I quoted below, the words of Ven. Dhammavuddho, who stated that, according to SN 55.5, to attain stream entry, one must have focused attention (yoniso manasikara) when listening to the true Dhamma from true men (ariyans) and contemplating on it. After that, they must practise the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma.

They can have focused attention, only if the five hindrances stop habitually obsessing their minds. Two types of persons pass this criteria - one who has attained the first jhana and one who is highly intelligent (has high IQ). Both can concentrate their minds effectively.

My questions are:

  • Is the role of IQ as stated above, found in the suttas? (reference request)
  • How could not-so-intelligent persons compensate for their lack of IQ, if they want to understand the Dhamma and attain stream entry?

In the YouTube video entitled "Characteristics of a Sotapanna", Ven. Dhammavuddho Mahathera stated (with some paraphrasing):

Now we look at another Sutta - SN 55.5. ... It is mentioned that there are four factors or conditions for stream entry - sotapattiyangani. First, association with true men - sappurisa. Second, hearing the true Dhamma (Saddhamma). Third, focused attention or proper attention (yoniso manasikara). And fourth, practice of the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma - Dhammanudhammapatipatti.

The first one is association with true men. The word sappurisa also means ariyans - those who understand the true Dhamma. Because they understand the true Dhamma, you can hear the true Dhamma from them.

The second condition - What is the true Dhamma? ... if it agrees with the Buddha's words in the Suttas, then it is the true Dhamma. ....

The third condition, this word - yoniso manasikara, which I translate as focused attention. Sometimes they say careful attention. This word means that when you listen to the Dhamma, you are focused on listening to the Dhamma. In other words, at that time, you don't have the five hindrances. If that is so, then you can understand the Dhamma and attain stream entry.

So who are the people who do not have the five hindrances? In the suttas, it is stated by the Buddha that as long as a person has not attained piti and sukha which are secluded from unwholesome states, which are secluded from sensual pleasures, the five hindrances will obsess him and obsess him habitually.

So, there are two types of persons who do not have the five hindrances. The first is the one who has attained the first jhana (i.e. he who has attained piti and sukha). When a person has attained the first jhana, he has eliminated the five hindrances and the Buddha says that the five hindrances no longer obsess that person habitually.

So there are two conditions if a person has the hindrances. Firstly, it obsesses your mind, it enslaves your mind. Secondly, it is habitual, it is very often there. ... When a person attains the first jhana, these hindrances reduce to a very low level. ...

The other type of person who does not have the five hindrances habitually obsessing his mind is an intelligent person - the person with a high IQ. Normally, a person born with a high IQ, he has good concentration and that was obtained from previous lives. A very good example is Albert Einstein. ... (some example of Albert Einstein) ... It shows that he had great concentration. So, people who are intelligent, they are able to focus their mind. That is very important. A scatter-brained person cannot be an intelligent person - the mind is so scattered.

These are the two types of persons. One, because of previous lives, he's born very intelligent - he can focus his mind. The second person is one who has attained the jhanas.

The fourth condition - practice of the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma. So he keeps practising the Dhamma and he will attain stream entry. Now this fourth condition may not be necessary for some people. We find in the suttas - many people when they listen to the Buddha, speaking the Dhamma, even for the first time, they attain stream entry. The Buddha confirms this. But some people after they have listened, it doesn't click immediately. They go back and they think about it and then it clicks. And then they understand the Dhamma and attain stream entry.

So this practice of the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma is after he has listened, he starts to recall the Dhamma or investigate more of the Dhamma. And then after some time, then the pieces fall into place like a jigsaw puzzle. And then he sees the Dhamma.


The quote seems to be equating IQ with concentration: it says, "Normally, a person born with a high IQ, he has good concentration and that was obtained from previous lives."

I suppose that sounds plausible -- that, to be intelligent, someone must be able to concentrate -- but I guess that's a personal opinion of the author (not "universally valid"), and has exceptions to the rule: I suppose that instead intelligent people may be conceited, for example; or lazy, or etc.

There's a bit in the Path to Purification about the six kinds of temperament, which says,

One who "possesses understanding" is one of intelligent temperament.

According to that definition, perhaps it's a truism (perhaps "understanding" erases the hindrance of "skeptical doubt").

I don't really know what Pali word is equivalent to "high IQ"?

There's a word cakkhumā which I think is used often: usually translated as "with good eyesight", but occasionally translated as "intelligent".

I think it means, more or less, "with little dust in their eyes" -- able to "see" or perceive the dhamma.

According to the PTS dictionary:

Cakkhumant (adj.) [cakkhu+mant] having eyes, being gifted with sight; of clear sight, intuition or wisdom; possessing knowledge (cp. samantacakkhu) D i.76 (one who knows, i. e. a connoisseur); cakkhumanto rūpāni dakkhinti "those who have eyes to see shall see" (of the Buddha) D i.85, 110, etc. -- Vin i.16; S i.27; A i.116, 124; iv.106; Dh 273; It 108, 115; DA i.221; DhA iii.403; iv.85. -- Esp. as Ep. of the Buddha: the Allwise S i.121, 134, 159, 210; Sn 31, 160, 992, 1028, 1116, 1128; Vv 125 (=pañcahi cakkhūhi cakkhumā Buddho Bhagavā VvA 60, cp. cakkhu iii.); Vv 8127.

I guess that may be related to "right view" (and eventually "wisdom") though, perhaps more than concentration.

I guess that to better understand the original quoted sutta (forgetting for the moment the Venerable's explanation of it as "high IQ") it would be good to investigate the meaning of yoniso manasikāra.

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High intelligence could also be a prerequisite for fabricating endless destructive taught. So, I don't think its right to say IQ is a criterion. It's not intelligence which is needed, but virtue.

Visakha, the great female supporter was only seven years old, when the Buddha visited her birthplace... Though she was so young, she was religious and virtuous. As such, immediately after hearing the Dharma from the Buddha, she attained the first stage of sainthood.

So, It's not the intellectual capacity of Albert Enstaine which is needed but been virtuous and faith in the teaching.

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Not sure about the suttas, but in Milindapanha it is said:

“What is the reason that a child under seven years of age is unable to attain insight? For a child is pure in mind and should be ready to realise the Dhamma.”

“If a child under seven, O king, could feel desire for things leading to desire, hatred for things arousing hatred, could be fooled by misleading things and could distinguish between wholesomeness and unwhole- someness then insight might be possible for him. However, the mind of a child under seven, O king, is feeble and the unconditioned element of nibbàna is weighty and profound. Therefore, O king, although he practised correctly, a child of under seven could not realise the Dhamma.”

So some level of IQ beyond "feeble" seems to be a requirement. Not sure how high it needs to be though. Anecdotally from my teachers, some types of high intelligence (the ones leading to conceptual proliferation, papanca) may actually get in the way.

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It took lots of worldly self-tribe-preoccupied people with high IQ, such as Albert Einstein (who initially but later regrettably lobbied the US govt), to build the atomic bomb. Robert Oppenheimer proclaimed, from the Bhagavad-Gita:

"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

Today, there are all sorts of people with high IQ working in military & financial industries. IQ is obviously unrelated to stream-entry.

What is related to stream-entry is a pre-existing dispassion or disenchantment towards the world & the capacity (which includes fearlessness & strength) to let go & abandon 'self'. What is related to stream-entry is a sensitivity towards suffering.

If IQ was required for stream-entry then stream-entry itself would be a mental thinking exercise, which is not the case. Stream-entry requires non-thinking rather than thinking. This shows how tenuous Dhammavuddho appears to be.

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