How common is stream entry?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:40 pm

I'm not sure how one judges who view these things as difficult. How do you judge how "difficult" these things are viewed as? If you consult Burmese sources (such as Mahasi Sayadaw) and Thai source (such as Ajahn Maha Bua) they are certainly talked about as if they are quite possible.

:anjali:
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10775
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby danieLion » Tue Jun 26, 2012 4:00 am

khlawng wrote:I am beginning to wonder, if this difference in view, is dependant on whether the tradition is base on Thai Theravada or Sri Lanka Theravada. It seems to me that the Thai Theravadians generally view Sotappana attainment as a extremenly difficult attainment, closer to perfection wheras the Sri Lankans don't view it as such.

This seems to contradict Ajahn Chah's equivocation on the matter.
Kind regards,
Daniel
danieLion
 
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby reflection » Tue Jun 26, 2012 6:31 am

khlawng wrote:
danieLion wrote:This, in addition to Retro's points above lead me to believe that while attaining stream entry might be difficult it is by no means impossible; and--probably most importantly--that the degree of difficulty usually attributed to attaining stream entry is largely exaggerated.
Best wishes,
Daniel


I am beginning to wonder, if this difference in view, is dependant on whether the tradition is base on Thai Theravada or Sri Lanka Theravada. It seems to me that the Thai Theravadians generally view Sotappana attainment as a extremenly difficult attainment, closer to perfection wheras the Sri Lankans don't view it as such.

Any takers?

Answering this question would generalize two things. First it generalizes both traditions, and second -and I think more important- it would generalize the difficulty people have to loose self view. For some it may be easy, for some it may be though. Some are very attached to certain ideas of a self, others are not. There is no need to make a general statement about this. All we have to train is our own mind, no need to worry or get caught up in the ideas of others.

At least, that's how I like to reflect on it.

With metta,
Reflection
User avatar
reflection
 
Posts: 1115
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby santa100 » Tue Jun 26, 2012 3:56 pm

The Seven Factors of Stream Entry in MN 48 should provide pretty good metrics to evaluate whether one has "entered the stream" or not..

http://tipitaka.wikia.com/wiki/Kosambiya_Sutta
santa100
 
Posts: 1603
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby Viscid » Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:48 pm

I just found this message from Upasaka Culadasa in the 'jhana insight' yahoo! group from 2009, and it's absolutely brilliant and relevant to the original topic of this discussion:

Matheesha writes: Would you be able to expand upon

1) how a magga-phala moment can be identified

2) how a sotapanna has changed (you briefly note this above)


Culadasa: ...your second question involves the changes that subsequently take place in a sotapanna, I want to take this opportunity to share with you some questions I have with regard to the relationship between magga-phala and sotapanna. I assume that for the most part what we are talking about here are magga-phala experiences that are the culmination of an extensive period of intense practice according to one of the traditional Buddhist paths to Awakening, and as such, the individual becomes a Sotapanna following the magga-phala event. But there are two questions I want to raise here. First, are magga-phala events always and exclusively the result of Buddhist practices? And second, does an individual always become a Sotapanna following a magga-phala event? I have come to think that experiences identical to what we call magga-phala can and sometimes do occur in consequence of non-Buddhist methods of training; that they can spontaneously occur without any formal training at all as a result of intense periods of profound suffering, compassion, or devotion for example; and further, that it can even happen unexpectedly with no apparent cause. I am sure not everyone agrees with me on this, but please consider it for the moment as a hypothesis. I have also become convinced that in order for a magga-phala experience to constitute stream entry, it is essential that the experience saturate to the very core of the yogi’s mind, and that requires either or both of a prolonged abiding in phala and a frequent repetition of the phala experience in order to make a sufficiently lasting imprint on the mind. If this doesn’t happen, the ‘magga-phala’ event becomes a one-time, memorable, peak experience that may perhaps permanently change the person in certain ways, but without irrevocably setting them on a path to eventual full Enlightenment.

It would seem from the scriptures that, once knowledge has replaced ignorance through direct experience, an irreversible change has been rendered such that even if death follows immediately after magga-phala, full Enlightenment is assured in a future rebirth. I don’t know, and so I can’t speak to that, but experience and observation tell me that the fruit of the original magga-phala experience must be firmly established and carefully nurtured through repetition if it is not to become smothered over time, and if true Stream Entry is to occur. Any habitual patterns of egocentric behavior and thinking that were not destroyed prior to magga-phala will reassert themselves afterwards whenever the right conditions are present, and so the work of the Stream Entrant is to apply Path Knowledge to their recognition and eradication. Desire and aversion are still present, and the Stream Entrant must therefore apply his/her understanding of sunnata and annata to their attenuation. This is where the ‘saturation of the mind’ with the experience of phala comes in. The advantage of traditional Buddhist trainings is that they are systematic and results are repeatable, therefore the phala experience can be achieved again and again, and if the yogi is trained in Samatha, even the initial experience can last long enough to make a very deep imprint on the psyche.

Another important advantage the Buddhist yogi has is in the nature of the conceptual formations by which s/he will understand and interpret his/her experience, due to the training that led up to it. S/He will be more inclined to focus on the emptiness of perceived phenomena rather than spending time reflecting and conceptualizing in search of the ‘absolute’ and the ‘ultimate’ within the experience; to reflect on the direct experience of the absence of any inherent sense of self, rather than projecting a new self-identification upon reflections of the experience; and to be mindful of the unsatisfactoriness and suffering of all conditioned states, rather than dwelling on the desirability of the bliss of Nibbana. I think this is essential for full Stream Entry as opposed to just dallying in the eddies at the edge of the Stream.

If I am correct in thinking that some of these experiences occurring outside of the Buddhist paradigm are in fact magga-phala, then it seems possible that magga-phala may not always result in achieving Stream Entry, or at least a Stream Entry that manifests in this lifetime. And if that is true, then it also raises the possibility that even some Buddhist practitioners may experience magga-phala, but without sufficient foundation and guidance for it to result in Stream Entry. Particularly vulnerable are yogis whose meditative skills are inadequate in terms of sustaining and repeating the experience of Fruition consciousness, or who lack the opportunity to practice phala samapatti subsequent to the initial experience.

So, having done with that digression, let’s now see what sorts of comments can be made with regard to how a magga-phala ‘event’ might be identified. This is not, unfortunately, something that has been often enough discussed. Of limited value are those often terse and archaic descriptions that have been translated from other languages, those descriptions that are rife with hyperbole and mystical nuance, and also those that are so laden with flowery language and poetic metaphor that they can’t possibly say the same thing to any two individuals, all of which are difficult to interpret in a particularly useful way! Although this is a topic that has become almost taboo to speak openly about, I strongly agree with you that there is a legitimate need to do so. Not uncommonly, some person will have an unusual and profoundly transforming experience that they think may have been magga-phala, but either do not have access to a teacher from whom they can seek guidance, or else their teacher lacks the right combination of knowledge and personal experience to able to help them. And anyone in the role of teacher who has a student who may have had a ‘real’ or ‘valid’ magga-phala experience would certainly like to be able to advise them and will welcome any additional information. In either case, whether it is our own or someone else’s experience, the situation is that we are trying to evaluate an experience based on a description of the indescribable. This description will inevitably be a reflection more than anything else of the words, concepts, views and expectations of the person who has had the experience, and we need to keep that in mind.

To begin with, we must be very sensitive to just how closely the description echoes those pre-existing expectations, because the closer they are, the better the fit with expectations, the more likely what has occurred is not magga-phala, but rather a projection by the ever-hopeful mind onto some other kind of strong psycho-emotional experience. In particular, if the basis for thinking that the experience might have been magga-phala is that it is ‘just like what I have read and heard about”, it probably is not. Far more likely it is that one will say “Despite what I have read and heard, it’s not at all what I was expecting”. A sense of awe and surprise, even consternation is appropriate, and especially some astonishment at the unexpected simplicity of what has been experienced.

But I suggest this only as sort of a guideline, not as a hard and fast rule. I am convinced, for reasons I won’t go into here, that there are individuals whose depth of Insight is so great and has become so well established in their intuitive understanding of themselves and the world that magga-phala is a ‘non-event’ for them. It is as though they have been peeking under the curtain for so long that when it is finally lifted, they are not at all surprised by what they find.

And then, also, there are those instances where an event that seems in retrospect to have been magga-phala does not register that strongly and clearly, leaving the yogi only with the vague and uncertain feeling that something very unusual has happened, but completely unable to say quite what it was.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
User avatar
Viscid
 
Posts: 928
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:55 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby sshai45 » Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:03 pm

But if this is so rare, then what happens if the most likely thing to happen happens: you practice Buddhism all your life but don't attain it. I take it one can look forward to eons more rebirths in the cycle of existence/cycle of pain, a depressing thought! Can one even comprehend an eon? This Buddhism seems like a downer religion if that's what it believes. How do you manage to not get down?
sshai45
 
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:39 am

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:08 pm

sshai45 wrote:But if this is so rare, then what happens if the most likely thing to happen happens: you practice Buddhism all your life but don't attain it. I take it one can look forward to eons more rebirths in the cycle of existence/cycle of pain, a depressing thought! Can one even comprehend an eon? This Buddhism seems like a downer religion if that's what it believes. How do you manage to not get down?
While it may not be common, it is not rare.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 20081
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby manas » Thu Jul 26, 2012 9:37 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
sshai45 wrote:But if this is so rare, then what happens if the most likely thing to happen happens: you practice Buddhism all your life but don't attain it. I take it one can look forward to eons more rebirths in the cycle of existence/cycle of pain, a depressing thought! Can one even comprehend an eon? This Buddhism seems like a downer religion if that's what it believes. How do you manage to not get down?
While it may not be common, it is not rare.


Greetings sshai, and all

Cakkhu Sutta: The Eye

At Savatthi. "Monks, the eye is inconstant, changeable, alterable. The ear... The nose... The tongue... The body... The mind is inconstant, changeable, alterable.

"One who has conviction & belief that these phenomena are this way is called a faith-follower: one who has entered the orderliness of rightness, entered the plane of people of integrity, transcended the plane of the run-of-the-mill. He is incapable of doing any deed by which he might be reborn in hell, in the animal womb, or in the realm of hungry shades. He is incapable of passing away until he has realized the fruit of stream-entry.

"One who, after pondering with a modicum of discernment, has accepted that these phenomena are this way is called a Dhamma-follower: one who has entered the orderliness of rightness, entered the plane of people of integrity, transcended the plane of the run-of-the-mill. He is incapable of doing any deed by which he might be reborn in hell, in the animal womb, or in the realm of hungry shades. He is incapable of passing away until he has realized the fruit of stream-entry.

"One who knows and sees that these phenomena are this way is called a stream-enterer, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening."


Most of us here at DW would be able to place ourselves in one of the above groups of 'persons of integrity'. While I won't feel at ease until I too 'know and see', I have decided to drop the excessive angst about not being there yet, because it would appear that things are not quite as bad as we might think. Just because we have not attained full stream-entry, doesn't necessarily mean we are *just* worldly persons, either. We can take heart from this sutta, that we are indeed on the way. But we need to keep going... :hug:

Now: practice, practice, practice...

metta :anjali:
User avatar
manas
 
Posts: 2192
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:04 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jul 26, 2012 10:11 pm

Greetings Manas,

Good call. :thumbsup:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14812
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby cooran » Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:59 am

Hello all,

The Buddha taught that we have all been wandering in Samsara for uncountable aeons - and human rebirth rarely, if ever, happened - and even more rare than that, is a human rebirth when the Teachings of a Buddha are available to us.

Attaining Stream Entry is the hardest thing of all. The Buddha taught that after Stream Entry, Arahantship will inevitably occur in not more than 7 lifetimes.

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7799
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby gerard » Sun Jul 29, 2012 8:32 am

.
Last edited by gerard on Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
gerard
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2011 10:13 am

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jul 29, 2012 8:35 am

Greetings,

gerard wrote:being all connected to one source: the spirit, Qi. An illusion that binds all things but beneath that there is one original pure, loving and still mind.

I don't know where this idea comes from, but it's hardly stock standard Theravada.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14812
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby danieLion » Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:21 am

cooran wrote:Attaining Stream Entry is the hardest thing of all.

Hi Chris,
Except for the other three "things" even harder.
Best,
Daniel
danieLion
 
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby cooran » Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:55 am

Hello Daniel,

Achieving the first level, Stream Entry, can take uncountable lifetimes over aeons and aeons, with rebirth in many forms.

Daniel said: Except for the other three "things" even harder.


I assume you mean becoming a Once-Returner, Non-Returner and Arahant. These can occur very quickly after Stream Entry or, if taking a little longer, within not more than seven rebirths after becoming a Stream Enterer.

With metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7799
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby m0rl0ck » Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:41 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

gerard wrote:being all connected to one source: the spirit, Qi. An illusion that binds all things but beneath that there is one original pure, loving and still mind.

I don't know where this idea comes from, but it's hardly stock standard Theravada.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Maybe its just the "insight into selflessness" thats being referred to, as in the post with which i started this thread. Semantics is a tricky thing, especially in territory where words and concepts cant easily be applied.
"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
User avatar
m0rl0ck
 
Posts: 1051
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:51 am

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby gerard » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:52 am

.
Last edited by gerard on Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
gerard
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2011 10:13 am

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby polarbuddha101 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:47 am

gerard wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:I don't know where this idea comes from, but it's hardly stock standard Theravada.


Which is why I have chosen to practice over reading Buddhist texts.


I would suggest that doing both is better than doing just one or the other.

:namaste:
"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."
User avatar
polarbuddha101
 
Posts: 818
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:39 am
Location: California

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby mogg » Sun Apr 21, 2013 4:12 pm

I have asked many monks and nuns this question (from a variety of different countries, both asian and western) and the answer is universal; Sotapanna are rare even within monastic communities.
mogg
 
Posts: 92
Joined: Sun Jul 31, 2011 11:44 am

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby manas » Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:59 pm

i/think/that/some/of/the/anxiety
ive/had/myself/before,/and/sometimes
read/in/others/posts
worrying/about/
am/i/steam/entrant/or/not
is/useful/if/it/spurs/one/on
to/practice/with/more/determination.

but/if/it/doesnt/do/that
or/if/it/just/makes/one/feel/despondent
like/oh/if/this/Path/is/so/rare/to/attain
whats/the/point/in/trying
i/cant/do/it
etc
in/that/case
the/anxiety/is/unskilful
and/should/be/replaced
with/a/more/skilful/thought
because/any/practice/at/all
will/serve/us/well
in/both/the/present
and/in/the/future
every/time/we/train/the/mind
it/leaves/a/little/impression

if/we/are/honest
we/are/probably/more/awake
than/ever/before
it/could/even/be
that/we/are/progressing
but/we/cannot/notice
it/seems/so/long...
but/as/compared/with/previous/lives
and/even/looking/back/at/this/life
if/we/were/ignorant/of/Buddha/Dhamma/before
(which/I/was)
weve/come/a/long/way
so/lets/just/keep/going
even/if/it/does/take/lifetimes
if/we/are/heading/in/the/right/direction
it/is/worthwhile/effort

metta/ :anjali:
User avatar
manas
 
Posts: 2192
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:04 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: How common is stream entry?

Postby Feathers » Sun Apr 21, 2013 9:56 pm

manas wrote: . . . if/it/just/makes/one/feel/despondent
like/oh/if/this/Path/is/so/rare/to/attain
whats/the/point/in/trying
i/cant/do/it
etc
in/that/case
the/anxiety/is/unskilful . . .


I have to admit I got pretty despondent after looking over this thread.
Feathers
 
Posts: 235
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2013 6:14 pm

PreviousNext

Return to General Theravāda discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Sylvester and 9 guests