Points of Controversy

19.8. Of the Moral Controlling Powers

Controverted Point: That the five moral controlling powers—faith, effort, mindfulness, samādhi, understanding—are not valid as controlling powers in worldly matters.

Theravādin: Do you imply that there can be no faith, or effort, or mindfulness, or samādhi, or understanding in worldly concerns? You deny. On the other hand, you maintain that there is faith, etc., in such a connection, but that none of them avail for moral control.

You admit that both mind and mind as a controlling power are valid in worldly matters. And you admit a similar validity in both joy and joy as a controlling power, in both psychic life and psychic life as a controlling power.

Why then exempt those five?

Again, you admit that there is both a spiritual faith and a controlling power of that faith—why not both a worldly faith and a worldly controlling power of faith? And so for the rest. Why accept in the one case, deny in the other?

Moreover, was it not said by the Exalted One:

“And I, bhikkhus, with the eyes of a Buddha surveying the world, saw beings living whose vision was dim with dust, in some but slightly, greatly in others, beings whose faculties were here keen, there blunt, of good disposition… apt to learn… some among them discerning the danger and defect of rebirth in other worlds.”

Surely then the five moral controlling powers are valid in worldly matters.