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Seven More at Most

An individual who has become a Streamwinner is said to have seven more lives to live at most.

There is some controversy as to the exact meaning of this statement. Some say it means a literal seven more lifetimes, sometimes as a human, sometimes as a diety; never below the human [manusa] realm.

It is also possible, and in the context of what amounts to the most difficult quest in the world, reasonable, that the idea is a finite number of rebirths. Satta, meaning seven, is based on the idea of a large (over 3) finite number.

Both ideas leave more room for doubt than is the usual case in a doctrine of the Buddha.

Is it possible that the seven remaining births are the stages from enjoying the fruits of streamwinning to enjoying the fruits of Arahantship?






AN 6.92 contains the categorical statement that one who has attained high view is not to be reborn subsequently for an eighth time. Previously I had questioned whether or not the idea of seven births remaining for the Streamwinner should be taken literally, as 'seven' is often symbolic of the idea of 'a finite number'. Good to know. See also on this my comment on the footnote to AN 6.89 and the sutta itself.

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