Map of our Journey

July 2023 edition

Map of our Journey

Article summary

There are many times, those who are still fresh to the Buddhist teachings are asking various questions with regards to the Buddhist teachings. Some are just technical questions and some are really direct questions which are supportive to the path. Anyhow, for a newcomer the question is important and answering them clearly will help to lead them to their destination. So, let me use this month’s editorial to answer such a question in brief, which can be supportive to understand your journey!

If you have already started listening to Buddhist teachings, you may have come across the words like “Puthujjana - wordings”… and the “Arya person – noble person” etc., So, sometimes people ask question about these stages.  What are they, what is the base for these stages, where are we in these… etc.  So, let’s find out briefly.  Let me extract the journey of existence till the end.  Whether you finished it or not it’s up to you. But the journey aligns like this and whether you like it or not you are already a part of it.  And find out where you placed in this map right now.

Our existence begins as a worldling.  An ordinary worldling who is not aware of the eternal truth at all.  So, this is in a way all about the decisions they make and where those decisions place the worldling in the existence.  

An uninstructed worldling – “Ashruthawath Puthujjana” who is not interested in anything call eternal truth or about this existence, they just behave blindly according to the way they wish.  They don’t care about what is right and wrong, they just keep harming others for their self-satisfactions.  They just don’t believe in a noble level or anyone with higher knowledge than they.  They are just so selfish and believe they know everything and act accordingly.  As these ones are not listening or not heard about the eternal truth and behaving like the ignorant ones by being blind to the truth, we can call this stage as the “Andha Bala Puthujjana means a Blind ignorant Worldling”.

And then some of them can be sensed the harm they make and how restless they are. So, they seek for a better state of mind.  Then they try good things… like giving, respecting others, listening to others etc... Then here comes the stage of having a happy mind through the good deeds they have done.  So, they feel the value of being integrity.  Then they seek for such companionships.  They learn about the great teachers like Buddha, Jesus, Various Gods, Allah etc.  Then they listen to those teachings too and develop their skills of doing good things to their selves and to the others.  No more selfishness.  This stage they still not aware of the eternal truth.  But they are standing on a point where they are open enough to know the eternal truth.  Coz now they have the quality of listening and respecting others by knowing that there are lots to know.  We don’t call the people at this point as “Andha Bala Puthujjana means a Blind ignorant Worldling”.  At this stage we can all them “Ashruthawath Sathpurusha Puthujjana - uninstructed worldling with integrity”

And then after this few continue their journey towards the eternal truth while few are happy with their current stage of being just a person with integrity – Sathpurusha.  Those who are moving towards the eternal truth and want to be liberated from this existence.  They are focusing on that.  Then we can identify as the “Kalyana Puthujjana – A fine Worldling”.  They are now more with virtue, more with listening, more into the respect others and the teachers whom share the teachings about liberation. 

After this stage they are coming to a certain point where they come across about the eternal truth.  About the true liberation.  Their mind focusses in to listening more about it.  Their interest of companionships develops to the level of having people whom already aware about this eternal truth.  They find the deep teachings of eternal truth.  Then they come to a point where they are certain about the eternal truth, but still NOT REALIZE the eternal truth.  In this stage they are listening to what they should listen.  You know we can listen to anything.  But what is worthy?  What is actually worth to listen?  That’s the eternal truth, right?  Yes, that’s why at this stage these ones are no more the “Uninstructed worldling - Ashruthawath Puthujjana” They are becoming the Noble ones.  They are becoming the Instructed, well learned, hearing what they should heard means “Shruthawath”. Now they are not just worldling whom are wondering.  They are focusing on liberating from the existence.  So, they call “Arya” means “The one who are ready to end the journey of existence” and now they listen to the disciples of Samma Sambuddha who is the teacher shown the cease of existence, the real liberation by realizing the eternal truth of Arya Sathya.  So, they are listeners means Shrawaka.  So, now they call “Well instructed, or well learned listeners or disciples or the people whom ceasing the journey of existence - “Shruthawath Arya Sharawaka”.

Now, remember at this stage they are still not realize the eternal truth.  But they are certain about that this is going to be the truth by having a proper guess after listening.  So, they are in a stage where they still follow the path of being fully realized about the eternal truth.  They are about to jump into the stream where leads to the ocean is called liberation.  They are on the path to the stream.  So, for the people in this stage, we call it in Dhamma “The follower of stream enterer – Sotāpanna Magga Anugamika”.  Magga means the path and Anugamika means the follower.  And some of them listening and realizing what they listen because of their unconditioned faith, trust which means “Saddha” so they are called “Saddanusari -  the follower based on their Faith, truth”.  And there are some of them listening and realizing, because they make sense, and filled with wisdom and it’s a very deep teaching.  So, they are called “Dammanusari - the follower based on the deep teachings".  Both categories come to the realization finally.  They have gained the fruit of their dedication.  They finally realize what is eternal truth and what liberation means.  This stage we call them “Sotāpanna Magga Pala labhi Person - The Stream-enterer, Stream Attainer” 

Now the noble journey of ending the existence the true liberation has begun.  As now with the realization of the eternal truth the journey is fixed with the liberation.  Nothing more to realize new.  Now it’s kind of liberating from each condition with true understanding of the eternal truth.  So, this has again another few stages and altogether it’s 8 stages.

  1. The follower of stream enterer (the one who entered into the path of the stream) – Sotāpanna Magga Anugamika
  2. The Stream-enterer (the one who entered into the stream) – Sotāpanna Magga Pala labhi Person
  3. The follower of once-returner (the one who entered into the path of the river) – Sakadāgāmi, Sakurdāgāmi Magga Anugamika.  You know once you entered into the stream the stream leads you to the river which leads to the ocean.  This stage is like that you are at the end of the stream which leads to the river. 
  4. The Once-enterer (the one who entered into the river) – Sakadāgāmi Magga Pala labhi Person
  5. The follower of non-returner (the one who follows the river) – Anāgāmi Magga Anugamika.  Once you entered into the river there is no turning back.  So, it confirms that you are nearing to the ocean only.  These stages are like your journey in the river.    
  6. The Non-enterer (the one who entered into the river) – Sakadāgāmi Magga Pala labhi Person
  7. The follower of Arahantship (the one who follow the Ocean) – Arahant Magga Anugamika.  This is like the stage where river and ocean meet.  There is still a little  away to go to meet the ocean and becomes the ocean.
  8. The Liberated one the worthy one - Arhant Magga Pala labhi One

That’s it… this the journey of yours if you seek for an end!

If you are still not in to this.  Doesn’t matter.  Like we discussed at the beginning there will be a time for you to feel the tiredness of repetition, the restless and the empty feeling of where nothing can be satisfied, you anymore and your mind seeks for a solution… the reason for all these… and liberation!  Then your journey will continue towards the end.  Till then, have fun at where ever you are standing at the moment.  If you feel that you should step towards the end after seeing this map then you are welcome to the world of people who seeks for liberation!  Have a blessed time my dear dhamma friends!

Rajitha Viduransi | Kelaniya, Sri Lanka