Is full Stream Entry and/or full Nibbana considered Arhatship in Theravada Buddhism?

I’m interested whether Stream Entry in it’s fullness cumulates into Arhatship as per what the Suttas say. Also, when one has fully Entered the Stream, is there more to be done in Realization to Enter full Nibbana, and after that, how about Arhatship?

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A sotāpanna, one who has entered the stream of Dhamma, is bound for liberation, full awakening, after no more than 7 lives.
So, yes they will realize nibbāna.

For citations and details you may wish to read SN55.4 and other suttas in SN on stream entry.
In SN55.4:
“Reverend, people have to possess four things in order for the Buddha to declare that they’re a stream-enterer, not liable to be reborn in the underworld, bound for awakening.

What four? It’s when a noble disciple has experiential confidence in the Buddha … the teaching … the Saṅgha … And they have the ethical conduct loved by the noble ones … leading to immersion. People have to possess these four things in order for the Buddha to declare that they’re a stream-enterer, not liable to be reborn in the underworld, bound for awakening.”

Kinda backwards – one first attains liberation as an arahant and then, with the cessation of the khandhas at death → final (“full” as you call it) nibbāna, described as nibbāna without residue (Iti44) or sometimes parinibbāna.


What is the difference between the condition of living in life, and passing on? Can the Nibbana we seek not be found in the moment, in the Breath of Life? This is a curious topic because in a world where there is so much suffering, I think it is misunderstood that one should pass on to seek full Awakening. What is the difference in one’s moral and Compassionate state for others, before and after one passes on? There is an endless world, both here and in the Hereafter there seems to be a meaning to life: not an escape.

Can’t one Emanate out of Nibbana or Parinibbana back into this world after the Completions of One’s Task?

The Buddha said He came back after becoming Enlightened, and returning neither as a human being, or a Deva, or fairy, but as a Buddha. Who is to tell an Enlightened being where they can roam after extinguishment? The Buddha, after all, was Enlightened, and still here.

From 10m Bikkhu Bodhi shows a chart of steam-entry and the successive stages. Of particular benefit to understanding is the progressive elimination of the fetters :

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Thank you. Bikkhu Bodhi is really cool and that chart at 10m from the beginning of the video was top notch at answering the subject from a Theravada perspective. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Sure. There is nibbana, as mentioned in my prior post, while an arahant is alive and the khandhas are still present.

That’s why:

However, since there is no rebirth for a Buddha or arahant, nibbana after death is often referred to as parinibbana or final nibbana.

So in the EBTs one does not:

Because the whole point in the EBTs is to finally end all dukkha by ending rebirth.

This differs from the view of the Mahayana in which enlightened beings seek rebirth after rebirth until all beings have been liberated.
The two systems differ radically in this way.

In the EBTs, as in SN22.61 and many other suttas:
“They understand: ‘Rebirth is ended, the spiritual journey has been completed, what had to be done has been done, there is no return to any state of existence.”

We ought to choose which system of Dhamma teachings we’ll follow because, in this and other several other important aspects, the teachings in the Mayahana and EBTs differ radically.

Just saying…

I got you. Thanks for the recap. The mystery in it is that I believe it all came from the Buddha so I am always relishing the Wisdom of the Buddha Vehicle, which has so many Expedient Means for every one of us who need a certain type of Medicine based on what we want, who we have Compassion on, and what we feel our purpose in life is. Sentinel beings are not monotone. So thank you for the deep Wisdom of your words @Jasudho.

When i read the Pali sutta’s then i see someone confronted with the reality of suffering. He now feels unsafe, unprotected. Distrust arises, anxiety. I think many people can relate to this. To awaken to the truth of suffering is like a crises. Like loosing trust in life.

For some this is felt very deep, like the Buddha. For others it is not that deep and they just go on living like they used to do. Like nothing happened. Often, some minutes after someone has died you can hear…life goes on…It is like the truth of suffering has almost no impact on some . For the Buddha it did have great impact, believe.

Buddha was deeply touched by the reality of suffering. He wanted to find safety, protection, the trustworthy, reliable again.

The idea that the only thing safe is going out like a flame, vanish like a particle entering Earths atmosphere (@stu )at death, is an interpretation. I feel that it is a nihilistic idea of safety, of refuge, the goal, other shore and happiness.

I feel the Buddha does not teach such a goal. The goal is seeing that there is a refuge, safety, here and now. There is unborn, detahless, unmade etc.

To make this breaktrough to the Dhamma we need to change our focus the Buddha teaches. Instead of searching for safety, protection in the conditioned, in that that ceases, we must find and see the unconditioned, that what lies beyond all realms and is, even at this moment, not of this world. If one sees this, one has found the Noble Path and enters the stream. That is what i read.

The stream is not literally something that brings you somewhere else. Ofcourse such similes are used but this does not mean that those must be taken literally.
The stream purifies everything that always brought you somewhere. The greed, the hate, the thirst, the drift which brought your mind here and now and after death in the animal realms, in a hateful state of mind, etc. The stream purifies the building of a new house. A hell house, a deva house etc. In this life and after death.
The stream is not literally bringing you somewhere. The Noble Path is like going nowhere anymore. Like being deeply grounded and never chasing emotions, tendencies, happiness, etc. Never adrift. Home.

Someone who found the Noble Path and entered the stream is not yet there. An arahant is.


I used to think that everyone would all reach the Same Place eventually, a Heaven, an Enlightenment, an extinguishment, a Nibbana, or even a vanishing. But the more I think about it the more I realize that although we may all be the Same one day, we will not all choose the Same Path. After all, we have to choose what is in Right Conduct in an infinite System of World Systems. And on and on.

I feel this is proabaly what Buddha really motivated: snp4.15

The world around was hollow ,
all directions were in turmoil.
Wanting a home for myself,
I saw nowhere unsettled.

Buddha wanted a home for himself. Safety in a world in turmoil.

That is, i feel, the whole point of Dhamma, and of EBT’s. Tanha, asava, kilesa, anusaya, are like forces who make you wander, adrift. Due to their compulsive character you abandon your natural homeground, dispassion, emptiness.

Staying home, not building a new home, in this life, that is the same as the end of an unvoluntary rebirh after death due to the cessation of the inner drifts. There is not really a difference between ending rebirth and seeking a home for oneself, or seeking true self, making a refuge, an island and light of oneself.

I have never seen that mayahana students seek rebirth after rebirth. What they seek is to be of help, assistence to others beings . That implies being reborn again voluntary. I think this is noble. Are you so sure Buddha would disapprove?

Maybe this idea of a voluntary rebirth is not mentioned in de Pali sutta’s but i feel it is very noble.
Maybe any Buddha-to-be also takes voluntary rebirth on Earth.

Also interpretations of EBTs radically differ. Also translations differ.

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I read this somewhere in some article where author was implying that Mahayana suttas are not exactly right or wrong …but points to same thing what buddha taught, just put in hard to understand language.

**According to Mahayana, it is said that great Bodhisattva makes three great vows…

  1. I want to put an end to all evils.
  2. I vow to cultivate all virtues.
  3. I vow to liberate all beings.

The words of the Buddha are true. But the three asankhya kalpas refer to the three poisoned states of mind. What we call asankhya in Sanskrit, you call countless. Within these three poisoned states of mind are countless evil thoughts. And every thought lasts a kalpa. Such an infinity is what the Buddha meant by the three asankhya kalpas.

These three vows were maybe made by Siddharth Gautama before enlightenment and not by Lord Buddha.

Practicing moral prohibitions to counter the poison of greed, he vowed to put an end to all evils. Practicing meditation to counter the poison of anger, he vowed to cultivate all virtues. And practicing wisdom to counter the poison of delusion, he vowed to liberate all beings.

The three sets of precepts are for overcoming the three poisoned states of mind. When one overcomes these poisons, one creates three sets of limitless virtue. A set gathers things together – in this case, countless good thoughts throughout your mind. And the six paramitas are for purifying the six senses. What we call paramitas, you call means to the other shore. By purifying your six senses of the dust of sensation, the paramitas ferry you across the river of affliction to the shore of enlightenment.

This can be done by every one of us here & now, as told by buddha.

But they didn’t understand the message they needed something to hold on and to continue samsara. A beautiful reason of compassion to continue the samsara.

They say he cultivated these vows for 3 asankheya great aeons or in simpler terms, for unimaginable time. Asankheya means countless. It is like a dream. Life is said to be like dream for one who awakens to truth/nibbana, now one can dream for some hours or some years or for millions of years or for asankheyas of aeons.**


Hi Green,

This is a verse, poetical, by the Buddha before his awakening. Best to take verses as expressions to inspire and encourage compared to the usually more direct teachings in the suttas like:
Yad aniccaṁ taṁ dukkhaṁ – " What’s impermanent is suffering." SN22.15

Some practitioners appear to be looking for a kind of permanent “abode” or “home” for final nibbāna – but others don’t and concepts like “home” and “abode of eternal bliss” etc. regarding final nibbāna don’t apply in their understanding of the Dhamma.

Still, the “home” you appear to desire is attainable in this life as nibbāna with residue. This has been mentioned several times before. See Iti44, for example. This is the eradication of the defilements while still alive (while the kahndhas are still present), but is not final nibbāna.

Well, the first of the four Bodhisattva Vows is: “All beings without number, I vow to liberate.” This points to the Mahayana teaching of bodhicitta – a heart that willingly undergoes rebirth after rebirth into samsāra to help and save infinite beings.
It’s a beautiful aspiration in terms of compassion, but it doesn’t align with the Buddha’s teachings on the ending rebirth in the suttas.

The number of times the phrase “Rebirth is ended, there is no coming to further existence…” with respect to awakening in the suttas is perhaps in the hundreds. SN22.61 is one example of many.
Compassion in the EBTs? Of course!
Practicing for rebirth in the EBTs, voluntarily or otherwise? Not so.
But if you can offer sutta citations that contradict this in the EBTs, please feel free to share them.

If a being seeks rebirth, or endless rebirths, that’s up to them.
The Buddha in the EBTs teaches the end of rebirth as the ending of dukkha. “What” that final ending, final nibbāna, “is” – cessation or some ineffable endless bliss – has been interpreted in various ways, as demonstrated by several related topics on this forum. Yet both sides appear to agree that ending rebirth is a foundational teaching in the EBTs.

But the teachings on the ending of rebirth in the EBTs are clear.
See DO (DN15), the 4NTs (SN56.11), and hundreds of suttas, (SN12.10, AN10.65, SN12.23…and many more).

We each can choose whatever path and style of spiritual practice we wish.
But that’s different than claiming the teachings in the EBTs point to a wish or intention for repeated rebirth rather than a being a practice that ends it.


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Yes, you can emphasize that EBTs are about the goal of the end of rebirth, and i know those texts , but
but i rather see it differently. The goal is to find the Truth, the deathless, safety, that what lies beyond all realms. That is what EBTs describe, for me. That was the goal of the search of the Buddha. To find what does not decay, does not arise, cease, change. That what is not made, produced, no result of any effort. If this would not exist then there is no refuge, no safety, no home, he says.

If one finds this, the natural result will be the end of an unvoluntary rebirth because the compulsive forces are in the end made harmless by seeing this Truth.

It perfectly aligns. The mahayana teachings are also about the cessation of defilements and ending all the inner compulsive forces that would lead to an unvoluntary rebirth. It does align with EBTs but it adds something. It adds the freedom, the ability, to choose for rebirth by the purified mind.
Are you so sure Buddha would see this as a problem??

Again, Mahayana does not teach that the task of purification and ending rebirth by inner compulsive forces must not be done. It must be done!

And that’s what the EBTs do not teach or point to is what I’ve tried to express, with citations, since rebirth = dukkha and the whole point of practice in the EBTs is to finally end all dukkha.

But again, if a being wishes to be reborn again and again for whatever reason inspires them, that’s up to them.
It’s just not taught as a goal or purpose in the EBTs.
However, it is expressed as such in some Mahayana texts. So it’s about not conflating the two.

May you be happy and well! :slightly_smiling_face: :pray:

I think it is important to understand that the real wish is to keep helping other beings while one has done the task! While one has removed lobha, dosa, moha, tanha’s etc. Rebirth is just a means. It is not the wish. The wish is something completely different. Do you see this?

Maybe you think it is a sign of bhava tanha. If this is the case then it is not a sincere, not upright wish. Then this wish is corrupted. Then this is a kind of self-deception.

My gutfeeling is that the Buddha would not disapproove of rebirth to help others based on a sincere uncorrupted wish.

Did the Buddha have the freedom to not enter parinibbana?

From the standpoint of the teachings in the Nikāyas, this is like asking, “Did the Buddha have the freedom to not end dukkha and to be reborn into it over and over again?”

The point of the teachings in the Nikāyas is to end rebirth and hence all dukkha.

Your apparent wish to be reborn over and over to help beings aligns with the teachings of the Mahayana – which is fine if that’s your goal.
All I’ve been trying to express is that this rebirth-goal is not found in the Nikāyas. And, so far, I’ve not seen any sutta citations in your responses that say otherwise.

How each of us chooses to practice is our choice. No debate from my end about this point.
And I bow to your expressions of compassion and wish to help beings. :pray:

The point I’ve tried to express, with citations, is simply that rebirth = dukkha, so the ending of rebirth = final nibbāna/end of all dukkha in the Nikāyas.
At the same time, compassion and metta are, of course, integral to progressing on the Path.
The Path to ending rebirth.

If you wish, you can have the final word in this exchange :slightly_smiling_face: – although I think we’re kinda talking past each other at this point.

All best wishes

Based on…Where buddha was and what buddha was…I believe this question is same as asking where does Arhant go after parinibbana…exists? Or not exists? And all that…and answer to that is that none of them applies asking it itself is mistake…just IMO.

DN16 says this (translation Bodhi)

3.3. 'Ananda, whoever has developed the four roads to power, practised them frequently, made them his vehicle, made them his base, established them, become familiar with them and properly undertaken them, could undoubtedly live for a or the remainder of one. The Tathagata has
developed these powers,. . .properly undertaken them. And he could, Ananda, undoubtedly live for a century, or the remainder of one.’

As usual we will all interpret this to our likings, wishes, desires, level of understanding, but i read that a Tathagata has the freedom to choose to stay in samsara and live for many more years to come, if he wishes. The aspect of this freedom is here in EBTs. It is not that a perfected one at death will and must cease.

When i read the Nikayas i feel they are about finding Truth, finding safety, protection, a home.
The Buddha was searching for that. He understood that seeking safety, refuge, protection (or in another words ‘a home for himself’) in what is liable to cease, is not wise. It is like grasping air and thinking one can hold it. Or like building sandcastles at the shore and believing that it it will stay.

Buddha’s teachers did not understand this principle. Buddha did. His search was not about what is liable to cease. I think this is a sign that the Buddha had an allready opened Dhamma-eye.

So, the Buddha in the beginning of his search, while he was among his first teachers, really felt that nothing what is liable to cease, matches with what he was searching for.

Probably, i tend to believe this, at this moment he also was not searching the end of rebirth, he was only searching safety, protection, something that is really reliable, not liable to cease, and worth seeking, the deathless, unborn. That was, i think, his primary focus and the principle of his search.

The noble search is really about this quest for the unconditioned and deathless, for safety, real home, real protection in a world in turmoil. In a world in which all beings longing to feel safe, protected, home, make a wrong decision to seek safety in what is liable to change, a mission impossible.

Beings try to make a home of what cannot function as a home. This is the combination of tanha and avijja. This combination leads to a mission impossible. It leads to a wrong search. Ofcourse the Buddha understood this in the very beginning of his search. Not only while he awakend under the Bodhi tree.

Buddha found a home for himself. This is what EBTs are about, for me. His task was done. He found what he searched for. You are saying…he ended rebirth…i say…he found the home he was searching for and he ended rebirth due to that.

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those are not contradictory interpretations. the buddha said that he could be here for more time, but he also said that all things that exists must cease. he is just saying that you can live a longer life compared with non enlightened beings, but you can’t live an eternal life.

One remark on this. The point is not only to end dukkha but also to teach, to guide others, to help others on the spiritual path, and that can be not easy, wearisome, tiresome. Buddha decided to teach while he also could decide to enter parinibbana immeditately. According EBTs Mara tried to convince the Buddha to enter parinibbana immediately after his awakening.

DN16 (Bodhi) …once I was staying at Uruvela on the bank of the River Neranjara, under the Goatherd’s Banyan-tree, when I had just attained supreme enlightenment. And Mara the Evil one came to me, stood to one side and said: “May the Blessed Lord now attain final Nibbana, may the Well-Farer now attain final Nibbaa. Now is the time for the Blessed Lord’s final Nibbana.”

3.35. 'At this I said to Mara: “Evil One, I will not take final Nibbana till I have monks and disciples who are accomplished, trained, skilled, learned, knowers of the Dhamma, . . . (as verse 7), [II~] till I have nuns. . . , laymen-followers, laywomen- followers who will. . . teach the Dhamma of wondrous effect. I will not take final Nibbana till this holy life has been successfully established and flourishes, is widespread, wellknown far and wide, well-proclaimed among mankind everywhere.”

I think this is beautiful. Dhamma is not only about ending rebirth and suffering but also about establishing the teachings and having a deep sense of the richness of it.

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