help others seek liberation voluntarily. However, since they are free already, their very presence can help others get liberated, if the conditions are satisfied -- i.e. the "others" have ripened karmically (so to speak). Then the jivanamukta's grace (none other than that of Ishvara) will liberate them too.

Thank you!

 

My first thought was that the Jivanmukta was a parallel to the Bodhisattva but then I realized there are some commonalities but some stark contrasts, too. You have helped with my understanding (and inspired some additional investigation!)

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Ah yes as pointed out in another thread the Siddhartha in the book met Gautama. Sorry it has been close to 30 years since I read the book. Wow 30 Years talk about something sticking with you! Great book!

 

But was not Gautama's original name Siddhartha? Did he not follow a similar route before his awakening? Did he not do great Sadhana, practicing harsh austerities which led him to the knowledge of the middle way?

 

I always thought the founder of the 8 noble truths was the first Buddha as with out his 8 noble truths there would not exist Buddhism.

 

Perhaps I am confused would someone please clear this up?

 

Thanks.

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Yeah the Buddha was called Siddhartha Gautama. He practiced (shamatha - concentration) meditation until he mastered advanced states of mind, the jhanas. He didn't become awakened, so then he tried harsh austerities instead. After giving up that (deciding on a 'middle way'), he combined concentration meditation with a new approach, vipassana (insight) meditation. Insight meditation showed him the four noble truths, and concentration meditation made his mind sharp enough to do that.

 

I always thought the founder of the 8 noble truths was the first Buddha as with out his 8 noble truths there would not exist Buddhism.

Perhaps I am confused would someone please clear this up?

Thanks.

 

I think you mean 'four noble truths', the last of which is the eightfold path. The Buddha did not create these, they are intrinsic to the way experience works - he discovered them. He wasn't necessarily the first being anywhere ever to discover them, nor did he claim to be.

 

'Buddhism' wouldn't exist without the Buddha, but that which it describes (Dharma) would still be true. Someone else could've found the exact same things, and used different terminology and expressed themselves differently. 

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Yeah the Buddha was called Siddhartha Gautama. He practiced (shamatha - concentration) meditation until he mastered advanced states of mind, the jhanas. He didn't become awakened, so then he tried harsh austerities instead. After giving up that (deciding on a 'middle way'), he combined concentration meditation with a new approach, vipassana (insight) meditation. Insight meditation showed him the four noble truths, and concentration meditation made his mind sharp enough to do that.

 

 

 

I think you mean 'four noble truths', the last of which is the eightfold path. The Buddha did not create these, they are intrinsic to the way experience works - he discovered them. He wasn't necessarily the first being anywhere ever to discover them, nor did he claim to be.

 

'Buddhism' wouldn't exist without the Buddha, but that which it describes (Dharma) would still be true. Someone else could've found the exact same things, and used different terminology and expressed themselves differently.

 

Thank you for clearing up many misunderstandings. What is insight meditation? How is it performed?

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Thank you for clearing up many misunderstandings. What is insight meditation? How is it performed?

So in Buddhism there's two main branches of meditation - shamatha (for training the mind to be clear/concentrated/calm/etc) and vipassana (for gaining insight into the four noble truths). Both are necessary: shamatha (as well as being great in itself) makes the mind better suited to doing vipassana well.

 

Shamatha basically involves placing attention on an object such as the breath, and bringing it back when it wanders.

 

In vipassana, you observe experience closely and objectively. Moment-to-moment, what's going on? Really it's incredibly simple, so simple it might seem pointless, though it's not always easy. As you investigate (by looking, not intellectual reasoning) you see that things are impermanent, arising and ceasing rapidly. You see that things are not self, or owned by one. You can get to see the four noble truths.

 

One method of vipassana which is fairly popular is 'noting', where you apply a short label to things to help you see them in the most objective, simple sort of way, without spinning any extra ideas. Hear a sound - 'hearing'. Headache - 'pain'. Feel bored and frustrated and want to do something else - 'boredom', 'desire'.

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It is truly amazing how often things are discovered and applied with different labels, in different cultures and traditions.

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