Points of Controversy

12.5. Of the Seven-Rebirths’-Limit.

Controverted Point: That he who is said to be liable to seven more rebirths at most is assured of final salvation only at the end of the seven-rebirths” interval.

Theravādin: Is such an one capable of murdering mother, father, or Arahant, of shedding with malign heart a Tathāgata’s blood, of creating schism? You deny… .

And is he incapable of penetrating Truth during the interval? You deny. Then he cannot possibly become guilty of those heinous crimes, which admit of no intervening rebirth without retribution. You now assent, admitting that he is incapable of that penetration. Then you imply that he may commit those crimes, which of such a man you deny.

Is there a fixed order of things (among the Paths) by which the seven-rebirths’-limit man is bound to go through all the seven? You deny. Then your proposition cannot hold. Do you in other words hold that there are applications of mindfulness, supreme efforts, steps to potency, controlling powers, forces, factors of enlightenment, by culture in which the seven-births’-limit person is destined to go through all seven?

Is not the opposite the case? And how then can you maintain your proposition?

You maintain that such a person is not so destined except by the fixed order of the First, or Stream-winner’s Path. But are all who enter on that Path destined to go through all the seven rebirths?

Uttarapāthakas: You say I am wrong; nevertheless you must admit that the person in question is a seven-births’-limit person? Surely then my proposition stands?…