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Stream entry in the Suttas vs. in the Mahasi tradition -- thoughts?

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Although I don't have much meditation experience and I am by no means an expert on buddhism, i've been interested in this community for some time now. I hope I can ask this question here. 

Most people on this forum are practicing according to the Mahasi style of vipassana. According to this tradition, stream entry occurs when a practitioner passes through the stages of insight and experiences a cessation. I am not denying that this experience is real stream entry: according what i've read from people who experienced it, it does break the fetters of self-view, doubt and belief in rituals. But it seems to be very different from the way the experience of stream entry is described in the Suttas. Consider this description of Sariputta's stream entry (Mahavagga 1.23.5):
Then Ven. Assaji gave this Dhamma exposition to Sariputta the wanderer:"Whatever phenomena arise from a cause: Their cause & their cessation. Such is the teaching of the Tathagata, the Great Contemplative."Then to Sariputta the wanderer, as he heard this exposition of Dhamma, there arose the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation.
And according to Samyutta Nikaya 25.1, direct insight into impermanence is what leads to stream entry. 

In 1959, the British-born monk Nanavira Thera described his stream entry in a way that seems to conform to the descriptions in the Suttas (Nanavira wrote this in a letter addressed to another monk, whom he instructed to only open it after his death):
HOMAGE TO THE AUSPICIOUS ONE, WORTHY, FULLY AWAKENED

—At one time the monk Ñānavīra was staying in a forest hut near Bundala village. It was during that time, as he was walking up and down in the first watch of the night, that the monk Ñānavīra made his mind quite pure of constraining things, and kept thinking and pondering and reflexively observing the Dhamma as he had heard and learnt it. Then, while the monk Ñānavīra was thus engaged in thinking and pondering and reflexively observing the Dhamma as he had heard and learnt it, the clear and stainless Eye of the Dhamma arose in him: 'Whatever has the nature of arising, all that has the nature of ceasing.' Having been a teaching-follower for a month, he became one attained to right view.[1] (27.6.1959)

There is, Kassapa, a path, there is a way by following which one will come to know and see for oneself: 'Indeed, the recluse Gotama speaks at the proper time, speaks on what is, speaks on the purpose, speaks on Dhamma, speaks on Vinaya.' [D. 8: i,165]

'I have gone beyond the writhings of view. With the path gained I have arrived at assurance. Knowledge has arisen in me and I am no longer to be guided by another.' -- [Knowing this,] let him fare lonely as the unicorn! [Suttanipāta 3,21 (verse 55, page 9)]
Source

These descriptions are quite different from the Mahasi-style experience of stream entry. Neither the Suttas nor Nanavira mention a moment of cessation, and Sariputta wasn't even meditating when he attained stream entry.
 Why do you guys think the experience of stream entry among practitioners of Mahasi-style vipassana is so different from the experience of stream entry as described in the Suttas? Thanks in advance for your answers!

RE: Stream entry in the Suttas vs. in the Mahasi tradition -- thoughts?
Answer
10/8/18 6:48 AM as a reply to Jan met de Pet.
Yeah,

It's curious the importance given to the 'blip' by that tradition!

Hopefully,  you (and I) will receive much needed clarification from members here.

I'm curious -- why does this matter?

Most meditation traditions don't make explicit references to cessations and the like. Yet their adherents wake up with dedicated practice and time. 

RE: Stream entry in the Suttas vs. in the Mahasi tradition -- thoughts?
Answer
10/8/18 9:13 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
How do you know this?

I would like that to be the case about at least some christian mystical traditions, as I’m very drawn to prayer centered practice. But I’m kinda fumbling in the dark there. All I know is that it seems to lead to the A&P for some. Only heard one ”Christian mystic” describe what I believe is a cessation, although I’ve heard some claim access to nirodha samapatti.

How do you know this?

I have many friends in various meditative traditions and I talk to them about this and other things that are practice related. My friends outside of Theravada usually don't know about or talk about cessations and fruition in the way Theravada practitioners do. Most non-Theravada friends will report not have had them or admit to "maybe" having had them but not knowing it, or even being told not to pay any attention to it, as is often the case Zen practice.

FYI -- I also think that an initial focus on this one aspect of practice in one tradition is sort of missing the overall point, which is to awaken.

RE: Stream entry in the Suttas vs. in the Mahasi tradition -- thoughts?
Answer
10/8/18 12:48 PM as a reply to Pål R.
Pål R:
How do you know this?

I would like that to be the case about at least some christian mystical traditions, as I’m very drawn to prayer centered practice. But I’m kinda fumbling in the dark there. All I know is that it seems to lead to the A&P for some. Only heard one ”Christian mystic” describe what I believe is a cessation, although I’ve heard some claim access to nirodha samapatti.
Thomas Keating's Intimacy With God: An Introduction to Centering Prayer has a very good Christian mystic map with discussion of dark night stuff. Also, The Cloud of Unknowing is awesome--it's basically the text that centering prayer is based on, along with the works of St. John of the Cross. To me at least, the experience of centering prayer feels very much in the same neighborhood as dzogchen and mahamudra. 

There's also Bernadette Roberts's The Experience of No-Self.

BTW centering prayer is basically a modern Christian nondual meditation movement. I have a friend who practices and teaches it who seems to have a high degree of insight. Of course we all have to figure out what works best for ourselves, but it's just as valid a nondual path as any other.

RE: Stream entry in the Suttas vs. in the Mahasi tradition -- thoughts?
Answer
10/8/18 4:21 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Thank you!

RE: Stream entry in the Suttas vs. in the Mahasi tradition -- thoughts?
Answer
10/9/18 5:50 AM as a reply to Jan met de Pet.
The Mahasi lineage traces back to Ledi Sayadaw. It's not based wholly on the suttas but is, instead, shaped by study of the commentaries.
 
You mention not being an expert in Buddhism. Are you aware of the distinction between the suttas and the commentaries?

Here's an article about Ledi Sayadaw and his role in establishing insight meditation in Burma/Myanmar. 

https://www.lionsroar.com/the-insight-revolution/

Here's a meditation manual written by the Sayadaw. As you can see, it contains concepts such as concentrative absorption (samatha-jhāna), insight knowledges (vipassanā-ñāṇa), path knowledge (magga-ñāṇa), fruition knowledge (phala-ñāṇa), and Nibbāna.

http://www.ffmt.fr/articles/maitres/LediS/anapana-dipani.ledi-sayadaw.pdf

My guess is that the emphasis on cessation in this tradition is based on the actual experiences of practitioners ("this is what happens when you practice this way") and the concepts and maps they were working with in the commentaries.  

ADDITION
Cessation is emphasized, not only in the Mahasi lineage, but also in the commentaries-based Theravada Buddhism of Sri Lanka. Notice how Ayya Khema, Leigh Brasington's teacher, describes it below. It's very similar to what you'd hear from someone in the Mahasi lineage. It also sure sounds a helluva lot like she's speaking from her own experience rather than relying solely on textual authority. 
The path moment doesn't have any thinking or feeling in it. It is not comparable to the meditative absorptions (jhana). Although it is based upon them because only the concentrated mind can enter into a path moment, it does not have the same qualities. the meditative absorptions have -in their initial stages - the ingredients of rapture, happiness and peacefulness.

Later on, the mind experiences expansion, nothingness and a change of perception. The path moment does not contain any of these states of mind. It has a quality of non-being. This is such a relief and changes one's world view so totally that it is quite understandable that the Buddha made such a distinction between a worldling and a Noble One. While the meditative absorptions bring with them a feeling of oneness, of unity, the path moment does not even contain that. The moment of fruition, subsequent to the path moment, is the understood experience and results in a turned-around vision of existence. The new understanding recognises every thought, every feeling as stress (dukkha).

The most elevated thought, the most sublime feeling still has this quality. Only when there is nothing, is there no stress. There is nothing internal or external that contains the quality of total satisfactoriness. Because of such an inner vision, the passion for wanting anything is discarded. All has been seen for what it really is and nothing can give the happiness that arises through the practice of the path and its results. The Nibbanic element cannot be truly described as bliss, because bliss has a connotation of exhilaration. We use the word "bliss" for the meditative absorption, where it includes a sense of excitement. The Nibbanic element does not recognise bliss because all that arises is seen as stress. "The bliss of Nibanna" may give one the impression that one may find perfect happiness, but the opposite is true.

One finds that there is nothing and therefore no more unhappiness, only peace. To look for path and fruit will not bring them about, because only moment to moment awareness can do so. This awareness will eventually culminate in real concentration where one can let go of thinking and be totally absorbed. We can drop the meditation subject at that time. We need not push it aside, it falls away of its own accord, and absorption in awareness occurs. If there has to be an ambition in one's life, this is the only worthwhile one. All others will not bring fulfilment.

RE: Stream entry in the Suttas vs. in the Mahasi tradition -- thoughts?
Answer
10/9/18 1:46 PM as a reply to Jan met de Pet.
Yes, the sutta vs. the commentarial understanding of stream-entry has been discussed before, for example, back in June 2015. At that time, Chris Macie did some painstaking work on tracing the classification system for the ñāṇa-s from the Visuddhimagga, through the manuals of the Burmese meditation master Mahasi Sayadaw, to Bill Hamilton and Daniel Ingram. It is clear from the Visuddhimagga that Buddhist meditation had developed since the days of the Buddha (though Theravada Buddhist orthodoxy claims that Buddhaghoṣa merely systematized information from commentaries on the actual words of the Buddha). Buddhaghoṣa begins his discussion of the knowledges with “knowledge of rise and fall.” This is toward the end of chapter 20 of the Visuddhimagga. In this knowledge, the meditator sees the rise and fall of perceptions, and so develops understanding of the process of rising and falling. This pattern, of seeing followed by understanding, makes it clear why Buddhaghoṣa uses the word “knowledge” to describe the insights. The intended result is knowing. In chapter 21 of the Visuddhimagga, Buddhaghoṣa enumerates eight “knowledges.” He gives detailed descriptions of these eight, which are as follows:

  • Knowledge of rise and fall
  • Knowledge of dissolution
  • Knowledge of appearance as terror
  • Knowledge of danger
  • Knowledge of dispassion
  • Knowledge of desire for deliverance
  • Knowledge of reflection
  • Knowledge of equanimity about formations
Buddhaghoṣa goes on to say that “knowledge in conformity with truth” could also count as a ninth ñāṇa. Later still, in chapter 22, Buddhaghoṣa uses the expression “change-of-lineage” and applies the word ñāṇa to it.

The Mahasi Sayadaw scheme has eighteen steps, of which seventeen are called “knowledges” (ñāṇa-s):

  • Analytical knowledge of body and mind
  • Knowledge by discerning conditionality
  • Knowledge by comprehension
  • Knowledge of arising and passing away in its weak stage, involving the ten corruptions of insight
  • Knowledge of dissolution
  • Knowledge of fearfulness
  • Knowledge of misery
  • Knowledge of disgust
  • Knowledge of desire for deliverance
  • Knowledge of re-observation
  • Knowledge of equanimity about formations
  • Insight leading to emergence
  • Knowledge of adaptation
  • Maturity knowledge
  • Path knowledge
  • Fruition knowledge
  • Knowledge of reviewing
  • Attainment of fruition
While Mahasi Sayadaw’s list shares much in common with the Visuddhimagga, it has been changed in some places:

  • Knowledge of rise and fall is replaced by four separate knowledges
  • Knowledge of terror has been replaced by knowledge of fearfulness, knowledge of misery, knowledge of disgust, knowledge of desire for deliverance, and knowledge of re-observation
  • The later stages, which are not part of Buddhaghoṣa’s list of knowledges, have now been counted among the list of knowledges
Some further small changes to the Mahasi Sayadaw list appear in the list in Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha (2007 edition). This list of sixteen stages is apparently identical to the one taught by Bill Hamilton:

  • Mind and body
  • Cause and effect
  • The three characteristics
  • The arising and passing away
  • Dissolution, entrance to the dark night
  • Fear
  • Misery
  • Disgust
  • Desire for deliverance
  • Re-observation
  • Equanimity
  • Conformity
  • Change of lineage
  • Path
  • Fruition
  • Review
Also following in the footsteps of Bill Hamilton, MCTB 2007 groups steps 5 through 10 together, using St. John of the Cross’s term “dark night” for them collectively.

A great step forward in my understanding came from a February 2017 post on Dharma Overground by shargrol. What made shargrol’s post especially valuable was that he explained the knowledges (ñāṇa-s) in plain English, without using technical terms that would be meaningful only to “noting” meditators.

The list below is extracted from shargrol’s post more or less verbatim, with only small changes in spelling and punctuation.

Basically, it’s the old unpeeling the onion metaphor. There are layers and layers of identification, but a finite number.

If someone steps out of the trance of normal discursive thinking about their life, the first thing they notice is that they have thoughts and sensations in their body. Mind and body.

If someone investigates mind and body, they will see that they influence each other. Cause and effect.

If someone investigates cause and effect, they will see that we are most of what we do is actually driven by a visceral reaction to the unsatisfactory aspects of experience. Three characteristics.

If someone investigates the visceral reactions to the three characteristics, they see how these reactions are like dominoes hitting one, then the other, then the other. Arising and passing. When they can simply watch all that happen, the body might have a small taste of the space between the dominoes. Arising and passing event.

At this point, meditation is a comedy of errors, which comes from trying to “not see” what is actually happening. It’s a more detailed map because this is where people really need help.

Instinctually and somewhat unconsciously, the person will try to “find” the spiritual experiences of the A&P the nothingness of the A&P event. They don’t find it, and instead it feels like everything good is slipping away. If they actually just watch that happen, then they get the insight into the nature of dissolution: things don’t stick around.

Instinctually and somewhat unconsciously, the person will have a sense of loss of control and be surprised by something, which evokes primal terror. If they don’t see fear as an experience in awareness, then the meditator gets lost in thinking about all the things that evoke fear. If they actually just watch that happen, then they get the insight into the nature of fear. Surprise is surprise — no big deal. And even fear is fear — no big deal.

Instinctually and somewhat unconsciously, the person will want to protect themselves from surprises and will instinctually create an ongoing, low-level sense of misery to fill up the space. It’s a coping mechanism. But if the person sees misery as misery, then they get the insight into the nature of misery.

Likewise with disgust. Long term misery feels awful. Disgust is an empowering coping mechanism that allows someone to feel more in control and more powerful. “I am disgusted!” But if the person sees disgust as disgust, then they get the insight into the nature of disgust.

Likewise with desire for deliverance. The person is somewhat empowered and thinks, “There must be a way out of this.” There is a focus on problem solving, perfecting practice, finding better teachers, etc. It has the flavor of some confidence and passionate seeking. But if the person see this as another reactive pattern, then they get the insight into the nature of desire for deliverance.

Likewise with re-observation. The person is now re-observing everything they went through, all the strategies, all the attempts to find the experience they think will make them happy. It has the flavor of desperation and failure. If they see this desperate feeling of “nothing works” as just another reactive pattern, then they get the insight into the nature of re-observation.

Low equanimity is finally realizing that fighting experience or trying to find a difference experience other that what is actually happening is impossible.

High equanimity is being mostly at peace with this and continuing to sit, mildly curious about [questions such as]: “If all of these experiences occur within awareness, then what is awareness? What is mind? What is knowing?”

Stream-entry happens when the pervasive non-reactivity of equanimity (not grabbing at objects, not searching for objects) allows for momentary non-grabbing. The meditator doesn’t “do” anything. It’s like when a sun runs out of fuel, and it collapses into itself.

[quote=
Stream-entry happens when the pervasive non-reactivity of equanimity (not grabbing at objects, not searching for objects) allows for momentary non-grabbing. The meditator doesn’t “do” anything. It’s like when a sun runs out of fuel, and it collapses into itself.
]
This actually sounds pretty similar to some of the Suttas from the canon. I believe the technical term in the Suttas for that "non-grabbing", when the mediatator introduces no new karmic input into their experience, is 'non-fashioning' (or at least I've seen it translated as such).

RE: Stream entry in the Suttas vs. in the Mahasi tradition -- thoughts?
Answer
10/10/18 5:24 AM as a reply to Derek2.
Thanks for this. Really great. 

Sorry for the digression, but I'm wondering now about how it pertains to my own practice. 

When I started posting on the DhO again this past April, my intention was to try to do something to kickstart my motivation and 'give my practice some direction and momentum again.' I was skipping a lot of days, not practicing. I wasn't particularly mindful during the day (listening to a lot of podcasts) and just had a general sense of lack of motivation/progress.

I felt that logging sits on the DhO would help restore some of that.

OK, so there was the opportunity to see all of that as just another reactive pattern, yes? The sense that something was wrong, that there was another way? So, Desire for Deliverance? 

I don't recall a sense of desperation. It felt more ... wholesome and rooted in curiosity. On the other hand, when I came across The Mind Illuminated and started going down that path, there was definitely a sense of "Well, maybe this'll work. Maybe this is what I've really needed--to cultivate samatha in a more serious way."

Hmmm....  

I have no idea where I am with respect to these maps. I wonder how important it really is to know.

RE: Stream entry in the Suttas vs. in the Mahasi tradition -- thoughts?
Answer
10/10/18 9:17 AM as a reply to Derek2.
When Shargol says "non-grabbing" does he mean the "blip"?