In AN 3.70 and elsewhere, the Buddha teaches to recollect the Sangha including to specifically recollect that It consists of the four pairs, the eight individuals. My understanding is the 8 individuals are ones who are either practicing for stream entry or who have attained stream entry; ones who are practicing to be a once returner or who have attained once returnership, ones who are practicing to be a non-returner/and ones who have attained that fruit; and ones practicing for arahantship and arahants.
However, if it’s true that monastics can’t disclose where they are on the path, how do we know there are indeed such 8 individuals in the world today? Or, is it understood, that there probably aren’t all such 8 individuals at this time, but perhaps a portion of these individuals?
It seems like it would be helpful to know there are eight such individuals in the Sangha today or even a portion of them. That said, many in the Sangha, especially those here and affiliated with BSWA are very inspiring, and seem to be clearly either practicing for a specific stage of enlightenment or have attained one stage or another. It just seems like it would be helpful to have more specifics about whether there are members of the Sangha who make up all or part of those eight individuals, but perhaps this isn’t possible?
In other words, are there 8 such individuals in the Sangha today, especially those in later stages of enlightenment, and, if so, how can one gain confirmed confidence in that fact in light of the Vinaya? Confirmed confidence would make it easier to follow the Buddha’s teaching to recollect the Sangha and specifically this quality of the Sangha. Thank you.
When I seek to develop that recollection I think of the key disciples of the Buddha found in the EBTs.
If that may help, I list below links to a few essays on the topic which may be inspiring to others as much as they were for me:
The Life of Sāriputta by Nyanaponika Thera:
The Life of Maha-Mogallana by Hellmuth Hecker
Anathapindika The Great Benefactor by Hellmuth Hecker
Anathapindika: The Great Benefactor
Ananda The Guardian of the Dhamma by Hellmuth Hecker
Ananda: The Guardian of the Dhamma
Maha Kassapa the Father of the Sangha by Hellmuth Hecker
Maha Kassapa: Father of the Sangha
Angulimala: A Murderer’s Road to Sainthood, by Hellmuth Hecker
All that said, mind that due to complications arising from the fourth parajika, it is not usual for contemporary bhikkhus to claim attainments for neither themselves or others. If you see in someone, after time and careful examination, signs that indicate any o the levels of awakening, then you are free to make that individual object of your recollection and source of inspiration.
- The fourth training rule
To me, the reason why the parajika rule was established is to make sure we don’t get distracted with claims of awakening by others and instead take on ourselves the ennobling task related to the third noble truth: to verify and attain ourselves the cessation of suffering the Buddha called us to attain.
Thanks, Gabriel. Helpful idea. For me, that would be similar to when I contemplate the qualities of the Buddha, but now I would do it for other members of the Sangha.
“In other words, are there 8 such individuals in the Sangha today,…”
I believe so.
“…especially those in later stages of enlightenment, and, if so, how can one gain confirmed confidence in that fact in light of the Vinaya?”
My personal experience is through looking at their way of life. I started gaining confidence when I realised that they are not like the rest of us or the “cultural/traditional sangha”. Then I listened to their teachings and did as they taught. When their teaching was applied to my life and it made sense, I could see that they knew what they were talking about and that they were not just following texts.
Regarding vinaya, I think it can be dangerous to reveal your enlightenment stage because it can be used to manipulate people. Also it may confuse them too, because of pre-conceived or textual ideas about attainments. For example, other than listening to dhamma and learning/practising people may start looking for signs of attainments of the sangha. This could create doubt, disagreements and derail one from the path. I personally don’t find revealing attainments as a big deal but I can see how it can cause issues.
“Confirmed confidence would make it easier to follow the Buddha’s teaching to recollect the Sangha and specifically this quality of the Sangha.”
External confirmation will give your mind another view to think as correct. Then you will find things to align to that truth instead of seeing things as they are. Since our minds are ever ready to deceive us the pureness of sangha should be comprehended along with the practice just as anything else on the path. To appreciate and to create joy through gratitude towards sangha you don’t need someone to point and confirm their level of attainment in my opinion.
These are my sangha power guaging questions : are these people consistent in their practice?, how wise are they? are they showing signs of a lot of greed, hate and delusion, how wise are their students?, what have they done for the spiritual betterment of the community?, how has my life changed since I have listened to them?, have many people let go of suffering because of their way of life and teachings?, have many got inspired to be on the dhamma path because of them?,etc., The answers to these questions usually bring me tears of joy. Once you know the qualities of that sangha you can extend the joy by thinking of sangha that you have never seen, never met, already dead and the dhamma they taught or currently teaching, bringing light to the world and finally think of the buddha who discovered that light. This way you can recollect all three gems.
(These are based on my personal experience. Please ignore if it is confusing or doesn’t align with EBTs.)
Only 4 stages of ariya . Say you are stream entry , on the way to second stage ariya , how then in between is called another type of ariya !? Actually , if one is sotapanna before sakadagamin , it is still sotapanna . The 8 classes was a late notion . Stream entry path is still a ignorant person , not an ariya yet . How then all of the 8 individuals categorize as ariya ?!
The sangha as a whole should include upasaka upasika .
I recollect not individuals (other than the Buddha) but faculties and their signs. This recollection is quite fruitful when contemplating adverse circumstances. Attainments abandoned in adversity are not attainments. This recollection is therefore an honest cross check.
In traditional expositions of saṅghānussati, like those of the Vimuttimagga and Visuddhimagga, the sangha’s being composed of “four pairs of persons, eight kinds of individuals” is not treated as one of the nine special qualities that are the object of recollection. It serves merely to specify what sense of ‘saṅgha’ is applicable here.
Futhermore, since the practice consists in bringing to mind the special qualities possessed by the saṅgha’s members, and not the members themelves, saṅghānussati meditators needn’t concern themselves with the question of whether any of their acquaintances might or might not be ariyasāvakas.
> Saṅghaṃ ārabbha uppannā anussati ‘saṅghānussati’; suppaṭipannatādisaṅghaguṇārammaṇāya satiyā etamadhivacanaṃ.
The recollection arisen with reference to the saṅgha is called ‘recollection of the saṅgha’. This is a designation for mindfulness whose object is the saṅgha’s [nine] special qualities, beginning with “of good conduct”.
(AA. ii. 21; Visuddhimagga Cha-anussatiniddesa)
No, I don’t mind…that sounds good.
Just one further remark…
When practising Visuddhimagga-/Vimuttimagga-style saṅghānussati some find the standard list of nine inspiring qualities to be not particularly inspiring. In my own case, I must confess they don’t really reasonate with me at all and I can scarcely even remember how the qualities of āhuneyyo, pāhuneyyo and dakkhiṇeyyo are supposed to differ from each other.
A good solution for anyone similarly afflicted is to make use of some other list. My own favourites are the twenty-four qualities given in the seven saṅgha-related verses of the Ratanasutta and the last ten of the nineteen qualities given in the Analysis of Synonyms chapter of the Nettippakaraṇa.
Discourse on the Treasures
Thank you, Bhante. I enjoyed the Discourse on the Treasures!
Hey @Gabriel_L, let’s add some enlightened ladies to the list!!
Edit yes all the links are borked! Sorry. I’d fix them but it’s easier to Google, or see the next post for some enlightened women.
Such as one of my favourites; Uppalavanna Theri
Or the many listed (http://here)
So many!! Patācāra is another great inspiration for me.
Sure! Couldn’t follow the links, but the website below should give some insight on the Theris you have in mind:
To be worthy of offerings, hospitality and gifts.
From the lay perspective, such a recollection is also important as guidance. An offering would be as one might offer to the god(s) out of gratitude and respect. Hospitality is a consideration because one might donate money and yet mindlessly allow mendicants to suffer in the cold rain due to lack of hospitality. And a gift matters as one might give anyone as an adornment and requisite for the mind (e.g., food to the homeless).
Bhanthe, what in your opinion, is the importance of these?