Spiny Norman wrote:So do you regard yourself as a stream entrant, Ian?
That is not a question I would ever be inclined to respond to on a public forum (especially on one that can be as vicious this this one), and especially to someone who doesn't know me. In that sense, it is inappropriate.
Spiny Norman wrote:And if so, could you say something about the experience of overcoming self-view (sakkāya-diṭṭhi)?
Overcoming self-view is something that each individual needs to work out for himself. It's easy enough to intellectually understand that there is no substantial self, but rather a mental construct we call the ego. But when push comes to shove in the real world, one's mental conditioning generally takes over (unless you are aware of the mechanisms at work and can see them in action in real time and are able to let go).
For me, it took studying the five aggregates and seeing the process of forming a self-view, recognizing and realizing that there is no substantial self involved, and then confirming that by watching the process unfold within the mind.
As far as fulfilling this requirement for a stream entrant, my opinion is based on my understanding and close reading of the suttas as well as the common sense of my own experience. Being intellectually aware that one's ego is just a mental construct (having had that realization, however it occurred) fulfills the requirement to my way of thinking. A stream entrant hasn't yet dealt with the asavas. That comes down the line, so to speak, as one continues on the path toward mental purification. (Yet, to listen to orthodox Theravada speak on this issue, one gets the impression that one has to have totally eliminated self-view from their beingness in order to be considered a stream entrant. Obviously, I don't buy into that view.)
For myself, stream entry has more to do with realizing and accepting the basic truths that Gotama taught, the value of the noble eightfold path, the retraining of the mind, and knowing that that is the path one has been seeking all their life to find. With this knowledge and realization, all doubt about the Buddha and the Dhamma has been dissipated as one realizes that this is the path to freedom. To me, entering the stream means entering the stream of Gotama's Dhamma and knowing that one will succeed if they can just work hard enough to walk the path. In other words, the ideal stream entrant sees the light at the end of the tunnel, and knows what he must do to reach it.