4👑☸ Cattāri Ariya-saccaṃ 四聖諦

4👑☸EBpedia📚 Ariya‍ 🔗📝   🔝

Ariya‍ = noble (enlightened)

✅ariya-savaka = noble one’s disciple (might not be enlightened)
⛔ariya-savaka ≠ noble disciple (enlightenment confirmed). Proof: Ariya‍ 2.10

a-sekha = an arahant who no longer needs training of a trainee (sekha). See Ariya‍ 3
sekha = a trainee who has attained at least stream entry, but not an arahant yet. See Ariya‍ 4

Ariya‍ 1 – Ariya = noble
Ariya‍ 2 – ariya-savaka: noble one’s disciple
    Ariya‍ 2.10 – suttas where ariya-savaka must be enlightened is illogical
Ariya‍ 3 – a-sekha = an arahant who no longer needs training of a trainee (sekha)
Ariya‍ 4 – sekha = a trainee who has attained at least stream entry, but not an arahant yet
Ariya‍ 7 – Seven types of enlightened individuals
Ariya‍ 100 – commentary

detailed TOC

 Ariya‍ 1 – Ariya = noble
    Ariya‍ 1.1 - Stream entry
    Ariya‍ 1.2 - once returner
    Ariya‍ 1.3 - non returner
    Ariya‍ 1.4 - arahant
Ariya‍ 2 – ariya-savaka: noble one’s disciple
    Ariya‍ 2.10 – suttas where ariya-savaka must be enlightened is illogical
Ariya‍ 3 – a-sekha = an arahant who no longer needs training of a trainee (sekha)
Ariya‍ 4 – sekha = a trainee who has attained at least stream entry, but not an arahant yet
Ariya‍ 7 – Seven types of enlightened individuals
    Ariya‍ 7.1 - freed both ways
    Ariya‍ 7.2 - freed by wisdom
    Ariya‍ 7.3 - eyewitness
    Ariya‍ 7.4 - attained to view
    Ariya‍ 7.5 - freed by justifiable-trust
    Ariya‍ 7.6 - follower of Dhamma
    Ariya‍ 7.7 - follower by justifiable-trust

1 – Ariya = noble

ariya = noble. Can be referring to any of the 4 attainments of stream entry, once returner, or non-returner, or arahant.

1.1 - Stream entry

AN 9.12: Buddha didn’t want to teach about stream entry to prevent opposite of assiduity/a-p-pamāda \xED\xA0\xBD\xED\xB0\x98\xED\xA0\xBD\xED\xB0\xBE‍ ,
but… “These nine persons, passing away with a residue remaining, are freed from hell, the animal realm, and the sphere of afflicted spirits;
freed from the plane of misery, the bad destination, the lower world.
Sāriputta, I had not been disposed to give this Dhamma exposition to the bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, male lay followers, and female lay followers.
For what reason? I was concerned that on hearing this Dhamma exposition,
they might take to the ways of heedlessness.
However, I have spoken this Dhamma exposition for the purpose of answering your question.”

AN 10.63
AN 10.64
SN 55 whole chapter on stream entry

☸Dhamma-cakkhu: Dharma eye
attainment of which signals stream entry.

1.2 - once returner

1.3 - non returner

SN 12.68 someone as him if he’s an arahant, he’s says, “not yet”, using simile of someone who sees water at bottom of well, but can’t touch it yet, but knows with right wisdom there’s water there.

1.4 - arahant

SN 12.26 12 questions to self test for arahantship

similarly, SN 35.136 / SN 35.153. Is There a Method?

atthinukhopariyāyasuttaṃ (SN 35.136),
“Is there a method of exposition, bhikkhus, by means of which a bhikkhu—
apart from faith, apart from personal preference, apart from oral tradition, apart from reasoned reflection, apart from acceptance of a view after pondering it
can declare final knowledge thus:
‘Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of being’?”

2 – ariya-savaka: noble one’s disciple

ariya-savaka = noble one's disciple. One who hears/learns the teachings of a noble one, but is not necessarily a noble one themself.

2.10 – suttas where ariya-savaka must be enlightened is illogical

AN 5.57 many cases just like this sutta, an enlightened “ariya savaka” becomes enlightened again as a stream enterer.

AN 7.69, ||MA 2 Buddha only allows ariya noble ones to ordain as monks? Really?

KN Iti 82 Iti 82 shows a newly ordained monk would already be a stream enterer 'ariya savaka' before ordaining, which is clearly unlikely though not impossible.

MA 198 "noble disciple" loses their "nobility" (enlightenment is reversible? really?) || MN 125

SN 45.8 right livelihood, even people who are not ariya can do right livelihood their whole life. Nothing special or ‘noble’ about that. The other 7 factors of the noble eightfold path, the Buddha refers to bhikkhu/monk instead of ariya-savako.

What **, *********, is right livelihood?
“katamo ca, bhikkhave, sammā-ājīvo?
It’s when a noble one’s disciple
Idha, bhikkhave, ariya-sāvako
Wrong-livehihood; having-abandoned,
Micchā-ājīvaṃ pahāya
Right-livelihood; lives accordingly
Sammā-ājīvena jīvitaṃ kappeti —
This is called, *********, right livelihood.
ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, sammā-ājīvo.
MN 53.3.0 (deduction: eggs hatching without wishing means sekha must a stream enterer)
MN 53.3.1 (ariya savaka disciple gets promoted to sekha trainee status)
MN (knows many rebirths ↔ chick first breaking shell)
MN (knows rebirth + karma ↔ chick second breaking shell)
MN (knows arahantship ↔ chick third breaking shell)
MN 53.4 (ariya savaka disciple who is an arahant described as this)

MN 48.2 (noble view and 7 factors of stream entry)
MN 48.2.2 (Does using noble view get you samatha and nirvana? )
MN 48.3 (a disciple who has 7 factors is stream enterer)

MN 125.3.1 new monk shave head ordain is already a “noble disciple”?

After some time they give up a large or small fortune, and a large or small family circle. They shave off hair and beard, dress in ocher robes, and go forth from the lay life to homelessness.
So aparena samayena appaṃ vā bhogakkhandhaṃ pahāya mahantaṃ vā bhogakkhandhaṃ pahāya appaṃ vā ñātiparivaṭṭaṃ pahāya mahantaṃ vā ñātiparivaṭṭaṃ pahāya kesamassuṃ ohāretvā kāsāyāni vatthāni acchādetvā agārasmā anagāriyaṃ pabbajati.
And it’s only then that a noble disciple comes out into the open,
Ettāvatā kho, aggivessana, ariyasāvako abbhokāsagato hoti.
for gods and humans cling to the five kinds of sensual stimulation.
Etthagedhā hi, aggivessana, devamanussā yadidaṃ—pañca kāmaguṇā.
MN 152 comparison between an arahant, a sekha (a trainee who is at least stream enterer), and an ariya. Ariya savako term does not appear in this sutta.

3 – a-sekha = an arahant who no longer needs training of a trainee (sekha)

a-sekha = an arahant who no longer needs training of a trainee (sekha), since they are not being liable to rebirth (SN 48.53), and they have direct experience with 5indriya resulting in the culmination of that.

4 – sekha = a trainee who has attained at least stream entry, but not an arahant yet

sekha = a trainee who has attained at least stream entry, once returner, or non-returner, but is not yet an arahant. (Proof : The distinction between sekha and asekha with regard to the five faculties as given in SN 48:53 is identical to the distinction between the stream enterer and the arahant as given in SN 48:3 and SN 48:4.)


\xED\xA0\xBD\xED\xB4\x97\xED\xA0\xBD\xED\xB3\x9Dwhat does ariya savaka and sekha actually mean?
ariya = noble. Can be referring to any of the 4 attainments of stream entry, once returner, or non-returner, or arahant.

ariya-savaka = noble one's disciple. One who hears/learns the teachings of a noble one, but is not necessarily a noble one themself.
LBT Commentary claims ariya-savaka (in all contexts) is at least a stream-enterer.

a-sekha = an arahant who no longer needs training of a trainee (sekha), since they are not being liable to rebirth (SN 48.53), and they have direct experience with 5indriya resulting in the culmination of that.

sekha = a trainee who has attained at least stream entry, once returner, or non-returner, but is not yet an arahant. (Proof : The distinction between sekha and asekha with regard to the five faculties as given in SN 48:53 is identical to the distinction between the stream enterer and the arahant as given in SN 48:3 and SN 48:4.)

pts page links to modern pali suttas

If you search that page for "sekh", it produces 7 finds of sutta titles with 'sekh' in there.

a forum thread showing some commentary glosses saying ariya-savaka is at least a stream enterer.
grammatically, both readings of ariya-savaka are valid.


ariya savaka (noble one's disciple): one who is at the minimum a hearer/learner of Dharma teachings from a noble one (ariya). This interpretation works everywhere in the suttas if you plug that definition in.
sekha (trainee):

* from AN 5.1 they have 3 of the 5 bala, with sati and samadhi removed and replaced with hiri and ottappa.

* SN 48.53 they are a trainee if they have at least faith in 4 noble truths, and that there are no other teachers whose teachings match or exceed the Buddha's in accuracy or harmony with truth of reality. They know (paññāya ca ativijjha passati.) that the 5 bala are the means to realize truth, but have not directly realized that result through meditation experience yet.
a-sekha (not a trainee, one who has completed training):

* SN 48.53 not being liable to rebirth, and they have direct experience with 5indriya resulting in the culimination of that.
Yaṅgatikāni yaṃparamāni yaṃphalāni yaṃpariyosānāni. Kāyena ca phusitvā viharati;


ariya savaka: noble one's disciple.
Theravada commentary seems to say ariya savaka is not just a noble one's disciple, but is themself a noble one, one who has at minimum reached the path (or fruit?) of stream entry.

7 – Seven types of enlightened individuals

MN 70.7 - (7 types of awakened people in the world)
MN 70.7.1 - (freed both ways )
MN 70.7.2 - (freed by wisdom )
MN 70.7.3 - (eyewitness)
MN 70.7.4 - (attained to view)
MN 70.7.5 - (freed by justifiable-trust)
MN 70.7.6 - (Follower of the Dharma )
MN 70.7.7 - (follower by justifiable-trust )

SN 25.1 says type 6 and 7 can’t die without attaining stream entry at the minimum.

7.1 - freed both ways

7.2 - freed by wisdom

7.3 - eyewitness

7.4 - attained to view

7.5 - freed by justifiable-trust

7.6 - follower of Dhamma

SN 25.1 says type 6 and 7 can’t die without attaining stream entry at the minimum.

7.7 - follower by justifiable-trust

SN 25.1 says the trust is in the Dharma
MN 70.7.7 - says the trust is in the Buddha
SN 25.1 says type 6 and 7 can’t die without attaining stream entry at the minimum.

100 – commentary

Where's the sutta proof? If you plug in the definition "noble one's disciple" everywhere, it works, but "noble disciple" often seems overqualified, unnecessary, or unjustified.

For example, right livelihood: miccha ajiva pahaya. samma ajivena jivitam kappeti. An ariya savaka abandoned wrong livelihood, and takes up right livelihood.

Why would you need to be a stream enterer to do that? Plenty of ordinary people can do that.

sekha (trainee):

sekha: any serious monastic or lay person trying to attain full arahantship? Must be at least stream enterer? (B. Bodhi translates this as 'disciple in higher training')

my doubts about sekha being stream enterer

MN 152 especially makes me doubt ariya status of sekha:
why would a stream enterer do this when he has some samadhi but just not mastered?
shouldn't he be doing the same practice as the ariya with developed faculties?
2nd type: trainee

Kathañcānanda, sekho hoti pāṭipado?
"And how is one a person in training, someone following the way?
Idhānanda, bhikkhuno cakkhunā rūpaṃ disvā uppajjati manāpaṃ, uppajjati amanāpaṃ, uppajjati manāpāmanāpaṃ.
There is the case where, when seeing a form with the eye, there arises in a monk what is agreeable, what is disagreeable, what is agreeable & disagreeable.
So tena uppannena manāpena
He feels horrified, humiliated, & disgusted with the arisen agreeable thing...
uppannena amanāpena
disagreeable thing...
uppannena manāpāmanāpena aṭṭīyati harāyati jigucchati.
agreeable & disagreeable thing.

Sotena saddaṃ sutvā … pe …
"When hearing a sound with the ear...

forum discussion


frank k wrote: ↑Thu Nov 04, 2021 9:03 am

sekha: any serious monastic or lay person trying to attain full arahantship? Must be at least stream enterer? (B. Bodhi translates this as 'disciple in higher training')

Ven. Dhammanando:

In the Suttas asekhas are arahants and sekhas are ariyasāvakas but not yet arahants. This can be seen from what's predicated of the two persons in various Suttas in the Indriya Samyutta, e.g., the Sekhasutta, SN 48:53

There is, however, another (much less common) sense of sekha, found in the Vinaya's third pātidesanīya rule:

There are families designated as in training. Should any bhikkhu, not being ill, uninvited beforehand, chew or consume staple or non-staple food, having received it himself at the homes of families designated as in training, he is to acknowledge it: “Friends, I have committed a blameworthy, unsuitable act that ought to be acknowledged. I acknowledge it.”

The term in training (sekha) is usually used to refer to anyone who has attained at least the first noble path but has yet to become an arahant. Here, though, the Vibhaṅga uses it to refer to any family whose faith is increasing but whose wealth is decreasing—i.e., a family whose faith is so strong that they become generous to the point of suffering financially. In cases such as these, the Community may, as a formal transaction, declare them as families in training so as to protect them with this rule from bhikkhus who might abuse their generosity.

(Ven. Thanissaro, BMC I ch. 9)


I asked the question to Ven. Thanissaro

AT: (Ajahn Thanissaro)

No, sekha doesn’t mean at least an ariya savaka. It means anything from a stream-entered through a non-returner.

where did you get sekha must be at least a stream enterer?
I'm as uncertain of that as I am that an ariya savaka must be a stream enterer.

AT: (Ajahn Thanissaro):
SN 48:53 read in conjunction with MN 48.

AN 5.1 has lower requirement for sekha, they have panna but no samadhi, whereas SN 48.53 they have all 5 indriya

AN 5.1 has lower requirement for sekha, they have panna but no samadhi, whereas SN 48.53 they have all 5 indriya.

MN 48 second factor of stream entry says
(2. Does using noble view get you samatha and nirvana? )

Puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, ariyasāvako iti paṭisañcikkhati:
Furthermore, a noble disciple reflects:
‘imaṃ nu kho ahaṃ diṭṭhiṃ āsevanto bhāvento bahulīkaronto labhāmi paccattaṃ samathaṃ, labhāmi paccattaṃ nibbutin’ti?
‘When I develop, cultivate, and make much of this view, do I personally gain serenity and quenching?’
So evaṃ pajānāti:
They understand:
‘imaṃ kho ahaṃ diṭṭhiṃ āsevanto bhāvento bahulīkaronto labhāmi paccattaṃ samathaṃ, labhāmi paccattaṃ nibbutin’ti.
‘When I develop, cultivate, and make much of this view, I personally gain serenity and quenching.’
Idamassa dutiyaṃ ñāṇaṃ adhigataṃ hoti ariyaṃ lokuttaraṃ asādhāraṇaṃ puthujjanehi. (2)
This is their second knowledge …

that says to me they have gotten at least a brief glimpse of nirvana.
AN 5.1 sekha has no samadhi bala, so how can they glimpse nirvana and fulfill that samatha?

AT: (Ajahn Thanissaro):

1) The standard lists of the characteristics of a stream enterer never
include concentration as one of the members of the list, even though SN
55:5 states that the stream consists of all eight factors of the noble
path, including right concentration, and MN 48 includes, as part of its
description of the stream enterer, enough tranquility to experience
The clue to understanding this discrepancy lies in AN 3:87, which
states that the stream enterer is wholly accomplished in virtue, but
only moderately accomplished in concentration and discernment. In other
words, just because the lists don’t include concentration doesn’t mean
that the stream enterer has no concentration at all. It just means that
it hasn’t been fully mastered. The stream enterer has tasted enough of
at least the first jhana to have gained an experience of unbinding. The
same can be assumed with the list in AN 5:1. It doesn’t give an
exhaustive list of the sekha’s characteristics, just five of the
prominent ones. When SN 48:53 states that the learner has seen, as they
have come to be, the four noble truths, that implies that he/she has
seen enough of all the factors of the noble eightfold path to have had
at least a glimpse of the third noble truth, like the stream enterer in
MN 48 who personally obtains serenity and unbinding.

2) The distinction between sekha and asekha with regard to the five
faculties as given in SN 48:53 is identical to the distinction between
the stream enterer and the arahant as given in SN 48:3 and SN 48:4.
These are probably the clearest passages showing that the sekha must be
at least a stream enterer.

With best wishes,
Ajaan Geoff

Jhānas and the lay person – B. Bodhi essay

the JhánAs And the lAy disCiple According to the Páli Suttas

1. IntroDuCtIon

The Páli Nikáyas leave no doubt of the important role the jhánas play in the structure of the Buddhist path.
In such texts as the Sámaññaphala Sutta (DN 2), the Cúÿahatthipadopama Sutta (MN

27), and many others on the “gradual training” ( anupubbasikkhá) of the Buddhist monk, the Buddha invariably introduces the jhánas to exemplify the training in concentration.
When the bhikkhu has fulfilled the preliminary moral discipline, we read, he goes off into solitude and cleanses his mind of the “five hindrances.
” When his mind has been so cleansed, he enters and dwells in the four jhánas, described by a stock formula repeated countless times in the Nikáyas:
Here, bhikkhus, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the first jhána, which is accompanied by thought and examination, with rapture and happiness born of seclusion.
With the subsiding of thought and examination, he enters and dwells in the second jhána, which has internal confidence and unification of mind, is without thought and examination, and has rapture and happiness born of concentration.
With the fading away as well of rapture, he dwells equanimous and, mindful and clearly comprehending, he experiences happiness with the body;
he enters and dwells in the third jhána of which the noble ones declare:
“He is equanimous, mindful, one who dwells happily.
” With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and displeasure, he enters and dwells in the fourth jhána, which is neither painful nor pleasant and includes the purification of mindfulness by equanimity.

26. Vivicc’eva kámehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaí savicáraí vivekajaí pìtisukhaí paþhamaí jhánaí upasampajja viharati.


InvestIgatIng the Dhamma

In Theravada Buddhist circles during the past few decades a debate has repeatedly erupted over the question whether or not jhána is necessary to attain the “paths and fruits,” that is, the four graded stages of enlightenment.
The debate has been sparked off by the rise to prominence of the various systems of insight meditation that have become popular both in Asia and the West, especially among lay Buddhists.
Those who advocate such systems of meditation contend that the paths and fruits can be attained by developing insight ( vipassaná) without a foundation of jhána.
This method is called the vehicle of bare insight ( suddha-vipassaná), and those who practise in this mode are known as “dry insighters” ( sukkhavipassaka) because their practice of insight has not been “moistened”

by prior attainment of the jhánas.
Apparently, this system finds support from the Visuddhimagga and the Páli Commentaries, though it is not given a very prominent place in the commentarial treatment of the path, which usually follows the canonical model in placing the jhánas before the development of insight.

To help answer the question whether the jhánas are necessary for the attainment of the stages of awakening, we might narrow the question down by asking whether they are needed to reach the first stage of awakening, known as stream-entry ( sotápatti).
Since the Nikáyas order the process of awakening into four stages—stream-entry, once-returning, non-returning, and arahantship—it is possible that the jhánas come to assume an essential role at a later stage in the unfolding of the path, and not at the first stages.
Thus it may be that the insight required for the earlier stages does not presuppose prior attainment of the jhánas, while the jhánas become indispensable in making the transition from one of the intermediate stages to a more advanced stage.
I myself believe there is strong evidence in vicáránaí vúpasamá ajjhattaí sampasádanaí cetaso ekodibhávaí avitakkaí avicáraí samádhijaí pìtisukhaí dutiyaí jhánaí upasam-pajja viharati.
Pitiyá ca virágá upekkhako ca viharati sato ca sampajáno sukhañca káyena paþisaívedeti, yan taí ariyá ácikkhanti upekkhako satimá sukhavihárì ti tatiyaí jhánaí upasampajja viharati.
Sukhassa ca paháná dukkhassa ca paháná pubb’eva somanassadoman-assánaí atthagamá adukkham asukhaí upekkhásatipárisuddhií catutthaí jhánaí upasampajja viharati.

27. The vehicle of bare insight is mentioned at Vism XVIII.
5 (PTS ed.

the dry insighter at XXI.
112 (p.
666) and XXIII.
18 (p.
702). See too Spk commenting on SN 12:
70/S II 119–128.

the Jhánas anD the lay DIsCIPle


the Nikáyas that the jhánas become an essential factor for those intent on advancing from the stage of once-returning to that of non-returner.
I will review the texts that corroborate this thesis later in this paper.

Recently, however, several articulate teachers of meditation have argued down the validity of the dry insight approach, insisting that the jhánas are necessary for the successful development of insight at every stage.
Their arguments usually begin by making a distinction between the standpoints of the Páli Canon and the Commentaries.

On this basis, they maintain that from the perspective of the Canon jhána is needed to attain even stream-entry.
The Nikáyas themselves do not address this problem in clear and unambiguous terms, and it is difficult to derive from them any direct pronouncement on its resolution.
In the suttas dealing with the gradual training, all the stages of awakening are telescoped into one series, and thus no differentiation is made between the preparatory attainments required for stream-entry, once-returning, non-returning, and arahantship.
We simply see the monk go off into solitude, attain the four jhánas, and then proceed directly to arahantship, called

“the knowledge of the destruction of the taints.
” From such texts, there can be no denying the role of the jhánas in bringing the path to fulfillment, but here I shall be concerned principally with the question whether or not they are categorically necessary to win the first fruit of the path.

In pursuing this question I intend to pick up an important but generally neglected clue the suttas lay at our doorstep.
This is the fact that many of the Buddha’s followers who attained the first three stages of awakening, from stream-entry through non-returning, were lay people.
The only stage that the Canon depicts as the near-exclusive domain of monks and nuns is arahantship.
28 This clue is more important than might appear at first glance, for a close 28. For example, at D II 92 the Buddha testifies that numerous lay disciples who had died had reached the first three stages, and at M I 490–91 he declares that he has “many more than five hundred” lay disciples who have become non-returners.
The question of lay arahantship is a vexed one.
While the texts record several cases of lay people who attained arahantship, immediately afterwards they either take ordination or expire.
This is the basis for the traditional belief that if a lay person attains arahantship, he or she either enters the Sangha that very day or passes away.


InvestIgatIng the Dhamma

examination of texts describing the personal qualities and lifestyles of noble lay disciples might bring to light just the material we need to unravel the knots tied into this perplexing issue.

A study of the Nikáyas as a whole would show that they depict classes of disciples in terms of paradigms or archetypes.

These paradigms are generally constructed with extreme rigor and consistency, indicating that they are evidently governed by a precisely determined scheme.
Yet, somewhat strangely, it is rare for the outlines of this scheme to be spelled out in the abstract.

This puts the burden on us to elicit from the relevant suttas the underlying principles that govern the portrayal of types.
The texts with which we are concerned delineate disciples at different levels of development by way of clusters of specific qualities and practices.

These texts function both descriptively and prescriptively.
They show us what kinds of qualities we can normally expect of disciples at particular stages of progress, and thereby they imply (and sometimes state) what kinds of practices an aspirant at a lower stage should take up to advance further along the path.

To draw upon suttas dealing with lay disciples is to approach the question of the need for jhána from an angle somewhat different from the one usually adopted.
Most participants in this discussion have focused on texts dealing principally with monastic practice.

The drawback to this approach, as indicated above, lies in the predilection of the Nikáyas to compress the successive levels of monastic attainment into a single comprehensive scheme without showing how the various levels of practice are to be correlated with the successive stages of attainment.
29 So instead of working with these monastic texts, I intend to turn my spotlight on the unordained segment of the Buddhist community and look at suttas that discuss the spiritual practices and qualities of the lay noble disciple.
For if the jhánas are truly necessary to attain stream-entry, then they should be just as much integral to the practice of the lay follower as they are to the practice of the monk, and thus we should find texts that regularly ascribe jhánic practice and attainment to lay disciples just as we find them in the case of monks.
If, on the other hand, the texts consistently describe the practices and qualities of certain types 29. One such text which does make the correlations, in a monastic context, is AN 3:
85/A I 231–32, which I will discuss below.

the Jhánas anD the lay DIsCIPle


of noble lay disciples in ways that pass over or exclude the jhánas, then we have strong grounds for concluding that the jhánas are not prerequisites for attaining discipleship at these levels.

I will frame my study around three specific questions:
(1) Do the texts indicate that a worldling must attain jhána before entering upon the “fixed course of rightness”

( sammatta-niyáma), the irreversible path to stream-entry?

(2) Do the texts typically ascribe the jhánas to lay disciples who have attained stream-entry?

(3) If the texts do not normally attribute the jhánas to the stream-enterer, is there any stage in the maturation of the path where their attainment becomes essential?

2. Jhána anD the attaInment of stream-entry

Let us turn directly to the texts themselves to see if they can shed any light on our problem.
When we do survey the Nikáyas with this issue in mind we find, perhaps with some astonishment, that they neither lay down a clear stipulation that jhána is needed to attain stream-entry nor openly assert that jhána is dispensable.
The Sutta Piþaka mentions four preconditions for reaching the path, called sotápattiyaòga, factors of stream-entry, namely:
association with superior people (i.
e., with the noble ones);
listening to the true Dhamma;
proper attention;
and practice in accordance with the Dhamma.
30 It would seem that all the elements of Buddhist meditative practice, including the jhánas, should come under the fourth factor, but the Nikáyas themselves do not state whether “practice in accordance with the Dhamma” includes the jhánas.
The few texts that specify what is actually meant by “practice in accordance with the Dhamma” are invariably concerned with insight meditation.
They employ a fixed formula, with variable subjects, to describe a bhikkhu practising in such a way.
Two suttas define such practice as aimed at the cessation of the factors of dependent origination (SN 12:
16/S II 18, SN 12:

II 115);
another, as aimed at the cessation of the five aggregates (SN

10:00:00 PM
115/S III 163–64);
and still another, as aimed at the cessation of the 30. Sappurisasaíseva, saddhammasavana, yoniso manasikára, dhammánud-hammapaþipadá.
See SN 55:
55/S V 410–11.


InvestIgatIng the Dhamma

six sense bases (SN 35:
155/S IV 141). Of course, meditation practice undertaken to attain the jhánas would have to be included in “practice in accordance with the Dhamma,” but the texts give no ground for inferring that such practice is a prerequisite for reaching stream-entry.

A stream-enterer is endowed with four other qualities, mentioned often in the Sotápatti-saíyutta (SN chap.
55). These, too, are called sotápattiyaòga, but in a different sense than the former set.
These are the factors that qualify a person as a stream-enterer.
The first three are “confirmed confidence” ( aveccappasáda) in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saògha;
the fourth is “the virtues dear to the noble ones,” generally understood to mean inviolable adherence to the Five Precepts.
From this, we can reasonably suppose that in the preliminary stage leading up to stream-entry the aspirant will need firm faith in the Three Jewels (the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saògha) and scrupulous observance of the Five Precepts.
Further, the realization of stream-entry itself is often depicted as a cognitive experience of almost ocular immediacy.
It is called the gaining of the eye of the Dhamma ( dhammacakkhu-paþilábha), the breakthrough to the Dhamma ( dhammábhisamaya), the penetration of the Dhamma ( dhamma-paþivedha).
31 One who has undergone this experience is said to have “seen the Dhamma, reached the Dhamma, understood the Dhamma, fathomed the Dhamma.
”32 Taken together, both modes of description—by way of the four factors of stream-entry and by way of the event of realization—indicate that the disciple has arrived at stream-entry primarily through insight supported by unwavering faith in the Three Jewels.
It is noteworthy that the texts on the realization of stream-entry make no mention of any prior accomplishment in jhána as a prerequisite for reaching the path.
In fact, several texts show the breakthrough to stream-entry as occurring to someone without any prior meditative experience, simply by listening to the Buddha or an enlightened monk give a discourse on the Dhamma.

31. Dhammacakkhu-paþilábha, dhammábhisamaya, dhamma-paþivedha.
See S II 134–38 for the first two;
the third is more a commentarial expression used to explain the second.

32. Diþþhadhamma, pattadhamma, viditadhamma, pariyogáÿhadhamma;
at e.
g. D I 110, M I 501, etc.

33. D I 110, M I 501, as well as S III 106, 135, etc.

the Jhánas anD the lay DIsCIPle


While the process of “entering the stream” involves both faith and wisdom, individuals differ in their disposition with respect to these two qualities:
some are disposed to faith, others to wisdom.

This difference is reflected in the division of potential stream-enterers into two types, known as the saddhánusárì or faith-follower and the dhammánusárì or Dhamma-follower.
Both have entered

“the fixed course of rightness” ( sammatta-niyáma), the irreversible path to stream-entry, by attuning their understanding of actuality to the nature of actuality itself, and thus for both insight is the key to entering upon the path.
The two types differ, however, in the means by which they generate insight.
The faith-follower, as the term implies, does so with faith as the driving force;
inspired by faith, he resolves on the ultimate truth and thereby gains the path.
The Dhamma-follower is driven by an urge to fathom the true nature of actuality;
inspired by this urge, he investigates the teaching and gains the path.
When they have known and seen the truth of the Dhamma, they realize the fruit of stream-entry.

Perhaps the most informative source on the difference between these two types is the Okkantika-saíyutta, where the Buddha shows how they enter upon the fixed course of rightness:

“Bhikkhus, the eye is impermanent, changing, becoming otherwise.
So too the ear … nose … tongue … body … mind.

One who places faith in these teachings and resolves on them thus is called a faith-follower:
he is one who has entered the fixed course of rightness, entered the plane of the superior persons, transcended the plane of the worldlings.
He is incapable of doing any deed by reason of which he might be reborn in hell, in the animal realm, or in the sphere of ghosts;
he is incapable of passing away without having realized the fruit of stream-entry.

“One for whom these teachings are accepted thus to a sufficient degree by being pondered with wisdom is called a Dhamma-follower:
he is one who has entered the fixed course of rightness … (he is) incapable of passing away without having realized the fruit of stream-entry.


InvestIgatIng the Dhamma

“One who knows and sees these teachings thus is called a stream-enterer, no longer bound to the nether world, fixed in destiny, with enlightenment as his destination.

It is noteworthy that this passage makes no mention of jhána.

While prior experience of jhána would no doubt help to make the mind a more fit instrument for insight, it is surely significant that jhána is not mentioned either as an accompaniment of the “entry upon the fixed course of rightness” or as a prerequisite for it.

It might be objected that several other passages on the two candidates for stream-entry implicitly include the jhánas among their meditative equipment.
The details of these passages need not concern us here.
What is of interest to us is that they assign to both the faith-follower and the Dhamma-follower the five spiritual faculties:
faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom.

The Indriya-saíyutta states that the faculty of concentration

“is to be seen among the four jhánas,”36 and a definition of the concentration faculty includes the formula for the jhánas.
37 Thus, if we argue deductively from these ascriptions and definitions, it would seem to follow as a matter of logic that both the Dhamma-34. SN 25:
1/S III 224:
Cakkhuí bhikkhave aniccaí viparióámií aññathábhávi.
Sotam … mano anicco viparióámì aññathábhávì.
Yo bhikkhave ime dhamme evaí saddahati adhimuccati, ayaí vuccati saddhánusárì okkanto sammattaniyámaí sappurisabhúmií okkanto vìtivatto puthujjanabhúmií.

Abhabbo taí kammaí kátuí yaí kammaí katvá nirayaí vá tiracchánayonií vá pettivisayaí vá upapajjeyya.
Abhabbo ca táva kálaí kátuí yáva na sotápattiphalaí sacchikaroti.
Yassa kho bhikkhave ime dhammá evaí paññáya mattaso nijjhánaí khamanti, ayaí vuccati dhammánusárì okkanto sammattaniyámaí … Abhabbo ca táva kálaí kátuí yáva na sotápattiphalaí sacchikaroti.
Yo bhikkhave ime dhamme evaí jánáti evaí passati, ayaí vuccati sotápanno avinipátadhammo niyato sambodhiparáyano.

35. E.
g., M I 479, S V 200–2. SN 55:
25/S V 379 ascribes the five faculties to two types of persons who, though the terms are not used, are clearly identifiable as the dhammánusárì and saddhánusárì.

36. SN 48:
8/S V 196:
catusu jhánesu, ettha samádhindriyaí daþþhabbaí.

See too AN 5:
15/III 12, where it is said that the power of concentration ( samádhibala) “is to be seen among the four jhánas.

37. At SN 48:
10/S V 198, the faculty of concentration is defined by the formula for the four jhánas.
At AN 5:
14/A III 11, the power of concentation ( samádhibala) is similarly defined.

the Jhánas anD the lay DIsCIPle


follower and the faith-follower possess the jhánas.
More broadly, since these faculties and powers belong to all noble disciples, not to monks alone, this might be held up as proof that all noble disciples, monks and lay followers, invariably possess the jhánas.

Such a conclusion would follow if we adopt a literal and deductive approach to the interpretation of the texts, but it is questionable whether such a hermeneutic is always appropriate when dealing with the formulaic definitions employed so often by the Nikáyas.

To extract the intended meaning from such schematic definition, we require greater sensitivity to context, sensitivity guided by acquaintance with a wide assortment of relevant texts.
Further, if we do opt for the literalist approach, then, since the passage simply inserts the formula for the four jhánas without qualification into the definition of the concentration faculty, we would have to conclude that all noble disciples, monks and lay followers alike, possess all four jhánas, not just one.
Even more, they would have to possess the four jhánas already as faith-followers and Dhamma-followers, at the very entry to the path.
This, however, seems too generous, and indicates that we need to be cautious in interpreting such formulaic definitions.
In the case presently being considered, I would regard the use of the jhána formula here as a way of showing the most eminent type of concentration to be developed by the noble disciple.

I would not take it as a rigid pronouncement that all noble disciples actually possess all four jhánas, or even one of them.

But there is more to be said.
When we attend closely to these texts, we see that a degree of flexibility is already built into them.
In the analysis of the faculties at SN 48:
9–10/S V 197–98, the first sutta offers an alternative definition of the faculty of concentration that does not mention the four jhánas, while the following sutta gives both definitions conjointly.
The alternative version runs thus:
“And what, monks, is the faculty of concentration?
Here, monks, a noble disciple gains concentration, gains one-pointedness of mind, having made release the object.
This is called the faculty of concentration.

The Nikáyas themselves nowhere explain exactly what is meant by the concentration gained by “having made release the 38. Katamañca bhikkhave samádhindriyaí?
Idha bhikkhave ariyasávako vossaggárammaóaí karitvá labhati samádhií labhati cittassa ekaggataí.

Idaí bhikkhave samádhindriyaí.


InvestIgatIng the Dhamma

object” ( vossaggárammaóaí karitvá), but they do elsewhere suggest that release ( vossagga) is a term for Nibbána.
39 The Commentary interprets this passage with the aid of the distinction between mundane ( lokiya) and supramundane ( lokuttara) concentration:
the former consists in the form-sphere jhánas (and the access to these jhánas), the latter in the supramundane jhánas concomitant with the supramundane path.
40 On the basis of this distinction, the Commentary explains “the concentration that makes release the object” as the supramundane concentration of the noble path arisen with Nibbána as object.
41 Thus if we feel obliged to interpret the faculty and power of concentration in the light of the jhána formula, we might go along with the Commentary in regarding it as the supramundane jhána pertaining to the supramundane path and fruit.

However, we need not agree with the Commentaries in taking the expression “having made release the object” so literally.
We might instead interpret this phrase more loosely as characterizing a concentration aimed at release, that is, directed towards Nibbána.

Then we can understand its referent as the concentration that functions as the basis for insight, both initially in the preparatory 39. Throughout the Magga-saíyutta, the expression vossagga-parióámi,

“maturing in release,” is used to describe the factors of the Noble Eightfold Path.
This suggests that vossagga, as the goal of the path, is Nibbána.

40. Below I will elaborate on the distinction between the form-sphere and supramundane jhánas.

41. Spk III 234, commenting on SN 48:

42. Paþis III 586–87 seems to take this tack in commenting on the expression thus:
“Having as object release:
here release is Nibbána, for Nibbána is called release because it is the releasing of the conditioned, its relinquishment.
Insight and the phenomena associated with it have Nibbána as object, Nibbána as support, because they are established on Nibbána as their support in the sense of slanting towards it by way of inclination.
Concentration is nondistraction distinguished into access and absorption ( upacárappanábhedo avikkhepo), consisting in the one-pointedness of mind aroused by being established on Nibbána, with that as cause by taking as object release of the phenomena produced therein.
Concentration partaking of penetration ( nibbedhabhágiyo samádhi), aroused subsequent to insight, is described.
” From this, it seems that “concentration having release as its object” can be understood as a concentration aroused through the practice of insight meditation, aiming at the attainment of Nibbána.

the Jhánas anD the lay DIsCIPle


phase of practice and later in immediate conjunction with insight.

This would allow us to ascribe to the noble disciple a degree of concentration strong enough to qualify as a faculty without compelling us to hold that he must possess jhána.
Perhaps the combined definition of the concentration faculty in SN 48:
10 is intended to show that two courses are open to disciples.
One is the route emphasizing strong concentration, along which one develops the jhánas as the faculty of concentration;
the other is the route emphasizing insight, along which one develops concentration only to the degree needed for insight to arise.
This concentration, though falling short of jhána, could still be described as “concentration that makes release its object.

The faith-follower and the Dhamma-follower are the lowest members of a sevenfold typology of noble persons mentioned in the Nikáyas as an alternative to the more common scheme of “the four pairs of persons,” the four path-attainers and the realizers of their respective fruits.
43 The seven fall into three groups.
At the apex are the arahants, who are distinguished into two types:
(i) “both-ways-liberated” arahants ( ubhatobhágavimutta), who gain release from the taints together with deep experience of the formless attainments;
and (ii) “wisdom-liberated” arahants ( paññávimutta), who win release from the taints without such experience of the formless attainments.
Next are three types in the intermediate range, from stream-enterers up to those on the path to arahantship.
These are:
(iii) the body-witness ( káyasakkhì), who has partly eliminated the taints and experiences the formless attainments;
(iv) the view-attainer ( diþþhippatta), who does not experience the formless attainments and has partly eliminated the taints, with emphasis on wisdom;
and (v) the faith-liberated ( saddhávimutta), who does not experience the formless attainments and has partly eliminated the taints, with emphasis on faith.
Any disciple at the six intermediate stages—from stream-enterer to one on the path to arahantship—can fall into any of these three categories;
the distinctions among them are not determined by degree of progress but by mode of progress, whether through strong concentration, wisdom, or faith.
Finally come the two kinds of anusárì (vi–vii), who are on the path to stream-entry.

43. The fullest discussion of this sevenfold typology is at M I 477–79. The seven types are also defined, somewhat differently, at Pp 14–15.


InvestIgatIng the Dhamma

What is noteworthy about this list is that samádhi, as a faculty, does not determine a class of its own until after the fruit of stream-entry has been realized.
That is, facility in concentration determines a distinct type of disciple among the arahants (as the both-ways-liberated arahant) and among the aspirants for the higher stages (as the body-witness), but not among the aspirants for stream-entry.
In this lowest category we have only the faith-follower and the Dhamma-follower, who owe their status to faith and wisdom, respectively, but there is no type corresponding to the body-witness.

From the omission of a class of disciples training for stream-entry who also enjoy the experience of the formless meditations, one might suppose that disciples below the level of stream-entry cannot gain access to the formless attainments.
This supposition is not tenable, however, for the texts show that many of the ascetics and contemplatives in the Buddha’s day (including his two teachers before his enlightenment) were familiar with the jhánas and formless attainments.
Since these attainments are not dependent on the insight made uniquely available through the Buddha’s teaching, the omission of such a class of jhána-attainers among those on the way to stream-entry must be explained in some other way than by the supposition that such a class does not exist.

44. One possible exception to this statement is a curious sutta, AN 7:
53/A IV 78. Here the Buddha begins by discussing the first six types, of which the first two are said to be “without residue” ( anupádisesa), i.
e., of defilements, which means that they are arahants;
the next four are said to be “with residue” ( sa-upádisesa), meaning they have some defilements and thus are not yet arahants.
But in the seventh position, where we would expect to find the saddhánusárì, he inserts instead “the seventh type, the person who dwells in the signless” ( sattamaí animittavihárií puggalaí).
This is explained as

“a monk who, through non-attention to all signs, enters and dwells in the signless mental concentration” ( bhikkhu sabbanimittánaí amanasikárá animittaí cetosamádhií upasampajja viharati).
This assertion seems to open up, as an alternative to the faith-follower, a class of aspirants for stream-entry who specialize in concentration.
But this passage is unique in the Nikáyas and has not formed the basis for an alternative system of classification.
Moreover, the commentary explains the “signless mental concentration” to be “strong insight concentration” ( balava-vipassaná-samádhi), so called because it removes the signs of permanence, pleasure, and selfhood.
(See Mp IV 40) Thus it is questionable whether even the recognition of this type means that samatha concentration determines a class of disciple on the path to stream-entry.

the Jhánas anD the lay DIsCIPle


I would propose that while disciples prior to stream-entry may or may not possess the formless attainments, skill in this area does not determine a distinct type because powerful concentration is not a governing factor in the attainment of stream-entry.
The way to stream-entry certainly requires a degree of concentration sufficient for the “eye of the Dhamma” to arise, but the actual movement from the stage of a worldling to that of a path-attainer is driven by either strong conviction or a probing spirit of inquiry, which respectively determine whether the aspirant is to become a faith-follower or a Dhamma-follower.
Once, however, the path has been gained, then one’s degree of accomplishment in concentration determines one’s future mode of progress.
If one gains the formless attainments one takes the route of the body-witness, culminating in release as a both-ways-liberated arahant.
If one does not attain them, one takes the route of the view-attainer or faith-liberated trainee, culminating in release as a wisdom-liberated arahant.
Since these distinctions relate only to the formless attainments and make no mention of the jhánas, it is reasonable to suppose that types (ii), (iv–v), and (vi–vii) may have possession of the form-sphere jhánas.
But by making faith and wisdom the key factors in gaining the initial access to the path, this scheme leaves open the possibility that some stream-enterers, and perhaps those at still higher levels, may not have gained these jhánas at all.

3. Jhána anD rIght ConCentratIon

Though the above discussion seems to imply that the path of stream-entry might be reached without prior attainment of jhána, the thesis that jhána is necessary at every stage of enlightenment claims powerful support from the canonical account of the Noble Eightfold Path, which defines the path factor of right concentration ( sammá samádhi) with the stock formula for the four jhánas.
45 From this definition it might be argued that since right concentration is integral to the path, and since the jhánas form the content of right concentration, the jhánas are indispensable from the first stage of awakening to the last.

45. For example, at D II 313 and S V 10.


InvestIgatIng the Dhamma

This conclusion, however, does not necessarily follow.
Even if we agree that the definition of right concentration by way of the jhánas categorically means that the jhánas must be reached in the course of developing the path, this need not be taken to stipulate that they must be attained prior to attaining stream-entry.

It could be that attainment of jhána is necessary to complete the development of the path, becoming mandatory at a relatively late point in the disciple’s progress.
That is, it may be a prerequisite for reaching one of the higher paths and fruits, but may not be indispensable for reaching the first path and fruit.
The Theraváda exegetical system found in the Páli Commentaries handles this issue in a different way.
Based on the Abhidhamma’s classification of states of consciousness, the Commentaries distinguish two kinds of path:
the preliminary ( pubbabhága) or mundane ( lokiya) path and the supramundane ( lokuttara) path.
46 Two kinds of jhánas, mundane and supramundane, correspond to these two kinds of path.
The mundane jhánas are exalted states of consciousness ( mahaggata-citta) developed in the preliminary path, as a preparation for reaching the supramundane path;
technically, they are “form-sphere” states of consciousness ( rúpávacara-citta), that is, types of consciousness typical of the “form realm” and tending to rebirth in the form realm.

The supramundane jhánas are supramundane states of consciousness ( lokuttara-citta) identical with the supramundane paths or fruits themselves.

This distinction allows the Commentaries to hold simultaneously two theses regarding the relation of jhána to the path:
(i) every path and fruition attainment, from the stage of stream-entry up, is also a jhána, and thus all path-attainers are attainers of supramundane jhána;
(ii) not all path-attainers have reached jhána in the preliminary path leading up to the supramundane path, and thus they need not be attainers of mundane (or form-sphere) jhána.
These two theses can be reconciled because the paths and fruits always occur at a level of concentration corresponding to one of the four jhánas and thus may be considered jhánas in their own right, though jhánas 46. The distinction is found already in Dhs, in its analysis of the classes of wholesome consciousness pertaining to the sphere of form and the supramundane types of wholesome consciousness.
See too the Jhána-vibhaòga (Abhidhamma-bhájanìya) of Vibh.

the Jhánas anD the lay DIsCIPle


of the supramundane rather than mundane type.
These jhánas are quite distinct from the mundane jhánas, the exalted states of concentration pertaining to the form-sphere ( rúpávacara).
As all path-attainers necessarily attain supramundane jhána, they fulfill the definition of right concentration in the Noble Eightfold Path, but they may not have attained the form-sphere jhánas prior to reaching the path.
Those who do not attain jhána develop a lower degree of concentration (called access concentration, upacára-samádhi) which they use as a basis to arouse insight and thereby reach the supramundane path.
When those meditators who arouse insight without prior attainment of jhána reach the supramundane path, their path attainment occurs at the level of the first supramundane jhána.
Those who have already cultivated the mundane jhánas prior to attaining the path, it is said, generally attain a path that occurs at a jhánic level corresponding to their degree of achievement in the practice of the mundane jhánas.

Though the Nikáyas do not clearly distinguish the two types of paths and jhánas, several suttas foreshadow this distinction, the most prominent among them being the Mahácattárìsaka Sutta.
48 The distinction becomes explicit in the Abhidhamma, where it is used as a basis for the definitions of the form-sphere and supramundane wholesome states of consciousness.
The Commentaries go one step further and adopt this distinction as foundational to their entire method of exegesis.
Although one is certainly not justified in reading the interpretative concepts of the Commentaries into the canonical 47. See Vism XXI.

48. MN 117. In this sutta the Buddha distinguishes five of the path factors, from right view through right livelihood, into two kinds, one “connected with taints, partaking of merit, ripening in the aggregates” ( sásava puññabhágiya upadhivepakka), the other “noble, taintless, supramundane, a factor of the path” ( ariya anásava lokuttara maggaòga).
“Noble right concentration with its supports and requisites” ( ariya sammá samádhi sa-upanisa sa-parikkhára) is mental one-pointedness equipped with the other seven factors in their noble, supramundane dimension.
If the latter is understood to be supramundane jhána, then we might suppose the jhánas usually described in the training of the disciple are “connected with taints, partaking of merit, ripening in the aggregates.
” The texts never describe the jhánas in quite these terms, but some suttas imply their attainment leads only to a higher rebirth without necessarily conducing to deliverance.
See note 63 below.


InvestIgatIng the Dhamma

texts themselves, since the Commentaries feel obliged to explain the definition of right concentration as the four jhánas in a way that does not imply all path-attainers possess the form-sphere jhánas, this makes it plain that they did not regard the form-sphere jhánas as a prerequisite for attaining the path of stream-entry.

4. the stream-enterer anD Jhána

The contention between the two parties in the contemporary debate might be recapitulated thus:
Those who assert that jhána is necessary for the attainment of stream-entry usually insist that a mundane (or form-sphere) jhána must be secured before one can enter the supramundane path.
Those who defend the dry-insight approach hold that a mundane jhána is not indispensable, that a lower degree of concentration suffices as a basis for the cultivation of insight and the attainment of the path.
Both parties usually agree that jhána is part of the actual path experience itself.
The issue that divides them is whether the concentration in the preliminary portion of the path must include a jhána.

To decide this question, I wish to query the texts themselves and ask whether they show us instances of stream-enterers who are not attainers of the jhánas.
Now while there are no suttas which flatly state that it is possible to become a stream-enterer without having attained at least the first jhána, I think there are several that imply as much.

1. MN 14

(1) Let us start with the Cúÿadukkhakkhandha Sutta (MN 14). The sutta opens when the Sakyan lay disciple Mahánáma, identified by the commentary as a once-returner, comes to the Buddha and presents him with a personal problem.
Although he has long understood, through the guidance of the teaching, that greed, hatred, and delusion are corruptions of the mind ( cittassa upakkilesa), such states still arise in him and overpower his mind.

This troubles him and makes him wonder what the underlying cause might be.
In his reply (M I 91) the Buddha says:
“Even though a noble disciple has clearly seen with perfect wisdom that sensual pleasures give little satisfaction and are fraught with suffering and misery, rife with greater danger, if he does not achieve a rapture and happiness apart from sensual pleasures, apart from unwholesome states, or something more peaceful than this, then he is not beyond being enticed by sensual pleasures.
” The first part of this statement implies that the subject is at least a stream-enterer, for he is referred to as a “noble disciple” ( ariya-sávaka).
Though the term ariya-sávaka is occasionally used in a loose sense that need not be taken to imply attainment of stream-entry, here the expression “seeing with perfect wisdom” seems to establish his identity as at least a stream-enterer.

Yet the second part of the statement implies he does not possess even the first jhána, for the phrase used to describe what he lacks (“a rapture and happiness apart from sensual pleasures, apart from unwholesome states”) precisely echoes the wording of the basic formula for the first jhána.
The state “more peaceful than that” would, of course, be the higher jhánas.

2. AN 5.179

(2) At AN 5.l79 /A III 211, the Buddha speaks, with reference to “a lay follower clothed in white” ( gihì odátavasana), of four
“pleasant dwellings in this very life pertaining to the higher mind”
( cattáro ábhicetasiká diþþhadhamma-sukhavihárá).
Now in relation to monks, the Nikáyas invariably use this expression to mean the four jhánas.
49 If it were considered commonplace, or even paradigmatic, for a lay noble disciple to attain the four jhánas, one would expect the Buddha to explain the above expression in the same way as he does for monks.
But he does not.
Rather, when he specifies what these “pleasant abidings” mean for the noble lay follower, he identifies them with the possession of the four “factors of stream-entry” ( sotápattiyaòga), namely, confirmed confidence in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saògha, and possession of “the virtues dear to the noble ones.
” This difference in explanation has important ramifications and is indicative of major differences in expectations regarding lay followers and monks.

3. AN 6.10

(3) At AN 6.10 /A III 284–88, the Sakyan noble Mahánáma again approaches the Buddha and inquires about the meditative practice of “a noble disciple who has reached the fruit and understood the message” ( ariyasávako ágataphalo viññátasásano).
Here again, it is clear from the epithets used that the question concerns a lay follower who has realized stream-entry or some higher stage.

Further, at the end of each expository section, the Buddha stresses the ariyan stature of the disciple with the words:
“This is called, Mahánáma, a noble disciple who among unrighteous humanity has 49. See, e.
g., M I 356;
AN 10.8 /A V 11, etc.


InvestIgatIng the Dhamma

attained righteousness, who among an afflicted humanity dwells unafflicted, who has entered the stream of the Dhamma and develops recollection of the Buddha” (and so for each object of recollection).

In his reply the Buddha shows how the lay disciple takes up one of the six objects of recollection ( cha anussati):
the Three Jewels, morality, generosity, and the devas.
As the disciple recollects each theme, his mind is not obsessed by lust, hatred, or delusion, but becomes upright ( ujugata):
“With an upright mind he gains the inspiration of the goal, the inspiration of the Dhamma, gladness connected with the Dhamma.
When he is gladdened rapture arises, his body becomes tranquil, and he experiences happiness.
For one who is happy the mind becomes concentrated.
”51 As this passage shows, contemplation based on the Buddha (and the other objects of recollection) culminates in samádhi, yet the nature of this samádhi is not elucidated by way of the jhána formula.
In fact, the Nikáyas never ascribe to these reflective contemplations the capacity to induce jhána, and this is expressly denied in the Commentaries, which hold that because these meditation subjects involve intensive use of discursive thought they can lead only as far as access concentration ( upacára-samádhi).

It thus seems that the type of concentration typically available to a lay noble disciple at the stage of stream-entry or once-returning is access concentration.
This, of course, does not mean that stream-enterers and once-returners don't attain the jhánas, but only that the standard doctrinal structure does not ascribe the jhánas to them as essential equipment.


(4) Nor does the above sutta imply that a lay stream-enterer must remain content merely with excursions into access concentration and cannot develop the higher wisdom of insight.
To the contrary, the Buddha includes the higher wisdom among the five excellent qualities he regularly ascribes to noble lay disciples:
faith, virtue, 50. A III 285, etc.
Ayaí vuccati Mahánáma ariyasávako visamagatáya pajáya samappatto viharati, savyápajjháya pajáya avyápajjho viharati,

dhammasotaí samápanno buddhánussatií bháveti.

51. Ibid:
Ujugatacitto kho pana Mahánáma ariyasávako labhati atthavedaí labhati dhammavedaí labhati dhammúpasaíhitaí pámujjaí;
pamuditassa pìti jáyati, pìtimanassa káyo passambhati;
passaddhakáyo sukhaí vediyati;
sukhino cittaí samádhiyati.

the Jhánas anD the lay DIsCIPle


learning, generosity, and wisdom.

52 In several suttas of the Sotápatti-saíyutta, generosity and wisdom even replace virtue as the fourth factor of stream-entry, faith being included by “confirmed confidence” in the Three Jewels.

53 We should note that we do not find among these qualities any mention of samádhi or a formula for the jhánas.
Yet we see that wisdom is defined in exactly the same terms used to define the wisdom of a monk in training ( sekha).
It is “the noble wisdom that discerns the arising and passing away of things, that is noble and penetrative and leads to the complete destruction of suffering.
”54 Since the lay stream-enterer or once-returner is thus well equipped with the wisdom of insight but is not typically described as a jhána attainer, this implies that attainment of jhána is not normally expected or required of him.
From this we can also conclude that at these early stages of the path liberative wisdom does not depend on a supporting base of jhána.

5. SN 55.40

(5) A text in the Sotápatti-saíyutta gives credit to this conclusion.

At SN 55.40 /V 398–99, the Buddha explains to the Sakyan Nandiya how a noble disciple dwells diligently ( ariyasávako appamádavihárì).

He says that a noble disciple should not become complacent about possessing the four factors of stream-entry but should use these qualities as starting points for contemplation:
“He is not content with his confirmed confidence in the Buddha (etc.
), but strives further in seclusion by day and in retreat by night.
As he dwells diligently, gladness arises … (as above) … for one who is happy the mind becomes concentrated.
When the mind is concentrated, phenomena become manifest.
It is with the manifestation of phenomena to him that he is reckoned as ‘one who dwells diligently.

52. Saddhá, sìla, suta, cága, paññá.
Sometimes learning is omitted, since this is not as integral to the ariyan character as the other four qualities.

53. See SN 55.32 , SN 55.33 , SN 55.42 , 43;
V 391–92, 401–2.

54. Udayatthagáminiyá paññáya samannágato ariyáya nibbedhikáya sammá-dukkhakkhaya-gáminiyá.

55. S V 398–99:
Idha Nandiya ariyasávako Buddhe aveccappasádena samannágato hoti … So tena Buddhe aveccappasádena asantuþþho uttarií váyamati divá pavivekáya rattií paþisallánáya.
Tassa evaí appamattassa viharato pámujjaí jáyati … sukhino cittaí samádhiyati.
Samáhite citte dhammá pátubhavanti.
Dhammánaí pátubhává appamádavihárì tveva saòkhaí gacchati….
Evaí kho Nandiya ariyasávako appamádavihárì hoti.


InvestIgatIng the Dhamma

The expression “manifestation of phenomena” ( dhammánaí pátubháva) indicates that the disciple is engaged in contemplating the rise and fall of the five aggregates, the six sense bases, and so forth.
Thus this passage shows how the disciple proceeds from concentration to insight, but it does not describe this concentration in terms suggesting it occurs at the level of jhána.
Since the sequence switches over from concentration to insight without mentioning jhána, it seems that the concentration attained will be tantamount to access concentration, not jhána, yet even this suffices to support the arising of insight.

5. when Do the Jhánas beCome neCessary?

While there seem to be no suttas that impose an inflexible rule to the effect that a lay noble disciple must possess the jhánas, there are at least two texts that explicitly ascribe all four jhánas to certain householders.
One, found in the Citta-saíyutta (SN 41.9 /IV 300–2),
features Citta the householder, the foremost lay preacher, in a conversation with a naked ascetic named Kassapa.
Kassapa was an old friend of Citta who had embraced the life of renunciation thirty years earlier, and this is apparently their first meeting since that time.

Kassapa confesses to Citta that in all these years he has not achieved any “superhuman distinction in knowledge and vision befitting the noble ones” ( uttarimanussadhamma alamariya-ñáóadassanavises a);
all he does is go about naked, with a shaved head, using a feather brush to sweep his seat.
He then asks Citta whether, as a lay disciple of the Buddha, he has reached any distinguished attainments.
Citta says that he has, and then declares his ability to enter and dwell in the four jhánas (he uses the standard formula).
To this he adds:

“Further, if I were to die before the Blessed One, it would not be surprising if the Blessed One would declare of me:
‘There is no fetter bound by which Citta the householder might come back to this world.
’”56 Through this bit of coded text, partly a stock formulation, Citta is informing his friend that he is a non-returner with access to the four jhánas.

56. Spk IV 301:
Sace kho pan’áhaí bhante Bhagavato paþhamataraí kálaí kareyya anacchariyaí kho pan’etaí yaí maí Bhagavá etaí vyákareyya,

Natthi taí saññojanaí yena saññojanena saíyutto Citto gahapati puna imaí lokaí ágaccheyyá ti.

the Jhánas anD the lay DIsCIPle


The other sutta is AN 7.50 /A IV 66–67 and concerns the lay woman Nandamátá.
In the presence of the Venerable Sáriputta and other monks, Nandamátá has been disclosing the seven wonderful and marvelous qualities with which she is endowed.
The sixth of these is possession of the four jhánas, again described by the stock formula.
The seventh is as follows:
“As to the five lower fetters taught by the Blessed One, I do not see among them any as yet unabandoned in myself.
”57 This too is a coded way of declaring her status as a non-returner.

Such are the reports that have come down in the Sutta Piþaka about two lay followers who possess both the four jhánas and the status of non-returner.
Whether these two achievements are inseparably connected or not is difficult to determine on the basis of the Nikáyas, but there are several texts that lend support to this conclusion.

One sutta (AN 3.85 /A I 231–32) ranks the four classes of noble disciples in relation to the threefold higher training consisting of the higher virtue, the higher mind, and the higher wisdom.
Just below, the Buddha explains the training in the higher virtue ( adhisìla-sikkhá) as the restraint of the Pátimokkha, the code of monastic rules;
the training in the higher mind ( adhicitta-sikkhá), as the four jhánas (defined by the usual formula);
and the training in the higher wisdom ( adhipaññá-sikkhá), as either the knowledge of the four noble truths or liberation from the taints (AN 3.88 , 89/I 235-36).
Although the Buddha’s treatment of this topic is governed by a monastic context, the principles of classification can easily be extended to lay disciples.
Returning to AN 3.85 , we learn that the stream-enterer and the once-returner have fulfilled the training in the higher virtue (which for a lay disciple would mean possession of “the virtues dear to the noble ones”) but have accomplished the other two trainings only partly;
the non-returner has fulfilled the trainings in the higher virtue and the higher mind but accomplished the training in the higher wisdom only partly;
and the arahant has fulfilled all three trainings.
Now since the non-returner has fulfilled the training in the higher mind, and this is defined as the four jhánas, he is probably an attainer of the jhánas.

57. AN 4.67 :
Yánìmáni bhante Bhagavatá desitáni panc’orambhágiyáni saíyojanáni, náhaí tesaí kinci attani appahìnaí samanupassámì ti.


InvestIgatIng the Dhamma

It might still be questioned, however, whether he must possess all four jhánas.
While a literal reading of the above sutta would support this conclusion, if we bear in mind my earlier comments about interpreting stock formulas, we might conjecture that the training in the higher mind is fulfilled by the secure attainment of even one jhána.
This seems to be confirmed by the Mahámáluòkya Sutta (MN 64 /M I 434-37), which shows how the attainment of jhána figures in the preliminary phase of the path to the stage of non-returner.
At a certain point in his discourse, the Buddha announces that he will teach “the path and way for the abandoning of the five lower fetters” ( yo maggo yá paþipadá pañcannaí orambhágiyánaí saíyojanánaí pahánáya).
He underscores the importance of what he is about to explain with a simile.
Just as it is impossible to cut out the heartwood of a great tree without first cutting through the bark and softwood, so it is impossible to cut off the five lower fetters without relying on the path and practice he is about to make known.
This lays down categorically that the procedure to be described must be exactly followed to win the promised goal, the eradication of the five lower fetters (the defining achievement of the non-returner).

The Buddha then explains the method.
The meditator enters into one of the four jhánas or the lower three formless attainments (the text takes up each in turn) and dissects it into its constituents:
form, feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness in the case of the four jhánas;
the same, but omitting form, for the three formless attainments.
58 He next contemplates these phenomena in eleven ways:
as impermanent, suffering, a disease, a boil, a dart, misery, affliction, alien, disintegrating, empty, and non-self.
Then, when his contemplation reaches maturity, he turns his mind away from these things and directs it to the deathless element ( amata-dhátu), i.
e., Nibbána.
“If he is firm in this he reaches arahantship right on the spot, but if he holds back slightly due to attachment and delight in the Dhamma, then he eliminates the five lower fetters 58. According to the commentary, the fourth formless state, the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, is not mentioned because its constituents are too subtle to be comprehended by insight.
But a parallel text, AN 9:
36/A IV 422–26, teaches a method by which the fourth formless attainment, as well as the cessation of feeling and perception, can be used to generate insight and thereby reach arahantship or non-returning.

the Jhánas anD the lay DIsCIPle


and becomes a spontaneous ariser, who attains final Nibbána there (in a celestial realm) without ever returning from that world.

The Mahámáluòkya Sutta thus makes the attainment of jhána a necessary part of the preparatory practice for attaining the stage of non-returner.
Though the sutta discusses the practice undertaken by a monk, since the Buddha has declared this to be “the path and practice for abandoning the five lower fetters,” we are entitled to infer that lay practitioners too must follow this course.
This would imply that a once-returner who aspires to become a non-returner should develop at least the first jhána in the preliminary phase of the path, using the jhána as the launching pad for developing insight.

While the Mahámáluòkya Sutta and its parallel (AN 9.36 /A IV 422–26)
imply that prior attainment of the first jhána is a minimum requirement for reaching the fruit of non-returning, we may still query whether this is an invariable rule or merely a general stipulation that allows for exceptions.
Several suttas suggest the latter may in fact be the case.
In two consecutive texts the Buddha extols the “eight wonderful and marvelous qualities” of two lay followers named Ugga.
In the first (AN 8.21 /A IV 211), he declares that Ugga of Vesálì has abandoned all five fetters (as for Nandamátá above);
in the second (AN 8.22 /A IV 216), he says that Ugga of Hatthigáma has no fetters bound by which he might come back to this world (as for Citta).
Yet, though he thus confirms their standing as non-returners, the Buddha does not mention jhánic attainments among their eight wonderful qualities.
This, of course, need not be taken to mean that they lacked attainment of jhána.
It may have been that their jhánic skills were less remarkable than the other qualities they possessed, or they may have been adept in only one or two jhánas rather than in all four.
But it does leave open the possibility that they were non-returners without jhána.

Still another suggestive text is the Dìghávu Sutta (SN 55.3 /S V 344–46). Here, the Buddha visits a young lay follower named Dìghávu, who is gravely ill.
He first enjoins the sick boy to acquire confirmed confidence in the Three Jewels and the virtues 59. M I 435–36:
So tatthaþþhito ásavánaí khayaí pápuóáti;
no ce ásavánaí khayaí pápuóáti ten’eva dhammarágena táya dhammanandiyá pancannaí orambhágiyánaí saíyojanánaí parikkhayá opapátiko hoti tatthaparinibbáyì anávattidhammo tasmá loká.


InvestIgatIng the Dhamma

dear to the noble ones, that is, to become a stream-enterer.
When Dìghávu declares that he already possesses these qualities, the Buddha tells him that since he is established in the four factors of stream-entry, he should “strive further to develop six qualities that partake of true knowledge” ( cha vijjábhágiyá dhammá):
“You should dwell contemplating the impermanence of all formations, perceiving suffering in what is impermanent, perceiving non-self in what is suffering, perceiving abandonment, perceiving dispassion, perceiving cessation.
”60 Dìghávu assures the Blessed One that he is already practising these contemplations, and the Master leaves.
A short time later Dìghávu dies.
On hearing the news of his death, the monks approach the Buddha to ask about his future rebirth.
The Buddha declares that Dìghávu the lay follower had eradicated the five lower fetters and was spontaneously reborn as a non-returner.

Here the transition from stream-entry to non-returning occurs entirely through a series of contemplations that pertain to insight.

There has been no exhortation to develop the jhánas, yet through the practice of the “six things partaking of true knowledge” Dìghávu has severed the five fetters and gained the third fruit of the path.

A theoretical foundation for Dìghávu’s approach might be gleaned from another sutta.
At AN 4.169 /A II 155–56, the Buddha contrasts two kinds of non-returners:
one who attains final Nibbána without exertion ( asaòkhára-parinibbáyì), and one who attains final Nibbána with exertion ( sasaòkhára-parinibbáyì).
The former is one who enters and dwells in the four jhánas (described by the stock formula).
The latter practises instead the “austere” meditations such as the contemplation of the foulness of the body, reflection on the repulsiveness of food, disenchantment with the whole world, perception of impermanence in all formations, and recollection of death.
61 Again, there is no categorical assertion that the latter is altogether bereft of jhána, but the contrast of this type with one who gains the four jhánas suggests this as a possibility.

60. S V 345:
Cha vijjábhágiye dhamme uttarií bháveyyási.
Idha tvaí Dìghávu sabbasaòkháresu aniccánupassì viharáhi, anicce dukkhasaññì dukkhe anattasaññì pahánasaññì virágasaññì nirodhasaññì ti.

61. A II 156:
Idha bhikkhu asubhánupassì káye viharati, áháre paþikkúlasaññì,

sabbaloke anabhiratasaññì, sabbasaòkháresu aniccánupassì, maraóasaññá pan’assa ajjhattaí súpaþþhitá hoti.

the Jhánas anD the lay DIsCIPle


Though the possibility that there might be non-returners without jhánas cannot be ruled out, from the Nikáyas we can elicit several reasons why we might normally expect a non-returner to have access to them.
One reason is inherent in the very act of becoming a non-returner.
In ascending from the stage of once-returner to that of non-returner, the meditator eradicates two fetters that had been merely weakened by the once-returner:
sensual desire ( kámacchanda) and ill will ( byápáda).
Now these two fetters are also the first two among the five hindrances, the defilements to be abandoned to gain the jhánas.
This suggests that by eradicating these defilements the non-returner permanently removes the main obstacles to concentration.
Thus, if his mind so inclines, the non-returner should not find it difficult to enter upon the jhánas.

Another reason why non-returners should be gainers of the jhánas, while stream-enterers and once-returners need not be so, pertains to their future destination in saísára.
Though all three types of disciple have escaped the plane of misery—rebirth in hell, the animal realm, and the sphere of ghosts—stream-enterers and once-returners are still liable to rebirth in the sensuous realm ( kámadhátu), while non-returners are utterly freed from the prospect of such a rebirth.
What keeps the former in bondage to the sensuous realm is the fetter of sensual desire ( kámacchanda), which remains inwardly unabandoned by them.
If they succeed in attaining the jhánas, they can suppress sensual desire (and the other mental hindrances) and thus achieve rebirth in the form or formless realms.

But this is not fixed for noble disciples at the lower two stages, who normally expect only a fortunate rebirth in the human realm or the sense-sphere heavens.
Non-returners, on the other hand, are so called precisely because they never again return to the sensuous realm.
They have eliminated sensual desire, observe celibacy, and enjoy a high degree of facility in meditation.
At death, the non-returner takes rebirth spontaneously in the form realm (generally in the Pure Abodes) and attains final Nibbána there without ever returning from that world.

The non-returner severs all connection with the sensuous realm by eliminating the fetter of sensual desire, and this establishes a certain correspondence between the non-returner and the ordinary jhána-attainer.
The texts sometimes speak of the worldling jhána-


InvestIgatIng the Dhamma

attainer as “an outsider devoid of lust for sensual pleasures.
”62 If he retains mastery over a jhána at the time of death, his sublime kamma leads him to rebirth in the form realm, the specific plane of rebirth being determined by his degree of mastery over the jhánas.
However, while both the ordinary jhána-attainer and the non-returner are devoid of sensual desire and bound for rebirth in a non-sensuous realm, the two are divided by deep and fundamental differences.
The ordinary jhána-attainer has not fully eliminated any fetters and thus, with a slip of mindfulness, can easily fall victim to sensuality;
the non-returner, in contrast, has cut off sensual desire and ill will at the root, ensuring that they will never again arise in him.
He is not reborn in the form realm merely through the wholesome kamma generated by the jhánas, like the ordinary jhána-attainer, but because he has eradicated the two fetters that bind even the once-returner to the sensuous realm.

This difference implies still another difference concerning their long-term fate.
The ordinary jhána-attainer, after being reborn in the form realm, eventually exhausts the powerful meritorious kamma responsible for this sublime rebirth and might then take rebirth in the sensuous realm, even in the nether world.
The non-returner, on the other hand, never falls away.
Set firmly on the path of the Dhamma, the non-returner who is reborn in the form realm continues to develop the path without ever regressing until he attains final Nibbána within the form realm itself.

6. ConClusIons anD an afterthought

Our study has led us to the following conclusions regarding the relationship between lay noble disciples and the jhánas.

(1) Several suttas describe the process by which a worldling enters “the fixed course of rightness” in a way that emphasizes either faith or wisdom as the chief means of attainment.
None of the texts, however, that deal with the two candidates for stream-entry—the faith-follower and the Dhamma-follower—show them as being proficient in the jhánas.
Though some suttas include the 62. M III 255:
Báhiraka kámesu vìtarága.

63. See AN 4.123 /A II 126–28, which contrasts the worldling who attains the jhánas with the Buddhist disciple who attains them.

the Jhánas anD the lay DIsCIPle


jhánas in the analysis of the faculty of concentration, this may be done simply out of compliance with the formulaic style of definition employed by the Nikáyas and need not be seen as having categorical implications.
The Commentaries treat these definitions as referring to the supramundane jhána arisen within the supramundane path.

Moreover, the analysis of the concentration faculty mentions another type of concentration, which is gained “by making release the object,” and this may be interpreted broadly enough as including degrees of concentration short of the jhánas.

(2) All noble disciples acquire the right concentration of the Noble Eightfold Path, which is defined as the four jhánas.
This need not be understood to mean that stream-enterers and once-returners already possess jhána before they reach stream-entry.
The formula for right concentration may imply only that they must eventually attain the jhánas in the course of developing the path to its culmination in arahantship.
If we go along with the Commentaries in recognizing the Abhidhammic distinction between the preparatory path and the supramundane path, then we can maintain that the jhánas included in right concentration as a path factor pertain to the supramundane path and are thus of supramundane stature.
This still leaves open the question whether aspirants for stream-entry must develop the mundane jhánas in the preliminary phase of their practice.

(3) A number of texts on stream-enterers and once-returners imply that they do not possess the jhánas as meditative attainments which they can enter at will.
Though it is obvious that disciples at the lower two levels may have jhánic attainments, the latter are not declared to be an integral part of their spiritual equipment.

(4) Several non-returners in the Nikáyas claim to possess all four jhánas, and according to the Mahámáluòkya Sutta, attainment of at least the first jhána is part of the practice leading to the eradication of the five lower fetters.
It thus seems likely that stream-enterers and once-returners desirous of advancing to non-returnership in that very same life must attain at least the first jhána as a basis for developing insight.
Those content with their status, prepared to let the “law of the Dhamma” take its course, generally will not strive to attain the jhánas.
Instead, they settle for the assurance that they are bound to reach the final goal within a maximum of seven more lives passed in the human and celestial worlds.


InvestIgatIng the Dhamma

(5) As non-returners have eliminated sensual lust and ill will, the main obstacles to jhánic attainment, they should face no major problems in entering the jhánas.
The non-returner is similar to the ordinary jhána-attainer in being bound for rebirth in the form realm.
Unlike the latter, however, the non-returner is utterly free from sensual desire and ill will and thus can never fall back to the sensuous realm.

(6) Although in the Nikáyas the tie between the two attainments—the jhánas and non-returnership—is clear enough, it remains an open question whether the connection is absolutely binding.
Several suttas speak of the achievements of non-returners without mentioning the jhánas, and at least one sutta contrasts the non-returner who gains all four jhánas with one who practises more austere types of meditation that do not typically lead to the jhánas.

The Commentaries speak even of a sukkhavipassaka arahant, an arahant who has gained the goal entirely through “dry insight,”

without any attainment of form-sphere jhána at all.
Although such a type is not explicitly recognized in the Nikáyas, the question may be raised whether the Commentaries, in asserting the possibility of arahantship without attainment of jhána in the mundane portion of the path, have deviated from the Canon or brought to light a viable possibility implicit in the older texts.
The famous Satipaþþhána Sutta declares, in its conclusion, that all those who earnestly dedicate themselves to uninterrupted practice of the four establishments of mindfulness are bound to reap one of two fruits:
either arahantship in this very life or, if any residue of clinging remains, the stage of non-returning.
While several exercises within the Satipaþþhána Sutta are certainly capable of inducing the jhánas, the system as a whole seems oriented towards direct insight rather than towards the jhánas.
64 Thus this opens the question whether the Satipaþþhána Sutta might not be propounding a way of practice that leads all the way to non-returning, even to arahantship, without requiring attainment of the jhánas.
This, however, is another question, one that lies beyond the scope of this paper.

64. This is a widespread view among contemporary interpreters, though the sutta itself does not describe its method explicitly in such terms.

whAt does mindfulness reAlly meAn? – B. Bodhi essay

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