Points of Controversy

1.9. Of Applications in Mindfulness

Controverted Point: That all mental states are applications in mindfulness.

Theravādin: Do all cognizable things constitute applications in mindfulness?

Andhaka: Yes.

Theravādin: Then must you also admit that all cognizable things constitute mindfulness, the controlling faculty and force of mindfulness, mindfulness that is perfect, that is a factor of enlightenment, the “sole conveying” path “leading to extinction,” to “enlightenment,” to “disintegration,” are “not bound up with the defilements,” not akin to the fetters, ties, floods, bonds, hindrances, contagions, graspings, corruptions; you must admit that all cognizable things constitute the “ten recollections,” namely of the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Saṅgha, morals, pious liberality, the devas, “mindfulness in respiration,” “reflection on death,” “mindfulness concerning the body,” “reflection on peace.” But this you deny.

Again, you must equally admit, given your first affirmation, that the eye-organ constitutes an application in mindfulness. And if you are driven to admit that it does, then you must admit everything for it, which, as I claim, you must admit for all cognizable things. The same argument holds for the four other sense-organs, for the five objects of sense, for lust, hate, delusion, conceit, error, doubt, sloth, distraction, impudence, indiscretion.

Is mindfulness itself an application of mindfulness, and conversely? If you admit this, then must you also admit that each of the foregoing cognizable things is an application of mindfulness, and that application of mindfulness is each of those things.

You deny; then do you hold that each of those cognizable things is an application of mindfulness, but not conversely? You assent; then you must equally admit that mindfulness itself is an application in mindfulness, but that application in mindfulness is not mindfulness.

Andhaka: Then is it wrong to say “all things are applications in mindfulness”?

Theravādin: Yes.

Andhaka: But is not mindfulness established concerning all cognizable things?

Theravādin: Yes.

Andhaka: How then, good sir, can you deny what I affirm: “All cognizable things are applications of mindfulness”?

Theravādin: We have said that mindfulness is established concerning all cognizable things: now, are are cognizable things applications of mindfulness?

Andhaka: Yes.

Theravādin: Contact is established with respect to all cognizable things: are then all such things applications in contact? For this is that to which you have committed yourself. Again, feeling, perception, volition, consciousness, each of these is established with respect to all cognizable things: are then all such things applications in feeling, in perception, etc.? For this must equally be admitted.

Again, if your proposition is to stand, then you equally admit for all beings that they have mindfulness at hand, are endowed and set up with mindfulness, having it ever in readiness.

Moreover, was it not said by the Exalted One:

“They, bhikkhus, who do not enjoy mindfulness regarding the body, do not enjoy the Deathless; they, bhikkhus, who enjoy mindfulness regarding the body, enjoy the Deathless”?

Is the Suttanta thus? You admit it is; but do “all beings” enjoy, obtain, practise, develop, and multiply mindfulness regarding the body? You know they do not.

Again, was it not said by the Exalted One:

“There is a way, bhikkhus, that leads only to the purification of beings, the passing beyond sorrow and grief, to the extinction of suffering and sadness, to the attainment of right method, to the realization of Nibbāna, and that way is the four applications of mindfulness.”

Is the Suttanta thus? You admit it is; but have “all beings” this one and only way so leading? You are bound to admit that they have not.

Again, was it not said by the Exalted One:

“When a Wheel-turning Monarch appears, bhikkhus, then there appear seven treasures. What are the seven? The treasure of the Wheel doth appear, and the treasures of the Elephant, the Horse, the Jewel, the Woman, the Householder, the Heir apparent. Bhikkhus, on the appearance of a Wheel-turning Monarch these seven treasures appear. When a Tathāgata appears, bhikkhus, Arahant Buddha Supreme, then doth there appear these seven treasures of enlightenment. What are the seven? The treasures of those factors of enlightenment: Mindfulness, Search for Truth, Energy, Zest, Serenity, Samādhi, Equanimity. Bhikkhus, on the appearance of a Tathāgata Arahant, Buddha Supreme, these seven treasures appear.”

Is the Suttanta thus? You admit it is. But do “all things” become that treasure of Mindfulness which is a factor of enlightenment, when a Tathāgata appears? You know they do not, yet you are bound to admit they do.

Lastly, if all things are applications of mindfulness, they must be equally other of the (thirty-seven) things pertaining to enlightenment, such as the supreme efforts, the steps to magic potency, the controlling faculties and forces, the factors of enlightenment. To this admission are you committed.