Could a person who entered the stream of the path ever do a bad deed?


Try not to judge by the question or the post.
This question was raised to gather EBT evidences for both ways and see different opinions. These type of questions are difficult to conclude, however, we have to be careful interpreting dhamma. What we understand might or might not be correct.
Making an arguement does not make you sinful but your intention. Doubt is a good thing which drives you to study, read, gather information.

Thank you so much for your contribution.


I present a hypothesis, not an assertion.

The hypothesis is that the Buddha may not have found it important to enumerate the minor rules.

The analogy with the vehicle code was the basis of the hypothesis. When one drives mindfully, one automatically observes the vehicle code. Driving mindfully, one slows down automatically when seeing a school zone or children in the neighborhood without checking to make sure the speed is under the vehicle limit. In this sense, the actual speed limit being “25mph” is not important. It is minor. In fact, on a snowy day, the safest speed for all might actually be 5mph.

Because of the analogy with the vehicle code, we can see that rules have to be understood in context. For example, in certain social contexts, the Vinaya rule on shaving armpits might be understood as minor. In other social contexts, the Vinaya rule on shaving armpits might be understood as major. Consider that in Islam, shaving is required, which is the opposite of the Vinaya rule of non-shaving.

So my understanding of the lack of definitive enumeration of minor rules is simply that the Buddha wished us to not just blindly follow the Vinaya. We should also understand the origin stories and the reasons for the rules.

This is a just a hypothesis. It is a personal view. I would defer to monastics such as Ajahn Brahmali for a more definitive answer to this question about minor rules.


EDIT: [less rambling and hopefully somewhat less argumentative version of mark 1 of my post last night :slight_smile: ]

Thanks for the advice. Giving advice can be a tricky thing (particularly if one doesn’t know the background and motivations of the person well). There’s quite a diverse bunch of people on this forum (mostly all sharing a love of the suttas). Not all are card-carrying orthodox Buddhists though. For myself, while I love the suttas, think the Buddha is a spiritual genius and benefit from Buddhist practice, I’m not at the point where I can absolutely accept everything in the suttas without reservation just because they are in the suttas. I think your advice is well-intended so thanks anyway.

I hope I haven’t misrepresented the Dhamma-Vinaya; I don’t think I have. I was just intending to play devil’s advocate and push the boundaries (apologies if I have overdone that and strayed into uncomfortable territory). In any system where there are clear-cut rules/boundaries, IMO there are going to be uncomfortable cases at the fringes.

I’m not really sure myself how to treat these cases. I’m mostly just curious; I don’t believe raising them necessarily implies bad motivation.

Finally, a pretty much perfect example of this fringe area occurred to me last night: ectopic pregnancies where an embryo implants itself outside the womb. There are just two outcomes in these cases: the pregnancy continues and both woman and foetus die, or a surgeon removes the embryo causing its death and the woman survives. This not just an academic theoretical example; I’ve actually a reasonably close relative who had an ectopic pregnancy. Again, one could ask questions like: did the doctor break the first precept, is his occupation wrong livelihood because of such occurrences, can a stream enterer not work at this job? I don’t have the answers to those questions. IMO it’s ok to answer yes to such questions. Maybe it is against Dhamma-Vinaya to answer no to such questions. Just pointing out that there are such cases at the margins.


I’m a few years closer to the age I took my driving test, and I remember vividly how much more mindful and alert I was when I first got behind the wheel. I was terrified. I also had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

After driving a few decades, sure slowing down to an appropriate speed is “automatic.” But it takes months or years of studying and following the code before mindfulness “automatically” (ie: habitually) leads to appropriate behavior.

And, as an aside, speed limit laws do take into account weathed conditions. Driving the posted speed in snow and ice can get you a ticket.


Please take care not to be argumentative :slight_smile:

The purpose is to discuss EBT’s NOT to prove that ones own view is correct or that someone is incorrect.
And remember to keep posts non-personal.

Metta and Karuna


Hi Erik. Sorry I had no idea anyone would take offence by the word propaganda! I have edited it accordingly.


:rofl: yes quite right.

I think my analogy has been quite the failure! :see_no_evil:

Basically what I’m trying to say about the minor rules, is that instead of assuming that the lack of definition of “minor rules” was a regrettable lack (or even a mistake :scream_cat:) …

…I would also simply encourage us to consider that the omission might have been a wise choice on the part of the Buddha.

I’ll just say that the ramifications of that hypothesis are interesting in that they invite further study of the Vinaya and EBTs as well as social context.



The logic of your argument is the same as if you said:
‘If following the Noble Eightfold Path can result in arahantship, then why wasn’t Ānanda an arahant?’

Or ‘If following a recipe can result in a delicious meal, how come not everyone who follows the recipe makes a delicious meal?’

You miss the point that there are two people involved - both teacher and student. And I most certainly did not claim that the method of ‘talking someone to awakening’ works for every student on every occasion! If it did, then it should work in every satsang, in every Tibetan pointing out instruction, and in every discourse the Buddha ever gave with all of his listeners. Obviously this is not the case.

[Edit: I am not sure if we are allowed to quote ‘flagged’ posts. My appologies if that is against protocol. But this point about Ānanda seemed safe enough to respond to, as it was a point of logic.]


Thank you for asking :slight_smile:
Quoting from a flagged post is like quoting from something that was said ‘accidentally’. Most often it continues the issue - because then others will respond to your post etc etc etc - so in effect it keeps the issue alive.

Also please keep all posts impersonal, and avoid argumentativeness :pray:
Quoting evidence from the suttas can be done without making things a personal challenge :slight_smile:



Cool, thanks for explaining.

May I ask for clarification? Do you mean not personal as in not criticising a person here in discussion, or do you mean refraining from giving personal opinions and experience? I generally try to keep to logical reasoning for matters of dhamma discussion here but sometimes give my opinion which is based on my perception (perception of real-life matters as opposed to perception of Pāli, doctrine etc. I mean), in which case I tend to make it explicit that I am shifting from logical analysis to personal perception of phenomena, as I did above. I hope that’s ok?


Thanks for asking :slight_smile:
Keeping it non-personal - we encourage people not to talk about the person making the posts, but just about the content in a post. Often people make all kinds of personal assumptions about the person behind the post. This is inaccurate most of the time and often causes problems.

With regards to personal opinions, it is a matter of balance. Firstly we ask that things are based on the Early Buddhist Teachings (as presented by SC), and that any opinions and views are strongly anchored in the texts. Some opinions and views are necessary for discussion, but it is good to be mindful where it crosses over into a competition of views and becomes an argument - basically about who is ‘right’.

As we all know views and opinions are impermanent, and unreliable… hence it is generally unskillful to be too attached to them, especially when it causes disharmony in a place like the forum :slight_smile: Best to try and keep an open and flexible mind…

I hope that clarifies our approach to these things. When things are clear it’s easy, but many things are grey rather than black or white, and so we try to use the wisdom of the Buddhas words to guide moderation.

But hey, all of us who participate here are just human. and we can just do our best.

So bottom line, base everything in kindness, and take things from a place of acceptance of difference, and the rest should take care of itself :smiley:

Metta and Karuna :anjal: :dharmawheel:


Exactly, it still seems to hold true in this case.

Ananda was not Arahant prior to first council precisely because he had not developed the Noble Eightfold Path to the sufficient degree necessary for the attainment of Arahantship.

Furthermore, when he did develop the Noble Eightfold Path to the sufficient degree necessary for the attainment of Arahantship, he was indeed able to reach Arahantship.

This was exactly my point actually.

I think it is possible to “talk someone into developing the Noble Eightfold Path” - it seems impossible to “talk someone to awakening,” even for the Buddha.
Like you said, the Buddha could verbally provide the directions or guidance to reach the destination of unconditional happiness, but I don’t think he could “talk them there.”
Verbally or otherwise “providing directions to go somewhere” is not the same as “talking someone to the destination” - the latter is a step that is distinct from the former.
The Buddha seemed to very clearly point the way to the ultimate goal: the development Noble Eightfold Path in one’s own mind, not the “being talked into awakening” or “talking others into awakening.”

Even those like Sariputta who see to have attained Nibbana through merely hearing the Dhamma from an Arahant seem to have sufficiently developed the entire Noble Eightfold Path by the time that they reached Nibbana through having understood the Dhamma that they were taught.

The same verse taught to someone who had not yet developed the entire Noble Eightfold Path sufficiently would not have led to the same outcome of attaining Nibbana.

Thus, it’s not the “talking” that ever leads one into awakening, it is the development of the Noble Eightfold Path that leads to awakening.

This relates to your claim regarding the Tibetan tradition and Advaita Hinduism - unless they lead to the development of the entire Noble Eightfold Path, these do not seem to actually lead to the attainment of even stream-entry as you suggest in a previous message:

If “talking” of the two traditions that you mention do not actually lead to the sufficient development of the Noble Eightfold Path, then they may seem similar to what the Buddha was capable of doing, but may not actually be able to effectively guide beings to Nibbana.