Points of Controversy

3.1. Of Powers

Controverted Point: That the powers of the Buddha are common to disciples.

Theravādin: If your proposition is true, you must also affirm that power of the Tathāgata is power of the disciple and conversely, whether you take power in general, or this or that power, or power of this or that sort. And you must also affirm that the disciple’s previous application, previous line of conduct, instruction in the Doctrine, teaching of the Doctrine, are of the same sort as those of the Tathāgata. But all these corollaries you deny… .

You affirm of course that the Tathāgata is Conqueror, Master, Buddha Supreme, All-knowing, All-seeing, Lord of the Dhamma, the Fountain-head of the Dhamma. But you would refuse these titles to disciples. Nor will you admit of the disciples, as you do of the, Tathāgata, that he brings into being a Way where no way was, produces a Way that had not been called into being, proclaims a Way untold, is knower and seer of the Way and adept therein.

If you affirm that one of the Tathāgata’s powers: that of understanding as they really are the different degrees of development in our controlling powers (indriyāni) is held by disciples in common with him, you must also allow that a disciple is all-knowing, all-seeing.

Andhaka: But you will admit that if a disciple can distinguish a causal occasion from an occasion that is not causal, it were right to say that genuine insight of this kind is common to Tathāgata and disciple. But you refuse to say this.

Again, you will admit that if a disciple knows, in its causal occasion and conditions, the result of actions undertaken in the past, future, and present, it were right to say that genuine insight of this kind is common to Tathāgata and disciple. This, too, you refuse to say.

A similar implication holds good with respect to the power of knowing the tendency of any course of action, of knowing the worlds of manifold and intrinsically different elements; of knowing the manifold things beings have done from free choice, of knowing the attainments in jhāna or Deliverance or Samādhi—their impurities, their purity, and emergence from them; of knowing how to remember former lives; of knowing whence beings are deceasing and where they are being reborn. All these corollaries, namely, that if a disciple knows, where a Tathāgata knows, the knowledge is common to both, you deny. Finally, are not the defilements as extinct for a disciple as for a Tathāgata? Or is there any difference between their extinction for a Tathāgata and their extinction for a disciple, or between the ensuing emancipation for a Tathāgata and that for a disciple? “None” you say; then surely my proposition holds.

Again, you have admitted that a Tathāgata shares the power of insight into the extinction as it really is of defilements, in common with the disciple. But you will not admit—though you surely must—that this is the case with his knowledge of real causal antecedents and such as are not real… and also of the decease and rebirth of beings.

You affirm then that the power of the Tathāgata’s insight to discern as it really is a causal antecedent and one that is not, is not held in common by disciples. Yet you refuse to draw this line in the case of the extinction of defilements. Similarly, in the case of the remaining eight powers—which is absurd.

Again, you admit that the power of the Tathāgata’s insight to know as they really are the degrees of development in controlling powers is not held in common with the disciples. Yet you will not admit as much with regard to the insight into what are really causal antecedents and what are not, … nor of the insight into the extinction of defilements. (Here, on the contrary, you find powers held in common.)

On the other hand, you admit a common power in the discernment of what is really a causal occasion. and of the extinction of defilements. But you will not equally admit a common power in discernment of degrees of development in controlling powers—how is this?