How common is stream entry?

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:56 am

retrofuturist wrote:I think your question is answered well by IanAnd's recent posts.


I'm not sure. I don't think we've established an objective measure for the level of insight required to overcome self-view ( sakkaya-ditthi ).
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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby kirk5a » Tue Jun 25, 2013 12:27 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:I'm not sure. I don't think we've established an objective measure for the level of insight required to overcome self-view ( sakkaya-ditthi ).

First glimpse of nibbana.
The path to stream entry is the act of focusing on physical and mental phenomena, back and forth. When events are traced back and forth—sometimes two times in succession, sometimes three, depending on the power of one’s discernment and insight—physical and mental phenomena disband and change of-lineage knowledge arises in the same instant, enabling one to see the quality within one that isn’t subject to arising or passing away. This is the opening onto nibbana, appearing sharp and clear through the power of one’s own discernment, bringing with it the fruition of stream entry, the state of being a noble disciple in the Buddha’s teaching.

- Ajahn Lee, The Craft of the Heart p. 88
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby Zom » Tue Jun 25, 2013 12:48 pm

First glimpse of nibbana.


Commentarial view. While suttas do not support this at all.

I don't think we've established an objective measure for the level of insight required to overcome self-view ( sakkaya-ditthi ).


There is none.

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby kirk5a » Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:05 pm

Zom wrote:
First glimpse of nibbana.


Commentarial view. While suttas do not support this at all.

This is clear support:
Then to Sariputta the wanderer, as he heard this Dhamma exposition, there arose the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: "Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation."


Even if just this is the Dhamma,
you have penetrated
to the Sorrowless (asoka) State
unseen, overlooked (by us)
for many myriads of aeons.
Then Sariputta the wanderer went to Moggallana the wanderer. Moggallana the wanderer saw him coming from afar and, on seeing him, said, "Bright are your faculties, my friend; pure your complexion, and clear. Could it be that you have attained the Deathless?"

"Yes, my friend, I have attained the Deathless. "

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
I don't think we've established an objective measure for the level of insight required to overcome self-view ( sakkaya-ditthi ).


There is none.

Yes, there is:
there arose the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: "Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation."

Which as can be seen from Sariputta's experience above, implies seeing what it NOT subject to cessation. As Ven. Thanissaro says:
Part of what makes the arising of the Dhamma eye such a powerful experience is that the realization that "Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation" must follow on a glimpse of what stands in opposition to "all that is subject to origination," i.e., a glimpse of the Unconditioned — deathlessness.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/stud ... tream.html
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby daverupa » Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:25 pm

What is subject to origination is subject to cessation, as a principle, does not necessarily make reference to seeing another thing which is an exception to the rule. One sees simply the operation of the principle as defining both samsara, and the escape therefrom.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby kirk5a » Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:29 pm

daverupa wrote:What is subject to origination is subject to cessation, as a principle, does not necessarily make reference to seeing another thing which is an exception to the rule. One sees simply the operation of the principle as defining both samsara, and the escape therefrom.

One directly knows "the escape therefrom." Which is Nibbana, which is not subject to cessation. As the quotation I provided proves.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby Zom » Tue Jun 25, 2013 3:43 pm

This is clear support:


No, this is not a clear support. Clear support would be the direct statement that stream-enterer sees nibbana directly. In this stranza you mentioned there is nothing about direct perception of nibbana. It can be well explained as (intellectual) understaining of the goal of the path (and that is what a stream enterer really has).

And if you look into suttas that do speak about direct seeing of nibbana - like MN64, AN 10.6, AN 11.7, AN 11.8 and others - you will see, that the result of such direct seeing is at least non-returning. Or - arahanship.

there arose the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: "Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation."


This is just the understaning of the principle of conditionality, not more than that. Because of this understanding you form right views (samma-ditthi) and drop wrong views (miccha-ditthi). When you did understood it, you won't have wrong ideas or asking wrong questions based on annihilationist/eternalist views.

Which as can be seen from Sariputta's experience above, implies seeing what it NOT subject to cessation. As Ven. Thanissaro says:


This is his personal opinion. The phrase itself does not support this.

One directly knows "the escape therefrom." Which is Nibbana, which is not subject to cessation.


Seeing the escape means seeing (understanding) the Path, but not getting the goal.

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby kirk5a » Tue Jun 25, 2013 6:20 pm

Zom wrote:
No, this is not a clear support. Clear support would be the direct statement that stream-enterer sees nibbana directly. In this stranza you mentioned there is nothing about direct perception of nibbana. It can be well explained as (intellectual) understaining of the goal of the path (and that is what a stream enterer really has).

It is a direct statement. "the deathless" = nibbana.

As for intellectual understanding, that might describe the "dhamma follower." The stream enterer "knows and sees."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby Zom » Tue Jun 25, 2013 6:58 pm

The stream enterer "knows and sees."


Ye. But knows and sees what? Sees that mind changes, feelings change, formations change. But not nibbana.

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 6:59 pm

Here's another sutta about glimpsing nibbana, though it's not specific about the actual level. Also some discussion of some of the other sources Kirk mentions.

SN 12.68: Kosambi Sutta
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=12266

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby Zom » Tue Jun 25, 2013 7:02 pm

Ye, and the Commentary (probably very old one) to this sutta says that here an anagami is being described. Which coincedes perfectly with other suttas which say, that direct seeing of nibbana is possible only for anagamis and arahants.

Spk: The seeing of water in the well represents the seeing of Nibbāna by the nonreturner. The man afflicted by heat represents the nonreturner; the water bucket, the path of arahantship. As the man oppressed by heat sees water in the well, the nonreturner knows by reviewing knowledge, “There exists a breakthrough to the path of arahantship” (reading with Se arahattaphalābhisamaya). But as the man lacking the bucket cannot draw out the water and touch it with the body, so the nonreturner, lacking the path of arahantship, cannot sit down and become absorbed in the attainment of the fruit of arahantship, which has Nibbāna as its object.

http://palicanon.org/index.php/sutta-pi ... _link-1973

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby Sylvester » Wed Jun 26, 2013 5:41 am

Zom wrote:Ye, and the Commentary (probably very old one) to this sutta says that here an anagami is being described. Which coincedes perfectly with other suttas which say, that direct seeing of nibbana is possible only for anagamis and arahants.

Spk: The seeing of water in the well represents the seeing of Nibbāna by the nonreturner. The man afflicted by heat represents the nonreturner; the water bucket, the path of arahantship. As the man oppressed by heat sees water in the well, the nonreturner knows by reviewing knowledge, “There exists a breakthrough to the path of arahantship” (reading with Se arahattaphalābhisamaya). But as the man lacking the bucket cannot draw out the water and touch it with the body, so the nonreturner, lacking the path of arahantship, cannot sit down and become absorbed in the attainment of the fruit of arahantship, which has Nibbāna as its object.

http://palicanon.org/index.php/sutta-pi ... _link-1973



Hi Zom

I think a more critical examination of the Commentarial position might show another way of interpreting the Kosambi Sutta's reference to Ven Nārada's "personal knowledge" (paccattameva ñāṇaṃ) of Nibbāṇa. Both Ven T (see his footnote 3 to SN 12.68) and the Commentaries have this habit of interpreting the kāyena passages in a very "solid" manner -

So taṃ udapānaṃ olokeyya. Tassa udakanti hi kho ñāṇaṃ assa, na ca kāyena phusitvā vihareyya

He would look into the well and would have knowledge of 'water,' but he would not dwell touching it with his body. [3] (per Ven T)


Compare to the Spk explanation given above -

But as the man lacking the bucket cannot draw out the water and touch it with the body

Na ca kāyena phusitvāti udakaṃ pana nīharitvā kāyena phusitvā viharituṃ na sakkuṇeyya.


Leaving aside the doctrinal development of "Nibbāna as an object" (nibbānaṃ ārammaṇaṃ) in the Comy, you can already see from the Vibhanga onwards that kāyena is given an almost exclusively nominal sense (ie as a noun in the instrumental -ena, ie with the body). However, it is also a feature of the suttas when -ena end-forms are used with words aligned to verbs, they do not have to function as nominals, but will function as adverbials to predicate the verb. A stark example of this would be the experience of the santā vimokkhā in AN 10.9. There, one is said to -

...santā vimokkhā atikkamma rūpe āruppā te kāyena phusitvā viharati


Elsewhere, kāyena assumes a clear adverbial sense in AN 4.113, in the context of the experience of the highest truth -

Pahitatto kāyena ceva paramasaccaṃ sacchikaroti, paññāya ca ativijjha passati.


What the Comy is doing is nothing more than following how kāyena is explained by the Abhidhamma, where at least the concept of the nāmakāya (not the DN 15 version, but as interpreted according to the Abhidhammic method) can be resorted to to furnish a nominal perspective, instead of an adverbial one. In my opinion, what "kāyena phusitvā" means in SN 12.68 is "directly/personally experiences/touches". This implies that there is in fact a contrary case where the experience is indirect.

Note that Stream-Winners are supposed to "see" both aspects of idappaccayatā. The Dependant Cessation sequence is explicitly identified with the 3rd Noble Truth in AN 3.61, which suggests that Stream Entry includes a "vision" of the 3rd Noble Truth. It need not be a personal experience like an Arahant's experience of Nibbāna, but SN 12.68 seems to suggest that the trainee's experience is indirect.

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby Zom » Wed Jun 26, 2013 8:56 am

Note that Stream-Winners are supposed to "see" both aspects of idappaccayatā. The Dependant Cessation sequence is explicitly identified with the 3rd Noble Truth in AN 3.61, which suggests that Stream Entry includes a "vision" of the 3rd Noble Truth.


In the sense of right understanding of the goal of the spiritual path - yes, I do agree. I already told that.

It need not be a personal experience like an Arahant's experience of Nibbāna, but SN 12.68 seems to suggest that the trainee's experience is indirect.


As I see it, there is a big difference between direct seeing of nibbana by non-returner and lower ariyas, and this difference is explanied well by a simile in SN12.68. Both anagami and arahant see nibbana, but one does not touch it with the body (non-returner). But still he sees it directly. Its like a going to the swimming pool. Lower ariyas see the building and know - "Inside this building there should be a swimming pool. But I had to enter the building to see this pool directly". Non-returner is one who entered the building and directly saw the water, the pool itself. While arahant is one who made further step and jumped into water.

The crucial point here is having jhana. Lower ariyas do not have jhana (and, btw, because of that they later are reborn in kama-loka, not rupa/arupa realms). While non-returner has it. And because he has it, he can see nibbana directly. Thats how several suttas put it, the best one is MN64:

“And what, Ānanda, is the path, the way to the abandoning of the five lower fetters? Here, with seclusion from the acquisitions, with the abandoning of unwholesome states, with the complete tranquillization of bodily inertia, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion.

Whatever exists therein of material form, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness, he sees those states as impermanent, as suffering, as a disease, as a tumour, as a barb, as a calamity, as an affliction, as alien, as disintegrating, as void, as not self. He turns his mind away from those states and directs it towards the deathless element thus: ‘This is the peaceful, this is the sublime, that is, the stilling of all formations, the relinquishing of all attachments, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, Nibbāna.’ If he is steady in that, he attains the destruction of the taints. But if he does not attain the destruction of the taints, because of that desire for the Dhamma, that delight in the Dhamma, then with the destruction of the five lower fetters he becomes one due to reappear spontaneously [in the Pure Abodes] and there attain final Nibbāna without ever returning from that world".


So, only two alternatives here, when you really see nibbana directly: either non-returning or arahantship.

Now, one may say that this formula is not a direct seeing of nibbana, but just some kind of "vipassana practice". But it should not be seen that way, because several suttas from Anguttara (eg. AN 11.7) say that it is:

“Bhante, could a bhikkhu obtain such a state of concentration that (1) he would not be percipient of earth in relation to earth; (2) of water in relation to water; (3) of fire in relation to fire; (4) of air in relation to air; (5) of the base of the infinity of space in relation to the base of the infinity of space; (6) of the base of the infinity of consciousness in relation to the base of the infinity of consciousness; (7) of the base of nothingness in relation to the base of nothingness; (8) of the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception in relation to the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception; (9) of this world in relation to this world; (10) of the other world in relation to the other world; (11) of anything seen, heard, sensed, cognized, reached, sought after, and examined by the mind, but he would still be percipient?”

“He could, Ānanda.”

“But how, Bhante, could he obtain such a state of concentration?”

“Here, Ānanda, a bhikkhu is percipient thus: ‘This is peaceful, this is sublime, that is, the stilling of all activities, the relinquishing of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, nibbāna.’

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby Sylvester » Wed Jun 26, 2013 1:17 pm

Hi Zom

Thanks for your reply. Pls excuse my lousy formating but I'm hopeless on an Android. I'll therefore just take isuue with your point that lower ariyas do not attain jhana. Both BB and Ven Analayo make the point that if a Once-Returner had attained jhana , he would in fact not return. The argument is flawed.

Firstly, the Streams Sutta asserts that the ariyas are endowed with the N8P. Why a jhana attainment is no guarantee of a Brahma rebirth is suggested by the Bhava Sutta. Kamma alone is insufficient, as the establishment of consciousness in that dhatu is also required. As the Danda Sutta puts it, rebecoming cannot be viewed deterministically.

I think the rebecoming verbs associating jhana and Brahma rebirths are probabilistic, not deterministic. AN 4.123 suggests that this "establishment" requires persistent indulgence in jhana to be reborn in the rupaloka. This leads me to believe that the lower ariyas do in fact enjoy the jhanas as a matter of course, and would therefore be able to practice the "etam santam" meditations you mentioned.

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby Zom » Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:14 pm

I'd just say, that nowhere in the suttas i saw a clear statement that stream-enterer or once-returner can attain or attains jhana. While there are numerous suttas where it is explicitly said that non-returners and arahants have it. The only argument for "stream-enterer jhana" I heard so far - is that he is endowed with (not perfect) concentration. But this argument is also flawed for some reasons. For example, that saddha-nussari, weakest ariya person, who didn't even get a fruit of stream-entery but have just a plain belief in Dhamma, also said to have concentration (of the lowest degree). In AN 10.75 once-returner is reported to have sex (which is far from jhana), and even celibate once-returner is reported to be reborn in kama-loka realm (among Tusita devas). What is more, no lower level arias are reported to be reborn above kama-loka realms, that is, at least, in the lowest brahma realm. For me that says a lot.

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby kirk5a » Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:23 pm

For me what says a lot is that the modern Thai, Burmese, and Sri Lankan teaching traditions all have the outlook that stream entry involves a glimpse of nibbana. As evidenced by what Ajahn Lee, Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw, Ayya Khema, and others have said.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby Zom » Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:29 pm

Sure. What else would they say, if it is a popular meme, taken from late Abhidhamma.

But again, what is a glimpse? Direct seeing? I hope I showed that suttas do not support this view. And, once again, for those who place theravadin Abhidhamma on the first place and discard all the rest - for them this is, of course, not an argument -) But this is somewhat another topic already.

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby khlawng » Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:56 pm

Zom wrote: ... once-returner is reported to have sex (which is far from jhana)...


could you clarify this part please.

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby kirk5a » Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:57 pm

Zom wrote:Sure. What else would they say, if it is a popular meme, taken from late Abhidhamma.

Taken from the verification of their own experience, I think is reasonable to conclude.
But again, what is a glimpse? Direct seeing? I hope I showed that suttas do not support this view.

No, you didn't at all. Especially since you are simply ignoring the direct evidence which I provided right off the bat.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby daverupa » Wed Jun 26, 2013 4:08 pm

kirk5a wrote:No, you didn't at all. Especially since you are simply ignoring the direct evidence which I provided right off the bat.


It isn't really direct evidence, though, is it?

The passage you've quoted from the Mahavagga talks about the arising of the Dhamma Eye for Sariputta, and then has him go to his friend Moggallana. This person has heard nothing of the Dhamma, only seen his friend Sariputta approaching with a certain remarkable serenity. Moggallana asks if Sariputta has "attained the deathless", and he says he has - but perhaps he is simply using Moggallana's term to convey his conviction? It may have been an old idiom? Or perhaps he made an overestimation, being only a stream-enterer?

Or perhaps the narrative has received embellishments or other editorial attention? After all, Sariputta's attainment of nibbana is told in two different ways elsewhere in the suttas, for example, so it would appear that these narratives were relatively open to editorial massage.

So, I'm not seeing that one passage as knock-down evidence, especially when elsewhere the Dhamma Eye is only directly associated with stream-entry (and, interestingly enough, stream-entry is repeatedly associated with the elimination of three fetters - later four - and tripartite conviction + morality. I would have expected the reciters to have given something approaching equal time to any talk about the perception of nibbana at stream-entry, if it were as you say).
Last edited by daverupa on Wed Jun 26, 2013 4:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]


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