Four causes that prevent arhats from knowing certain things

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The four causes that prevent arhats from knowing certain things (Tib. མི་ཤེས་པའི་རྒྱུ་བཞི་, Wyl. mi shes pa'i rgyu bzhi) are:

  1. They lack knowledge about distant locations (Tib. གནས་ཀྱིས་བསྐལ་པས་མི་ཤེས་པ་, Wyl. gnas kyis bskal pas mi shes pa) , as for example when Maudgalyayana did not know that his mother had been reborn in the buddha field called Possessing Light Rays.
  2. They also lack knowledge about distant times (Tib. དུས་ཀྱིས་བསྐལ་པས་མི་ཤེས་པ་, Wyl. dus kyis bskal pas mi shes pa) , as when Shariputra did not know that the householder Palkyé possessed the seed of liberation.
  3. Nor do they know the infinity of results that spring from an infinite number of causes.(Tib. རྒྱུ་ཐུག་མེད་ཀྱི་འབྲས་བུ་ཐུག་མེད་མི་ཤེས་པ་, Wyl. rgyu thug med kyi 'bras bu thug med mi shes pa)
  4. They lack knowledge of the Buddha’s many qualities (Tib. སངས་རྒྱས་ཀྱི་ཆོས་རབ་ཏུ་མང་པོ་མི་ཤེས་པ་, Wyl. sangs rgyas kyi chos rab tu mang po mi shes pa); they do not know his ten powers, four fearlessnesses, eighteen unshared attributes and so on. [1]


  1. *Patrul Rinpoche, Preliminary Points To be Explained when Teaching the Buddha's Word or the Treatises, translated by Adam Pearcey.

Alternative Translations

  • Four cognitive limitations (Padmakara Translation Group)

Further Reading