Contrasting criteria for stream entry in the nikayas

I am new here, so forgive me if this has been discussed and more or less settled.
There are places in the nikayas where criteria for stream entry are very explicitly stated as complete faith/confidence in the three jewels and possession of “the virtues dear to the noble ones”-- which, I assume are, for lay followers adherence to the 5 precepts/training rules, or for those ordained, the equivalents for monastics. In these passages, the three higher fetters are not even mentioned. However, in other places in the texts, having subdued the three higher fetters are claimed to be the criteria, with no mention of confidence in the three jewels or virtues. Is it simply assumed that a person who has subdued the three higher fetters would be a person of virtue with confidence in the three jewels? The texts are so detailed, explicit, and repetitive, that this doesn’t seem likely. Moreover, this does not explain the absence of mention of the three higher fetters in the passages which only refer to confidence in the three jewels and the virtues “leading to concentration.”

Can someone help to clarify this?
Thanks to all.

You mean three lower fetters. The five higher fetters are cut off at the Arahat level. The three lower fetters are sakkāya-diṭṭhi, vicikicchā, and sīlabbata-parāmāsa.

Vicikicchā is “doubt” which when overcome is replaced with “confirmed confidence” in the Triple Gem, and sīlabbata-parāmāsa is belief in the salvific power of rituals which is substituted by an understanding of karma which naturally will engender virtuous conduct.

So the two formulations are roughly equivalent, just with a different emphasis (what is cut off versus what is gained).

Hope that helps and welcome to the forum!


Thank you so much for this. It really does clarify my confusion.

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“Training rules” anticipates the eventual autonomy of the practitioner as they resolve doubt through personal investigation. They are able to directly see the effects of the unwholesome on practice.