Entering the stream

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Entering the stream

Postby clw_uk » Wed Jan 21, 2009 11:19 pm

Not sure if this has already been discussed already but thought id put it up just in case.

We all know that it is said that when one becomes a stream-winner that they are certain to attain nibbana in no less than seven lives. How is this possible though? If one dies and is reborn then they would have forgotten all the teachings, practice etc in the past existence so wouldnt they be starting again from scratch?
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Entering the stream

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:00 am

from what I understand about it, it is they are or we are at that capacity, they don't need to know it or understand it (what ever it is) from birth but they would know and understand it from the first encounter, and be inclined to act in a manner of a stream enterer naturally?
suppose it is like Mozart playing the piano at an early age?
I may be wrong but I think that is accurate?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Re: Entering the stream

Postby jcsuperstar » Thu Jan 22, 2009 2:35 am

look at it this way. if i'm born in gaza and die at age 13 i'm never going to practice the dhamma, but if i'm born in chaing mai and become a novice at 13 i have a great chance to. i'm sure those on the path to being an arahant are just born in the right places to practice. they dont have to be born remembering the teachings from their past lives.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Entering the stream

Postby Element » Thu Jan 22, 2009 3:18 am

clw_uk wrote:We all know that it is said that when one becomes a stream-winner that they are certain to attain nibbana in no less than seven lives. How is this possible though? If one dies and is reborn then they would have forgotten all the teachings, practice etc in the past existence so wouldnt they be starting again from scratch?

Most of the arahants in the suttas were initially ordinary people, then attained stream entry and then attained arahantship.

For example, the First Sermon states Kodanna attained stream entry and then became AnyaKondanya, meaning "Kondanna who knows".

Similarly, Upatissa was an ordinary person and upon listening to Asaji gained stream entry. Then after practising with the Buddha, Upatissa, namely Sariputta, attained arahantship.

It was not required of Kodanna, Sariputta or any other arahant to have futher lives to gain arahantship. Maha Kassapa attained arahantship in 14 days.

I would suggest seven lives represent seven fetters or seven types of becoming, 'jati' or 'abodes' that need to be overcome.

A stream enterer cuts three fetters and must uproot seven more fetters for arahantship.

With metta

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Re: Entering the stream

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Jan 22, 2009 3:50 am

clw_uk wrote:so wouldnt they be starting again from scratch?

The first three fetters are completely eradicated at stream-entry. So one born a stream-entrant is starting out with three less fetters than you or I. That's a significant head-start, especially when you consider that one of those fetters is doubt about the Triple Gem.
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Re: Entering the stream

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:43 am

Hi Craig,

clw_uk wrote:We all know that it is said that when one becomes a stream-winner that they are certain to attain nibbana in no less than seven lives. How is this possible though? If one dies and is reborn then they would have forgotten all the teachings, practice etc in the past existence so wouldnt they be starting again from scratch?


One wouldn't be starting from scratch because the fetters abandoned in the life when stream-entry is attained remain abandoned throughout whatever subsequent lives remain. One wouldn't, for example, be able to fall into wrong view.

Also, although it is theoretically possible for a stream-enterer to be reborn as a human being, there don't seem to be any accounts of this happening in Pali literature. All the stream-enterers who fail to attain arahatta in the same life are reported to have been reborn in one or another of the heavenly realms. Being reborn in such places they have a perfect recall of their former life, and of the teachings, practice etc. that they had learned.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Entering the stream

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:55 am

Dear Venerable,
Dhammanando wrote:Also, although it is theoretically possible for a stream-enterer to be reborn as a human being, there don't seem to be any accounts of this happening in Pali literature. All the stream-enterers who fail to attain arahatta in the same life are reported to have been reborn in one or another of the heavenly realms. Being reborn in such places they have a perfect recall of their former life, and of the teachings, practice etc. that they had learned.
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

Thank you for that information. Presumably it would make sense that a stream-enterer would normally have enough development of the Brahamaviharas to ensure that.

Metta
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Re: Entering the stream

Postby gavesako » Thu Jan 22, 2009 10:35 am

I know of monks in Thailand who have privately said that they were born in this life as stream-enterers. They had a very easy start and fast progress in their meditation, too. It seems like they just continued where they had left off the last time. One of them, for example, wanted to befriend some girls but every time he thought of them, their image changed into a decomposing corpse... :jawdrop: so he did not get very far with that one. Instead he became a monk.
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Re: Entering the stream

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Jan 22, 2009 10:53 am

Hi Craig,

clw_uk wrote:We all know that it is said that when one becomes a stream-winner that they are certain to attain nibbana in no less than seven lives. How is this possible though? If one dies and is reborn then they would have forgotten all the teachings, practice etc in the past existence so wouldnt they be starting again from scratch?


One wouldn't be starting from scratch because the fetters abandoned in the life when stream-entry is attained remain abandoned throughout whatever subsequent lives remain. One wouldn't, for example, be able to fall into wrong view.

Also, although it is theoretically possible for a stream-enterer to be reborn as a human being, there don't seem to be any accounts of this happening in Pali literature. All the stream-enterers who fail to attain arahatta in the same life are reported to have been reborn in one or another of the heavenly realms. Being reborn in such places they have a perfect recall of their former life, and of the teachings, practice etc. that they had learned.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

[This is a re-post. I posted it twice before because it didn't appear the first time. Then I deleted one of the duplicated posts, but another mod simultaneously deleted the other one. :smile: ]
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Entering the stream

Postby appicchato » Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:30 am

Element wrote:
I would suggest seven lives represent seven fetters or seven types of becoming, 'jati' or 'abodes' that need to be overcome.

Unsubstantiated in the Suttas...that I'm familiar with...correct me if I'm wrong...seven fetters, in the human plane, that need to be eradicated...adding more is speculation, and, some may say, unnecessary...
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Re: Entering the stream

Postby Element » Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:15 pm

It appears 'seven' was Buddha's lucky number.
Verily, monks, whosoever practices these four foundations of mindfulness in this manner for seven years, then one of these two fruits may be expected by him: highest knowledge (arahantship) here and now or if some remainder of clinging is yet present, the state of non-returning.

MN 10
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Re: Entering the stream

Postby Element » Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:35 pm

There are many stream-entry suttas at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/study/stream2.html
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Re: Entering the stream

Postby appicchato » Thu Jan 22, 2009 1:07 pm

It's your relating seven lives to seven fetters that I'm referring to... :smile:
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Re: Entering the stream

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Jan 22, 2009 2:19 pm

Hi Element,

Element wrote:I would suggest seven lives represent seven fetters or seven types of becoming, 'jati' or 'abodes' that need to be overcome.

A stream enterer cuts three fetters and must uproot seven more fetters for arahantship.


This isn't a tenable reading. Leaving aside those stream-enterers who go on to attain arahatta in the same life, the remainder were classed by the Buddha as being of three types: ekabījīs, kolaṅkolas and sattakhattuparamas; only the last of these is liable to continue for seven more lives, yet all sotāpannas have seven more fetters to overcome.

    Ekabījī
    "What sort of person is single-seeded? Here a person, having completely destroyed the three fetters, becomes a stream-enterer; he is no more liable to fall into a woeful state, but is destined to succeed and has enlightenment as his final end; he having returned to the state of human existence makes an end of suffering. Such a person is said to be single-seeded."

    Kolaṅkola
    "What sort of person is he who transmigrates from family to family? Here a person having completely destroyed the three fetters, becomes a stream-enterer; he is no more liable to fall into a woeful state, but is destined to succeed, and has enlightenment as his final end; he running on and transmigrating through two or three families makes an end of suffering. Such a person is said to be one who migrates from family to family."

    Sattakhattuparama
    "What sort of person is he who undergoes rebirth not more than seven times? Here a person, having completely destroyed the three fetters, becomes a stream-enterer; he is no more liable to fall into a woeful state, but is destined to succeed and has enlightenment as his final end; he running on and transmigrating seven times amongst devas and men makes an end of suffering. Such a person is said to be one not undergoing rebirth more than seven times."
    (Puggalapaññatti 16-17; Dutiyasikkhasutta AN. i. 232-3)

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Entering the stream

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Jan 22, 2009 2:42 pm

Plus, a once-returner has five more fetters to eradicate.
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Re: Entering the stream

Postby Element » Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:14 pm

Dhammanando wrote:(Puggalapaññatti 16-17; Dutiyasikkhasutta AN. i. 232-3)

Thank you Dhammanando

Sounds like talk for encouragement from the "basket" called the suttas.

If one was a stream enterer, they would not consider "I" will have seven more lives.

A stream-enter would have supramundane right view, as expressed below:

"When a disciple of the noble ones has seen well with right discernment this dependent co-arising & these dependently co-arisen phenomena as they have come to be, it is not possible that he would run after the past, thinking, 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past?' or that he would run after the future, thinking, 'Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' or that he would be inwardly perplexed about the immediate present, thinking, 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?' Such a thing is not possible. Why is that? Because the disciple of the noble ones has seen well with right discernment this dependent co-arising & these dependently co-arisen phenomena as they have come to be."

[EDIT: off-topic picture removed - retro.]
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Re: Entering the stream

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Jan 22, 2009 10:51 pm

Hi Element,

Element wrote:If one was a stream enterer, they would not consider "I" will have seven more lives.

A stream-enter would have supramundane right view, as expressed below:

"When a disciple of the noble ones has seen well with right discernment this dependent co-arising & these dependently co-arisen phenomena as they have come to be, it is not possible that he would run after the past, thinking, 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past?' or that he would run after the future, thinking, 'Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' or that he would be inwardly perplexed about the immediate present, thinking, 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?' Such a thing is not possible. Why is that? Because the disciple of the noble ones has seen well with right discernment this dependent co-arising & these dependently co-arisen phenomena as they have come to be."


This passage is describing the absence of the fetter of doubt in a noble disciple and the impossibility of his falling into eternalism or annihilationism.

It does not mean that a sotāpanna does not think at all about past or future lives.

Nor, does it have any bearing on the question of what the Buddha meant by such phrases as "seven times at the most" or "not coming to an eighth existence."

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Entering the stream

Postby Element » Thu Jan 22, 2009 10:59 pm

Dhammanando wrote:It does not mean that a sotāpanna does not think at all about past or future lives.

Dhammanando

What you have stated clearly contradicts the quote, which states: "Not running after the past" or "running into the future".

One seeking stream entry or arahantship should abandon all existential thoughts about the future.

Buddha has declared this is many suttas, most notably MN 131.
He who sees the present dhammas just as they are
Is unshakeable, immovable & secure
They should accumulate such moments


Let one not trace back the past
Or yearn for the future-yet-to-come.
That which is past is left behind
Unattained is the "yet-to-come."
But that which is present he discerns —
With insight as and when it comes.
The Immovable — the-non-irritable.
In that state should the wise one grow
Today itself should one bestir
Tomorrow death may come — who knows?

MN 131
Last edited by Element on Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Entering the stream

Postby Element » Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:14 pm

Dhammanando wrote:Nor does it have any bearing on the question of what the Buddha meant by such phrases as "seven times at the most" or "not coming to an eighth existence."

Element is guiding truely, for those interested in stream entry. However, it is wonderful to see a Bhikkhu bestowing faith & morality as equity. :P
And what, monks, is the power of benevolence? There are four ways of benevolence; by gifts, by friendly speech, by helpful acts and by bestowal of equity. This is the best of gifts: the gift of Dhamma. And this is the best of friendly speech: to teach again and again Dhamma to those who wish for it and who listen attentively. And this is the best of helpful acts: to arouse, instil and strengthen faith in the unbeliever; to arouse, instil and strengthen virtue in the immoral; to arouse, instil and strengthen generosity in the niggard; to arouse, instil and strengthen wisdom in the unwise. And this is the best bestowal of equity: if a stream-winner becomes equal to a stream-winner; a once-returner equal to a once-returner; a non-returner equal to a non-returner; and an arahant equal to an arahant. This, monks, is called the power of benevolence.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tml#book-9
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Re: Entering the stream

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jan 23, 2009 12:05 am

Hi Element,
Element wrote:
Dhammanando wrote:It does not mean that a sotāpanna does not think at all about past or future lives.

Dhammanando

What you have stated clearly contradicts the quote, which states: "Not running after the past" or "running into the future".

You seem to omitting the problems of the present. The Sutta you quoted, as well as MN131, which you also quoted, warns about creating an "I" out of the past, future or present.
"Was I in the past? ... Shall I be in the future? ... or that he would be inwardly perplexed about the immediate present, thinking, 'Am I? ..."

Metta
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