Stream-entry - different perspectives on the process

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Stream-entry - different perspectives on the process

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jul 14, 2009 1:23 am

Greetings,

I find it interesting to look through the suttas, commentaries and so forth and look at the different ways in which stream-entry is represented, and in particular, what needs to be done in order to achieve stream-entry.

After the Buddha (of whom it's interesting to note that little is said about any aryan attainment prior to becoming a fully-fledged Buddha), the next aryan in the Buddhasasana was Añña-Kondañña. In...

SN 56.11: Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Gratified, the group of five monks delighted at his words. And while this explanation was being given, there arose to Ven. Kondañña the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation.

...

Then the Blessed One exclaimed: "So you really know, Kondañña? So you really know?" And that is how Ven. Kondañña acquired the name Añña-Kondañña — Kondañña who knows.


As we see, stream-entry (at least) certainly occurs for Añña-Kondañña during the exposition of the sutta itself. Sometimes when mention of stream-entry or other attainments are mentioned at the end of a sutta, it is said that the attainment didn't actually happen then and there, but the person contemplated what was said, meditated on it, and found enlightenment. However, clearly this was not the case for Añña-Kondañña... he was not meditating, he was actively listening to a discourse.

Fast-forward several centuries to the days of the Mahavihara in Sri Lanka, and the commentaries tend to paint a very different picture on what is in fact required to attain stream entry. The classification of the vipassana-nanas (or "insight knowledges") is used to track the aspirant's "knowledges" and only at the very end of this process, is nibbana actually experienced, and with that, the eradication of the fetter of doubt, which is required in order to attain nobility in the Buddhasasana.

To me, there seems a certain disconnect here between the two examples, and I think it would be very interesting for us to discuss this, clarify and maybe find out precisely what is the best way to know what is required in order for us to attain stream-entry.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Stream-entry - different perspectives on the process

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jul 14, 2009 2:01 am

Hi Retro,

As you can probably recall, Robert K, Kevin, and the followers of Khun Sujin at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastudygroup/ would say that modern teachers have misinterpreted the Suttas, Commentaries, and Visddhimagga in thinking that there is a "vipassana technique" where one "forces" these insights to arise. Their view of the progress of insight described in the Visiddhimagga would, I think, be closer to your reading of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta than a typical "vipassana" retreat.

Metta
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Re: Stream-entry - different perspectives on the process

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jul 14, 2009 2:10 am

Greetings Mike,

Thank you for the input. When I'm next in contact with my copy of the Visuddhimagga, I'll have a look at these sections with a view to identifying the extent to which vipassana, samatha or samadhi is inferred.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Stream-entry - different perspectives on the process

Postby Individual » Tue Jul 14, 2009 2:19 am

retrofuturist wrote:As we see, stream-entry (at least) certainly occurs for Añña-Kondañña during the exposition of the sutta itself. Sometimes when mention of stream-entry or other attainments are mentioned at the end of a sutta, it is said that the attainment didn't actually happen then and there, but the person contemplated what was said, meditated on it, and found enlightenment. However, clearly this was not the case for Añña-Kondañña... he was not meditating, he was actively listening to a discourse.

Could actively listening to a discourse not be considered a form of meditation?

retrofuturist wrote:Fast-forward several centuries to the days of the Mahavihara in Sri Lanka, and the commentaries tend to paint a very different picture on what is in fact required to attain stream entry. The classification of the vipassana-nanas (or "insight knowledges") is used to track the aspirant's "knowledges" and only at the very end of this process, is nibbana actually experienced, and with that, the eradication of the fetter of doubt, which is required in order to attain nobility in the Buddhasasana.

To me, there seems a certain disconnect here between the two examples, and I think it would be very interesting for us to discuss this, clarify and maybe find out precisely what is the best way to know what is required in order for us to attain stream-entry.

I think there are a lot of examples of sudden, spontaneous enlightenment in the suttas, the Buddha's own enlightenment being especially characterized by this... And so I'd advocate the view of insight being developed as a neither sudden nor gradual phenomenon, because it depends on whether you're looking at it from the perspective of kamma or nibbana. Defenders of the Mahavihara might argue that it is misunderstood that merely superficially following certain steps churns out Nibbana so mechanically.

Related to this view, in one of the suttas near the beginning of the Digha Nikaya -- forget which one, but I can find it later when I have the time -- the Buddha says that he teaches the height of consciousness (the highest mental state, enlightenment, nibbana, etc.), as both something reached every step of the way and as a pinnacle or peak (an end-goal). In this sense, Nibbana in addition to being the final release from all suffering, Nibbana is also here and now, every time we act rightly, mindfully, and morally.
The best things in life aren't things.

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