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How can someone be sure they are a stream entrant?!

streamentry
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#41

it has to do with concentration as well and this is evident not only in the Dhamma but also in any other occupation where one is supposed to execute a strategy based on understanding. It takes focus and concentration to stick to the plan, make the correct decisions, remain focused on long term profit over short term benefits and not being carried away on “currents of lustful intent” or emotions in general.

We can make habitual mistakes everywhere even if there is absolutely no doubt about the proper reasoning and execution.


#42

So is there anything felt, with the experience of nibbana.


#43

When a person is asleep, they are unconscious. I believe that nibbana is a conscious state.

When a person practices jhana, they “plant kammic seeds” that lead to more jhana in the future. (The mechanism is similar to the mechanism by which, when a person hates, they plant kammic seeds that lead to more hate in the future.)

In contrast to jhana, I imagine that nibbana would be a conscious state in which one doesn’t plant any kammic seeds – not even the good kammic seeds of jhana. Another way of saying this is that nibbana should be a conscious mental state in which one doesn’t participate in the replication cycle of any sankharas.


#44

If meditation were optional for realization, the Buddha could have taught a 7-fold path rather than an 8-fold path.


#45

it is same as with consciousness, it just can not be explained in these terms of conditioned phenomena such as feeling, perception or consciousness. It is akin to saying come friend, explain the unconditioned in terms of the conditioned.

There are some Sutta which give indication that it is definitely pleasant;

What do you think: Can King Seniya Bimbisara of Magadha — without moving his body, without uttering a word — dwell sensitive to unalloyed pleasure for seven days & nights?’

“'No, friend.”

"’… for six days & nights… for five days & nights… for a day & a night?’

“'No, friend.”

"'Now, I — without moving my body, without uttering a word — can dwell sensitive to unalloyed pleasure for a day and a night… for two days & nights… for three… four… five… six… seven days & nights. So what do you think: That being the case, who dwells in greater pleasure: King Seniya Bimbisara of Magadha or me?'Cula-dukkhakkhandha Sutta: The Lesser Mass of Stress

I have heard that on one occasion Ven. Sariputta was staying near Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels’ Feeding Sanctuary. There he said to the monks, “This Unbinding is pleasant, friends. This Unbinding is pleasant.”
When this was said, Ven. Udayin said to Ven. Sariputta, “But what is the pleasure here, my friend, where there is nothing felt?”
"Just that is the pleasure here, my friend: where there is nothing felt. Nibbana Sutta: Unbinding

It is however not feeling per se.

I don’t think that thinking about this is very useful, because it is paradoxical, beyond conjecture, to be realized. It is much more important to study the conditioned because that is where everything is formed and when dispassion is developed towards it, there is a letting go of it and the unconditioned is then directly discerned as it is, unobstructed.

It is somewhat like walking out of a prison, one just have to go through certain motions, following a certain path and voila; the not prison is discerned as it actually is.


#46

The Buddha was not against sensual pleasures at all (after all one experiences very strong pleasures in jhanas 1 to 3, a pleasure much bigger than any usual pleasure (food, sex, etc.)) but he was against sensual craving/thirst.
So please enjoy your chocolate … in moderation :slight_smile:


#47

The elimination of the first three fetters is not by meditation but a transformation of my belief system. This involves understanding that:

  • for doubt - the dhamma is true and is for me to embrace fully (no reservations such as doubt about kamma&rebirth, etc.);
  • for self - coming to the full understanding and acceptance that there is no possibility to attach a self to any or all of five khandhas;
  • for rite & rituals - recognising that they are not going to have much if any impact on my internal transformation.

I found very inspiring and useful to reflect upon the story of Suppabuddha the leper who attained stream-entry just by listening to his 1st dhamma talk by the Buddha (udāna 5.3). Due to his social condition he may already have had very little issues with self and rite&rituals; he just had to make a leap of faith towards the dhamma. He was lucky to find the Buddha on his path. I found myself lucky to have found the dhamma and am so grateful to all the monks & nuns who generations after generations had work so hard to preserve the suttas for me to make good use of.


#48

Please do not confuse meditation as taught these days with the component 8 of the 8FP.
Meanwhile I agree that jhana is an essential component of the dhamma but it is not the 1st one to be developed as anyway it happens as result of developing the 1st seven components. Even sati, component 7, is a by product of developing the 1st six.


#49

I heard from a YouTube by Ajahn Suchart, someone asked him this question, his answer is “If you are a stream entry, you will no need to ask this question.” :slight_smile:

With Metta


#50

Hi, i think this is a somewhat disagreeable statement.

The Blessed One has compared sensual pleasures to a chain of bones — of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks. He has compared sensual pleasures to a lump of flesh… a grass torch… a pit of glowing embers… a dream… borrowed goods… the fruits of a tree… a slaughterhouse… spears & swords… a poisonous snake — of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks. Find delight, friend, in the holy life. Yodhajiva Sutta: The Warrior (2)

Furthermore from the Patimokkha, pācittiya 68;

Not to affirm that things such as sexual pleasures are not an obstacle to the development of ariyā stage or to jhāna realisations, nor to rebirth in the deva world, when the Buddha explains that these things are precisely an obstacle to those, and not to maintain erroneous views. Those bhikkhu who hear or see another bhikkhu make statements such as these, or saying incorrect things that Buddha never taught, must tell him not to attribute such statements to Buddha, because he never taught these things. In giving him the reasons that cause obstacles to attainments or to favourable rebirths, they must tell him that this is what Buddha taught. They must tell him that such is the dhamma that must be explained to those around us. Next, they must forbid him three times in succession to renounce those words. If he retracts, he does not commit the offence. If he refuses to abandon his view, he commits a dukkaṭa.

He must then be taken into the sīmā, together with other bhikkhus, and asked again three times to abandon his views. If he retracts, he does not commit a supplementary offence. If he refuses to abandon his views, he again commits a dukkaṭa.

It is then necessary to demand him again that he abandons his view, by means of the ñatti kammavācā, up to three times in succession (unless he has abandoned his view in the meantime). If at the end of the first reading of the kammavācā, the bhikkhu does not retract, he commits again a dukkaṭa. If at the end of the second reading of the kammavācā, he does not retract, he commits a dukkaṭa. If at the end of the third reading of the kammavācā, he still does not retract, he commits le pācittiya 68.

Such a bhikkhu is placed outside the community for as long as he does not reject his erroneous views; the other bhikkhus stop frequenting him (sleeping in the same building, go to collect rice together, eat at the same table, etc.)

It is very important not to defame the teaching of Buddha through erroneous statements. […] The 92 pācittiyas

Furthermore;

  1. ‘It may be, Cunda, that wanderers of other sects might say: “The ascetics who follow the Sakyan are addicted to a life of devotion to pleasure.ʺ925 If so, they should be asked: “What kind of a life of devotion to pleasure, friend? For such a life can take many different forms.” There are, Cunda, four kinds of life devoted to pleasure which are low, vulgar, worldly, ignoble and not conducive to welfare,926 not leading to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to tranquillity, to realisation, to enlightenment, to Nibbana. What are they? Firstly, a foolish person927 takes pleasure and delight in killing living beings. Secondly, [131] someone takes pleasure and delight in taking that which is not given. Thirdly, someone takes pleasure and delight in telling lies. Fourthly, someone gives himself up to the indulgence in and enjoyment of the pleasures of the five senses. These are the four kinds of life devoted to pleasure which are low, vulgar,… not leading to disenchantment, … to enlightenment, to Nibbāna.

  2. ‘And it may be that those of other sects might say: “Are the followers of the Sakyan given to these four forms of pleasure-seeking?” They should be told: “No!” for they would not be speaking correctly about you, they would be slandering you with false and untrue statements.

ʹThere are, Cunda, these four kinds of life devoted to pleasure which are entirely conducive928 to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to tranquillity, to realisation, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna. What are they? Firstly, a monk, detached from all sense-desires 929 detached from unwholesome mental states, enters and remains in the first jhāna, which is with thinking and pondering, born of detachment, filled with delight and happiness. And with the subsiding of thinking and pondering, by gaining inner tranquillity and oneness of mind, he enters and remains in the second jhāna, which is without thinking and pondering, born of concentration, filled with delight and happiness. Again, with the fading of delight, remaining imperturbable, mindful and clearly aware, he experiences in himself that joy of which the Noble Ones say: “Happy is he who dwells with equanimity and mindfulness”, he enters and remains in the third jhāna. Again, having given up pleasure [132] and pain, and with the disappearance of former gladness and sadness, he enters and remains in the fourth jhāna, which is beyond pleasure and pain, and purified by equanimity and mindfulness.

‘These are the four kinds of life devoted to pleasure which are entirely conducive to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to tranquillity, to realisation, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna. So if wanderers from other sects should say that the followers of the Sakyan are addicted to these four forms of pleasure-seeking, they should be told: “Yes”, for they would be speaking correctly about you, they would not be slandering you with false or untrue statements. DN29 Pasadika Sutta: The Delightful Discourse


#51

MN 129

“One should not pursue sensual pleasure, which is low, vulgar, coarse, ignoble, and unbeneficial; and one should not pursue self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble, and unbeneficial. The Middle Way discovered by the Tathāgata avoids both extremes; giving vision, giving knowledge, it leads to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna. One should know what it is to extol and what it is to disparage, and knowing both, one should neither extol nor disparage but should teach only the Dhamma. One should know how to define pleasure, and knowing that; one should pursue pleasure within oneself.


#52

By which I understand meditative bliss. Not ice cream.


#53

Is it the cocoa or the fat and sugar that effect your blood pressure?


#54

The term ‘sensual pleasure’ is reserved for the type that leads to craving and attachment. However the pleasure of meditative bliss (that is, not from the five senses) and purely from the mind internally, is said to be ‘not to be feared’ and wholesome.


#55

Not all sensual pleasures are to be avoided. I like to differentiate sensual pleasures which are the result of craving which are to be avoided, from the sensual pleasures that are normal. For example there is a sutta, sorry cannot remember its reference, that says that we should eat food that is pleasurable as this is important for digesting it. Other non prohibitive sensual pleasures would be to take a shower or a bath after being dirty or having suffered from heat; the pleasure to meet a dhamma friend; the pleasure to hear a dhamma talk; the pleasure to empty bowels and bladder; etc.


#56

The ideal is to experience these events with indifference, not with relishing.


#57

I would rather prefer ‘take a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down’. Using something pleasurable to facilitate something which is ultimately beneficial. Eating food is a potential way to develop craving, yet it is essential for life to continue, to maintain practicing.

Some of these can be purely ‘functional’ to get on in society too.

Underlying principles of dhamma are important, rather than following rules, or just because they feel good or we like them! Of course its a gradual practice, and we cannot expect people to drop craving right at the start!

Does this have anything to do with stream entry?!


#58

In this Suppabuddha the leper, heard a special ‘graduated talk’ by the Buddha. This involved overcoming the hindrances, showing the drawbacks and taking people through the four noble truths, which includes nibbana in the third noble truth. Then after he becomes a stream entrant the Buddha then says that Suppabuddha has various spiritual faculties. So its reasonable to assume that at least the five hindrances must be overcome, and right view developed. The Buddha’s talk must have been similar to a guided meditation to have such an effect, and those who had faith in him would have found a mind free from hindrances easy to reach. Contemplation of impermanence, and the logical analysis of the five aggregates as in the Anattalakkhana sutta SN22.56, comes under the first noble truth of dukkha, which generates the first stream entrants.


#59

Here is an article on the relationship between chocolate and blood pressure. I like dark chocolate:


#60

The Joy Manné paper, which you’ve linked to before, is a really nice compendium of related sutta passages. However, I do find her convert view of stream entry a bit unconvincing (have to discount/ignore just a bit too much for it to be tenable). For example, the pre-sotapanna stages of faith-follower and Dhamma-follower, which seem early, are more in keeping with the convert stage, and it’s not a given in the suttas that even fully ordained monks are necessarily stream-enterers (it’s explicitly stated for certain events like for the parinibbana that everyone there is a stream enterer, but the fact that it needed to be stated indicates it was not an inevitability). Though, I’d agree that the stream entry experiential criterion is not clear.

I suppose if one includes opening of the Dhamma-eye accounts (quite a few in the DN IIRC) or accounts of the “breakthrough to the Dhamma” (dhammabhisamaya), more frequent term in the SN (such as for Ananda in SN22.83 and others elsewhere), one gets more first person accounts. However, that assumes stream entry and the arising of the Dhamma-eye are one and the same thing. There only a few suttas that explicitly indicate this, e.g. the very start of the abhisamaya samyutta in SN13.1 and AN3.94.

There are Mirror of the Dhamma passages in several places in several nikayas (not just in the mahaparinibbana sutta in the DN) so I guess this must be early, which imply stream entry comes with unshakeable faith in the Triple Gem and “virtues dear to the noble ones” (a bit vague but presumably including generosity, virtue/sila and a measure of wisdom). In several places, unstained morality (in terms of adherence to the five precepts) is coupled with this, e.g. SN12.41 (where the five fearful animosities have subsided). That’s only to be expected; someone who has entered the stream presumably must at minimum be meeting the morality based requirements of the stream (eight-fold path).

Finally, there does seem to be an experiential/intuitive knowing aspect to stream-entry. Stream-entry is placed beyond the faith and intellectual-based acceptance of the path for faith- and Dhamma-followers. The SN contains many explicit statements linking stream-entry to direct knowing or seeing of various kinds depending on the samyutta (insight in the aggregates or conditionality or four noble truths or that “this is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self” etc.). The three fetters model is more predominant in the MN. Elimination of the second fetter (double) fits in with the unshakeable faith model. Eliminiation of the first ( sakkāya-diṭṭhi) and third fetters fits in well with a penetration/insight into Dhamma model. The alternative SN models of increasing levels of strength in the faculties (indriya) and enlightenment factors as one progresses through different stages also fits with the stages (also including stream-entry) having an experiential component arising from practice.

I think if one assumes stream-entry is associated with:

  1. the arising of unshakeable faith in the Triple Gem
  2. full adherence to the five precepts
  3. strength in “virtues dear to the noble ones” such as generosity
  4. some kind of direct experiential insight/seeing into the Dhamma/stream itself (likely also to be what underpins the first three points)

then I think one gets a model compatible with pretty much all that’s said about stream-entry in the suttas (and IMO likeliest in term of an Occam’s razor-type cut).

Other aspects are woolier though. I’m not so sure whether there has to be a big Eureka mini-arahant lion’s roar moment. Sure, there are many vision of the Dhamma/breakthrough to the Dhamma moments in the suttas (assuming this is stream-entry). However, some of the Buddha’s stream-entry pronouncements are much lower key: a follower describes how he/she indeed has confirmed faith in the triple gem and the requisite aforementioned virtues and the Buddha says, to the effect, well done, you actually are a stream-enterer (seems a bit devoid of flashing lights and a big road to Damascus enlightenment moment). Maybe sometimes, as in the SN increasing indriya strength model, faculties/insight just slowly creeps higher with practice and at some point one finds oneself bit-by-bit, without fanfare, beyond a certain threshold. Or maybe sometimes there’s a more dramatic sudden breakthrough. That part is not very clear. The fact that the Buddha supplied the Mirror of Dhamma at all as a kind of self-diagnosis measure may itself indicate that there may not necessarily be a clear blazingly-obvious well-defined dividing line.

The distinction between sotāpatti-magga and sotāpatti-phala is also not very clear. I guess one could associate the arising of the Dhamma-eye moment with sotāpatti-phala. I doubt if there’s enough there to confidently make such an association though. There’s a certain viable argument that the path to stream-entry stage may coincide with the Dhamma-follower and faith-follower stages, but again that’s not fully certain either IMO.