“Subhuti! What do you think? Would someone who entered the stream (of advanced spirituality) think, ‘I’m a stream-enterer!'"
Subhuti said, “No, World-Honored One. And the reason why they wouldn’t think it, is that a person who has entered the stream knows that stream-enterers haven’t actually entered anything. They would know that they haven't entered a new paradigm of vision, sound, smell, taste, or feeling. They would know that they haven't actually entered anything at all. It’s what makes them stream-enterers!”
“Subhuti! What do you think? Would those who we call 'once-more returners' have the thought that they had accomplished the level of a 'once-more returner'?”
Subhuti said, “No, World Honored One. They wouldn’t think that way, because these once-more returners, though their name implies it, don’t actually return. Being capable of this understanding, they are honored with the title of 'once-more returner.'”
“Subhuti! Does a 'non-returner' think that they have attained the spiritual qualification of never again having to reincarnate?”
Subhuti replied, “No, World-Honored One. Although the name implies that they don’t return, their mind remains free of believing in a someone who is returning.”
“Subhuti! Would an arhat think something like, ‘I’ve accomplished the level of arhat!'”
Subhuti said, “No, World-Honored One! They wouldn’t, because there is really no such thing as an arhat. If an arhat thought that they had accomplished attaining the level of an arhat, that would mean that they would be attached to an idea of a self, or to one of being a being, or of someone living a life or to an idea of some sort of an eternal personage. Most Holy and World-Honored One, you have mentioned that I, Subhuti, am the most accomplished in the meditative continuum that ends grasping on to desires. True enough. Free from desires, I entertain no thought of freedom from desires. O Great One! If I thought about how I had done something to establish a level of arhatship, or believed that I had accomplished the attainment of freedom from desires, then you would have never confirmed that I attained it!
“Or another way of putting this, is that by living in a carefree spiritual manner in the wilderness, without holding concepts of forest-wandering yogis or their practices, that would mean I would be a 'forest-wandering yogi.'"
"The Diamond Teaching" (Vajracchedika Prajna Paramita Sutra)
tr. by Sol Ta Triane
Featuring the Buddha in a discussion with his disciple, Subhuti
Recorded by the disciple, Ananda