Venerable sir,

Lately I have been wondering if there is a proper technique that can be used in order to attain stream entry rather than meditating. I have a few experiences with loving kindness meditation though it did not go very well. Actually, I am not good at meditating therefore it is hard for me to walk in the path. It might be easier if there is a proper technique to follow instead of meditating. Also even though I am in a Buddhist country it is not very popular among the Buddhist to meditate here, so if there is a technique please let me know.

Thank you

  • stream entry isn't everything my friend, even outside the mahayana there is great progress and effort to be found both in and out of enlightenment ! – user3293056 Mar 10 '15 at 21:16
  • @user3293056 What is outside the Mahayana? What kind of Enlightenment are they working on? You are speaking of enlightenment for the world or full individual enlightenment that transcends this world that the Gotama Buddha taught? Maybe it's both? – Lowbrow Apr 13 '17 at 14:01

10 Answers 10

If you find it difficult to meditate you may not have enough merits. Your bad karma is obstructing you from meditating, either ones performed in this life or previous ones. Remember that it is because of our merits that we can even encounter the dharma.

First develop sufficient merits. Do dana and develop sila. Some people spend years developing their sila and generosity before sitting on the meditation mat. Other ways to develop merits helping others, listening to Dharma talks, being happy for other people's success, volunteering for charity and being humble. Basically just by being a good person and keeping the precepts. Just think of everything that's good and positive, wholesome and happy and let that shine your path. Don't worry about egolessness, equanimity or meditation. Don't run before you can stand. No-one who ever developed deep states of meditation and achieve Arahanthood did so without creating the necessary karma for it.

After you have developed positive qualities or merits then you will naturally be able to grasp meditation. Remember you don't meditate your problems away, you see your problems more clearly. So my advice is sort out your life first then your karma will allow you to meditate.

There are 5 ways to start your journey:

  1. listening to the Dharma
  2. teaching the Dharma
  3. reciting the Dharma
  4. reflecting on the Dharma
  5. meditation

Followed by:

joy arises in him;

because of joy, zest arises;

because of zest, the body becomes tranquil;

when the body is tranquil, he feels happiness;

a happy mind becomes concentrated.

Vimutt’āyatana Sutta

So formal meditation is not the only way. But having said that you should come to a reasonably concentrated and aware mind to progress from joy onwards. For this you might need some mediation. Even if you are not formally doing meditation, awareness and concentration of the arising and passing away of sensations (pleasant, unpleasant and neutral) is a must during normal course of daily activities for reasonable part of the day.

Also see this answer for more reference on Nibbida formula.

First, you must know that Stream Entry is not something that can be achieved easily. It can take multiple lives to get there. Do your best but do not push too hard to disappoint yourself. I am not a monk and have no attainment myself so think about my answer carefully.

The Buddha's 4th noble truth is the eightfold paths that lead to total liberation, starting with the Stream Entry. The eightfold paths are grouped into 3 groups - Virtues, Development of the Mind, and Wisdom. You asked about meditation which falls under the mind group of the path. Meditation is needed in order to see the wisdom necessary for Stream Entry. But what you meant by meditation is probably sitting down silently for a long time in order to go into deep meditation. If so, there are other ways.

There are other ways to meditate. For example, when you see an old person, you see yourself as an old person. You remind yourself that one day, you will get old and die. You then think about how suffering this world is. Then, you can remind yourself of how the Buddha escaped suffering by putting away his desire.

When you meditate about the suffering of the world enough, you will grow disenchanted with the it. Eventually, you will be free of the belief of self. (Why would want you to be of a self if it will lead to suffering?).

But more importantly, ask yourself this, can a person think clearly if he is getting bothered continuously? Can you see the reflection in water if the water is continuously disturbed? Any kind of meditation, including the one I described, cannot be done successfully without the perfection of virtues (Right Speech, Right Livelihood, and Right Action). If your virtues is not perfect, you will be continuously disturbed by your own conduct. And by perfect, I really do mean perfect. Even unintentionally killing an insect can cause an imperfection. This is why it is easy for monks to meditate. They can perfect their virtues more easily than lay people.

Also, before doing any practice, I suggest that you read the Tripitaka as much as possible. How do you expect to travel to a place so hard to find without a map?

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    What do you mean by imperfection? If by imperfection, you mean that it will cause negative Kamma then I don't think that unintentional killing of insects can cause an imperfection because it won't constitute any Kamma...Lord himself clarifies this in the story of Ven. Cakkhupala given in the 1st verse of Dhammapada buddhistvihara.com/newsletters/2002-spring/… – TheDarkKnightRules Jan 8 '15 at 13:42
  • @TheDarkKnightRules Ven. Cakkhupala was an Arahant at the time the insects were killed. An Arahant has some immunity to karma since he cannot seek rebirth. Most people today (especially the OP who asked the question) are not Arahant. He still has to be careful of what karma he takes. Imagine if Person A killed someone in a car accident, will he be responsible for the death? It was not intentional, he still has to face punishment. Same goes with any living being, even if it is just an insect. – jackchalat Jan 9 '15 at 16:09

For me and my own practice I would venture the answer as a tentative yes - meditation is necessary or at the very least a part of the path. I like to think in terms of the three fold path for things like this. So if you have a practice of ethics, meditation and an appreciation of wisdom (i.e. the Buddha's teachings) then you're going in the right way. Meditation isn't the only thing on the path but I think it's going to be fairly critical really.

That said we have kicked around ideas on this site about attaining levels of insight without meditation. This question investigates dry insight which might interest you. Also there is an indication that there is a compassion only path in Buddhism (see this question) but that remains controversial.

In addition I would say that any practitioners of pure land Buddhism would whole-heartedly disagree with me on this. For them the path is devotional and you can go all the way on having devotion and faith in a Bodhisattva figure. This path might well be more for you?

yes. Many in pali cannon have achieved stream enterer without mediation. when sariputtra (Buddha's chief decipher) was a lay person.. he met A monk Elder Assaji. He was so impressed with monk's demeanor, he asked him who was his teacher and what were his teachings. Ven. Assaji, said he was new to this monastic life and could not explain the teaching in detail but in short..

"Of all those things that from a cause arise, Tathagata the cause thereof has told; And how they cease to be, that too he tells, This is the doctrine of the Great Recluse"

Sariputtri achieved stream enterer right then and there.

Buddha's gave about 50+ suttas about the characteristic of a stream enterer.

Another story, Lady Visakha achieved stream enterer when she was 7 when she heard Buddha's teaching (something like, "small faults in others are easy to see but big faults in yourself are difficult to notice" )

No. To even ask a question such as "can you do ____ without meditation" speaks of a weakness, namely that of being able to sit and focus the mind. A weakness I see in our generation of ADD and media-crazed, electronic-obsessed children and adults.

Stream entry, means cutting off afflictions which means jhana attainment which means A LOT of meditation had to be done, whether it was sitting cross-legged or reclined. There is no stream-entry without jhana attainment. There is no jhana attainment without a tremendous amount of efforts at following the Noble Truths and stilling the mind and reaching effortless stilling of the mind.

The Buddhists that are not meditating are NOT seeking to be enlightened in this lifetime. There are plenty of Buddhists that think that by chanting a mantra they will be able to gain entry into a Buddhist heaven. They are not aware that to be equipped to endure the death process, jhana is required.

It's really up to the individual but I wouldn't consider someone a true Buddhist unless they meditate for countless reasons, one being that most of what the Buddha taught during his entire career regarded attaining the jhanas through many different methods including contemplations and loving-kindness meditations and literally hundreds more.

Meditation is an absolute necessity of the Path. The methods though are many. Don't make meditation seem like so much work! Remember: the purpose of meditation, jhana, is actually an extremely pleasurable, clear-minded state, which if you achieve it, will get rid of your defilements because you discover this perfect mental-physical state and it will allow you to feel truly pure and empty of egoic creations and thus highly energetic and be able to multi-task and become extremely, highly functional in the world! Meditation is not a chore or a dysfunction. It is a pathway to becoming a happier, satisfied, powered-up version of yourself. Minus the ego though (you won't feel like showing off or being hurtful to others).

Anybody that doesn't meditate is not taking the path of self-transformation and self-mastery of their karma, mind, and life. Anybody that has achieved stream-entry without lots of sitting meditation, has only done so because they have tremendous achievement from past lives and thus that weight of good karma carried over to this present life and enabled them to achieve stream-entry with ease (because they are already familiar with the jhana state and entered it easily). These are all things the Buddha said.

If you like loving-kindness meditation... then learn to do it really well! There are stories in the sutta of bodhisattvas who attained jhana, stream-entry and even higher stages through such a method alone! In fact, the beings in the 1st dhyana-jhana heaven are filled with unconditional boundless love.

Through loving-kindness meditation you can attain jhana. There are plenty of guides on the internet particularly on BuddhaNet.

I reccommend doing one practice you like (you have karmic affinity with it from past lives) and also a method you hate and struggle with (it represents a part of the Path that you have travailed over for countless lifetimes).

  • i downvoted because the tone of this question seemed bullish almost to the point of hostility. sorry no harm donw :) – user3293056 Mar 10 '15 at 21:18
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    You are too sensitive. Think of my "hostility" as the stern beration of a wise old monk not to shy away from cross-legged practice! – Ahmed Mar 12 '15 at 4:30
  • I think there are many good points in this answer. Mainly though, seekers need a Guru, or some type of wiser person to guide them. That guide can help determine what and how much of it to practice. – user2341 Apr 13 '17 at 11:46

There is ample evidence in the Pali canon that one can reap some of the fruits of the path without meditation. It doesn't make all that much sense to go into this topic myself as it is ably and amply covered by Bhikkhu Bodhi, for example in The Jhānas and the Lay Disciple According to the Pāli Suttas:

I would propose that while disciples prior to stream-entry may or may not possess the formless attainments, skill in this area does not determine a distinct type because powerful concentration is not a governing factor in the attainment of stream-entry. The way to stream-entry certainly requires a degree of concentration sufficient for the "eye of the Dhamma" to arise, but the actual movement from the stage of a worldling to that of a path-attainer is driven by either strong conviction or a probing spirit of inquiry, which respectively determine whether the aspirant is to become a faith-follower or a Dhamma-follower. Once, however, the path has been gained, then one's degree of accomplishment in concentration determines one's future mode of progress. If one gains the formless attainments one takes the route of the body-witness, culminating in release as a both-ways-liberated arahant. If one does not attain them, one takes the route of the view-attainer or faith-liberated trainee, culminating in release as a wisdom-liberated arahant.

One eye-opening concept for me was that of the saddhānusārī or faith-follower who, according to the suttas, is capable (if not inevitably destined) for stream entry in this very life (SN 25).

Nowaday, not like Buddha time, one must do need proper meditation to achieve stream entry level. But it is not so difficult as some may think. What one needs is to search for proper meditation master. The very will to achieve this level is the first step. But there is no short cut but with proper guidance and relentless effort, in seven days to seven years one can attain enlightenment.

You could attain stream entry at any moment for seemingly no reason. Perhaps "self inquiry" would be something you could get into?

People who practice insight often have great and wonderful meditation experiences and this is a sign they could be on the wrong track so to speak. Another meditator, can't seem to get stablized and the practice causes great suffering. This is often a meditator on the right track. So, maybe you are practicing more correctly than you think.

here is a book about sotapanna with citations

http://watnapahpong.com/static_media/Sotapanna_Handbook_English_version_30.pdf

Free download so no breaking of second precept :-)

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    If the book which you linked answers the question, then what is the answer (or where in the book is the answer)? If you post a link please include a summary or a relevant quote from what you linked. – ChrisW Apr 13 '17 at 10:16

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