I recall a comment in Sutta study with Bhante Dhammasiha a few weeks back, where (my recall - possibly incomplete) it was stated that the attainment of Stream Entry was not the 'walk in the park' many people thought it was ~ it follows that Stream Entry is the most difficult achievement of all. A little depressing for those of us still suffering from attraction to worldly activities and wandering-mind in meditation.
metta and respect,
In the suttas, most accounts of stream entry I can recall occured from listening. For example, Kondanna in the First Sermon, Upatissa (Sariputta) when listening to Assaji or Upali listening to the Buddha in MN 56. All of the these stream enters had the same realisation of: "All that is subject to arising is subject to cessation."
It therefore appears the suttas disagree with your opinion Stream Entry is the most difficult achievement of all.
Regarding wandering-mind in meditation, clearly the suttas say sensual desire or attraction to worldly activities are a hindrance to meditation. However, as one makes a conscious choice to both partake in worldly activities and ignore the advice of the Buddha, then I cannot see what there is to be depressed out. Buddha taught about equinimity, to reflect: "I am the heir to my actions, born of my actions".
Whilst stream entry has never been declared to be difficult in the suttas, Buddha did say an effort must be made. In the Saccasamyutta
in the SN, there is a series of suttas for which the Buddha ends with the exhortation: "Therefore monks, an effort should be made....regarding the Four Noble Truths...this is your duty".
In the Noble Eightfold Path there is the teaching of the Four Right Efforts. Also, in the suttas there are many teachings to help with attraction to worldly activities, such as MN 22, MN 54, AN 5.57 & the meditations on loathsomeness & contemplation of death. Buddha has advised implicity AN 5.57
should be reflected upon, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.
In Classic Theravada, there is the teaching about giving a suitable meditation object to a person based on their tendancies. For example, clearly one with a sensual or accumulative tendencies should be meditating upon, studying and practising in a way that is non-accumulative. For example, study and reciting large tracts of Abidhamma may possibly not be suitable for one with accumulative and sensual tendencies.
The Buddha strongly recommended the contemplation of impermanence as the way to stream entry, as found in the Viññana Sutta
and other suttas in the Okkanta-samyutta on Entering.
[Flippant comment on Abhidhamma deleted. Element, please read the terms of service. — Dhammanando]