Can A Sotāpanna Attain Fruition Consciousness More Than Once?

The person who attains to the sotāpanna level not only will attain once, but he can attain the fruition consciousness (phalasamāpattiṃ) many times.

While Path can only be attained once for each level of enlightenment, it is wrong to say that fruition attainments can only be experienced once. Recently a person was on Facebook and publicly declaring and describing his attainments as a Stream Winner. He is very good at explaining that if you doubt him, then you doubt the Noble ones. It is a good way to shut people up with fear. However, I asked one simple question which is backed up by the pāḷi.

Can you reproduce this experience you speak about?

The answer is in the vsm pāḷi. One can attain this state any time he wishes and it will never go away because that is what Ariya attainments are about. They are the full security that will not go away. This is another reason why… and a big “why” the commentaries are disputed, especially Ven. Buddhaghosa, because vsm pāḷi invalidates many who claim enlightenment. It is more or less 5 Mastery similar to the jhāna.

vsm II mm_para 861

  1. Kasmā samāpajjantīti diṭṭhadhammasukhavihāratthaṃ. Yathā hi rājā rajjasukhaṃ, devatā dibbasukhaṃ anubhavanti, evaṃ ariyā ‘‘ariyaṃ lokuttarasukhaṃ anubhavissāmā’’ti addhānapparicchedaṃ katvā icchiticchitakkhaṇe phalasamāpattiṃ samāpajjanti.

vsm English p 732.
Phalasamāpattikathā

  1. (iv) Why do they attain it? For the purpose of abiding in bliss here and now.
    For just as a king experiences royal bliss and a deity experiences divine bliss, so
    too the Noble Ones think, “We shall experience the noble supramundane bliss,”
    and after deciding on the duration, they attain the attainment of fruition whenever
    they choose.

footnote 3. “Although they are resultant states, nevertheless the states of fruition attainment
occur in the noble person only when he chooses since they do not arise without the
preliminary work and do so only when they are given predominance” (Vism-mhþ 895).

" This is because there are some meditators who fall into bhavaṅgha and say " i knew nothing " or "Both the objects and the mind noting them ceased ". They believe wrongly they have realised Nibbāna, but actually all they have done is to fall into bhavaṅgha.

It is because they do not have the ability to discern the bhavaṅgha mind and its object, they say that " I knew nothing " or " both the mind and the objects noting them ceased ".

However, if they go to really develop the Knowledge discerning cause and conditions, they will find that at that time there were still bhavaṅgha consciousness present which have the objects of near-death-impsion-consciousnees (maraṇāsanna javana citta) in the previous life. In other words, a meditator who has properly completed that insight knowledge can look back and directly see the bhavaṅgha consciousness and it’s object"

From mindfulness of breathing and four elements meditation, by most ven Pa Auk Sayadaw

vsm pdf ven Nyanamoli bps ed
10. Now, the process of attaining it is as follows. A noble disciple who seeks the attainment of fruition should go into solitary retreat. He should see formations with insight according to rise and fall and so on. When that insight has progressed [as far as conformity], then comes change-of-lineage knowledge with formations as its object.4 And immediately next to it consciousness becomes absorbed in cessation with the attainment of fruition. And here it is only fruition, not path, that arises even in a trainer, because his tendency is to fruition attainment.
11. But there are those who say that when a stream-enterer embarks on insight, thinking, “I shall attain fruition attainment,” he becomes a once-returner, and a once-returner, a non-returner. They should be told: “In that case a non-returner becomes an Arahant and an Arahant, a Paccekabuddha and a Paccekabuddha, a Buddha. For that reason, and because it is contradicted as well by the text quoted above, none of that should be accepted. Only this should be accepted: fruition itself, not path, arises also in the trainer. And if the path he has arrived at had the first jhána, his fruition will have the first jhána too when it arises. If the path has the second, so will the fruition. And so with the other jhánas.” This, firstly, is how attaining comes about. [701]
12. (vi) It is made to last in three ways, because of the words: “Friend, there are three conditions for the persistence of the signless mind-deliverance: they are the non-bringing to mind of all signs, the bringing to mind of the signless element, and the prior volition” (M I 296–97). Herein, the prior volition is the predetermining of the time before attaining;6 for it is by determining it thus, “I shall emerge at such a time,” that it lasts until that time comes. This is how it is made to last.

vsm…
|863. Ayampanettha samāpajjanakkamo. Phalasamāpattatthikena hi ariyasāvakena rahogatena paṭisallīnena udayabbayādivasena saṅkhārā vipassitabbā. Tassa pavattānupubbavipassanassa saṅkhārārammaṇagotrabhuñāṇānantarā phalasamāpattivasena nirodhe cittaṃ appeti. Phalasamāpattininnatāya cettha sekkhassāpi phalameva uppajjati, na maggo.||
| — | — |
|Ye pana vadanti ‘‘sotāpanno ‘phalasamāpattiṃ samāpajjissāmī’ti vipassanaṃ paṭṭhapetvā sakadāgāmī hoti. Sakadāgāmī ca anāgāmī’’ti, te vattabbā ‘‘evaṃ sati anāgāmī arahā bhavissati, arahā paccekabuddho, paccekabuddho ca buddho. Tasmā na kiñci etaṃ, pāḷivaseneva ca paṭikkhitta’’ntipi na gahetabbaṃ. Idameva pana gahetabbaṃ – sekkhassāpi phalameva uppajjati, na maggo. Phalañcassa sace anena paṭhamajjhāniko maggo adhigato hoti. Paṭhamajjhānikameva uppajjati. Sace dutiyādīsu aññatarajjhāniko, dutiyādīsu aññatarajjhānikamevāti. Evaṃ tāvassā samāpajjanaṃ hoti.||
|864. ‘‘Tayo kho, āvuso, paccayā animittāya cetovimuttiyā ṭhitiyā sabbanimittānañca amanasikāro, animittāya ca dhātuyā manasikāro, pubbe ca abhisaṅkhāro’’ti (ma. ni. 1.458) vacanato panassā tīhākārehi ṭhānaṃ hoti. Tattha pubbe ca abhisaṅkhāroti samāpattito pubbe kālaparicchedo. ‘‘Asukasmiṃ nāma kāle vuṭṭhahissāmī’’ti paricchinnattā hissā yāva so kālo nāgacchati, tāva ṭhānaṃ hoti. Evamassā ṭhānaṃ hotīti.|

Yes, bhante.

Many contemporary popular meditation masters who dispute Abhidhamma and Visuddhimagga, appeared to be believing in some kind of a Super-human attainment (Jhana/Maggaphala) in them.

So they can’t continue their belief or convince others, as long as the others believe Abhidhamma and Visuddhimagga.

That is a main reason, if not the main, why they dispute Abhidhamma and Visuddhimagga.

Those masters try hard to discourage reading them by making them appeared to be wrong or unnecessary.

One monk said, “you believe your present teacher as an Ariya, only until you read the texts.”

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So, is that Jo wu person a Sotapanna?

Judging from his replies, I can say he is definitely not.

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So far, he has been silent to my reply.

How can he reply further? He is nothing but Papanca.

I remember there is a saying in the canon (couldn’t remember the exact scripture) that if a Putthujjana person claiming to be an Ariya is a very bad kamma as this person cheated the entire world. And this Jo wu is that person.

Does that mean he loses fruition again and again so that he can attain it again and again?
No, once attained the fruition, it just stays there. One does not lose it. One cannot attain something again after one attain it. Like learning to ride bicycle, once one can ride it, one can ride it. One does not lose this knowledge and skill.

It’s like after crossing the river and arrive the other shore, one cannot cross that river again to arrive to the shore one has already arrived. If one goes back and forth across the river, then it’s a pointless action. One knows or has been on the shore one is supposed to go.

Can one become a putthujanna after attaining sotapanna fruition?
What would happen if one dies after losing/giving up the fruition (in order to attain it again and again)?
The answers are nos.

It’s good to read the stories of sotapannas in the Pali texts.

Bhante Subhuti wrote:

The answer is in the vsm pāḷi. One can attain this state any time he wishes and it will never go away because that is what Ariya attainments are about. They are the full security that will not go away.

So the Phala is attained. There is no losing of it and no need to re-attain it.

But it is more like reviewing the fact that such Phala is attained (something to do with phalacittas).

This is referring to the phalasamāpatti attainment which is similar to a jhāna taking nibbāna as the object of consciousness. The meditation upon the Signless.

The “wisdom of Sotāpanna” and the “phala samapatti of Sotāpanna” are different.
“Phala samapatti of Sotāpanna” considered similar to a Jhāna but taking Nibbāna as the object of consciousness.

First one is a seeing Nibbāna by wisdom and the second one is a seeing Nibbāna by mind.

According to the classical texts, one attain the stable and irreversible “wisdom of Sotāpanna” when he first time attains “phala samapatti of Sotāpanna”. Then he gets down from the “phala samapatti of Sotāpanna” but never from the “wisdom of Sotāpanna”.

The “wisdom of Sotāpanna” never falls down but the “Phala samapatti of Sotāpanna” falls down. He have to re-attain it if he needs peace.

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Bhante. Do you know if the phala samāpatti will always be the same level from the time he attained magga phala?
Suppose he attained sotapatti magga and phala with first jhāna. Can he later enter phala samāpatti with the second, third or fourth?

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Definitely it is almost always to propose their own version of jhāna vipassanā magga phala that some nowadays some teachers reject Abhidhamma and commentaries.
Like the Ajhan in Thailand who pretend to be Arahant, Mahamewuna from Srilanka provides their own satipatthāna method, mahāsi method from Burma and so on…
Some teachers say " no need to have a light to attain jhāna, not said in the suttas"… So that they can pretend to be jhāna attainer and meditation master.
It is a great lost for their followers.

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Welcome to the community Matthias!
Nice to see the people who respect Classical texts.

While many classical scholars disagree with the meditation methods you have mentioned, they disagree with the ‘light of wisdom’ of Pa-auk method as well.

They believe the mistakes of the methods happened due to their proportion of deviation from the texts.

I heard they respect Pa-auk in terms of Pa-auk’s prevalent respect towards classical texts, vinaya and samadhi, but they don’t accept the ‘light of wisdom’ and ‘seeing past lives by vipassana’ done by Pa-auk, saying that it is also out of the book.

You can see one of their arguements here: Impermanence of rupa - #13 by ekocare

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I have never heard of proper scholars rejecting that light is in jhāna, or nimitta. There is confusion or ambiguity about light and nimitta. They are different. Light is not nimitta, but the nimitta will be bright. It is said in the vsm that it is bright and pure under the earth kasiṇa paṭibhāga section. So it is better to say that bright visual mental object of the paṭibhāga nimitta. I have never heard any proper Theravādin scholars dispute this. It is very clear in the vsm. Those who dispute this would not be Classical believers. However, they might be adjusting the texts to match the attainment.

About the knowledge that never goes away. I have heard it is like seeing the Earth from outer space. Once you see it from that viewpoint, nobody can change your mind that the earth is not round.

I would imagine the jhāna-like-nibbāna attainment never declines. It would depend on what his level of attainment was when he attained it. I would also guess it would improve too if he wanted. This is really an answer left up to the teacher who is skilled in these issues. I only reported what the vsm says.

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It’s different from Arahatta Phala though. Only arahats can enter the state of phala samapatthi, in which they are permitted to dwell up to 15 days. Sotapanna do not have this kind of ability to dwell in nibbana. Sotapanna abandon ‘sakkaya ditthi’, but have not abandoned kilesa (lobha, dosa, moha). Sotapanna’s ability is not to dwell in kilesa for lengthy time, like laypeople do. Sotapanna can let go of kilesa (lobha, dosa) very fast. That is to say a sotapanna does not keep anger for long.

I say that based on reading and listening.

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I think you are talking about nirodhasamāpatti which is accessible to arahants and anāgāmīs which are able to sustain for 7 days. This is a different attainment from phalasamāpatti for their respective level.

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Thanks, Bante, for the reply.
Phala Samapatti is the moment of reaching nibbana, and nirodhasamāpatti is the moment of dwelling in nibbana. The two are different but also kind of the same I think. When a monk reaches Phala Samapatti (phalasamapatti), he knows he has reached it and done with his duty. But he is aware of the body and mind. During nirodhasammapatti, his consciousness and feeling are in cessation, at peace, so he’s not aware of the environment (the body and mind), which is the state he momentarily experienced during his reaching of nibbana.
That’s how I understand.

Light is produced by samadhi when its strength reaches certain point. It is similar/same to aura. Radiance might be a better word. Mahasi Sayadaw and other prominent monks mentioned about it. But not everyone achieving high level of samadhi experienced it. The-inn-gu Sayadaw is an example. He mentioned to achieve strong samadhi, but never the word jhanna. He started meditation after learning from a book: Biography of Sun Lun Gu Sayadaw - get a pdf file.

Sun Lun Gu Sayadaw was an ordinary farmer. But later he developed phobia of death (Thanatophobia?). His name was U Kawi (Oo Kawi). He received meditation instruction from a lay devotee of Dhamma during a traditional event in which a household invites the monks and laypeople for alms and food. U Kawi and his family were the donor.

U Kawi’s focused samatha. He explained he saw a ball of light appeared in front of him and it rosed. He kept looking at it as it rose higher and higher. He explained he saw the celestial beings. And the light moved downward and he was got back to where he was sitting/meditating. Later he developed stronger samadhi and was able to see through the skin and see the organs. He was able to know the type of disease and the day of death when he looked at someone. And he told them accordingly and people became to fear of him. With his strong samadhi, he was able to see through earth too and saw the beings in hell. He described them as moving like maggots.

The-inn-gu Sayadaw mentioned about jhanna as unachievable because of meat-eating, making the body very heavy to attain jhanna - the psychic power to take flight. He only mentioned about developing strong samadhi.

Moegoke Sayadaw was one who did not teach in favour of developing jhanna. He described it as unsuitable for everyone. He explained about samadhi, which can be developed before, during/with or after vipassana. That is to say there are meditation methods to develop samadhi before, during/with or after practicing vipassana.

One does not need jhanna to attain sotapanna fruition (to abandon sakkaya ditthi or to understand anicca and/or anatta or the nature of the body and mind - upadanakkhanda). But one needs strong samadhi during listening/reading Dhamma (also during meditation).

Nirodhasamāpatti is only attainable by anāgāmi. Phalasamāpatti is the concentration with nibbāna as object. They are vastly different. Please read the difference… maybe even wikipedia has info on these.

As for the other teachers and methods. The issue was jhāna and the light being disputed by scholars. You are mentioning those who created methods. I think you need to mention scholars and tell me where jhāna does not have light. Pa-Auk is the only method that rightly matches the vsm the closest. There is no debate about that that I know of. If you want to listen to anonymous “mistakes” guys, that is your wish. Such doctrinal issues reguarding the mistakes guy have been addressed by “friends of sassana” youtube channel, but they are poorly produced media channels.

You should also verify the vinaya of such teachers. I’ll give you a hint. They didn’t make my list and I would have been happy to add them. Please directly ask with monks who live there, been there or inquire directly with the abbots about their own vinaya practice (“Do you accept money directly or by envelopes?”). Let me know it is verified and how you verified it, and I will add them to my list. :innocent: