Question on laity and stream-enterers

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Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby marcussorno » Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:12 am

Hello all.

Please forgive if this has come up before but the forum search function was failing me and I am too new to Theravada to know where to look in the Pali canon. Totally ignoring how difficult it likely is, can a house-holder/laity attain stream-entry or is this something only permissible to monks? I had heard that it was possible from a friend, but he is not buddhist and he was basing his opinion on a guesstimate.

If this has come up before on the forum, I do apologize and if someone could give me links to prior discussion or links to passages in the Pali to refer to concerning this issue, it would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby Reductor » Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:22 am

I do believe the traditional view is that stream-entry, once-return and non-return are possible for a lay person. Arahant requires the supporting conditions that come with renouncing the household life, ie you need to be a monk or nun.
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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: Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby marcussorno » Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:28 am

Thank you for that information! Very much appreciated. If you know where, could you assist in helping me locate that information in the Suttas or accompanying texts?

Again, thank you very much! :bow:
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Re: Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby Reductor » Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:04 am

Hmm. I don't think its stated explicity in the canon anywhere that a lay person cannot attain arahantship. The commentaries should have it, but I'm not sufficiently read-up on them to point you to a specific passage.

This states that lay persons have attained the other levels of awakening.

The layman Sudatta, Ananda, through the destruction of the three fetters (self-belief, doubt, and faith in the efficacy of rituals and observances), and the lessening of lust, hatred, and delusion, has become a once-returner and is bound to make an end of suffering after having returned but once more to this world.

The laywoman Sujata, Ananda, through the destruction of the three fetters has become a stream-enterer, and is safe from falling into the states of misery, assured, and bound for Enlightenment.

The layman Kakudha, Ananda, through the destruction of the five lower fetters (that bind beings to the world of the senses), has arisen spontaneously (among the Suddhavasa deities), and will come to final cessation in that very place, not liable to return from that world.

“So it is with Kalinga, Nikata, Katissabha, Tuttha, Santuttha, Bhadda, and Subhadda, and with more than fifty laymen in Nadika. More than ninety laymen who have passed away in Nadika, Ananda, through the destruction of the three fetters, and the lessening of lust, hatred, and delusion, have become once-returners and are bound to make an end of suffering after having returned but once more to this world

http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh067-p.html#PARTTWO
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: Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby Kenshou » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:28 am

Suffice to say that lay arahantship would be really hard to accomplish and require a huge amount of personal responsibility, moreso than in the restricted monastic lifestyle with it's fewer possibilities to go astray.
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Re: Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby cooran » Thu Jan 20, 2011 7:38 am

Hello all,

A couple of Threads mentioning Lay Arahants from dhammastudygroup:

This one from the Kathavatthu (Points of Controversy), the Abhidhamma text.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastu ... sage/56007

This one from the Questions of King Milinda
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastu ... sage/56064

It may be worth reading the responses at the foot of each post.

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Re: Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:28 pm

Visakha, Mahanama, Citta, Hattaka Alavaka are well known examples from the cannon. You can see their suttas in the 'proper names' section of www.accesstoinsight.org.

Best of luck!

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Re: Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby Sambodhi in Oz » Sun Jan 23, 2011 6:24 pm

There are several cases of stream entrants and once returners being lay persons. My understanding is that on reaching the Anagami path the gross fetters all get broken and the self gets highly diluted therefore to live a worldly life becomes difficult and even if one lives in household it is much like a monk. Here is a story which people can read, very inspirational:

http://www.vridhamma.org/Teachers-1.aspx

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Re: Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby Kenshou » Sun Jan 23, 2011 6:37 pm

Just a thought, I would think that lay life would get easier as one progresses. Less craving and delusion, less dukkha, less ego, less problems caused. If that (partial) awakening can't deal with daily duties, what kind of awakening is that? Even monks have work to do.

But then again the life they live is also a factor, not every lay life is the same. Though it makes sense to me that the lay livelihood of a non-returner would in all likelihood be simpler than that of a different person.
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Re: Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:18 pm

Kenshou wrote:Just a thought, I would think that lay life would get easier as one progresses. Less craving and delusion, less dukkha, less ego, less problems caused. If that (partial) awakening can't deal with daily duties, what kind of awakening is that? Even monks have work to do.

But then again the life they live is also a factor, not every lay life is the same. Though it makes sense to me that the lay livelihood of a non-returner would in all likelihood be simpler than that of a different person.


Hi Kenshou,

The Buddha said repeatedly that what he taught was not how to make your lay life easier, but the ending of suffering. Be clear what you are practicing for.

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Re: Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby Kenshou » Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:40 am

I never suggested otherwise. But thanks for your unneeded advice.

My line of thinking is merely that the more one progresses the more one's suffering will be reduced, and so life will be able to be handled with a bit more ease.

Edit: grammar.
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Re: Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby budo » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:38 am

I would think it would depend on the lay person, and it would depend on the monk. A few monks I know just do plain work all day as if it's a full time job, and barely meditate, they may as well be lay persons. Similarly there are lay persons who meditate for many many hours a day, and practice volunteering and charity. So the "title" doesn't mean anything. It's up to the person. The purpose of monasticism is to be in an environment that cultivates the path all the time, but this is not always reality.
“An effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely.” - George Orwell
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Re: Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby Vepacitta » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:59 am

Man, I can't remember which suttas - they are in the Majjhimina Nikaya and the Samyutta Nikaya - lay people can go all the way to non-returner.

According to the suttas the lay folks who did realise Nibbana either ordained or died within a few days.

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Re: Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:02 am

I think lay life does become easier because you can see through the delusion of what society projects on you as 'happiness' and 'success'. Lay life becomes harder in the sense that it becomes harder to subscribe to that delusion whole-heartedley.

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Re: Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby Sambodhi in Oz » Mon Jan 24, 2011 6:10 pm

I would presume that lay life becomes more difficult, for your goal would become different from that of those around you and even though you can understand their point of view but they can't understand yours. The people around you would still rejoice in social gatherings etc which you do not appreciate. The moral values also can be very different, think of a sakdagami in a place where only non veg is eaten. The life that you yearn for the material society may not allow, to this extant actually life would become more difficult from sotapanna onwards.

You are not free but not entirely caught up either. It can be a very different sort of pain.

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Re: Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Jan 24, 2011 7:31 pm

SN 13.1 PTS: S ii 133 CDB i 621
Nakhasikha Sutta: The Tip of the Fingernail
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 1999–2011
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi at Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Then the Blessed One, picking up a little bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monks, "What do you think, monks? Which is greater: the little bit of dust I have picked up with the tip of my fingernail, or the great earth?"

"The great earth is far greater, lord. The little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail is next to nothing. It's not a hundredth, a thousandth, a one hundred-thousandth — this little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail — when compared with the great earth."

"In the same way, monks, for a disciple of the noble ones who is consummate in view, an individual who has broken through [to stream-entry], the suffering & stress that is totally ended & extinguished is far greater. That which remains in the state of having at most seven remaining lifetimes is next to nothing: it's not a hundredth, a thousandth, a one hundred-thousandth, when compared with the previous mass of suffering. That's how great the benefit is of breaking through to the Dhamma, monks. That's how great the benefit is of obtaining the Dhamma eye."
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Re: Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby Sambodhi in Oz » Tue Jan 25, 2011 7:28 am

Ryb,

No doubts on this.

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Re: Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby marcussorno » Wed Jan 26, 2011 3:06 am

Wow... certainly lots of good info. Thank you all for your comments. I apologize for not responding sooner, but I have had nothing but problems with my internet.

Again, thank you.
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Re: Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby gerard » Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:55 am

.
Last edited by gerard on Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Question on laity and stream-enterers

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Jan 28, 2011 3:53 pm

gerard wrote:
Kenshou wrote:I never suggested otherwise. But thanks for your unneeded advice.

My line of thinking is merely that the more one progresses the more one's suffering will be reduced, and so life will be able to be handled with a bit more ease.

Edit: grammar.


+1

It will be reduced because you simply don't care anymore as a result of losing your socially constructed "self" and attachment to phenomena which as we all know are impermanent. You become the observer instead of another player.


Hi Gerard, I agree.

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