Singapore DharmaNet Homepage


Subject: Bodhisattva
Date: 24 Sep 2002 12:44:20 -0400
From: Lee Sim Booy

Dear Sim Booy,

I hope these answers will help:

1) Bodhisattvas postpone their attainment of Buddhahood until all beings are liberated. However, it is said that no beings are liberated. Please explain what is meant by " no beings are liberated."

This is a famous Mahayana statement of non-self and emptiness, that is the highest reality. The ultimate aim of teaching Buddhism or learning Dharma, is to clarify and understand non-self. When one is enlightened, one realizes there is no self.

2) We believe that human beings will not regress into animal realm. However, it is mentioned in the Sacca Samyutta that human beings can regress as animals. Will you please give me your view.

According to Buddhism, rebirth goes both ways, up or down. There are some "Buddhists" who wrongly think that once we are humans, we will never fall into the animal world or lower. (This teaching is not found anywhere in the Buddha's teachings). As such, they think that no matter what evil they do, they would not fall lower than a human state. However, if we look around, we can see the brutal (animal) aspects even in human beings. In fact, the mental states of such people are sub-human if they are dominated by violence, lust, fear or ignorance..

3. The term " seer" means an immortal. He is mentioned as existing in the Six Realms of Existence in the Surangama Sutra. Please explain what does a seer do.

The term "seer" is a translation of the Sanskrit (or rishi), and Pali isi (as in Isipatana). It refers to a wise practitioner with some levels of spiritual attainment and power. Other than their wisdom and power, they are human beings. They are like the forest monks who shun the crowd and pleasure of lay life. They often give wise teachings.



Main Page | Biography of Webmaster | Introduction | What is Dharma | Questions and Answers
Links | Schedule of talks | Buddhist Articles | Sutra Study | Virtual Interfaith Dialogue | Sutta Translation

Webmaster Piya Tan
Email :