The Island, Chapter 19, Sotapanna: The Spiritual Turning Point IV pages 321-336
Discourses to be read out loud:
19.4, 19.11, 19.13, 19.14, 19.15
The Buddha says that the deep insight of steam entry is marked by a great reduction in suffering, equivilent to the difference between the little dirt in under his finger nail and the great earth (see 19.1), providing an “Intrepidity with difficult circumstances”. This movement toward freedom is described as an, “Incalculable, immeasurable, great mass of merit,”(see 19.7). Ajahn Passano states on page 324, “It is important to notice that sotapannas have gained a stable and inexhaustible source of happiness in their personal lives. For one person to have that stability and set it as an example for others would necessarily bring a great deal of wellbeing to many people.” Awakening is a great gift in all directions, we all receive the benefits of beings with real wisdom, in the same way we all are affected by the ignorance that beings act out in the world.
As we finish reading and studying the topic of Nibbana, “… a place of nonpossession and of nonattachment. It is the total end of death and decay…” let’s open our minds to the possibility of real happiness regardless of the arising conditions in our lives. Strangely, we often have a strong habit to hold to the idea that this messy world precludes the expereience of deep & unshakeable happiness. If that is the fixed view of our minds, then unconsciously we go about confirming it. We habitually turn our attention to experiences of weight and stress and ignore the flavors of real freedom that arise whenever the mind releases its habitual clinging and struggling.
The Buddha explains that he talks about these stages of awakening, “… not for the purpose of flattering people or for the purpose of gain, honor, renown, or wth the thought, ‘Let people know me to be thus’…. rather, it is because there are faithful people (for example our sutta study group) inspired and gladdened by what is lofty, who when they hear that, direct their minds to such a state, and that leads to their welfare and happiness for a long time.” (19.16)
So, let’s not be shy about directing our minds in the direction of full release and see what comes from it. Ajahn Passano states at the end of chapter 19, “By being attentive to this initial stage of awakening, we can recognize more clearly what needs to be relinquished and what needs to be cultivated in the immediate present so that we can taste this freedom ourselves.” (p. 336)