Points of Controversy

10.7. Of Two Codes of Morals

Controverted Point: Of Virtue or Morality as Automatic.

Theravādin: But is virtue either material qualities, or Nibbāna, or an organ or object of sense since these are the opposites of properties of mind?…

You would not call mental contact, feeling, perception, volition, faith, energy, mindfulness, samādhi, understanding, un-mental. But if virtue cannot be identified with anything that is not mental, it must be a property of mind… .

If virtue be no property of consciousness, you must affirm that it has not a result consciously sought after. Is not the opposite true? But if it has a .result to be desired, it is also something mental… . The mental properties just enumerated—they have both consciously desired results and are mental. In admitting this, you must also admit that virtue is of the same dual character. But you contend that virtue, on the contrary, is so anomalous as to have a consciously desired result, yet to be not mental… .

Again, if virtue be not a thing of the mind, you must admit that it has not a result, not an effect in future consciousness; yet is it not precisely something having such a result and effect? You would surely not say that it is non-mental and not productive of effect, as you would admit in the case of an organ or object of sense? Again, you would not consider that these non-mentals have such a result; yet this is what you say of virtue: that it is both non-mental and yet fruitful of results in consciousness.

With reference to the Path-factors, you would call the three factors relating to virtuous conduct non-mental, while calling the other five mental which you are not justified in doing.

Mahāsaṅghikas: But if I am wrong, you must then admit that when virtuous acts have ceased, the doer becomes immoral. You deny this? Then I am right to say that virtue is i.e., goes on without mind, mechanically.