Are Sotapannas immune to wrong views?

I think similar what other people writes, the right view on ariyas should be understood according the eradicated fetters. This sound logical because while a fetter is not eradicated, there is attachment and also an space for wrong ideas, errors, etcetera. This is how ignorance works.

The lists of wrong and right views are many inside the sources, and sometimes contains things related with other realms and things which are impossible to check for most ariyas, except arhants. As far I understand, the point is that after stream.entry the certainty in the Buddha teaching is established, and then the knowledge and faith are joined.
This makes impossible to believe a deviate thing despite the doubts and errors exists. This wouldn’t be properly a “wrong view” while it doesn’t have the potentiality to lose the Path. This would be the main point despite being a subjective issue: because for any person, a wrong idea could become a wrong view able to lose the Path while for other person no. However, difference in the case of ariyas is this possibility doesn’t exists.

Doubts and errors are part of the Path until arhanthood. We can check many conversations inside the Suttas between arhants and ariyas and how many times appears the doubts and also answers like “Don’t say that, my friend”, showing they have doubts and wrong ideas in mind. In example:

"Then Ven. Maha Kotthita went to Ven. Sariputta and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to Ven. Sariputta, “With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media [vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, & intellection] is it the case that there is anything else?”

[Sariputta:] “Don’t say that, my friend.”

[Maha Kotthita:] “With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media, is it the case that there is not anything else?”

[Sariputta:] “Don’t say that, my friend.”

[Maha Kotthita:] “…is it the case that there both is & is not anything else?”

[Sariputta:] “Don’t say that, my friend.”

AN 4.174

acquisiton of Right View works like a potentiality to discern the Path, working more in this sense:

"And how is right view the forerunner? One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one’s right view.

As you writes, it is frequent seeing people who believe ariyas should be like a machine of knowledge, and whatever issue they could ignore on Dhama or they could think in another way, it would be a proof they are not ariyas. This idea is simplistic as we check inside the sources.


How about people who come to conclusions based on their personal experience? Isn’t that what the Buddha wanted us to do?

I certainly don’t disagree with that. What I disagree with is when people say things akin to “only classical Theravada is true and nothing else”. I am in favor of peaceful and respectful coexistence and refraining from judgemental attitudes towards one another, and I think classical Theravadins need to head into that direction, and that they are harming themselves every time they refer to others with pejorative sobriquets (which by contrast I have never seen “EBT people” do).

The belief of the Mahavihara sect in the 5th century (which, if I understand properly what has been told to me earlier, should be accepted uncritically in order to be able to call oneself a true classical Theravadin) was apparently that their commentaries dated back to the first council. Those people were not omniscient and were certainly not immune to errors, wrong views and repeating blind beliefs. Since it seems quite likely that they overstated the trustworthiness of their commentaries and that common sense should favor the hypothesis that those commentaries emerged when writing started being used, should we really believe (as some “classical Theravadins” would insist) that those commentaries dated back to the first council? Wouldn’t we be putting ourselves in the very situation which is described at MN 95

Suppose there were a row of blind men, each holding on to the one in front of him: the first one doesn’t see, the middle one doesn’t see, the last one doesn’t see. In the same way, the statement of the brahmans turns out to be a row of blind men, as it were: the first one doesn’t see, the middle one doesn’t see, the last one doesn’t see. So what do you think, Bharadvaja: this being the case, doesn’t the conviction of the brahmans turn out to be groundless?"

The thing with many Buddhists nowadays is that they seem to think that they are immune to the sort of mistakes that are described in the suttas, only because back in the days they were only ascribed to non-Buddhists, as if that meant a Buddhist can never make the same mistake. Unfortunately it tends to end in a barrage of denial and ad hominems when an opportunity for questioning one’s assumptions and the assumptions of people in the past arises, just like suttas like MN 95 encourage us to do.

I don’t think the argument that the opinion of people who lived in the past is more trustworthy than the opinion of anyone alive today really stands to logic. For example, this view does not account for the fact that it has been believed for centuries that liberation is not possible anymore, that the goal of meditation has somehow become unreachable.

That’s fine, i never said it wasnt. That’s how you weed out the (probable) inaccuracies in the texts.

I agree with this. like i said im not a classical theravada purist. I think all early texts, even ones from non-theravada schools like Sthaviravāda, Mahīśāsaka, Sarvāstivāda have some merit to them. The only ones that kinda dont are mahayana texts, but that is just another beast entirely.

absolutely, which again, is why i dont think classical theravada texts are 100% right.

I think it does actually, depending on how close they are to the source. This doesnt only apply to time either, someone who reads a modern diary of someone in Syria would have a better understanding of what the person is talking about and meant if they are from Syria or a nearby middle eastern country with a similar culture and experience than someone who reads the same text and lived and grew up in Japan or Brazil or the US. In the same way somebody who grew up in 5th century CE India or sri lanka would probably have a stronger understanding of the texts that are supposed to come from 5-6th century BCE India than someone who grew up in 20th century Australia. Again, i dont think they are 100% right, and I’m not saying give the commentaries divine authority like its the God-given Bible or something. But the views portrayed in the commentaries should be considered and given more weight.

1 Like

There are many people of different faiths who will say they are enlightened but disregard the texts. Some are even claimers of the Theravada Tradition, Like Daniel Ingram who says that an Arahant (which he claims to be) “can have hot sex and smoke crack”.

By taking such extremes from personal experience with disregard to the ancient texts (road map), one can surely lose their way. Please be careful.

The Partial Theravadans are generally lacking scholar nature, vassa with proper teachers, and they distrust the real scholars. Any Dhammacariya or Alankhara in Myanmar let alone an Abhivamsas or Tipitaka Sayadaws can effortlessly “dance circles” around any western PhD, or monk. Besides a skill in English, who is even someone like Bhikkhu Bodhi compared to them? Even if he could stand a fighting chance. How many are like him? Do you think Ajhan Sujato is a scholar who has even a fraction of the knowledge of those I listed? Ajahn Anaylayo? Who else. Partial Theravadans are their own teachers and that is where the movement started… ehem… by their own unchaperoned self guided selves.

After all of that, then we talk about “personal experience”… based on what litmus test?

Sorry. It is just plain disrespect to the senior elders of past and present and soon to be future when one is a “Partial-Theravada”. What more can be said about one who is outspoken about these matters?


Bhante, thank you for engaging the points raised earlier, as it allows for a real conversation to take place.

I am trying to figure out what is the intended message here. Is this an argument against using one’s personal experience to understand the Dhamma?

It seems that Mr Ingram is speaking in favor of being unvirtuous. The takeaway from this example may just be that it is dangerous to be oneself unvirtuous and to speak praise of being unvirtuous?

Indeed no one should get in a car driven by a drunk driver, but it would seem that it does not necessarily follow from this observation that no one should ever get into any car.

I don’t understand why any of those distinguished scholars should “dance circles” around anyone, unless they would be learning the Dhamma for the sake of winning debates, in which case they would be acting for their own long-term harm and suffering (MN 22).

Why should anyone “fight” with anyone else? This presupposes a hardened stance and a complete inability to listen to a different opinion.

Well I don’t think this is entirely true. I think some monks followed the traditional training and at some point realized that there were too many inconsistencies that most traditionalists refuse to even acknowledge, and they figured that they would rather think for themselves than merely throw their critical sense to the garbage as they are told.

Perhaps some of them were born in another religion and have already had to do the work of questioning the tradition they had accepted since childhood simply because they were told to do so and because if they wouldn’t have, it would have been deemed equivalent to insulting some elders of that religion, who have actually been repeating the same mistakes for millenias. Maybe this is a blind spot for some of those respected scholars, as I doubt that critical thinking is really part of the traditional curriculum, or is it?

What evidence is there that “the senior elders” cannot make mistakes? If they feel personally offended by people honestly seeking the truth for themselves, then maybe they have some work left to do with that, and if they aren’t in the first place, then there is no issue here. Some people follow the advice given in the suttas and prefer thinking and exploring for themselves rather than blindly following the opinions of the traditionalists out of fear of offending them. I see no reason to send them anathemas.

You are wrongly quoting and twisting my words with your statements. Let it discredit your integrity.
For those who were confused by your wrong quotes.

  • “Can dance circles”
  • "not have a “fighting chance”

is meant to explain that the traditional scholar monks are much smarter by a huge factor to the best westerners. You know this, misrepresented me and others now know this too. Misrepresentation and quote-twisting seems to be a habit of yours, even with the quotes of The Buddha.
Please remember whose house you are visiting.

This seems to explain your view as an EBTer or a Partial Theravadan. (pTh’er). I’m not sure why you are here.
For those who want to be convinced EBT as a solution to your own personal doubts, suttacentral is a better place to discuss these items. This group is for the like minded who want to avoid the troubles of endless debate found in the other groups.

Back to the topic:
Daniel Ingram is one extreme. ex-ven Nyanavira, the suicide monk, is a more subtle version of upakilesa for enlightenment.

Back to the real real topic… sotapanas cannot have wrong view.
The cittas with wrong view do not exist and therefore do not arise in sotapannas. We do not need to qualify our statements “according to abhidhamma” or “according to classical Theravada”. This is a Classical Theravada group and we speak in this language.