The Sangha of Noble Savakas, with Particular Reference to their Trainee Member, the Person ‘Practising for the Realization of the Stream-entry-fruit’
Keywords:Abhidhamma, Dhamma-eye, Dhamma-follower, faith-follower, magga, streamenterer, once-returner, non-returner, Arahat, noble persons, sāvaka, Saṅgha
All Buddhists go to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha as the ‘three refuges’, but who exactly are the ‘the eight types of persons’ that are referred to in the standard passage on the nature and qualities of the third refuge? Four of these persons are clearly the stream-enterer, once-returner, non-returner, and Arahat, but who are the others, especially the lowest of them, the one practising for the realization of the stream-entry-fruit? This article aims to develop greater clarity on these eight persons and their relationship to each other, and especially to focus on the first, who comes in the forms of the faith-follower and Dhamma-follower. It aims to get at the original meaning of such terms, and trace how these changed. In particular, it questions the appropriateness of the developed Pali tradition’s mapping of him/her as existing only for one moment, immediately prior to stream-entry, and seeks to gauge, from the suttas, at what point in a person’s practice they become such a person, and hence a member of the savaka-Sangha. In the process, the practices of the person practising for stream-entry are explored and the sutta meaning of terms such as ariya, ariya-savaka, sekha and sappurisa are also examined.
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