Sotapanna through meditation


I am not sure if someone having ‘impressive conduct’ qualified them as a stream enterer, does it?

But even if so, according to your idea, we still have no report at all of him becoming a stream enterer. Only of him being a stream enterer. Thus this seems like it has been a long wild goose chase, as this is all in answer to asking for actual accounts of people attaining, not having attained, stream entry.

The fact that according to your idea, this happened before he had ever met the Buddha, is irrelevant to the matter being questioned. Since it tells us nothing about whether his attainment of stream entry depended on direct contact with ariyas, or not. Unless there is something I’m missing?


This is indeed the critical point of contention. There is no record of how Pukkusāti learned the Dhamma. There is a record that Pukkusāti had not previously met the Buddha. Two possibilities exist:

  1. Pukkusāti learned by word of mouth
  2. Pukkusāti learned from an arahant

Interestingly Pukkusāti names the Buddha himself as his teacher:

mn140: “Reverend, there is the ascetic Gotama—a Sakyan, gone forth from a Sakyan family.

Because of this, one can infer that Pukkusāti learned by word of mouth. Otherwise he would have said something like “I learned from X, who was a student of Gotama…”

Therefore, Pukkusāti attained an “impressive conduct” (which is really quite high praise coming from the Buddha himself) on his own as a follower-by-faith of the Dhamma as learned by word of mouth. Pukkusāti declares himself as a follower-by-faith, which includes stream-enterers. That, combined with the Buddha’s approval (i.e., “impressive”) are evidence enough for me of stream-entry. However, I’ll acknowledge that others may not hold that view.

I.e., what I take as evidence may not work for you.


The householder Dārukammika claims to give gifts to arahants. But the Buddha warns him that it’s hard to know who is really an arahant, and encourage him instead to make offerings to the Saṅgha.

Householder, as a layman enjoying sensual pleasures, living at home with your children, using sandalwood imported from Kāsi, wearing garlands, fragrance, and makeup, and accepting gold and money, it’s hard for you to know who is perfected or on the path to perfection.

Ever since the buddha said it is hard to find an arahant or someone who is on the path to perfection, we have to assume that listening from an aryan is not that important to the stream entry. If it was that important the buddha should mention it somewhare.

There are number of examples where the listeners achieved their perfection even with the stream entry alone. However, there is no need of recording something personal, and isolated from the crowd. I saw someone already mentioned this.
Only way is to understand the stories with our rational thinking.

Anyways, you see what you believe, only way to find it out; try yourself with no aryan advice.


Firstly, those two possibilities are not mutually exclusive. Secondly, I don’t think there is a single person in the EBTs who learned the Buddha’s dhamma from any way other than ‘word of mouth’.

You are concluding that someone orally instructed him in the dhamma. I have no idea why you think this addresses this point:

Here are possibilities your example does not exclude:

  1. He heard the teachings (‘word of mouth’) from an or multiple ariyas.
  2. He was trained over an extended period an or multiple ariyas.

There were many many Buddhists alive in the time of the Buddha. Many of whom never met the Buddha, but studied and trained from their own teachers in various communities around the country. If you think that a report that one of those Buddhists who considers the Buddha as their ‘teacher’ (not unusual since he is the source of their religion), must necessarily have never had an actual teacher in person, I think you need to provide some evidence for that claim. I do not say it is impossible, but see no reason to accept it so far.


That makes sense. I have enough evidence to guide my own practice, but that would probably not meet stricter requirements. I guess my initial alarm stemmed from the possibility that we might directly read the suttas differently. However, where we diverge is in strictness of interpretation.


Not sure if I am understanding that paragraph. Are you saying that there are examples in the EBTs of people attaining stream entry alone, but that they were not recorded? If so, that is self contradictory. If that’s not what you meant, please explain.

This point is not about what I believe. It’s about what there is evidence for, in the EBTs.

So far from this thread it seems conclusive that the only examples of stream entry happening in the EBTs are all from listening to an ariya speak. Fascinating.

@Gabriel does the same apply for Dhammacakkhu? Or perhaps that was already accounted for in that assessment?

Yes I would not want to project assumptions onto the passages if at all avoidable. I think assuming he had no contact with any ariyas when there is no evidence for that at all, would be a step I would certainly not want to take. It actually seems a bizarre idea to me. Perhaps as random as assuming he had never tasted milk! No evidence for either.

Please don’t forget that there would have been plenty of monks and nuns who had never met the Buddha also. During his lifetime. I would find it odd if you also believed they had surely never interacted with an ariya, or never tasted milk.

We have one such monk in the suttas by the way. A very well behaved fellow.


That must be so, because again, I am not aware of any stream-entry as a consequence of a teaching. Even of the two examples I brought only Sakka would qualify as having become a sotapanna due to a direct teaching - and even here it sounds more like a declaration of faith, and not like a spiritual attainment (as we would understand it).


No direct records. However, there are some suttas where we can come to an understanding that person attained stream entry with meditation


How is that different from saying that there are examples in the EBTs of monastics travelling to Hawaii on rainbow coloured flying carpets, except ‘no direct records’?


This AN4.191 sutta is about a person who practices meditation and then he dies without entering the stream. He attain the stream entry in his next life.
AN 4.191

Take a mendicant who memorizes the teaching—statements, songs, discussions, verses, inspired exclamations, legends, stories of past lives, amazing stories, and classifications. They’ve followed those teachings by ear, reinforced them by recitation, examined them by the mind, and well comprehended them theoretically. But they die unmindful and are reborn in one of the orders of gods. Being happy there, passages of the teaching come back to them. Memory comes up slowly, but then that being quickly reaches distinction. This is the first benefit you can expect when the teachings have been followed by ear, reinforced by recitation, examined by the mind, and well comprehended theoretically.

How come this exact thing cannot happen in this very life?


Because that mendicant took the slow path and was unmindful.

dn28: The pleasant practice with slow insight is said to be inferior because it’s slow.

It is slow because:

an4.163: But they have these five faculties weakly:
an4.163: faith, energy, mindfulness, immersion, and wisdom.

Perhaps we both might favor swift insight in this life?


I am questioning the way of achievement, not the person.


Going back to the original question, yes there are. Don’t think it as an actual person attaining stream-entry - it’s more that some suttas say that it’s possible via meditation.

Most importantly, sotapatti is very little associated with samadhi specifically. We have only a vague connection with the Eightfold Path (SN 55.5). And the statement that ‘the fruit of the eightfold path is stream-entry’ (SN 45.35/37/39).

Other than that it’s more ‘vipassana’ that is to be practiced:
SN 22.122: carefully attending to the five khandhas
AN 1.596 mindfulness directed to the body
AN 6.10, AN 11.11: recollection of Buddha Dhamma Saṅgha, virtuous behavior, generosity, deities

The vast majority however focus on other requirements: the three fetters, or faith with sila leading to samadhi. AN 3.86 explicitly limits the meditation requirements, here sila is necessary, but only to a moderate extent samadhi and panna.


This potentially could make it even clearer why the ariya sangha was so important. Awakening through direct contact with someone who has awakened.

Perhaps it was like it is in Tibetan Buddhism with pointing out instructions, and with Advaita also, and as they say in Zen with the direct transmission. With no counter examples, that’s potentially a strong case, or at least a case for that being a or the main way, if it’s the only one ever mentioned!

It need not be anything so exotic like ‘direct transmission’ (nothing akin to this is suggested anywhere in the EBTs). In fact, the idea that you could physically transfer awakening seems to go against everything else we know about the Dhamma: it is wisdom (paññā) that has the power to uproot the defilements.

And as others have pointed out, if someone realized stream entry through meditation it may not have been something that is likely to be mentioned in the discourses.

However, it may point out the value of hearing (or reading) the Dhamma from one who has attained right view (i.e. stream enterer or beyond), since they’re unlikely to preach the Dhamma in a way that would promulgate wrong view in the listener’s mind.

There are many who believe there are those who have attained stream entry and beyond in the present age, particularly among insight meditation traditions. Bhikkhu Anālayo says in his book “Satipatthana Meditation: A Practice Guide”:

I would also like to put on record my indebtedness to the guidance I received when formerly practising in several Theravāda meditation traditions, in particular those taught by Ajahn Buddhadāsa, Mahāsi Sayādaw, and S.N. Goenka, without which I would not have arrived at the approach presented here. Perhaps even more significant is my indebtedness to Godwin Samararatne for having taught me the appropriate meditative attitude.

In the past I had the good fortune to encounter other practitioners who had attained levels of awakening. These were found among followers of several mainstream vipassanā traditions, such as those taught by Mahāsi Sayādaw, S.N. Goenka, and Pa Auk Sayādaw. Still others did not follow any particular tradition. I do not have any doubt that each of these vipassanā traditions is capable of leading to the breakthrough to stream-entry, just as I do not have the slightest doubt that what I present here has the same potential. Thus what I have described here is not meant to supersede other meditation traditions, but rather intended as offering yet another option for progress on the path. In short, my motivation is to enrich, not to compete.

Of course, whether to believe these claims or not is upto you.


I didn’t get this argument actually. Arahantship and once-return are freely communicated in the suttas. Also, as showed above the link of stream-entry with meditation is actually quite weak. Why are we assuming then that people went into the forest attaining sotapatti and the suttas kept quite about it?

I could make the opposite argument: Stream-entry - if taken as the <7 rebirths - is much more relevant than the silly divine rebirths that the suttas keep obsessing about which mostly keep beings entrappaed in samsara. Wouldn’t it be much more necessary to tell the audience a faith-inducing “This is the person, this is what they practiced, they attained stream-entry!”? Rather than “Donate stuff to the Sangha, and you’ll be reborn as a deva, yeay”


My guess, and this is a total guess, is that such people tended to achieve the higher paths and fruits later in that lifetime, and the Canon merely reports their highest eventual attainment.


That’s possible, and here we’re obviously all speculating. But I’d like to bring back to mind that the suttas are not only a tool to transmit ancient words. Many suttas were composed with the explicit purpose to encourage, motivate, convert, convince, promise.

Just see how later generations thought that arahantship is not possible anymore, that not even jhanas were possible anymore.

So were are left with a somewhat bizarre situation that we have simple manuals for how to reach heavenly rebirth (which is clearly laid out and hence possible). We have the promise of attainable arahantship (more or less convincingly framed) - but the one step on the path which would be a fundamental existential relief, a huge motivation to practice, stream-entry, the beginning of the happy end, is left in the dark.

This should have been the single most important conversion tool: not as demanding as arahanthip, and yet dramatic in effect. Any yet, 2500 years later people who seriously read the texts still don’t have a real clue what the actual signs are - is it an experience? can I know myself? do I need an arahant for confirmation? what is the exact path? etc.

To me the conclusion is that we have to re-conceptualize this category


People who meditate would have developed samādhi and pañña that are strong enough to lift them up to non returner state and perfection. It is unlikely to stop their path at stream entry becuase of their developed indriyās.


Well, I simply must disagree with you on this point. In April I gave you a several hundred page anthology of texts all about Stream Entry.

But, I am very happy to hear that you’re still interested in Stream Entry, and I sincerely wish you a speedy attainment of that “one way path” :slight_smile:


Thanks, I went through all the suttas too. I’m not saying that there are no suttas mentioning stream-entry. I’m saying that the texts are not clear and not consistent (obviously we differ here). Take the jhanas for example - they are also partly unclear (thought/no-thought? etc), but at least consistent.

Stream-entry is sometimes put in super-simple terms, like AN 10.64: “Bhikkhus, all those who have unwavering confidence in me are stream-enterers.” Here, it’s confidence in the Buddha - Yippy, 90% of the people here on the forum are stream-enterers!

And then we have the super high demands of SN 24: “When, bhikkhus, a noble disciple has abandoned perplexity in these six cases, and when, further, he has abandoned perplexity about suffering, the origin of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the way leading to the cessation of suffering, he is then called a noble disciple who is a stream-enterer” - so basically I have to have complete certainty about the truths including magga - and suddenly we are back to at most a one-digit number of people on this forum.

Also, I’m quite aware that I can fabricate a logic into the suttas, create some sense there, probably some combination of faith, sila, and understanding. But this would be my hammered out product, not the texts teaching me clearly and consistently - That’s my take at least.