Dear forum members,
In several articles and audio talks, and including his most recent article, Ven. Thanissaro claims that the opening of the dhamma eye (dhamma-chakkhu), aka the attainment of the fruit of stream entry, is a ground breaking/earth shattering experience.
To me, this seems to imply that one knows for certain they’re a stream winner, but this raises a few questions and counter-arguments.
1- If someone knows for sure they’re a stream winner, then why would the Buddha provide a checklist to determine if you’re a stream winner (MN 48) and several other suttas where he says “You may claim you’re a stream winner if you have x, y, z (usually faith in the triple gem, virtue, etc…)” - wouldn’t that go without saying if they already know they’re a stream winner, they wouldn’t need to refer to a checklist to determine if they’re a stream winner. The Buddha wouldn’t even tell them that they can declare they’re a streamwinner if they’ve met a criteria, since they’d already know they met the criteria.
2- In the sutta with dighavu, the dying layman boy, the Buddha cross questions him to find out his ariya level. Which leads me to believe that the Buddha can only see if you’re fully liberated (Arahant) by looking at the state of your mind (expanded, contracted, etc…). He can see if your mind has overcome the 5 hindrances, and where you were reborn.
But if your mind is not expanded, which many sotapannas and once-returners are still overcome by the 5 hindrances, then the Buddha determines your ariya level by reading your thought verbalizations. He can know/hear your thoughts.
So it seems like to me that your mind isn’t altered by the dhamma chakkhu, only that you have less bad thoughts (identity view thoughts), which is why the Buddha still needed to question dighavu to find out if he was a sotapanna. Which shows that the sotapanna stage is simply a belief/view stage, except for the brief moment one overcomes the 5 hindrances the first time to attain sotapanna phala (fruit).
The Buddha asked dighavu if he has faith in the triple gem, not if he had an “earth shattering experience”. Since if that were the case, the Buddha would know that, since Arahantship is probably an “Earth shattering experience” but not sotapanna, and the Buddha can directly see if someone is an Arahant, like when he saw Ven. Kondanna in the first sermon.
For these reasons, I don’t believe that the dhamma chakkhu is “earth shattering” but just an understanding that results in the first three fetters being given up.
What are your thoughts and position on this matter?