Points of Controversy

14.1. Of the Mutual Consecutiveness of Good and Bad

Controverted Point: That a basis of bad thought is consecutive to a basis that is good, and conversely.

Theravādin: You are implying that the adverting, the adjusting of the mind arising for ethically bad consciousness is precisely the adverting and adjusting of the mind arising for ethically good consciousness. You say “No”, while insisting on your proposition. Then you must mean that the good consciousness can arise without our adverting or adjusting the mind? You maintain the opposite to this? Then, if the good consciousness in question arise for a mind already adverted and adjusted, it must be wrong to say that a basis of what is bad is consecutive to what is good.

Does what is bad arise for wrongly directed attention? You assent. Do you say as much of the good which, according to you, is consecutive thereto? Is it not truer to say that the good consciousness was preceded by rightly directed attention? You agree. Then that bad thought cannot be immediately consecutive to this good thought.

Again, are you prepared to admit that the idea of resignation follows immediately on that of sense-desires? That the idea of benevolence follows immediately on that of malignity? That the idea of kindness follows immediately on that of cruelty, the idea of love on that of malevolence, pity on unkindness, sympathetic joy on spleen, equanimity on resentment?…

The same argument is now applied to refute the second half of the proposition, to wit: that a basis of what is good is consecutive to a basis of what is bad”?

Mahāsaṅghikas: But if I am wrong, you will admit that one can fall in and out of love with one and the same object? Surely then my proposition is right, that a bad thing is consecutive to a good thing and conversely.