18 Apr
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That Which Keeps Us Bound

The Ten Fetters” (samyojana) is one of the topics of this month’s DPP homework…which is preparing us for the up-coming retreat on Nibanna. “Fetters” is not a word I use in every-day conversation. But I understand what it means — something that keeps us from moving forward, that holds us back, that keeps us bound.

This is part of our readings for this month. It’s from The Isalnd: An Anthology of the Buddha’s Teachings on Nibbana, by Ajanh Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro:

Although some people may be quicker than others in reaching the goal, the structure of the unfolding insight is common to all. The most familiar description of the stages of realization contains four levels: the stream-enterer (sotapanna), the once-returner (sakadagami), the non-returner (anagram) and one fully enlightened (arahant). These levels are differentiated according to the ‘fetters’ (samyojana) that a liberated person relinquishes at each stage:

Bhikkhus, there are these five lower fetters. What five? Identity view, doubt, the distorted grasp of rules and vows, sensual desire, ill will. These are the five lower fetters. Samyutta Nikaya 45.179, translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Bhikkhus, there are these five higher fetters. What five? Lust for form, lust for the formless, conceit, restlessness, ignorance. These are the five higher fetters. — Samyutta Nikaya 45.180, translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi”

Later on in the text: What now, Sariputta, is a factor for stream-entry? Association with superior persons, venerable sir, is a factor for stream-entry. Hearing the true Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry. Careful attention is a factor for stream-entry. Practice in accordance with the Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry…. One who possesses this Noble Eightfold Path is a stream-enterer— Samyutta Nikaya 55.5, translation by Bhikkhu Bodhi.

When he attends wisely in this way, three fetters are abandoned in him: personality view, doubt and adherence to rules and observances. These are called the taints that should be abandoned by seeing. — Majjhima Nikaya 2.3 & .9-11 translation by Bhikkhu Nanamoli & Bhikkhy Bodhi

And: “The Eightfold Path which is equated with the stream is often characterized as being composed of three trainings — virtue, concentration (or the higher mind) and wisdom…..If the factors of the path are fulfilled partially, one is able to realize stream-entry. If you fulfill them more completely, you’ll reach the higher attainments. For stream-entry, full accomplishment in virtue is necessary, but only partial accomplishment in concentration and wisdom.”

(image: “Creative Whack Pack,” by Roger von Oech)

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