Could it be said that it is a modern phenomenon for lay followers to have Ariyan aspirations, to have an interest in what constitutes being sotappanna for example? And could this essentially be a Western phenomenon, rooted in the tendency of Westerners to seek achievment in this one lifetime, to be the best, to do things other people don't or can't do, to compete, to strive for goals?
Of course I'm not saying that striving for goals is absent from the Buddha's teaching, there's a lot of it, and many clear admonitions to strive for improvement, but it seems to me that when I read suttas involving lay followers, there is an interest in behaving in a way that leads to favourable rebirth, and the Buddha teaches in a way that aims at "favourable destinations" and it is only after the person in question has gone forth into the homeless life that there is any reference to Ariyan attainments. Of course there are cases where lay followers have Ariyan attainments, I'm not denying that, but did a householder ever address the Buddha expressing a desire to achieve stream entry, for example?
I guess I feel deficient sometimes because the notion of becoming an Ariyan with the grossly defiled mind that I know I have (so to speak) seems a little absurd, but aiming for rebirth in the human or deva realms is not out of the question. Perhaps you can inspire me (and others like me, if they are here) to be a little more ambitious.