Quick question... Can monks talk about attainments?

Are monks allowed to talk about their attainments?

I just want to say that in Suttas. We see that they had to know each other attainments. Because they had to go to someone who was good in concentration to learn concentration if they only was good in wisdom for example. And also Buddha asked some of them if they entered any higher attainments Etc

And at time of death they ask each other

And some suttas declare attainments when asked about it. The early rule seems to be when asked. Because in suttanipata Buddha mentions about talking of how you are unasked is not noble.

But Vinaya changed it. Someone else can say about that

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Only to other ordained people.

There are 2 rules in the Vinaya relevant to this.

  1. No attainment, falsely claim to have: auto disrobe offence. Unless it’s genuinely overestimating oneself.

  2. Got attainment, tell unordained people about it: an offence requiring confession.

Attainment here includes Jhanas, Supernormal powers and the path and fruit attainments.

Buddha said to reveal attainments is like women showing their private parts for money. It can cause unnecessary attention, until the laity doesn’t want to support other monks, just pour all the donations to the ones with attainment and publicly reveal it.

There’s no restriction for unordained people to reveal, so some of the Sayalay may freely say these stuffs as some sort of encouragement. Or the Pragmatic Dhamma movement, or Awaken to Reality Blog. Awakening to Reality: Thusness/PasserBy’s Seven Stages of Enlightenment

However, one does need to take a risk that some of those in Pragmatic Dhamma dunno what is really considered attainment and may falsely claim by overestimation of themselves.

Amongst monks, usually, it’s best to keep it to teacher-student relationship for these kinds of attainment talks. If the student needs to know it to gain confidence in the teacher, and for the teacher to check the student’s progress.

There’s seems no restriction either for the teacher to say this or that student (even unordained student) had attained to this or that attainment. But for monks to reveal other monk’s attainment thing, it can be dangerous, as the origin story in the vinaya had some cases like this (but it’s false claim).


Oh ok… thank you bhante.

The reason i asked is because the end of this video I watched is a little questionable… right around the 1 hour and 22 minute mark… (1:22)

As far as I know, from what I’ve read in the suttas, one cannot be in any jhana state while they are “awake” and interacting with the world. I think the whole point of these deep states is that one is completely withdrawn from the world and deep within their own mind. So I guess you have to make up your own mind when you come across such talks. :anjal:



I have found this useful, maybe you too?

I have learned one can differentiate the mind in which the defilments are temporary surpressed by means of ones own volition and concentration. These are the 8 jhana’s described in the sutta’s. These jhana states are conditioned and temporary. At that moment one does not participate in the world but one is absorbed in these states of mind and has a pleasant abiding here and now. These are called mundane or anariya jhana sometimes. These jhana’s were known in the time of the Buddha by other religions and teachers too. For example, Buddha learned to enter the two highest arupa jhana’s from his teachers.

AND, next to this category of mundane (still part of the world) or anariya jhana one talks about ariya jhana. States in which the defilements are really abandoned, and not only temporary surpressed. Great difference! One gets to ariya jhāna by removing kāma rāga and paṭigha, and not only surpressing these defilements temporary.

While one weakens and really removes defilement in stages (sotapanna—arahant) the calm or cooling down effect of jhana is felt all the time because the heat of the defilements are not only temporary gone but all the time gone. One is not in a forced mental state, as in mundane jhana. One naturally abides in a mind who tastes the cooling effects of the removed defilements. The arahant tastes this the best.

The heat of greed, the heat of hate, the heat of irritation, the heat of ego, the heat of craving, all that stress, heat, fire, is gone. All is not in flames anymore. Not temporary, as in mundane jhana but all the time.

Mudane jhana give a foretaste of how peaceful, cooled, mind is when defilements are absent temporary. It also makes one very aware how burdened mind is in daily life when defilements are present again.


No need to ask. One who has become noble will know other nobles, but one who is an ordinary person will never know any nobles.

You can find this statement in many Sutta such as MN 2

…Take an uneducated ordinary person who has not seen the noble ones…

…But take an educated noble disciple who has seen the noble ones …

Just by hearing their teaching or talking to them or looking at their writing or observing their behavior, one can know whether they are noble or not.

Also, if a monk just declares about his attainment to mass of people. I would be very suspicious.

Sure, okay. I guess my point was simply if you come across some sort of teaching or talk and you go back to the suttas, and it does not agree with what is in the suttas, then one can simply drop it and move on.

You always need to go back to the suttas, to the source, to see if it matches up, if it doesn’t, move on.

Otherwise, there is so much stuff and content out there that one can easily be confused. And I guess the whole point of the Dhamma is to go from being confused to NOT being confused.

P.S. I hope that wasn’t confusing :joy: :anjal:

I think it’s not phrased well.

The ordinary usage of know can mean meet, interact, I know this guy, I know of this person. Eg. Most people know of Ajahn chah as an enlightened one.

This seems to block any possibility of transforming from ordinary person to noble ones.

Unless there’s a clarification here:

Know here is a special knowing, direct knowledge. Not just suspicion, not just guess, not just faith.

Just by hearing their teaching or talking to them or looking at their writing or observing their behavior, one can know whether they are noble or not.

Also, if ordinary people lack the capacity to judge who is enlightened or not, then the quote above only applies to enlightened people.

Question to Ajahn Chah. :pray:t4:

Q: If putting everything together in our bowls is important, why don’t you as a teacher do it yourself? Don’t you feel it is important for the teacher to set an example?

Answer: Yes, it is true, a teacher should set an example for his disciples. I don’t mind that you criticize me. Ask whatever you wish. But it is important that you do not cling to the teacher. If I were absolutely perfect in outward form, it would be terrible. You would all be too attached to me. Even the Buddha would sometimes tell his disciples to do one thing and then do another himself. Your doubts in your teacher can help you. You should watch your own reactions. Do you think it is possible that I keep some food out of my bowl in dishes to feed the laymen who work around the temple? Wisdom is for yourself to watch and develop. Take from the teacher what is good. Be aware of your own practice. If I am resting while you must all sit up, does this make you angry? If I call the color blue red or say that male is female, don’t follow me blindly. One of my teachers ate very fast. He made noises as he ate. Yet he told us to eat slowly and mindfully. I used to watch him and get very upset. I suffered, but he didn’t! I watched the outside. Later I learned. Some people drive very fast but carefully. Others drive slowly and have many accidents. Don’t cling to rules, to outer form. If you watch others at most ten percent of the time and watch yourself ninety percent, this is the proper practice. At first I used to watch my teacher Ajahn Tong Raht and had many doubts. People even thought he was mad. He would do strange things or get very fierce with his disciples. Outside he was angry, but inside there was nothing. Nobody there. He was remarkable. He stayed clear and mindful until the moment he died. Looking outside the self is comparing, discriminating. You will not find happiness that way. Nor will you find peace if you spend your time looking for the perfect man or the perfect teacher. The Buddha taught us to look at the Dhamma, the truth, not to look at other people.



Just some remarks about confusion:

I think it is very normal to be confused as a human in this world. Very, very normal. I see it as a quality and it is a sign of wisdom. Oke, it is not nice to be troubled. It creates a difficult life, burdened, but there is plenty of quality in that live. A lot of goodness, truthfulness, sincerity, pureness, egolessness.

Confused people often do not have a strong cristalised sense of identity and a clear sense of this or that i like or dislike and this and that i want to become. That is quality but in this world it works against them.

It is like they are always looking and searching for ‘who am i?’, ‘where is my place in this world?’, "other people have found their place but where is my place?’, 'what is my role, ‘what is this life all about?’. Sensitive people. They are troubled due to their qualites and due to fact that the world does not see it as quality.

If you see a troubled person the change is great he/she is troubled because of goodness, pureness, wisdom, sincerity. It is oke to be confused. Normal, it is a sign of quality.

Insensitive people are much more stable, untroubled, unburdened. Sensitivity is a quality which is not understood, not seen, not appreciated, not rightly handled/ applied by oneself and therefor becomes a cause of suffering.

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But that is how Sutta said as I quoted in MN 2 above.

But have you seen, know him, associate with him and hear his teaching personally? Then, practice his teaching directly for 24 hours in your daily life? If so, does your Dukkha/ suffering become less and you have become happy in your daily life?

If you haven’t directly associate with him directly, then it is measly a hearsay unfortunately.

Teaching of Buddha is here and now. Can’t be only a hearsay, one needs to be able to investigate.

Everything needs to be direct knowledge, no wild guess, no estimation, not because a famous figure says so, not because anyone says so, not because of a tradition, not because a book writes about it, not because of the look, etc. just refer to Kalama Sutta AN 3.65.

LuangTa Maha Bua in his later years of teaching claimed to be enlightened, with the details of when and where. Not to bignote himself but to inspire others and because he became veey pessimistic about the future of the sasana in Thailand, due to the degeneration of the monkhood including the forest Dammayut branch.

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It’s a bit important to note, though, that this teaching, where he first gave the details, was delivered to a monastic-only audience at his temple. It just happened to have been recorded, and then the tape passed around.

My understanding of the history was that he never intended to break this vinaya rule, but his hand was forced when people started questioning him about that tape. What’s he going to say at that point? He was caught red-handed! :laughing: Has to fess up. Come clean.

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Dear Venerable,
That may be true and I take your point, but he has repeated this claim in at least four or five Desanas that I am aware of, some of them with Lay people in attendance as well. Personally I have no issue with this statement of attainment, ie., non judging. Also, I’m not a monastic and don’t have to worry about any Vinaya offences.
With metta,
Bill Prins.

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Speaking about one’s own attainments is best avoided. The relationship of the Buddhist laity is meant to be focussed on the wider Sangha as opposed to individual monks. Since the Buddha’s time one of the problems of speaking on one’s attainments was that the Buddhist laity would ignore the rest of the other monks and just be attracted to those who openly said that they reached a result on the path. The intended purpose of the monastic Sangha is primarily for training purposes.
Ajahn Chah didnt even mention about his attainments even to his students given that disrobing can happen in a monastic community where members who were previously part of a community could later disclose the attainments of teachers after they disrobe.
Also lets say that there was a culture around monks openly claiming their attainments. Lets say they have a close group of supporters but later disrobe and admit that one lied about their attainments. Because of this even the faithful lay supporters may lose trust not only in that individual but also the entire Sangha given that people can generalise so easily.
For all these reasons for the protection of the wider Sangha, to maintain safe and secure relationships between the Buddhist laity and Buddhist sangha it is important not to openly state one’s attainments.

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A person, named the Buddha, the awakened one, talked about his trainingmethods, his obstacles, his progression, his experiences with all jhana’s, with cessation, with Mara. His meetings with other living being in samsara like deva’s and hell beings. He talked about his former lives. He talked about kamma and rebirth, etc. He opened up. He did not teach with a fist closed. He also asked other Dhamma-experts to do this and to transfer true Dhamma for the benefit of other beings.

And now, years later, a Dhamma-expert must according all kinds of possible risks not talk about his experiences, attainments.

Oke, there is always a risk of fake guru’s, and loosing trust. So be it.

To my knowledge the buddha discussed his attainments to his monks. I dont think monks are allowed to discuss attainments to laity.

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The Buddha is sort of the exception to the rule.

He openly declared realization. Even to lay people. You see the recollection of Buddha chant. Very clearly attainments there.

Having the rule and without a living Buddha to assure or declare this or that monk, nuns, lay male and female disciples got enlightened to this or that degree, is a blow to being able to find reliable enlightened ones.

Nonetheless, the monastic community made do with the rule of non disclosure. The Mahayana community openly has so many monastics wrote about enlightenment experiences, from the ultimate truth viewpoint. It’s just that it’s not easy for unenlightened people to actually see the authors have so much wisdom and attainments.


I can follow these reasonings above but i find it inspiring to hear people talk about attainments. I see the risks but i also feel there are risks in not speaking from experience and always relating to Dhamma with eachother in a scholar-like academic conceptual of often even speculative way. I feel we very much need something different. More talk from experienced and progressed buddhist.

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