Is it faster to become sotapanna if I become a monk?

Thank you, I look forward to reading you. I hope you’re having a wonderful vacation!

By the way, your message raised a question in me: to become a sotapanna, do you think that an ordinary Buddhist today should (in general) separate himself from his family (by becoming a monk) for at least many years to practice the dhamma without disturbances? Or do you think that in order to become a sotapanna, an ordinary Buddhist can (in general) very well stay with his family while practicing dhamma without leaving it for many years?

Personally, I don’t have a family and don’t intend to, but I’m curious to know.

Thanks in advance.

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Hi LA,
I can reply to this from my phone in my hotel room. Some of the other posts I need to find a few harder to find texts from computer.

Of course fully ordained bhikkhus are the great field of merit in Dhamma, they truly strive to understand and develop the way of the Buddha.
However even laypeople can gain much on the path. … tml#fnt-15

Bhikkhave = “Bhikkhus.” This is a term for addressing persons who accept the teaching.

Bhikkhu[15] is a term to indicate a person who earnestly endeavors to accomplish the practice of the teaching. Others, gods and men, too, certainly strive earnestly to accomplish the practice of the teaching, but because of the excellence of the bhikkhu-state by way of practice, the Master said: “Bhikkhu.” For amongst those who accept the teaching of the Buddha, the bhikkhu is the highest owing to fitness for receiving manifold instruction. Further, when that highest kind of person, the bhikkhu, is reckoned, the rest too are reckoned, as in regard to a royal procession and the like, when the king is reckoned, by the reckoning of the king, the retinue is reckoned. Also the word “bhikkhu” was used by the Buddha to point out the bhikkhu-state through practice of the teaching in this way: "He who practices this practice of the Arousing of Mindfulness is called a bhikkhu." He who follows the teaching, be he a shining one [deva] or a human, is indeed called a bhikkhu. Accordingly it is said:

“Well-dressed one may be, but if one is calm,
Tamed, humble, pure, a man who does no harm
To aught that lives, that one’s a brahman true.
An ascetic and mendicant too.”[[16]

Also see this sutta where these sotapanna lay people talk with the Buddha. … ript=latin
Linked Discourses 55.53

6. A Wise Person
With Dhammadinna

At one time the Buddha was staying near Benares, in the deer park at Isipatana. Then the lay follower Dhammadinna, together with five hundred lay followers, went up to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and said to him:

“May the Buddha please advise and instruct us. It will be for our lasting welfare and happiness.”

“So, Dhammadinna, you should train like this: ‘From time to time we will undertake and dwell upon the discourses spoken by the Realized One that are deep, profound, transcendent, dealing with emptiness.’ That’s how you should train yourselves.”

“Sir, we live at home with our children, using sandalwood imported from Kāsi, wearing garlands, perfumes, and makeup, and accepting gold and money. It’s not easy for us to undertake and dwell from time to time upon the discourses spoken by the Realized One that are deep, profound, transcendent, dealing with emptiness. Since we are established in the five training rules, please teach us further.”

“So, Dhammadinna, you should train like this: ‘We will have experiential confidence in the Buddha … the teaching … the Saṅgha … And we will have the ethical conduct loved by the noble ones … leading to immersion.’ That’s how you should train yourselves.”

“Sir, these four factors of stream-entry that were taught by the Buddha are found in us, and we embody them. For we have experiential confidence in the Buddha … the teaching … the Saṅgha … And we have the ethical conduct loved by the noble ones … leading to immersion.”

“You’re fortunate, Dhammadinna, so very fortunate! You have all declared the fruit of stream-entry.”

So the venerable Bhikkhus are the leaders of the sasana. Yet I think it takes a real vocation - great merit- to be able to endure and thrive as a Bhikkhu. Not an easy life.
For those who remain in the laylife it is good to know that progress can still be made.


@RobertK Thank you for taking the time to reply. Your message is, as usual, very helpful.

However I thought that sotapanna Buddhist laypeople were exceptional because they had very good karma, unlike most Buddhist laypeople today, so that for most laypeople it is extremely unlikely that they would succeed in attaining sotapanna without becoming a monk. Is this a false view? Thank you in advance.

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And thanks for the well wishing for my holiday.
I think we can say that whether monk or layman becoming sotapanna is rare.
Those people at the time of the Buddha were born there due to their accumulated parami, they were ready to hear and understand.

Our task now is to discern the right way and build up wisdom that understands the anattaness of each moment.
That could bring penetrative insight in this life, or it might take many lives. That can be done while as monk or layman.
Patience is the highest tapas ( austerity).


Thank you so much.

However, I have to say that for me, it’s unthinkable to end this human life without having become a sotapanna.

What I mean is that sotapanna is a 100% guarantee that you’ll reach enlightenment after a certain number of lives. But if we don’t attain at least sotapanna, then it’s like Russian roulette: we don’t know what’s going to happen to us. In other words, even if I accumulate a lot of wisdom in this lifetime (but not enough to be sotapanna), there’s no guarantee that I’ll continue this accumulation in my subsequent lives. I could very well relapse into total delusion.

What’s more, sotapanna guarantees that I won’t fall into the lower worlds. Without sotapanna, there’s no guarantee that I won’t end up impaled by the anus in hell. Sorry for my crude language, but that’s really how I see it: not succeeding in being sotapanna is unthinkable, for me. We absolutely have to succeed.

We all know that suffering is a horrible thing. When it arrives, it shatters our mind, oppresses it, compresses it, attacks it, eats away at it, dissolves it. We have to stop it. And we all know that when we’re relatively happy and “free” of suffering, it’s only temporary, because at some point it’s going to come back and smash our mind.

And for me, being a monk is the path that maximizes our chances of being sotapanna. Being layman minimizes our chances of being sotapanna. Of course, even being a monk, sotapanna is difficult. But the probabilities are higher than sotapanna. And when you see what the horror of hell can be (for example, being impaled through the anus, or burning in a glowing iron vat, or even simply being devoured by an animal, being seriously ill, etc.), I absolutely want to maximize my chances of being sotapanna. I hope we’ll become monks soon. I need to beat the social anxiety that’s pushing me away.

Is there anything wrong with that?

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Have a read of the Theragāthā and Therīgāthā Commentary.
You can see the venerables accumulated parami for so many lives.
Accumulation of wisdom may remain latent in some lives but rise again in others.

If we can understand enough about conditions we gain confidence that there is no self who is accumulating wisdom or having delusion. This understanding allows for wisdom and sati to work their way naturally. It comes with detachment.

There are only elements, and wanting to be a sotapanna, if the wanting is not understood as a conditioned element, has its dangers. We might start grasping at supposed signs of progess and get caught in a wrong practice.

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Thank you very much, you’re right: unwittingly, through my desire to be sotapanna and help others to be sotapanna, I’ve fed the illusion of the ego and selfish greed. The mind is so complex, subtle and tricky… Fortunately, the 3 Jewels guide us.

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Lay people can attain. But if that were ideal, the Buddha would not have bothered with a bhikkhu saṅgha order. That should answer the question.
Saṅgha life gives more time and conditions for practicing and learning the dhamma. However, it should be done properly and following vinaya is no light matter. If one disregards vinaya, all hopes are lost. In that case, it might be better to be a lay person or full time lay yogi/kappiya.


Thank you very much Bhante.

But in me, I’m really convinced that being laypeople is a kind of “suicide”, in the sense that we minimize our chances of being sotapanna, and therefore maximize our chances of ending up tortured in hell.

I know that the Buddha suggested practices for laypeople. But frankly, I have the impression that only monks maximize their chances of being sotapanna. I feel that to be a layman is to make a foolish gamble on one’s own future. I feel that being a monk is the most rational. That is, if you don’t succeed in being a sotapanna. It’s still thousands of millions of billions of years of suffering ahead of us, and even much more. When you take that into account, how can you get used to the idea of remaining secular? I just don’t get it.

Besides, this means that for me, if someone fails to respect the vinaya, what they should do is remind themselves of the horrible amount of suffering that awaits them if they fail to be sotapanna, and from then on, they should respect the vinaya.
For me, going from monk to laic is an abominable regression to the hells of samsara.

I understand that laypeople can be sotapanna, but it’s Russian roulette. It seems crazy or unconscious to me to remain a layman.

Am I wrong Bhante?

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Maybe you’ll like Dantabhumi Sutta.



Whoever able to abandon Sakkaya Ditthi, Vicikiccha and Silabbata paramasa is a Sotapanna.

Whoever has absolute confidence in Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha; accompanied by Virtues (in layfollower’s case, the Five Precepts) that are praised by the Wise Ones is a Sotapanna.

Whoever understand the Paticcasamuppada is a Sotapanna.

Whoever possessed the Path is a Sotapanna.

Lord Buddha did not say one must ordain in order to attain Sotapannahood. But instead, one should possess these factors in order to reach Sotapannahood:

“Association with Sappurisa (wholesome true people) is a factor for stream-entry.
Listening to the true Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.
Appropriate attention is a factor for stream-entry.
Practice in accordance with the Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.”

It is possible to remain as layfollower and attain Sotapannahood. Just like Anathapindika the philanthropist, Visakha lady, Suppabuddha the poor leper, King Bimbisara, Alavaka Yakkha, Manduka Devaputta, etc.

For Sotapannahood, it is not the identity we forge for ourselves that will make the progress, but it is our own understanding of the dhamma combined with daily practices that make the call.



generally yes. Its faster and easier to enlighten as a monk, as they dedicate thier entire life to enlightening. Its perfectly possible to become a sotapanna as a layperson, but its more difficult.

Think of it as. Is it easier to make it into the olympics as a professional athlete where training is his day job? or as an amateur with another day job who just trains on the side? Both have the ability to make it into the olympics with enough training and skill. However one has it easier than the other.