“The four stages of enlightenment in Buddhism are the four progressive stages culminating in full enlightenment as an Arahant, which an average, instructed person can attain in this life. The four stages are Sotapanna, Sakadagami, Anagami and Arahant.”
Today I want to examine the first stage, or Sotapanna.
“The three fetters (In Buddhism, a mental fetter or “chain” or “bond” shackles a sentient being to samsara, the cycle of endless suffering) which the Sotāpanna eradicates are:
Identity view – The speculative view that a so-called self exists in the five aggregates (physical forms, feelings/sensations, perception, mental formations and consciousness) is eradicated because the Sotāpanna gains insight into the selfless nature of the aggregates.
Skeptical Doubt – Doubt about the Buddha and his teaching is eradicated because the Sotāpanna personally experiences the true nature of reality through insight, and this insight confirms the accuracy of the Buddha’s teaching.
Clinging to rites and rituals – Clinging to the view that one becomes pure simply through performing ritual or rigid moralism, such as praying to God for deliverance, slaughtering animals for sacrifice, etc. is eradicated because the Sotāpanna realizes that rites and ritual are nothing more than an obstructive tradition, repetitious rites and dead dogmas; Deliverance can be won only through the practice of the Noble Eightfold Path.
I want to examine each of these one by one, but starting first with Skeptical Doubt.
When I read the the first time, I felt that I had achieved eradication of this fetter. But as with most things in my Buddhist studies, I find I need to re-read things many time to truly gain some deeper understanding and clarity. And the words that emerged for me were “experiences the true nature of reality through insight”. And I would be lying to you if I told you that this is true of me. I really think that this is beyond my current comprehension at this point in my journey.
So does this mean that I have Skeptical Doubt? Unfortunately, the answer is, yes I do. And I find this somewhat disturbing actually. Because I do not feel that I doubt the Buddha or the dhamma, yet without this experience of reality I have to accept that there are doubts that hold me back. I am shackled by ignorance.
Now I ask myself how I may release these chains and enter this stream towards enlightenment.
And I do not have Bhante Sujatha sitting here to give me the answer. So I can only take a guess at the answer.
But what does “practice” mean exactly? Does that mean one should meditate more often or for longer periods of time?
Well that’s not a bad idea, however Bhante has taught me that “practice” happens in every moment. Meditation is available in every moment. And I think this is how one may develop the skill that enables us to see reality.
I can see that I have much work to be done before entering the first stage.
But as I read, and learn more, I will do my very best to discuss this further. For now, I simply send you love, peace and happiness.