Pratyekabuddhas (rang-rgyal, self-realizers or solitary enlightened ones) also strive, with renunciation, to attain liberation. They live during dark ages (Dharma-Ending Age) when the teachings of a Buddha are no longer available or have been greatly degenerated and declined. They do not study with spiritual teachers, because there are none at such times of degeneration, and they teach Dharma only by gestures, since others are not receptive. Living either singly (“like a rhinoceros” or hermit) or in small groups, they must rely on their instincts (Dharma habits) to learn of the Dharma. They particularly cultivate the practice the Twelvefold Links (Pratityasamutpada) of Dependent Origination.
“'The Holy Sages enlightened to conditions . . .' When there is a Buddha in the world, Sages are called those 'enlightened to conditions.' When there is no Buddha in the world, they are called 'Solitary Enlightened Ones' or Pratyekabuddhas, because they are able to become enlightened by themselves.
”'Doze high on mountain peaks alone.' They prefer to doze alone in the high desolate mountains. 'Springtime's Flowers wither in the fall in a cycle of twelve interconnecting links.' In the spring the myriad things are born. Those enlightened to conditions watch the white blossoms open, and in the autumn they see the yellow leaves fall. They awaken to the knowledge that all phenomena are non-existent. They see that everything naturally gets born and dies, and thus they become enlightened to the twelve links of conditioned co-production.“ (TD 29-31)
1) Chinese: bi jr fwo , du jywe/jyau , ywan jywe/jyau ; 2) Sanskrit: Pratyekabuddha, pratyayaBuddha (rare); 3) Pali pacceka buddha, paticcabuddha; 4) Alternate translations: Sage enlightened by conditions, Solitary Enlightened One, Solitary realizers.
BTTS References: TD 29-31.