Questions about stream-winners

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Questions about stream-winners

Postby vinasp » Sat Sep 19, 2009 7:24 pm

Hi everyone,

This is about stream-winners according to the five Nikaya's, but I thought I would put it here since my understanding of the teachings could be thought to be wrong by many people. I have three questions:

1. Is there a way in which one can know for certain that one is a stream-winner?

2. If you knew that you were a stream-winner, would you admit it to others on a forum such as this one?

3. Could some modern followers of Theravada Buddhism be stream-winners without knowing it?

Kind regards, Vincent.
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Re: Questions about stream-winners

Postby BlackBird » Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:06 pm

Dear Vincent

This (fairly recent) topic here may be of interest:
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=1677

:anjali:
Jack
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

Nanavira Thera's teachings - An existential approach to the Dhamma | Ven. Bodhesako's essay on anicca
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Re: Questions about stream-winners

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Sep 19, 2009 11:47 pm

vinasp wrote:1. Is there a way in which one can know for certain that one is a stream-winner?


Based on my understanding from the texts of those who have attained the noble states:

Yes, it is earth-shattering enough that you would know. It includes a 'glimpse' of Nibbana and the 'opening' of the Dhamma eye, thus, one would know. One would not need to ask or seek approval from others or seek 'certification' from others.

2. If you knew that you were a stream-winner, would you admit it to others on a forum such as this one?


No, see response above.

3. Could some modern followers of Theravada Buddhism be stream-winners without knowing it?


No, see response above. They would know it.
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Re: Questions about stream-winners

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Sep 20, 2009 12:41 am

I prety much agree with the Dhamma's responce except number 2?? not needing certification from and declaring are two different things in my mind, part of my signature is an adaption of what a lay stream winner can say on attaining that level according to the suttas, it is more of a case that they would say it and carry on with other things rather than saying and try to prove it.
just my take on that question.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Questions about stream-winners

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Sep 20, 2009 2:01 am

Manapa wrote:I prety much agree with the Dhamma's responce except number 2?? not needing certification from and declaring are two different things in my mind, part of my signature is an adaption of what a lay stream winner can say on attaining that level according to the suttas, it is more of a case that they would say it and carry on with other things rather than saying and try to prove it.
just my take on that question.


Ah, okay, I see what you mean, if a practitioner wanted to confirm his/her attainment with a teacher. That could be helpful, but what if the practitioner becomes a noble one and the teacher is not? :tongue:

Best to find a teacher who is well advanced and developed in the Dhamma, but sometimes not an easy task. But I suppose a good teacher could still respond based on his/her understanding of the texts and the sayings/actions of past noble ones.
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Re: Questions about stream-winners

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Sep 20, 2009 10:00 am

TheDhamma wrote:
Manapa wrote:I prety much agree with the Dhamma's responce except number 2?? not needing certification from and declaring are two different things in my mind, part of my signature is an adaption of what a lay stream winner can say on attaining that level according to the suttas, it is more of a case that they would say it and carry on with other things rather than saying and try to prove it.
just my take on that question.


Ah, okay, I see what you mean, if a practitioner wanted to confirm his/her attainment with a teacher. That could be helpful, but what if the practitioner becomes a noble one and the teacher is not? :tongue:

Best to find a teacher who is well advanced and developed in the Dhamma, but sometimes not an easy task. But I suppose a good teacher could still respond based on his/her understanding of the texts and the sayings/actions of past noble ones.


Hi
if the teacher is a worthy friend then the relationship only partly changes :tongue: I have an image of a mountain climb where the climbers help eachother to get to the top.
if the 'teacher' isn't then the noble student would be able to tell and move on, even our worst enemies, or those who are not truly teachers of Dhamma can teach us true Dhamma if we attend appropriately (I guess)
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Questions about stream-winners

Postby vinasp » Sun Sep 20, 2009 11:49 am

Hi Blackbird,

Thanks for the link to the other thread. I did read it a few days ago, but I forgot where it was. That is a good thread and a link to it here will be useful. I would like to try a different approach on this thread.
What if one reads everything about stream-winners and still one does not understand. Are the teachings complete? Are they holding something back? People today expect a teaching to explain things, not to stop short just when it gets to the essential thing. Perhaps they are leaving an important step for us to understand for ourselves. Or it could be to enable them to test those who claim to have become stream-winners. It could even be essential things are missing in order to prevent the teachings from being stolen. You need the "keys" as well.

kind regards, Vincent.
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Re: Questions about stream-winners

Postby vinasp » Sun Sep 20, 2009 1:25 pm

Greetings TheDhamma,

Thank you for your interesting reply. What I had in mind with question 1 was more to do with ones understanding of the teachings. That a proper understanding of the teachings leaves no room for doubt about where one is on the path. On the opening of the Dhamma eye, it may be a metaphor which is only used for sudden, rather than gradual realization. As for the glimpse of nibbana I think that it is more than a glimpse. It is a permanent move closer to the enlightened state of mind. A permanent reduction in the amount of dukkha.
On my question 3 , I was thinking of people who have an insight into the truth of no-self , but are confused by the complexity of the teachings. They could be at the level of a stream-winner but their confusion about the teachings needs to be removed.
I think we are in agreement that "true" stream-winners would know it. It seems that insight into no-self and a correct understanding of the teachings are both required.
Kind regards, Vincent.
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Re: Questions about stream-winners

Postby vinasp » Sun Sep 20, 2009 1:42 pm

Hi everyone,

Could it be that in looking up all the passages about stream-winners we are missing something? There is also the distinction between the puthujjana and the ariya savaka. Some things which are said about the ariya savaka might be applicable to the stream-winner. My own view is that the transition from puthujjana to ariya savaka is the same thing as becoming a stream-winner. ( I could be wrong about this ). Also there is the term sekha which seems to refer to someone on the noble eightfold path, which would include the stream-winner. And dont forget that the path is the stream so winning the stream and attaining the path are the same thing. Does this make any sense?

Kind regards, Vincent.
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Re: Questions about stream-winners

Postby BlackBird » Sun Sep 20, 2009 8:45 pm

Dear Vincent

Perhaps this might be of interest:

"Teaching and Training" - Ven. Bhikkhu Moneyya
http://paauk.org/files/tt_web_03mar07.pdf

If you want to get to the heart of the matter.

Metta
Jack
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

Nanavira Thera's teachings - An existential approach to the Dhamma | Ven. Bodhesako's essay on anicca
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Re: Questions about stream-winners

Postby vinasp » Tue Sep 22, 2009 12:16 pm

Hi everyone,

The difficulty I have in making sense of the stream-winner is shown by the following question:
Has the stream-winner completely eliminated sakkaya ditthi ? It looks like a simple, harmless question does it not ? It is a simple question, in fact there can only be two answers : yes he has, or no he has not. But it is not harmless. If your understanding of the teachings is wrong then this question can be very troubling. In fact, whichever answer you choose you run into big problems. What is your answer ? And please, answer from your own understanding , do not just give me a link to something online written by someone else.
Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: Questions about stream-winners

Postby BlackBird » Tue Sep 22, 2009 11:16 pm

vinasp wrote:And please, answer from your own understanding , do not just give me a link to something online written by someone else.


May I ask, are you here to better your understanding of the Dhamma? Or here to debate your views with others?


...For one who's involved gets into disputes over doctrines, but how — in connection with what — would you argue with one uninvolved? He has nothing embraced or rejected, has sloughed off every view right here — every one.

- Snp 4.3 Dutthatthaka Sutta: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"Monks, there are these seven obsessions.1 Which seven?

"(1) The obsession of sensual passion.

"(2) The obsession of resistance.

"(3) The obsession of views.

"(4) The obsession of uncertainty.

"(5) The obsession of conceit.

"(6) The obsession of passion for becoming.

"(7) The obsession of ignorance.

"These are the seven obsessions."

- AN 7.11 Anusaya Sutta: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

Nanavira Thera's teachings - An existential approach to the Dhamma | Ven. Bodhesako's essay on anicca
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Re: Questions about stream-winners

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Sep 22, 2009 11:52 pm

vinasp wrote:And please, answer from your own understanding , do not just give me a link to something online written by someone else.

This request really makes no sense, since all (most?) of us are relying on writings for an understanding of stream entry.

http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... C4%81panna
Relevant Extract:
I: Through the path of Stream-winning sotāpatti-magga one becomes free whereas in realizing the fruition, one is freed from the first 3 mental chains samyojana, which bind beings to existence in the sense-sphere, to wit:
1: Personality-belief sakkāya-ditthi, see. ditthi,
2: Skeptical doubt vicikicchā,
3: Clinging upādāna to mere rules and rituals sīlabbata-parāmāsa.
One has maximally 7 rebirth rounds before Awakening and cannot be reborn
as animal, ghost, demon or hell-being.
...

http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... ya-puggala
Sotāpanna: the 'Stream-winner', is the lowest of the 8 Noble Disciples see: ariya-puggala Three kinds are to be distinguished: the one 'with 7 rebirths at the utmost' sattakkhattu-parama, the one 'passing from one noble family to another' kolankola the one 'germinating only once more' eka-bījī As it is said e.g. Pug. 37-39; A. III, 87:

1;If a man, after the disappearance of the 3 mental chains personality-belief, skeptical doubt, attachment to rules and ritual; see: samyojana has entered the stream to Nibbāna, he is no more subject to rebirth in lower worlds, is firmly established, destined to full enlightenment. After having passed amongst the divine and human beings only seven times more through the round of rebirths, he puts an end to suffering. Such a man is called 'one with 7 births at the utmost' sattakkhattu-parama.

2;If a man, after the disappearance of the 3 mental chains. is destined to full enlightenment, he, after having passed among noble families two or three times through the round of rebirths, puts an end to suffering. Such a man is called 'one passing from one noble family to another' kolankola.

3;If a man, after the disappearance of the 3 mental chains. is destined to full enlightenment, he, after having only once more returned to human existence, puts an end to suffering. Such a man is called 'one germinating only once more' eka-bījī See Sotāpatti-Samyutta S. LV.

The Sutta quotes seem reasonably clear.

Only an Arahant has abandoned ignorance (avijjā). http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... vijj%C4%81
Perhaps you are confusing this with sakkāya-ditthi?

Metta
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Re: Questions about stream-winners

Postby vinasp » Wed Sep 23, 2009 12:45 am

Hi mikenz66,

Of course we are all relying on writings, I meant ones understanding from what one has read, that is all. My problem is the large number of sutta's which seem to show those on the noble eightfold path still working on eliminating sakkaya ditthi. This includes those beyond stream-winners, for example non-returners. How can this be so if the stream-winner has already eliminated sakkaya ditthi ? The passages which you quote seem to be saying that the stream-winner has eliminated sakkaya ditthi. But such a view directly contradicts a large number of discourses. Have I mis-understood what sakkaya ditthi is ?

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: Questions about stream-winners

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 23, 2009 1:08 am

vinasp wrote: My problem is the large number of sutta's which seem to show those on the noble eightfold path still working on eliminating sakkaya ditthi. This includes those beyond stream-winners, for example non-returners.


An anagami still working on eliminating sakkaya-ditthi? I don't think that is possible. Can you show us the reference?
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Re: Questions about stream-winners

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 23, 2009 3:23 am

vinasp wrote:The passages which you quote seem to be saying that the stream-winner has eliminated sakkaya ditthi. But such a view directly contradicts a large number of discourses. Have I mis-understood what sakkaya ditthi is ?

Well, that's what I was trying to say.
sakkāya-ditthi is translated as "personality belief" in the quote I gave you. I.e. a stream enterer does not have a "self" view. [There is still a subtle feeling of "I am": http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.089.than.html].

But a stream-enterer still has Avijjā: Ignorance.
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... vijj%C4%81
Avijjā: Ignorance, nescience, the blindness of not knowing, is synonymous with confusion moha (see mūla), is the primary & deepest root of all evil and suffering in the world, veiling man's mental eyes and preventing him from seeing the true nature of things. It is the confusion that fools beings by making life appear to them as permanent, happy, substantial and beautiful and preventing them from seeing that everything in reality is impermanent, liable to suffering, void of 'I' and 'mine', and basically impure see: vipallāsa. Ignorance is defined as not knowing the Four Noble Truths, namely, suffering, its origin, its cessation, and the way to its ceasing see: S. XII, 4.

As ignorance is the foundation of all life-maintaining actions, and the root of all evil and suffering, it therefore stands first in the formula of Dependent Origination paticca-samuppāda. But for that reason, says Vis.M XVII, 36f ignorance should not be regarded as the causeless root-cause of the world, since is not causeless. The cause of it is stated thus: With the arising of mental fermentations āsava there is the arising of ignorance M. 9. But there is a figurative way in which it can be treated as a root-cause; namely, when it is made to serve as a starting point in an exposition of the Round of Existence... As it is said: No first beginning of ignorance can be perceived, Bhikkhus, before which ignorance was not, and after which it came to be. But it can be perceived that ignorance has its specific causal condition idappaccaya A. X, 61. The same statement is made A. X, 62 about the craving for existence bhava-tanhā (see tanhā). Craving and ignorance are called the outstanding causes or creators of the kamma that lead to unhappy and happy destinies Vis.M XVII, 38.

As ignorance still exists though in a very refined way until the attainment of Arahatship, it is counted as the last of the 10 mental chains samyojana, which bind beings to the cycle of rebirths. As the first two roots of evil, greed and hate (see: mūla), are on their part rooted in ignorance, consequently all disadvantageous states of mind are inseparably bound up with ignorance. Ignorance or confusion is the most obstinate , dense, deep, subtle, hidden and fearsome of the three roots of evil.

Ignorance is one of the fermentations āsava and latent tendencies anusaya. It is often called a hindrance nīvarana e.g. in S.XV, 3; A.X, 61 but does not appear together with the usual list of five hindrances. It is however immanent in them all, yet especially dominant in doubt & uncertainty vicikicchā.

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Re: Questions about stream-winners

Postby vinasp » Wed Sep 23, 2009 2:57 pm

Greetings TheDhamma,

I know it must sound crazy, I could not believe it myself when I first discovered it. One such sutta has already been quoted on the Sotapanna Issues thread : The Silavant Sutta SN 22. 122 PTS S iii 167. Here we see non-returners still training themselves to see no-self in the five clinging aggregates. I understand this to mean that they are still in the proccess of eliminating sakkaya ditthi. There are hundreds of such sutta's, but they do not use the term sakkaya ditthi. However they do show that a view of self is still being removed.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: Questions about stream-winners

Postby vinasp » Wed Sep 23, 2009 3:19 pm

Hi mikenz66,

Thanks for taking the time to engage with me on this issue. I think that much of what you are quoting is a modern interpretation of the teachings contained in the five nikaya's. It took me years to discover that these modern interpretations are wrong. I do not rely on them anymore, I look at what the nikaya's are actually saying. But this is just the approach that I have chosen, I do not ask others to follow it if they do not wish to.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: Questions about stream-winners

Postby Jechbi » Wed Sep 23, 2009 3:54 pm

Hi Vincent,
vinasp wrote:If your understanding of the teachings is wrong then this question can be very troubling. In fact, whichever answer you choose you run into big problems. What is your answer?

Actually I don't see the point of the question with regard to one's own practice. What difference will it make? As you point out, if one's understanding is wrong, there's a problem with whatever answer one chooses. If that's true, then one's answer only becomes unproblematic with right understanding. So why ask others for an answer?

Best wishes
:smile:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Questions about stream-winners

Postby vinasp » Wed Sep 23, 2009 6:17 pm

Hi Jechbi,

Thanks for your interest in this thread. You seem to have mis-understood what I was saying. It is probably my fault for not expressing myself clearly. I think you are conflating two separate statements.

1. If your understanding of the teachings is wrong then this question can be very troubling.

This seems true to me. The value of the question is it's ability to show one that ones understanding must be wrong. One will not find a right understanding unless one first rejects wrong understanding. But it is not pleasing to discover that one has a wrong understanding.

2. In fact, whichever answer you choose you run into big problems.

This refers back to the two answers to the question. One or the other answer must be true. But if you choose the wrong answer you do not solve the problem. If you choose the right answer you solve that problem, but then run into even bigger ones.

Why did the Buddha say that his teachings were like a poisonous water snake ?

Best wishes, Vincent.
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