The Four Stages of Attainment

Excerpted from Wikipedia

The four stages of attainment

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

    (1) the path to stream-entry; (2) the fruition of stream-entry;

    (3) the path to once-returning; (4) the fruition of once-returning;

    (5) the path to non-returning; (6) the fruition of non-returning;

    (7) the path to arahantship; (8) the fruition of arahantship.


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

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

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


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


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

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


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


People who do not know what they are interacting with can make a mistake, a boo boo, in their self-diagnosed omniscience. They can assume many things and succumb to group confirmation bias.

The Fool, the Wise and the Venerable

Extracted from The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Dhammapada, by Unknown

Translator: F. Max Muller

Chapter V. The Fool

60. Long is the night to him who is awake; long is a mile to him who is tired; long is life to the foolish who do not know the true law.

61. If a traveller does not meet with one who is his better, or his equal, let him firmly keep to his solitary journey; there is no companionship with a fool.

62. “These sons belong to me, and this wealth belongs to me,” with such thoughts a fool is tormented. He himself does not belong to himself; how much less sons and wealth?

63. The fool who knows his foolishness, is wise at least so far. But a fool who thinks himself wise, he is called a fool indeed.

64. If a fool be associated with a wise man even all his life, he will perceive the truth as little as a spoon perceives the taste of soup.

65. If an intelligent man be associated for one minute only with a wise man, he will soon perceive the truth, as the tongue perceives the taste of soup.

66. Fools of little understanding have themselves for their greatest enemies, for they do evil deeds which must bear bitter fruits.

67. That deed is not well done of which a man must repent, and the reward of which he receives crying and with a tearful face.

68. No, that deed is well done of which a man does not repent, and the reward of which he receives gladly and cheerfully.

69. As long as the evil deed done does not bear fruit, the fool thinks it is like honey; but when it ripens, then the fool suffers grief.

70. Let a fool month after month eat his food (like an ascetic) with the tip of a blade of Kusa grass, yet he is not worth the sixteenth particle of those who have well weighed the law.

71. An evil deed, like newly-drawn milk, does not turn (suddenly); smouldering, like fire covered by ashes, it follows the fool.

72. And when the evil deed, after it has become known, brings sorrow to the fool, then it destroys his bright lot, nay, it cleaves his head.

73. Let the fool wish for a false reputation, for precedence among the Bhikshus, for lordship in the convents, for worship among other people!

74. “May both the layman and he who has left the world think that this is done by me; may they be subject to me in everything which is to be done or is not to be done,” thus is the mind of the fool, and his desire and pride increase.

75. “One is the road that leads to wealth, another the road that leads to Nirvana;” if the Bhikshu, the disciple of Buddha, has learnt this, he will not yearn for honour, he will strive after separation from the world.

Chapter VI. The Wise Man (Pandita)

76. If you see an intelligent man who tells you where true treasures are to be found, who shows what is to be avoided, and administers reproofs, follow that wise man; it will be better, not worse, for those who follow him.

77. Let him admonish, let him teach, let him forbid what is improper!—he will be beloved of the good, by the bad he will be hated.

78. Do not have evil-doers for friends, do not have low people for friends: have virtuous people for friends, have for friends the best of men.

79. He who drinks in the law lives happily with a serene mind: the sage rejoices always in the law, as preached by the elect (Ariyas).

80. Well-makers lead the water (wherever they like); fletchers bend the arrow; carpenters bend a log of wood; wise people fashion themselves.

81. As a solid rock is not shaken by the wind, wise people falter not amidst blame and praise.

82. Wise people, after they have listened to the laws, become serene, like a deep, smooth, and still lake.

83. Good people walk on whatever befall, the good do not prattle, longing for pleasure; whether touched by happiness or sorrow wise people never appear elated or depressed.

84. If, whether for his own sake, or for the sake of others, a man wishes neither for a son, nor for wealth, nor for lordship, and if he does not wish for his own success by unfair means, then he is good, wise, and virtuous.

85. Few are there among men who arrive at the other shore (become Arhats); the other people here run up and down the shore.

86. But those who, when the law has been well preached to them, follow the law, will pass across the dominion of death, however difficult to overcome.

87, 88. A wise man should leave the dark state (of ordinary life), and follow the bright state (of the Bhikshu). After going from his home to a homeless state, he should in his retirement look for enjoyment where there seemed to be no enjoyment. Leaving all pleasures behind, and calling nothing his own, the wise man should purge himself from all the troubles of the mind.

89. Those whose mind is well grounded in the (seven) elements of knowledge, who without clinging to anything, rejoice in freedom from attachment, whose appetites have been conquered, and who are full of light, are free (even) in this world.

Chapter VII. The Venerable (Arhat).

90. There is no suffering for him who has finished his journey, and abandoned grief, who has freed himself on all sides, and thrown off all fetters.

91. They depart with their thoughts well-collected, they are not happy in their abode; like swans who have left their lake, they leave their house and home.

92. Men who have no riches, who live on recognised food, who have perceived void and unconditioned freedom (Nirvana), their path is difficult to understand, like that of birds in the air.

93. He whose appetites are stilled, who is not absorbed in enjoyment, who has perceived void and unconditioned freedom (Nirvana), his path is difficult to understand, like that of birds in the air.

94. The gods even envy him whose senses, like horses well broken in by the driver, have been subdued, who is free from pride, and free from appetites.

95. Such a one who does his duty is tolerant like the earth, like Indra’s bolt; he is like a lake without mud; no new births are in store for him.

96. His thought is quiet, quiet are his word and deed, when he has obtained freedom by true knowledge, when he has thus become a quiet man.

97. The man who is free from credulity, but knows the uncreated, who has cut all ties, removed all temptations, renounced all desires, he is the greatest of men.

98. In a hamlet or in a forest, in the deep water or on the dry land, wherever venerable persons (Arhanta) dwell, that place is delightful.

99. Forests are delightful; where the world finds no delight, there the passionless will find delight, for they look not for pleasures.

The Scripture Preached by the Buddha on the Total Extinction of the Dharma

Thus have I heard:

Once, the Buddha was in the state of Kushinagara ; he was to attain Parinirvana in three months. Together with all the monks and all the bodhisattvas, an innumerable crowd came to visit the place where the Buddha was, and bowed themselves to the earth. The World-Honored One was still, silent and preaching nothing; his radiant brilliance was not manifested.

The wise and wordily Ánanda did obeisance, and said to the Buddha, “World-Honored One, whenever you have preached the Dharma, your majestic brilliance has been uniquely illustrious. But now, a great multitude has come together, and your radiance is not manifested in the slightest. What is the reason for this? A reason there certainly must be, and we wish to be taught its significance.”

The Buddha was silent, and made no response. After Ánanda had repeated the question three times, the Buddha told him, “After my nirvana, the Five Mortal Sins will foul the world, and the Mara-way will flourish exceedingly. The Maras will become monks, to spoil and wreck my Way or they will wear lay dress, rejoicing in multicolored clothing. They will drink wine and eat meat, killing living things in their desire for fine flavors. They will not have compassionate minds, and they will hate and envy each other.

“At times, there will be Bodhisattvas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Arhats, who concentrate single-mindedly on cultivating merit and treat all beings with reverence; being the objects of the people’s devotion, they will impartially preach and convert. They will pity the poor and keep the old in their thoughts, and take care of those in poverty and difficulty. They will constantly induce the people to worship and serve scriptures and images, doing all good acts that bring merit; their wills and natures will be kind and good. They will not harass or injure people, but sacrifice themselves for the deliverance of others. They will not spare themselves, but will put up with insult, being benevolent and harmonious.

Should there be such a being, the gang of Mara-monks will unite in hating him, slandering him and focusing on his bad points. He will be expelled and banished; they will not suffer him to remain. From then onwards they will all fail to cultivate merit according to the Way. Temples will be empty and desolate, and will no longer be repaired, but will be allowed to fall into ruin. The monks will covet nothing but material goods, accumulating them without distribution, not doing good deeds. They will deal in male and female slaves, plow the fields and plant them, burning off the mountain forests and harming all living things; they will not have compassionate minds. Male slaves will become monks, female slaves will become nuns; they will have none of the merit that comes from practicing the Way, but rather will be filthy and depraved, foul and turbulent; men and women will not be kept separate. The reason the Way will become shallow and weak, is all because of that type of person!

“Some will evade the constables by taking refuge in my Way, seeking to become monks, but not practicing the precepts and ordinances. At the middle and end of the lunar month, although in name they should chant the precepts, they will be tired of it and resentful; lazy and careless, and they will not wish to listen. They will select and abbreviate here and there, unwilling to speak everything. The scriptures will not be recited, and should there be readers, they will not know the characters and phrases; they will force interpretations and allege their accuracy, not bothering to ask people who know. In their haughtiness they will pursue fame, making a vain display of elegant manners with which to glorify themselves, and hope for people’s offerings.

“This gang of Mara-monks will be doomed to fall spirit and soul into Avici Hell after the end of their fated lives. In their punishment for the Five Mortal Sins, there is nothing they will not suffer as hungry ghosts and domestic animals, for as many kalpas as there are grains of sand in the Ganges. Their sin atoned for, only then will they come forth, but they will be born in a frontier state, where there will be no place that has the Three Treasures.

“When the Dharma is on the verge of being destroyed, it is women who will concentrate on advancement, and have the habit of performing good deeds. Men will be lazy and indolent; they will have no use for the words of the Dharma. They will consider monks to be like befouled earth; they will not have believing minds.

“The Dharma is about to be wiped out, and when the time for that comes, all the Devas will weep tears. Rainy and dry seasons will be untimely, the Five Grains will not ripen, pestilential vapors will be prevalent; there will be many dead. The common people will toil in hardship, the public officials will be calculating and harsh; not compliant with the principles of the Way, all will have their hearts set on pleasure or disorder. Wicked men will steadily increase in number, to become like the sands of the sea; the good will be very scarce, no more than one or two.

“Because the kalpa is nearly at its end, the days and months will become shorter and shorter, and men’s lives will pass more and more hastily; their heads will be white at forty. Men will be filthy and depraved; they will exhaust their semen and shorten their lives, living at most to the age of sixty. The lives of men will become shorter, but the lives of women will become longer, to seventy or eighty or ninety; some will reach a hundred years.

“Great floods will suddenly occur; they will strike by surprise, unlooked-for. The people of the world will have no faith, and hence they will take the world to be permanent. Living creatures of every variety, with no distinction between gentry and the base, will be drowned and float away, dashed about, to be eaten by fish or turtles.

“At that time, there will be Bodhisattvas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Arhats; the gang of Maras will drive them away, and they will not participate in the religious community. These three types of disciples will enter into the mountains, to a land of merit. Tranquil and self-controlled, they will rest content in this. Their lives will grow longer, the various Devas will protect and watch over them, and Candraprabha will appear in the world. They will be able to meet him, and together they will make my Way flourish.

“In fifty-two years after that, the Shurangama Scripture and the pratyutpanna-samádhi will prematurely change and vanish, and shortly afterwards the twelve divisions of the Mahayana canon will also be destroyed in their entirety, and will not appear again. The robes of the monks will spontaneously turn white.

“When my Dharma is destroyed, the process will be comparable to an oil lamp, which, drawing close to the time it will go out, will shed an even greater radiance and brilliance, and then be extinguished. When my Dharma is destroyed, it will surely be like a lamp going out.

“What will happen then is not possible to describe in detail. But several thousand myriad years after this happens, Maitreya will descend to be Buddha in the world. All-under-Heaven will enjoy peace, prosperity, and equality; the pestilential vapors will be dispersed and expelled. The rain will be suitable to growth and no more, and the Five Grains will grow and flourish. Trees will grow large, and men will be eighty feet tall. All of them will live eighty-four thousand years. It is impossible to count how many living things will be able to be saved.”

The wise and worthy Ánanda made obeisance and said to the Buddha, “What shall we name this scripture? How is it to be venerated and practiced?”

The Buddha said to Ánanda, “The name of this scripture is “The Total Extinction of the Dharma.” Propagate it to all; you should cause all to have a clear, complete understanding of it. The merits of its accomplishments are limitless, and cannot be counted up.”

The four types of disciple heard the scripture; grief-stricken and rueful, all vowed to attain the Way of the Limitlessly High Sage Truth. All did obeisance to the Buddha, and departed.

According to the Ashridge Estate Conversations…

In early 2009 I was accustomed to walk entirely sober and soon after dawn at the Ashridge Estate near Tring.

I would get there before most of the normal folk and as I was leaving, I would start to encounter the odd dog walker or two or some sweaty dude out running.

I perhaps imagined telepathic dialogues with inter alia the Tibetan, Djwhal Kuhl. Or maybe it was real? Maybe I am a paranoid delusional schizophrenic? Place your bets…

He “told” me of my five previous incarnations and said that I was a close disciple of Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, my brother. My dreams have pointed at a named person, Bakula. He is considered as one of the arhats of the Buddha in some texts, roughly equivalent of being one of the apostles of Jesus.

This suggests that I pertained to the ashram of a Master 2500 years ago. Or that I need to be locked up at the Friern Barnet Asylum.

There is discursive Buddhist intellectualism as to what an arhat is or may be. The general consensus is that is really bad karma to be nasty and disrespectful to a being who is closer to enlightenment than you. If you have been a manipulative bastard to an arhat, that is not a good thing to have on your karmic CV.

If a high degree initiate incarnates into a nation and feels the need to change country because of how he is treated, that is not karmically good for the nation. For the new host, it is a good thing.

If an alcoholic “burn out” runs away to die a lonely sad and isolated death, that has no karmic impact on the nation he runs away from.

The strange thing is that the people who imagine that they know best are unaware as to the limitations and the accuracy of their all-encompassing imagination. It is impossible to teach, help or advise, those who have already self-diagnosed their own universal and cosmic omniscience.