Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera
through Arahantahood is not selfish.
Buddhists believe to seek salvation by becoming an Arahant is a selfish
motive; because everyone, they claim, must try to become a Buddha in order
to save others. This particular belief has absolutely no ground in the
Teaching of the Buddha. The Buddha never mentioned that He wanted to save
every living being in this whole universe. He offered His help only to
those who were spiritually matured and willing to accept His Noble Way of
'The doors to the deathless are
Let those who will hear leave wrong doctrine
'Now shall I turn the Wheel of the Great Law,
For this I go to the Kasian city.
There shall I beat the drum of deathlessness
In this world that is groping in the dark.'
(Ariya pariyesana Sutta - Majjhima Nikaya).
The belief that everyone
must strive to become a Buddha in order to attain salvation cannot be
found in the original Teachings of the Buddha. This belief is just like
asking every person to become a doctor in order to cure other people and
himself of diseases. This advice is most impractical. If people want to
cure themselves of their sicknesses they can get medical advice from a
qualified doctor. This they can do without waiting until they are all
doctors before curing themselves. Nor is there any need for each and every
person to be a doctor. If everyone becomes a doctor, who are going to be
their patients? In the same way if everyone is going to become Buddhas,
who is going to save whom?
Of course, those who wish
to become doctors can do so. But they must have intelligence, courage and
the means to study medicine. Likewise, it is not compulsory for everyone
to become a Buddha to find his salvation. Those who wish to become Buddhas
can do so. However, they need the courage and knowledge to sacrifice their
comforts and practice all kinds of renunciations in order to attain
Buddhahood. Others can be content to be healthy.
To attain Arahantahood,
one has to eradicate all greed and selfishness. This implies that while
relating with others, an Arahant will act with compassion and try to
inspire others to go on the Path leading to Liberation. He is the living
proof of the good results that accrue to a person who follows the method
taught by the Buddha. The attainment of Nibbana is not possible if one
acts with a selfish motive. Therefore, it is baseless to say that striving
to become an Arahant is a selfish act.
Buddhahood is indisputably
the best and the noblest of all the three ideals (Supreme Buddha, Silent
Buddha and Arahant). But not everyone is capable of achieving this highest
ideal. Surely all scientists cannot be Einsteins and Newtons. There must
be room for lesser scientists who nevertheless help the world according to
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