In the early stages of the gradual training, the instructions point out to perform generous deeds out of compassion. Knowing that a arahant has no more any trace of desire or self-identification and that compassion is a desire to other beings be happy, what would be the motivation underliyng generous deeds performed by a arahant?

  • I think that while the 5 aggregates are present there is still something human in the arahant. After all he transceded suffering of humanity which he was. Often times the Buddha had to be asked 3 times before expounding Dhamma instructions to a human so compassion is directed towards Dhamma.
    – user4878
    Jan 20, 2018 at 20:37

3 Answers 3


There is no more intent to perform kamma, even wholesome (e.g. deeds which "fall" back to one)

So an Arahat act "So" or "Such". He is compassion, dwells in compassion, formost as a unexceled field of merits. Others might act in what ever intention toward him.

If asking what does or can an Arahat give outwardly: it depends of what is left.

Maccariya (stingyness) is absent in all Noble beings (beginning by streamenter). He is also incapable to act on ill-will, for sensuality, for any personal interest...

Since he has perfect virtue, he has perfect compassion since virtue = compassion.

To become an Arahat is based on compassion, right intention/resolve comming from right view.

That is the reason why they (who waer the flag or the Arahats) are called "prah/preah karuna", "lord of compassion" in Southeast Asia.

So again, there is no such as an intent to be compassioned because he is compassion, embodies compassion. And of what he might give (which seems to define compassion for the asking person) by word and deeds, e.g. physical, depents on what is remeaning. There is no more accumulation for the sake of giving, no more intent of becoming and not-becoming, either to be or not to be.

And there is no way that he could fall back and act on merely defiled compassion.

What ever he gives is totaly free of string (to the world) and directed to liberation.

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma, not meant for commercial use or other lower wordily gains by ways of exchange or trade]


"Compassion is characterized as promoting the aspect of allaying suffering. Its function resides in not [enduring] others' suffering. It is manifested as non-cruelty. Its proximate cause is to see helplessness in those overwhelmed by suffering. It succeeds when it makes cruelty subside, and it fails when it produces sorrow." -Visuddhimagga

Compassion is a wholesome quality of the mind. It's not eliminated when one attains enlightenment. So when an Arahath's mind focuses on the suffering of a being, compassion arises naturally.

Craving is what is eleminated when one attains enlightenment. Craving is of 3 kinds.

  1. Desire for sensual pleasure
  2. Desire for becoming
  3. Desire for non-becoming

If i understand correct (would like a confirmation or saying its wrong by someone who knows)

when you dont have a hindrance you have the opposite of it - so when you dont have ill will - so its not something you need to try to do cause you have it so an arhant automatically would like to do generous deeds it would be his natural state

so the opposite of ill will i believe be empathy - the 5 hindrances which arhants dont have :

Sensory desire (kāmacchanda): the particular type of wanting that seeks for happiness through the five senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and physical feeling. .... opposite will be to be content with what is

Ill-will (vyāpāda; also spelled byāpāda): all kinds of thought related to wanting to reject; feelings of hostility, resentment, hatred and bitterness.

.... opposite will be metta to all

Sloth-and-torpor (thīna-middha): heaviness of body and dullness of mind which drag one down into disabling inertia and thick depression. ... opposite will be enregetic

Restlessness-and-worry (uddhacca-kukkucca): the inability to calm the mind. .... opposite will be calm

Doubt ... opposite will be to have faith in the dhamma

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