Four Types of Learners

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    • #48122
      Gad
      Participant

      The descriptions of these four types of learners are in the comments. This is not explained in detail in the suttas. However, it is based on the Brahmāyācana Sutta. This is explicitly mentioned in Ugghaṭitaññū Sutta. The simile of the lotus is found in the Brahmāyācanasutta.

      • It’s like a pool with blue water lilies or pink or white lotuses. Some of them sprout and grow in the water without rising above it, thriving underwater. Some of them sprout and grow in the water reaching the water’s surface. Some of them sprout and grow in the water but rise above the water and stand with no water clinging to them. In the same way, the Buddha saw sentient beings with little dust in their eyes and some with much dust in their eyes, with keen faculties, and with weak faculties, with good qualities and with bad qualities, easy to teach and hard to teach. And some of them lived to see the danger in the fault to do with the next world, while others did not.

      The Four Types:

      Uggaṭitaññū: The lotuses that were born in water and having reached the surface of the water, grow out of water and are not polluted by it. 2. Vipacitaññū:The lotuses which are born in water and which reach the surface of the water. 3. Neyya: The lotuses that are born in water, grow in water, and, without leaving the water, thrive in the water. However, in the Ugghaṭitaññūsutta a fourth type of person is also mentioned. 4. Padaparama: The lotuses which are born in water, grow in water, and, without leaving the water, they die in the water.

      • The first type of person, (uggaṭitaññū ), is a person who can awaken by simply listening to condensed instruction. VenerableArahant Sariputta Arahant Maha Mogallana, and lay Arahant Santati are examples. They became sotāpanna (In the case of the lay Santati, he became an Arahant by listening to a condensed verse. In the suttas, many people have attained magga phala by listening to condensed instructions. These people have put in a lot of effort in their past lives. They have often been monks or lay people in the sasanas of the Lord Buddhas of the past. They developed the ten paramis relentlessly. This is why they only needed to listen to a simple verse from Lord Gautama or one of his disciples to attain magga phala. The comments say they accumulate four causes: 1. Mastery of writing (pariyatti) They studied and became masters in the Dhamma writings; 2. Listening (savana) They listened attentively and respectfully to the Dhamma explained, about many, many past lives; 3. The investigation (paripuccha) They examined and discussed the passages and explanations difficult in the texts and their comments; 4. The preliminary effort (pubbayoga) They engaged in the practice of samatha-vipassanā until Knowledge of Equanimity towards Formations (saṅkhārupekkhā ñāṇa) during the dispensations (sasana) of the Lord Buddhas. They appear when the Lord Buddha is in the world.
      • The second type of person (vipacitaññū ) is a person who needs detailed instructions. The first 5 disciples of Lord Buddha and the Venerable Arahant Bahiya are examples. We find a lot of it in the suttas.
      • The third type of person (neyya) is a person who cannot be accomplished by simply listening to condensed instructions or details. Rather, by practicing morality training (sīla), training in concentration (samādhi), and training in sagacity (paññā) step by step, systematically, they can achieve the Four Noble Truths and Nibbāna. This kind of person can still be found today. As long as the Sasana last and the last jati sotāpanna has not passed away in the human world(I specified the human world because there will always be Ariyas among the Brahmas or the devas.), this type of person will be present in the world. To realize Nibbāna, a neyya person needs to learn the suttas, discuss the passages and explanations difficult in the texts and their comments, and remember what they studied. They should associate with one or more good friends and they must practice meditation. They should strive to maintain good sila (morality).
      • The fourth type of person (padaparama) is a person whose highest achievement is an intellectual understanding of Dhamma texts. Even if such people practice training morality (sīla), training in concentration (samādhi), and training in sagacity (paññā) step by step, systematically, and even after listening to condensed and detailed instructions, they are unable to realize the Four Noble Truths and see Nibbāna in this very life. All their effort is a support for their future achievement. These types of people are either bodhisattas, paccekabodhisattas, future arahant disciples of a Buddha Lord, or neyya person in the making. They accumulate supplies for Nibbāna. Despite being puthujunas they very rarely fall into the apayas. They are puthujunas of goodwill who work for Nibbāna unlike other puthujunas mired in samsara. Queen Mallika is an example. She was not a sotāpanna but she understood the teachings of Lord Buddha very well. She only spent 7 days in Niraya before being reborn in Tusita paradise. The suttas do not say whether she became sotāpanna. But she will probably become one either during her life as a devi or in the distant future.

      Each of us right now (those who strive to understand the Dhamma) belong to one of those categories. Categories 1 and 2 often appear when a Lord Buddha is around. Apart from these four types, are the puthujunas completely mired in the ten samyojanas. They commit all sorts of actions that keep them in the Apayas for kappas. They are unaware of the opportunity for freedom even when the Lord Buddha is there. These explanations helped me understand that it is sometimes futile to try to engage in debates with people who are ignorant of the Dhamma. If some people express resistance, it is better to stop. Those who are open will understand one day. Only a Lord Buddha can see what is right for each of us. All of us on this forum are at different levels of understanding. Some have reached magga phala, others have not. However, in the end, each of our efforts towards Nibbāna will be rewarded, no matter how many lives it takes. One should never stop developing the 10 Paramīs and trying to understand the key concepts as much as possibleWe can see those of the 1, 2, and 3 types were people of the 4 types and even lower at the beginning!! One has to start somewhere! 

      (I took some of the explanations from Venerable Bhikkhu Revata’s sermons. Unfortunately, the source is in French, so I cannot post it here. However, if some people still want I can send the PDF documents and the persons will translate them. Some explanations come from my understanding. I might say something wrong, correct me if it seems contradictory to the Dhamma. I put my personal statements in red. The last paragraph in bold is from me, too.)

      • This topic was modified 3 weeks, 1 day ago by Gad.
      • This topic was modified 3 weeks, 1 day ago by Lal.
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    • #48125
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Excellent essay. Thank you, Gad.

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      Gad
    • #48126
      dosakkhayo
      Participant

      Gad said: “These explanations helped me understand that it is sometimes futile to try to engage in debates with people who are ignorant of the Dhamma. If some people express resistance, it is better to stop.”

      Very true! It is good to hear because I’ve been struggling with this problem recently. Thank Gad for writing a great essay!

      • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 1 day ago by dosakkhayo.
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      Gad
    • #48130
      Gad
      Participant

      Thank you, Sir Lal🙏🏿. Thank you, Dosakkhayo! It’s common to feel the need to share our knowledge of Dhamma with others, but it’s important to consider the situation.

      • If those around us hold strong beliefs that conflict with our own, it may be best to avoid discussing these topics with them. This is especially true since most people are not one of the four types of learners and may not be receptive to our ideas.
      • When we say that something may do more harm than good, we mean that it could turn someone away from Dhamma and even cause them to discourage others from learning about it. This would lead to negative consequences in the future, as exemplified by the story of Dusi Mara, a past life of Venerable Maha Mogallana, who suffered in Niraya for disturbing the sangha. The story of Cunda the Pig Butcher also illustrates this point – Lord Gautama did not teach Dhamma to him, as he would have likely resisted and insulted Lord Buddha, which would have been worse.

      It’s important to understand that insulting an ariya can lead to serious kammic consequences. 

      • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 1 day ago by Gad.
    • #48137
      Sammasambodhi Gami
      Participant

      Dear friend Gad, thanks for the essay. However, I disagree with what you highlighted in red. 

      Here is my understanding:

      When Sahampati Brahma made the request of teaching the Dhamma to Lord Buddha, then the Omniscient One surveyed the world with his “Buddha cakkhus” (supernatural eyes of a Samma Sambuddha). After surveying, Lord Buddha saw different types of beings in the sugati (humans, devas, brahmas).

      They can be compared to four kinds of lotuses:

      (1) The lotuses which are above the water and will bloom forth that very day.

      (2) The lotuses which are at the surface of the water and will bloom forth after few days.

      (3) The lotuses which are submerged in water and will bloom forth after many days or months.

      (4) The lotuses which will not bloom, as they are diseased and will become food for fishes and tortoises.

       

      (1) refers to “Ugghatitannu puggalas” who have higher levels of spiritual faculties (indriyas) – Saddha, Viriya, Sati, Samadhi, Panna, and CAN realise the Dhamma even if taught in a brief verse by a Noble Person.

      (2) refers to “Vipancitannu puggalas” who have intermediate levels of Saddha, Viriya, Sati, Samadhi, Panna faculties and CAN realise the Dhamma if taught and explained in detail by a Noble Person.

      (3) refers to “Neyya puggalas” who have lower levels of Saddha, Viriya, Sati, Samadhi, Panna faculties and CAN realise the Dhamma if they are explained in detail by a Noble Person (after developing and training their minds for weeks, months or years).

      (4) refers to “Padaparama puggalas” who have very low levels of Saddha, Viriya, Sati, Samadhi, Panna faculties and CAN NOT realise the Dhamma no matter how much they are taught and explained.

      Category (1), (2), (3) are the beings with “tihetuka patisandhi” (born with the three roots of alobha, adosa, amoha).

      Category (4) are the beings with “dvihetuka patisandhi” and “ahetuka patisandhi”. Hence they CAN NOT attain magga phala in this bhava (but they CAN accumulate merits for getting the “hetu”/causes for attaining magga phala in future lives).

       

      Now coming to the Bodhisattvas, Paccekabodhisattvas, and the future great disciples of Lord Buddha. They have different levels of  five spiritual faculties (Saddha, Viriya, Sati, Samadhi, Panna) depending on their journey/stages. If they are in the initial or intermediate stages, they have low or intermediate levels of Saddha, Viriya, Sati, Samadhi, Panna respectively. If they are in advanced or mature stages, they have high levels of Saddha, Viriya, Sati, Samadhi, Panna. 

      Bodhisattvas are special beings, they CAN NOT be put in the category of “padaparama puggalas” (4).

      It is mentioned in Buddhavamsa (Khuddaka Nikaya) that at the time of Lord Buddha Dipankara, our Bodhisattva was born as an ascetic (yogi) named Sumedha.  He had mastered all the rupa jhanas and arupa samapattis and had also developed abhinna powers.

      He already had high levels of Saddha, Viriya, Sati, Samadhi, Panna… so much so that he could become an Arahant just by listening to a few verses of Dhamma (if he wished to apply his mind in that direction). But his aspiration was to become a future Samma Sambuddha. So even though he had the “hetu” to attain magga phala, but he could not attain magga phala even if he listened to Dhamma. This is because his aspirations (kammic energy of Bodhisattva) is preventing/blocking him from attaining magga phala.

      I hope you understand the difference.

      Here is an artistic image of ascetic Sumedha paying homage to the Lord Buddha Dipankara and the Maha Sangha.

      Sumedhas-aspirations

       

      • #48142
        Gad
        Participant

        “Thank you, my friend Sammasambodhi. I forgot to mention that the ascetic Sumedha could have become an arahant during the time of Lord Dipankara. However, he chose to give up this opportunity to become Lord Buddha Gautama.

        • We both agree that one must start somewhere to become a Lord Buddha, a disciple, or a Paccekabuddha. To become one of these, an individual must have been a padaparama person in the sasanas of the past. King Ajatasattu and Devadatta are examples of individuals who understood the Dhamma very well. Lord Gautama said that if Ajatasattu had not committed anantariya karma, he would have become a Sotāpanna. However, he will become a Paccekabuddha after his sentence in the Nirayas. Devadatta will also become a Paccekabuddha. The layman Arahant Santati understood the Dhamma during the time of Lord Buddha Vipassi, which was 91 Maha kappas ago. Santati, who was a messenger of Lord Vipassi, explained the Dhamma to others. It took him 91 eons to achieve Nibbāna. As a padaparama, he developed all the faculties necessary to become a type 1 person (Ugghatitannu). He is one of the rare lay arahants and he understood the Dhamma in just a few verses.”
        • The point is that we all have to start somewhere, in this infinite Samsara. Before our bodhisatta received his first confirmation there was no guarantee that he would become a Lord Buddha. Don’t forget, many make this wish but few succeed. Those who give up become arahants very quickly with great teaching abilities. It is safe to say that he was a Padaparama person. He met 24 Lord Buddhas and countless numbers before his journey. Those of the first and second types were padaparama.
        • This also makes sense when reading the story of Jotipāla. Jotipāla was our bodhisatta during the time of Lord Buddha Kassapa. He became a monk under the dispensations but did not attain any fruit of Magga phala. He didn’t even know he was a bodhisatta until Lord Kassapa said so. He was a padaparama person who accumulated the 10 paramis to become a Lord Buddha. Some are bodhisattas and don’t even know it. They make trial and error. He even insulted Lord Kassapa. A bodhisatta is not that perfect either. He is still a Puthujuna subject to the apayas. We see many jatakas where he was an animal. Of course, it doesn’t fall as much as a regular puthujunas.
        • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 1 day ago by Gad.
    • #48144
      Gad
      Participant

      Let us not forget that Venerable Maha Mogallana became an arahant in one week and Venerable Sariputta took two weeks.

      • However, Venerable Sariputta is the first in wisdom among all the disciples of Lord Gautama. Can we say that Venerable Maha Mogallana has higher spiritual faculties than Venerable Sariputta?? Arahant Santati was sad after the death of his dancer, and was returning from war when he saw Lord Buddha, and a few moments later he realized Nibbāna by listening to a simple verse. Can we say that his spiritual faculties were higher than Venerable Sariputta and Venerable Maha Mogallana?? I believe it is more prudent to stick to Venerable Revatta’s explanation about the 4 types of people rather than speaking in terms of faculties (indriya). I don’t think someone who has a high level of Panna, sati, and samadhi would indulge in alcohol and sensual pleasures easily. Not that your description is completely wrong, friend Sammasambodhi, but that of Venerable Revatta is better suited. 
      • Venerable Maha Mogallana is the highest in terms of Samadhi among these three arahants. His faculty of Samadhi was superior. He became an arahant by developing all the jhanas. Venerable Sariputta became an arahant by listening to a discourse. His wisdom surpassed all others after Lord Buddha. The layman Arahant Santati became an arahant by listening to a discourse and he developed all the abhinnas. In terms of Silā, they are all equal and an arahant will never break any of the precepts. However, before they reached magga phala they had different degrees. Minister Santati was returning from a war. He probably killed and then indulged in alcohol. He did not have high faculties. Sariputta and Maha Mogallana before meeting Lord Buddha were yogis who had renounced their wealth for the search for Nibbāna. It is safe to say that they did not have the same faculties at all, yet they are the first type of people. Santati had a very low sila compared to Maha Mogallana and Sariputta.
      • What is certain is that all three of these arahants are of the first type of person. Venerable Maha Mogallana and Sariputta became sotāpanna by listening to a verse and the layman Santati became arahant with all the abhinnas by listening to a few lines of Lord Buddha. Each of us has different levels of faculties but the 1st and 2nd types of people appear only when a Lord Buddha is in the world, according to the commentaries. Today we are either in the 3 or 4 types with different levels of Silā, Samadhi, and Pānna. This is why it is a little incorrect to speak in terms of faculties.
      • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 1 day ago by Gad.
      • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 1 day ago by Gad.
    • #48148
      Sammasambodhi Gami
      Participant

      Everyone has their own level of understanding. 

      I can give more explanations but I don’t want to get involved in debates and arguments. This is why I refrain from posting comments on the forum. 

      If you agree with the explanation then okay, if you disagree then also its fine. 

      Ultimately, the final destination is Nibbana anyway. 

      So rather than getting into debates and arguments we should focus on removing Raga, Dosa, Moha from our minds (by developing the 37 factors of Enlightenment).

      Theruwan Saranai. 

    • #48155
      Gad
      Participant

      You can give more explanations my friend, I may be missing an important point and my explanation may be very incorrect without me knowing it. Otherwise, yes, as you said the ultimate goal is Nibbāna regardless of the points of view, it is important to get rid of the three poisons which are Moha, Lobha, and Dosa. No matter our level of understanding our efforts towards Nibbāna are not in vain. I remember you saying you wanted to become a Lord Buddha. May your noble wish come true as quickly as possible, my friend🙏🏿.

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    • #48157
      Lal
      Keymaster

      I don’t think this discussion helps much. 

      • The suttas that Gad quoted in his initial post provide the essential sutta text. 
      • The interpretation of some terms could be subjective, i.e., depends on one’s views.
      • But I think his original post provides a good description of the “four types of learners.”
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    • #48163
      Sammasambodhi Gami
      Participant

      Thanks dear Dhamma friend Gad for your humble gesture. I really appreciate your open mindedness! You have a rare quality which is not easily found in today’s generation people. Sadhu Sadhu 🙏

      Let us not get entangled in “viewpoints”. We can have different perspectives or viewpoints but our Ultimate goal is Nibbana (i.e., removal of Raga, Dosa, Moha from our minds). So let’s work together and help each other to move in that direction.

      Let’s set aside our big “ego” and conceit and focus on our efforts towards Nibbana.

      And thank you so much for your best wishes. Yes, my aspiration is same as that of ascetic Sumedha (to become a Samma Sambuddha in the future).

      May the blessings of the Noble Triple Gem be with you dear friend. 

      May all sentient beings realise the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana 🙏🙏🙏

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    • #48165
      Gad
      Participant

      Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu 🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿

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