Points of Controversy

11.1. Of Three Facts about Latent Bias

Controverted Point: (i.) That latent bias is unmoral (indeterminate).

Theravādin: But are you prepared to identify latent bias with any of the morally indeterminate ultimates—with resultant or with inoperative indeterminates, with matter or body, with Nibbāna, or with the organs and objects of sense? Of course you deny this… .

Again, take each form of bias—unless you can prove that each form is something different in kind or degree from the corresponding kind off fetter,” or “outburst,” or “flood,” or “yoke,” or “hindrance,” which are indisputably immoral states, you cannot call the corresponding form of bias unmoral, whether it be sensual desires, or enmity, or conceit, or mere opinion, or doubt, or lust of life, or delusion.

Mahāsaṅghikas and Sammitīyas: Well, but would you say that an average man, while thinking moral or unmoral thoughts, had latent bias?

Theravādin: Yes.

Mahāsaṅghikas and Sammitīyas: Do you tell me then that good and bad ideas can come together side by side in consciousness?

Theravādin: No, that cannot truly be said… .

Mahāsaṅghikas and Sammitīyas: Then latent bias must be unmoral.

Theravādin: Then you must go further and admit that lust is unmoral, because you will agree that the average man, when thinking good or unmoral thoughts, has not got rid the while of the root-condition of lust or greed… .

(ii.) That latent bias is without moral motive (or root-condition).

Theravādin: Since you cannot identify latent bias with any ultimate Kv11.1.1, these being admittedly independent of the root-conditions or hetu’s, it only remains for you to show that each form of latent bias is something different in kind or degree from the corresponding kind of “fetter,” or “outburst,” or “flood,” or “yoke,” or “hindrance,” which are indisputably motived by the root-conditions of lust, or enmity, or delusion… .

Mahāsaṅghikas and Sammitīyas: You urge that latent biases are not uncon-ditioned by these root-conditions, and you still maintain that an average person, while thinking moral or unmoral thoughts, is possessed the while by forms of latent bias. But you deny that these forms are conditioned by any of the root-conditions accompanying those thoughts. Surely then latent-bias is unconditioned.

Theravādin: You admit that such an average person is still possessed of lust, even while thinking moral or unmoral thoughts. But you deny that that lust is conditioned by the hetu accompanying those thoughts. According to you, therefore, lust is unconditioned—which is absurd.

(iii.) That latent bias is independent of consciousness.

Argued verbatim as in Kv9.4.1Kv9.4.8, substituting “independent of” or “conjoined with” “consciousness” for “without” or with” “mental object” respectively.

Mahāsaṅghikas and Sammitīyas: You affirm that an average person is still possessed of latent bias, even while thinking moral or unmoral thoughts. But you deny that the latent bias is conjoined with such thoughts. Surely then latent bias is independent of mind.

Theravādin: If, as you admit, such a person is still possessed of lust while thinking moral or immoral thoughts, your denial that lust is conjoined with those thoughts does not necessarily lead to the false conclusion that lust is independent of mind.