Reply To: Four Conditions for Attaining Sōtapanna Magga/Phala


Here is what we know from the suttas. For example, from the Dutiya­ sāri­putta­sutta (SN 55.5): ““Sap­purisa­saṃ­sevo hi, bhante, sotā­patti­yaṅgaṃ, saddham­mas­savanaṃ sotā­patti­yaṅgaṃ, yoniso­ma­nasikāro sotā­patti­yaṅgaṃ, dhammā­nu­dhammap­paṭi­patti sotā­patti­yaṅgan”ti.

Now, saddham­mas­savanaṃ means “listening to Saddhamma or the correct Dhamma”.
P.S. Of course, printed material was not widely available at the time of the Buddha. It is, however, possible that the “tone” of an Ariya could make a difference. So, this is one those issues that we may not have a definite answer.

As for whether listening to recorded desanas count, again we will not know for sure. But Waharaka Thero’s opinion was that it would.

There is the second issue of the attainment of the Sotapanna stage, here are two extremes that have been reported in the Tipitaka:

  1. Bhikkhu Potila KNEW inside out of the Tipitaka (but had not really comprehended Tilakkhana). Therefore, he had not attained the Sotapanna stage:
    Are You Not Getting Expected Results from Meditation?
  2. On the other hand, there was a princess who had attained the Sotapanna stage at age 7, and then eloped with a person who lived by hunting animals and selling their meat. I don’t remember the reference in the Tipitaka. If someone knows, please post it.

P.S. It is quite clear that “comprehending Tilakkhana” cannot be put into words. It is a “vision of the true nature of this world”.
– Another important point is that those who are able to “get it” do not do that without prior effort. They had made much progress in past lives.
– That is why making the effort now will not go to waste.

So, it is impossible for others to determine whether a given person has attained the Sotapanna stage. The person would need to decide that based on his/her experience.
– In any case, if someone can “feel the joy” of Dhamma, it is likely that one is at least getting close to the Sotapanna Anugami stage. Again, there is no “test” for that either.
– It is best to keep striving regardless of what the status is. That effort will not go to waste.

By the way, this “feeling of joy” (piti) when learning Dhamma (whether listening or reading) is a good sign. It leads to sukha, samadhi, and eventually to Nibbana, as described in the Upanisa Suatta (SN 12.23):

“..dukkhūpanisā saddhā, saddhūpanisaṃ pāmojjaṃ, pāmojjūpanisā pīti, pītūpanisā passaddhi, passad­dhū­pani­saṃ sukhaṃ, sukhūpaniso samādhi, samādhūpanisaṃ yathā­bhūta­ñāṇadas­sanaṃ, yathā­bhūta­ñāṇadas­sanūpa­nisā nibbidā, nibbidūpaniso virāgo, virāgūpanisā vimutti, vimuttūpanisaṃ khayeñāṇaṃ.”

You may want to read different translations and see which one is better. I will translate at some point, but the idea should be clear in any translation.