Points of Controversy

19.1. Of getting rid of Corruption

Controverted Point: That we may extirpate corruptions past, future, and present.

Theravādin: In other words, we may stop that which has ceased, dismiss that which has departed, destroy that which is destroyed, finish that which is finished, efface that which has vanished. For has not the past ceased? Is it not non-existent?…

And as to the future, you imply that we can produce the unborn, bring forth the non-nascent, bring to pass the unhappened, make patent that which is latent… . For is not the future unborn? Is it not non-existent?…

And as to the present: does the lustful put away lust, the inimical put away hate, the confused put away delusion, the corrupt put away corruption? Or can we put away lust by lust, and so on? You deny all this. But did you not affirm that we can put away present corruptions?…

Is lust and is “Path” a factor in conscious experience? You assent, of course. But can there be a parallel conscious procedure of both at the same time?… If lust be immoral, and “Path” moral consciousness, can moral and immoral, faulty and innocent, base and noble, sinister and clear mental states co-exist side by side at the same moment? You deny. Think again. Yes, you now reply. But was it not said by the Exalted One:

“There are four things, bhikkhus, very far away one from the other: what are the four? The sky and the earth, the hither and the yonder shore of the ocean, whence the sun rises and where he sets, the norm of the good and that of the wicked. Far is the sky, etc. ….”

Hence those mental opposites cannot co-exist side by side.

Uttarapāthakas: But if it be wrong to say “we can put away past, future, and present corruptions,” is there no such thing as the extirpation of corruptions? You admit there is. Then my proposition stands.