Stream Entry as a "lightning flash" experience?

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Maarten
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Stream Entry as a "lightning flash" experience?

Post by Maarten »

Hello Everyone,

I like to listen to dhamma talks a lot and i've heard both Bhante Sujato and Ajahn Sona refer to the experience of stream entry as something that happens similar to a flash of lightning in the dark in which for a moment you glimpse the truth.

Is this comparison ever made in the suttas? Or is this something that is only described in the commentaries? Does anyone know where this idea comes from?

Much metta!

Maarten
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Polar Bear
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Re: Stream Entry as a "lightning flash" experience?

Post by Polar Bear »

It probably comes from all the suttas where people enter the stream at some point while listening to a talk and have the sudden intuitive realization called the dhamma-eye where one sees that all that is of the nature to arise is of the nature to cease.
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."

Sariputta's Question
Whether it is really like a flash of lightning or whether it occurs over several seconds or even minutes I don't know as I am a mere worldling but in any event it appears to happen rather quickly. I figure it probably is roughly instantaneous though since that seems to be the general consensus of the sangha.

I think the literal momentariness interpretation comes either from the abhidhamma or from abhidhamma exegesis.

:anjali:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Stream Entry as a "lightning flash" experience?

Post by SarathW »

It is like the "Penny drop" experience.
I remember reading that a person walk in the path like a man walking at night with the aide of the lightning.
Rapture also experienced as a lightning.
I still remember the joy I had when I read first time about Anatta, while reading ven. Narada's book.
I wanted to jump out of the bed and teach this to everyone in this world.
It is similar to a "eureka" moment.

==============
it is capable of causing the hairs of the body to rise. Momentary rapture, which is like lightning.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el351.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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Re: Stream Entry as a "lightning flash" experience?

Post by paul »

The insight leading to the first stage of deliverance, stream entry, is often expressed in terms of impermanence:
"That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the group of five monks delighted at his words. And while this explanation was being given, there arose to Ven. Kondañña the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation." SN 56.11
-Buddhist Dictionary, Nyanatiloka.
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mikenz66
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Re: Stream Entry as a "lightning flash" experience?

Post by mikenz66 »

Not quite a "lightning flash", but SN12.68 has an interesting simile:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?t=12266
"My friend, although I have seen properly with right discernment, as it actually is present, that 'The cessation of becoming is Unbinding,' still I am not an arahant whose fermentations are ended. [2] It's as if there were a well along a road in a desert, with neither rope nor water bucket. A man would come along overcome by heat, oppressed by the heat, exhausted, dehydrated, & thirsty. He would look into the well and would have knowledge of 'water,' but he would not dwell touching it with his body. [3] In the same way, although I have seen properly with right discernment, as it actually is present, that 'The cessation of becoming is Unbinding,' still I am not an arahant whose fermentations are ended."
:anjali:
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Re: Stream Entry as a "lightning flash" experience?

Post by cobwith »

mikenz66 wrote:Not quite a "lightning flash", but SN12.68 has an interesting simile:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?t=12266" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;"
"My friend, although I have seen properly with right discernment, as it actually is present, that 'The cessation of becoming is Unbinding,' still I am not an arahant whose fermentations are ended. [2] It's as if there were a well along a road in a desert, with neither rope nor water bucket. A man would come along overcome by heat, oppressed by the heat, exhausted, dehydrated, & thirsty. He would look into the well and would have knowledge of 'water,' but he would not dwell touching it with his body. [3] In the same way, although I have seen properly with right discernment, as it actually is present, that 'The cessation of becoming is Unbinding,' still I am not an arahant whose fermentations are ended."
This simile does not quite refer to sotāpanna, but to an approach to arahantship.
Again, SN 22.89 is another reference to this situation.

Sotāpanna is a paññā>abhiññā understanding:
And what does one discern? One discerns, 'This is stress.' One discerns, 'This is the origination of stress.' One discerns, 'This is the cessation of stress.' One discerns, 'This is the practice leading to the cessation of stress.'
‘Idaṃ dukkhan’ti pajānāti, ‘ayaṃ dukkhasamudayo’ti pajānāti, ‘ayaṃ dukkhanirodho’ti pajānāti, ‘ayaṃ duk­kha­nirodha­gāminī paṭipadā’ti pajānāti.
...
"And what is the purpose of discernment?"
"The purpose of discernment is direct knowledge, ..."
“Paññā panāvuso, kimatthiyā”ti?
“Paññā kho, āvuso, abhiññatthā ....
MN 43
And what, brethren, are the things to be known by higher knowledge?
The factors of the fivefold grasping.
Katame ca, bhikkhave, dhammā abhiññā pariññeyyā? Pañcupādānakkhandhā—ime vuccanti, bhikkhave, dhammā abhiññā pariññeyyā.
...
And what, brethren, are the things to be realised by higher knowledge? Wisdom and emancipation.
Katame ca, bhikkhave, dhammā abhiññā sacchikātabbā? Vijjā ca vimutti ca-ime vuccanti.
AN 4.254
When the bhikkhu recognizes (through pañña) the origination of the khandas (from nāmarūpa & viññana,) and the path of practice leading to its cessation (abhiññā = they are not mine), he unclings to the self-view (sakkāya-ditthi).
Unclinging to the two other fetters as well, he enters stream entry.
But he hasn't yet reached the understanding and concretisation, of the cessation of becoming. That is aññā (touching with the body the destruction of being (of the five faculties):
The trainer who trains himself, going on the direct path
Sees destruction first and knowledge comes without a break
To those "released knowing," that becomes the knowledge
When the bond being is destroyed, he knows "my release is unshakeable".

Sekhassa sikkhamānassa ujumaggānusārino,
Khayasmiṃ paṭhamaṃ ñāṇaṃ tato aññā anantarā.
Tato "aññāvimuttassa*" ñāṇaṃ ve hoti tādino.
Akuppā me vimuttī'ti bhavasaññojanakkhaye'ti.
AN 3.85
There is the need to still manosañcetanā, involved in the maintenance of being (MN 38).
"Now, as long as I did not have direct knowledge of the fourfold round with regard to these five clinging-aggregates, I did not claim to have directly awakened to the unexcelled right self-awakening in this cosmos with its devas, Maras, & Brahmas, in this generation with its brahmans & contemplatives, its royalty & common people.
yāvakīvañcāhaṃ bhikkhave, ime pañcupādānakkhandhe catuparivattaṃ yathābhūtaṃ nābbhaññāsiṃ , neva tāvāhaṃ bhikkhave sadevake loke samārake sabrahmake sassamaṇabrāhmaṇiyā pajāya sadevamanussāya anuttaraṃ
...
"The fourfold round in what way? I had direct knowledge of form... of the origination of form... of the cessation of form... of the path of practice leading to the cessation of form.
SN 22.56
The knowledge (concretisation) of the origination ... of the cessation ... of the path of practice leading to the cessation, is the knowledge at the bottom of the well. It is this knowledge, made concrete, that will lead to the destruction of (the bond of) being.

That progressive destruction of the faculties and mano, will lead to the fading of consciousness.
The fading of consciousness will lead to a consciousness without feature. A luminous state.
That is where the light is.


AN 9.38
Sā me dhammamadesesi,
khandhāyatanadhātuyo
Thig 5.8
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Re: Stream Entry as a "lightning flash" experience?

Post by dxm_dxm »

Stream Entry as a "lightning flash" experience?
I'm putting this at my avatar after it happens
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mikenz66
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Re: Stream Entry as a "lightning flash" experience?

Post by mikenz66 »

This "coming to the surface and looking round" simile is also interesting:
https://suttacentral.net/an7.15
This is a parallel to MA4, discussed by Ven Analayo in the second lecture of this series:
http://agamaresearch.ddbc.edu.tw/wp-con ... 2011-2.htm

The stream enterer comes to the surface and looks around. He sees the way to the shore, but isn't there yet.

:anjali:
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Re: Stream Entry as a "lightning flash" experience?

Post by mikenz66 »

cobwith wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Not quite a "lightning flash", but SN12.68 has an interesting simile:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?t=12266" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;"
"My friend, although I have seen properly with right discernment, as it actually is present, that 'The cessation of becoming is Unbinding,' still I am not an arahant whose fermentations are ended. [2] It's as if there were a well along a road in a desert, with neither rope nor water bucket. A man would come along overcome by heat, oppressed by the heat, exhausted, dehydrated, & thirsty. He would look into the well and would have knowledge of 'water,' but he would not dwell touching it with his body. [3] In the same way, although I have seen properly with right discernment, as it actually is present, that 'The cessation of becoming is Unbinding,' still I am not an arahant whose fermentations are ended."
This simile does not quite refer to sotāpanna, but to an approach to arahantship.
Again, SN 22.89 is another reference to this situation.
....
Yes, it seems that the Commentary agrees with you. From the thread I referenced above:
“Then the Venerable Nārada is an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed.”

“Friend, though I have clearly seen as it really is with correct wisdom, ‘Nibbāna is the cessation of existence,’ I am not an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed

Spk: Clearly seen ... with correct wisdom: clearly seen with path wisdom together with insight.
I am not an arahant: he indicates this because he stands on the path of nonreturning.
....
:anjali:
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Re: Stream Entry as a "lightning flash" experience?

Post by Zom »

"My friend, although I have seen properly with right discernment, as it actually is present, that 'The cessation of becoming is Unbinding,' still I am not an arahant whose fermentations are ended. [2] It's as if there were a well along a road in a desert, with neither rope nor water bucket. A man would come along overcome by heat, oppressed by the heat, exhausted, dehydrated, & thirsty. He would look into the well and would have knowledge of 'water,' but he would not dwell touching it with his body. [3] In the same way, although I have seen properly with right discernment, as it actually is present, that 'The cessation of becoming is Unbinding,' still I am not an arahant whose fermentations are ended."
This is not the moment of stream-entry. This is the moment of non-returning-entry, when a jhanic-state meditator sees nibbana 8-)

And concerning the topic - there is a sutta in Anguttara AN 3.25. It is from there this explanation about the lightning is taken, however, I tend to see such explanation as a mistake. From my point of view the major point of this simile is not the "momentariness" of stream-entry, but the difference between dark night (ignorance) and the light of understanding (dhammachakkhu). Another, non-momentary simile, which supports my interpretation, happens in AN 3.94, where dhammachakkhu is compared to the rising sun. Still, however, in many suttas this attainment happened during the listening of some Dhamma talk, but hard to tell how exactly - as sudden as a lightning stike or as gradual as a rising of the sun.
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Re: Stream Entry as a "lightning flash" experience?

Post by mikenz66 »

Thanks Zom,

Here's the passage:
(2) “And what is the person whose mind is like lightning? Here, some person understands as it really is: ‘This is suffering,’ and ‘This is the origin of suffering,’ and ‘This is the cessation of suffering,’ and ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’ Just as, in the dense darkness of night, a man with good sight can see forms by a flash of lightning, so too some person here understands as it really is: ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’ This person is said to have a mind like lightning.
https://suttacentral.net/en/an3.25/3
As you say, it seems to be more about the light than the speed.

:anjali:
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Re: Stream Entry as a "lightning flash" experience?

Post by Maarten »

Maybe it's uselful if I post the actual simile given:

"The simile is: someone is leading you along in the dark. Towards a mountain, and you think the guy knows what he's talking about, but you're stumbling along in the dark, you can't see the mountain. Suddenly there is a lightning flash that reveals the mountain for a moment and then it goes dark again, but there is a radical transformation, now you are no longer going along by pure trust. You have glimsed something that confirmed it. "

I think the guide would represent the Buddha, the mountain enlightenment, and the lightning flash stream entry.

The Ajahn Sona talk:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpsOmwVW5H0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Bhante Sujato gives the exact same simile in one of his talks on the subject on dhammanet. I think he even attributes it to the Buddha.
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Re: Stream Entry as a "lightning flash" experience?

Post by The Thinker »

Hi Maarten, Good talk^ thanks :anjali:
"Watch your heart, observe. Be the observer, be the knower, not the condition" Ajahn Sumedho volume5 - The Wheel Of Truth
Maarten
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Re: Stream Entry as a "lightning flash" experience?

Post by Maarten »

The Thinker wrote:Hi Maarten, Good talk^ thanks :anjali:
Yes, it's a great talk and he's a skilled teacher. Just to bad there aren't to many talks of his online.
There are more talks at the site of his monastery if you are interested: http://birken.ca/audio_monastics" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: Stream Entry as a "lightning flash" experience?

Post by Pumo »

dxm_dxm wrote:
Stream Entry as a "lightning flash" experience?
I'm putting this at my avatar after it happens
:rofl:
I will await for that to happen.
'may all beings be happy at heart.' - Karaniya Metta Sutta :buddha1:
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