Conditions for the Four Stages of Nibbāna

Revised August 3, 2016; November 19, 2018; August 21, 2022; rewritten March 22, 2023

1. The following Table shows the conditions to be fulfilled (i.e., factors to be eliminated) to attain each stage of Nibbāna

  • Each stage of Nibbāna can be characterized in various ways: The removal of ten akusala cittās, fourteen types of asobhana cetasika associated with cittās, ten samyōjana, seven types of anusaya, four types of āsava, three types of taṇhā, etc.
  • See #4 below for links to posts explaining those terms.

2. For example, to attain the Sōtapanna stage, three of the ten samyōjana (or the ten fetters) are removed, akusala cittās #1, 2, 5, 6, and 11 are removed (see #6 below for a list of the 12 types of akusala cittās.) Also, the apāyagāmi strength in the other cittās is removed at the Sotapanna stage. Cittas #9 and 10 weaken at lower stages and are removed at the Anāgāmi stage. The remaining cittās (#3,4,7,8 and 12) weaken with each stage of magga phala and are removed at the Arahant stage. There is a nice chart on p. 112 of Bhikkhu Bodhi’s book “Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma.”

SaṁyojanaAkusala CittaAnusayaĀsava (Āsaya)Kilesa (Asobhana Cetasika)TanhāRāga
Sōtapannasakkāya diṭṭhi
vicikicchā
silabbata parāmāsa
1,2,5,6,11
Also removes apāyagāmi strength in the rest
diṭṭhi
vicikicchā
diṭṭhāsavaDeactivated: diṭṭhi, vicikicchā
Reduced: Rest of the cetasikas
Vibhava tanhāLobha reduced to three rāga.
Sakadāgāmikāma rāga (reduced)
patigha (reduced)
weakens 9, 10
also weakens kāma rāga in 3,4,7,8
kāma rāga (reduced)
paṭigha (reduced)
kāmāsāva (reduced)Especially reduced: kāma rāga paṭigha Reduced: Kāma tanhāAll three rāga further reduced
Anāgāmikāma rāga
paṭigha
9,10
also removes kāma rāga in 3,4,7,8
kāma rāga
paṭigha
kāmāsāvaDeactivated cetasika: dosa, issa, macchariya, kukkucca Kāma tanhāKāma rāga
Arahantrupa rāga
arupa raga
māna
uddhacca
avijjā
3,4,7,8,12
(see below for a list of akusala citta)
bhava rāga
māna
avijjā
bhavāsava
avijjāsava
Deactivated: Rest of the asobhana cetasikaBhava tanhāRupa rāga, arupa rāga

3. There is another categorization based on “yogā“: Kāma yoga, bhava yoga, diṭṭhi yoga, and avijjā yoga. See “Yoga Sutta (AN 4.10).” But these four are identical to the four types of āsava listed in the above table.

4. The ability to commit akusala kamma also is removed in stages as one progresses and is completely removed only at the Arahant stage. It is important to note that a Sōtapanna completely removes only one akusala kamma, that of having wrong views (micchā diṭṭhi): “What is the only Akusala Removed by a Sōtapanna?“. But this leads to removing many kilesa (mental impurities); see the Table.

5. Āsava and anusaya are discussed in the post, “Gati (Character), Anusaya (Temptations), and Āsava (Cravings). “ Kilesa is discussed in “Diṭṭhi (Wrong Views), Sammā Diṭṭhi (Good/Correct Views).” For a discussion on Dasa Samyōjana, see “Dasa Samyōjana – Bonds in Rebirth Process.” The fourteen types of asobhana cetasika are discussed in “Cetasika (Mental Factors).”

6. The 12 types of akusala citta are listed in “Akusala Citta and Akusala Vipaka Citta.” But I thought it would be more explanatory to list them. The numbers below correspond to the numbers in the Table.

Lōbha (Greedy) Citta (Also has the mōha root)

1. Citta connected with a wrong view, accompanied by pleasure, and done with habit.

2. Citta connected with a wrong view, accompanied by pleasure, and done reluctantly.

3. Citta NOT connected with a wrong view, accompanied by pleasure and done with habit.

4. Citta NOT connected with a wrong view, accompanied by pleasure, and done reluctantly.

5. Citta connected with a wrong view, accompanied by a neutral mind, and done with habit.

6. Citta connected with a wrong view, accompanied by a neutral mind, and done reluctantly.

7. Citta NOT connected with a wrong view, accompanied by a neutral mind and done with habit.

8. Citta NOT connected with a wrong view, accompanied by a neutral mind and done reluctantly.

Dōsa (Hateful) Citta (Also has the mōha root)

9. Citta associated with hate, accompanied by displeasure, done with habit.

10. Citta associated with hate, accompanied by displeasure, done reluctantly.

Mōha Citta (only with the mōha root)

11. Citta accompanied by a neutral mind, associated with vicikiccā (not aware of bad consequences)

12. Citta accompanied by neutral mind, associated with uddacca (unfocused).

Notes:

1. Even though recent Abhidhamma literature categorizes lōbha and dōsa citta as asankhārika (unprompted) and sasankhārika (prompted), in original Abhidhamma, they were not categorized as such.

2. For example, the two dōsa-mula cittā are:

  1. Dōmanassa sahagata paṭigha-sampayutta citta.
  2. Dōmanassa sahagata sasankhārika paṭigha-sampayutta citta.
  • The first citta arises due to saṃsāric habits and thus is more potent. For example, someone who tends to easily get angry normally generates such potent citta.
  • On the other hand, another person without such a habit may not generate such a citta unless “forced hard”; it is done with reluctance, “when pushed to the limit,” or if the perceived “sense pleasures” are enticing. Then he/she is actually “incorporating new “san” or initiating a new habit; thus, the name “sasankhārika.”
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