Sottapana's sila

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Sottapana's sila

Post by Nwad » Sat Nov 03, 2018 7:47 pm

Good evening,

Sottapana have a "perfect" morality. What exactly is the sila of Stream Enterer? What are the bad actions that Sottapana is incapable to do? Can he drink or smoke because of his non-freedom from sensual desires?

PS if this question was alread answered, please show me.

Thanks !

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Re: Sottapana's sila

Post by SarathW » Sat Nov 03, 2018 8:01 pm

Sotapanna and Five Precepts

“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Sottapana's sila

Post by rightviewftw » Sat Nov 03, 2018 11:21 pm

You are going to get mixed answers. Going by the Sutta Pitaka alone it is stated that a Sotapanna is incapable of these actions;
Abhithanani - i. matricide, ii. patricide, iii. the murder of arahants (the Consummate Ones), iv. the shedding of the Buddha's blood, v. causing schism in the Sangha, and vi. pernicious false beliefs (niyata micca ditthi).

They also don't transgress in matters fundamental to holy life it is said.

Commentary tradition gradually developed various idea and offers various explainations;

Eliminated at stream-entry: the possibility of killing living beings, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech, wrong view.

Note that here alcohol remains a possibility whereas other commentary goes as far as saying that they can't break any of the five precepts.

Also in a Dhammapada story the Tathagata states; Sotapannas do not kill.

Perhaps irrelevant but there is a list of Five impossibilities to wit for an Arahant who is actually free from anger, delusion and addictions in the Sutta;
Five impossibles, to wit, for an Arahant intentionally to take life, or to take what is not given, so as to amount to theft, or to commit sexual offences, or to lie deliberately, or to spend stored up treasures in worldly enjoyments, as in the days before he left the world.
If you were to ask for my personal opinion then id say that to answer this question i would have to know every past present and future lay and monastic Sotapanna, and to know what they can and cannot do under any circumstances, therefore i would not want to speculate on this and would go with what the Sutta say.

Another question is what is the Sila of a Dhamma-Follower and Faith-Follower, what are they incapable of doing?

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Re: Sottapana's sila

Post by Polar Bear » Sat Nov 03, 2018 11:49 pm

Here’s a great post by Venerable Dhammanando on this subject:
Dhammanando wrote:
Thu Sep 27, 2018 5:13 pm
Before replying to the replies to my post, I should like to give a quick summary of how the “virtue pleasing to noble ones” is understood in the commentaries. I don’t recall this ever being discussed on this forum before.

The defining of this term is approached by the commentators from three different angles. One of these, which I’ll call the “varying definition”, treats ariyakantasīla as amounting to different things for different noble disciples, depending on their level of attainment. The other two, which I’ll call the “unvarying definitions”, are concerned with what all kinds of noble disciples have in common with regard to sīla. The first of these is based on the Sutta method and the second on the Abhidhamma method. So, of these three definitions, one is concerned with how noble disciples may differ from each other with respect to ariyakantasīla and the other two with how all noble disciples differ from worldlings in this respect.

* * * * * * * *

The “varying definition” of ariyakantasīla is framed in terms of a progressive elimination of the possibility of committing the ten akusala kammapathas. Thus:

Eliminated at stream-entry: the possibility of killing living beings, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech, wrong view.

Eliminated at non-returning: the possibility of malice and hate-generated wrong speech, i.e., divisive speech and harsh speech.

Eliminated at arahantship: the possibility of frivolous speech and covetousness.

* * * * * * * *

The “unvarying definition” based on the Sutta method (which incidentally is the most common of the three definitions) equates ariyakantasīla with the “five moral habits of noble disciples” (pañca sīlāni ariyasāvakānaṃ) or simply the “five moral habits” (pañca sīlāni). I prefer to say “five moral habits” rather than “five precepts” as the Pali is consistently pañca sīlāni and never pañca sikkhāpadāni. I take it that this is because the said habits will be naturally practised by all noble disciples irrespective of whether they have formally undertaken to do so.

* * * * * * * *

The second unvarying definition, based on the Abhidhamma method, is:

‘Ariyakantānī’ ti ariyānaṃ kantāni maggaphalasīlāni.
“‘Pleasing to noble ones’ means the [noble] path and fruition virtues that are pleasing to noble ones.”


‘Ariyakantāni sīlānī’ ti maggaphalasampayuttāni sīlāni.
“‘Virtues pleasing to noble ones’ means the virtues associated with the [noble] path and fruition.”

Translated from Abhidhamma-speak into more familiar language, the virtues referred to here are those of right speech, right action and right livelihood. Or, more precisely, they are the three “abstinence mental factors” (virati cetasika) to which the Abhidhamma assigns the role of holding one back from wrong speech, wrong action and wrong livelihood.

So, when the above are collated we get:

Stream-entrant and once-returner: five moral habits + right livelihood + wrong view destroyed.

Non-returner: same as stream-entrant + abstention from divisive and harsh speech + malice destroyed.

Arahant: same as non-returner + abstention from frivolous speech + covetousness destroyed.

* * * * * * * *

Now for my replies ...
salayatananirodha wrote:I'm fairly convinced it's the five precepts, listed in mahanama sutta
rightviewftw wrote:A lot of people are but it has no basis in the Tipitaka.
I think it does. Just take the Ānandasutta (SN 55.13) cited by Doodoot in conjunction with any of the countless suttas describing what sort of conduct leads to heaven and hell.
samseva wrote:While the English translation leaves no room for uncertainty as to the level of observance of sīla for a Stream-Enterer, looking over the Pāḷi, however, gives a less perfect meaning. I came to the following conclusion:
In Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation, ‘the virtues dear to the noble ones’ might be misleading—in that it could instead describe qualities of which nobles ones hold dearly, or that Stream-Winners are the same as Ariyas in this way—since the PTS Pāli-English Dictionary translates ariyakantehi (ariyakanta) simply as ‘agreeable to the Ariyas’.
When the suttas are speaking of those moral virtues that are admired by nobles but which may also be found in worldlings, the usual term is alam’ariya (“worthy of noble ones”), not ariyakanta. The fact that ariyakantasīla refers to the sīla possessed by noble disciples (and, as an inalienable possession, only by noble disciples) be seen from the seventh of its eight attributes:

1. akhaṇḍa – unbroken
2. acchidda – untorn
3. asabala – unblemished
4. akammāsa – unblotched
5. bhujissa – liberating
6. viññuppasattha – commended by the wise
7. aparāmaṭṭha – not misapprehended [by diṭṭhi] / not grasped at [by taṇhā]
8. samādhisaṃvattanika – conducing to samādhi

The parāmaṭṭha in aparāmaṭṭha is the past participle of parāmasati – the very same verb from which we get the parāmāsa in sīlabbataparāmāsa.

Being still fettered by sīlabbataparāmāsa, the moral habit of a worldling may sometimes be aparāmaṭṭha and sometimes not. Having abandoned sīlabbataparāmāsa, the moral habit of a noble disciple is always aparāmaṭṭha.

For the worldling parāmaṭṭha-ness in one's sīla remains an ever-present possibility, while for the noble disciple it has ceased to be so.
samseva wrote:Snp 2.1 further points out that, for a Stream-Enterer, perfect observance of sīla isn't always the case (that they can break sīla, but they would be incapable of concealing it):
Together with one’s achievement of vision
three things are discarded:
the view of the personal entity and doubt,
and whatever good behavior and observances there are.
One is also freed from the four planes of misery
and is incapable of doing six deeds.
This too is the sublime gem in the Sangha:
by this truth, may there be safety!

Although one does a bad deed
by body, speech, or mind,
one is incapable of concealing it;
such inability is stated for one who has seen the state.
— Snp 2.1 (transl., Bhikkhu Bodhi)
What are your thoughts on the matter, Bhante?
As I’m persuaded that (1) the ariyakantasīla is an inalienable possession of every ariyasāvaka and (2) possession of it precludes any departure from the five moral habits (not to mention the anantariyaka kammas and apostasy), I take it that the bad deeds alluded to in the Ratana Sutta are of lesser gravity than these. I imagine you’ve read Bh. Bodhi’s translation of the commentary to the verse you quote, but for anyone who hasn’t:
232. Having thus declared truth with the Sangha as a basis with reference to the excellence of one who, though taking seven more existences, is still distinguished from other persons who have not abandoned the taking up of existence, the Blessed One now shows: “One possessing vision is not only incapable of doing the six deeds but is also incapable of concealing even a trifling bad deed that he may have done.” Thus, with the words “Although one does a bad deed,” he begins to speak about the excellence of one possessing vision who, even though dwelling heedlessly, does not conceal what he has done.

This is its meaning: It was said by the Blessed One, with reference to the intentional transgression considered a fault by the world: “When a training rule has been laid down by me for disciples, my disciples do not transgress it even for the sake of life” (AN IV 201,10; Ud 55,3–4; Vin II 238,35–36). Apart from this, “although a person possessing vision, due to heedless living caused by lack of mindfulness, does a bad deed by body, a transgression that is a conventional fault of the kind prohibited by the Buddha, such as building a hut contrary to regulations or sleeping together with one not fully ordained; or a bad deed by speech, such as making a person not fully ordained recite the Dhamma word for word, teaching the Dhamma to a woman in more than five or six sentences, or engaging in idle chatter or speaking harshly; or a bad deed by mind, such as giving rise to greed or hatred on any occasion or consenting to gold and silver, or neglecting to reflect on the use of the robes and other requisites, one is incapable of concealing it.” When he realizes, “This is unallowable and should not be done,” he does not conceal it even for a moment but immediately discloses it to the Teacher or to wise fellow monks, makes amends in accordance with the Dhamma, or restrains himself in regard to matters that call for restraint, resolving not to act in such a way again.

Why? Because such inability is stated for one who has seen the state: It is stated that a person possessing vision who has seen the nibbāna-state is unable to conceal any bad deed that he has done. How? “Bhikkhus, just as a young, tender infant lying prone at once draws back when he puts his hand or foot on a live coal, so too, this is the character of a person who possesses right view: although he may commit some kind of offense for which a means of rehabilitation has been laid down, still he at once confesses, reveals, and discloses it to the Teacher or wise fellow monks, and then enters upon restraint for the future” (MN I 324,13–16).
rightviewftw wrote:As far as i can tell there is no ground for going beyond stating that it refers to training in accordance with Patimokkha and not transgressing in matters fundamental to holy life.
But there were bhikkhu sotāpannas before there was any Pāṭimokkha to train in line with. There were householder sotāpannas for whom no Pāṭimokkha was ever laid down. Presumably you wouldn’t wish to claim that the early sotāpannas Sāriputta and Moggallāna, and the householder sotāpannas Mahānāma and Suppavāsā, were devoid of ariyakantasīla on that account.
rightviewftw wrote:Also the referent of the characteristics are the virtues themselves as i read it, the virtues are leading to concentration and are unblemished, as for unbroken it could well refer to an unbroken tradition but i am guessing.
No need to guess. The Methunasutta, AN7.50, will show you what ‘broken’ means in one context. From that you can extrapolate to what it would mean in general.
rightviewftw wrote:Furthermore Sotapanna always keeping such and such precept is certainly not a notion that was around at the Buddha's time
The Sarakāni episode shows that such a notion was around at the Buddha’s time. That is, there were definite public expectations as to how a sotāpanna (or someone thought to be one) would behave.

"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: Sottapana's sila

Post by Nwad » Sun Nov 04, 2018 8:44 am

Thank you very much for your answers Rightviex and PolarBear ! :bow:

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