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The Arahant’s Mind

Vipassana Meditation Master Acharavadee Wongsakon

Since the birth of Buddhism, there has been doubt and speculation about the mind of an Arahant, a person who has reached the supreme equanimity of the mind. From what they heard and read in the Buddhist Scriptures, that person seems to be without feelings, without tears, or sorrow.

If I attain spiritual enlightenment, will I operate like a robot? It’s the question I hear very often. So, let me share with you, once again, an article about the subject I wrote about some time ago.

In the article called “Arahant’s Mind”, I wrote that a person who has attained Arahantship is free from Karma, meaning that when the mind leaves the body from this attained existence, it will not return to any existence because it doesn’t have any Karmic causes or attachments/unfinished issues (Saṅkhārā) created from pre-existing causes. However, while the person is alive, he will receive retribution because enlightenment doesn’t mean he can escape Karmic consequences. An Arahant is a person without Kilesa (impurities), not retribution. Even Buddha had to accept retribution from what he had done in the past.

Since childhood, I have often heard ‘Arahant’ and ‘Nirvana’, but their meanings were loosely explained, leading to misunderstandings, such as, an Arahant is an empty mind, or he/she has no feelings or anger, and lets go of everything, etc.

These questions have remained unanswered. The more I look up their meaning on the Internet, the more confusing it is. So, what exactly is an Arahant’s mind?

 After having strenuously practiced Vipassana meditation for more than 10,000 hours, I have finally found the answer. It has become clearer and clearer, but not in the way I obtained from books.

“An Arahant’s mind is not attached to anything. There is no mournfulness to any state at all. It’s a mind without any impurities, not a non-existing mind.”

The mind in that stage has no reaction to magnetic forces which cause either attachment or detachment. Whatever an Arahant does, he or she takes it as a duty or responsibility. It does not mean their work will be sloppy, but means there is no raw, worldly emotions involved in his/her action. When an Arahant does something, the effort expended is 100% or even more, and accompanied by a deep, profound sense of gratitude and compassion toward everything.

An Arahant has a heart and feelings like an ordinary person. He or she still needs medical treatment when sick, but the existence is just to contribute to the world; the extension of loving-kindness of an arahant is powerful beyond the limit of ordinary people’s ability to comprehend.

An Arahant’s mind can let everything pass without feeling ‘hung up’ because it thoroughly understands that everything in the world is an illusion. The mind sees that the world is a Conventional Truth, and realizes the Ultimate Truth through the genuine, original state of mind: pure, joyful, calm, and free. It is the state of Nirvana mind.

Becoming an Arahant is not just thinking “I will detach. I will let go of everything, particularly at the moment of death”. In reality, an untrained mind will be inundated with an avalanche of thoughts, fears, anger, and everything that the person had kept inside throughout his/her life. This insight is called Suta-mayā paññā, the wisdom acquired from reading books.

Without Bhāvanā-mayā paññā or Vipassana meditation practice, the wisdom developed through Vipassana, one cannot break through the illusion to see the Ultimate Truth.