I wonder what the categories of sotapanna, once- and non-returner are actually for. Arahantship is clear, it signifies enlightenment. But what is the practical value of the others?
We often discussed “who is an arahant?” “how can we know?” etc. and often came to the problem that monastics are not allowed to tell. Ok. But we also concluded that nothing prevents lay people from realizing sotapatti. Just, where are all the posts and stories that say “Hey guys, yesterday I realized sotapatti, yippie!! And that’s how I did it, and that’s what happened”?
Maybe it’s so subtle that it’s hard to tell. But then the category is not much worth, isn’t it? It would go back to an arahant with the divine eye to verify any sotapanna - which means there would be nothing self-evident about the experience and I would rather have to trust the mind-reading abilities of a guru.
But maybe I’m wrong and there are many lay-sotapatti-awakening-stories out there. Please point me to them. Until then allow me to believe that these categories serve as carrots on a stick to make me feel great about being a Buddhist because my “faith is unshakable and therefore I might die as a stream-enterer, I just have to hang on”