Awakening upon hearing dhamma talks and samma-samadhi?

It is quite common in the suttas for people to achieve any of the stages of awakening upon hearing a dhamma talk without any reference to that individual practicing jhana at the time. How should we make sense of this? That the awakened individual was already proficient in jhanas and was in samadhi around the time or during their hearing of the dhamma talk? That jhanas (or at least the standardly construed samadhi jhanas) are not a requirement for awakening (ie a dry insight approach)? Would love to see some EBTs that touch on this question if there are any!

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The sutta evidence for dry insight (no jhana) achievement of later path stages is, I think, very thin on the ground. The Susima sutta (SN12.70) comes to mind (though that’s not even clear cut). That’s about the only one that might support a dry insight argument. Or there’s the Bahiya sutta (Ud1.1) where Bahiya becomes an arahant after seemingly listening to a short utterance by the Buddha, but Bahiya seems like an advanced ascetic already, presumably with jhana. And these are isolated suttas (probably generally not a good idea to rest an entire interpretation on one or two suttas). Predominantly, elsewhere in the suttas, jhana seems to be definitely needed for at least later on in the path, non-return and arahantship. IMO it’s less clear cut for stream entry (plenty of incidences in the suttas where the dhamma eye opens in those listening to a dhamma talk by the Buddha). However, there are different schools of thought on how jhana relates to that (some saying it is needed and some saying not). I’d say do a search here and you should find plenty of past threads on such topics (has been no shortage of discussion over the years :slight_smile: ).


Venerable Analaylo has made a convincing argument that the prose portion of the Ud texts is likely commentary.

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Thanks, interesting. Bahiya is a sutta that has been made to do a lot of very heavy lifting for some particular interpretations/approaches (has seemed a bit of an outlier to me in ways).

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Please refer to SN 46.38.

Mendicants, sometimes a mendicant pays heed, pays attention, engages wholeheartedly, and lends an ear to the teaching. At such a time the five hindrances are absent, and the seven awakening factors are fully fulfilled.

What the meaning of this is that their mind is temporary in jhana (samma samadhi), their mind can understand the true teaching by reflecting the benefit and goal of ending of suffering (aka To reach Nibbana). So when hearing the true dhamma with focus, your mind is in meditative state automatically.

Also please refer to MN 56 Upali Sutta. How Buddha taught an outsider to become stream enterer.

Then the Buddha taught the householder Upāli step by step, with a talk on giving, ethical conduct, and heaven. He explained the drawbacks of sensual pleasures, so sordid and corrupt, and the benefit of renunciation.

And when he knew that Upāli’s mind was ready, pliable, rid of hindrances, elated, and confident he explained the special teaching of the Buddhas: suffering, its origin, its cessation, and the path.

Just as a clean cloth rid of stains would properly absorb dye, in that very seat the stainless, immaculate vision of the Dhamma arose in Upāli: “Everything that has a beginning has an end.”

Then Upāli saw, attained, understood, and fathomed the Dhamma. He went beyond doubt, got rid of indecision, and became self-assured and independent of others regarding the Teacher’s instructions. …

When you hear true dhamma (saddhamma) from ariya very focus, your mind is rid of hindrances. Then, you can enter the stream or other awakening levels depending upon how your faculties have been developed before.

Note: Make sure you are happy when hearing the true dhamma such as 4 noble truths or dependence of origination (Paticca Samuppada) or other true dhamma.

If you are unhappy or stress, usually you will not get anything out from true dhamma. And typically people only try to understand dhamma when they are in distress or unhappy with their life. :sweat_smile:

Smart/wise person can awake on higher awakening level auch as: Once returner, non returner, and arahant. For householder, at least up to non returner.

Wise person typically has been very focus, so their mind is always in meditative state. So just need to redirect to inside (away from senses) not outside (follow the senses, mara bait).

Note: There is no need to sit and meditate intensely to enter the stream. Also sit and meditate without hearing true dhamma from ariya will never make you to become an ariya suddenly.

But the question to ask is how can you find the ariya in this world?

The answer is in Sutta. :blush:

Note: if they ask you to meditate to enter the stream. Ask them what is the 4 factor of stream enterer? If they don’t know, just leave right away. :laughing:


Fire sermon sutta, there are plenty of discourses when thousand of people attains Arahanthood

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What do you mean by awakening? Like Arahantship or entering the path?

You don’t need jhana for stream entry path, but in the case of people attaining Arahantship they always had a level of samadhi, and it simply gets turned to “Samma Samadhi” upon obtaining right view. It’s like having a telescope, but not having the coordinates of where to look in the vast sky, and right view is that coordinate.

For example the matted hair fire ascetics from the Fire Sermon had jhana mastery that’s why they had psychic powers. Bahiya Barkcloth could see and speak to devas and travel long distances by foot quickly, and according to the commentaries he is one of 3 monks in a past life that meditated on a mountain trying to attain nibbana until they died.

So in the cases of people spontaneously obtaining Arahantship, it means they already had jhana mastery.

Jhana is not optional, that’s why there’s several suttas with the stock passage warning “Go do jhana monk, don’t fall into later regret, this is our messages to you”.

In the past, I also think one doesn’t need jhana (samma samadhi) to enter the stream. I know late Bhante Dhammavuddho said it in his note.

But after reviewing Sutta, i don’t think so. Because stream enterer and others see/know Nibbana. To see/know Nibbana, one needs to have samma samadhi (jhana). Even a low jhana like 1st jhana will do for a finger snap.

So if a person is hearing a true dhamma from an ariya with focus attention, that person mind will be in jhana temporary (rid of hindrances). So the 7 awakening factors will align perfectly, one can enter the stream or reach other awakening level.

This is why an arahant and buddha teach dhamma continuously (non stop) from time to time to bring people to enter the stream.

So, You do need jhana (samma samadhi) for all awakening levels from stream enterer, once returner, non returner and arahant.

The things are stream enterer and once returner don’t have the capabilities to maintain the samma samadhi in daily life (24/7) due to undeveloped other faculties. But if they are diligent, it is possible to reach samma samadhi in no time.

While non returner and arahant are able to maintain samma samadhi in daily life (24/7).

On MN 56 Upali Sutta it said:

What do you think mind that was ready, pliable, free of hindrances, elated means?

Isn’t this mean samma samadhi?

Note: please don’t confuse other jhana with samma samadhi jhana. Because nowadays, there are just too many people use the word jhana but it is not samma samadhi jhana. People confuse real samma samadhi (jhana) with other micca samadhi.

Anyway, that is how I have understood.

There’s a difference between stream entry path and stream entry fruit. For fruit I believe some jhana is required, even for a moment of a finger snap, but for stream entry path I don’t believe jhana is required since stream entry path is simply right view, and the only condition is hearing the true dhamma with proper attention. I believe Sarakani, an alcoholic, had stream entry path, and attained stream entry fruit on his death bed.

There’s 2 types of stream entry path followers: a faith follower and a dhamma follower. Both of these types have yet to see the dhamma for themselves, so that means they have not yet overcome the 5 hindrances and seen dependent origination.

The pali term for “experiential confidence” is aveccappasādena and stream entry path attainers don’t have it yet.

“No, my good Moggallāna, not all of them. Those who lack experiential confidence in the Buddha, the teaching, and the Saṅgha, and lack the ethics loved by the noble ones, do not know that they are stream-enterers. But those who have experiential confidence in the Buddha, the teaching, and the Saṅgha, and have the ethics loved by the noble ones, do know that they are stream-enterers.”

Sarakani the alcoholic lacked virtue but he was still a stream entry path attainer.

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For Path, you need jhana (samma samadhi) as well. If there is no jhana, that mean it is possible to fall off from the path. But this is not the case for Sutta explanation. Anyone who attain path in this life, he/she will get the fruit one way or another in this life. At least by his/her death.

Fruit is just reviewing the knowledge/wisdom. Your own experience you analyze, then you have the fruit (wisdom). But not everyone is skilled in analyzing their own experience. So it will take time for wisdom to mature. Because one need to keep practice.

For Sarakani, he didn’t review the knowledge until his death. Do you know that drinking is not part of Ariyan Sila? There are only 7 ariyan sila on N8FP. Although drinking too much may make mind to become dull (i.e. hindrance for samadhi).

According to EBT, fruit means “result” which is fetter destruction. That means path attainers still have the first 3 fetters. “Review knowledge” sounds like the Progress of Insight which is not based on the suttas.

If sotapanna path attainers had jhana with right view then they would automatically see dependent origination, destroy the first 3 fetters and have experiential confidence (aveccappasādena) in the triple gem. But they only have right view without jhana, which is insufficient to see dependent origination for themselves.

Yes they still have fetters. But when one attain path, do they see the complete path or just partial? Of course the complete path, otherwise they are not independent of teacher.

What i meant by reviewing knowledge is Attaining path doesn’t mean they have walk the path. Along the way they walk the path, the wisdom mature. But some folks have walked the path before, they just need to recall the knowledge/wisdom and continue from where they stuck.

Path attainer will see DO. Otherwise they are not independent of teacher.

The experiential confidence will only occur after the fetters fall off due to wisdom mature.

Sotapanna Path attainers know the teaching but they have not seen it yet for themselves, hence they don’t have experiential confidence

for the dhamma-follower] some person does not possess confirmed confidence in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. He is not one of joyous wisdom, nor of swift wisdom, and he has not attained liberation. However, he has these five things: the faculty of faith… wisdom. And the teachings proclaimed by the Tathagata are accepted by him after being pondered to a sufficient degree with wisdom. This person too, Mahanama, is one who does not go to hell, the animal realm, or the domain of ghosts, to the plane of misery, the bad destinations, the nether world.

[for the faith-follower as above…] And he has sufficient faith in the Tathagata, sufficient devotion to him. This person too…

This means they agree with the Buddha by faith (saddha) or reason (dhamma follower), not by direct experience.

Once someone has direct experience of dependent origination then it’s impossible for them to have the fetter of identify view, and by extension doubt and ritual (believing beings/conventions cause things)

Clearly seen = knowing and seeing = confirmed confidence

When a noble disciple has clearly seen with right wisdom this dependent origination and these dependently originated phenomena as they are, it’s impossible for them to turn back to the past, thinking: ‘Did I exist in the past? Did I not exist in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? After being what, what did I become in the past?’ Or to turn forward to the future, thinking: ‘Will I exist in the future? Will I not exist in the future? What will I be in the future? How will I be in the future? After being what, what will I become in the future?’ Or to be undecided about the present, thinking: ‘Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? This sentient being—where did it come from? And where will it go?’ Why is that? Because that noble disciple has clearly seen with right wisdom this dependent origination and these dependently originated phenomena as they are.”

If you have the 5 hindrances then you cannot clearly see, and thus you do not know for yourself, and therefore you do not have experiential confidence in the Buddha. Therefore a path attainer like a dhamma followr or a faith follower, have never overcame the 5 hindrances, so they don’t have experiential confidence in the Buddha.

Do you have an EBT reference for this?

I have seen that the texts talk about ‘the arising of the Dhamma-eye’ or ‘a break-through to the Dhamma or Four Noble Truths’.

The arising of the Dhamma-eye is described as (the insight): “all that is subject to arising is, subject to ceasing”…but i have never quit understood in what way this really is experienced or known, or in what way this is a breaktrough or moment of awakening.

To give some context: If i would ask my neighbour: ‘is all subject to arising subject to ceasing?’ he/she will probably also figure out that this is true, but i do not belief he/she has at that moment made a kind of break-trough. So, what does it mean?

I also do not think that the arising of the Dhamma-eye means that one experieces the cessation of perception of feeling.

What are your thoughts?

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Look like the disagreement is due to usage of english words.

I suggest to look at the pali words. Then maybe you will get bigger picture.

The complete rid of 5 hindrances can only achieve by non returner and arahant.

The other 2 (stream enterer & once returner) can’t rid the hindrances completely, At most just suppress it. There is no wisdom to get rid of them completely. Need to practice for the wisdom to arise and mature.

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I never said completely/permanently though, I said for a moment of a finger snap minimum.

Try to check the SN 56.11 again how the 3 phases and 12 aspects of 4 Noble truth occurs.

Also the steps of each aspects:

cakkhuṁ udapādi, ñāṇaṁ udapādi, paññā udapādi, vijjā udapādi, āloko udapādi.

there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light (brightness).

That’s someone who attained fruit. There’s 2 stock passages, one is for path the other is fruit.

The one that says “like a lamp showing the path” means they attained path, the one you quoted means they also attained fruit.

Path attainer is at cakkhuṁ udapādi. They have vision (see) of the complete path, but need to walk the path until the end.

Opening of the dhamma eye here means that they attained fruit as in the case of Ugga going beyond doubt.

“With a confident heart, I attended to the Blessed One. He gave me a graduated talk, i.e., a talk on giving, a talk on virtue, a talk on heaven; he proclaimed the drawbacks of, degradation in, & defilement in sensuality, and the rewards of renunciation. Then—when the Blessed One knew that I was of ready mind, malleable mind, unhindered mind, exultant mind, confident mind—he proclaimed to me the distinctive teaching of the Awakened Ones: stress, origination, cessation, path. Just as a white cloth with stains removed would rightly take dye, in the same way there arose to me, in that very seat, the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation. Then—having seen the Dhamma, having reached the Dhamma, known the Dhamma, gained a footing in the Dhamma, having crossed over & beyond doubt, having had no more questioning, having gained fearlessness & become independent of others with regard to the Teacher’s message, right there I went to the Buddha, the Dhamma, & the Saṅgha for refuge and undertook the training rules with celibacy as the fifth.1 This, venerable sir, is the second amazing & astounding quality to be found in me.

The lamp passage means they only attained path, as in the case of Udayi who only attained path but changed his mind about developing further. Had Udayi attained fruit and confirmed the dhamma to himself via direct experience, he would not turn away from the Buddha to follow another ideology.

When he had spoken, Sakuludāyī said to the Buddha, “Excellent, sir! Excellent! As if he were righting the overturned, or revealing the hidden, or pointing out the path to the lost, or lighting a lamp in the dark so people with good eyes can see what’s there, the Buddha has made the teaching clear in many ways. I go for refuge to the Buddha, to the teaching, and to the mendicant Saṅgha. Sir, may I receive the going forth, the ordination in the Buddha’s presence?”

When he said this, Sakuludāyī’s assembly said to him, “Master Udāyī, don’t lead the spiritual life under the ascetic Gotama. You have been a teacher; don’t live as a student. The consequence for you will be as if a water jar were to become a water jug. Master Udāyī, don’t lead the spiritual life under the ascetic Gotama. You have been a teacher; don’t live as a student.” And that’s how the wanderer Sakuludāyī’s own assembly prevented him from leading the spiritual life under the Buddha.