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 Correlations between Supramundane Paths

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PostSubject: Correlations between Supramundane Paths   Wed Aug 25, 2010 7:51 am

Correlations between Theravada, Mahayana & Zen supramundane paths: are inaccurate correlations affecting OBC teaching, policies and interactions?

I’ve begun this thread as I think that longstanding inaccurate correlations between stages of the Theravada, Mahayana and Zen supramundane paths, and conclusions drawn from them, may be affecting OBC teaching, policies and interactions. Master Jiyu spoke publicly of these correlations and may have drawn certain inferences from them.

For example, in Meetings With Remarkable Women (1987) she responded to a question from author Lenore Friedman on lay practice versus monastic life: “It all depends on how far you want to go. If you want to go the whole way, you must become a monk. You must be willing not to be married, you’ve literally got to give up everything. You cannot go the whole way unless you completely control, and no longer need or want, sex and anger. Those are the two things you really have to give up completely. To go the whole way. It’s very clear if you read the Theravada books on the subject. There are four kenshos, the four stages of understanding. A married person can very easily reach the first, and probably can’t reach the second, definitely not the third or fourth. This does not mean that marriage is wrong, it merely means you have to decide how far you want to go. And anyone can get a first kensho. It would seem to take between seven and ten years of celibacy before you can really go further…If you get a first kensho and you then decide to get married, you won’t go further. If you’re married already, and then decide to give yourself to the Eternal…”

The author interrupted at this point with the question, “Then sex is the important thing, and not the relationship?” to which Master Jiyu responded: “That’s what I said but the relationship does enter into it, because once you’ve had a kensho you can’t even marry for the sake of the relationship – because then you’ve taken something away from the Eternal, as it were, and given it to someone else.”

Laura kindly responded to my request for information on whether the OBC “still operates under the premise that a Soto Zen first full kensho equates with Theravada stream-entry and that a third great kensho equates with entry to non-returner [sic] stage”:

I can tell you, as someone who left the OBC only 3 years ago, that the former abbot, Rev. Eko Little, did continue to teach RM Jiyu's view that the first kensho constituted stream entry and the third constituted attainment of the arhat stage. This teaching was not referred to often, as there was not a strong emphasis on calculating stages of enlightenment. The emphasis was much more focused on just the ongoing daily practice and training.

As a starting-point, here is an amended version of an earlier post of mine (from the thread on celibacy):

In How to Grow a Lotus Blossom, Master Jiyu wrote of her first full kensho as being what caused Zenji Keido Chisan Koho later to qualify her as a teacher of Zen, and as being (to her knowledge) the type of kensho experience “upon which most of the present teachers of Zen in the orient and, possibly, those in America too, have their qualifications based”. She equated this kensho with the stage of stream-winner described in Pali suttas and Theravada literature, and with the first bodhisattva bhumi of the Mahayana. My understanding is that she may have drawn conclusions on lay training, monasticism and celibacy from equating the third great kensho with awakening to the Theravada stage of arhat.

I believe that these equations were an unfortunate academic mistake, and that she should have equated the first full kensho with arhat stage, and that the preceding stages of the Theravadin supramundane path equate with earlier stages of awakening to no self/person in the skandhas. Theravadin names of these earlier stages include “once-returner” and “non-returner” but this should not confuse, as it is not voluntary compassionate rebirth that is limited (tulkus view this differently to Theravadins) but rebirth as a result of certain “knots” of illusoryself-grasping. I know of no name in Zen for these earlier stages, though they are undoubtedly experienced.

After someone reaches basic arhat stage, subtle dualistic appearances still occur from time to time due to what are termed “imprints of delusions” (I don’t know the Sanskrit word, ?some kind of vāsana, e.g kleśavāsanā) or jneyāvaranā, sometimes translated as “obstructions to omniscience” but meaning “obstructions to ongoing simultaneous perception of phenomenality and emptiness”, not access to all kinds of relative knowledge: these terms relate to the same veils.
Master Jiyu emphasised that having a first full kensho is not the end of training but marks a new beginning and she spoke/wrote of training and self-awakening after this: I believe that she was referring to clearing degrees of jneyāvarana, and that her third great kensho finished this process. In the 1977 first edition of How to Grow a Lotus Blossom (appendix A), she wrote of kensho becoming a gapless “long and permanent experience”: I think she was referring to thence ongoing simultaneous perception of phenomenality and emptiness. The 1993 second edition of HGLB omits this statement (and many others that appeared in the first edition).

A few accounts of lay non-returners and arhats exist in Pali suttas but I do not know if Master Jiyu came across them. In the case of lay arhats, they either ordained or died very soon after liberation. In his answers to questions from the Bactrian king Menander (Milinda), arhat Venerable Nagasena asserts that a lay arhat must either join the Order or s/he will die (I think within a day) because, according to Venerable Nagasena, lay life is inherently unable to support an arhat. I have also seen reference to this belief in modern day Theravadin sources but do not know if it is ubiquitous. With regard to celibacy, an assumption in Theravada seems to be that voluntary sexual activity (?erectile) proves that the person has not yet reached non-returner stage. I suspect that some influential arhats of old found differently, hence the divergence between Mahayana and Theravada in these matters. (The condition and experiential views of non-influential arhats would probably not have been believed.)

Master Jiyu would not have agreed that celibacy/absence of a heart-mate relationship, or monastic ordination and lifestyle were necessary for reaching the first full kensho; but I believe that, because of misequating stages and because of the Theravada view that non-returners+ are inevitably celibate and that lay arhats soon expire, she inferred that these conditions apply to what are actually post-arhat-liberation kenshos. I never learned of any change in her views concerning this, or of any subsequent disclaimer from the OBC.

Mahayana schools, at least of the “third turning of the wheel” variety, acknowledge that one can train and self-awaken in this life beyond the level of basic arhat liberation. After preparatory training and stream-entry (or whatever name one gives it), three successive supramundane paths of training and self-awakening proceed, somewhat like turns of a helix:
 The first corresponds to the period from stream-entry to entering arhat stage, and is termed along the lines of “path realising no self/person in the skandhas” or “path realising the emptiness of the person” (the latter term omits that other forms in ones physical sensory environment (which are also included among the first skandha) are also realised as “not selves” during stream-entry).
 The second, termed along the lines of “path realising the emptiness of dharmas”, begins at entry to arhat stage; during its course, all skandhas are experientially realised as empty of self-nature: the emptiness of form is realised during entry to arhat stage (which sets a tone for the rest) but emptying the perceived duality of “nirvana” v. samsara (i.e peace v. disturbing formations) is, I think, where clearing jneyāvarana begins.
 The third is termed along the lines of “path realising the emptiness of ‘emptiness’”, during the course of which the subtlest dualistic appearances are cleared.
I think the “second, ongoing” phase of kensho, as referred to by Master Jiyu, spans the second of the above three paths and most of the third. A Ch’an understanding of these three supramundane phases appears online at www.chan1.org/ddp/channews/08-1995.html Ch’an Newsletter 109 (August 1995) and in Hoofprint of the Ox (2001), by Master Sheng-yen.

My understanding is that Theravadin schools count knowledge of clearing all jneyāvarana (termed the anavarana or “incessant/unobstructed” knowledge) as one of six knowledges developed only by full buddhas, which would be another major difference between Theravada and these Mahayana schools.
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PostSubject: Re: Correlations between Supramundane Paths   Wed Aug 25, 2010 7:56 am

With Lise’s permission I have included below some information drawn from and checked with various sources on correlations between paths, which I believe differs from that taught in the OBC. I am not beyond “academic mistakes” myself, so would encourage readers to check with other sources before assuming all details are accurate or non-variable. I hope that the sources quoted are fairly clear as starting-points for those interested in investigating further, though some familiarity with Theravada and Mahayana terms will be necessary to follow the details below. I have added some comments where I think this might help.

A popular current view is that no major differences exist between Theravada and Mahayana teachings: that the latter arose to address perceived shortcomings of something called the Hinayana, an Indian forerunner of Mahayana quite unlike the Theravada, and that the arhats of Mahayana scripture do not represent true arhats. Accordingly the difference between Mahayana and Hinayana is often explained solely as being that the former concerns itself with helping others to awaken, while the latter is or was concerned only with awakening oneself, which certainly does not reflect the magnanimous spirit found in Theravada communities. Even some Mahayana practitioners infer that bodhisattvas must proceed without liberative insight for æons in order to complete their salvific work, unlike arhats: on this basis, one might wonder if the Mahayana path arose as a very forward-looking consolation prize, its lineages founded and perpetuated by the unawakened with all the possibilities for veering off track this suggests!

However, in Mahayana teachings, the term Hinayāna also refers to teachings that take arhat stage, as still understood by Theravadins, as the end of the path rather than as a stage along the way: for example, in the Saddharma Pundarīka Sutra (one of the earliest Mahayana sutras), the Buddha tells Mahakaśyapa that the achievement of the arhat does not convey the complete penetration of all dharmas (phenomena), and he predicts buddhahood for everyone assembled. The Mahayana was developed by those who reached arhat stage and trained beyond, and its teachings also supply details of how this further path proceeds, not in some inconceivably far-hence future but for present application. This further understanding of the path included “penetration of all dharmas” and affected perspectives on the path. Some readers may feel that arhat stage, whatever it is, would produce better behaviour than that of some senior figures in the OBC. However, clearing the kleśas does not make an arhat immune to error, and their behaviour may sometimes appear to an onlooker as if kleśas were present, but this would be a matter for another thread. (See www.chan1.org/ddp/channews/08-1995.html Ch’an Newsletter 109 (August 1995) for more on this difference between Hinayana arhat and Mahayana bodhisattva (“vexations” = kleśas).)

The following discourse falls under six heads: one on history, four on stages of supramundane training up to arhat stage/bodhisattva bhumis seven and eight, and one on post-arhat training.

A little history:
Readers interested in the roots, history and development of the Mahayana may find the following books by Eric Cheetham (published in conjunction with The Buddhist Society, London) useful to read sequentially:
 Fundamentals of Mainstream Buddhism (1996): an exposition “directed specifically to those seeking to learn the foundations of Buddhist ideas in a straightforward manner, without becoming involved in conflicting sectarian interpretations”. The book comprises four parts, each with several chapters: 1) Samsara and Rebirth, 2) The Life of Shakyamuni Buddha, 3) The Dharma: Ends, Means and Views, 4) The Path and the Three Ways. Lay readers lacking confidence through their own training may find the historic emphasis on monasticism, as related herein, unsettling. (Unfortunately, this edition has many typographic errors.)
 An Outline of Indian Mahayana, a series of four booklets: 1) The Pre-Mahayana Landscape (1989), 2) The Second Turning of the Wheel (1991), 3) The Great Way Unfolds (1992), 4) The Main Mahayana Schools (1993).
 The Great Way (2004): an exposition of the emergence and development, from early mainstream Buddhism, of Indian Mahayana doctrine and practice, “the body of the smiling cat” of present-day Mahayana schools. Some information in this book overlaps that given in An Outline of Indian Mahayana but each contains elements that don’t appear in the other.

There has been widespread belief that the contents of the Pali texts represent the only true record of the Buddha’s teaching; this belief has usually included the idea that this record enshrines the complete Dharma, preserved intact and inviolate from the first days of the Sangha in India. While the Pali texts of the Theravada certainly display some of the Buddha’s teaching that was taken up and developed by the Mahayana, roots of Mahayana teachings not found in the Theravada and predating it appear in the records of early Buddhist schools.

Here is an excerpt from The Great Way, on the emergence of translated texts of Indian origin from scholars in Europe and the United States before and after the Second World War: “One of the first things to become apparent from these new discoveries was that the Theravada form of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, together with its canonical texts in Pali, was only one school of ancient Buddhism among eighteen, some of them pre-dating Emperor Aśoka’s mission in the third century BCE which established Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Other schools of this first period also had complete canons of their own, originally in Sanskrit, which in some respects differed from what is found in the Pali version. Most interesting of all, it became clear that among these first schools of Buddhism in India, there were certain matters of dispute. In one case, they caused a fragmentation of the Buddhist Order and resulted in the formation of two distinct wings of the Buddhist fraternity, although there remained a consensus on the major items of doctrine. And all this took place before Aśoka sent his mission to Sri Lanka and thus before the Theravada scriptures had obtained their final shape and content. In the light of this newly realized existence of several canons, the many differing schools and the two divergent wings of the early Order, it is now impossible to accord one particular canon of scripture, however ancient, the pre-eminent place of exclusive authenticity. The Theravada and its canon can now take its rightful place as one ancient school of Buddhism among others. The future implications of these momentous discoveries are also crucial for the correct appreciation of the antecedents of the Mahayana.”

I will add a little concerning the Buddha’s (approximate) birth and death dates. Many books available on Buddhism give these as (c.) 563 BCE and 483 BCE respectively. Ancient traditions from Sri Lanka, China and Tibet maintain variant dates, some later, some considerably earlier. The wide discrepancy in dates indicates one of the difficulties that has faced historically inclined scholars of Buddhism. Reinvestigation of previous chronicles, and input from other sources, has led Professor Richard Gombrich to propose a new set of dates, c.485 – 404 BCE, which I would suggest (perhaps incorrectly) seems more realistic than a lengthy period of idyllic stasis before diversity becomes historically apparent. Some years ago, The Middle Way (Journal of The Buddhist Society, London) ran an interesting article by Rajith Dissanayake on this revision. Perhaps similar details are available on the internet for those interested.

Entering the stream of nirvana : 1st and 2nd bodhisattva bhumis:
Each of the four Theravada supramundane stages is divided into path and fruition phases, making a total of eight phases from the path of stream-entry to the fruition of arhat stage. Theravada teacher Bhante Henepola Gunaratana wrote in Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English (2009): “For each stage, there is a specific realisation that marks the beginning of the path phase and another that signals ‘graduation’ to the fruition phase. Each stage is marked by the elimination of one or more of the fetters (not strictly accurate in the case of the second supramundane stage – Anne). The order in which these are destroyed depends on your personality type. [For example, in the case of the first stage,] faith-followers destroy the fetters in one order, Dhamma (i.e wisdom)-followers proceed by another sequence…In the Abhidhamma texts, there is some suggestion that the path and the fruition periods can arise very rapidly, almost simultaneously. I feel that each phase may take a moment, a lifetime, or anywhere in between…Other suttas imply that the path arises first. Then the meditator associates with the path phase, develops it and cultivates it before attaining the fruition state…Even if somebody’s attainment seems instant, he still must attain the path first and afterward attain fruition. Attaining path and fruition at once is impossible. It is never mentioned in any sutta.”

I have not read explicitly that the eight phases of the Theravada supramundane path correspond precisely with the first eight bodhisattva bhumis but, in terms of fetters (samyojana; a.k.a bonds, knots), kleśas and illusoryself-grasping, it seems very likely, and in this post I present correspondences between serial phases and bhumis. I have read in Tibetan commentaries that people may “leap-over” bhumis.

To clarify an important distinction between “intellectually-formed illusoryself-grasping” (sometimes called “gross illusoryself-grasping”) and “innate illusoryself-grasping” (sometimes called “subtle illusoryself-grasping”), I will quote New Kadampa teacher Geshe Kelsang Gyatso from Ocean of Nectar (1995): “We develop the intellectually-formed view of the transitory collection (i.e the skandhas plus the I imputed upon them) when we speculate about the nature of our I and conclude that it is inherently existent. If anyone as a result of relying upon mistaken reasoning or misguided advice holds their I to be inherently existent, then they possess this view. Human beings who do not investigate the nature of their I, and other beings such as animals and insects, never generate it. The innate view of the transitory collection is a mind conceiving ones own I to be inherently existent that arises naturally, without any intellectual investigation, from imprints accumulated in the mind over countless lives. Unlike the intellectually-formed view, it functions continuously in the minds of all ordinary beings, including animals and insects.” Geshe Kelsang’s writing on these matters seems to accord with other Tibetan scholars.

Equating the path phase of stream-entry with the first bodhisattva bhumi, in their abandoning the same three intellectually-formed bonds (see next paragraph), Geshe Kelsang wrote in Ocean of Nectar that only the “intellectually-formed view of the transitory collection” and not the “innate view” is abandoned on this bhumi but that the second bhumi starts with having abandoned grossest innate illusoryself-grasping. Nine levels of innate illusoryself-grasping are categorised, from big-big to small-small, to be abandoned at deep level of mind and energy, starting at the very end of the first bhumi and finishing at the very end of the seventh.

Sakāyadrishti (Pali sakkāyaditthi), sometimes translated as “identity view”, is another name for the “intellectually-formed view of the transitory collection” and is one of the three knots undone in stream-entry. Kāya means “body” or “group” but explanations are often exceedingly ambiguous leading one to suppose that someone who has “entered the stream” of nirvana has overcome all grasping at a person in respect of all skandhas. That was not the explanation given by Theravada teacher Ajahn Chah in 1968 www.ajahnchah.org/book/Opening_Dhamma_Eye1.php concerning Kondañña’s receiving/opening “the Eye of Dhamma”, as reported in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta: “So the vision or understanding of the ‘One who knows’ clearly entered the mind of Añña Kondañña as he sat there. This knowledge of ‘whatever is born [has aging and death as a natural result]’ became deeply embedded in his mind, enabling him to uproot attachment to the body. This attachment was sakkāyaditthi. This means that he didn’t take the body to be a self or a being, or in terms of ‘he’ or ‘me’. He didn’t cling to it. He saw it clearly, thus uprooting sakkāyaditthi. And the vicikicchā (doubt; Sanskrit vicikitsā) was destroyed. Having uprooted attachment to his body he didn’t doubt his realisation. Sīlabbata parāmāsa (distorted grasp of rules and vows; S. śīla-? parāmarśa) was also uprooted. His practice became firm and straight. Even if his body was in pain or fever he didn’t grasp it, he didn’t doubt. He didn’t doubt, because he had uprooted clinging. This grasping of the body is called sīlabbata parāmāsa. When one uproots the view of the body being the self, grasping and doubt are finished with. If just this view of the body as the self arises within the mind then grasping and doubt begin right there.” The fourth footnote to this talk further confirms that Ajahn Chah relates the illusoryself-grasping uprooted (and the other two knots undone) at this point specifically to bodily form. (Body-form is part of the form skandha, so I guess that Añña Kondañña simultaneously realised the not-selves-ness of the other forms in his physical environment, though this important point is not mentioned.)

“Receiving/opening the Eye of Dhamma” above refers to this first Theravada supramundane path. However, I think the Mahayana meaning of “receiving/opening the Eye of Dharma” may differ (?always/sometimes) from the Theravada, which may confuse interpretation: for example, in Master Keizan’s Denkōroku (translated by Reverend Hubert Nearman, 1993) we read of Shakyamuni Buddha transmitting “the Eye and Treasury of the True Law” to Makakashyo but not to Ananda, who had “entered the stream” but not yet reached arhat stage (see Denkōroku ref. in the section on entering arhat stage, below); in www.chan1.org Ch’an Newsletter 62 (October 1987), it would seem to refer to a stage beyond basic arhat liberation. Añña Kondañña became an arhat, with his four fellows, during a later sermon on the not-self characteristic of the skandhas (ref. Vinaya Pitaka Mahavagga 1:6; Samyutta Nikāya 22:59).

In contrast to Geshe Kelsang’s description of entry to the first bodhisattva bhumi, Ajahn Chah described Añña Kondañña’s awakening as including uprooting innate illusoryself-grasping with respect to the first skandha (with which intellectually-formed illusoryself-grasping would also inevitably be uprooted), perhaps more in keeping with Geshe Kelsang’s description of entering the second bhumi. Someone at this stage may not necessarily recognise that they have “uprooted innate illusoryself-grasping with respect to the first skandha”, though they will recognise that their body no longer seems “I” or “mine” and physical sensory objects appear “not-selves”. Bhante Gunaratana wrote of this stage: “There is still a lingering sense of ‘I’ in the mind but you don’t take it seriously”; if this awakening happens without the support of Buddhist doctrine and training, one may recognise that mental “I” no longer seems as tenable but not understand why. Though intellectually-formed illusoryself-grasping has been abandoned/uprooted at a deep level of mind and energy, at this stage innate illusoryself-grasping in respect of the four nama-skandhas remains.

I would doubt (or be very surprised to learn) that this would qualify as a “first full kensho” or be the type of kensho experience that caused Zenji Keido Chisan Koho to qualify Master Jiyu as a teacher of Zen, or that it is the one upon which most of the present teachers of Zen in the orient, and possibly those in America, have their qualifications based (ref. How to Grow a Lotus Blossom by Master Jiyu).

A stream-winner is traditionally said to have no more than seven future births before reaching arhat stage. “Seven births” does not imply that the path necessarily requires several lifetimes: rather it covers circumstantial delays.

Entering once-returner stage : ? 3rd & 4th bodhisattva bhumis:
Of once-returner stage, Bhante Gunaratana wrote in Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English: “The second supramundane [level of meditative concentration] weakens your addiction to sensual pleasure and hatred. If you have been a person prone to hate, the first fetter to be overcome is the gross part of lust. If you have been more prone to lust, you overcome the gross part of hatred first. Whichever fetter has been predominant will be the last to be overcome. Notice that we said ‘the gross part’ of anger and desire. The subtle part of each remains.” Traditionally the two fetters weakened at this stage are 1) devotion-to-sense-pleasure (P & S. kāmarāga); 2) enmity (P. patigha, S. pratigha) and malice (P & S. vyāpāda), including self-directed.

Describing entry into path and fruition phases of this stage for someone in whom hatred (i.e enmity and malice) predominates, Bhante Gunaratana wrote: “Path: Now you see the five aggregates constantly, every single tiny event, in every single breath. You notice that every intentional occurrence in your body and mind involves all five aggregates. As they involve themselves in each and everything you intentionally do, you see their tiny little parts in a constant state of flux. They change without remaining for even a fraction of a second. When the gross part of your lust vanishes you enter the once-returner’s path. Fruition: When the gross part of your hatred vanishes, you enter the once-returner’s fruition stage.” The sequence would be reversed for someone in whom devotion-to-sense-pleasure predominates.

Of the third bhumi, in Ocean of Nectar Geshe Kelsang wrote somewhat inscrutably that bodhisattvas on this ground have abandoned middling-big innate illusoryself-grasping; also that they generate surpassing patience, the paramita traditionally associated with this bhumi. The latter may reflect the path phase of once-returner stage as experienced by someone less prone to enmity and malice than to devotion-to-sense-pleasure. Of the fourth bhumi, Geshe Kelsang did not specify in Ocean of Nectar that bodhisattvas on this ground have weakened devotion-to-sense-pleasure but that they have abandoned small-big innate illusoryself-grasping and generate surpassing effort, which may correspond to the “fruition phase” mentioned above. Right effort, the sixth step of the Noble Eightfold Path, is traditionally defined as being for the non-arising of unarisen unwholesome states, the abandoning of arisen unwholesome states, the arising of unarisen wholesome states, and the maintenance of arisen wholesome states: unwholesome states are connected to covetousness, hate (including toward oneself) and delusion, whereas wholesome states are based in absence of these.

A person at once-returner stage is traditionally said to have no more than one future birth before reaching arhat stage.

Entering non-returner stage : ? 5th & 6th bodhisattva bhumis:
Of non-returner stage, Bhante Gunaratana wrote in Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English: “The third supramundane [level of meditative concentration] destroys for good addiction to sensual pleasure and hatred. One meditator may first destroy greed for sensual pleasure. Another might destroy hatred first. This difference depends, as before, on the person’s temperament and character.” As before, traditionally the two fetters referred to at this stage are 1) devotion-to-sense-pleasure (P & S. kāmarāga); 2) enmity (P. patigha, S. pratigha) and malice (P & S. vyāpāda), including self-directed. Note that it does not say “sense pleasure” but “devotion” or “addiction” to sense-pleasure.

Describing entry into path and fruition phases of this stage for someone in whom devotion-to-sense-pleasure predominates, Bhante Gunaratana wrote: “Path: With more vigour, courage, confidence and clarity than ever, you practise the Noble Eightfold Path at the supramundane level. When…loving-friendliness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity…come to fruition, the subtle level of hatred totally vanishes from your mind. At that moment, you enter the never-returner’s path. Fruition: Then, when the last remnant of craving for sensual pleasures vanishes forever, you enter the state of never-returner’s fruition.” The sequence would be reversed for someone in whom enmity and malice predominate.

Of the fifth bhumi, Geshe Kelsang wrote in Ocean of Nectar that bodhisattvas on this ground have abandoned big-middling innate illusoryself-grasping and generate surpassing meditative concentration; also that they cannot be defeated by the devaputra maras. Of this last, he wrote: “Devaputra (lit. “son of a deva” or “young deva”) is wrathful Ishvara, a worldly deity inhabiting Land of Controlling Emanations, which is the highest level of the desire realm. He and his manifestations try to prevent Dharma practitioners from attaining liberation from samsara by disturbing their mental peace.” Though kāmarāga is generally translated along the lines of “devotion to sense pleasure”, it could also be translated as “devotion to existence (of illusory-I) in the Sensual Desire Realm”, i.e Kāmaloka (which includes the physical and some heaven worlds), as distinct from Rūpaloka (Form Realm) and Arūpaloka (Formless Realm). In Theravada terms, non-returners have overcome the causes of involuntary rebirth in the Realm of Sensual Desire.

Of the sixth bhumi, Geshe Kelsang wrote that bodhisattvas on this ground have abandoned middling-middling innate illusoryself-grasping and generate surpassing wisdom; also that, due to their special wisdom, they attain “an extraordinary absorption of cessation. The definition of absorption of cessation is an uncontaminated wisdom focused single-pointedly on emptiness in dependence upon the actual absorption of peak of samsara (i.e the eighth jhāna).” This last accomplishment definitely correlates this bhumi with the fruition phase of non-returner stage.

In Theravada sources, natural sexual abstinence is expected of non-returners, and sexual activity is regarded as proof that a person has not yet entered this stage. With apologies for turning anyone’s stomach, my own observation from personal experience has been that one may undertake sexual activity without being “devoted to sense pleasure”, by which I mean one may voluntarily undertake sexual activity though having thoroughly uprooted intellectually-formed illusoryself-grasping plus innate illusoryself-grasping in respect of the first three skandhas plus innate illusoryself-grasping in respect of activity involved in the formations associated with kāmarāga, pratigha and vyāpāda. However, relationships formed at this stage are not going to be based in illusoryself-clinging devotion to sense pleasure. The Theravada path aims at stepping out of samsara and, from a Mahayana perspective, dualistically clings to stopping; the Mahayana path does not oppose samsara and nirvana but recognises the emptiness of phenomena. Even at this relatively early stage of supramundane practice, differences are apparent between the two paths.

I know that the following serial uprootings of innate illusoryself-grasping occur but am unable to place them exactly; the following placements are suggestions only, as I have not seen this reported elsewhere:
1. uprooting innate illusoryself-grasping in respect of the feeling-formations skandha: just before entering the path of the once-returner?
2. uprooting innate illusoryself-grasping in respect of the thought-formations skandha: just before entering the path of the non-returner?
3. uprooting innate illusoryself-grasping in respect of activity involved in the formations associated with the last of the two fetters (either kāmarāga or pratigha and vyāpāda): just before entering the fruition state of non-returner?
Remaining innate illusoryself-grasping includes that in respect of certain formational activity (including that of effort and innate illusoryself-grasping) and consciousness.

A person at non-returner stage is traditionally said to have no more rebirths in the Realm of Sensual Desire (which includes the physical and some heaven worlds) before reaching arhat stage.

Entering arhat stage : 7th & 8th bodhisattva bhumis : ? first full kensho:
Describing entry into path and fruition phases of arhat stage from a Theravada perspective, Bhante Gunaratana wrote in Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English: “Path: As you progress on [this] path, desire for material and immaterial existence, conceit and restlessness each vanish from your mind. Fruition: Finally, the last residue of the I-maker, and the last iota of ignorance of the Four Noble Truths are erased from your mind. At that point, you attain the fruition of full enlightenment. Then this thought arises: ‘Birth is exhausted, lived is the holy life, done is what was to be done, there is nothing more to be done.’ At this point, you have attained liberation, the ultimate goal of Buddhist practice, through a long, arduous process of awakening.” Until innate illusoryself-grasping has been uprooted in respect of all skandhas, one may be attached to states associated with Rūpaloka and Arūpaloka as a result of misconceptions about them or “self”, hence “desire for material and immaterial existence”. “Conceit” here means hanging onto being a somebody with something, not in superciliousness or for the sake of swaggering but in fear of being a nobody with nothing (in Buddhism, “conceit” is grasping at a misconceived “I” as better, equal or worse). “Restlessness” relates to the effort of avoiding.

Geshe Kelsang wrote in Ocean of Nectar: “The innate view of the transitory collection is the root of samsara. It is not [fully] abandoned by Hinayanists until they become Foe Destroyers (i.e arhats), or by Mahayanists until they become eighth-ground bodhisattvas. The intellectually-formed view of the transitory collection, however, is abandoned by Hinayanists on the path of seeing (i.e stream-entry) and by Mahayanists on the first ground.” This correlation of eighth-ground bodhisattva and arhat seems to be common to other Tibetan schools (ref. www.berzinarchives.com/sutra/sutra_level_4/5_pathway_minds.html.

Of the seventh bhumi, Geshe Kelsang wrote in Ocean of Nectar that bodhisattvas on this ground have abandoned small-middling innate illusoryself-grasping and strive to abandon completely all kleśas and their seeds so that these never return. Of the eighth bhumi, he wrote that bodhisattvas on this ground have abandoned the three types of small innate illusoryself-grasping and all kleśas together with their roots. However, while the stage of arhat liberation may be regarded as full enlightenment and the completion of training in the Theravada, the eighth bhumi is not so regarded in the Mahayana: “Even though his [kleśas] are extinguished…[the bodhisattva] cannot yet attain all the qualities of the buddhas…therefore he strives to advance to higher grounds…The continuum of samsara has ceased for him, and it is not possible for him to take rebirth in samsara without choice. However, to benefit living beings and to complete the remaining paths, he or she displays the aspect of various beings within samsara.” In Mahayana sutras such bodhisattvas include laypeople, whereas there is a belief in the Theravada (I do not know how widespread) that lay life cannot support arhats (ref. Questions of King Milinda). A layperson who uproots all vestiges of innate illusoryself-grasping may doubt their competence to live in a world shaped by the activities of non-practitioners but, for a Mahayana practitioner, a few months in that world will erase doubt and prove it a sterling training ground.

Master Keizan’s Denkōroku seems to indicate that someone who has had a first full kensho is an arhat: Ananda became a stream-winner soon after joining the Buddha (ref. Vinaya Pitaka 2:183) but did not receive transmission (and thence become second ancestor of Zen Buddhism) until he attained arhatship decades later, just before the first council convened after the Buddha’s death, as appears also in Theravada sources. This seems to me the more likely level of awakening to have caused Zenji Keido Chisan Koho to qualify Master Jiyu as a teacher of Zen, or to serve as basis for the qualifications of “most of the present teachers of Zen in the orient and, possibly, those in America”. If I am correct, Master Jiyu would have disagreed with the Theravada premise that one must be a monk and celibate to reach and survive this level of awakening (see my earlier post).

In Pali scripture, psychic and miracle powers are often reported of arhats and those in earlier stages. The Visuddimagga states that mastery of these skills needs many lifetimes of practice to this end, and I am guessing that centuries of persecution, suppression, ignorance and denial of psychonoetic skills may have retarded their development over lifetimes in some people with a long history of uncloistered western rebirth. Proficiency in these skills or lack of it has no direct bearing on ones accomplishment in uprooting illusoryself-grasping.

Post-arhat training and awakening:
Major Mahayana sutras repeat the insufficiency of settling for arhat stage and do not exclude lay people or those with partnerships from this development.

In Joyful Path of Good Fortune (1995), Geshe Kelsang wrote: “On the eighth ground, bodhisattvas have abandoned all self-grasping and all [kleśas], but they still have obstructions to omniscience (i.e jneyāvaranā).” (See my first post in this thread, for some explanation.)

In a similar vein, in A Treatise on the Pāramis (1996), Theravada teacher Acariya Dhammapala wrote: “The commentary to the Udāna says: ‘The vāsanā (i.e imprints) are particular dispositions to actions existing as a mere potential force built up through the defilements that have been brought into play through the course of beginningless time. Found in the mental continua even of those who are devoid of defilements (i.e of arhats), they function as springs for conduct similar to the conduct followed while the defilements were yet unabandoned. In the case of the Exalted Buddhas, who through the fulfilment of their original aspiration abandon the defilements along with the obstruction of the knowable (i.e jneyāvarana), no vāsanā remain in their mental continuities. But in the case of disciple-arhats and paccekabuddhas, who abandon the defilements without removing the obstruction of the knowable, the vāsanā remain.’ The classical example of this is the case of the Venerable Pilindavaccha who, though an arhat, continued to address other bhikkhus by the word vasala, a derogatory term used by brahmins to refer to those of low caste. This bhikkhu, however, did not use the word due to conceit or contempt for others, both of which defilements he had utterly destroyed, but merely through the habitual force of past usage, since he had been a brahmin through many previous lives. See Ud.III:6 and its commentary.”

This appears similar to the following passage in Master Jiyu’s book How to Grow a Lotus Blossom: “One who has had a first [full] kensho…finds that, in order to progress further, he must now not only keep his passions rooted out but also clean up the impregnations that they have left upon his skandhas both in this life and in his previous ones.”

In Ocean of Nectar, Geshe Kelsang wrote: “Generally there are two types of nirvana: a Hinayana liberation, which is the abandonment of only the [kleśāvarana] (i.e the kleśas as an obstruction to liberation), and a Mahayana enlightenment, which is the abandonment of both the [kleśāvarana] and the [jneyāvarana]. From another point of view there are three types of nirvana: nirvana with remainder, nirvana without remainder, and non-abiding nirvana. The first two are possessed by Hinayanists. When a Hinayanist initially attains liberation he still possesses a body arisen from contaminated karma, which is a ‘remainder’ of samsara, and so his true cessations at this time are called a ‘nirvana with remainder’. When he dies he is reborn in a Pure Land and takes on a pure body produced from uncontaminated causes. His true cessations are now a nirvana without remainder. The third type of nirvana is attained only by bodhisattvas on the pure grounds (i.e bhumis eight to ten) and by buddhas. It is a state of not abiding in either the extreme of samsara or the extreme of solitary peace. The supreme non-abiding nirvana is possessed only by buddhas, who have attained true cessations of all obstructions (i.e both kleśāvarana and jneyāvarana).”

Though only two bhumis are usually counted after the eighth, together bhumis seven to ten could be subdivided into thirteen, making two further rounds of stages similar in skandhic pattern to bhumis one to eight and one to seven overlapping at end and beginning of rounds: it is not just a “skip and a jump” to clearing all jneyāvaranā, though the “road” does not go anywhere. A Ch’an understanding of these three major supramundane phases appears online at www.chan1.org Ch’an Newsletter 109 (August 1995) and in Hoofprint of the Ox (2001), by Master Sheng-yen. Various Tibetan writers also refer to clearing the jneyāvarana.

People can go from stream-entry to arhat stage, and from first full kensho to third great kensho, in a single lifetime, which may raise the question, “Why are the ten bhumis of the bodhisattva path said to occupy ‘two uncountable (asamkhya) kalpas’?” Asamkhya, here translated as “uncountable”, may represent 1051 (ref. Fundamentals of Mainstream Buddhism by Eric Cheetham) or perhaps 1059 (ref. Buddhist Cosmology (1997) by Akira Sadakata), or perhaps other. Depending on traditional source, the kalpa-unit to be multiplied by the suggested 1051 or 1059 to produce an asamkhya kalpa may be an “intermediate kalpa” (16,000,000 years; ref. FMB) or a “great kalpa” (1,280,000,000 years (80 intermediate kalpas)). Even if nailed to an exact figure, the vastness of these numbers may evoke, “Don’t bother to think about it”, but they have been taken seriously as timescales. I am unable to explain the apparent discrepancy (my personal musing is only that now is both timeless and experientially all the time there is for someone; and that one cannot calculate in conventional terms how long the process will take an individual but not because it will necessarily be conventionally l…o…n…g).

However, a similar question was asked of Bodhidharma by Hui-k’o about the “three vast asamkhya æons” to be traversed by those who aspire to Buddhahood, the first æon being up to the first bhumi. Bodhidharma responded, “The words spoken by the Buddha, namely, ‘the three vast asamkhya æons’, refer to the three poisonous impulses…These three poisonous impulses within each and every mind possess evil thoughts as numerous as the sands of the Ganges; each of these thoughts contains an æon of time and, as the sands of the Ganges, are all together unmeasurable. The three poisons becloud and screen the Buddha Nature, which is of the Absolute, so, unless we do go beyond these countless evil thoughts of the three poisons, how can we speak of ‘having realised liberation’? Now when we are able to free ourselves from the three types of poisonous impulses – greed, hatred and delusion – this then is called ‘crossing over the three vast asamkhya æons’. Sentient beings in these final days of the Teaching who are foolish, deluded and dull in their faculties do not understand the Tathagata’s non-literal use of the phrase ‘three vast asamkhya æons’, so they conclude that realising Buddhahood will take them ages beyond reckoning” (ref. Bodhidharma’s Discourse of Pure Meditation, in Buddhist Writings translated by Reverend Hubert).
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PostSubject: Re: Correlations between Supramundane Paths   Wed Aug 25, 2010 5:08 pm

Sheng Yen's "Orthodox Chinese Buddhism", pg. 102:

"As a matter of fact, experiencing an awakening or enlightenment (C. wu; J. satori) is not identical to attaining Buddhahood, and is not necessarily the same as "seeing the path" (S. darsana-marga; C. jian-dao)... At most, enlightenment in Chan Buddhism is something like attaining the "pure Dharma-eye" (S. dharmacaksu-visuddha; C. fayanjing) that is, seeing the path (jian-dao), which corresponds to the first fruit [stream-entry] in Nikaya Buddhism."

This is just one source, of course--one finds in Mahayana Buddhism all manner of sources stating all manner of things. To the best of my (limited) knowledge, Jiyu Kennett's own system has zero doctrinal basis, and that you want to go even further and equate kensho with arhatship seems highly questionable to me. An arhat has (to put it in simplistic terms) completely eliminated desire; I don't think that such an achievement is something to be taken lightly, even if Mahayana sutras insist on ragging on Shariputra and his ilk. If you want to know more about what arhatship entails in concrete, rather than doctrinal terms, I'd suggest reading Ajahn Maha Boowa's biography of Acariya Mun (www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/acariya-mun-bio.pdf).

Not to be confrontational--I appreciate the work and scholarship which went into your post, and would like to see more people look into the Buddhist tradition in this manner--but I think that we sell the bodhisattva path short when we assume that human beings with profound experiences but obvious shortcomings have "gotten there." We also open the way for abuses of authority.

In Gassho,
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PostSubject: Re: Correlations between Supramundane Paths   Fri Aug 27, 2010 4:57 am

Thank you for you entry, Sogaku. I do understand your concern.

The book by Master Sheng-yen looks very interesting – I had a peek online. I don’t think he is trying to say that all awakenings are pre-darshana-marga. I’ve only seen a few pages, so I am just guessing that this is warning students not to get ahead of themselves.

I know the experience of intellectually-formed illusoryself-grasping + innate illusoryself-grasping in respect of the form skandha having been uprooted. While it is a profoundly transformative experience that also uproots any doubts one might have about the importance of spiritual training, I would be very concerned if people were made Zen masters on the basis of it. As mentioned, I also doubt this was the basis on which Master Jiyu received her qualification as a teacher. She sometimes distinguished that latter experience as a “first full kensho” but often this was abbreviated to “first kensho”. This does not necessarily mean that none preceded it but I do not know about this area of her life. A question is, “Had all subtle grasping at a ‘person’ in the skandhas (innate illusoryself-grasping) been uprooted? If so, the kleśas had also been uprooted.

I have read the biography of Acariya Mun: a fascinating book written by someone who clearly admired him greatly, no doubt with good reason. Acariya Mun could give a scolding but this did not mean that his mind was hateful, unkind or conceited. A question is, “Had I lived with him, how would I have found it (the life, his decisions, behaviour, etc)?” which might have differed from how Acariya Maha Boowa found it. One cannot necessarily know this from reading.

The desires overcome by an arhat are those outlined in the samyojanas (fetters). I do not know whom you specifically had in mind when you referred to “flawed human beings” but, even without covetousness, malice, conceit or illusoryself-grasping, a person may not know the best approach in all situations (and maybe some situations tend to be tricky for those concerned). It may be small comfort but if those “flawed human beings” have uprooted their kleśas, then they are perchance demonstrating how perfect one does not have to be in order to have done so, which could be good news for a lot of people!

My apologies that I won’t be able to respond to any posts till at least next week.
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PostSubject: Re: Correlations between Supramundane Paths   Fri Aug 27, 2010 5:13 am

When I copied my first two posts from disk, I noted that the formatting (that would have made them easier to read) had been stripped, but due to time constraints I did not go through and replace. I have just noticed that, in the penultimate paragraph of the second post, superscript characters to express "10 to the power of 51" and "10 to the power of 59" for [/i]asamkhya[i] have been rendered normal (i.e as 1051 and 1059). Them numbers is huge.

Also, Laura's quotation (post 1, paragraph 6: "I can tell you, as someone...daily practice and training"), for which I had used a different font size, now appears in the same size, perhaps making for more confusing reading.
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PostSubject: Re: Correlations between Supramundane Paths   Wed Oct 13, 2010 7:11 am

When I began this thread, I was sure that the term “first full kensho” indicated the complete uprooting of what has been termed (in preceding posts) “innate” or “subtle” illusoryself-grasping. For decades I had supposed that this kensho was first of a particular series, in which preceding kenshos on the supramundane path or before it were to be understood as not included: in time I even came to think it a shame that (presumed) “earlier” kenshos on the supramundane path were glossed over too quickly! My reasons for understanding it the way I did, for now about 37 years, may be partly due to personal history; but that is another matter.

The way I had understood the term “first full kensho” places it on the level of entry to the eighth Mahayana bhumi or fruition of arhat stage.

After writing out my own “spiritual autobiography” – an intense, laborious and lengthy exercise in which I also examined the processes at work in awakenings – I became aware of patterns emerging in the processes, which interested me greatly. These patterns, covering several years in some cases, seemed to be “quasi-organic”, as though some kind of chronological spiritual blueprint that awakenings on the supramundane path generally might go through, much in the same way that human beings share certain genes but have a wide range of appearances. From my reading, this appears to have been born out.

I do not recall Master Jiyu mentioning (in print) Mahayana bhumis or Theravada supramundane stages until sometime in the 1980s, at which time she said that a first full kensho was at the level of entry to the first Theravada stage and the first Mahayana bhumi. Around this time also she said that celibacy and monasticism were prerequisites for the kind of awakening she recorded in How to Grow a Lotus Blossom, a view that seemed based in Theravadin beliefs about non-returner and arhat stages.

At that time, I believed her HGLB awakening to be a later stage, at which conflicts based in “dualistic appearance” (such as between mind and path) cease*. Having realised this stage as a layperson valuing a heart-mate relationship, I knew this exclusive view was incorrect and was concerned for those adversely affected by it who might not have the benefit of their own proof; but, lacking credentials, there was no way I could demonstrate except perhaps through providing information from sources that others might trust, which I pieced together over the next 20 years. Hence the great rigmarole above! (*– which they do not fully do on complete uprooting of subtle illusoryself-grasping (entry to eighth Mahayana bhumi/fruition of arhat stage) but after one has passed through two more “spiral-turns”: phases similar-in-some-ways-but-different-in-others to that experienced from the time of entering the supramundane path to the time of complete uprooting of subtle illusoryself-grasping and awakening to the emptiness/pure energy/radiance of the form skandha. (I infer from some presentations of the supramundane path that some people may complete these three phases concurrently but this appears to be unusual.))

This website has given me access to material that I have not had before (so, many thanks to Lise and contributing users). In consequence, partly wondering if the term “first kensho” might refer to various levels of liberative insight, recently I asked Kaizan a series of questions (in his Introductions thread) to establish the degree of liberative insight that is the basis of certification as “master” in the OBC, which I supposed would be a common standard:

“For decades I have assumed that those certified in the OBC as masters have (in theory) at least uprooted, at a deep level of mind and energy, covetousness, enmity and malice, harmful intent, conceit, and illusoryself-grasping in respect of all skandhas (though there is yet more training and awakening), and that this stage has at some time been preceded by awakening to what one might call “transcendental compassion”, as a result of uprooting the illusoryself-grasping in harmful intent**. Is this assumption mistaken?” (**The last specification is intended as a repeat identifier of having passed through what, in the Theravada, would be non-returner stage in terms of liberative insight (probably Mahayana bhumis 5 and 6), which was relevant to other questions I asked Kaizan. By “illusoryself-grasping”, I meant “innate” or “subtle” illusoryself-grasping, as explained by Geshe Kelsang in my second post of this thread.)

“My assumption was at first that to be given the title of roshi or master, one would have to have experienced at least once the transcending of subject and object, the dissolution of I, resting in the unborn. Later I heard this was not always the case. Regarding the former, one can have this experience and still have a lot of karma to clean up.”

“In referring to experiencing ‘at least once the transcending of subject and object, the dissolution of I, resting in the unborn’, can you say if you mean that ‘I’ seemed to reappear later; or that one still clung to certain skandhas (feelings, thoughts, inner activities, object-consciousness) as ‘I’, until erased in further training; or was it as though the knot of I-grasping in respect of all skandhas had been undone; had I-grasping in respect of the skandhas of inner action (including the grasping-reflex) and object-consciousness ceased, and not just temporarily?”

“I think for most of us the experience of immersion in the unborn, where there is no longer an I, was a temporary experience, after which the habitual clinging to I and being thrown about by thoughts and feelings returned. However, I don’t think most people ever lose the sense of which is the deeper truth. Even when tossed about by the storms of emotion, when we catch ourselves, it is difficult to buy into the storm in the same way we used to.”

(At the time, I did not think to enquire about those who were not included in the first “most” of the above reply: whether Kaizan knew of some for whom the cessation of subtle I-grasping was not temporary in respect of any skandha. Apart from this…) Based on personal memory, and descriptions I have encountered of the Mahayana bhumis and Theravada stages, this sounds to me like a description of what one might encounter in the first and second bhumis and thus the first Theravada stage (“stream-winner”). This would correspond with the teaching given by Master Jiyu, which correlated the first kensho with stream-entry. Had Kaizan replied that “habitual clinging to I” did not return, I would have asked if I could ask some questions to clarify further aspects, which hopefully would have established some further certainty, including about earlier and subsequent developments.

I do not assume that there is no wriggle-room in the nature and outcome of what has been termed a “first full kensho” in the OBC. In the thread on Institutional Trauma, Isan wrote, “I believe when RMJK said someone had a first kensho she wasn’t referring to the level of the experience but to the fact that it was the individual’s first experience”, and I have read that people may “leap over” (subsume) stages when entering the supramundane path, and some may have entered the supramundane path in a previous life.

I would find it worthwhile to learn of the range of personal experiences, but the purpose of this present thread revolved around whether Master Jiyu’s kensho on 5th October 1962 – which type she said could be experienced by anyone – involved complete uprooting of subtle illusoryself-grasping. As it turns out, going by Kaizan’s explanation, Master Jiyu may indeed have correctly correlated what she meant here by “first full kensho” and “third great kensho” with Mahayana bhumis and Theravada supramundane stages, for which she would deserve credit.

I really would like to be able to lay the matter to rest for myself and then perhaps I can express my regrets for the kerfuffle. Certainly no one past or present in the OBC would be to blame for my misunderstanding. This would not reverse the fact that laypeople and people with non-celibate relationships can and do awaken to, and robustly survive, these and later levels of liberative insight: I must hope that illumination in this matter emerges as needed and that spiritual siblings and “family members” need suffer no estrangement through lack.
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PostSubject: Re: Correlations between Supramundane Paths   Fri Dec 03, 2010 7:12 am

Answering several questions I put to him recently, Seikai wrote of RMJK that:
"She equated the second Zen kensho, which she called the on-going Fugen kensho, or second kensho, to the second [Theravada] stage, Sakadagami, translated as Once-returner...The third stage of [Theravada] sainthood, Non-returner or Anagami, she equated with the third Zen kensho...Beyond this level is where things get murky. At one time it was my understanding that she thought there was a fourth Zen kensho that equated with the final rank of [Theravada] sainthood, that of the Arahant; later it seemed that she adjusted that view to accommodate the third and fourth levels of sainthood into the third Zen kensho. In her later years she stopped talking about these things altogether, except perhaps in private conversations, so it was hard to get an exact read on what she was thinking."

This has corrected my previous surmise that RMJK: a) included the second and third Theravada stages of sainthood in the second Zen kensho; and b) equated the third Zen kensho solely with entering the fourth Theravada stage of sainthood.
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