Today I would like to declare something. Today, I declare that I have reached the 1st stage of Enlightenment(out of the 4 stages of Enlightenment as told by the Buddha).
The only reason that I am declaring this is because I want to tell people that this is something that is true and is possible. This is a path that I can see, which leads to the eradication of personal suffering. It has helped me reduce my own sufferings. This is a path that leads to wisdom, clarity and total liberation. And I am walking on that path myself.
The person who reaches the first stage of Enlightenment is called a “Sotapanna” or a “Stream Enterer” or “Stream Winner”. He is called a Stream Enterer because just like a stream that meets with the ocean at the end, he is destined to reach the final stage of Enlightenment i.e. like the ocean. That’s the nature of it.
Once he reaches the 4th stage, he will attain complete liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth, never to be born again in this world. One does not need to be a Buddhist at all to do that. You don’t even need to convert to Buddhism at all. You just need to do Vipassana and understand Buddha’s teachings, by making him your teacher. Just learn the practice of – Morality, Concentration of Mind and Wisdom – that’s it.
This is like- you can win a football match even if you are not actually a footballer. You are actually an Engineer but are taking football classes from Messi to improve your football skills. Due to which you win the match finally.
If I can do it, anybody can do it. This is what I have always believed. Even S N Goenkaji, the late Vipassana teacher, has said that many people reach and have reached the 1st stage of Enlightenment. So it is not that rare. It is even said that it takes a maximum of 7 lifetimes to reach the 4th stage, once a person reaches the 1st stage. But I don’t know whether that’s actually true or not.(I still doubt if reincarnation truly happens or not.)
But what I am sure of is that a Sotapanna can achieve full liberation with his own efforts, without the help of any external entity or a force like god. It’s something that is completely possible and I can see that.
The characteristics of a Sotapanna
The characteristics of a Sotapanna are as follows-
- A Sotapanna is a firm follower of the Panchsheel.
- A Sotapanna does not believe in an impermanent Self having realized this himself.
- A Sotapanna sees and believes that liberation cannot be achieved through the means of rites and rituals.
- A Sotapanna has no doubt regarding the Buddha, his Dhamma and the Sangha in terms of their effectiveness and the right way to practice.
- A Sotapanna has reduced his anger and greed greatly.
How did I do it?
The way that I was able to reach it was by reflecting on the self, practicing Vipassana meditation for years and by reflecting on the teachings of the Buddha.
Why did I start meditating?
I was going through immense pain and suffering which triggered me to start meditating. To find out a way out of it.
Why declare it today?
It is not that I have achieved this stage today. It’s not something like that. I had reached and realized it quite some months ago. But today is a special day for me. As today I complete exactly 1 year when I started my first 10 day Vipassana training. This was where I got the actual technique, although it was almost 2 years before that when I was practicing Vipassana by learning through online medium likw Youtube(which I don’t recommend in the start as I was making a handful of mistakes there).
How do we know and verify if someone has reached the stage of Sotapanna?
According to the Buddhist texts like the Sotapanna handbook, it is very difficult(almost impossible) for a person to verify if another person has become a Sotapanna or not. This is because a person can very well lie and act as if he is a Sotapanna. But one himself can verify if he is a Sotapanna or not. The Sotapanna handbook also helps in that.
This is because reaching the 1st stage of Enlightenment is very much tied to emotional and mental changes that only a person himself can best understand. Ajahn Sona also explains the 4 stages of Enlightenment here which can also be used to verify if a personal himself has reached the 1st stage.
Can this stage be reached by any other means?
According to the Buddhist Tipitaka, the Buddha said that the very existence of the 4 stages of Enlightenment is through his teaching that is the Dhamma (refer “Cūlasi̅hanāda Suta” from the book “Essence of Tipitaka” by U Ko Lay).
When I reached out to my meditation teacher to verify whether I have reached this stage, he simply said to not be bothered about it. And just continue meditating and practicing Vipassana. This is because he didn’t want me to get diverted from the final goal and path. He said you will automatically understand when you reach that stage. But don’t stop practicing just because you reached some stage.
The 1st stage has definitely liberated me partially from my suffering. I say that with full confidence.
How can I learn Vipassana meditation?
Register for a 10-day course at any of the meditation centres around the world here. It’s absolutely free!
A Thought Experiment
We pray to god because we want liberation from our suffering. But what if he doesn’t exist and the help never comes? What if there are demons instead of gods here who are deviating us from true liberation? What if a demon is disguised as god and you are praying to him? And he is mixing truth with lies to deviate you?
Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine you are trapped in a cave. And there is complete darkness everywhere. And you can’t get out.
So you just sit down and wait for help to come. To rescue you. But then you remember that just a minute ago, your flashlight had dropped somewhere in the cave.
Now you have 2 options.
- Option A– You wait for help to arrive. But you don’t know whether help will ever arrive or not.
- Option B– Get up and search for your lost flashlight and find your way out of the cave. Yourself.
Our life is similar to the thought experiment above. People wait for help to arrive from divine entity or god (Option A). Which may never ever arrive. To liberate them. Or they make their own their own effort to liberate themselves(Option B). The root cause of suffering (i.e. ignorance & craving) is inside use. So asking someone else to liberate you from something inside you seems pretty illogical. And impossible.
But working on yourself to liberate yourself seems logical. As the root cause of suffering is something inside you which you can work on. And not outside you.
At the end, the choice is yours!