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by (960 points)

The generic answer to know if one has attained the level/state is that one has lessened (or eradicated) the three fetters of: self view, clinging to rites and rituals and doubt in the dharma, but to what degree?

Does that mean that anyone who uses the word "I" or "myself" in dialogue, anyone who chants or prostrates or anyone who continues to debate buddhas world view has not obtained the first of the 4 stages to enlightenment?  I specifically mean as a judgement/criticism of our own actions/speech/mind, not judging another persons actions/words.

2 Answers

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by (7.7k points)
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Becoming enlightened does not mean you lose your perceptions(Sanna) of conventional reality.
The Buddha himself used the words 'I', "I am", 'Ananda', Sariputta' etc. Sakkaya Ditthi is taking up a view that the five aggregates is a self. You do not need to take up a view to perceive conventional realities.

Enlightened beings do chant. If you read the Ratana Sutta, you will see the Buddha himself did that and also instructed venerable Ananada to sprinkle Paritta water. The difference is that enlightened beings do not cling to rights and rituals. They do not take up views that rights and rituals are the way to end suffering.

The Arahanth chief disciples and other enlightened beings bowed down to the Buddha. Enlightenment does not take away your sense of respect and gratitude.

But if you hear someone saying that what the Buddha preached is wrong, that person is definitely not enlightened.

Those days, the Buddha himself would look into the person's mind and see if he or she is enlightened. The Arahaths with psychic powers and angels would also look into the minds of meditators to see their progress.  Apart from that, a very experienced meditation teacher would be able to make an educated guess on the progress of the student/follower. 
 

by (960 points)
"The difference is that enlightened beings do not cling to rights and rituals. They do not take up views that rights and rituals are the way to end suffering."

Does this mean that these methods are useless to one who has attained sotapanna?
As in there is no longer any benefit to doing prostrations, or lighting incense or whatever it is Buddhists do to create causes for future rewards?

The descriptions I have read are very vague on what is the indicators of us attaining this level of mind.
How can we judge that we have attained a level such as sotapanna?
by (7.7k points)
Sense of respect and gratitude are good qualities of the mind. Enlightenment only eradicates the bad qualities of the mind. So the practices associated with good qualities do not stop after one becomes enlightened.
See the answer of ven. Yuttadhamma here on how stream entry occurs: https://buddhism.stackexchange.com/a/232/111
by (7.7k points)
For example, the Buddha preached the Dhamma after becoming enlightened. Was it because he had something to gain from it? No. That's a practice associated with compassion.
by (960 points)
Thank you the answer from ven. Yuttadhamma was the specific explanation I needed to clarify and negate from my own understanding.
by (7.7k points)
You're welcome!
+1 vote
by (3.3k points)
The experience of stream entry is a heavy one. It completely changes the way one thinks about oneself. Everything one knew about everything will be smashed and put upside down. It's unforgettable, undeniable, and has to lead to a couple of changes. You will know when it happens. It can't be missed.
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