Systematic Practice in the Path to Stream-Entry: Necessity of a Teacher's Guidance in Early Buddhist Texts?

As far as I know, there are four factors that lead to stream-entry.

I want to ask if, according to the EBT, aside from listening to the Dhamma from a noble one, is there a sequential practice that does not require the guidance of a teacher?

In your opinion, is the Dhamma something that has a systematic sequential practice, or is it directly pointed out by the teacher to the student?

In Vietnam today, many people believe that enlightenment involves a great deal of luck (having the complete conditions for enlightenment). Most people who claim to be enlightened think that systematically reading scriptures is unnecessary. There are even enlightened individuals who have never read the EBT. And those individuals have even never known about Buddhism.

As for me, I completely believe that enlightenment of the truth is real. However, doubts and self-view still exist within me, so I know I have not yet attained enlightenment.

To attain enlightenment, I believe that jhana is absolutely necessary. However, my understanding of this concept is entirely different from what is mentioned in the Visuddhimagga. There is no specific object of concentration. The mind becomes tranquil when defilements are removed. This mind observes life vividly rather than focusing on one object and forgetting everything else around.


Firstly, a mendicant, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters and remains in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected. They enjoy it and like it and find it satisfying. If they abide in that, are committed to it, and meditate on it often without losing it, when they die they’re reborn in the company of the gods of Brahmā’s Host. The lifespan of the gods of Brahma’s Host is one eon. An ordinary person stays there until the lifespan of those gods is spent, then they go to hell or the animal realm or the ghost realm. But a disciple of the Buddha stays there until the lifespan of those gods is spent, then they’re extinguished in that very life. This is the difference between a learned noble disciple and an unlearned ordinary person, that is, when there is a place of rebirth.

This very much differs i feel. For example AN1.596-599 says:
One thing, mendicants, when developed and cultivated leads to the realization of the fruit of stream-entry … once-return … non-return … perfection. What one thing? Mindfulness of the body. This one thing, when developed and cultivated, leads to the realization of the fruit of stream-entry … once-return … non-return … perfection.”

SN22.122 says:

"Reverend Koṭṭhita, an ethical mendicant should rationally apply the mind to the five grasping aggregates as impermanent, as suffering, as diseased, as a boil, as a dart, as misery, as an affliction, as alien, as falling apart, as empty, as not-self. What five? That is, the grasping aggregates of form, feeling, perception, choices, and consciousness. An ethical mendicant should rationally apply the mind to these five grasping aggregates as impermanent, as suffering, as diseased, as a boil, as a dart, as misery, as an affliction, as alien, as falling apart, as empty, as not-self. It’s possible that an ethical mendicant who rationally applies the mind to the five grasping aggregates will realize the fruit of stream-entry.”

There are people who are not yet sotapanna but are described as impossible to die without the fruit of stream entrence (SN25.1) The dhammanusarin and saddhanusarin focus both seems to be on change, instability, impermanence of what is sensed, of all the sense-vinnana’s, all the sense-contacts, the feelings born from that, the perceptions/recognition of what is sensed, the intentions regarding what is sensed, and the cravings in regards to what is sensed. (SN25.2-8)
Another perspective (but still the same, i feel) is that they also know the change, the perishing, the impermanence of the elements, including space and vinnana element (SN25.9), and the aggregates (SN25.10)

It seem like that this knowledge and vision of the impermanent, perishable, changing nature of what is conditionally arising is, as it were, the run-in

Ofcourse the systematic practice is, in general, to develop the Path, the three pillars of ethical behaviour, concentration, wisdom, and listening to Green…(or maybe not :innocent:)

The Way to achieve Enlightenment is to accept the full Path that Gautama Buddha laid out. Instead of picking and choosing, we must follow the entire Buddhadhamma, and not reject any of what Buddha meant and said. In that way we will find that He is really talking to us directly, and Awakening will draw close. That is my understanding.

Depends on the area of coverage of what you deem as buddhadhamma, as classical Theravada tends to reject sutta in favour of commentaries, Mahāyāna tends to reject early suttas in favour of their own sutras.

I think that Enlightenment is a unique thing. Truly accepting it may require one to follow the Buddha throughout all of His Teachings, to find that Clear Awakened State it’s important not to let mere provisions stop us from seeing the Ultimate. For the three provisional Vehicles are only preached as three because we live in a degraded age. A more unified stance, respecting the entirety of diversity in the three Vehicles, we can realize that it all is truly just one Vehicle, like I’ve mentioned before, from which the Buddha preaches and what He means, as the Buddhayana. His Enlightenment.

That doesn’t mean that the Theravada Bhikkhus should jump into the Mahayana if they feel more drawn to the Early Suttas, or that the Mahayana Monks should abandon their Bodhisattva Path and instead seek to end their suffering first, or that the Vajrayana Practitioners should abandon their Vows… No, no, no, if they don’t want to, no. To completely see Unity in Buddhism is to accept the whole of it as working for those who are meant to walk the Path, uniquely but similarly for each school. Every bit of authentic Buddhism is important. It’s what helps the Dharmachakra turn.

But when it comes to the Highest Enlightenment that Gautama Buddha achieved, I don’t think we should see that as merely instrumental to one Buddhist philosophy, instead it is important to see that His Enlightenment affected all, even for all Time, past, present, and future. That is why Enlightenment is such a Wonderful thing. And searching for it is far beyond the conventional approach, while all the while employing many of the conventional means to do so and more. So I think if we find Buddha in all of Buddhism, we may find the Buddha within too. It may take a long time, but that’s what I hope to do. I am highly inspired by the Path of Siddhartha.

This is a very good example of using later texts to discard the earlier in guise of all are respected.

Same thing with classical Theravada.

But they cannot accept EBT’s conclusions that contradicts their later texts.

For Mahāyāna, most cannot accept nothing after parinibbāna, so no way for arahants to be reborn to become Buddhas anymore. Also no such thing as Nibbāna where one can come back, that’s just false nibbāna from the point of view of EBT.

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I think that your perception of Nibbana is accurate, personally, some just may not understand what Nibbana is. There is an understanding in some Mahayana that Samsara and Nibbana is the same thing, which accepts the meaning of Emptiness and no-Self fully. Seeing that there is no difference between extinguishment and non, and letting go of the ephemeral, an understanding of extinguishment can arise and why we call it Enlightenment, Awakening, or entering Nibbana. Giving people more time and space to explore these ideas is fair and helpful. However, Theravada has all the insights necessary for one to achieve Nibbana, exactly as you mentioned.

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Agreed, same experience.


This is yet another mahāyāna teaching which contradicts EBT.

Saṁsāra is conditioned, subject to impermanence, and dukkha.

Nibbāna is unconditoned, not subject to impermance and not dukkha.

How can they be the same?

They only share the characteristics of not self/empty.

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Thank you for your kind reply. In those characteristics of not-Self and Emptiness, the connection to Nibbana is found. Nibbana is not Samsara, and clearly Samsara is not Nibbana, but those in Samsara can quickly reach Nibbana if they realize the aspects of Sunyata and Anatta present in both the conditioned and non-conditioned, because in that connection is the Enlightenment, and the reason for ferrying others to the Other Shore. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I do believe emptiness is conditioned arising, not nibbana. Mahayana follows the bodhisattva path, so nibbana is not the culmination of practice, rather having assisted all to attain enlightenment is. It is often commented that this is an absurd goal.

Emptiness is not Nibbana, but Nibbana can be perceived only when Sunyata is understood, that is why understanding it is so important. The mind–object factor is transcended by all means in such understanding.

The Bodhisattva ideal is not absurd. It just takes a lot of Compassion to embody it, and it’s what keeps Buddhism going, not the cessation of the Dhamma from the Saha World, so to speak

David Loy is one of the people who describes the bodhisattva vow as absurd, because its goal can never be obtained. I’ve spent some time discussing his erudition with him, since he is one of the only Buddhist scholars to have published on the intersection between Buddhist philosophy and Deleuzian philosophy, my area of research. He’s quite laid back, and his approach makes perfect sense to me

I understand. In Mahayana there are many Bodhisattvas and Buddhas as understood to be constantly abiding in the Saha World to save others out of their Compassion. In the Lotus Sutra, for example, Shakyamuni Buddha Himself is described to be constantly in the Saha World. Have you ever had anyone tell you they’ll “always be there for you”? Many have had their hearts broken in such appenditures, but unconditional Love has it’s ways of manifesting itself through many where they truly “always want to be there” for those suffering through the Saha World. So the Bodhisattva Path has a purpose, in Metta, in meaning, and in the Theravada we have Buddha because of it.

I think understanding all of these Teachings that come in play by learning from all Vehicles of Buddhism can create good morale to confidently practice the system of Buddhism. But all of it is really a question of our Love.

this is no possibility that an individual could be a stream enterer and not know about buddhism.

that is completely at odds with the definition of stream entry the buddha provided in the pali suttas.

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It depends on what you mean by “Buddhism”. We have the notion of private buddhas, spontaneously enlightened beings in the Pāli suttas. They may never have heard of Siddhatta or the Buddha-Dhamma as we know it, but they may know experientially that there are enlightened beings in every corner of the universe, regardless of what they’re called.

Dhamma doesn’t depend on Buddha to manifest itself - anyone with right intention can awaken to the reality and see the same path on their own merit.