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How can we know what is mundane? Mundane life contains many components that superficially overlap with the Buddhist path:

  • religious belief
  • unusual experiences
  • changes to character
  • epiphanies
  • etc.

Aside from taking a poll of monks or devout Buddhists, is there a means to test whether we have made any progress?

  • i quite like the reply it doesn't matter, and hope someone answers that way – user3293056 Jun 29 '17 at 23:03
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Unless you are, at least, a Sotapanna, everything you experience is mundane.

  • i can't stress enough that this seems to have dissolved all my sad questions about the "path". thanks! – user3293056 Jun 30 '17 at 0:29
  • i hope that the edit is fine. i liked the answer very much as it is, but i don't want to confuse anyone with its typo or declamation haha. all the best, and thanks – user3293056 Jun 30 '17 at 0:35
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In Pali Buddhism, what is not mundane is defined by the word 'lokuttara', which means 'beyond the world', 'supramundane' or 'transcendent" &, most importantly, equates with the realisation of 'emptiness' ('sunnata'), 'not-self' ('anatta') or selflessness. To quote:

Ye te suttantā tathāgatabhāsitā gambhīrā gambhīratthā lokuttarā suññatapaṭisaṃyuttā

We will listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness...

SN 20.7

Therefore, unless the mind is, at least, Sotapanna, everything experienced is 'mundane'.


Contrary to the above, what is 'mundane' in Pali Buddhism is described as follows:

What is right view affected by the taints, partaking of merit, ripening in the acquisitions?

There is what is given and what is offered and what is sacrificed; there is fruit and result of good and bad actions (kamma); there is this world and the other world (paraloka); there is mother and father; there are beings who are reborn spontaneously (sattā opapātikā); there are in the world good and virtuous recluses and brahmins (samaṇabrāhmaṇāsamaṇa) who have realised for themselves by direct knowledge and declare this world & the other world.

MN 117

Therefore, included with the ordinary world of common conventions, the following Buddhist topics are also 'mundane':

  • Kamma & rebirth

  • Other worlds

  • Blind faith in words of teachers & gurus

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