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Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

Diagnosing Stream Entry (aka "SE" and "First Path")

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This goes out to everyone out there who believes they've attained Stream Entry.

Some years ago I had an event that could have been either the A&P Event or Stream Entry. At the time I was living at a Zen temple, and the teacher there, although I told him about the event, didn't explain what it was to me (I've come to learn this is pretty typical of Zen). He just said "Good. Keep doing what you're doing." Which is fair enough, as far as it goes. But I would like to know if it was Stream Entry . . . which, given the passage of time involved, and the dearth of information available on the subject, has proven difficult to determine - as Daniel Ingram notes here "he criteria for stream entry are complex: this should be its own thread." But there isn't a Stream Entry thread on the DhO (at least, not that I could find), so lets make one here. With that, I invite contributions as to how to diagnose Stream Entry.

Have at it, Yogis.

RE: Diagnosing Stream Entry (aka "SE" and "First Path&#
Answer
3/20/13 3:15 PM as a reply to Mike Knapp.
That would be great!

RE: Diagnosing Stream Entry (aka "SE" and "First Path&a
Answer
3/20/13 7:45 PM as a reply to Mike Knapp.
Mike Knapp:

Some years ago I had an event that could have been either the A&P Event or Stream Entry. At the time I was living at a Zen temple, and the teacher there, although I told him about the event, didn't explain what it was to me (I've come to learn this is pretty typical of Zen). He just said "Good. Keep doing what you're doing." Which is fair enough, as far as it goes. But I would like to know if it was Stream Entry . . . which, given the passage of time involved, and the dearth of information available on the subject, has proven difficult to determine - as Daniel Ingram notes here "he criteria for stream entry are complex: this should be its own thread." But there isn't a Stream Entry thread on the DhO (at least, not that I could find), so lets make one here.

With that, I invite contributions as to how to diagnose Stream Entry.

A question or two.

Stream entry according to whom? Theravada, Mahayana, Zen, Vajrayana? You realize you're playing with fire when you play with religious organizations, don't you.

Or did you have a particular personality in mind? Mahasi Sayadaw, U Pandita, Daniel Ingram, Kenneth Folk. . . or someone else?

I'm not sure there is agreement as to the operating premise.

On second thought, I'm sorry. I'm probably out of line here. Just disregard my contribution and carry on as though nothing occurred.

RE: Diagnosing Stream Entry (aka "SE" and "First Path&a
Answer
3/20/13 8:56 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Narky. Ultimately helpful approach?

Perhaps it would be fuitful to discuss the differing versions of stream entry. Others may get their feathers rustled, but phenomenological descriptions of what is possible in whatver paradigm regardless of the conceptual overlay assigned to such descriptions is pragmatic. I know personally that the version describd in mctb resulted in postive outcomes for practice. I am open to other takes as well. What other alternatives are there?

Also, it would be intersting to discuss if one when putting the noting practice into action, is doing the following or not? And if not, would a result be different to an outcome where noting did take this route?


[Ven. Sariputta:] "A virtuous monk, Kotthita my friend, should attend in an appropriate way to the five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self. Which five? The form clinging-aggregate, the feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness clinging-aggregate. A virtuous monk should attend in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self. For it is possible that a virtuous monk, attending in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant... not-self, would realize the fruit of stream-entry."


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/study/into_the_stream.html#attention


Nick

RE: Diagnosing Stream Entry (aka "SE" and "First Path&a
Answer
3/20/13 9:50 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
I guess that would be a more politically incorrect version of saying Three Characteristics!emoticon

RE: Diagnosing Stream Entry (aka "SE" and "First Path&a
Answer
3/21/13 12:40 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:
I guess that would be a more politically incorrect version of saying Three Characteristics!emoticon


Im also interested in whether one is doing as anaruddha is instructed when noting.

[Anuruddha & Sariputta discuss meditation]

Anuruddha: “Brother Sariputta with the divine eye, which is clarified and supernormal, I am able to perceive a thousandfold world system. My energy is strong and inflexible; my remembrance is alert and unforgetful; my body is calmed and unexcited; my mind is collected and unified. Yet my mind is still not freed, without clinging, from the defiling taints (asava).”

Thereupon Sariputta replied: “When you think, brother Anuruddha, that with your divine eye you can perceive a thousandfold world system, that is self-conceit in you. When you think of your strenuous energy, your alert mindfulness, your calmed body and your concentrated mind, that is agitation in you. When you think that your mind is still not liberated from the cankers, that makes for scruples in you. It will be good if the revered Anuruddha would discard these three things, would not pay attention to them and would instead direct his mind towards the Deathless-element (Nibbana).”

Having heard Sariputta’s advice, Anuruddha again resorted to solitude and earnestly applied himself to the removal of those three obstructions within his mind (AN 3:128), more: Wheel 262, BPS.
Taken from here


Is turning, directing, inclining the mind towards 'the deathless element' also apart of one's practice, at whatever stage it's at? If not, then will results differ? And what is the deathless? The infamous blip? Or something else?

Is one's reason for the approach one employs for one thing or another? Is it to see something previously unseen? Or attend to something now seen in a certain particular way such as the advice by sariputta to see the aggregates as alien and a cancer. I never really attended to what was seen in such a way till recently. Seeing the three c's...is it the goal? Or just a means to an end?

There are two kinds of planes: plane of seeing and plane of volition. Here, the Path of Stream-entrance is the plane of seeing. The other three Paths and the four Fruits of the recluse are the plane of volition. Not having seen before, one sees now. This is the plane of seeing. One sees thus and attends to it. This is called the plane of volition. Vimutimagga


Nick

RE: Diagnosing Stream Entry (aka "SE" and "First Path&a
Answer
3/20/13 10:56 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
These are good questions. When I started the practice I was looking for the blip and getting equanimity dropouts, but now I'm looking directly at the 5 aggregates (which is yielding more results in daily life), and I'm not sure what cessation means anymore. Is cessation just simply that old habits of clinging don't come back or with stream entry some of those clinging habits stop but after reaching 4th path you're "done"?

RE: Diagnosing Stream Entry (aka "SE" and "First Path&#
Answer
3/21/13 12:05 AM as a reply to Mike Knapp.
might start with describing the event in question you thought might be stream entry

then start with what has changed or not about you and your practice

might consider my criteria in MCTB

@ianand: your thoughts on criteria?

daniel

RE: Diagnosing Stream Entry (aka "SE" and "First Path&a
Answer
3/21/13 10:57 AM as a reply to Ian And.
@ Ian:

Ian And:

Stream entry according to whom? Theravada, Mahayana, Zen, Vajrayana? You realize you're playing with fire when you play with religious organizations, don't you.

Or did you have a particular personality in mind? Mahasi Sayadaw, U Pandita, Daniel Ingram, Kenneth Folk. . . or someone else?

I'm not sure there is agreement as to the operating premise.

On second thought, I'm sorry. I'm probably out of line here. Just disregard my contribution and carry on as though nothing occurred.


Haha. Ian, I'm glad you brought up that there isn't a consensus on the issue. That's something I didn't know before, and I am loath to disregard your contribution just because it makes things more complex. I had been operating under the assumption that there was a set of generally accepted criteria for stream entry; thanks for dispelling that notion! Lets get it all out there, if you're willing - see my response to Nick, right below.

@ Nick: I totally agree with your suggestion that it might be most pragmatic if we simply explore the various view-points on what constitutes stream entry without regard to "ruffled feathers".

@ Richard:

Richard Zen:
. . . I'm looking directly at the 5 aggregates . . . and I'm not sure what cessation means anymore. Is cessation just simply that old habits of clinging don't come back or with stream entry some of those clinging habits stop but after reaching 4th path you're "done"?


That's interesting. I'm confused how it relates to stream entry analysis. Could you expand on this?

@ Daniel: Thanks for chiming in. The basics of my A&P or SE experience are as follows (but please bear in mind that this was about 13 years ago, I didn't keep a meditation log at that time, and the experience was never explained to me, so my recollection is probably very inaccurate). But that said . . . the predominant experience was the cessation of discursive thought. I still had thoughts, but they were not running wild willy-nilly, they were fully experienced and observed as arising from nothing, happening, and then not being anymore. Concepts of past or future were gone. There was only this very instant, and everything in existence was absolutely and perfectly itself. There were no more ideas of what things "should" or "could" be like, there was just "this". "Time" was just "now", and it was constantly and rapidly fluxing to be a new, cutting-edge, current "now". Things very slowly sped back up again over the next 24 hours or so. Discursive thoughts again emerged. In retrospect, there was a "spaciousness" that lingered for a long time after this experience. Sorry about all the quote marks. Its an experience that would be difficult for me to describe under the best of circumstances, and this was a long time ago so the ever invaluable events surrounding the experience (e.g., was it preceded by a period of extreme pain/difficulty sitting) are lost to me.

So, thoughts on the criteria for diagnosing Stream Entry?

Thoughts on my own experience as A&P or Stream Entry?


Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far!

RE: Diagnosing Stream Entry
Answer
3/21/13 2:15 PM as a reply to Mike Knapp.
Mike Knapp:

So, thoughts on the criteria for diagnosing Stream Entry?

The only criteria useful for any individual in attempting to place himself within the ranks of the ariya are those which he, after due diligence and introspection, personally accepts. By this I mean to say: making a choice between what may be the differing definitions and characterizations of such levels as stream entry.

Modern innovations (technical applications) of stream entry may not necessarily provide the best guidance. This is not to say that they are necessarily wrong or not based on the best intention of the spirit of the Dhamma; only to say that they may be misleading at certain points in a person's journey.

You may wish to consider the following, in addition to whatever replies you receive in this thread: Into the Stream.

Of particular relevance may be the following: Stream entry and its results: Introduction. Read through the brief two paragraph Introduction section and see whether or not you agree with its characterization. If you do agree, you may wish to read on for further clarification. If you do not agree, you may wish to pursue some other characterization.

My point being: you are the creator of (and therefore the one responsible for) your own mind with regard to its training. Nothing happens without your explicit consent. Take care and use proper diligence with the sources you are using for information and guidance. That's all.

RE: Diagnosing Stream Entry (aka "SE" and "First Path&#
Answer
4/2/13 3:45 PM as a reply to Mike Knapp.
I just want to follow on Ian's point, referring to the pali sutta study guide on stream entry.

Let's say one accepts the pali cannon definition as valid, particularly the point about the destruction of the three lower fetters (identity view, doubt in the dhamma, unwarranted belief in rituals). Could you say that, if this is true, then you can diagnose stream entry by comparing your actions after this potential stream-entry event to this specific list? For instance, if you later find yourself having doubt in the Buddha's teachings, wouldn't that just, ipso facto, indicate that you did not attain stream entry? Or if you later took on a view that indicated some sort of identity view, inconsistent with stream entry (not sure what that would be)?

I am not an authority myself, I am just trying to look at the pali cannon and see if there is some portion of it that can be used as an empiral, falsifiable test.

Shaila Catherine (a jhana teacher) also writes about cultivating fruition as a meditative state, like a jhana. Maybe that would be another possible test? I don't know. She just addresses this briefly in "wisdom wide and deep", her book.

Also, maybe looking to one's conduct in the months and years after this possible stream entry event, would be a better diagnostic criteria than a narrative description of the event itself.

Just some thoughts.

RE: Diagnosing Stream Entry (aka "SE" and "First Path&a
Answer
4/2/13 5:03 PM as a reply to Mike Knapp.
It doesn't sound like a cessation to me, but that's not necessarily everyone's criterion. What I'd ask you to consider is what has happened since then. Have you been practicing? If so, what's it like? What is your life like? Maybe the real issue at this point is to get a practice log going.

I have had some teachers who don't like labels (like your Zen teacher), some who embrace the fetter model, and some who hold other criteria. It used to bug me not to know what is what. Now I think the most important thing is to keep practicing. By practicing, I mean the entirety of the 8-fold path, to the best of my ability.

RE: Diagnosing Stream Entry (aka "SE" and "First Path&a
Answer
4/3/13 6:16 PM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
@ Ian: Thanks for your thoughts on the general and relative helpfulness of the available criteria and descriptions of the levels. I’ve been spinning-out a bit lately regarding the maps, and your comments, along with simply paying consistent, precise attention to my thoughts about the maps, really helped to put things into perspective for me. I also appreciated your pointer to Into the Stream, which though a little abstract, was still useful.

@ Mike: To be totally candid, and perhaps reveal a great deal of ignorance and/or slothfulness on my part, I don’t find the Pali cannon very accessible - that’s not to say I don’t think there’s just tons and tons of good and useful information in it - its just to say that I usually come away from reading a lot of it more confused than when I started. I do find the fetters to be an interesting approach to mapping, and I would like (in theory) to learn some more about them - so thanks for reminding me that that is a good place for me to go to learn. I appreciate it emoticon

With regard to Shaila Catherine’s exhortation to “cultivate fruition as a meditative state”, that’s an interesting concept. My personal experience with Review was been that Fruitions are going to occur, a lot, whether I’m shooting for them or not, and that’s just part of Review. So if what she’s saying is: shoot for multiple Fruitions - got it, makes sense. If what she’s saying is actually more along the lines of “try and abide inside the actual unknowing event that comprises a Fruition” than I couldn’t be farther away from that - my Fruition experiences don’t involve “me” being ANYWHERE OR DOING ANYTHING; they’re a total non-experiential event that I come out the back-end of thinking “Woah. What was that?”

With regard to your comment “maybe looking to one's conduct in the months and years after this possible stream entry event, would be a better diagnostic criteria than a narrative description of the event itself” I’ve come to the same conclusion, see my response to Jane below.

@ Jane:
It doesn’t sound like Review to me either, Jane. Since then, I’ve been in what seems like Dark Night territory. I could be wrong. As you note, I wasn’t keeping a practice log at the time (I do now), and I think that would be very helpful determining exactly what happened. But for now I’ll assume it was the “pernicious trickster” the Arising and Passing Away, and The Meditater will just keep on meditating.

Thanks for everybody’s thoughts on this subject!

RE: Diagnosing Stream Entry (aka "SE" and "First Path&a
Answer
4/5/13 11:42 AM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
Jane Laurel Carrington:
I have had some teachers . . . who embrace the fetter model . . ..


Hi Jane,

I just wanted to say thanks again to you for your pointer re the Fetter Model. For those of you who (like me) did not know what this is, you can find a handy synopsis of it on wikipedia here.

Anyway, interesting stuff.