Four stages of enlightenment

The four stages of enlightenment in Theravada and Early Buddhism are the four progressive stages culminating in full enlightenment as an Arahant.

These four stages are Sotāpanna, Sakadāgāmi, Anāgāmi, and Arahant. The Buddha referred to people who are at one of these four stages as noble people (ariya-puggala) and the community of such persons as the noble sangha (ariya-sangha).[1][2][3]

The teaching of the four stages of enlightenment is a central element of the early Buddhist schools, including the Theravada school of Buddhism, which still survives.

Origins

In the Sutta Pitaka several types of Buddhist practitioners are described, according to their level of attainment. The standard is four, but there are also longer descriptions with more types. The four are the Stream-enterer, Once-returner, Non-returner and the Arahant.

In the Visuddhimagga the four stages are the culmination of the seven purifications. The descriptions are elaborated and harmonized, giving the same sequence of purifications before attaining each of the four paths and fruits.

The Visuddhimagga stresses the importance of paññā (Sanskrit: prajñā), insight into anattā (Sanskrit: anātmam) and the Buddhist teachings, as the main means to liberation. Vipassanā (Sanksrit: vipaśyanā) has a central role in this. Insight is emphasized by the contemporary Vipassana movement.

Path and Fruit

A Stream-enterer (Sotāpanna) is free from:

  • 1. Identity view
  • 2. Attachment to rites and rituals
  • 3. Doubt about the teachings

A Once-returner (Sakadāgāmin) has greatly attenuated:

  • 4. Sensual desire
  • 5. Ill will

A Non-returner (Anāgāmi) is free from:

  • 4. Sensual desire
  • 5. Ill will

An Arahant is free from all of the five lower fetters and the five higher fetters, which are:

  • 6. Attachment to the four meditative absorptions, which have form (rupa jhana)
  • 7. Attachment to the four formless absorptions (ārupa jhana)
  • 8. Conceit
  • 9. Restlessness
  • 10. Ignorance

The Sutta Pitaka classifies the four levels according to the levels' attainments. In the Sthaviravada and Theravada traditions, which teach that progress in understanding comes all at once, and that 'insight' (abhisamaya) does not come 'gradually' (successively - anapurva),"[4] this classification is further elaborated, with each of the four levels described as a path to be attained suddenly, followed by the realisation of the fruit of the path.

The process of becoming an Arahat is therefore characterized by four distinct and sudden changes, although in the sutras it says that the path has a gradual development, with gnosis only after a long stretch, just as the ocean has a gradual shelf, a gradual inclination with a sudden drop only after a long stretch. The Mahasanghika had the doctrine of ekaksana-citt, "according to which a Buddha knows everything in a single thought-instant" (Gomez 1991, p. 69). The same stance is taken in Chan Buddhism, although the Chán school harmonized this point of view with the need for gradual training after the initial insight. This "gradual training" is expressed in teachings as the Five ranks of enlightenment, Ten Ox-Herding Pictures which detail the steps on the Path, The Three mysterious Gates of Linji, and the Four Ways of Knowing of Hakuin. The same stance is taken in the contemporary Vipassana movement, especially the so-called "New Burmese Method".[5]

The ordinary person

An ordinary person or puthujjana (Pali; Sanskrit: pṛthagjanai.e. pritha : without, and jnana : knowledge) is trapped in the endless cycling of samsara. One is reborn, lives, and dies in endless rebirths, either as a deva, human, animal, male, female, neuter, ghost, asura, hell being, or various other entities on different categories of existence.

An ordinary entity has never seen and experienced the ultimate truth of Dharma and therefore has no way of finding an end to the predicament. It is only when suffering becomes acute, or seemingly unending, that an entity looks for a "solution" to and, if fortunate, finds the Dharma.

The four stages of attainment

The Four planes of liberation
(according to the Sutta Piaka[6])

stage's
"fruit"[7]

abandoned
fetters

rebirth(s)
until suffering's end

stream-enterer

1. identity view (Anatman)
2. doubt in Buddha
3. ascetic or ritual rules

lower
fetters

up to seven rebirths in
human or heavenly realms

once-returner[8]

once more as
a human

non-returner

4. sensual desire
5. ill will

once more in
a heavenly realm
(Pure Abodes)

arahant

6. material-rebirth desire
7. immaterial-rebirth desire
8. conceit
9. restlessness
10. ignorance

higher
fetters

no rebirth

Source: Ñāṇamoli & Bodhi (2001), Middle-Length Discourses, pp. 41-43.

The Sangha of the Tathagata's disciples (Ariya Sangha) can be described as including four or eight kinds of individuals. There are four [groups of noble disciples] when path and fruit are taken as pairs, and eight groups of individuals, when each path and fruit are taken separately:

  1. (1) the path to stream-entry; (2) the fruition of stream-entry;
  2. (3) the path to once-returning; (4) the fruition of once-returning;
  3. (5) the path to non-returning; (6) the fruition of non-returning;
  4. (7) the path to arahantship; (8) the fruition of arahantship.

Stream-enterer

The first stage is that of Sotāpanna (Pali; Sanskrit: Srotāpanna), literally meaning "one who enters (āpadyate) the stream (sotas)," with the stream being the supermundane Noble Eightfold Path regarded as the highest Dharma. The stream-enterer is also said to have "opened the eye of the Dharma" (dhammacakkhu, Sanskrit: dharmacakṣus).

A stream-enterer reaches arahantship within seven rebirths upon opening the eye of the Dharma.

Because the stream-enterer has attained an intuitive grasp of Buddhist doctrine (samyagdṛṣṭi or sammādiṭṭhi, "right view") and has complete confidence or Saddha in the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, and has removed the sankharas that force rebirth in lower planes, that individual will not be reborn in any plane lower than the human (animal, preta, or in hell).

Once-returner

The second stage is that of the Sakadāgāmī (Sanskrit: Sakṛdāgāmin), literally meaning "one who once (sakṛt) comes (āgacchati)". The once-returner will at most return to the realm of the senses (the lowest being human and the highest being the devas wielding power over the creations of others) one more time. Both the stream-enterer and the once-returner have abandoned the first three fetters. The stream-enterer and once-returner are distinguished by the fact that the once-returner has weakened lust, hate, and delusion to a greater degree. The once-returner therefore has fewer than seven rebirths. Once-returners do not have only one more rebirth, as the name suggests, for that may not even be said with certainty about the non-returner who can take multiple rebirths in the five "Pure Abodes". They do, however, only have one more rebirth in the realm of the senses, excluding, of course, the planes of hell, animals and hungry ghosts.

Non-returner

The third stage is that of the Anāgāmī (Sanskrit: Anāgāmin), literally meaning "one who does not (an-) come (āgacchati)". The non-returner, having overcome sensuality, does not return to the human world, or any unfortunate world lower than that, after death. Instead, non-returners are reborn in one of the five special worlds in Rūpadhātu called the Śuddhāvāsa worlds, or "Pure Abodes", and there attain Nirvāṇa; Pāli: Nibbana; some of them are reborn a second time in a higher world of the Pure Abodes.

An Anāgāmī has abandoned the five lower fetters, out of ten total fetters, that bind beings to the cycle of rebirth. An Anāgāmī is well-advanced.

Arahant

The fourth stage is that of Arahant (Sanskrit: Arhat), a fully awakened person. They have abandoned all ten fetters and, upon death (Sanskrit: Parinirvāṇa, Pāli: Parinibbāna) will never be reborn in any plane or world, having wholly escaped saṃsāra.[9] An Arahant has attained awakening by following the path given by the Buddha. In Theravada Buddhism the term Buddha is reserved for ones who "self-enlighten" such as Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, who discovered the path by himself.

References

  1. ^ Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo. "What is the Triple Gem?". Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  2. ^ "Sangha". Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  3. ^ "A Path to Freedom: A Self-guided Tour of the Buddha's Teachings". Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  4. ^ Warder 2000, p. 284.
  5. ^ Armstrong, Steve. "The Practical Dharma of Mahasi Sayadaw". Buddhist Geeks. Archived from the original on May 3, 2016. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  6. ^ See, for instance, the "Snake-Simile Discourse" (MN 22), where the Buddha states:

    "Monks, this Teaching so well proclaimed by me, is plain, open, explicit, free of patchwork. In this Teaching that is so well proclaimed by me and is plain, open, explicit and free of patchwork; for those who are arahants, free of taints, who have accomplished and completed their task, have laid down the burden, achieved their aim, severed the fetters binding to existence, who are liberated by full knowledge, there is no (future) round of existence that can be ascribed to them. – Majjhima Nikaya i.130 ¶ 42, Translated by Nyanaponika Thera (Nyanaponika, 2006)

  7. ^ The "fruit" (Pali: phala) is the culmination of the "path" (magga). Thus, for example, the "stream-enterer" is the fruit for one on the "stream-entry" path; more specifically, the stream-enterer has abandoned the first three fetters, while one on the path of stream-entry strives to abandon these fetters.
  8. ^ Both the stream-enterer and the once-returner abandon the first three fetters. What distinguishes these stages is that the once-returner additionally attenuates lust, hate and delusion, and will necessarily be reborn only once more.
  9. ^ Sangha

Sources

  • Gomez, Luis O. (1991), Purifying Gold: The Metaphor of Effort and Intuition in Buddhist Thought and Practice. In: Peter N. Gregory (editor)(1991), Sudden and Gradual. Approaches to Enlightenment in Chinese Thought, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited
  • Warder, A.K. (2000), Indian Buddhism, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers

External links

Abhidharmadīpa

The Abhidharmadīpa or Lamp of Abhidharma is an Abhidharma text thought to have been authored by Vasumitra as a response to Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakośakārikā.

The text consists of verse and prose commentary. It currently survives as an incomplete collection of Sanskrit fragments. However, the text is valuable insofar as it confirms the identity of Vasubandhu as author of the Abhidharmakośakārikā.

Anāgāmi

In Buddhism, an anāgāmi (Sanskrit and Pāli for "non-returning") (Chinese: 阿那含; pinyin: ā nà hán) is a partially enlightened person who has cut off the first five chains that bind the ordinary mind. Anāgāmis are the third of the four aspirants.

Anagamis are not reborn into the human world after death, but into the heaven of the Pure Abodes, where only anāgāmis live. There they attain full enlightenment (arahantship).

The Pali terms for the specific chains or fetters (Pali: saṃyojana) of which an anāgāmi is free are:

Sakkāya-diṭṭhi: Belief in atmān or self

Sīlabbata-parāmāsa: Attachment to rites and rituals

Vicikicchā: Skeptical doubt

Kāma-rāga: Sensuous craving

Byāpāda: ill willThe fetters from which an anāgāmi is not yet free are:

Rūparāga: Craving for fine-material existence (the first 4 jhanas)

Arūparāga: Craving for immaterial existence (the last 4 jhanas)

Māna: Conceit

Uddhacca: Restlessness

Avijjā: IgnoranceKāmarāga and Byāpāda, which they are free from, can also be interpreted as craving for becoming and non-becoming, respectively.

Anāgāmis are at an intermediate stage between sakadagamis and arahants. Arahants enjoy complete freedom from the ten fetters. An anāgāmi's mind is very pure.

Ariya

Ariya may refer to the following:

Aria (band), a Russian heavy metal band

Ariya-Puggala, a person that has reached one of the four stages of enlightenment

Ariya Jutanugarn (born 1995), Thai professional golfer

Buddhism in Venezuela

Buddhism in Venezuela is practiced by over 52,000 people (roughly 0.2% of the population). The Buddhist community is made up mainly of Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans.

Most identify with the Mahayana tradition, reflecting the religious heritage of their emigrant countries.

However, in the mid-1990s Keun-Tshen Goba (né Ezequiel Hernandez Urdaneta), together with Jigme Rinzen, founded a meditation center using the Shambhala Training method.

There are Buddhist centers in Caracas, Maracay, Mérida, Puerto Ordáz, San Felipe, and Valencia.

Buddhism in the Maldives

Buddhism in the Maldives was the predominant religion at least until the 12th century CE. It is not clear how Buddhism was introduced into the islands.

Eighteen Arhats

The Eighteen Arhats (or Luohan) (Chinese: 十八羅漢; pinyin: Shíbā Luóhàn; Wade–Giles: Shih-pa Lo-han) are depicted in Mahayana Buddhism as the original followers of Gautama Buddha who have followed the Noble Eightfold Path and attained the four stages of enlightenment. They have reached the state of Nirvana and are free of worldly cravings. They are charged to protect the Buddhist faith and to wait on earth for the coming of Maitreya, an enlightened Buddha prophesied to arrive on earth many millennia after Gautama Buddha's death (parinirvana). In China, the eighteen arhats are also a popular subject in Buddhist art, such as the famous Chinese group of glazed pottery luohans from Yixian from about 1000 CE.

Khema

Kṣemā (Sanskrit; Pali: Khemā) was one of the two chief female disciples of Buddha (the other being Uppalavanna). The Sutta Nipata mention her to be the wife of Bimbisara, king of Magadha, and a follower of Buddhism.

Koliya

The Koliyas were Kshatriya of the Adicca (Iksvaku) clan of the Solar Dynasty from the Indian subcontinent, during the time of Gautama Buddha.The family members of the two royal families, that is the Koliyas and Sakyas married only among themselves. Both clans were very proud of the purity of their royal blood and had practised this tradition of inter-marriage since ancient times. For example, Suddhodana's paternal aunt was married to the Koliyan ruler Añjana. Their daughters, Mahamaya and Mahapajapati Gotami, were married to Śuddhodana, the chief of the Sakyans. Similarly, Yashodhara, daughter of Suppabuddha, who was Añjana’s son, was married to the Sakyan prince, Gautama Buddha. Thus, the two royal families were related by marriage bonds between maternal and paternal cousins since ancient times. In spite of such close blood-ties, there would be occasional rifts between the two royal families, which sometimes turned into open hostility.

Kuri (kitchen)

A kuri (庫裏, lit. warehouse behind) or kuin (庫院, lit. warehouse hall) is the kitchen of a Zen monastery, typically located behind the butsuden (or, Buddha Hall). Historically the kuri was a kitchen which prepared meals only for the abbot and his guests, though in modern Japan it now functions as the kitchen and administrative office for the entire monastery.

List of Buddhas

This is a list of historical, contemporary, and legendary figures which at least one school of Buddhism considers to be a Buddha and which have an article on Wikipedia:

Acala

Adi-Buddha

Akshobhya

Amitābha, principal Buddha of Pure Land Buddhism

Amoghasiddhi

Bhaisajyaguru

Budai

Dīpankara Buddha

Five Tathagatas

Gautama Buddha

Kakusandha

Kassapa Buddha

Koṇāgamana Buddha

Lokesvararaja

Nairatmya

Nichiren Daishonin, Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law (Nikko Lineage)

Padumuttara Buddha

Padmasambhava

Ratnasambhava

Satyanama

Sumedha Buddha

Tara

Tonpa Shenrab

Vairocana, embodiment of the Dharmakaya

Vajradhara

Vajrayogini

Yeshe Tsogyal

List of suttas

Suttas from the Sutta Pitaka of the Pali Canon.

List of Digha Nikaya suttas

List of Majjhima Nikaya suttas

List of Samyutta Nikaya suttas

List of Anguttara Nikaya suttas

List of Khuddaka Nikaya suttas

Rinpoche

Rinpoche, also spelled Rimboche and Rinboku (Tibetan: རིན་པོ་ཆེ་, Wylie: rin po che, THL: Rinpoché, ZYPY: Rinboqê), is an honorific term used in the Tibetan language. It literally means "precious one", and may be used to refer to a person, place, or thing--like the words "gem" or "jewel" (Sanskrit Ratna).

The word consists of rin(value) and po(nominative suffix) and chen(big).

The word is used in the context of Tibetan Buddhism as a way of showing respect when addressing those recognized as reincarnated, older, respected, notable, learned and/or an accomplished Lamas or teachers of the Dharma. It is also used as an honorific for abbots of monasteries.

Sakadagami

In Buddhism, the Sakadāgāmin (Pali; Sanskrit: Sakṛdāgāmin, Chinese: 斯陀含; pinyin: sī tuó hán), "returning once" or "once-returner," is a partially enlightened person, who has cut off the first three chains with which the ordinary mind is bound, and significantly weakened the fourth and fifth. Sakadagaminship is the second stage of the four stages of enlightenment.

The Sakadagamin will be reborn into the realm of the senses at most once more. If, however, he attains the next stage of enlightenment (Anagamiship) in this life, he will not come back to this world.

The three specific chains or fetters (Pali: saṃyojana) of which the Sakadagamin is free are:

1. Sakkāya-diṭṭhi (Pali) - Belief in self

2. Sīlabbata-parāmāsa (Pali) - Attachment to rites and rituals

3. Vicikicchā (Pali) - Skeptical doubtThe Sakadagami also significantly weakened the chains of:

4. Kāma-rāga (Pali) - Sensuous craving

5. Byāpāda (Pali) - Ill-will

Thus, the Sakadagamin is an intermediate stage between the Sotapanna, who still has comparatively strong sensuous desire and ill-will, and the Anagami, who is completely free from sensuous desire and ill-will. A Sakadagami's mind is very pure. Thoughts connected with greed, hatred and delusion do not arise often, and when they do, do not become obsessive.

Sangha

Sangha is a Sanskrit word used in many Indian languages, including Pali, meaning "association", "assembly", "company" or "community". It was historically used in a political context to denote a governing assembly in a republic or a kingdom. It is used in modern times by groups such as the political party and social movement Rashtriya Seva Sangh. It has long been commonly used by religious associations including by Jains and Sikhs.

In Buddhism sangha refers to the monastic community of bhikkhus (monks) and bhikkhunis (nuns). These communities are traditionally referred to as the bhikkhu-sangha or bhikkhuni-sangha. As a separate category, those who have attained any of the four stages of enlightenment, whether or not they are members of the monastic community, are referred to as the āryasaṅgha "noble Sangha".According to the Theravada school, the term "sangha" does not refer to the community of sāvakas (lay followers) nor the community of Buddhists as a whole.

Sokushin zebutsu

Sokushin zebutsu (Japanese: 即心是佛), rendered in English as Mind is Itself Buddha, is a book of the Shōbōgenzō by the 13th century Sōtō Zen monk Eihei Dōgen. It was written in the spring of 1239 at Dōgen's monastery Kōshōhōrin-ji in Kyoto. The book appears as the fifth book in both the 75 and 60 fascicle versions of the Shōbōgenzō, and it is ordered sixth in the later chronological 95 fascicle Honzan editions. The title Sokushin zebutsu is an utterance attributed to the 8th century Song Dynasty Zen monk Mazu Daoyi in a well known kōan that appears most notably as Case 30 in The Gateless Barrier, although Dōgen would have known it from the earlier Transmission of the Lamp. In addition to this book of the Shōbōgenzō, Dōgen also discusses the phrase Sokushin zebutsu in several of his formal Dharma Hall Discourses, namely numbers 8, 75, 319, and 370, all of which are recorded in the Eihei Kōroku.Dōgen's book Sokushin zebutsu lays out his understanding of this phrase, rendered in English as mind is itself Buddha. He quickly notes that he views as incorrect the interpretation that the "ordinary thoughts and awareness of sentient beings" are already Buddha. He states that instead, "Sokushin zebutsu is buddhas of aspiration, practice, awakening, and nirvana. Those who have not actualized aspiration, practice, awakening, and nirvana are not sokushin zebutsu.” While aspiration, practice, awakening, and nirvana are a version of the four stages of enlightenment and are normally thought of a series of steps one must go through to achieve a final goal, Dōgen writes in the Shōbōgenzō book Gyōji, "Where aspiration is present, there is already practice. Practice is itself awakening. This practice-awakening is nirvana. Thus “aspiration, practice, awakening, and nirvana” are not sequential stages. All are one." Thus, for Dōgen, sokushin zebutsu is identical to practice, or zazen. Further, at the conclusion of the essay, Dōgen writes, “The buddhas spoken of here are none other than Shakayamuni Buddha. Shakyamuni Buddha is sokushin zebutsu. When all buddhas in the past, present, and future are buddhas, they unfailingly become Shakyamuni Buddha". Dōgen thus equates mind, Buddhas, Shakyamuni Buddha, Bodhicitta, practice or zazen, awakening, and enlightenment, offering a characteristic teaching in nondualism.

Sotāpanna

In Buddhism, a sotāpanna (Pali), śrotāpanna (Sanskrit; Chinese: 入流; pinyin: rùliú, Chinese: 须陀洹; pinyin: xū tuó huán, Burmese: သောတာပန်, Tibetan: རྒྱུན་ཞུགས་, Wylie: rgyun zhugs), "stream-winner", or "stream-entrant" is a person who has seen the Dharma and consequently, has dropped the first three fetters (saŋyojana) that bind a being to rebirth, namely self-view (sakkāya-ditthi), clinging to rites and rituals (sīlabbata-parāmāsa), and skeptical indecision (Vicikitsa).

The word sotāpanna literally means "one who entered (āpanna) the stream (sota)", after a metaphor which calls the noble eightfold path a stream which leads to nibbāna. Entering the stream (sotāpatti) is the first of the four stages of enlightenment.

Threefold Training

The Buddha identified the threefold training (sikkhā) as training in:

higher virtue (adhisīla-sikkhā)

higher mind (adhicitta-sikkhā)

higher wisdom (adhipaññā-sikkhā)

Ṛddhi

In Buddhism, rddhi powers (Sanskrit; Pali: iddhi) are "psychic powers", one of the five or six supernormal powers (abhijñā) of the mundane plane attained by performing the four dhyānas. The normal Sanskrit meaning of ṛddhi is "increase, growth, prosperity, success, good fortune, wealth, abundance".

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