Multiple types of arahant: a later development? Is the Pavāranā Sutta corrupted?

Hello again

I agree, especially regarding the AN. I am not aware of mixed messages on this topic in the others of the first four Nikayas.

For me the AN was originally an index at the end of the three nikayas DN, MN and SN, (just like you have a kind of index at the end of sections, mentioning the suttas’ names in brief) but later it started to be filled in as a fourth Nikaya. Thus later confusion about Arahants’ attainments could have entered.

best wishes

Hi Senryu

Yes, I think I understand what you mean. For me this is basically the question, ‘how can we know what is (the Buddha’s, or any Noble One’s) Right View?’ or maybe ‘is it possible to know what Right View is, as the Buddha intended?’

The second question, to me, would be for one who has not yet developed faith, which is part of the Fruit of Stream Entry (SE), i.e. they still have the fetter of doubt (that is, immobilising doubt, not scientific doubt). Once one has the faith that it may be possible (scientific doubt), then one would ask ‘how to do it?’ and I believe this is answered by the four ‘limbs’ of SE:

  1. Association with people of integrity is a factor for stream-entry.
  2. Listening to the true Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.
  3. Appropriate attention is a factor for stream-entry.
  4. Practice in accordance with the Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.

— SN 55.5

If we just stuck with our favourite theory, without testing it in experience, then I think there would be no way to decide. Thus number four.

best wishes

Roderick Bucknell wrote a very interesting article, not sure if he ever published it, about the various elucidations of the path. He had a very interesting idea about sīla samādhi paññā, countering the usual analysis of the 8fold path, and saying rather they relate to the 10fold path, having sīla as:

  • sammā-vācā
  • sammā-kammanta
  • sammā-ājīva

Samādhi as:

  • sammā-vāyāma
  • sammā-sati
  • sammā-samādhi

Then coming to the 2 fruits of the path, paññā as:

  • sammā-ñāṇa

And vimutti as:

  • sammā-vimutti

His analysis seems to me better than the traditional one (which divides the 8fold path into those 3). I’m not sure if the traditional one even came from the Buddha - seems it came from a nun, and perhaps rarely mentioned in the EBTs apparently (can anyone confirm?)… perhaps a later adaption?

Yes I think that those things are very helpful indeed! However I also believe that stream entry can happen spontaneously even in the absense of those factors. And also can happen in response to an encounter with an ariya, such as the advaita satsang even! Which I believe was very similar to what the Buddha also did, basically talking people to awakening. This is also done in the Tibetan tradition, with what are called ‘pointing out instructions’, or ‘introduction to the nature of mind’ - a very important aspect of Tibetan Buddhism. (Of course they do not call it stream entry, since, according to their doctrine, you must avoid stream entry at all costs, since once you get it you will only live a maximum of 7 lifetimes, and thus your bodhisattva quest is prematurely terminated! Such is the doctrinal knot they have tied themselves in!)

I also think that doubt of some form can come back to a stream enterer, especially if a lot of time passes after their initial awakening with no more glimpses being had. A person can slip totally back into delusion, and even loose interest in the path or gain bitterness at not having any more awakening experiences, especially if they have a bad teacher (sorry I should rather say a teacher of insufficient standard) or no teacher at all. Then they can take on doubts or re-take doubts about the path and about enlightenment. I believe.

Yes. But we also must consider a counterargument - @sujato has pointed out the apparent unreliability of the EA, so, we also cannot assume that its differences are down to the Mahāsāṃghika view. It may just be badly corrupted.

I made a post discussing the Bucknell Article and the Sutta involving the nun: Another interpretation of the Cula-Vedalla sutta/MN44 (in regards to samma-ditthi=insight and the 8-fold path)

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Hi there, Brother_Joe.

DN 15 seems to adopt the model similar to AN 9.43-45, insofar as those liberated “both ways” and “liberated by wisdom” alike have the formless attainments. I doubt one Sutta was a copy of the other, because the descriptions are different than AN 9.43-45. In MN 15, the “wisdom liberated” are described in terms of the 4 form Jhanas + the 4 formless attainments. But the “liberation both ways” is described in terms of the 8 liberations, which doesn’t explicitly name the four Jhanas of form at all (though they are arguably bunched up with the first 3 liberation), but does talk about the formless states + the cessation of perception of feeling.

It’s a gradual development of faith or saddha, pretty much like the gradual development of any relationship:

There is the case where, when conviction has arisen, one visits [a teacher]. Having visited, one grows close. Having grown close, one lends ear. Having lent ear, one hears the Dhamma. Having heard the Dhamma, one remembers it. Remembering, one penetrates the meaning of the teachings. Penetrating the meaning, one comes to an agreement through pondering the teachings. There being an agreement through pondering the teachings, desire arises. When desire has arisen, one is willing. When one is willing, one contemplates. Having contemplated, one makes an exertion. Having made an exertion, one realizes with the body the ultimate truth and, having penetrated it with discernment, sees it [10]. MN70

If you are thinking of zen satori type experiences, I think they are very different from stream entry.
Even when the Buddha was mentally guiding people to stream entry he had a method which does map on to the above steps, the N8FP, the three trainings etc albeit not overtly explicitly. See here for the gradual discourse (anupubbiya kata): Ud 5.3

"The basic practice of neo-Advaita is self-inquiry, via the question “Who am I?”, or simply the direct recognition of the non-existence of the “I” or “ego.” This recognition is taken to be equal to the Advaita Vedanta recognition of the identity of Atman and Brahman, or the recognition of the “Formless Self.” Neo-Advaita - Wikipedia

Asking a question such as ‘Who am I’ is said to be unwise contemplation in MN2: SuttaStudy 3: Sabbasava sutta ‘All the taints’ MN2. The later inquiry seems to end with a Large Self outside of the small self- pretty much like Ekhart Tolle’s teachings. This is one of the views which is said to be wrong according to the following sutta:

"The one who, when delineating a self, delineates it as formless and infinite, either delineates it as formless and infinite in the present, or of such a nature that it will [naturally] become formless and infinite [in the future/after death], or he believes that ‘Although it is not yet that way, I will convert it into being that way.’ This being the case, it is proper to say that a fixed view of a self formless and infinite obsesses him. DN15

I believe this is because Tibetan monks are aware it isn’t that. It could be called an introduction to mindfulness of the mind (cittanupassana) as per EBTs.

More the reason why what they practice isn’t stream entry, unless of course you assume thousands of years of Tibetan buddhism has got it wrong and has accidentally turning themselves into stream entrants.

with metta

Hi Senryu

Yes, as TheSynergist identified, I have posted a link to Rod’s article in the opening post for this topic: Suttas with other possible versions of the gradual path

It would seem either the well known Theravada commentator Buddhaghosa (~1000 years after the Buddha) followed the nun Dhammadhinna’s analysis (in MN44), or the analysis was attributed to her, possibly around Buddhaghosa’s time, or earlier. I have not found that analysis attributed to the Buddha anywhere in the First Four Nikaya.

The common ground we seem to share is that we both believe SE can happen in absence of (some of) those factors. If it were not the case, it would seem to me that the Buddha would not have entered the stream and realised enlightenment.

The first two would have been absent for the Buddha on his path.

  1. Association with people of integrity is a factor for stream-entry.
  2. Listening to the true Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.

But the enlightenment story indicates he did develop the next two:

  1. Appropriate attention is a factor for stream-entry.
  2. Practice in accordance with the Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.

would seem to me to cover all four factors, but I would qualify ‘awakening’ to ‘stream entry’ (path). SE fruit (=non-regression) would require some practice/application, not just sitting around listening, imo.

Yes, that’s fine with me. Just that I distinguish between SE path and SE fruit. So, for me, all that can apply to SE path, when one may have only developed faith that had not yet been confirmed in experience and had not eradicated all of the first three fetters.

Even for SE fruit, for me there can be and should be doubt on various (worldly) matters, such as the quality of translations of texts, but once the path has been tested and found to be effective in experience, I believe, no one can dissuade one from it, or make one doubt it.

best wishes

Sorry, I think I missed your point here.

The comparisons Rod B did were with other descriptions of the Path found in the Pali texts.

Hi Mat

(I still do not appreciate your declarations of how things are, rather than your expression of your ideas/views/beliefs just as that. As the Buddha seems to have encouraged us to train. Putting that aside…)

Your quote does not show to me how you believe ‘It’s a gradual development of faith or saddha’. In the quote, saddhā is translated as ‘conviction’ and it just says, when conviction has arisen… without saying how it arose.

If the quote said, ‘Having heard of the magnificent qualities of a teacher (possibly the Buddha), conviction arose, when conviction has arisen, one visits [a teacher]’. That would do so.

I certainly agree and think it’s well said.

best wishes

How interesting, could you indicate the relevant paragraphs.

Even if this were so, I don’t accept texts in the First Four Nikayas that do not fit the overall pattern that comes out (that one might expect in a gradual path) by following the method of study Dr Rod B. applied and seemingly advocated by the Buddha at: SuttaCentral.

An example of this study method from the Buddha would be the Anapanasati Sutta, which links each four steps with one of the Foundations of Mindfulness.

best wishes

Maybe MN47 would be a good sutta to explore.

With metta

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Yes, indeed, I think that is a perfect sutta to illustrate your point that it’s a gradual development of faith.

And to me, this sutta illustrates the path from the shaky faith of the commoner (putthujana) which gets one to go to visit a teacher (the Buddha), to the unshakable faith of the Noble Ones, one of the Fruits of SE, the one that comes before unshakable noble morality/ethics.

This sutta, to me, presents the Path to SE and covers these factors of SE:

Association with people of integrity is a factor for stream-entry.
Listening to the true Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.
Appropriate attention is a factor for stream-entry.
Practice in accordance with the Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.

— SN 55.5

best wishes

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The stuff at the end. In this Thanissaro translation, the stuff under the headers “Seven Stations of Consciousness” and “Eight Emancipations.” It’s kinda long so I won’t copy/paste it here.

This is getting off topic, but for the other side of the story, I’d recommend this model on the blog AwakenToReality by Thusness. It shows how “Who am I?” inquiry can lead to insight into anatta and emptiness.

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Thank you for your comments. Just to clarify, are you suggesting that EA 32.5 might actually be saying that those on the path to stream-entry may regress (vs. saying those who have the fruit of stream entry may regress)?

great thanks

just FYI, if you turn on ‘view textual information’ in many suttas of SuttaCentral, you can link directly to a paragraph (if they have been numbered in the formatting), e.g.

Sujato’s: SuttaCentral
Bodhi’s: SuttaCentral

and no need to paste the content.

All that info is fairly well known to me, but I don’t accept it as authentic, because it does not specifically speak of ‘clinging’. For me, a teacher with wisdom and compassion, who is called, ‘the unsurpassed teacher’ would not leave people guessing.

best wishes

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If it seems to say that, then I would find it quite interesting, as I make that distinction.

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Yes, certainly off topic and best to send a message privately.

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Hi again

Awesome! Thanks for letting me know about that feature :+1:.

What sort of phrase/wording would, in your mind, “specifically speak of ‘clinging’”? Because SC 48 says that a wisdom-liberated mendicant is “is freed by not grasping.”

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Agreed. If EA 32.5 said that those on the path to stream entry can regress, I don’t think that’s incompatible with the Pali Suttas, or with traditional Theravada understanding (from what I understand). If, on the other hand, EA 32.5 says that those with the FRUIT of stream entry can regress, that would be a pretty radical departure from the Pali/Theravada traditions. In fact, if those with the fruit of stream entry can lapse, it would make it hard to understand why stream entry is even a discrete stage at all.

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