Sotapanna

Sotapanna

In Buddhism, a Sotāpanna (Pali), Srotāpanna (Sanskrit; ch: rùliú 入流, Tib. རྒྱན་ཞུགས rgyun zhugs[1]), or "stream-winner"[2] is a person who has eradicated the first three fetters (sanyojanas) of the mind. Sotapanna literally means "one who entered (āpanna) the stream (sota)", after a metaphor which calls the Noble Eightfold Path, 'a stream' (SN 55.5). Sotapannaship (Sotaapatti) is the first of the four stages of enlightenment.

Attainment

The first moment of the attainment is termed the path of stream-entry (sotāpatti-magga), which cuts off the first three fetters. The person who experiences it is called a stream-winner (sotāpanna).[3][4]

The Sotāpanna is said to attain an intuitive grasp of dharma (right view) and has complete confidence in the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha). The Sotapanna is said to have "opened the eye of the Dharma" (dharmacakkhu), because they have realized that whatever arises will cease (impermanence). Their conviction in the true dharma would be unshakable.

They have had their first glimpse of the unconditioned element (Nibbana), which they see as the third of the Four Noble Truths, in the moment of the fruition of their path (magga-phala). Whereas the stream entrant has seen Nirvana and, thus has verified confidence in it, the Arahant (who is at the fourth and final stage of Spiritual Nobility / sainthood) can drink fully of its waters, so-to-speak, to use a simile from the Kosambi Sutta (SN 12.68) - of a "well", encountered along a desert road.[5] However, fruits of awakening are available and accessible to the Sotapanna from the moment of awakening.

Three fetters

In the Pali Canon, qualities of a Sotāpanna are described as:[6]

…those monks who have abandoned the three fetters, are all stream-winners, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening. This is how the Dharma well-proclaimed by me is clear, open, evident, stripped of rags.
—Alagaddupama Sutta

The three fetters which the Sotāpanna eradicates are:[7][8]

  1. Self-view - The speculative view that a so-called self exists in the five aggregates (physical forms, feelings/sensations, perception, mental formations and consciousness) is eradicated because the Sotāpanna gains insight into the selfless nature of the aggregates.
  2. Skeptical Doubt - Doubt about the Buddha and his teaching is eradicated because the Sotāpanna personally experiences the true nature of reality through insight, and this insight confirms the accuracy of the Buddha’s teaching.
  3. Clinging to rites and rituals - Eradication of the view that one becomes pure simply through performing rituals (animal sacrifices, ablutions, chanting, etc.) or adhering to rigid moralism or relying on a god for non-causal delivery. Rites and rituals now function more to obscure, than to support the Right View of the Sotāpanna's now opened dharma eye. The Sotāpanna realizes that deliverance can be won only through the practice of the Noble Eightfold Path.

Defilements

According to the Pali Commentary, six types of defilement would be abandoned by a Sotāpanna:[9] At least there will be no major transgressions.

  1. Envy
  2. Jealousy
  3. Hypocrisy
  4. Fraud
  5. Denigration
  6. Domineering

Rebirth

A Sotāpanna will be safe from falling into the states of misery (they will not be born as an animal, ghost, or hell being). Their lust, hatred and delusion will not be strong enough to cause rebirth in the lower realms. A Sotāpanna will have to be reborn at most only seven more times in the human or heavenly worlds before attaining nibbana.[10] It is not necessary for a Sotāpanna to be reborn seven more times before attaining nibbana, as an ardent practitioner may progress to the higher stages in the same life in which he/she reaches the Sotāpanna level by making an aspiration and persistent effort to reach the final goal of nibbāna.[11]

Five worst wrong actions

Sotāpanna is not capable of committing five worst wrong actions:

  1. Murdering one's own mother.
  2. Murdering one's own father.
  3. Murdering an Arahant.
  4. Maliciously injuring the Buddha to the point of drawing blood.
  5. Deliberately creating a schism in the monastic community.

Textual references

Sutras

The Buddha spoke favorably about the Sotapanna on many occasions, and even though it is (only) the first of Ariya Sangha members, he or she is welcomed by all other Sangha-members for he or she practices for the benefit and welfare of many. In the literature, the Ariya Sangha is described as "the four" when taken as pairs, and as "the eight" when taken as individuals. This refers to the four supramundane fruits (attainments: "phala") and the corresponding four supramundane paths (of those practicing to attain those fruits: "magga").[12]
"The Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples who have practiced well... who have practiced straight-forwardly... who have practiced methodically... who have practiced masterfully — in other words, the four types [of noble disciples] when taken as pairs, the eight when taken as individual types — they are the Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples: worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, the incomparable field of merit for the world."

The fifty-fifth Samyutta of the Samyutta Nikaya is called the Sotāpatti-saṃyutta, and concerns Sotapannas and their attainment. In Sutta-numbers (of that chapter) 1-4, 6-9, 11-14, 16-20, 22-36, 39-49, 51, 53, 54, Sotapannas are praised as Sangha members by and to: the sick, layfollowers, people on their deathbed, bhikkhunis, bhikkhus, and devas, and end up for the wellbeing and benefit of many.

Dhammapada

From Dhammapada verse 178:

Sole dominion over the earth,
going to heaven,
lordship over all worlds:
the fruit of stream-entry
excels them.

Chán

See also Sudden Enlightenment

According to Mahāyāna Master Bhikshu Hsuan Hua's Commentary on the Vajra Sutra,

A Shrotaapanna is a first stage Arhat. Certification to the first fruit of Arhatship, which is within the Small Vehicle, comes when the eighty-eight categories of view delusions are smashed." p. 77 [13]

Venerable Hsuan Hua continues,

The first fruit is that of Srotāpanna, a Sanskrit word which means "One Who Has Entered the Flow." He opposes the flow of common people's six dusts and enters the flow of the sage's dharma-nature. Entering the flow means entering the state of the accomplished sage of the Small Vehicle.[14]

Notes

See also

External links

  • Access to Insight.
  • Thanissaro Bhikkhu (2004). . Retrieved 28 Sep 2007 from Access to Insight.
  • [1], translation from Mahindarama Temple, Penang, Malaysia.
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