The 10 Qualities of Buddhahood
Buddha was an embodiment of the greatest virtues; a lover of freedom and a lover of mankind. He never accepted followers, only fellow travellers. He is considered the ninth avatar of Lord Vishnu, Hinduism’s supreme god of Dharma and preserver of the Universe.
Gautama Buddha's magnanimous qualities are well known across the world and are mentioned in important texts such as the “Tipitaka: The Pali Canon” or the “Forty Methods of Samatha Bhavana” in the ancient Pali language:
“Itipi So Bhagava Araham Sammasambuddho Vijja-Carana-Sampanno Sugato Lokovidu Anuttaro Purisa Damma-Sarathi Sattha Deva-Manussanam Buddho Bhagavathi”
“Such indeed is the great Araham, flawless and worthy of reverence; Sammasambuddho, all-knowing; Vijjacaranasampanno, endowed with higher knowledge and great conduct; Sugato, well spoken; Lokovidu, wise in the knowledge of the worlds; Anuttaro Purisa-damma-sarathi, incomparable leader of men to be tamed; Sattha-Deva-Manussanam, teacher of gods and men; Buddho, enlightened and shower of the path to Enlightenment; Bhagavathi, Blessed.”
Countless people meditate on the virtues of Buddha each day as it is said by them the limitations of the mind are transcended leading one into Buddhahood.
1. Thus Come, Thus Gone; Tathagata.
In the Pali Canon, Buddha refers to himself as Tathagata rather than "me", "I" or "myself". Tathagata –"one who has thus come" or "one who has thus gone"– refers to one who is beyond all coming and going, and all transitory occurrences. A Tathagata, has conquered the mind and gone beyond the cycle of rebirth and death. Being free from the mind, the Tathagata has transcended space-time and is no longer subject to past, present and future.
2. The Accomplished One; Arahant.
An Arahant is someone who has abandoned the defilements or kilesas of greed, hatred, conceit and wrong view.
Gautama was considered the accomplished one because he liberated himself from the circle of life and death; thus becoming one who is worthy of receiving offerings and veneration. He withheld no secrets in his daily affairs or in his teachings.
Buddha eradicated that mental stream of negative thoughts which is present in all men; demolished his human reactions of anger, anxiety, hatred, frustration, stress, depression, ignorance, jealousy, gossip, attachment etc. from their very roots. Thus Buddha became an arahant, he who is free from all defilement and impurity - the accomplished one
3. The Perfectly Self- Enlightened; Sammasambuddha.
Gautama discovered the four Noble Truths through his own comprehension. He had learnt from two well-known spiritual masters of his time, both of which were so impressed by his prowess, they asked him to be their successor. Buddha felt his journey had only commenced and he was still too far from his goal. Feeling dissatisfied, he abandoned the path of traditional religious beliefs and practices and chose a middle path, of rational understanding and awareness. Through this path he discovered the solution to the universal problems of dissatisfaction, conflict and disappointment or dukkha and realised the law of Karma – Cause and Effect.
The extent of Buddha’s knowledge became prominent. Crowds would gather around him in hopes of receiving responses to their endless questions. He was able to answer every question he was asked by experts of diverse doctrines. Monarchs, monks, merchants, noblemen, or labourers; he never failed to provide satisfactory answers and solutions to all who questioned him. Thus he became known as Sammasambuddha, one who knows all there is to be known, both mundane and supra-mundane.
4. The One Endowed with Knowledge and Great Conduct; Vijjacaranaasampanno
Buddha was also known as a “Vijjacaranaasampanno” or the one gifted with Vijja - Higher knowledge and Carana - Great conduct. His basic twin virtues were wisdom and compassion from which stemmed all other virtues.
Vijja, higher knowledge is threefold and refers to:
- Knowledge collected from previous births
- Ability of seeing the death and rebirth of beings
- That knowledge which is capable of eradicating the defilements
Carana, great conduct is considered fifteen-fold and refers to:
- Restraining oneself with virtue
- Guarding the doors of the senses
- Moderation in eating
- Moderation in sleeping
- Developing unconditional faith
- Realizing the shame in committing evil actions
- Realizing the fear in committing evil actions
- Having an unlimited thirst for knowledge
- Maintaining high levels of energy
- Remaining aware at all times
- Establishing oneself in wisdom
- Achieving the four levels of concentration and understanding
5. The Well-gone One or The Well-spoken one; Sugato
Buddha’s compassion for sentient beings was renowned. He worked incessantly for the welfare and happiness of the entire world. He searched relentlessly for those who could be liberated from the circle of life and death and inspired them to follow the noble path through his inspiring words. He was a Sugato – a great speaker. His words were encouraging and infallible. He would always say the right thing at the right time; more importantly, he did what he said and he said what he did.
From the six different kinds of speech, Buddha spoke only two. The six kinds of speech are:
- That which is false, incorrect, unbeneficial, unwanted and displeasing to others.
- That which is true and correct, but unbeneficial, unwanted and displeasing to others.
- That which is true, correct and beneficial but unwanted and displeasing to others
- That which is false, incorrect and unbeneficial but wanted and pleasing to others
- That which is true, correct, wanted and pleasing but unbeneficial to others
- That which is true, correct, beneficial, wanted and pleasing to others
Of the six kinds of speech, Gautama would speak only the third and the sixth kinds; the ones which were true, correct and beneficial. Sugato also referred to the one who had been to the deathless state; he who had attained Nirvana.
6. The Knower of Worlds; Lokovidu
Buddha had mastered the three kinds of worlds: the world of beings, Sattaloka; the world of formations, Sankaraloka and the world of locations, Okasaloka.
All lives belong to the “world of beings”. Buddha understood the habits, tendencies and faculties of all living beings. Thus his knowledge of the “world of beings” was considered complete. He knew the workings of the world in all of its ways. When invited by a king, he would act according to royal traditions and customs. When invited by a humble man, he would discern his way of thinking. His penetrative knowledge would rapidly determine the skills, intelligence, habits, dispositions, desires and level of maturity of all those he met.
“The world of formations” refers to the impermanence of all mental and material qualities and names. Mastering the world of formations is achieved during the state of Nirvana, the very stage of Buddhahood.
Through his power of awareness, he discerned “the world of locations”. He was aware of distal planets, stars, satellites and universes. Conversely, he rarely emphasized such knowledge because he never regarded this knowledge as conductive to liberation.
7. The Incomparable Leader of Men to be Tamed; Anuttaro Purisadammasarathi
Buddha outshone all in the qualities of virtue, concentration, understanding, deliverance and wisdom. He was known to bring wayward men to the path of righteousness; such as the notorious murderer Angulimala or the masses of raiders and cannibals he encountered during his travels. Buddha brought everyone into the path of dharma with extreme courage. Even Devadatta, his arch-enemy was transformed by Gautama’s ceaseless compassion. All who came into his presence would become compliant at once and listen attentively. Thus he was reputed as the incomparable leader of men to be tamed.
8. The Teacher of Celestial and Human Beings; Sattha Deva-Manussanam
Buddha did not seek counsel, he relied solely on his inner knowledge and wisdom. He was proficient in devising spiritual techniques suited to the many different personalities he encountered. He was able to inspire anyone to lead a life of righteousness and was thus regarded the “Universal teacher of gods and men.”
9. The Enlightened One; Buddho
Through his incessant pursuit, Buddha discovered the four noble truths of suffering, the cause of suffering, cessation of suffering and the way leading to the cessation of suffering. The noble truths were the path which led him to enlightenment.
After intense Spiritual practice, he finally found the path leading to the cessation from suffering. He awakened from human delusion and achieved the state of enlightenment; thus he became “The enlightened one.”
One time, the householder Kevatta said to Buddha “if you were to demonstrate certain supernatural powers, many more people would join the path.” Buddha then explained Kevatta the three methods of winning people over:
- Iddhipatihariya: Winning over people by demonstrating supernatural powers.
- Adesanapatihariya: Winning over people by demonstrating knowledge of others’ minds.
- Anusasanipatihariya: Winning over people by explaining what is and isn’t righteous.
Buddha disregarded the first two methods. He was unrivalled in the method of Anusasanipatihariya. He became known as Buddho because he was able to lead people from the darkness of ignorance into the light of wisdom.
10. The Blessed One; Bhagava
Buddha was the happiest of souls. He was indeed the most fortunate amongst mankind, for he had managed to conquer the inherent evils of human personality by which he was bestowed the six great qualities of lordship, doctrine, fame, glory, wish and endeavor. Thus he was named, the blessed one.