Does a Buddha say to himself “I have obtained Perfect Enlightenment?”

Buddha then asked, “What do you think, Subhuti, does one who has entered the stream which flows to Enlightenment, say ‘I have entered the stream’?”

“No, Buddha,”  Subhuti replied. “A true disciple entering the stream would not think of themselves as a separate person that could be entering anything. Only that disciple who does not differentiate themselves from others, who has no regard for name, shape, sound, odor, taste, touch or for any quality can truly be called a disciple who has entered the stream.”

Buddha continued, “Does a disciple who is subject to only one more rebirth say to himself, ‘I am entitled to the honors and rewards of a Once-to-be-reborn’?”

“No, Lord. ‘Once-to-be-reborn’ is only a name. There is no passing away, or coming into, existence. Only one who realizes this can really be called a disciple.”

“Subhuti, does a venerable One who will never more be reborn as a mortal say to himself, ‘I am entitled to the honor and rewards of a Non-returner’?”

“No, Perfectly Enlightened One. A ‘Non-returner’ is merely a name. There is actually no one returning and no one not-returning.”

“Tell me, Subhuti. Does a Buddha say to himself, ‘I have obtained Perfect Enlightenment’?”

“No, Lord. There is no such thing as Perfect Enlightenment to obtain. If a Perfectly Enlightened Buddha were to say to himself, ‘I am enlightened’ he would be admitting there is an individual person, a separate self and personality, and would therefore not be a Perfectly Enlightened Buddha.

Subhuti then said, “Most Honored One! You have said that I, Subhuti, excel amongst thy disciples in knowing the bliss of Enlightenment, in being perfectly content in seclusion, and in being free from all passions. Yet I do not say to myself that I am so, for if I ever thought of myself as such then it would not be true that I escaped ego delusion. I know that in truth there is no Subhuti and therefore Subhuti abides nowhere, that he neither knows nor does he not know bliss, and that he is neither free from nor enslaved by his passions.”

Diamond Sutra
Chapter 9

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About Steven Goodheart

"I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them." Spinoza

2 Responses to “Does a Buddha say to himself “I have obtained Perfect Enlightenment?””

  1. It’s all about the “me”. Who is there to be anything ? Love it ! Great post. Can’t go wrong with the Pali Canon. – dn

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. What the Buddha Said about Purity of Heart and the Grasping Self | Metta Refuge - 2011/09/08

    […] This passage from the Sutta Nipata of the Pali canon has very special place in many Buddhist hearts.  To me, the teaching is closely related to the beloved passage from the 9th Chapter of  the great Mahayana Diamond Sutra that I recently posted:  See: “Does a Buddha say to himself ‘I have obtained Perfect Enlightenment?‘” […]

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