Can a person with a mood disorder reach stream entry in this lifetime?

But what is reaching stream entry? (that’s what I would really like to know)

It seems to me, if some one truly understand this question they themselves would understand whether it can be done or not.

Actually has anyone ever think for a person in confusion Not doing (sitting) meditation in the mean time would be better option !? This will help to avoid unnecessary negativity to take place . If anything walking meditation and standing meditation alternately appear befitting .

I understand SC isn’t the place for it – but saying online forums can’t be “constructive” in this regard is untrue.

Many people, especially those with low incomes, can only see a psychiatrist for a few minutes per month, and even then they may feel their psychiatrist doesn’t listen to their actual needs and concerns… So actually, the Internet has been a huge support for folks, especially for those who want to understand side effects and/or reduce their medication.

The second half of this article from the New Yorker mentions the benefits of these online resources.

Just a reminder to please stick to the OP :slight_smile:

Discussion should be related to EBTs, and not just general advice or chat.

Remember you are welcome to use the PM facility for more personal or off topic things. :slight_smile:

These threads are all archived and used by many people to research topics, so we work to keep them tidy and on topic so that the vast store of information contained here can keep being used :pray: :dharmawheel:


I don`t know anything about stream entry. and think that the question really is about if one with any kind of mental disorder could practice the eightfold path as described by the Buddha?
And my personal view is yes, one can

Best regards :slightly_smiling_face:


Most of us can find ourselves questioning our abilities from time to time. But we should examine the motivation behind it.

Apart from asking someone like the Buddha, or perhaps someone endowed with the ability to glimpse one’s kamma-vipāka tendencies, it seems to be a fundamentally un-answerable question.

One can also look at it this way: if the answer to the question is yes, then what? Presumably one keeps practising to the best of one’s ability. If the answer is no, then what? Do you just throw up your hands and drop the practice? Or do you still keep practising to the best of your ability?

On the other hand, “should one with a mood disorder practice intensive meditation?” is a different question, and is not the same as asking “can one with a mood disorder reach stream entry?”. We should examine if we are conceiving of stream entry as reaching an exotic meditative experience through intensive meditation.

AFAIK, stream entry means cutting off the lower three fetters which keep one anchored to Samsara viz

  1. Lack of faith in the Buddha, the Dhamma and Sangha
  2. Belief in rites and rituals or particular practices as pathways to liberation
  3. Self view

Of these, the one that cause the maximum doubt is the third fetter - that of overcoming Self view.
It is important to note that the Buddha formulated a concept of “… this is not my Self…” and NOT “…there is no Self…”
At many places in the suttas, the Buddha clearly rejects the concept of No Self as well as the concept of Permanent Self (aka Soul).

To put it in a nutshell, the Buddha says that everything in the world is Conditioned… a result of a multitude of causes that come before it, and it itself serves as a condition for things to come.
So, Sensory stimulation causes the body’s physical receptors to be activated, this brings about Consciousness in the Mind of ‘there being X thing out there’, which automatically means that there is something in here (since one is Ignorant of the true nature of things)…forming a false sense of Being Present (Self)… which triggers pleasant/ unpleasant Feeling which gets stored up and recalled/ interpreted resulting in thoughts, speech and action about that X thing, all based on a false belief that that thing X can be acquired/ pushed away/ controlled by the Self and that doing so successfully will result in happiness.
An experiential understanding of this process needs to be developed by actually observing it in real-time, playing around with it and overcoming the false sense that the body/ feelings/ memories/ thought processes/ Consciousness can be regarded as permanent or as being Self. That is where Meditation and Investigation of reality come in.

Those who are affected by any affective disorder such as Depression or Manic- Depressive episodes are in a unique position of actually being able to use their different feelings/ thoughts in reaction to the same events as a tool to see past the illusory sense of Self. This is because the exaggerated Feeling and Thinking responses due to their condition being active can be easily compared with their normal responses when their condition is inactive/ controlled. Given enough insight, that may be enough to trigger the ‘Aha’ moment when it can be realized that that Feeling/ thought was not true, not under my control, not permanent, … it was just Suffering … not mine, not my Self!

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) used as a therapeutic tool for Depression and other affective disorders has a large number of concepts and techniques to build insight and retrain how one views/ reacts to sense stimuli - these have many parallels with Buddhist philosophy and practice. If one can retrain/ change the way one Feels, Remembers, Thinks, or is Conscious of a particular Sense stimulation… how can any of these things be your permanent/ unchanging Self?

In the end, Stream entry is not that difficult either… viz Sarakani (SN 55.24) - it all depends on how much dust you have in your eyes! :laughing:


There is just one sane human being and that`s the arahant - all the rest of us are insane

Should one meditate, or should one not, or is it possible to not see one`s mind and mindstates 24/7, and do something wise about it, regardless of what others might regard or believe is too much or little.

There are legal and illegal drugs, but they all make alterations in the brain`s function, so how can one know what is safe if the mind is blurred already, or one believes another mind more than own direct experience.

People should get help, but that doesn`t mean they should be kept on a chemical leash by society.


Yes even in the Buddhas discourses madness isn’t always attributed to drinking alcohol in a past life one woman went insane from her family dying she became enlightened her name was patacara


@ryan.hastings I do believe the best answer is a resounding “yes” to your question. Having a bipolar disorder is a medical condition, but so long as a person with a mood disorder is medication compliant, and maintains good health otherwise, stream entry seems to me to be quite obtainable.

In my work, I have had clients with diagnosed bipolar disorders. When they are medication and CBT compliant, and mindful of their symptoms and manage them, and otherwise care for their bodies and minds appropriately, they function very well. There seems no obstacle at all to practice and life as a sotāpanna.


Do you know if they find that certain medications cloud the mind? if so, how is meditation managed in that state?

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I’m not sure, Gillian. Many medications have some side effects, but based on my interactions with my clients, they function very well, and I can only guess that they would be able to meditate, and to cultivate the ability to abandon:

  1. Self-view — The view of substance, or that what is compounded ( sankhata )

  2. Clinging to rites and rituals - Eradication of the view that one becomes pure simply through performing rituals (animal sacrifices, [ablutions] The sotāpanna realizes that deliverance can be won only through the practice of the Noble Eightfold Path.

  3. Skeptical doubt - Doubt about the Buddha, his teaching (Dhamma)

Credit: Sotāpanna - Wikipedia

This is what a mood disorder feels like.

As insight develops, a person can easily ‘see through’ the experience - this is where Meditation, CBT etc helps. A bit like ‘seeing through’ the experience of real life mood states and thoughts… but IMHO so much easier, as the experience is quite definitely abnormal. ( I’m of the ‘If you’ve got Suffering - Great! Use it to find liberation’ school of thought :smiley: )
Properly prescribed and dosed, medication should not cloud the mind - rather most people describe it as having a clearing effect on their thinking, ‘seeing through the fog’ as it were.
The exception is in hypomanic states - since those feel like ordinary life amped up x 2 … its there that the medication will feel like a drag as it will slow the hyped up thinking process down to normal speed.

Disclaimer: My inputs to this discussion come from my personal experience of managing various patients with psychiatric disorders over the last 25 years while working as a Physician for my nation’s Army through Peace as well as War. Please don’t take it an endorsement of any particular technique/ course of therapy. The Internet is not a substitute for real life Medical management. My intention is to positively motivate the OP as well as others who may read this discussion to work towards Stream Entry. If you suffer from a Mood Disorder, you should discuss with your own Doctor and/or Therapist before trying out any of these techniques on yourself. NEVER EVER STOP MEDICATION ON YOUR OWN ACCORD!


I’ve been on medications for a year, and found it impossible to meditate like I was used to off med - so I quit all legal drugs, and just 3 weeks later it worked well again. Not that I’m cured, but experiences left me skeptical to mainstream beliefs about this illness, and how suitable it is to keep people trapped with chemicals just because they don’t have time to care for them

I’ve been reluctant to discuss my personal situation, both in terms of practice and illness, because I feel I made a mistake in the first post in mentioning that it was a personal issue at all, since many of the posts have been personally directed and that’s not what I wanted. But this merits a direct response from my own experience, which is that my illness was absolutely debilitating, and I tried for literally decades to try to fix it just by meditation or other alternative medications because I held attitudes like this. That was a horrible mistake. The difference between being on medication and being off medication is like night and day. Medication has virtually eliminated my mood episodes, while all meditation could do is enable me not to act on the strong suicidal thoughts I had during them because I knew the mood was temporary and would pass. My skepticism to “mainstream beliefs” about my illness robbed me of years of a potentially well-lived life.

This is most likely all I will say about this on a personal level. I just felt that this needed a response. Please take any further discussion about this topic to PM (where I will most likely give a curt response and refuse to engage further, but at least it will be off the thread).


I think that this is a good place to close this thread. Thank you.