How common is stream entry?

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How common is stream entry?

Postby m0rl0ck » Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:16 am

This is motivated by a discussion i had in chat the other day. Some seem to hold stream entry in very high regard, almost to the point of its being out of human reach except for a very lucky few.

Going by this definition:

* Stream-enterer: The first direct insight into selflessness is often the most powerful because it's unlike anything you've ever experienced before. For a timeless moment (which may last just an instant), no one is there — that is, there's no trace of a separate self anywhere. A feeling of tremendous relief, often accompanied by joy and bliss, generally follows the experience: At last, you've had the insight you've been seeking for so long. At last, you've "entered the stream" of realization.

When you become a stream-enterer, you can never again believe that you're really a separate self that lives inside your head and looks through your eyes. Your experience forever eliminates this illusion. When you look within, you can't find a self anywhere. In everyday life, however, you may still feel like a separate somebody and may still get caught up by greed, anger, ignorance, and various other negative feelings and patterns. Fortunately, the stage of stream-enterer also brings an unshakable confidence and dedication to the Buddhist spiritual path, so you're motivated to keep deepening and refining your realization.



http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/r ... rvana.html


There is nothing mystical or special about this, this is an experience many people have had, its basic to being human. If you look at other traditions and religions, its interpreted differently, in zen / chan for instance, i believe it would be looked at as a first kensho, the beginning of the real work, christians would probably call it being born again. Those with no particular framework or preparation might express it in any number of ways or eventually just forget it.

Its about how you interpret the experience and follow it up that defines its value and meaning. After having had such an experience, my guess is that one must necessarily objectify the experience in order to talk about it and share it. And its all about the interpretation and follow thru, an experience like this can imo be used to inflate the ego, as in the case of cult leaders, inspire a lifes work etc or be the ground of a disciplined and thorough follow through (which is afaik unique to buddhism).

Anyway, whether you are a buddhist or not, i dont think this experience is all that special or uncommon, what do you all think?
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:20 am

According to the Pali Commentary, six types of defilement would be abandoned by a Sotāpanna:

1.Envy
2.Jealousy
3.Hypocrisy
4.Fraud
5.Denigration
6.Domineering


it seems a rare person ideed who has given up these.

from the dhammapada

Sole dominion over the earth,
going to heaven,
lordship over all worlds:
the fruit of stream-entry
excels them.
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: How common is stream entry?

Postby octathlon » Sat Aug 14, 2010 3:20 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:This is motivated by a discussion i had in chat the other day. Some seem to hold stream entry in very high regard, almost to the point of its being out of human reach except for a very lucky few.

Going by this definition:

* Stream-enterer: The first direct insight into selflessness is often the most powerful because it's unlike anything you've ever experienced before. For a timeless moment (which may last just an instant), no one is there — that is, there's no trace of a separate self anywhere. A feeling of tremendous relief, often accompanied by joy and bliss, generally follows the experience: At last, you've had the insight you've been seeking for so long. At last, you've "entered the stream" of realization.

When you become a stream-enterer, you can never again believe that you're really a separate self that lives inside your head and looks through your eyes. Your experience forever eliminates this illusion. When you look within, you can't find a self anywhere. In everyday life, however, you may still feel like a separate somebody and may still get caught up by greed, anger, ignorance, and various other negative feelings and patterns. Fortunately, the stage of stream-enterer also brings an unshakable confidence and dedication to the Buddhist spiritual path, so you're motivated to keep deepening and refining your realization.



http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/r ... rvana.html


There is nothing mystical or special about this, this is an experience many people have had, its basic to being human. If you look at other traditions and religions, its interpreted differently, in zen / chan for instance, i believe it would be looked at as a first kensho, the beginning of the real work, christians would probably call it being born again. Those with no particular framework or preparation might express it in any number of ways or eventually just forget it.

Its about how you interpret the experience and follow it up that defines its value and meaning. After having had such an experience, my guess is that one must necessarily objectify the experience in order to talk about it and share it. And its all about the interpretation and follow thru, an experience like this can imo be used to inflate the ego, as in the case of cult leaders, inspire a lifes work etc or be the ground of a disciplined and thorough follow through (which is afaik unique to buddhism).

Anyway, whether you are a buddhist or not, i dont think this experience is all that special or uncommon, what do you all think?

I agree with you, I don't think that description is accurate. I only learned the term "stream-enterer" recently, and my understanding of what it means would require way more than just having the experience described in the first two sentences, which I agree with you is probably not that special or uncommon.

I doubt it has anything to do with the typical Christian "born again" thing, though. I think that is more of a feeling of religious euphoria rather than perception of not-self (guessing).
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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby PeterB » Sat Aug 14, 2010 3:33 pm

I agree. I think that the timeless moment is actually quite easily accessed , but not easily sustained. And only with some difficulty does it become our default state.
This sustaining in my opinion is made more difficult by the institutional descent of what is a state of freedom into categorisation and signs indicating status. Stream winner and once returner etc language represents the institutionalisation of the Buddha Dhamma. Its essential radical liberation is rendered less scary by imagined classifications..like prize winning marrows at the local county show. With Gold or red or blue stickers.
Real stream entry imo is the experience of the nature of things which thereafter always colours our view to a greater or lesser extent.
We are not in Kansas anymore Toto....
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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:17 pm

SN 13.1 PTS: S ii 133 CDB i 621
Nakhasikha Sutta: The Tip of the Fingernail
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 1999–2010
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi at Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Then the Blessed One, picking up a little bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monks, "What do you think, monks? Which is greater: the little bit of dust I have picked up with the tip of my fingernail, or the great earth?"

"The great earth is far greater, lord. The little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail is next to nothing. It's not a hundredth, a thousandth, a one hundred-thousandth — this little bit of dust the Blessed One has picked up with the tip of his fingernail — when compared with the great earth."

"In the same way, monks, for a disciple of the noble ones who is consummate in view, an individual who has broken through [to stream-entry], the suffering & stress that is totally ended & extinguished is far greater. That which remains in the state of having at most seven remaining lifetimes is next to nothing: it's not a hundredth, a thousandth, a one hundred-thousandth, when compared with the previous mass of suffering. That's how great the benefit is of breaking through to the Dhamma, monks. That's how great the benefit is of obtaining the Dhamma eye." (stream entry)

Real streamentry comes after doing this (see link), not a peaceful walk in the park:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... gress.html

with metta

RYB
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby vesuyul » Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:33 pm

how common is stream entry?

A sotapanna has unshakeable faith in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. If a person would come along and say there is no Buddha, Dhamma or Sangha, and threatened to kill him if he did not agree, the stream enterer will not budge...he rather die. Stream enterers are not like worldlings who are dirt cheap abundant in the triple world. Besides they are unlikely to advertise "I am a stream enterer, know this" First we must get our facts right about Sotapannas, true ariyas.....so how common are stream enterers?
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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby PeterB » Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:38 pm

and you know this how, vesuyal ?
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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby Nyana » Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:43 pm

PeterB wrote:This sustaining in my opinion is made more difficult by the institutional descent of what is a state of freedom into categorisation and signs indicating status. Stream winner and once returner etc language represents the institutionalisation of the Buddha Dhamma. Its essential radical liberation is rendered less scary by imagined classifications..like prize winning marrows at the local county show. With Gold or red or blue stickers.

Yes. Credentialism -- a worldly dhamma.
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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby dhamma_spoon » Sun Aug 15, 2010 3:07 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:
According to the Pali Commentary, six types of defilement would be abandoned by a Sotāpanna:

1.Envy
2.Jealousy
3.Hypocrisy
4.Fraud
5.Denigration
6.Domineering


it seems a rare person ideed who has given up these.


Hi, Superstar -

I only have learned from the suttas that Stream-winners have eradicated three fetters : 1) 20 self-identification views, 2) doubt and uncertainty about the Dhamma, and 3) grasping at precepts & practices. How does 'abandonment of the six defilements' connect to elimination of the three fetters?
:thanks:
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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby Shonin » Sun Aug 15, 2010 3:15 pm

I may be wrong but I suspect that stream entry was originally a fairly preliminary 'attainment' gained upon the first real insight into Anatta. In modern Theravada it seems to have been built up into something rather rare and remarkable.
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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby Sobeh » Sun Aug 15, 2010 3:19 pm

dhamma_spoon wrote:How does 'abandonment of the six defilements' connect to elimination of the three fetters? :thanks:


It might come from the Vatthupama Sutta, but there are listed sixteen mental defilements, those six included.
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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby PeterB » Sun Aug 15, 2010 4:01 pm

As the late Christmas Humphreys , the founder of the London Society once said as he prepared to have a discussion with a newly arrived Buddhist teacher....." Just orf to talk to this chap..see what his take is. I dare say it will be seven of this and fifteen of that...."
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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby AdvaitaJ » Sun Aug 15, 2010 4:34 pm

The four levels of Awakening are defined by the extent to which they cut the ten fetters by which the mind binds itself to conditioned experience.

"And which are the five lower fetters? Self-identity views, uncertainty, grasping at precepts & practices, sensual desire, & ill will. These are the five lower fetters. And which are the five higher fetters? Passion for form, passion for what is formless, conceit, restlessness, & ignorance. These are the five higher fetters."

— AN 10.13

"In this community of monks there are monks who are arahants, whose mental fermentations are ended, who have reached fulfillment, done the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, totally destroyed the fetter of becoming, and who are released through right gnosis...

"In this community of monks there are monks who, with the total ending of the five lower fetters, are due to be reborn [in the Pure Abodes], there to be totally unbound, never again to return from that world...

"In this community of monks there are monks who, with the total ending of [the first] three fetters, and with the attenuation of passion, aversion, & delusion, are once-returners, who — on returning only one more time to this world — will make an ending to stress...

"In this community of monks there are monks who, with the total ending of [the first] three fetters, are stream-winners, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening..."

— MN 118
My opinion is that it's a matter of degree. I suspect there are quite a number of individuals who have, to varying degrees, reduced or ended the first three fetters. The difference between them and a true stream winner lies in the qualification "total ending". I doubt there are many that can reach that standard.

Regards: Jim
The birds have vanished down the sky. Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains.
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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby dhamma_spoon » Sun Aug 15, 2010 5:10 pm

AdvaitaJ wrote:
The four levels of Awakening are defined by the extent to which they cut the ten fetters by which the mind binds itself to conditioned experience.
.. .. ..
"In this community of monks there are monks who, with the total ending of [the first] three fetters, are stream-winners, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening..." — MN 118
My opinion is that it's a matter of degree. I suspect there are quite a number of individuals who have, to varying degrees, reduced or ended the first three fetters. The difference between them and a true stream winner lies in the qualification "total ending". I doubt there are many that can reach that standard.

Regards: Jim


I doubt that too, Jim.
Although the "total ending" of the three fetters sounds very difficult, the meditation (anupassana) for their elimination sounds easy :

"He attends appropriately, This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress. As he attends appropriately in this way, three fetters are abandoned in him: identity-view, doubt, and grasping at precepts & practices. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by seeing." [MN 2]
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby Shonin » Sun Aug 15, 2010 7:17 pm

AdvaitaJ wrote:My opinion is that it's a matter of degree. I suspect there are quite a number of individuals who have, to varying degrees, reduced or ended the first three fetters. The difference between them and a true stream winner lies in the qualification "total ending". I doubt there are many that can reach that standard.


I've never come across a human being who was totally anything. If we allow that there may be some simplification/idealisation/hyperbole in these texts then this is not quite so far out. If we take it entirely literally then it would appear to be so rare than probably no one on earth would qualify, whereas the Suttas mention many people who attained this level and higher. Perhaps even the very concept of a strict deliniation between ordinary being, stream enterer, once returner, arahant etc is just a useful guideline, perhaps it's all just a matter of degree. That sounds more like the world I know. But who knows.
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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby Anicca » Sun Aug 15, 2010 7:29 pm

Greetings Shonin!

And how would you feel if when asking your 11 year daughter if she is still a virgin she replies:
Shonin wrote:I've never come across a human being who was totally anything. ... If we take it entirely literally then it would appear to be so rare than probably no one on earth would qualify ... Perhaps even the very concept of a strict deliniation between ordinary being ...etc is just a useful guideline, perhaps it's all just a matter of degree. That sounds more like the world I know.


:embarassed:

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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby Shonin » Sun Aug 15, 2010 7:41 pm

Anicca wrote:And how would you feel if when asking your 11 year daughter if she is still a virgin she replies:


I would feel that she had an unusually sophisticated worlview for an 11 year old.
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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:13 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
PeterB wrote:This sustaining in my opinion is made more difficult by the institutional descent of what is a state of freedom into categorisation and signs indicating status. Stream winner and once returner etc language represents the institutionalisation of the Buddha Dhamma. Its essential radical liberation is rendered less scary by imagined classifications..like prize winning marrows at the local county show. With Gold or red or blue stickers.

Yes. Credentialism -- a worldly dhamma.
Exactly. It is what seems to be the fuel underlying this recent business of people claiminmg of themselves ariya.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:25 pm

Shonin wrote:I may be wrong but I suspect that stream entry was originally a fairly preliminary 'attainment' gained upon the first real insight into Anatta. In modern Theravada it seems to have been built up into something rather rare and remarkable.
Maybe to the first part, but if that were true, I could - heaven forbid - claim such for myself. I suspect that it is a bit more profound that just "a fairly preliminary 'attainment' gained upon the first real insight into Anatta." Obviously in traditional Theravada there has been down playing of the of the possibility of the attainment of jhana and naturally it would follow a down playing of the ability to attain stream entry.

I suspect that, within the context of the vipassana traditions and long retreats, it happens more often than assumed but that it also not necessarily recognized. Also, it is not necessarily a big over-blown shattering experience (of which I would be suspect) and it certainly is not a credentializing experience.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby lojong1 » Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:40 pm

I've only met one person I trusted who thought he might be a sotapanna. He told me you should not slack off, even if you think you're a sotapanna.
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