Sutta Study Theme 1-3-2015

The Island: An Anthology of the Buddha’s Teachings on Nibbana
By Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro

Chapter Sixteen, Sotapanna: The Spiritual Turning Point I, pages 278-292

Sections to be read out loud: 16.1, 16.3, 16.4, 16.5, 16.15, 16.23

Discussion Theme:

Let’s begin our practice this month by contemplating the phrase “Entering the stream of Dhamma” and consider what the Buddha and his awaken disciples might be pointing to that is real and accessible here in our experience. The exclamation, “All that is subject to arising is subject to cessation” was the statement often made immediately following this insight (see 16.22 as example). What experience does this statement evoke for us? When has we realized the ephemeral nature of conditioned reality to such a degree that the established habits of identification and attachment no longer make sense, and the mind experiences a freedom from all mental constrictions?

The tradition considers that the “first taste of Nibbana” creates enough momentum to assure that the mind will continue on in the direction of release without falling into any of the lower realms (see page 279).

In 16.8 the Buddha offers four factors that support the insight of stream entry:
1. Association with wise people who know the way.
2. Hearing the true Dhamma or the teachings that point to the full unconditional release of the heart from them.
3. Careful attention, wise consideration or wise reflection, (yoniso- manisakara).
4. Practice in accordance with the teachings. Ajahn Pasanno restates this as, “practising in perfect accord with all levels and aspects of the Dhamma.

This month let’s consciously, intentionally use these four supports to better understand the path and goal of our practice. Of course, we are not likely to be spending time with fully awake teachers, but we do have the teachings of the Buddha and good commentaries on those teachings from our contemporary teachers. Let’s examine the quality and continuity of our commitment to these four. How is our faith, do we believe that these four supports actually lead to the freedom that the heart seeks?

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