Points of Controversy

2.9. Of a Specified Progress in Penetration

Controverted Point: That penetration is acquired in segmentary order.

Theravādin: If you affirm that there is a definite graduation in penetration, you must also affirm that the first Path (Stream-Winning) is gradually developed. If you refuse, your first proposition falls. If you consent, you must also admit gradual realization of the fruition of that Path. But you cannot. Similarly for the realization of the second, third, and fourth Fruits.

But tell me more of this gradual piecemeal acquiring: when a person is working to be able to realize the fruition of Stream-Winning, and wins insight into the first Truth, namely the fact of Suffering, what does he give up?

Andhakas, Sarvāstivādins, Sammitīyas, and Bhadrayānikas: He gives up the theory of soul, doubt, the infection of mere rule and ritual, and a fourth part in the corruptions that are bound up with them.

Theravādin: This fourth part: do you maintain that “he thereby becomes one quarter Stream-Winner, one quarter not? Has one quarter of him won, attained to, arrived at, realized the Fruit? Does a quarter of him abide in personal contact with it, and a quarter not? Does a quarter of him get seven more rebirths only, rebirths only among gods and men, or one more rebirth only? Is one quarter of him endowed with implicit faith in the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Saṅgha? Is a quarter of him endowed with virtues dear to Ariyans, and a quarter of him not? You deny this, yet it follows from your proposition.

Again, when he wins insight into the second, third, and fourth Truths, namely the cause of Suffering, its cessation, and the Path leading to that, what does he give up? The same things, say you? Then the same objection applies.

Or what does a person who is working to be able to realize the fruition of the other three Paths give up?

Andhakas, Sarvāstivādins, Sammitīyas, and Bhadrayānikas: He gives up respectively (1) the bulk of sense-desires, intense ill-will, and a quarter of the corruptions bound up with them; (2) the residuum of sense-desires and of ill-will, and one quarter of the corruptions bound up with them; (8) lusting after life in any of the higher heavens, conceit, distraction, ignorance, and one quarter of the corruptions bound up with them.

Theravādin: Then the same objection applies, namely, you must say whether, for example, he is one quarter Arahant, one quarter not, and so on.

When a person who is practising to be able to realize the fruition of Stream-Winning is beginning to see the fact of Suffering, would you call him “a practiser”?

Andhakas, Sarvāstivādins, Sammitīyas, and Bhadrayānikas: Yes.

Theravādin: Would you, when he has seen it, call him “established in the fruit”? No, you reply, but why not? So again, in the case of the three other Truths—why not?

Again, you allow that such a person, when he is coming to see the first Path, may be called a practices and you allow that when he has seen that Path, he is to be called “established in fruition.” Yet you do not allow that such a person who, when he is coming to see the fact of Suffering, may be called practiser, may, when he has seen the fact of Suffering, be called “established in fruition”—why not? Again, you allow that such a person, when he is coming to see the first Path, may be called practiser, and when he has seen the fact of Suffering, may be called established in fruition. Yet you do not allow that such a person who, when he is coming to see the cause, or the cessation of Suffering, may be called practiser, may, when he has seen either of these Truths, be called established in fruition—why not?

Once more, you allow that such a person, when he is coming to see the fact of Suffering, may be called practiser, while you refuse, when he has seen that fact, to call him established in fruition (as in Kv2.9.10). Then you must allow, and refuse similarly, if we substitute any other of the Four Truths—but to this you did not agree Kv2.9.11. With reference to your position (in Kv2.9.12): you compel yourself to admit, that insight into the fact, or the cause, or the cessation, of Suffering is really of no value.

Andhakas, Sarvāstivādins, Sammitīyas, and Bhadrayānikas: You affirm then that, when once the first Truth, viz., the fact and nature of Suffering is seen, the Four Truths are seen?

Theravādin: Yes.

Andhakas, Sarvāstivādins, Sammitīyas, and Bhadrayānikas: Then you must admit also that the First Truth amounts to the Four Truths.

Theravādin: Ah, no! for you as for us if the material aggregate (khandha) is seen to be impermanent, all five are seen to be so. Yet you would not therefore say that the material aggregate amounts to all the others. A similar argument may be applied to the twelvefold field of sense and the twenty-two “controllers” or faculties.

If you believe that the fruition of the First Path is realized by insight considered as divided into so many integral portions, for example, the Four Insights, the Eight, Twelve, Forty-four, Seventy-seven Insights, then you must admit a corresponding number of Fruits of the First Path—which of course you do not.

Andhakas, Sarvāstivādins, Sammitīyas, and Bhadrayānikas: You say our proposition that there is a gradual sequence in penetration is wrong. But was it not said by the Exalted One:

“Even, O bhikkhus, as the ocean slopes gradually, inclines gradually, has gradual hollows, without abrupt precipices, so, in this Dhamma and Discipline, is there gradual training, gradual achievement, gradual practice, but no sudden discernment of gnosis.”

Again, was it not said by the Exalted One:

“Little by little, one by one, as pass
The moments, gradually let the wise
Like smith the blemishes of silver, blow
The specks away that mar his purity”?

Theravādin: That is so. But did not the venerable Gavampati address the brethren thus:

“Brothers, I have heard this from the Exalted One, and learnt it from his lips: O bhikkhus! whoso sees the fact of Suffering, sees also its cause, cessation, and the course of practice leading thereto. Whoso sees the cause of Suffering, sees also Suffering itself, its cessation, and the course of practice leading thereto. Whoso sees the cessation Suffering, sees also Suffering itself, its cause, and the course of practice leading to its cessation. Whoso sees the way, sees also Suffering sees its cause, sees its cessation.”

Again, was it not said by the Exalted One:

“Together with attainment of vision,
Three things are abandoned:
Identity view, doubt
And misapprehension of behaviour and vows—if any remain.
Such a one is released from the fourfold doom,
And they cannot do any of the six heinous deeds.”

Again, was it not said by the Exalted One:

“Whenever, O bhikkhus, for the Ariyan disciple there arises the stainless, flawless Eye of the Dhamma—that whatsoever by its nature may happen, may all by its nature cease—then with the coming of that vision he abandons these three fetters: identity view, doubt, and the misapprehension of behaviour and vows.”