How does one know if one is destined to attain Nibbana? (In future lives)

  • It seems to me the teachings say we are all destined to attain or realise Nibbana. It's just that some are in more of a hurry than others.
    – user14119
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 12:41
  • Do you or someone else know of a sutta reference that substantiates the claim that we are all destined to attain Nibbana?
    – Angus
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 12:58
  • I've come across this claim many times but off-hand cannot think of an example. If we all have Buddha-nature then it seems to follow.
    – user14119
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 12:17
  • What does "Destiny" mean in Buddhist context?
    – user2424
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 13:38

4 Answers 4


Traditionally, one hears it from one's teacher (Buddhist mentor). For example, my Zen master once said, pointing at me, "One day this guy will get everything. He will be Bill Gates". This is known as "the prediction".

Even without that, the teachings say, if you are committed to figure it out, however slowly, you will get there sooner or later.

This abstract idea that Nibbana is actually within reach gets concrete and personal only at pretty advanced stages. Basically, once you clearly see the mechanism of conflict/suffering and how it all works, and not just see but get some grasp of mastering unconditional "rightness", that's when you know you will get there with time.


How does one know if one is destined to attain Nibbana?

There's a type of higher knowledge called "Reviewing Knowledge"/PaccavekkhanaNana, which is developed by one who has destroyed all defilements thru the cultivation of Sila/Samadhi/Panna (virtue/meditation/wisdom):

"As the trainee trains along the straight path, the knowledge of destruction arises first, immediately followed by final knowledge. Thereafter, when the fetters of existence are destroyed, for one liberated by final knowledge, the knowledge arises: “My liberation is unshakable.” ~~ AN 3.85 ~~

  • Okay so is it possible to describe final knowledge or how one knows that one has final knowledge? (It must be different to simply being confidently delusional). It also seems it would require omniscience.
    – Angus
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 13:03
  • Doesn't have to be omniscience. Omniscience means one knows everything. In this case, one would know enough about their future course.
    – santa100
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 13:06
  • How would you know that there isn't something that can change your future course that you aren't aware of then if there isn't omniscience?
    – Angus
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 19:12
  • Again, you have to clearly distinguish omniscience versus reviewing knowledge. Unlike omniscience, Reviewing knowledge won't tell you exactly how every single future event will unfold. It won't tell you that in January 1st, 2100, you will get a cold with runny nose. It simply tells you that the way to final liberation has been guaranteed and that there's no chance for retrogression back toward states of woes.
    – santa100
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 19:55
  • My thinking is that omniscience is required to know that one's reviewing knowledge is indeed reviewing knowledge. For instance if I am in a room and there are a lot of balls but I am only collecting basketballs and basketballs represent reviewing knowledge I still need the knowledge that my knowledge of basketballs is the complete and accurate knowledge of basketballs and not an incomplete or inaccurate knowledge of basketballs. This seems to require omniscience. Maybe I'm wrong?
    – Angus
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 20:32

When you become a Sotapanna it assures enlightenment within seven lives.

"The laywoman Sujata, Ananda, through the destruction of the three fetters has become a stream-enterer, and is safe from falling into the states of misery, assured, and bound for Enlightenment.


  • How does one know if one is a Sotapanna? How does one know being a Sotapanna assures enlightenment within seven lives?
    – Angus
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 20:48
  • Technically by eliminating the first three fetters, you become a Sotapanna. Once you become a Sotapanna you see the Nibbana and it is nor far away.
    – SarathW
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 21:09
  • Does one see that one is assured Nibbana within 7 lives? How does one know if that is true or not?
    – Angus
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 23:13
  • Sutta says the minimum of seven lives. Could be this life itself. Any case is a very short period of time in relation to Samsara
    – SarathW
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 0:50
  • How does a Sotapanna know they are destined for Nibbana within 7 lives?
    – Angus
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 22:47

You couldn't know prior to the unfolding of right view with regards to seeing through the illusion of self (sotapanna) and even then there's no certainty in this life. Perhaps right effort will see to that.

How do you know if you're sotapanna? Have a read of Dhamma and Discipline of the Buddha’s Own Words to proclaim Stream Entering by oneself.

  • That seems like another interesting question for submission to the community. You need not have faith, just an ability to practice.
    – user14148
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 20:20

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