Points of Controversy

4.8. Of entering on the Path of Assurance

Controverted Point: That the Bodhisatta had entered on the Path of Assurance and conformed to the life therein during the dispensation of Kassapa Buddha.

Theravādin: If so, our Bodhisatta must have been a disciple—i.e., one in the Ariyan Way—of Kassapa Buddha. You deny. For if you assent, you must admit that he became Buddha after his career as disciple. Moreover, a disciple is one who learns through information from others, while a Buddha is self-developed.

Further, if the Bodhisatta became Kassapa’s disciple, entering on the first Path and Fruit, it follows that there were only three stages of fruition for him to know thoroughly when under the Bodhi Tree. But we believe that all four were then realized.

Further, would one who had entered on the Path of Assurance as a disciple have undergone the austerities practised by the Bodhisatta in his own last life? And would such an one point to others as his teachers and practise their austerities, as did the Bodhisatta in his last life?

Do we learn that, as the Venerable Ānanda, and the householder Citta and Hatthaka the Āḷavakan entered into Assurance and lived its higher life as disciples under the Exalted One, so the Exalted One himself, as Bodhisatta, acted under Kassapa Buddha? You deny, of course. If they did so enter, under the Exalted One, as his disciples, you cannot affirm that the Bodhisatta entered on the Path of Assurance, and lived its higher life under Kassapa Buddha without being his disciple. Or can a disciple who has evolved past one birth become a nondisciple afterwards? You deny, of course.

Andhakas and Uttarapāthakas: But if our proposition is wrong, is there not a Suttanta in which the Exalted One said:

“Under the Exalted One Kassapa, Ānanda, I lived the higher life for supreme enlightenment in the future.”

Theravādin: But is there not a Suttanta in which the Exalted One said:

“All have I overcome., all things I know,
Among all things I am undefiled.
Renouncing all, released in the end of craving
Through my own direct knowledge: whom should I point to?

“I have no teacher
No equal to me is known.
In this world with its gods
There is no counterpart for me.

“I am an an Arahant in the world,
I am the unexcelled Teacher;
Alone I am the fully Enlightened Buddha,
I have become cool, extinguished.

“Now go I on to the city of Kāsī,
To roll forth the Wheel of Dhamma.
In a world in struck blind,
I sound the Drum of the Deathless.”

“According to what you say, friend, you must be an Arahant, the Infinte Victor.”

“Those like me are indeed Victors,
Those who have attained the ending of defilements.
I have defeated all bad qualities,
Therefore, Upaka, I am the Victor.”

And is there not a Suttanta in which the Exalted One said:

“O bhikkhus, it was concerning things unlearnt before that vision, insight, understanding, wisdom, light arose in me at the thought of the Ariyan Truth of the nature and fact of Suffering, and that this Truth was to be understood, and was understood by me. It was concerning things unlearnt before that vision, insight, understanding, wisdom, light arose in me at the thought of the Ariyan Truth as to the Cause of Suffering, and that this Truth was concerning something to be put away, and was put away by me. It was concerning things unlearnt before that vision, insight, understanding, wisdom, light arose in me at the thought of the Ariyan Truth as to the Cessation of Suffering, and that this Truth was concerning something to be realized, and was realized by me. It was concerning things unlearnt before that vision, insight, “understanding, wisdom, light arose in me at the thought of the Ariyan Truth as to the Course leading to the cessation of Suffering, and that this truth was to be developed, and was developed by me.”

How then can you say that the Bodhisatta entered on the Path of Assurance and lived the higher life thereof as far back as the age of Kassapa Buddha?