The perfection of sila

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

The perfection of sila

Postby Jechbi » Wed Jun 03, 2009 6:19 am

I've been intrigued lately with the notion that there comes a time when sila is naturally perfect, and namely that time is stream-entry. Since my own sila has not been perfect, I know I have lots of work to do.

But I would be interested in hearing more about the perfection of sila, and whether in fact that is what occurs with stream entry, according to the Buddha's teaching. This essay appears to suggest otherwise, stating:
Ariyas can still have minor transgressions of the precepts.
"Minor transgressions" to me suggests that sila is not perfect. The essay cites the case of Sarakaani, a man who drank and yet was identified by the Buddha as a stream-winner. But the Sarakaani Sutta itself seems to suggest that Sarakaani did not attain to stream-entry until the moment of death. That seems to conflict with the essay by Ven. Dhammavuddho Thera. Are there instances in the suttas of Airyas transgressing the five precepts?

I'm wondering more about this perfection of sila. Can "perfection of sila" also be understood as a short-term phenomenon subject to change? So that a person might have perfect sila for a period of time, then transgress? Or is there a strict demarcation between a (very long) period of "imperfect sila" and a subsequent period of irrevocable "perfect sila" in the course of a mindstream?

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Re: The perfection of sila

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Jun 03, 2009 2:45 pm

Ven. Dhammavuddho Thera appears to be incorrect. Certainly the case of Sarakaani does not seem to support his statement. Unfortunately I cannot find a copy of the AN sutta he references. I would need to see this in order to understand why he comes to his conclusion.

I think his broader point still holds though - that one without perfect sila can still attain sotapanna. Sarakaani was known to be a drinker and yet he was still able to attain sotapanna. However saying one of imperfect sila can attain sotapanna is not the same as saying one who has attained sotapanna can still have imperfect sila.
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Re: The perfection of sila

Postby Individual » Wed Jun 03, 2009 6:43 pm

Peter wrote:Ven. Dhammavuddho Thera appears to be incorrect. Certainly the case of Sarakaani does not seem to support his statement. Unfortunately I cannot find a copy of the AN sutta he references. I would need to see this in order to understand why he comes to his conclusion.

I think his broader point still holds though - that one without perfect sila can still attain sotapanna. Sarakaani was known to be a drinker and yet he was still able to attain sotapanna.

For an even more extreme example, Angulimala was a mass-murderer who became an Arahant. But he only became an Arahant because he gave up murdering people.
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Re: The perfection of sila

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Jun 03, 2009 7:46 pm

Sarakaani the Sakyan fulfilled the training at the time of death.'


He did not attain stream-entry at anytime he was drinking alcohol or breaking any other precepts.
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Re: The perfection of sila

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Jun 03, 2009 7:54 pm

Bhikkhus, a noble disciple who possesses four things is a stream-enterer, . . . He possesses the virtues dear to the noble ones, unbroken.” Samyutta Nikaya 55.2

There are, O monks, these blessings in realizing the fruit of stream-entry: One is firm in the good Dhamma. One is unable to fall back.” Anguttara Nikaya 6.97

Consider the person who is accomplished in the precepts, and is moderately successful in concentration, moderately successful in wisdom – by destroying the three hindrances, he becomes on, who will be reborn seven times at most [stream entrant]” Anguttara Nikaya 9.12
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Re: The perfection of sila

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jun 03, 2009 11:51 pm

Greetings,

TheDhamma wrote:He did not attain stream-entry at anytime he was drinking alcohol or breaking any other precepts.


I was reading a Jataka tale the other day where a bunch of drunken women attained stream-entry... but, well... that's a Jataka Tale. :tongue:

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