The work “Arhatic” used in MCKS Arhatic Yoga comes from the root “Arhat”. It might be of interest and use to understand what an Arhat really is.
An Arhat is a highly evolved human being. An Arhat is one who has gained insights on the true nature of one’s existence. Such as being is supposed to be enlightened or illuminated and doesn’t need to be reborn. Hence Arhats have traditionally been very revered.
The Pali word “Arhat” means the “perfected one” or “one who is worthy of praise”. The word Arhat is is similar to the Sanskrit the word Arihant which means “slayer of enemies” (in this sense of slayer of our own weaknesses). In the Chinese tradition the equivalent word for an Arhat is Lohan. In the Christian tradition the equivalent word is Saint. In Theosophy and writings of Alice A Bailey, an Arhat is one which have passed the 4th initiation.
An Arhat according to MCKS
According to MCKS an Arhat is one who has gained a substantial degree of Oneness with the Higher Soul. Arhat-ship is a condition where the Higher Soul receives a high degree of development and the Incarnated Soul achieves an almost complete union with the Higher Soul. This is what is called Soul-Realization. An Arhatic Yoga practitioner is one who strives to become a baby Arhat.
In the Hindu Tradition, one who has gained Arhatship is referred to as a Parmahansa. The title of honour, which is used to denote a yogi who has achieved enlightenment, literally means “supreme swan”. Once MCKS was asked by a student as to why the swan is used as a symbol for an Arhat? According to MCKS, ancient traditions hold that the swan has three characteristics:
- It is white
- Has the ability to “separate milk from water”
- Only eats pearls. It is said that the swan would rather starve to death than eat anything else.
Obviously, two of these characteristics are not established by any scientific or biological evidence. These qualities instead are allegorical or symbolical and should not be taken literally. White symbolizes purity. The ability to “separate milk from water” points towards the quality of discernment or discrimination between the real and the unreal, the temporary and the permanent, the right and the wrong, the important and the unimportant, the useful and the useless, the true and the false, and the selfish and the unselfish. Finally, pearls are a metaphor for the divine path. Hence symbolically it means that the swan will always only choose the highest path (which leads to God).
What is an Arhat like?
What are the marks of an Arhat? How does an Arhat speak? How does an Arhat sit and walk?
It is near impossible for ordinary people (like you and me) to truly understand and/or speculate on the qualifications and characteristics of such an evolved soul. It may be akin to a blind person’s speculation on the nature of colour. Also, it is not as if we bump into an Arhat every other day to be able to identify the qualities and characteristics of such a advanced soul. Also, an Arhat does not carry around a sign which reads “I am very evolved. I am an Arhat” – hence you cannot quite tell. (Do note that in general the people who advertise their level of spiritual development aren’t usually very evolved. The souls who are very evolved are generally humble and do not have pride.)
So how do we really figure out what an Arhat is really like?
The good news is that there have been others in the past who have had the same question about what an enlightened one is like. This question was one (amongst the many others) which was asked by Arjuna to the Lord Krishna on the field of Kuruksheta before the Great War. This is recorded in the Bhagvat Gita (Chapter 2: Verses 54-59), and is produced below:
Arjuna said: Oh Krishna. what are the marks of an enlightened person whose intellect is steady? How does a person of steady intellect speak? How does such a person sit and walk?
Krishna said: When one is completely free from all desires of the mind and is satisfied with the Eternal Being (Brahma) by the joy of Eternal Being, then one is called an enlightened person, O Arjuna. A person whose mind is unperturbed by sorrow, who does not crave pleasures, and who is completely free from attachment, fear, and anger, is called enlightened a sage of steady intellect. Those who are not attached to anything, who are neither elated by getting desired results nor troubled by undesired results, their intellect is considered steady. When one can completely withdraw the senses from sense objects, as a tortoise withdraws its limbs into the shell for protection, then the intellect of such a person is considered steady. The desire for sensual pleasures fades away if one abstains from sense enjoyment, but the craving for sense enjoyment remains. The craving also disappears from one who has known the Supreme Being.
Based on the description provided above, Arhatship might be something worth truely striving for.
According to MCKS soul-realization is a very long journey and may take lifetimes of focused effort to achieve. In case you are interested in taking the first step to that path, the Arhatic Yoga Prepratory Level would be the best starting point.