Fourfold Sangha

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Fourfold Sangha

Postby theravada_guy » Sun Jul 18, 2010 1:00 am

Greetings all,

Is this the fourfold sangha the Buddha founded?:

Bhikkhus - monks
Bhikkunis - nuns
Upasakas - male lay followers
Upasikas - female lay followers

Thanks!
With metta,

Justin

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Re: Fourfold Sangha

Postby bodom » Sun Jul 18, 2010 1:22 am

The Fourfold Sangha consists of those on the path and those in attainment of the path thus making eight types of individuals:

(1) the path to stream-entry;
(2) the fruition of stream-entry;
(3) the path to once-returning ;
(4) the fruition of once-returning;
(5) the path to non-returning ;
(6) the fruition of non-returning;
(7) the path to arahantship ;
(8) the fruition of arahantship

Sangha

In the suttas the word sangha(lit. "group, assembly") is usually used in one of two ways: it refers either to the community of ordained monks and nuns (bhikkhu-sangha and bhikkhuni-sangha)or to the community of "noble ones" (ariya-sangha)— persons who have attained at least stream-entry, the first stage of Awakening.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/sangha.html

:anjali:
Last edited by bodom on Sun Jul 18, 2010 1:31 am, edited 3 times in total.
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah

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Re: Fourfold Sangha

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jul 18, 2010 1:29 am

Greetings,

It gets awfully confusing how the Sangha is related in so many different ways.

Personally I prefer just to stick with Sangha (for the ordained) and Noble or Aryan Sangha (for those depicted in Bodom's list above).

Even then, I'm sure I could be more precise... but if I got more precise, would I just further add to the confusion?

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Fourfold Sangha

Postby theravada_guy » Sun Jul 18, 2010 1:34 am

:shock: Wow, okay. I was totally wrong on that one. "Upasaka" and "upasika" are correct though, aren't they?
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Re: Fourfold Sangha

Postby bodom » Sun Jul 18, 2010 1:36 am

theravada_guy wrote::shock: Wow, okay. I was totally wrong on that one. "Upasaka" and "upasika" are correct though, aren't they?


Yes those are the correct terms for male and female lay disciples.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah

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Re: Fourfold Sangha

Postby theravada_guy » Sun Jul 18, 2010 1:37 am

Okay, thanks bodom. Does what I mentioned have a name or label? "Fourfold..."? Community maybe?
With metta,

Justin

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Re: Fourfold Sangha

Postby bodom » Sun Jul 18, 2010 1:44 am

theravada_guy wrote:Okay, thanks bodom. Does what I mentioned have a name or label? "Fourfold..."? Community maybe?


No Fourfold Sangha is correct. There are four types of noble persons. Sotāpanna, Sakadagami, Anāgāmi and Arahant. Hence Fourfold. It gets confusing because each stage is just divided into two phases: the path(magga), those still in training for Sotāpanna, Sakadagami atc. and its fruition(phala), those who have already attained Sotāpanna, Sakadagami, etc. So in actuality its the four types of noble persons and the eight kinds of individuals.

:anjali:
Last edited by bodom on Sun Jul 18, 2010 1:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah

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Re: Fourfold Sangha

Postby theravada_guy » Sun Jul 18, 2010 1:53 am

Okay, but do the four things I mentioned (bhikkhus, bhikkunis, upasakas and upasikas) have a collective term?
With metta,

Justin

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Re: Fourfold Sangha

Postby bodom » Sun Jul 18, 2010 1:59 am

theravada_guy wrote:Okay, but do the four things I mentioned (bhikkhus, bhikkunis, upasakas and upasikas) have a collective term?


Only Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis are considered the Sangha. If a layman reaches Sotāpanna, Sakadagami etc, then he is considered part of the Ariya Sangha.

Sangha: The Ideal World Community by Ven. Prayudh Payutto

As soon as a person, whether a monk or a layman, realizes the Four Noble Truths and gains a first vision of Nibbana, he automatically becomes a Sotapanna and, simultaneously, a member of the Noble Sangha of disciples.


http://www.buddhanet.net/cmdsg/sangha.htm

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah

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Re: Fourfold Sangha

Postby theravada_guy » Sun Jul 18, 2010 2:10 am

I think I confused this whole conversation with the term "sangha". Disregarding that term, do those four types of individuals I mentioned have a name, collectively speaking?

Also, since it's been brought up, do people still gain the first level of sainthood in these days? I don't know the Pali terms very well, even though I've read them numerous times. When I was a Hindu, I could remember most of the Sanskrit words I came across that were religious in nature (and there were a lot of terms I memorized) but for some reason, I'm having difficulty with the Pali words. In books, I just skip over the Pali terms because it kinda confuses me, or knocks off my concentration. I don't get it. :shrug:
With metta,

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Re: Fourfold Sangha

Postby Sylvester » Sun Jul 18, 2010 2:14 am

theravada_guy wrote:Okay, but do the four things I mentioned (bhikkhus, bhikkunis, upasakas and upasikas) have a collective term?


Hi, it's called the Catasso Parisa - the Fourfold Assembly.

With metta

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Re: Fourfold Sangha

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun Jul 18, 2010 2:55 am

these things get confusing especially in the west where sangha has come to mean any Buddhist. however as a side note i think it is important to remember when we take refuge the sangha mentioned (unless you want to take it differently as a personal choice) is the noble sangha (Sotāpanna, Sakadagami, Anāgāmi and Arahant.) those who are of noble status, not just any monk or Buddhist.
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: Fourfold Sangha

Postby theravada_guy » Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:35 am

Greetings jc,

Yeah, the notion of "all Buddhists are part of the sangha" is what threw me off on my question in my original post on this. What I realize now is, I think that view is more of a Vajrayana, rather than Theravada view. I don't know. I sometimes feel guilty for all the questions I have and the fact I can't really contribute to anyone elses' questions. I guess that's something I shouldn't worry about. Anyway, thanks to all who contributed to this. Any other thoughts are still welcome of course.
With metta,

Justin

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Re: Fourfold Sangha

Postby Reductor » Sun Jul 18, 2010 5:43 am

theravada_guy wrote:I guess that's something I shouldn't worry about.


This is very true. :hug:
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72


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Re: Fourfold Sangha

Postby bodom » Sun Jul 18, 2010 1:32 pm

theravada_guy wrote:Greetings jc,

Yeah, the notion of "all Buddhists are part of the sangha" is what threw me off on my question in my original post on this. What I realize now is, I think that view is more of a Vajrayana, rather than Theravada view. I don't know. I sometimes feel guilty for all the questions I have and the fact I can't really contribute to anyone elses' questions. I guess that's something I shouldn't worry about. Anyway, thanks to all who contributed to this. Any other thoughts are still welcome of course.


How will you know if you dont ask?

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah

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Re: Fourfold Sangha

Postby theravada_guy » Sun Jul 18, 2010 5:33 pm

Thanks thereductor and bodom. :smile:
With metta,

Justin

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Re: Fourfold Sangha

Postby now realm » Sun Nov 16, 2014 3:20 pm

Greetings,

I'm very confused with the terms Sangha, four fold sangha, four fold assembly, ariya sangha.

I've checked from the pali canon suttas and found that cattasa parisa is referring to the four fold assembly which is the 4 pairs 8 individuals i.e. sotapanna sakadagami anagami arahant and is also referred to as ariya sangha.

In the suttas, it's mentioned bhikkhu, bhikkhuni, upasaka, upasika. However, in the 'Salutation to the Sangha' it says the Order of the disciples of the Noble One - the 4 male pairs (cattari purisa) 8 male individuals (purisa puggala). I also cited another sutta i.e. parinibbana sutta under the heading 'Mirror of the dhamma' stating that the Order of the disciples of the noble one - the 4 male pairs 8 male individuals. It looks to me like the Order of the Sangha is headed by the bhikkhus Sangha. Is that correct?

Say, if I'm a buddhist who take refuge in the triple gem but not yet a stream enterer, which sangha do I belong to? Any thoughts?

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Re: Fourfold Sangha

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Nov 16, 2014 5:46 pm

now realm wrote:I've checked from the pali canon suttas and found that cattasa parisa is referring to the four fold assembly which is the 4 pairs 8 individuals i.e. sotapanna sakadagami anagami arahant and is also referred to as ariya sangha.


You seem to be confusing the cattāri purisayugāni (four pairs of persons) with the catasso parisā (four assemblies). The former is the ariyasangha, comprising sotāpannas, etc., while the latter are the assemblies of monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen.

now realm wrote:I also cited another sutta i.e. parinibbana sutta under the heading 'Mirror of the dhamma' stating that the Order of the disciples of the noble one - the 4 male pairs 8 male individuals.


Like the English word 'man', the Pali 'purisa' sometimes means a male person and other times a person of either sex. In the context of "four pairs of purisas" it is the latter, with both sexes included.

now realm wrote:It looks to me like the Order of the Sangha is headed by the bhikkhus Sangha. Is that correct?


If we're speaking of the ariyasangha, then it's not really "headed" by anybody; it's an invisible church, so to speak, not a known community of people that one can point to. If we're speaking about the monastic sangha, then the order of nuns is subordinate in certain respects to the order of monks.

now realm wrote:Say, if I'm a buddhist who take refuge in the triple gem but not yet a stream enterer, which sangha do I belong to?


In the Theravadin usage of terms you wouldn't belong to any sangha but to the upāsaka-parisā or upāsikā-parisā, depending on your sex.
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,

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Re: Fourfold Sangha

Postby now realm » Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:30 am

Greetings Venerable,

Thank you and grateful for the above clear explanation. I think, I've mistaken upasaka and upasika for novices so I thought the four fold sangha is referring to monks, nun, male novices and female novices. I was confused as to where lay followers and lay buddhist (who took the 3 refuges) like me and others fit in as in whether I belong to the four assembly or to the four fold sangha.

To me, it looks like the pali suttas are very specific or rather Buddha is very specific as in upasaka is referring to male devotee and upasika is referring to female devotee. Another term I was confused is samana and samaneri as in is it referring to ascetics or recluse and are they buddhist monks in the sangha or it can be other than non sangha members or non buddhist as in e.g. a hindu yogi who does not belong to the four fold sangha i.e. bhikkhu bhikkhuni upasaka upasika.

I also find the term savaka which is referring to male disciples and savika which is referring to female disciples very specific. Upon checking the pali to english translation, I discovered that upasaka upasika is referring to devotees and savaka and savika is referring to disciples of the Blessed One as mentioned per 'Salutation to the Sangha' i.e. if not mistaken, it is specifically referring to the fully-ordained disciples whereas upasaka upasika is referring to devotees i.e. not ordained but devout followers (i.e.5 preceptors or more) of the Blessed One.

As per Pali dictionary, Sangha is translated as 'assemblage'. upasaka/upasika as male devotee/female devotee. savaka /savika as male disciple/ female disciple. samana as ascetic or recluse. samanera as a novice of a monk and samaneri as female apprentice of a nun. sikkhamana as female novice undergoing a probationary.

It looks like the pali terms are very clear and specific in terms of gender. With this and from the above translations,IMO I think the 'Salutation to the Sangha' (Sangha Vandana) is referring to the Order of the Disciples of the Blessed One as in like a Holy Order of a religion e.g. the Holy Order of Christianity or in any other religions, which in the case of Christianity, the Holy Order is headed by a Pope. Therefore, I think 'Sangha Vandana' is referring to the 'Order of the Blessed One' (Blessed One here refers to Buddha in the case of Buddhism and other Blessed Ones in the case of other religions depending on who one regards as one's Blessed One.). IMO the Buddha taught the Dhamma which is regardless of race, creed or religion.

In Sangha Vandana, (Pali) "yadidam cattari purisa yugani attha-purisa puggala" translated as "this 4 pairs of male (purisa) 8 male individuals .. is the Order of the Blessed One... " To me, it makes sense as it is consistent with "Esa Bhagavato savaka (male disciple) Sangho". Sangho i.e. Sangha here I think is referring to the Buddha's Holy Order which as per Sangha Vandana appears to be being held by males disciples of the Blessed One, in other words Bhikkhus e.g. in Christianity where the Holy Order is being held by a Pope, so far a male. Hope that makes sense. Wish to clarify that my aforesaid understanding of the terms has nothing against women or bhikkhunis and nothing personal but found that there's a distinction in the pali terms in the Pali Canon.

I find that in the Pali suttas, Buddha always praise the four assembly (cattassa parisa). I think this four assembly is referring to the Ariya Sangha i.e.sotapanna sakadagami snagami arahant where bhikkhu, bhikkhuni, upasaka upasika are able to attain the noble path (magga) and noble fruit (phala). It makes sense as anyone who practiced the Buddha's 8 fold Path well and rightly is able to enter so to speak the stream of the 4 stages of Enlightenment. According to the suttas, cattassa parisa as I understand it is referring to the Ariya Sangha. It's mentioned in the suttas, not my conjecture. But, forgot which suttas, please check it out. But, I may be wrong in my understanding. *SADHU*

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Re: Fourfold Sangha

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Nov 17, 2014 10:26 am

There is no such term as "cattassa parisa". The Suttas refer to "catasso parisā", and define it in exactly the way I have already explained.
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,


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