Is the knowledge obtained at stream-entry inferential or direct knowledge?

Babies aren’t born innocent. Babies have genes that predispose, that are inclined. We tend to think of genes as providers of possibility innocent of intent, but the truth is darker.

In this study, we discover that the trauma and horror of war is inflicted on future generations. They literally inherit the suffering in their genetic material.

The implications are quite sobering and align totally with kamma and with sankhara.


There again. I agree. With such things. The thing is I had stroke. I understand how mind works a little bit more than before that I didn’t get one. I was in Colombia in recovery. And because the mind is in low level of consciousness. So recovery to the full potential. Normal consciousness. When it’s so low. I was like a baby. I have picture where I’m smelling the flower like it was the first time.

Same happens with baby probably.
They are exited for new things.

Here is what I believe happens.

Just like in the belly the body is developed.
Consciousness slowly develops when out the belly. Because the eye consciousness can not see clearly
The mind consciousness is the same.

When I had stroke. In my recovery. I was even blind. The consciousness comes and goes until it stays.

So the same must be said for babies.

I give an example also. Once my child dropped in the toilet while I was helping him. He was already 1 year old+
So he was standing. Mother was really angry with me. See as my fault. Even the whole week. My boy happy with me the whole week. Baby do not see such details and doesn’t have same worries as adults. He probably didn’t have in his mind, Daddy’s fault that I slipped.

Same happened to me when I was in recovery, I didn’t have in mind, I’m in the hospital, but I’m in the hospital. :joy:

Or my mother is with me, I didn’t think that’s my mother.

I think that’s what Buddha means.

Although I was a adult but it’s possible to even show that according to science your consciousness go low level. In that low level. Baby mode is experienced.


Ahhh! Got it. Thanks for explaining. Like you my mind disappears to who knows where. And there is a sense of simplicity that is somehow more pleasant than all the noise we usually have to deal with. Let’s look further together…

Have you read MN121? It discusses emptiness which is slightly different than thinking like a baby.

MN121:4.11: That’s how emptiness is born in them—genuine, undistorted, and pure.

Perhaps emptiness is what we both seek?

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A few points worth considering…

  1. Why assume that the mind of an infant is somehow, intrinsically pure?
  2. If the mind of the infant was actually pure and without defilement, why did it have a human birth? Why not a birth as a devata?
  3. If rebirth applies, and the Mind has been reborn as human from a previous devata birth… It has been defiled. If the Mind has been reborn as human from a previous animal birth, it wasn’t pure to begin with and likely isn’t pure now.
  4. If one doesn’t believe in rebirth and is of the view that mind is simply emergent from form and subsequent life experiences, being pure to begin with and later falling into bad ways - why do infants have differing tendency/ personality/ different reaction to the same stimulus? Why is there any variation of personality in babies at all? Why don’t genetically identical twins for example, have identical personalities? And why bother to live the spiritual life at all in that case, as there are no consequences of unethical thought and action?
  5. Cultivation of an infant mind state is not the same thing as cultivating a pure mind. What kind of rebirth will such a practice lead to? Please think of the Buddha’s advice to Punna and Seniya!

Oh yes I agree. Your saying it’s not the correct comparison. @karl_lew is right also.

So you want me to use a supreme word?
That’s all right?

Words are the problem in this world.

Look even Zen use: What was your mind before conception?

There is no use of the word Baby.

It’s notabout direct comparison. It’s a way to say. Be in the moment.

Is there such thing as stream-entry? There is in the Buddha’s Teaching as a raft.

But when comes to explaining with words. It’s not enough. Sometimes even impossible.

Didn’t Buddha say that this Vedas words was said by former Buddhas?

Something like from Darkness to Light.

Here someone will not agree that Nirvana is light. :joy:

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One of the wonderful things about these discussions is that we share our knowledge of the words. And that sharing enriches us all.


Thank you, @Yasoj. I didn’t know it. Wow, this website has such sophisticated tools for study! A big thank you for everyone involved in the translation, edition, programming, etc.! :heart_eyes: :pray:

That’s what I thought too, @paul1. But I’ll quote something Ajahn Sujato said in another discussion, referring to SN 12.33:

What can I see with direct perception? This . Can I see that this is impermanent? That is an understanding that requires knowledge of the past and future states of this . It therefore requires memory and projection, and is inherently inferential.

Now, one could make an argument against this case (if time is not momentary, perhaps we see a fuzzy smear of present in which things are impermanent).

But what if we were to extend the example: Can I see that all conditions are impermanent ? There’s no possible way short of strong omniscience that one can see “all” conditions, hence it must be inferred.

Do you know if there is any other sutta which indicates that the knowledge acquired in stream-entry is conceptual (inferential)? And also do you know if inferential is a usual translation for anvaya-ñāṇa?

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Ahhh… You are thinking of the intrinsic nature of the Mind!

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements.”

“Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements"

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A sutta for you to ponder on.

He would look down into the well and the knowledge would occur to him, ‘There is water,’ but he would not be able to make bodily contact with it


Blessed One, knowing what, seeing what in relation to this body of mine with consciousness and in relation to external objects and any sign, will it be possible that there is no sense of an I, of viewing as mine or of the underlying tendency, fetter and attachment to the I-conceit?

Thanks @Upasaka_Dhammasara. In the sutta there is no explicit indication that Narada is a stream winner, but it seems to be the case.

From the example of looking down at the well and seeing water, it seems like his knowledge about Nibbana is direct, rather than inferential.

The trouble I have with inferential knowledge for stream entry is that inference is primarily in the realm of wisdom. And wisdom encompasses the first two steps of the path:

MN44:11.5: Right view and right thought: these things are included in the category of wisdom.”

The other six parts of the path relate to ethics and immersion and thereby move beyond inference into practice and experience. Indeed, how could one infer the first jhana description? For a stream-enterer to have experiential knowledge of immersion via inference therefore seems a bit impossible.What exactly would be the inference chain here?

AN6.34:4.4: But those who have experiential confidence in the Buddha, the teaching, and the Saṅgha, and have the ethics loved by the noble ones, do know that they are stream-enterers.”

I admit that some with experiential confidence in Right View and Right Thought will be inclined to try the other six steps. But that inclination would be associative, not inferential. One associates good outcomes with predictions of the future. If I roll two sixes in a row, I might be tempted to extrapolate that experience to the next roll of the die, and I might be confident that the roll is a six, but that is not inferential nor is it guaranteed to succeed.

Narada might be a non-returned who has direct knowledge of nibbana but is externally fettered and cannot touch it all the time. We can draw water out of a well but can’t splash in it at will. The inference here is limited. It is the inference that the direct knowledge could be experienced further and freely.

Note: I am using inference here in the mathematical sense of proof. We humans also rely on association, which is not inferential. Although useful, prediction by association is dangerous outside the realm of association.

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Exactly. You got it. Now go self-retreat and strive! Fly high! :slight_smile:

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In Buddhism the faculty of faith (conviction) is expected to be balanced with the faculty of wisdom (discernment), and the practitioner is asked to investigate and test the object of their faith, that is the function of the factor of awakening of investigation.

“Contemplating, he makes an exertion. Exerting himself, he both realizes the ultimate meaning of the truth with his body and sees by penetrating it with discernment.”—-MN 95

“And as for me, I have known, seen, penetrated, realized, & attained it by means of discernment. I have no doubt or uncertainty that the faculty of conviction… persistence… mindfulness… concentration… discernment, when developed & pursued, gains a footing in the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal & consummation.”—-SN 48.44

“Nevertheless, direct experience constitutes the central epistemological tool in early Buddhism. According to a passage in the Saíãyatana Samyutta, it is in particular the practice of satipatthãna that can lead to an undistorted direct experience of things as they truly are, independent of oral tradition and reasoning.”—-Analayo

“In this, monks, a monk seeing an object with the eye recognizes within himself the presence of lust, hatred or delusion, knowing ‘Lust, hatred or delusion is present in me,’ or he recognizes the absence of these things, knowing ‘There is no lust, hatred or delusion present in me.’ Now, monks, as regards that recognition of the presence or absence of these things within him, are these matters to be perceived by faith, by persuasion, by inclination, by rational speculation, by delight in views and theories?”

“No, indeed, Lord.”

“Are not these matters to be perceived by the eye of wisdom?”[5]

"Indeed, Lord.”—-SN 35.152


Explore everything with mindfulness

Explore dualities and neutral as not me not mine but suffering

Pretend in the mind to see a death body decomposing(if possible)

And lastly do inner exploration

It’s not a question of being partly one or partly the other. Inference and direct experience are both aspects of consciousness, and require each other. Without inference, direct experience would be a mess of meaningless data. Without direct experience, inference becomes self-referential and ends up as nothing but pure ego.

Wisdom is holistic, and emerges when all the different aspects of the mind work together.


There only ever is direct experience. Just, we haven’t realised that yet and what lies beyond. Lost in the image.

When a mendicant truly understands the six fields of contacts’ origin, ending, gratification, drawback, and escape, they understand what lies beyond all these things.

Yato kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu channaṃ phassāyatanānaṃ samudayañca atthaṅgamañca assādañca ādīnavañca nissaraṇañca yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti, ayaṃ imehi sabbeheva uttaritaraṃ pajānāti.

Interesting sutta. Understanding comes first then. Understanding what lies beyond then one goes the next step to reach it.

It true. Like analysis. :slight_smile:

Thank you. That’s very clarifying!
Could you please comment on yours and Bikkhu Bodhi’s different choices of translation of the terms dhamma- ñāṇa- and anvaya-ñāṇa-?

Your translation is quite clear and easy to understand. Bikkhu Bodhi used rather obscure terms. Are there other suttas in which those terms appear and in which the Buddha explains better what they mean? Did you chose to translate them differently in other contexts?

That makes a lot of sense!
In Pramana and in the Mahayana tradition it is taken for granted that the knowledge acquired during stream entry is non conceptual (and thus direct and not inferential). Conceptual thinking is classified as confused, since it doesn’t deal with the actual object, but with a name associated with it.

But indeed, how can one see the three marks of existence considering just direct (present) experience? One needs to consider an interval of time in order to see that what is perceived in the present is impermanent.

What is the orthodox Theravada position on this?

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