Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 04/27/2010

Aspiration (Patthāna)

The making of aspirations could be said to be, in many ways, the foundation of the teaching of all of the Buddhas given that each one of them had first to making the asseveration that they would tread the path of the Bodhisattas for incalculable eons until the paramis were developed to the point at which they would become a sammasambuddhas. That being the case, why is it so hard for me to find much in the extant Theravada literature about the importance of aspirations in our practice of the Dhamma? Is it simply that the making of mundane aspirations is simply too banal to merit mention or is it that an aspiration really only gains true power and significance when made by a being in the presence of Buddha? I’m confused by the lack of material but will keep up the search and, if I happen to come across anything, will post my findings. Suki hotu!


  1. Well… There are a few things I can think of. I once saw right intention translated as right aspiration, don’t know if that’s correct. And there is a fair amount on determination, which is fairly similar to aspiration. The other is the story of the Buddha, who had his mind set on what isn’t subject to death, like himself. I don’t know, maybe aspirations tend to be personal.

    • Thanks Zach. Those are all good points. What gets me is that the commentaries and Jatakas are full of future buddhas and arahants making aspiration and yet there doesn’t seem to be much about them in the Canon itself. But, perhaps that’s because the Buddha was only interesting in teaching suffering and the end of suffering…


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