The Way to Stream-entry

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Re: The Way to Stream-entry

Post by Goedert » Fri Jul 16, 2010 1:46 pm

This is a quote from Venerable P. A. Payutto's book the Three Signs:
3. Concealers of the Three Characteristics
Although impermanence, dukkha and selflessness are common
characteristics to all things, and reveal themselves constantly, people
generally do not notice them. They are obscured. If one does not pay
attention and investigate correctly, one does not recognise the obscuring
factors. These factors include:61
1. Continuity (Santati): Conceals impermanence.
2. Movement (Iriyæpatha): Conceals dukkha.
3. Solidity (Ghana): Conceals nonself.
By failing to pay close attention to arising and ceasing, to birth and
decay, one allows continuity (santati) to obscure the characteristic of
impermanence. All things that we experience perpetually rise and pass, but
such rising and ceasing occurs in a continuous and rapid way. This rapid
succession deceives people into viewing things as stable and unchanging.
For instance, the image of oneself or of a friend appears the same as it did
shortly before, but as time passes one realizes that change has occurred.
In truth, however, transmutation happens incessantly, without any visible
gap. An example of this deception is when one perceives a spinning
propeller as a single motionless disk. When the speed of rotation slows
one sees a propeller with several moving blades. Similarly, when a person
quickly waves a torch in a circular motion it appears as a circle of light.
Another example is the light of a lightbulb, which is seen as a still, bright
sphere, but in reality results from a rapidly fluctuating electric current.
When one applies the proper means, paying careful attention to the rising
and ceasing of things, then impermanence – aniccatæ – becomes clear.
Likewise, with a lack of attention to perpetual pressure, movement
(iriyæpatha) obscures the characteristic of dukkha. People normally
require a span of time to notice instability, an object’s inability to maintain
or be sustained in an original shape due to stress and friction within
its component parts. [70/7] If in the meantime the object is moved or
modified, or the observer is separated from it, the pressure and tension is
not conspicuous. Our experience of things usually occurs in the context
of such movement, and so dukkha is not recognized. Take for example
the human body. One need not wait until the body perishes; even in
daily life stress always exists within the body, preventing a person
from remaining still in one particular position. If one must remain in a
single posture for long, whether standing, sitting, walking or lying, the
physical strain steadily increases to the point of pain and exhaustion,
until it is unbearable. One must then move, or change posture.* Once
the pressure (a consequence of the mark of dukkha) in the body ceases,
the feeling of pain (dukkha-vedanæ) also ceases. (When a feeling of
pain vanishes, there usually arises a feeling of ease in its place, which
we call ‘happiness’. But this is simply a feeling. In reality there is just an
attenuation and absence of dukkha – pressure.) In daily life, remaining
for long in a single posture hurts, and one hastens to shift position.
Normally, people continually move to avoid a feeling of discomfort. By
evading discomfort, the dukkha, a truth inherent to all conditions, is
consequently overlooked.
Similarly, with a failure to separate an object into various elements,
the characteristic of nonself is obscured by solidity (ghana): something
existing as a lump, a mass, or an amalgamated unit. All conditioned
things are created by a merging of component elements. Once the
elements are separated, that integrated unit called by a specific name no
longer exists. Generally, human beings do not discern this truth, it being
obscured by the perception of solidity (ghana-saññæ): the recognition
or denotation of something as a consolidated entity. This is consistent
with the Thai folk saying: ‘One sees the coat, but not the cloth; one sees
the doll, but not the plastic.’ People may be deceived by the image of a
coat, failing to notice the fabric with which it has been tailored. In truth,
there is no coat; there are only numerous threads woven into a pattern.
* Iriyæpatha also means posture, literally ‘mode of movement’.

If the threads are unravelled the cloth no longer exists. Likewise, a child
who only sees a doll is deluded by its image; the plastic, which is the real
substance of the doll, is not recognized. If one discerns the truth then
there is only plastic; no doll can be found. Even the plastic originates
from the successive formation of component elements. The perception
of solidity obscures the characteristic of nonself in the manner shown by
these simple examples. If one separates and analyses the components
the nature of nonself becomes clear. One sees things as anattæ. [70/8]
Maybe you understand how one can see impermanence.

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Re: The Way to Stream-entry

Post by kc2dpt » Fri Jul 16, 2010 2:09 pm

starter wrote:Knowing me pretty well, some highly respectful monk recommended that I shall spend as much time as possible on concentration meditation. But now I'm not sure if that's what I should do at the beginning stage.
You should do what that monk, who is highly respectable and knows you pretty well, tells you to do. And if you have questions then you should ask him, not a bunch of random strangers on the internet.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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Re: The Way to Stream-entry

Post by Kenshou » Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:51 pm

Alex123 wrote: This is a point that I wonder. What exactly does it mean to "know & see anicca," etc ?

Doesn't every reasonable and intelligent person already knows (or can be quickly taught) that all things are impermanent? Then why isn't s/he stream enterer already?
I think that on one hand, the understanding that everything anicca needs to be placed in context with the rest of the Buddhist path and method, since it is in that context that the significance and ramifications of anicca become clear, I think.

Secondly, I think that if someone intellectually accepts and understands anicca and it's larger significance in the Buddhist path, they may indeed qualify for what the same sutta I linked to earlier calls being a "dhamma follower" or "faith follower". As it goes, "One who, after pondering with a modicum of discernment, has accepted that these phenomena are this way is called a Dhamma-follower..."

I think that where a dhamma-follwer has intellectual understanding, a stream-enterer also has a more intimate, experiential understanding, as a result of their diligent practice and mindfulness. This is how I have understood the significance of "to know and see" as opposed to "pondering and accepting".

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Re: The Way to Stream-entry

Post by rowyourboat » Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:03 pm

Hi Starter,

By all means- keep your 5 precepts untarnished. Be generous. Have faith in the Buddha, dhamma, sangha- these are all qualities of a stream entrant.

Well done with your concentration practice. I hope you are spreading those sessions out. 4, 1 hour sessions maybe better than lumping them all together, especially in the absence of a personal teacher. If you are close to a jhana, go for it. I would happily spend 6 months in the pursuit of that as it will make things so much easier and quicker.

After that it is best to divert your attention to insight meditation to get all the required insight for stream entry: ... ation.html" onclick=";return false;

Good luck!

with metta

With Metta

& Upekkha

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