Points of Controversy

14.8. Of the Unmoral and the Unrevealed

Controverted Point: That error is unmoral.

Theravādin: Then you must be prepared to class it as one of the unmoral categories—result, inoperative consciousness, matter, Nibbāna, organ and object of sense—which you may not do. You must also be prepared to admit that other mental factors, the conscious processes or acts accompanying erroneous opinion, are unmoral. Else you have this anomaly: that all these together constitute a state of immoral consciousness, while the erroneous opinion alone is unmoral.

Again, the unmoral has no moral fruit or result, while erroneous opinion is of the opposite nature. No, were not evil views ranked as paramount offences by the Exalted One? Did he not say:

“Wrong views, Vaccha, are immoral, right views are moral.”

And did he not say also:

“For the holder of wrong views, Puṇṇa, I declare one of two destinies, either purgatory or the animal world.”

Andhakas and Uttarapāthakas: But did not the Exalted One say:

“This, Vaccha, is unsolved (avyākata): that the world is eternal, or that it is not eternal. This, too, is unsolved (avyākata)—that the world is finite, or that it is infinite. And so, too, are these: that the soul and the body are the same, or are different things; that a Tathāgata comes to be after death, or not, or both comes to be and does not come to be, or that neither happens.”

Surely then erroneous opinions are unmoral.

Theravādin: But was it not said by the Exalted One:

“Of a person holding wrong views, bhikkhus, whatever karma of deed, word and thought he completes and carries out in accordance with those views, be it volition, aspiration, adjustment of mind, or other activities, all those things conduce to the undesirable, to the unpleasant, to the disagreeable, to trouble, to suffering.”

Hence it is surely wrong to say that “erroneous opinions are unmoral.”