Comments on “Nobility”


Nobily Insane

Interesting, I have never heard of this classification -- and I like it. Is this "Nobility" terminology common in Vajrayāna sects? Is there a Tibetan word for this or Sanskrit [though it sounds very un-sutra-ist]? Is the conversation of the triad of ordinary-noble-special found in other Buddhisms to your knowledge?

Having worked for years with severely mentally ill folks, many psychotic people come to mind who walk around not caring about being normal, not trying to be special and very unaware of how utterly strange they are. It is as if the "disease" turned off this part of the brain. Perhaps the Vajra practice is to turn off this part of the brain also without entering a crippling, non-functional complete disease state.

In my post on "Buddhist Dog-Brain", I similarly wonder about the neuro-cognitive consequences of different meditation/insight exercises resulting in lack of self-pity. These may be silly speculations, but they are my way of putting together my observations and experiences -- it is my story-making mind at work, perhaps.

Nobility in scripture

Yes, "noble" is standard throughout Tantra, and to a somewhat lesser extent Sutra.

"Arya" is the Sanskrit for "noble." ("Aryan" is the adjectival form, which presents certain problems given 20th Century European history.) "Arya" appears quite often in the Sutras.

"Vira" is Sanskrit for "warrior" or "hero", which is a closely related notion in Buddhist scripture. The Tibetan is "pawo" (dPa' bo). These terms are used extensively in all the Tantras and occasionally in the Sutras.

The ordinary/special/noble formulation is just mine. I think it's consistent with Buddhist doctrine, but it has no scriptural basis (nor is it explicit in the Aro gTér).

I'll develop it further in this chapter of the Meaningness site. The schematic overview might give some insight.

I think what you say about Tantric practice turning off the compulsion to be "normal" might be right. I also think that Buddhist practice makes one more the natural animal one actually is, as you suggest. One needs to be careful of what Ken Wilber calls the "pre/trans fallacy", however. Regression to an animal state is not enlightenment.

"chang" chub sem pa

Steve Alexander's picture

The Tibetan translation of “bodhisattva” is chang chub sem pa, which means “enlightened hero.”

Perhaps another reading of chang chub sem pa is "Hero who is well-supplied with beer"? Which brings to mind Taoist drunken masters, and Norse calls of Valhalla.


That's funny!

The "chang"s are homonyms, and spelled differently in Tibetan. The beer is just "chang," but the one in "bodhisattva" is spelled "byang" (and pronounced "chang" for your convenience). It means "purified."