It is no exaggeration to say that Western Buddhists have no idea that the so-called Noble Eightfold Path, the arya-ashtanga-marga, which is supermundane, is not meant for them, nor are the Four Noble Truths. In fact, any Buddhist term that begins with “noble” which is ârya in Sanskrit and ariya in Pali, is not meant for them.
Generally speaking, there are four kinds of recluses, viz., the sotapanna (current enterer), the sakadagamin (once returner), the anagamin (non-returner) and the arahant (one who has attained final sanctification). All are nobles, not ordinary beings.
Not that much different, the life of a genuine Bodhisattva commences with bodhicittotpada, this being the arising of the mind that is bodhi. It is a supermundane state which cannot, in anyway, be known by those still caught up in the mundane world. In Mahayana Sutras Bodhisattvas are always present along with monastics and others. But seldom, if any mention is made of an ordinary being, a prithagjana.
As I have mentioned on other blogs, the Buddha’s world is split into two distinct camps: the worldly person (prithagjana) and the noble spiritual person (arya). One camp is bound down to conditionality, the other sees the unconditioned which is immortal. One camp is stuck in samsara; the other is on their way to nirvana. One camp mistakes the Five Aggregates for the self; the other does not. This is a spiritual distinction. One person is clueless as to what the Buddhist spiritual experience is (one of the Buddha attendents before Ananda was such), the other is not.