Points of Controversy

6.1. Of Assurance of salvation

Controverted Point: That “Assurance” is unconditioned.

Theravādin: Then is Assurance that other unconditioned called Nibbāna, or the Shelter, the Cave, the Refuge, the Goal, the Past-Decease, the Deathless? You deny. Yet you would call both alike unconditioned. Are there then two kinds of unconditioned? If you deny, you cannot affirm; if you assent, then for all we know there are two Shelters… two Goals… two Nibbānas. If you deny, you cannot affirm your proposition; if you assent, then do # you allow that of the two Nibbānas one is higher than the other, sublimer than the other, exalted more than the other? Is there a boundary, or a division, or a line, or an interstice between them? Of course you deny… .

Again, are there any who enter into and attain Assurance, cause it to arise, to keep arising, set it up, continue to set it up, bring it to pass, to come into being, produce it, continue to produce it? “Of course,” you say. But are these terms that you can apply to what is unconditioned? Of course not… .

Again, is the Path (the Fourfold) “unconditioned? “No,” you say, “conditioned.” Yet you would make Assurance unconditioned; the Path of Stream-Winning, Once-Returning, Never-Returning, Arahantship, conditioned; but Assurance of Stream-Winning, etc., unconditioned!…

If then these four stages of Assurance be unconditioned, and Nibbāna be unconditioned, are there five kinds of the unconditioned? If you assent, you are in the same difficulty as before Kv6.1.1

Finally, is false Assurance unconditioned? “No, conditioned,” you say. But has true Assurance the same quality? Here you must deny… .

Andhaka: If I am wrong, would you say that, if Assurance having arisen for anyone and ceased, his work of making sure his salvation would be cancelled?

Theravādin: No.

Andhaka: Then Assurance must be unconditioned that is, it cannot begin and cease.

Theravādin: But your argument can be applied to false Assurance. You would not therefore call that unconditioned!