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The Four Stages of Enlightenment

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The Buddha identified the four stages of enlightenment: Stream Entry (sotapanna), the Once Returner (sakadagamin), the Non-Returner (anagamin), and Buddhahood.

The Buddha taught that Stream Entry is attained when the first three of the ten fetters are overcome (the belief in an independent self -sakkaya ditthi-, doubt, and belief that chanting, rites and rituals alone could lead to Nirvana).

Modern people can easily agree that chanting, rites and rituals alone cannot lead to enlightenment.

We also find it easy to overcome doubt in the Buddhadharma; practice rather quickly removes such doubt. Sakkaya ditthi is the biggest hurdle for most of us.

A once-returner is one who has cut the first three of the ten fetters (thus attaining stream entry) and loosened the fetters of sense-desire (greed, lust, aversion), and ill will. Notice that these two powerful fetters need only be loosened to graduate from stream entry (sotapanna) to once-returner (sakadagamin) status!

We loosen the fetter of sense desire with Present Moment Awareness and Silent Present Moment Awareness. We loosen the fetter of ill will by practicing metta.

Our Beginning Zen practices are important.

A non-returner (anagamin) has cut the five fetters of belief in a self, doubt, belief that chanting, rites and rituals alone can lead to awakening, sense desire, and ill will.

Our daily practice of metta/loving kindness reduces our ill will. Our daily practice of Present Moment Awareness, and Silent Present Moment Awareness reduces our sense desire and our daily Mindfulness of the Body, the Feelings, the Mind and Mind Objects eliminates our sense desire.

The path that leads from ignorance to Stream Entry is the Eightfold Path and the path that leads from Stream Entry to the Once-Returner and to the Non-Returner is the Noble Eightfold Path according to Venerable Ajahn Brahm, because now it is a noble one who is following it.

And full enlightenment requires dropping the desire to experience the world of form, attained through the jhanas (fetter number six), and the world of formlessness, attained through the immaterial attainments (fetter number seven). And then conceit (fetter number eight), restlessness (fetter number nine), and ignorance (fetter number ten) must still be overcome.

When we drop all of the fetters, we discover that we created the fetters.

And we discover that we created the notion of a self that needed to drop fetters.

Source

howtopracticezen.wordpress.com