The Ten Titles of the Buddha
These ten honorific titles of the Buddhas appear
in many Sutras and are reiterated frequently in the Lotus Sutra and other Sutras. The ten titles
apply generally to all Buddhas everywhere.
1. The One That Has Come (Tathagata) - This refers to the One that comes down
to this world from the realm of the absolute spiritual reality to enlighten
living beings (and then reenters Nirvana, returning back to that absolute
2. Worthy of Offerings or Worthy of Worship (Arhat) - Early Buddhists depended
upon alms for a living and practiced begging (Bhiksu, the Sanskrit word for
monk, literally means ‘beggar’ or requester of alms’). By giving to the
Bhiksus, patrons planted good spiritual roots by practicing generosity, the
primary Bodhisattva virtue. Buddhism, like any other religion, depended upon
patronage to survive in this world and spread the Dharma. Those that attained
true nobility and selflessness were called Arhats, ‘worthy of alms’ or ‘worthy
of worship’. By worshipping the Buddha, one practices the primary virtue of the
3. Truly Omniscient (Samyak Sambuddha) - Having the ‘Wisdom of All’, awakened
to the oneness of all things. Seeing beyond duality and yet understanding how
all things properly fit in to the great fabric of the one reality. This is
understanding the three truths.
4. Perfect in Illumination and Conduct (Vidya-carana-sampanna) - Perfection in
both spiritual understanding (of Nirvana, selflessness, and impermanence, the 3
seals of the Dharma) as well in one’s actions (thoughts, words and deeds).
5. Well Departed (Sugata) - The opposite of ‘The One That Has Come’ (Tathagata)
- One who leaves this world a better place upon leaving it.
6. Understanding the World (Lokavit) - Understanding cause and effect, karma
and retribution, the destiny of all paths, the past, present and future, and
the Saha world, the mortal realm of Life & Death (Samsara).
7. Supreme (Anuttara) - Unexcelled, peerless. It is often used in conjunction
with ‘Truly Omniscient’. When they are paired, it refers to the total blending
of the three truths, the perfection of enlightenment.
8. Tamer of Men (Purusa-damya-sarathi) - Like the tamer of elephants and lions,
the Buddha is able to bring the emotional distress (klesas) of others under
control and make them serene and illumined.
9. Teacher of Gods and Men (Sasta deva-manusyanam) - The Buddha is able to
teach of morality to gods (devas) and men (manusyas) to keep them from evil and
is also able to teach them of liberation from the mortal realm of Life &
10. The World Honored Enlightened One (Buddha-Bhagavan or Buddha-Lokanatha) -
The Enlightened or Awakened One (Buddha) refers to the one who is awakened to
the true Nirvana, who recognizes that this enlightenment dwells in all living
beings and who is determined to awaken this in all living beings. When revealed
in this world, this enlightened one (Buddha) is honored by all living beings.
© Peter Johnson 2001 - All rights reserved
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July 9, 2001
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