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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Pratyeka Buddha

(Pāli: Paccekabuddha). In Buddhism, one who has attained to Buddhahood independently of a teacher, and who also does not accept pupils or work for the enlightenment of others. Hence he is sometimes referred to as the “solitary” Buddha. His path is referred to as pratyeka-buddha-yāna, or the way of the self-enlightened Buddha. This is in contrast to the path of the Bodhisattva who seeks enlightenment not only for himself but for all sentient beings, and who becomes a complete Buddha or sammāsambuddha.

Helena P. BLAVATSKY refers to Pratyeka-Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, and the “Perfect” Buddhas as the three chief degrees upon which “are based the seven and twelve degrees of the Hierarchy of Adeptship. The first are those who have attained the Bodhi (wisdom) of the Buddhas, but do not become Teachers. The human Bodhisattvas are candidates, so to say, for perfect Buddhaship (in Kalpas to come), and with the option of using their powers now if need be. ‘Perfect’ Buddhas are simply ‘perfect’ Initiates. All these are men, and not disembodied Beings, as is given out in the Hīnayāna exoteric books” (CW XIV:435).

Annie BESANT, in a comment to an edition of The Voice of the Silence, states that this lofty being is surrounded with mystery, but that the common view that he is selfish is a preposterous one, for the Pratyeka-Buddha has reached such a superhuman level of attainment that he is beyond such selfishness. She wrote that Helena P. Blavatsky asked her to correct this misconception.

V.H.C.

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