|Venerable Khema, the Buddha's chief female disciple (-William/flickr.com)|
|First Buddhist Women (Susan Murcott)|
|Khema "foremost in wisdom"|
|Khema, Buddha, and Uppalavanna? (BreenJones)|
|Modern Theravada "ten precept nun" dressed in white in Burma (As1974/flickr.com)|
- The Commentary and Sub-commentary try to go further than this discourse and to describe the Liberated One's indescribability. To paraphrase: He is freed from the classification of form [and the other aggregates] because for him there will be no rearising [rebirth] of form and so on in the future, after passing into final nirvana. In addition, he is deep in terms of the depth of his character and the depth of his qualities. As for any description in terms of "a being" which might be used in relation to someone with such deep qualities, when one sees the inapplicability of the description "being," owing to the (future) non-rearising of the Five Aggregates of Clinging, one sees that none of the four statements with regard to the Tathagata are invalid after passing into final nirvana. [Wayfarer is an early English translation of the term Tathagata, which means "welcome one" and "well gone one," sometimes translated in Mahayana Buddhism as "Thus Come One." He is gone-and-going, after having arisen and arrived. He is a welcome teacher of freedom destined for complete freedom.] This explanation, which borrows from Sister Vajira's verse in SN 5.10, misses an important point raised in SN 22.36 and SN 23.2. In SN 22.36 the Buddha states that one is measured and classified by what one is obsessed with or clinging to. If one is not obsessed with anything and no longer clinging even unconsciously, then one is not measured or classified by it in the here and now. In SN 23.2 the Buddha points out that the term "being" or "becoming" (bhava) applies only where there is craving and passion [rooted in ignorance/unenlightenment and therefore leading to the future rearising of a rebirth-linking consciousness, which entails rebirth in samsara yet again for the umpteenth time]. The Tathagata, freed from craving and passion, is indescribable in the present, even though he obviously still functions in the present. SN 22.86 elaborates on this point in great detail. Another problem raised by the Commentary's explanation for this brief discourse is how it would define the Tathagata's qualities and character, for what are they composed of aside from the aggregates.
|A great Indian king (maha raja) meets the Buddha.|