The connection between stream entry and noble eightfold path

When noble truths are realized…are they realized in sequence? Like from first to fourth?
As fourth truth is of noble eightfold path…My query is…as person can attain stream-entry only after following noble eightfold path truly and strictly…which is 4th truth itself. So does that mean noble eightfold path is realised in more subtle way during/after stream-entry?
I mean what happens exactly during stream-entry regarding 4th truth of noble eightfold path? Which is how person actually reaches there in the first place!

[Venerable bhante @Brahmali it would be really great if you could kindly spare time and clarify this sir…I genuinely want to understand…]

What do you guys think would be the explanation?

Also please let me know if it’s not appropriate to ask this kind of question in this improper way… Being a lay person and not a monk!

Thank you all!

Yes, but it happens from the beginning, the development of the path gradually proceeds from a verbal to an experiential level, the NEP is verbal:

""And what is the manner of reckoning whereby a monk who is a learner, standing at the level of a learner, can discern that ‘I am a learner’? There is the case where a monk is a learner. He discerns, as it actually is, that ‘This is stress… This is the origination of stress… This is the cessation of stress… This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.’ This is a manner of reckoning whereby a monk who is a learner, standing at the level of a learner, can discern that ‘I am a learner.’—Samyutta Nikaya 48.53

The learner experiences the four noble truths in the body. That means they experience the NEP as sila/samadhi/panna, an actual knowing of how events give rise to samadhi in reality, and how that is the basis for insights. They manufacture samadhi in daily life and enjoy ongoing insight, but have not fully developed in strength the five spiritual faculties.

The Buddha-to-be’s pre-awakening experience related in Majhima Nikaya 19 focuses on his investigation of the second and third noble truths. Investigation (the first active of the seven factors of awakening) means observing mental actions and their results:

""And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with sensuality arose in me. I discerned that ‘Thinking imbued with sensuality has arisen in me; and that leads to my own affliction or to the affliction of others or to the affliction of both. It obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding.’


"“And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with renunciation arose in me. I discerned that 'Thinking imbued with renunciation has arisen in me; and that leads neither to my own affliction, nor to the affliction of others, nor to the affliction of both. It fosters discernment, promotes lack of vexation, & leads to Unbinding.”

In that sutta is hidden all the links of the NEP in embryonic form, and the second is readily seen, as well as right effort. Realization of the second and third noble truths gave rise to the NEP.

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N8fp is not realized in sequence. The first AFAIk happens when someone realizes the impermanence associated with existence. This means understanding the twelve links of dependent origination. Said simply, it means understanding that intentions are made due to ignorance of the four noble truths. However, in order to achieve this, one has to practice radical attention, mindfulness with awareness in relation to the contact because the grasping aggregates including the intention arise from contact.
When this milestone is reached, one has realized that there is only suffering in existence but not a self who enjoys the aggregates. This is the vision into stream entry which also comes with faith in the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha.
From this point onward, there is no turning back except to follow the path to liberation with the other three milestones along the way.
Hope this helps though it is brief.
With Metta

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So principally realisation of first noble truth means stream-entry, am I right? Or this conclusion is too much blunt?

N8fp should be followed truly in order to attain stream-entry…and after stream-entry, one is irreversibly(without failing) established in n8fp…am I right here?

So perfect realization of all the 4 noble truths leads to complete awakening(arhatship I suppose)…but what differentiates stream-entry from complete awakening in terms of 4 noble truths?

My personal answer here is no. I imagine the 4th & 3rd noble truths are first realized by a stream-enterer, then later the 1st & 2nd. I think a stream-enterer can only truly, with their heart, clearly realize the 1st & 2nd noble truths after they have experienced the 3rd. The 1st noble truth seems to summarize all suffering as attachment (upadana). I think realizing all attachment is suffering can only occur when the contrasting peace of non-attachment (3rd truth) is experienced.

In my opinion, as said above, ‘yes’. The core of suffering, namely, attachment, can be so subtle. Therefore, for the stream-enterer, they realized the Path is primarily about non-attachment or letting go (rather than about keeping the 3rd, 4th & 5th factors and clumsily striving to concentrate in an unbalanced way).

I imagine the person hears the Dhamma of giving up craving; of non-attachment (as Ajahn Chah explains in the video). Therefore, like leaping off a high cliff into a deep river flowing to the ocean, the person makes a leap of brave faith and decides to do their best to give up attachment & craving.

I feel it is of worth to see the difference between the mundane ways of the world, including mundane eightfold path, and the way beyond that, the noble path.

I feel that when dhamma-eye is opened one also sees the relative use of virtue, good deeds, development, effort, because anything conditioned and constructed, made, produced, will end too.
Ofcourse, effort, development, virtue can bring good results, and that is good ofcourse :grinning:, but also they will end.

Seeing this, i feel, there is a real condition for becoming less fanatic, obsessed, troubled, passionate. Because behind all that usual passion is very often also a strong urge to do good, rescue, to help.

I feel, here supramundane effort is different. It is an effort to end even bright deeds. I feel it wants to connect goodness of heart with wisdom. Bring balance.

I do not think that every stream-entrent really knows first noble truth as Buddha did, such as the suffering of all beings in samsara, the pain of hell-beings, the affliction of peta’s, etc. Maybe not even the experiantial suffering of severe illness, old age, dying.

I personally believe an important aspect of Dhamma is seeing how relative all is (not meaning worthless!). In other words: ‘whatever is subject to arising is also subject to ceasing’. Also the fruits of doing good cease. I feel this makes one realistic and less fanatic, obsessive, passionate, especially also in doing good.

I tend to believe that a stream-enterer sees this. He/she does good but also sees the relativity of all this. This aspect of the relativity of deeds, even good deeds, is a mark of a wise person, i think, also in obeying rules and doing practices. If it is not establised in wisdom it becomes again fanatic, obsessed, passionate, ego, fury.

I personally feel that a noble sees the uncreated, unmade, unbecome, but not as an esoteric mystical experience but just as that in ordinairy mind that one does not see arising and ceasing like formations.
It is always part of ones experience, but often our attention is only to movements, formations.

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The major realization of the four noble truths occurs at stream-entry, from then on it’s just a matter of developing skills until they become faculties. That’s why Samyutta Nikaya 48.53 does not mention the 4NT for the adept, but says the distinguishing quality there is complete command of the five spiritual faculties, conviction, persistence, mindfulness, concentration, discernment, which have been progressively developed.

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My understanding is (was!?) that entering the stream is entering the noble eightfold path. Before that, we’re making our way to the path, but we’re not actually on it. But I may be confused. What do you think? …

“Sāriputta, they speak of a ‘factor of stream-entry’. What is a factor of stream-entry?”

“Sir, the factors of stream-entry are associating with good people, listening to the true teaching, proper attention, and practicing in line with the teaching.”

“Good, good, Sāriputta! For the factors of stream-entry are associating with good people, listening to the true teaching, proper attention, and practicing in line with the teaching.

Sāriputta, they speak of ‘the stream’. What is the stream?”

“Sir, the stream is simply this noble eightfold path, that is: right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right immersion.”

“Good, good, Sāriputta! For the stream is simply this noble eightfold path, that is: right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right immersion.

Sāriputta, they speak of ‘a stream-enterer’. What is a stream-enterer?”

“Sir, anyone who possesses this noble eightfold path is called a stream-enterer, the venerable of such and such name and clan.”

“Good, good, Sāriputta! For anyone who possesses this noble eightfold path is called a stream-enterer, the venerable of such and such name and clan.”

SN 5.55


Thank you sir.
Now this above sutta clears many doubts. So this stream means stream of noble eightfold path! Stream of dhamma means stream of noble eightfold path.

So stream entry is actual realization/penetration of first truth of impermanence resulting in breaking of this identity view which gives rise to conceived self…then after realizing impermanence then anatta(non-self), then realisation of its cause which is tanha then truth of ending of suffering due to ending of cause(which is tanha) and lastly the path that leads to it which is n8fp… subsequent arising of unshakable confidence/faith in triple jewel of buddha(supreme teacher), dhamma(teachings) and sangha of true disciples.

So it’s in short entry into pure dhamma/noble eightfold path… journey is merely started and many many defilements/kleshas are cut permanently, lower five are merely index in a big book of kleshas, as thousands of defilements are cut permanently…hence it is actually very very hard to attain such a penetration into reality, very very easier said than done. Tremendous efforts are required as defilements carried from innumerable time periods are cut.

Earlier I used to think that noble eightfold path is to be walked in order to attain stream-entry…but now I understand it as you said above…we are actually making our way to that path, stream-entry means real start of following that noble eightfold path.

So it’s like this four noble truths are real base of reality unseen to the ordinary beings because of defilements…after this base is seen…then real journey begins of ending all the problems permanently…and success is seen as complete command of five spiritual faculties(can you plz tell me what are those???)…then conviction, persistence, mindfulness, concentration, discernment…as you said above sir… am I right?

I think based on above replies, it should be appropriate to say that actually all the four truths are realized…in stream-entry…it must be like visiting some place so beautiful that we cannot maintain that more than sine moments, and it was too beautiful that it changes you completely…you don’t remain same…you become truly good person, selfless one, one who has abandoned evil tendencies including latent ones, destroyed tendencies which take one away from real happiness, one worthy of obeisance and veneration. That’s how I see it now.

Also it is said that stream-enterer cannot do five heinous/most evil acts(drawing blood of buddha…so on)…so it must be that… stream-enterer has cut off the latent tendency to do those acts. This shows that generally all have those tendencies (not-being a stream-enterer)…it’s not that we will do it…but we are capable of going in that direction if such situation arises… tomorrow (future births) if not today as we don’t know which tendencies will be carried in next birth. Stream-entry means whatever be the situation one will not do those acts(karmas) and alike acts.

Exactly sir…I completely agree with your above statement…that’s why it’s actually hard for ordinary people like us to recognise which monk is stream-enterer, once-returner, non-returner, arhat… We don’t have dhamma eye to see dhamma in others.

I believe these great noble beings can understand perfectly relative use of virtue hence…they can for example actually get angry on their student if it will benefit him…as sometimes strong criticism can help someone in getting on right track.

I think you mean about realisation of impermanence here…

Ofcourse but it’s same to Buddha in the context of being basic truth of life/reality.

It may not be same as buddha…or it maybe…but it is certain that stream-enterer knows about illness, old age, dying… more than ordinary beings like you and me. Because they have attained glimpse of permanence only because they have perfectly saw the impermanence in their own body itself in the first place(unlike us who just believe it,l to be true, but not have realised it yet). We are different in that, we actually don’t desire permanence to the extent that every stream-enterer does/did before attaining it.

Because of the breakthrough to the 4NT, at stream entry faith (conviction) becomes unshakable.

Five spiritual faculties:

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The texts constant talk about the noble eightfold path as: right view, right intention, right…etc.

But here we have to see and understand, i believe, what is noble right view here as part of the stream? Do we talk here about, for example, believing in rebirth as right view? Believing in kamma? What is right view as part of the stream which leads out of samsara? What is right intention? What is right effort as part of the stream?

It might be helpful for you to further consider the Four Noble Truths with the Three Turnings as is presented in SN56.11

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The first noble truth is suffering associated with impermanence. When it is understood, one must be able to understand the not self nature of all phenomena as well. This then exposes the futility of craving which is the second noble truth, the cessation and the path.
When someone has understood this much, he or she is considered as having the right view which is the first path factor. One who is established on right view afaik is a stream winner. It is like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel but the light is still too far away. Bur he or she has no turning back from the path until they complete it in a maximum of seven existences.
With Metta

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Personally, I regard the above as not relevant in a practical way. I imagine there are millions of puthujjana (common worldlings) unable to commit the five heinous acts. :slightly_smiling_face:

Yes sir but it is because there is dhamma present in this era some way or other way. Dispensation of Lord Gautama Buddha is there in the world that’s why millions of putthujana are unable to committ those heinous acts. In future if many are born in era …In the absence of dhamma(as we generally don’t know where our future birth will be and which tendencies will surface during birth), given the conditions, I believe many are actually capable of doing bad deeds. Anyways yes it is actually not relevent in practical way as you say😅.

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Not believing but knowing perfectly…and right view is the view that whatever comes, it goes, whenever there is birth, there is death, whenever there is start, there is end. Not believing in karma but actually destroying many of those fetters/kleshas/defilements which give rise to thes karmas which bring suffering. Right effort as part of stream should amount to effort which will be of benefit to one and others and which will not bring suffering to one and others.

We as normal putthujana actually don’t realise what is impermanence, we just know it as intellectual understanding, just a speculative accepted conclusion which is usually part of our thinking/discussion. Only when one sees/realises impermanence directly, can actually attain stream-entry… That’s how it should be I suppose.

It is very well explained in few words.

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Thank you sir …this has also clarified many doubts. It just shows how far away one is from truth, there is too much to be learned. This makes person more humble and lessens ego.:pray: