Points of Controversy

4.6. Of becoming “The Enlightened” (Buddha) through Enlightenment (Bodhi).

Controverted Point: That through Enlightenment on becomes “The Enlightened.”

Theravādin: If it is in virtue of “enlightenment” that one becomes “The Enlightened,” then it follows that, in virtue of the cessation, suspension, subsidence of enlightenment, he ceases to be The Enlightened—this you deny, but you imply it.

Or is one The Enlightened only in virtue of past enlightenment? Of course you deny this—then my previous point holds. If you assent, do you mean that one who is The Enlightened exercises the work of enlightenment by that past enlightenment only? If you assent, you imply that he understands Suffering, puts away its cause, realizes its cessation, develops the Eightfold Path thereto, by that past enlightenment—which is absurd.

Substitute for “past,” “future” enlightenment, and the same argument applies.

Let us assume that one is called The Enlightened through present enlightenment: if you assert that he exercises the work of enlightenment through present enlightenment, you must also affirm by analogy that if he is called The Enlightened through past, or through future enlightenment, it is by that that he understands Suffering, puts away its cause, and so on—which you deny.

For if an enlightened person, so-called in virtue of past, or of future enlightenment, does not exercise the work of enlightenment, through one or the other respectively, then by analogy one who is enlightened by present enlightenment does not exercise enlightenment through that present enlightenment—which is absurd.

Do you then affirm that one is called The Enlightened through past, present, and future enlightenment? Then are there three enlightenments? If you deny, your affirmation by the foregoing cannot stand. If you assent, you imply that he, being continually, constantly, uninterruptedly gifted with and intent through three enlightenments, these three are simultaneously present to him—which you of course deny.

Uttarapāthakas: But surely one who is called The Enlightened, is one who has acquired enlightenment? How is my proposition wrong?

Theravādin: You assume that one is called The Enlightened from having acquired enlightenment, or by enlightenment—is enlightenment the same as the acquiring of enlightenment?