I wonder what 2 and 3 might be?

In the suttas, a stream entrant is little more than a convert to Buddhism.


lol you still clinging to that view? :yum:

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"After he became enlightened under the banyan tree, Mara came to him and said, ‘Okay, you’re enlightened, I admit it. Now don’t go teaching, it’s just too burdensome. Just enter parinibbana now, just disappear.’ The Buddha said, ‘No, I will not enter parinibbana. I will not leave this life until I have established the bhikkhu sangha, bhikkhuni sangha, laymen, and laywomen Buddhists: the four pillars of Buddhism.’ Forty-five years later, at the Capala Shrine, Mara came again and said, ‘You’ve done it! There are lots and lots of bhikkhunis enlightened, lots of bhikkhus enlightened, great laymen and laywomen Buddhists . . . so keep your promise,’ and [the Buddha] said, ‘Okay, in three months, I’ll enter parinibbana.’

What those two passages from the suttas demonstrate is that it was the Buddha’s mission; it was why he taught—to establish those four pillars of the [sangha]. We have lost one, so every Buddhist who has faith in the Buddha should actually help the Buddha re-establish the bhikkhuni sangha. It was his mission, [but] because of history his mission has been thwarted.” - Ajahn Brahm

Ok, call it the fourfold assembly! It is obviously part of the Buddha’s overall vision of how his teachings work in the world - it requires this fourfold social dynamic. He did not see anyone within the ‘assembly’ as irrelevant or unable to benefit physically, mentally and, beyond, from practicing the Dhamma. It is completely unrealistic to envision the existence of a monastic Sangha without lay support and participation. The whole-thing together is the Buddha’s teachings! The holistic social dynamic he instituted and the many ways his teachings provide benefits to one and all is the Dhamma that sustains and liberates. It is a complete process of awakening from the ground up! It is a consequence of dealing with a given set of circumstances particular to time and place and using them in a skilful and intelligent way to produce the maximum benefit.

It may have made it easier for you to recognise the social reform aspects of the teachings if they had included ‘headings’ that you would understand. Ways of categorising things that belong to another era and civilisation. There are instances of what you require that arose in that region after the Buddha - the edicts of ‘Ashoka’ come to mind.

What I do - for better or for worse - is reflect on the teachings and try to understand their social implications - what it would mean on the ground - if the spirit and the letter of the teachings were practiced wholeheartedly (without reservation).

The reasons why the potential for profound social transformation did not take place in the so-called Buddhist countries (you mentioned) is not because of the inadequacy of the Dhamma teachings, its inadequate social guidelines, its principles of ‘collective’ behaviour in large groups. It has to do with people not living up to the Buddha’s high-standards of individual and communal behaviour.

If we did have the requisite standards required of leaders as illustrated by the Buddha (cited in an earlier thread). In conjunction with (deep reflection) on the implications of right-livliehood, which was then encouraged and supported as a ‘social norm’ - instituted as social policy - we would have the basis for a radical socio/cultural transformation. A transformation that may help us to survive and thrive on this living planet for many generations to come. This ‘naturally’ would include proper care and respect of the ecosphere and all forms of creature-life. This is all perfectly in-line with the Buddha’s deep-love for the natural world and all sentient beings.

Having the willingness and capacity to reflect on these issues is in-line with the Buddha’s teachings that require thoughtful critical reflection and practice to realise there full implications - there purpose in our lives ‘together’.

Imagine what would happen if the precepts were a commonplace standard of behaviour and the ‘positive’ aspects of the precepts were everywhere in evidence - individually and (collectively). Imagine what would happen if they were given complete expression - embodiment - in the form of social policy within the body politic. Is it really that difficult to envision?

The positive practice of the precepts:

"1. With deeds of loving kindness, I purify my body.
2. With open-handed generosity, I purify my body.
3. With stillness, simplicity and contentment, I purify my body.
4. With truthful communication, I purify my speech.
5. With mindfulness clear and radiant, I purify my mind.

If the negative formulations are the stick, at least of a sort, the positive formulations are the carrot. They are the benefits that one may gain, “purified” body, speech, and mind that are not as vulnerable to the urges, the whims, the moods, the dissatisfaction, and the general uncertainty – the suffering – that we live with." - Triratna-ny

Open-handed generosity (as a social-norm) - I wonder what that would look like? I wonder what open-handed generosity and unconditional loving-kindness might look like when provided to the those in desperate need in our society. It is not that difficult to figure these things out - is it? Perhaps, it would find expression through adequate health-care and housing for those in the greatest need. Perhaps, it might have something to do with building and/or operating health-care initiatives, providing for the education, training and, employment of those who may fall out of adequate social networks of support etc. So many Buddhists are engaged in all manner of helping professions and have strong loving-kindness that finds expression in myriad ways. The social implications of Buddhist practice and the impact it would have on society at large - if it was standard behaviour - is a no-brainer!

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Stream entry is a profoundly transformative event - this is obvious - it leads to final and complete liberation from suffering. This is Buddhism 101!

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I have no idea. I have seen stream entry described numerous times here and elsewhere, but in vastly different ways. In the suttas, a steam enterer just seems to be someone who has heard the teachings and “gotten it” to the extent of being moved to change their lives and follow Buddha. Others seem to imbue the term with deep, mystical significance, especially if they are influenced by the later commentarial tradition.

Apparently, a number of people here have made it their goal to “become a stream enterer.” Since I have never heard that term explained in a single, compelling and coherent way, associated with a clear criterion for determining who is and is not a stream enterer, I tend to ignore it.


Yes, I do the same thing. But it is pretty hard to apply the results to worldly affairs. A world in which no one ever kills or harms another sentient being, or ever lies, or is unchaste would be so unlike the world we live in that there is no clear path from here to there. Perhaps that’s why there is no well-known work of political philosophy in the Buddhist tradition.

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A few notes from the Sotapatti Samyutta

Four Factors of Stream Entry:
(1-3) confirmed confidence in the the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha.
4) Virtues dear to the Noble Ones…leading to concentration.

In one place the Buddha seems to say that the first three factors are sufficient for stream entry: Another distinction between path and fruit?

-Factors for Stream Entry:
1)Association with superior persons.
2) Hearing the true Dhamma.
3)Careful (“appropriate”) attention.
4)Practice in accordance with the Dhamma.
( alternative version has #4 as “open handed generosity…”)

What is the stream?
The Noble Eightfold Path.
(Stream Enterer has Right view, and all other path factors)

Stream Enterer has cut off the three lower fetters
1)Identity view
2)attachment to rites and rituals
3)skeptical doubt

Stream Enterers Virtue?
-Keeps the Five precepts
(alt.version has 4 precepts, excluding abstention from intoxicants, and adding abstention from “harsh speech, divisive speech, and frivolous speech.”)

-A “golden rule” like reflection on ethical behavior.

Mirror of Dhamma:
-Someone posessing the factors for stream entry can declare themselves to be “free from the nether world…fixed in destiny, with enlightenment as my destination.”

Famously fond of strong drink. Fulfilled virtuous behavior and became a Stream Enterer on deathbed (stopped drinking just before passing away?).
-Someone who has gone for refuge to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha (for a long time), how could they go to the nether world?

-If you possess the factors of stream entry your death will be a good one! Don’t be afraid!

Mini stream entry?
-Faith follower, and Dhamma follower etc…(Path, as opposed to fruit, of stream entry?)

Stream Enterer can be "negligent"
If they are satisfied with their progress and don’t keep striving (don’t gain jhanas, and subsequent liberating insights?)

People for whom you have compassion
You should help to establish them in the four factors of Stream Entry.

Death Bed Consolation
-remind a wise lay follower that they possess the factors of stream entry, tell them not to worry, heavenly pleasures are better than earthly pleasures anyway, and things keep getting better the higher up you go (Nibbana being the highest), so direct your mind UPWARDS!

Stream Entry is better than sole sovereignty over the whole earth followed by a long and glorious divine rebirth.Each factor of stream entry is like an incalculable stream of merit bringing with it unfathomable happiness!

Sounds pretty good, right? (sorry for hi-jacking thread, btw)


That’s quite an assortment of lists and ideas. I don’t know what I would do with it.

I’ve gone back to listening to and reading the dhamma talks of Ajahn Chah. He’s someone I have confidence in as speaking from his own direct experience, and who stays away from mind-numbing Sutta catechisms.


No hijack has taken place - this is an open-inquiry and the Dhamma teachings are a fully-integrated way of being in the world. We are concerned about freedom and basic human warmth. How we can live intelligently and sensitively on this fragile planet with fragile hearts and bodies in order to benefit ourselves and as many other beings as we possibly can. We turn to the Dhamma to provide us with clear guidance on how we can transform our lives so we can become a blessing and a gift to a suffering world. Its not the Earth we walk on and, the communities we co-create that need to be transcended through an other-worldly obsession.

“When, Bahiya, there is no ‘you’ there, then, Bahiya, you are neither here nor there nor in between the two.” - Bahiya Sutta

Letting go does not mean ‘throwing away’ it means holding gently with kindness and care. This requires care-full attention culminating in liberating insight. This is fairly obvious to Buddhists - in most cases - but seems abstract and obscure or ‘delusional’ for those who have not penetrated the teachings beyond a superficial level of engagement. In freeing ourselves we free others and vice versa!

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Imagine we were two Roman-citizens sitting in the Colosseum enjoying the slaughter! You turn to me and say: 'I cannot imagine how our society could be any different - this form of entertainment will never go away - people enjoy it to much and its just ‘human nature’. Then you conclude - with earnest intent: ‘A world in which no one ever kills or harms another sentient being, or ever lies, or is unchaste would be so unlike the world we live in that there is no clear path from here to there.’

If you were me - sitting next to you in the Colosseum, how would you reply to these considered and care-full observations?

If you have enough people who are incapable of questioning this way of looking at the world it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In order for any kind of meaningful change to arise in our lives we have to be able to see things differently. We need to question everything because things are never black-and-white. Awakening requires a radical shift in the way we understand ourselves and our place in the world. These kinds of shifts are unmistakeable and absolutely necessary - the clock is ticking while we sit on our hands and say we can do nothing! We can die trying to bless and be blessed or, be part of the problem - its a stark and simple choice.

I never get tired of Ajahn Chah’s teachings…and when I see speculation about “attainments” and "lists, " I remember a comment in the introduction to “The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah”:

Ajahn Chah avoided talking about levels of attainment and levels of meditative absorption in order to counter spiritual materialism (the gaining mind, competitiveness and jealousy) and to keep people focused on the Path.



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I have heard Ajahn Chah talk about the different Aryan attainments but not at length. Again, this is Buddhism 101.

Regarding Jhana:

"The next factor is bliss (sukha). Eventually we drop the initial and discursive thinking as tranquility deepens. Why? The state of mind is becoming more refined and subtle. Vitakka and vicāra are relatively coarse, and they will vanish. There will remain just the rapture accompanied by bliss and one-pointedness of mind. When it reaches full measure there won’t be anything, the mind is empty. That’s absorption concentration.

We don’t need to fixate or dwell on any of these experiences. They will naturally progress from one to the next. At first there is initial and discursive thought, rapture, bliss and onepointedness. Then initial and discursive thinking are thrown off, leaving rapture, bliss, and one-pointedness. Rapture is thrown off, then bliss, and finally only one-pointedness and equanimity remain. It means the mind becomes more and more tranquil, and its objects are steadily decreasing until there is nothing but one-pointedness and equanimity." - Ajahn Chah

I think one possibility is that it leads to competitiveness and false estimations. In the bigger picture one can do far worse than developing a craving for the path - like thoughts about an Eternal Self for instance, polluting the Dhamma. However the Buddha while praising the state of the stream entrant many times, clearly motivated his Bhikkhus to strive resolutely towards it, did not hand out certificates of attainment, except it seems when they had ‘nothing more to be done’ and were arahanths. It seems a bit harsh to me if Stream entrants were destined for enlightenment why they should not be told as well. Maybe it is because they have many worldly defilements and if they are acting in less than ideal manner it would bring bad press to the sasana, if they aren’t practicing or weren’t very wise - see the issue that arose with Sarakani even though he became a stream entrant near to his time of passing away. I think a somewhat nuanced approach is required for stream entry. We should definitely be motivated by it, study it and keep it as a goal- working towards it is only practicing the Noble Eightfold Path, with emphasis on wisdom and morality aspects.

We probably shouldn’t try to estimate ourselves IMO despite the Mirror of the dhamma teaching. It becomes easy to overestimate ourselves. This was a teaching given as Ven Ananda was pestering the Buddha about the attainments of people who had passed away, each time they re-visited a village while touring, so that people could know for themselves. Rest of the time they relied on the Buddha’s supernormal ability to detect the level of attainment in his students.

With metta

Can we maybe split the stream entry conversation into a new thread? It’s a interesting topic re the EBTs and warrants its own discussion.


I honestly don’t know what you are saying. While we can transform ourselves to bring more good to our own lives and the lives of those around us, with whom we interact, that has very little bearing on the kinds of governmental policies and actions we should support. Such policies have to be developed to deal with a world in which very few people are enlightened, or even follow the precepts.

Why do you believe that governmental policies and actions ‘have little bearing’ on bringing more good to our own lives and the lives of those around us? Is there only one way to achieve these kinds of outcomes - through some kind of self-help initiative ‘Buddhist style’? This seems to be what you are saying and it makes know sense at all - but don’t let that get in the way!

So the purpose of politics is social policing? It does not exist to change society - to improve our potential for long term survival? I don’t believe its primary function and value is to contain human failings but to steer society in a progressive direction. It does not mean that there will not be resistance to meaningful change. That is inevitable - but to do nothing is unthinkable given the collective perils we face globally. Occasionally, leaders with vision, courage and insight appear on the scene and they need to be supported in bringing about meaningful change. We all have the same collective responsibility - particularly as kind and wise Buddhists - to understand the important issues we face and engage in the process of making a better world. I don’t see how this is anti-Buddhist or, a pointless exercise, but apparently you believe this is misguided in some way. The Buddha would not have approved! I find your understanding of the teachings and there social implications incomprehensible.

You have said above: we can help ourselves and others through our relationships with ‘whom we interact’. Very good! So does that mean we should limit our engagement in creating a better world to those in our immediate circle and forget about any wider involvement with others with who we (may) interact in order to contribute more fully to beneficial processes that may have more far reaching benefits - for one and all? Would this be a bad thing to do from a Buddhist perspective - in your opinion. Has your foray into Buddhist teachings lead you to this conclusion or did you figure it out independently?

I don’t. What I said is that the kind of self-improvement one can undertake by following the Buddhist path has little bearing on the how to answer policy questions. These questions are very complex, and the policies have to be designed to deal with the behavior of people in the world as they are, not as we might want them to be if they were all enlightened.

The Buddha didn’t teach us how to address climate change through public policy. And even if you woke up fully enlightened tomorrow, that still wouldn’t tell you how to address climate change. The world of human beings and their societies is a knotted tangle of behavioral complexity. Even if one’s heart is full of pure metta, that doesn’t show us the best way of untangling the knot and resolving our myriad practical problems. It won’t hurt, but it won’t give the answers.

You continue to read all sorts of conclusions into by purposeful reluctance to discuss my own political views, preferences and engagements. I refrain from talking about that stuff here because I assume most people, in their Buddhadhamma pursuits at least, are seeking refuge from worldly political strife and contention. There are many different kinds of people who visit this site and contribute to it, and it is obvious from the small amount of political talk that dribbles out here and there that they represent a great diversity of political opinions. Nothing could be worse than to turn this place into yet another internet political blog.

While I personally am interested in improving the world, and have various ideas and interests about the political steps needed to move things in the best direction, I don’t think the Buddha had many thoughts along those lines. He created a sangha so that people seeking peace and an end of suffering could leave the world. He told his monks not to talk about kings and politics. He didn’t even have a friendly and encouraging word to say about marriage and human reproduction, without which human society cannot survive! I don’t think he was all that interested in the future of society, or fixing either local or global problems.


Thanks DKervick, it’s an important point and with this in mind I’d like to give a friendly reminder of the following section of our community guidelines:

The Main Theme of this Site is Early Buddhism

We are interested in discussing early Buddhist texts, their meaning and historical context, how these teachings evolve and relate to later traditions, and how they may be applied in the present day. If you’re interested in more general Buddhist discussion, there are plenty of other great forums out there.

Equally, I’d encourage folk to review the Be agreeable, especially when you disagree and Debate Constructively, Don’t Quarrel sections of the guidelines before continuing on with the discussion.


A student once asked Shunryu Suzuki (founder of the San Francisco Zen Center) “Why is there war?” (This was during the height of the U.S. war on Vietnam in the late 1960s.) The students were sitting on Japanese goza (茣蓙) mats (the thin, roll-up kind, not the rigid tatami), two per mat. Suzuki pointed to a wrinkle in the mat between two students (a common occurrence with such mats) and said that war is what results when both of you try to straighten out that wrinkle.

“Government is not reason. Government is not eloquence. It is force. And, like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” - George Washington

Any and every effort to use government – which is in essence, and at best, a “monopoly of force” – to “make the world a better place” has always, and will always, produce results that in the end will be worse than the problem it was intended to solve – as the vast social experiments of the last century should make plain. That is the nature of force – which is, after all, the single difference between love and rape – that any situation in which it is introduced immediately results in a victor/victim encounter. Which creates unskillful karma, and here we go round again. The World is not perfectible. Newton was right.

If Siddhattha Gotama had believed that government could solve the world’s ills, he would not have gone forth from the home life; instead he would have stayed to become the ruler his father wished him to be – the cakkavattin the hermit seer Asita predicted he would be if he did not become a sadhu.

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