I would like to ask if someone has known an enlightened being who lost it.

Is there any Buddhist texts about this?

I believe it can happen with some brain problem maybe.

  • There're 4 "grades" of enlightenment (Stream-entry, Once-return, Non-return, and Arahantship). By the time one's reached the 1st stage, one's guaranteed non-retrogression and will only have at most 7 more rebirths. (ref: accesstoinsight.org/lib/study/into_the_stream.html )
    – santa100
    Commented Jun 11, 2019 at 12:56

4 Answers 4


Householder Seckin, those interested,

Actually many, most, believing that they have found awakening, but actually didn't, of what ever stage, sooner or later will lose that, often very painful and sometimes having cut themselves off from any attaining. This being the reason, the Buddha did not tell much on the matter that once having reached the stream (first stage of awakening) one is no more able to fall, right away destinated for full awakening, althought it could require another hardships within further 7 existences. So it's most empathized to focus on gaining right view, as the entrance and stick firm, till the "End" with the safe Bet, even there are many out there suggesting different, and stay not by first things first.

A possible more extended answer, as well as given space for discussion on go deeper, can be given found here: [Q&A] Losing enlightenment (possible?)

(Note that this is not given for trade, exchange, stacks or entertaining binding to world, but as exit for higher and beyond)

  • Actually householder @seckin did, by having an account here, and others could use also for commercial and not good purposes. So maybe think again where things are secure given. It's not my persons website, but that of the Sangha.
    – user11235
    Commented Jun 11, 2019 at 14:45
  • Suffering has a cause householder @seckin , and this and path really out needs to be seen, done. Maybe this gives rise, since related and hard to find alone, real release. Vi-bhava at least, is not enought, leads to new becoming as well. Body might be left behind, kamma follows anyway.
    – user11235
    Commented Jun 11, 2019 at 23:38

I don't know if this is something that is possible. Steve Taylor has done a 10 year study of enlightened (I use that word extremely liberally in the case of his study) individuals in which he documents some cases where people have lost the state in his book The Leap - The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening. However, in my opinion his 10 year study only really scratches the very surface. I say this because there are many who are fooled into thinking that they are enlightened when in fact they probably entered a jhanic state for sometime then lost it. This is the tomfoolery of awakening. Jhanic experiences can be drastically life changing and one can attach that change to a conclusion concerning their spiritual discovery only to become disappointed by the certainty of impermanence.

Additionally, from the Buddhist perspective, enlightenment occurs at Sotapanna stage when one enters the stream but one is still subjected to conditioned states in the stream. Apparently, there is a place where conditioning no longer has any influence, termed nibbana or enlightenment. Im not sure how one could fall back from the stream having realised knowledge of the four noble truths and suffering.

  • One can be very convincing when insight occurs through jhana. Sometimes jhana is intoxicating with a self constructed wiseness that is unshakable and through mere speech one can subdue the speech and thoughts of others. Perhaps the one big twist in all of this is a definition of enlightenment I heard from Adyashanti: enlightenment is to realise that there is nothing to realise; everything just is.
    – user14148
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 8:34
  • I can't answer because I have no personal experience of being in nibbana.
    – user14148
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 17:27
  • Yes, it must because of that, jhanic state. Interesting.
    – user14287
    Commented Jun 11, 2019 at 11:10
  • "This is the tomfoolery of awakening." - Great phrase. .
    – user14119
    Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 9:56

Of course this can happen. It's not because you experience enlightenment that you won't get hungry, or angry, or {your favorite condition goes here} after that. It also doesn't mean you can't experience it again an hour later. Life does not end at satori. In some traditions, it is even considered counterproductive to dwell on/in the experience. A good book on this is "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry" by Jack Kornfield.


According to Buddhist teaching becoming Sotapanna is the only way to assure Nibbana.

"The laywoman Sujata, Ananda, through the destruction of the three fetters has become a stream-enterer, and is safe from falling into the states of misery, assured, and bound for Enlightenment."


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