Dhammavuddho Mahathera & sotāpatti

Issues / questions came up in recently listening to this youtube dhamma-talk:
“Characteristics Of A Sotāpanna” by one Dhammavuddho Mahathera

1: He makes the case (using copius sutta passages) that “path” attainment of stream-entry is not necessarily instantaneously followed by “fruition”, i.e. the attainment isn’t quite complete, possibly for some time. What I’ve mostly heard / read is that the latter is supposed to immediately follow the former – in the next “mind-moment”. (That impression may come from reading a lot of Mahasi Sayadaw and/or the Visuddhimaga.) It’s not something one runs across often in dhamma talks. This teacher, though, claims to base it in “earliest Sutta-Vinaya” study.

Is that an issue covered much in the “EBT”? If so, is there any readily accessible, in-depth discussion of that to be found (talks, contemporary commentarial writings, etc.)?

2: Dhammavuddho makes a central point that attainment along the path requires having contact with, hearing the dhamma from someone who really knows it; e.g. the Buddha himself, as, according to V. Dhammavuddho’s citations, is amply documented; or, for those of us living after the Buddha’s time (and lacking Mahayana-type direct visions of the Buddha :star_struck:), some monastic who’s well along on the path. This rings true, as whatever important steps I’ve experienced in that direction has been the result of listening to, or in conversations (e.g. retreat “interviews”) with one of the two or three deeply experienced (several decades, and training in teaching) monastics I’ve been privileged to have access to.

How solidly is this documented in the EBT – accepted as fairly clear, or a matter of debate?

(And, btw, this issue might have a bearing on the “Secular Buddhism” topic being aired here recently, as in those circles it seems people’s backgrounds are more often “auto-didactic”, lacking transmission from direct lineage contact.)

3: Is this a valid topic to raise on SuttaCentral (as it borders on “practice”) ?

For me it’s a central concern, a motivation to follow discussions here, because it’s the one internet forum with major participation by monastics (not that there aren’t some on other forums). Sotapati is pretty big thing, and time is running out. At a day-long recently I asked Thanissaro B. about this, as his topic dealt a lot with the questions of guiding discernment in the right direction along the way, which is best done with personal guidance. The question was whether, with sotapati, one actually becomes self-sufficient, in the sense of truly being able to have oneself as refuge == the dhamma as refuge, i.e. working the dhamma in / from one’s own experience. As distinct from being so deluded that substantial personal guidance is still necessary. (E.g. as per the points Thanissao B. makes in his essay on discerning proper teaching, “The Power of Judgment”.) Having access to a qualified teacher for such guidance is not that common.

P.S. The “discourse” feature “Your topic is similar to…”, quite often, doesn’t seem at all relevant to what I enter as new topic title.

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There is a sutta (?) where a lay person say he only gives Dana to arahanths who are Magga. If Magga and Phala happened instantaneously this would not be possible. Also the concept of 8 noble (ariya) persons wouldn’t make sense, if 4 of them don’t last a second.

Yes, if it is answered from EBTs, rather than just opinions. The issue of stream entry is highly relevant to all and could do with some discussion at length here on DD, based on EBTs.

with metta

Ven. Bodhi’s note from “Middle Length Discourses”:

According to the Abhidhamma system, with its conception of the supramundane path as lasting for
only a single mind-moment, both the faith-follower and the Dhamma-follower should be such for
only the one mind-moment of the path. This interpretation, however, though advocated by the
commentaries, is difficult to reconcile with the Nikayas. For an interesting discussion of the two
models, see Gethin, The Buddhist Path to Awakening, pp. 129

And support from SN 25.3:

One who has conviction & belief that these phenomena are this way is called a faith-follower: one who has entered the orderliness of rightness, entered the plane of people of integrity, transcended the plane of the run-of-the-mill. He is incapable of doing any deed by which he might be reborn in hell, in the animal womb, or in the realm of hungry shades. He is incapable of passing away until he has realized the fruit of stream-entry.

"One who, after pondering with a modicum of discernment, has accepted that these phenomena are this way is called a Dhamma-follower: one who has entered the orderliness of rightness, entered the plane of people of integrity, transcended the plane of the run-of-the-mill. He is incapable of doing any deed by which he might be reborn in hell, in the animal womb, or in the realm of hungry shades. He is incapable of passing away until he has realized the fruit of stream-entry.


AN 9.12 points out that everyone can overestimate themselves about their path progress. In other words, it’s never certain to anyone whether they themselves have attained any stage, nor can they be certain of anyone else. No one can be certain that one or another fetter has been finally eradicated.

Additionally, the Buddha is on record for being concerned that this sort of certainty would lead to laziness.

So, what’s the point of worrying about these details?


Admittedly the sutta-s appear to contain a variety of statements, viewpoints, if you will, or varied aspects according to the context or audience the Buddha was addressing. Thank you for pointing out that example.

On the other hand, a number of respected monastics have noted (being careful not to make direct claims, as per Vinaya rules), echoing some Buddha quotation on sotapati being like a lightning or thunder stroke, that sotapati is unmistakable and, to quote one, “earth-shaking”.

Hi Daverupa,

Is that link to AN 9.12 going to the right Sutta? I didn’t see anything there about overestimating one’s attainments - would you perhaps be able to provide a direct quote?



Not sure if it will help, but an English translation of AN9.12 can be found here:


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Thanks Gnlaera,

This is the only passage that seems to say anything about recognizing attainments: “Sāriputta, some wanderers of other views are fools and without understanding; but some will know of one who has attachment — he has some attached remainder; and some will know of one who has no attachment — he has none.”

This seems to suggest that some non-Buddhists will even be able to recognize a person who has attachments as such, and one without attachments (Arahant) as such. I don’t see anything that would support @daverupa reading : “it’s never certain to anyone whether they themselves have attained any stage.” Am I not looking in the right place?



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Sorry :fearful: AN 10.86

AN 9.12 is the laziness citation.

Ah I see - Thank you very much!

Notice that AN 10.86 addressed a very specific wrongful claim, the claim of “Final Knowledge” (hence the title of the sutta):

Here, friends, a bhikkhu declares final knowledge thus: ‘I understand: “Destroyed is birth, the spiritual life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming back to any state of being.”’ The Tathāgata or his disciple who is a jhāna-attainer—skilled in attainment, skilled in others’
minds, skilled in the ways of others’ minds—questions him, interrogates him, and cross-examines him…"

If one is still fuzzy on whether s/he’s attained Stream Entry, then s/he’s obviously not there yet. A common stock phrase in many suttas that indicates one does know when s/he’s entered the Stream when s/he’s “attained the vision of the Dhamma Eye” (Dhamma-Cakkhu).

So, stream-entry is certain, while attaining the final goal is uncertain? The same sort of stock phrase occurs for arahants as occurs for stream-entrants, so I’m not at all sure we can say that either of them involves certainty.

We’ve also got SN 22.122 telling everyone of any attainment to contemplate the five aggregates; and, even arahants are told to keep at it. MN 105 even notes that, once the arrow is removed, one should still follow the physician’s advice about safe & healthy behavior.

And, the 4th Parajika discusses false claims in terms of any noble attainment, and specifically says that overestimation is not a case of defeat. So, overestimation can happen with meditative attainments, and noble attainments.

All of 'em. Therefore, I asked about the point of worrying about these details at all.

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You seem to provide a blanket claim that none of the Noble fruits can be known for certain when one has attained them by providing 2 suttas, which already been clearly shown to have no relevance to your point. The arising of the Dhamma eye mentioned in many suttas does indicate a disciple is fully aware of his or her state when attaining Stream Entry. Please provide any sutta that says otherwise with the exact quotes.

Direct experience (insight) required for stream entry:


With metta

When you can proclaim that you’re a stream entrant:

The four factors of stream entry (and their variations): SN 55.30, SN 55.31, SN 55.32, SN 55.33, AN 10.92

With metta

It’s fine if what I’ve already said isn’t sufficient for you; there are all sorts of descriptions of various attainments of noble states all over the Suttas, including becoming an arahant. This is one of the attainments one can be mistaken about, at least. Why not the attainment of non-returner as well? And so forth? I guess it seems obvious to me.

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You know that’s not the point right? Of course some folks can be mistaken in thinking that they have attained the Noble Fruits. But that was not the claim you made. You made a blanket claim to everyone with your quote below, which has absolutely no support from the suttas:

"it’s never certain to anyone whether they themselves have attained any stage.”

That’s my point exactly. The possibility of being mistaken is always present. Anyone who knows for certain… might be mistaken.

Ok, thank you for the clarification. If you didn’t use the keywords “anyone” and “any stage”, that would be no problem.

Well, it is anyone, at any stage. That’s true. (It’s the same thing…)