The meaning of stream attainment?

Following another member’s suggestion, I am trying to read ‘Living Word of the Buddha SD vol 6 no 10M 117 On the Great Forty’

I was not very far into it when I came across this:
" the Theravāda understanding the tendency to fix opinions can only exist prior to stream-attain-ment. In stream –attainment, since the wisdom of stream-attainment is characterized assammā-diṭṭhi,a form ofpaññāthat precisely turns away from the inclination to hold fixed opinions; oncethe four truths have been directly seen, the mind has no inclination to either eternalism [n]or anni-hilationism, the mind has no tendency to misinterpret Buddhist theory in terms of either annihila-tionism or eternalism."

Can someone please explain what " stream-attain-ment" is? Or perhaps explain this section so Newbie can grasp its significance?

Namaste

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Stream attainment or stream-entry is the first stage of awakening (enlightenment). The first of four stages (or 8 if you break it up further). This is probably more than enough info, but browsing over it might provide a basic overview:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/study/into_the_stream.html

It’s important to clearly understand what the goal is, but that can seem kind of far off for many of us. Personally, I think for beginners and even for those with many years of experience a very important and beneifical practice is something called the “three pillars of dhamma”, they are:

(dāna) - generosity, gift-giving and gratitude
(sīla) - moral training or virtuous conduct
(bhāvana) - cultivation or development, meditation training

Traditionally, gift-giving to the sangha (community of monastics) is considered very meritorious. The way the Buddha describes it, the more virtuous the person you give a gift to the more benefit there is to you (good kamma!) So even if you have no monks/nuns nearby, you can give a gift or act generously (with body, speech, or mind) toward someone you believe is virtuous.

Moral training for laypeople is usually in taking the 5 precepts, you might be familiar with that already? There’s a lot that can be said about precepts, but you could probably say that they are all about reducing harm to self and others, being careful and caring.

Too much has probably already been said about meditation, that’s why I think it’s important to focus on these other factors.

Another very foundational practice is that of saddha or faith, which can also be translated as confidence or trust. This is basically do you have faith or trust in the Buddha’s awakening, do you have confidence in what he taught and the community of monastics that have uninterruptedly maintained and preserved these teachings for 2500+ years? Confidence or trust are probably better words than faith, since in the Buddhist path blind faith is not important, rather you try and test the teaching for yourself, in other words, prove it. This is kind of what stream-entry is, a level of proof that the teaching works. In the beginning, it’s a bit less clear, but there might be a trust that this “sounds right” or that the teaching “speaks to us” in a certain way, that it has a “ring of truth”.

You can take refuge as an act of faith, which means you take comfort in and feel “protected” by the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. The Buddha, his teaching, and the monastics who live it. This can be a ritualized act involving bowing and humbling yourself before these three great gems.

Buddhaṃ saraṇaṃ gaccāmi
(pronounced: buuddhaang saranaang gaachaami) - I go for refuge to the Buddha
Dhammaṃ saraṇaṃ gaccāmi
(pronounced: dhaammaang saranaang gaachaami) - I go for refuge to the Dhamma
Sanghaṃ saraṇaṃ gaccāmi
(pronounced: sanghaang saranaang gaachaami) - I go for refuge to the Sangha

To make a bit of a metaphor this is like the old English Christian law where one could run to a church, declare “sanctuary”, and be immune to arrest.

Obviously, the point isn’t about some legal loophole, but about protection, comfort, safety.

Anyway, I guess I didn’t really directly answer your question, but I hope that clarifies a little bit of what Buddhism is.

respect :anjal:

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Thank you for an explanation which points me in the right direction. I have much to learn. Indeed I do have confidence in the Dhamma which has thus taught me that all emotional afflictions are the result of self centered thinking, and that compassion leads to cessation. Did I say that right?

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Yes! I think what you said is very central.

The whole path is about a gradual lessening of selfishness, till the full realization of selflessness.

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Stream-entry is a state of initial enlightenment where the mind sees clearly: (i) there is no tangible, inherent or abiding self (i.e., there is only a conditioned thought-created self born of craving & clinging); (ii) freedom from clinging to things as self results in freedom from suffering, which is the true meaning & path of the Buddha’s teachings

Therefore, the stream-enterer has given up three things: (i) the belief in an inherent self; (ii) doubt about the teachings; (iii) the belief that moral rules, rites & rituals in themselves will bring freedom from suffering.

On face value, to me, this is a very generalised statement by Rupert Gethin, which may be interpreted as being false or wrong. This is because one factor of stream-entry is having no doubt about what the teachings of the Buddha actually are. Therefore, the stream-enterer may be said to have a “fixed view” or “fixed opinion” about the teachings.

This statement by Gethin seems to show the stream-enterer develops a “fixed opinion” about the four noble truths. Therefore, the impression arises Gethin has expressed a contradiction.

As for the last part, this seems correct. The stream-enterer has no tendency to misinterpret Buddhist theory in terms of either annihilationism or eternalism. What this means is the stream-enterer does not have the tendency to “self” belief thus does not think: “My self will continue after my death” (eternalism) or “my self will end at my death” (annihilationism).

Instead, the stream-enterer will view the termination of life as the five aggregates (rather than a ‘self’) coming to an end; or, as many Buddhists believe, the five aggregates (rather than a ‘self’) continuing or undergoing ‘rebirth’ according to kamma

This was said very well and very right and expresses factors for stream-entry. :anjal:

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Oh …I am humbled by your acknowledgement. Thank you for your clear and concise explanation. Namaste, Friend.

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Hi, rosie ! Nice to see you again :slight_smile: I thought of quoting a Sutta from the samyutta nikaya . I hope this is helpful for you to figure out your doubt.

Saṃyutta Nikāya 12
Connected Discourses on Causation
41. Five Fearful Animosities (1)

At Savatthī. Then the householder Anathapiṇḍika approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, and sat down to one side. The Blessed One then said to him:

“Householder, when five fearful animosities have subsided in a noble disciple, and he possesses the four factors of stream-entry, and he has clearly seen and thoroughly penetrated with wisdom the noble method, if he wishes he could by himself declare of himself: ‘I am one finished with hell, finished with the animal realm, finished with the domain of ghosts, finished with the plane of misery, the bad destinations, the nether world. I am a stream-enterer, no longer bound to the nether world, fixed in destiny, with enlightenment as my destination.’

“What are the five fearful animosities that have subsided? Householder, one who destroys life engenders, on account of such behaviour, fearful animosity pertaining to the present life and fearful animosity pertaining to the future life, and he experiences mental pain and displeasure. Thus for one who abstains from destroying life, this fearful animosity has subsided.

“One who takes what is not given … … who engages in sexual misconduct … who speaks falsely … who indulges in wine, liquor, and intoxicants that are a basis for negligence engenders, on account of such behaviour, fearful animosity pertaining to the present life and fearful animosity pertaining to the future life, and he experiences mental pain and displeasure. Thus for one who abstains from wine, liquor, and intoxicants that are a basis for negligence, this fearful animosity has subsided.

“These are the five fearful animosities that have subsided.

“What are the four factors of stream-entry that he possesses? Here, householder,the noble disciple possesses confirmed confidence in the Buddha thus: ‘The Blessed One is an arahant, perfectly enlightened, accomplished in true knowledge and conduct, fortunate, knower of the world, unsurpassed leader of persons to be tamed, teacher of devas and humans, the Enlightened One, the Blessed One.’

“He possesses confirmed confidence in the Dhamma thus: ‘The Dhamma is well expounded by the Blessed One, directly visible, immediate, inviting one to come and see, applicable, to be personally experienced by the wise.’

“He possesses confirmed confidence in the Saṅgha thus: ‘The Saṅgha of the Blessed One’s disciples is practising the good way, practising the straight way, practising the true way, practising the proper way; that is, the four pairs of persons, the eight types of individuals—this Saṅgha of the Blessed One’s disciples is worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of reverential salutation, the unsurpassed field of merit for the world.'

“He possesses the virtues dear to the noble ones—unbroken, untorn, unblemished, unmottled, freeing, praised by the wise, ungrasped, leading to concentration.

“These are the four factors of stream-entry that he possesses.

“And what is the noble method that he has clearly seen and thoroughly penetrated with wisdom? Here, householder, the noble disciple attends closely and carefully to dependent origination itself thus: ‘When this exists, that comes to be; with the arising of this, that arises. When this does not exist, that does not come to be; with the cessation of this, that ceases. That is, with ignorance as condition, volitional formations come to be; with volitional formations as condition, consciousness…. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering. But with the remainderless fading away and cessation of ignorance comes cessation of volitional formations; with the cessation of volitional formations, cessation of consciousness…. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.’

“This is the noble method that he has clearly seen and thoroughly penetrated with wisdom.

“When, householder, these five fearful animosities have subsided in a noble disciple, and he possesses these four factors of stream-entry, and he has clearly seen and thoroughly penetrated with wisdom this noble method, if he wishes he could by himself declare of himself: ‘I am one finished with hell, finished with the animal realm, finished with the domain of ghosts, finished with the plane of misery, the bad destinations, the nether world. I am a stream-enterer, no longer bound to the nether world, fixed in destiny, with enlightenment as my destination.’”

With metta. :anjal:

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Hello my friend, and thank you for that. I am inspired by the stream, and vow to continue to fulfill these noble objectives in a way that promotes the cessation of suffering for all sentient beings, and leads to enlightenment for us all. Namaste, Friend

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realization of sotapatti is expressed by the formula of opening the Dhamma eye

Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation

so this is basically an insight into the anicca with all its implications

this interpretation is difficult to come to terms with because the aggregates are supposed to be destroyed at physical death, aren’t they?

SN 22.85 seems to say, for an arahant, the five aggregates end at the termination of life.

As for ‘rebirth’, I apologise if I misrepresented what “many Buddhists” believe. Since many Buddhists believe something is “reborn”, I was assuming whatever is reborn (e.g., a relinking consciousness; or underlying tendencies) are respectively aggregates (of vinnana, sankhara, whatever else). You seem to be inferring rebirth can occur without any aggregates.

You would need to consult the rebirth experts about this. :seedling:

Why not take up the challenge and embrace the noble task of becoming an “expert” yourself?

I say this for insight into the factuality of rebirth is in the EBTs put very explicitly as one of the possible outcomes of the cultivation of the path.

“Rebirth” is a “noble task”? Does MN 26 say this?

What is the ignoble task? Here someone being himself subject to birth seeks what is also subject to birth. And what may be said to be subject to birth? Wife and children are subject to birth, men and women slaves, goats and sheep, fowl and pigs, elephants, cattle, horses, and mares, gold and silver are subject to birth. These acquisitions are subject to birth; and one who is tied to these things, infatuated with them, and utterly committed to them, being himself subject to birth, seeks what it also subject to birth

And what is the noble task? Here someone being himself subject to birth, having understood the danger in what is subject to birth, seeks the unborn supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna.

MN 26

:seedling:

Insight (“vipassana”) arises from interpretations of words in books?

My impression is the Noble Eightfold Path, when practised fully, has only has one single destination, which is why it is called: “Dukkha nirodha gamani pati pada”.

Possibly the path you are thinking of is another path, such as found in DN 13:

Verily this, Vāseṭṭha, is the path to a state of union with Brahmā.

Or John 14:6

I am the path and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

As for stream attainment, Dhp 178 states:

178. Better than sole sovereignty over the earth, better than going to heaven, better even than lordship over all the worlds is the supramundane Fruition of Stream Entrance

:neutral_face:

Hang on Deeele! Don’t get the fireplace started for there is not heretic witch here to burn! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I was alluding to the tevijja, the three superior knowledge that in EBTs tend to come as a ‘bonus’ to the fulfillment of the third noble task - of realizing by oneself the end of suffering:

"And how do I declare that it is through the Dhamma that one becomes a brahmin possessing the threefold knowledge?
(…)
bhikkhus, with the divine eye, purified and surpassing the human, a bhikkhu sees beings passing away and reappearing, inferior and superior, fair and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate, and he understands how beings pass on according to their deeds thus: ‘Those worthy beings practising misconduct by body, speech, and mind, insulters of the noble ones, of wrong view and undertaking deeds in consequence of wrong view, when the body perishes have been reborn after death in a state of misery, a bad bourn, a state of ruin, hell. But those worthy beings practising good conduct by body, speech, and mind, not insulters of the noble ones, of right view and undertaking deeds in consequence of right view, when the body perishes, have been reborn after death in a good bourn, a heavenly world.’ Thus he sees this with the divine eye and he understands how beings pass on according to their deeds. This is the second knowledge attained by him. Ignorance is dispelled, knowledge has arisen; darkness is dispelled, light has arisen, as happens in one who lives diligent, ardent, and resolute."
–Iti99

No Brahman mambo jambo, not textual or intellectual inference, just a nice reminder of the cool things that we may open our eyes to once we do our own homework on the noble tasks offered by the Buddha for us to fulfill.

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Is this a rhetorical question? What is the point?

The point is your responses are both venturing off-topic from stream-attainment &, at least to me, a hindrance to stream-attainment. Dhp 178 states:

178. Better than sole sovereignty over the earth, better than going to heaven, better even than lordship over all the worlds is the supramundane Fruition of Stream Entrance

:seedling:

‘Those beings practising misconduct by body, speech, and mind, insulters of the noble ones, of wrong view and undertaking deeds in consequence of wrong view, when the body perishes have been reborn after death in a state of misery, a bad bourn, a state of ruin, hell. But those worthy beings practising good conduct by body, speech, and mind, not insulters of the noble ones, of right view and undertaking deeds in consequence of right view, when the body perishes, have been reborn after death in a good bourn, a heavenly world.’

This sutta states a “being” (‘satta’) is “reborn”. A ‘being’ is defined in SN 23.2. Will the belief that a “being” (“satta”) is really a “being” (similar to Mara’s view in SN 5.10) assist in stream-attainment, which requires the perception of not-being or not-self?

:seedling:

Sorry but the noble challenge is not accepted.

These things all pertain to the third noble task and discussing them in words are in no way conducive to that end, at least to me. :relaxed:

Now if you would like, I would actually offer us all the noble challenge of instead try as much as possible make use of our time and ability to communicate to discuss and discover on the topic that matters: the cultivation of the path.

In that sense, the current topic would be better discussed in terms of how can we make sure to be cultivating the path in the right way towards the end of verifying or realizing ourselves the meaning of not only stream entry but all the higher fruitions.

And the answer to that, as found consistently repeated across the suttas is to endeavor ourselves in our own cultivation of the path - good spiritual friends being crucial to make sure we never loose of sight the noble truths and its respective tasks! :wink:

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Yes Deeele, I won’t do what you want. Sorry for that! :slight_smile:

Its OK since the challenge might be impossible.

I undertook your challenge but could only find the suttas appearing to explain that “personhood” is reborn & stream-entry is the abandonment of the fetter of “personhood”.

Thus how can practising 33% or 66% of the path that leads to “wholesome rebirth of personhood” result in stream-attainment when stream-attainment is the giving up of the view of personhood?

:neutral_face:

Wonderful. May that be helpful in the fulfillment of the third noble task by you, this lifetime or in a future one!