Points of Controversy

17.4. Of Suffering (Dukkha) and Sentient Organisms

Controverted Point: That Suffering is wholly bound up with sentience.

Theravādin: But you commit yourself to saying this: that only that which is bound up with sentience is impermanent, and conditioned, has arisen through a cause, is liable to perish, to pass away, to lose desire, to cease, to change. But are not all these terms suitable to insentient things? You assent; but you refute your proposition in so doing.

You mean, do you not, that what is not bound up with sentience is impermanent, etc., and yet is not Suffering. But if you call “what is bound up with sentience” equally impermanent, etc., must you not also say that “this is not suffering”? If you deny, and by your proposition you must deny, then must you not contrariwise include “that which is not bound up with sentient life” under the notion of what” is suffering”?

Did not the Exalted One call whatever is impermanent Suffering? And is not the insentient also impermanent?

Hetuvādins: You deny the accuracy of my proposition. But you are thereby committed to this: that just as the higher life is lived under the Exalted One for understanding Suffering as bound up with sentient life, it is also lived for the purpose of understanding Suffering that is not bound up with sentient life.

Theravādin: No, that cannot truly be said.

Hetuvādins: And you are further committed to this: that just as

Suffering that is bound up with sentient life, once it is thoroughly understood, does not again arise, neither does it again arise when it is not bound up with sentient life and is thoroughly understood.

You deny… but I hold my proposition stands.