Points of Controversy

16.1. Of Control

Controverted Point: That one can control the mind of another.

Theravādin: Do you mean that one can bid the consciousness of another not to lust, not to hate, not to be bewildered, not to be corrupted? Of course you deny. But how then can you maintain your view? Or do you mean that one can bid any mental phase uprisen in another’s consciousness—reaction, feeling, perception, volition… understanding—to cease? Equally you deny… . Or do you mean that anyone puts away lust, hate, or any evil mental coefficient on account of another? Or practises the Ariyan Path, or applications in mindfulness, or any other set of the factors of enlightenment because of another? Or masters the Four Truths—understanding Suffering, putting away its Cause, realizing its Cessation, practising the Path thereto—because of another? Or finally, do you mean that anyone makes another the doer of his actions, that anyone’s happiness and suffering are wrought by another, that one acts while another experiences? If you deny, you must deny your own view.

And was it not said by the Exalted One:

“By oneself is bad done,
By onself is one defiled;
By oneself is bad not done,
By oneself is one purified;
Purity and impurity are individual,
No-one is able to purify another.”

Hence it is surely wrong to say that one can control the mind of another.

Mahāsaṅghikas: But have not some admittedly won power and authority? Surely this includes control over others” minds.