Would a sotapanna necessarily know s/he was a sotapanna?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
User avatar
Tex
Posts: 703
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:46 pm
Location: Austin, TX, USA

Would a sotapanna necessarily know s/he was a sotapanna?

Postby Tex » Sun Mar 29, 2009 8:32 pm

Apologies if this has already been asked.

It is my understanding that a sotapanna could be born into the human realm or the heavenly realms.

So in a human birth, would s/he necessarily know that s/he was a sotapanna? From what I understand, once those first three fetters are eliminated they do not come back, and the defilements that are abandoned by a sotapanna (like envy) also do not return. So that would seem to indicate that some people are (possibly) born already possessing faith in the Buddha's teachings and having eliminated envy and other unwholesome qualities, as if they come into this life possessing knowledge from the previous life, including their own attainments.

Is that the case?

Or might someone just be born with a disposition that does not include defilements like jealousy and that naturally rejects ideas like efficacy of rituals or the concept of a self, and then when this person encounters the Dhamma they immediately "get it" and realize that the three fetters eradicated by a sotapanna were never really present in them at the start of this life?

Frankly, I'm puzzled on how a person might already be a sotapanna, any help?
"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." -- Heraclitus

User avatar
cooran
Posts: 8502
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Would a sotapanna necessarily know s/he was a sotapanna?

Postby cooran » Sun Mar 29, 2009 9:35 pm

Hello Tex, all,

A few links from Access to Insight on this topic:

How to Recognise a Lay Stream Enterer
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

What it takes for a layperson to become a Stream Enterer
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

How to recognise - and become - a person of integrity (Stream Enterer)
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

The Way to Stream Entry
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/study/stream.html

and a similar question was asked on E-sangha a few years ago:
Stream Entry - Sotapanna, The only safety ...
http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index. ... opic=17713

I asked my teacher on the last Retreat (Patrick Kearney) how one would know if one was a Sotapanna - given that attainment of this level is a momentary event.

He asked me if I had Perfect Sila.

<sigh>

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

User avatar
Ben
Posts: 18442
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: Would a sotapanna necessarily know s/he was a sotapanna?

Postby Ben » Sun Mar 29, 2009 9:58 pm

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

rowyourboat
Posts: 1952
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: Would a sotapanna necessarily know s/he was a sotapanna?

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Mar 29, 2009 10:34 pm

Hi Ben,

Was this comment by Bikkhu pesala on stream entry or final nibbana? Thanks for sharing this- it is like a snapshot of people's practice.

with metta
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

User avatar
cooran
Posts: 8502
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Would a sotapanna necessarily know s/he was a sotapanna?

Postby cooran » Sun Mar 29, 2009 10:50 pm

---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

phil
Posts: 788
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2009 5:08 am
Location: Tokyo

Re: Would a sotapanna necessarily know s/he was a sotapanna?

Postby phil » Mon Mar 30, 2009 1:15 pm

Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

User avatar
kc2dpt
Posts: 957
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:48 pm

Re: Would a sotapanna necessarily know s/he was a sotapanna?

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Mar 30, 2009 4:31 pm

- Peter


User avatar
Bhikkhu Pesala
Posts: 3670
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:17 pm

Re: Would a sotapanna necessarily know s/he was a sotapanna?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Mar 30, 2009 6:41 pm

The first disciple to attain Stream-winning was Kondaññā the wise, When the bodhisatta was born, Kondañña was one of several astrologers who was invited to the palace to examine the new-born infant. Although the youngest of the astrologers, he was the most skilled in his craft, and was the only one to predict that the bodhisatta would definitely become a Buddha.

So confident was he, that he renounced household life and became a recluse in preparation for the time when Siddhattha would gain Enlightenment. Thirty-five years later, while listening to the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, Kondañña was the only one of the five to immediately attain Stream-entry — the other four ascetics had to practise Satipatthāna meditation for successively longer periods of a few days.

So, thirty-five years of continuous meditation should not be regarded as too long to attain nibbāna. After all, we have wandered in samsāra for an infinite length of time to get to whatever stage we are at now. If the preparation has been thorough, then Arahantship can arise in a millisecond as happened with Bahiya. If the preparation has not been enough, then no amount of wishing or hoping will lead even to a glimmer of insight.

If anyone has obstructive kamma then attainment may be impossible at the moment, so do be very careful not to discourage people from practising meditation intensively, or disparaging them for not facing up to "real life" etc.

Meditation is easy — it is not meditating that makes life difficult. If you do get the opportunity to do a long retreat for two months or six months or a year, go for it. If you don't, then try to attend a 10-day course at least once a year, and a one-day retreat at least once a month.

To return to the thread's topic. I assume that most Stream-winners will be reborn in the celestial realms and may not return to the human realm again until the time of Buddha Maitreyya — most of the stories we read in the texts talk of faithful disciples being reborn in the deva or brahma realms. There are none that I can recall at the moment mentioning rebirth in the human realm again. Even in the lowest Cātumahārājika deva realm one celestial day is 500 years in human terms, so for them the Buddha's Enlightenment happened only last week.

If a Stream-winner was reborn in this current Buddhasāsana, they would have perfect moral conduct throughout their life. They would be able to attain to the nibbānic stage of phalañāṇa at will, for short or long periods depending on their concentration and determination. It seems unlikely that they would neither be born into a Buddhist family, nor gravitate to a Buddhist country, but it is conceivable that they would not recognise the nibbānic stage for what it was as that is just a matter of theoretical knowledge.

There are in this world with skills that are far beyond our abilities. For them, it is not especially difficult to do what they do. For me, 3.142 is about as far as I can remember the value of pi.
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23012
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Would a sotapanna necessarily know s/he was a sotapanna?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:53 pm


phil
Posts: 788
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2009 5:08 am
Location: Tokyo

Re: Would a sotapanna necessarily know s/he was a sotapanna?

Postby phil » Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:28 am

Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

User avatar
kc2dpt
Posts: 957
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:48 pm

Re: Would a sotapanna necessarily know s/he was a sotapanna?

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Mar 31, 2009 1:09 pm

- Peter


User avatar
SeerObserver
Posts: 96
Joined: Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:52 pm
Location: USA

Re: Would a sotapanna necessarily know s/he was a sotapanna?

Postby SeerObserver » Tue Mar 31, 2009 6:31 pm


User avatar
Ordinaryperson
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:09 pm
Location: West

Re: Would a sotapanna necessarily know s/he was a sotapanna?

Postby Ordinaryperson » Wed Apr 01, 2009 2:30 am

If my understanding of sotapanna is accurate then the answer is depending on who they are:

1) If they are monks and have been practicing to high meditative prowess then they will know themselves.

2) If they are just ordinary laities then they have no way of knowing that themselves until some hints are given to them by monks with high meditative prowess. The best way of finding out is by observing them in relation to Buddha's definition.

I have been observing the latter for a while now (not me ... as I am Not even close) and I am confident the person is one.

:anjali:

Actively trying to destroy the Three Unwholesome Roots of Greed, Hatred and Ignorance
Greed is the greatest danger of them all


Return to “Connections to Other Paths”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 13 guests

Google Saffron, Theravada Search Engine

cron