Is there any person in the Canon enlightened during formal recitation/chanting of the Dhamma?

Continuing the discussion from:

There’s a number of sutta passages that relate to this question, but the one I think you’re asking for is the Vimuttāyatana Sutta:

This says that chanting, among other things, can be a “basis” for liberation, but it doesn’t say that you get liberated while actually chanting.

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Respectful Greetings, Ajahn,

What I like about your answer is that is jibes with “gradual enlightenment”. That is to say, it seems much more commonsensical that reciting the Dhamma a lot would support one in one’s gradual development toward enlightenment, but doesn’t cause “sudden enlightenment.”

That would explain why there are (presumably) no “sudden enlightenment” sightings anywhere in the Pali Canon while chanting (and please, someone, please correct me if you find one, by referencing it, and linking to it if possible).

Thank you for your responses, Venerables.

Does this imply that there are both ‘sudden-enlightenment’ and ‘gradual-enlightenment’ occurrences canonically (not through chanting necessarily, just in general)? I have always been taught that according to Theravada beliefs enlightenment happens within the ‘sudden-enlightenment’ paradigm --that insight occurs all at once. Is this mistaken/inadequate?

Apologies, Bhante Subharo, if this question redirects your topic.

Bhikkhus, I do not say that final knowledge is achieved all at once. On the contrary, final knowledge is achieved by gradual training, by gradual practice, by gradual progress.

“And how is final knowledge achieved by gradual training, gradual practice, gradual progress? Here one who has faith in a teacher visits him; when he visits him, he pays respect to him; when he pays respect to him, he gives ear; one who gives ear hears the Dhamma; having heard the Dhamma, he memorises it; he examines the meaning of the teachings he has memorised; when he examines their meaning, he gains a reflective acceptance of those teachings; when he has gained a reflective acceptance of those teachings, zeal springs up in him; when zeal has sprung up, he applies his will; having applied his will, he scrutinises; having scrutinised, he strives; resolutely striving, he realises with the body the supreme truth and sees it by penetrating it with wisdom.

“There has not been that faith, bhikkhus, and there has not been that visiting, and there has not been that paying of respect, and there has not been that giving ear, and there has not been that hearing of the Dhamma, and there has not been that memorising of the Dhamma, and there has not been that examination of the meaning, and there has not been that reflective acceptance of the teachings, and there has not been that zeal, and there has not been that application of will, and there has not been that scrutiny, and there has not been that striving. Bhikkhus, you have lost your way; bhikkhus, you have been practising the wrong way.

MN 70

to me what sudden is the epiphany, but its occurrence must be conditioned by thorough preparatory work

i’d liken it to taking an exam: you write the answers, submit the sheet and just hope you did well, not knowing for sure, then you wait for some time for the results and one day finally get the news that you passed it with the highest score

the receipt of the news is sudden, but everything that led to it is gradual

it appears that the final result is concurrently both dependent on and independent of the practitioner, who can perform diligent practice but cannot directly and willfully control the timing of the epiphany moment, when his/er practice finally gives visible fruit

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Excerpt of “From Craving to Liberation” by Ven Analayo (pp. 157-8)

Descriptions of these five spheres of liberation (vimuttāyatana) in the Dīrgha-āgama preserved in Chinese translation differ in so far as they have an additional introductory statement, according to which these five spheres of liberation lead to liberation if one is energetic without remiss, delights in seclusion, and has developed mindfulness as well as a mind that is one-pointed (T I 51c3 and T I 53c15).
This stipulation makes it clear that to reach liberation requires more than just hearing the Dhamma, or else reciting it or reflecting about it. The point to be kept in mind here is that the
five spheres of liberation represent occasions when mature practice may culminate in a break-through to liberating insight. They are not descriptions of the course of training that leads up to such a break-through. Previous training in virtue, concentration and wisdom would be required in order for the mind to reach that level of maturity where the occasions afforded by any of the five spheres of liberation can issue in liberation.

Ud 5.5

Just as the great ocean, monks, gradually inclines, gradually slopes, gradually slants, certainly does not fall away abruptly, so, monks, in this Dhamma and Discipline there is a gradual training, a gradual performance, a gradual practice, it certainly does not have an abrupt penetration of knowledge

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