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According to Hinayana Buddhism, an arhat is a person who has negated all karmic debts, escaped the wheel of rebirth (samsara), will not be reincarnated, and who will achieve Nirvana after his or her lifetime. Unlike the bodhisattva, the arhat is not concerned about guiding or assisting others toward liberation.

Critics, such as the Mahayana Buddhists, say this is sort of a selfish, “get the money and run” approach to spirituality.

The Hinayanist might reply that anyone merely in the proximity of another person approaching Nirvana would likely benefit from the latter’s influence and example.

In actual practice, when any two people interact both parties likely benefit from one another in different ways. We don’t necessary have to use special words to categorize or elevate people. Interaction, spiritual or otherwise, is what it is.


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