Points of Controversy

4.2. Of Arahantship as conferred by Rebirth alone

Controverted Point: That one may become Arahant at the moment of rebirth.

Theravādin: You affirm this proposition; yet you deny that one can become at birth either a Stream-Winner, Once-Returner, or Never-Returner.

And you can name none—not even the greatest—who were Arahants from the time of birth—Sāriputta, or the Great Theras: Moggallāna, Kassapa, Kaccāyana, Koṭṭhika or Panthaka. You deny it in fact of all of them.

Consider our consciousness at rebirth: it arises because rebirth has been desired. Now such a mind is worldly, co-intoxicant… corrupt. Can it realize Arahantship? Is it of the kind that is called forthleading, that goes toward extinction, enlightenment, disaccumulating, is free from defilements… and corruptions? Can one by it put away lust, and hate, delusion … indiscretion? Is it the Ariyan Path, the applications of mindfulness and the rest of the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment? Can it understand Suffering, put away its cause, realize its cessation, develop the path thereto? All this you, of course, must deny.

Or is the last act of consciousness at death the realization of the Topmost Path (of Arahantship) and the ensuing act of consciousness at rebirth the Fruit of that Path (or full realization of Arahantship)? You deny again. Then your proposition is proved false.