Points of Controversy

13.9. Of the Unmorality of a Natural Desire for Objects of the Mind

Controverted Point: That to crave for objects of the mind is unmoral.

Theravādin: If that be so, this craving must belong to one of the moral indeterminates—to wit, resultant or inoperative indeterminates—matter, Nibbāna, or the organs and objects of the five senses. But you must deny this as not doctrinal.

Or what reason have you for dissociating this sixth form of taṇhā (natural desire or craving) from the rest? If you admit that a craving for objects of sight, sound, and so on is immoral, you must admit as much concerning the co-ordination of these.

Did not the Exalted One call craving immoral? Does not this condemn your proposition? Did he not call appetite (or greed) immoral? and is not craving for objects of the mind a kind of greed?

Your contention is that a craving for objects of the mind is an unmoral appetite, but you are not justified in using greed with this qualification, when in the other five modes of sense it is called immoral.

Again, was it not said by the Exalted One:

“This natural desire is concerned with rebirth, is accompanied by delight and lust, dallying here and there—to wit, desires of sense, desire for rebirth, desire not to live again”? …

Pubbaseliyas: But if I am wrong, is not this threefold craving a craving for certain ideas or mental objects?

Hence surely such a craving is as such immoral.