Points of Controversy

3.10. Of Moral Restraint

Controverted Point: That there is self-control among devas.

Theravādin: Since you affirm its existence, you imply also that there may be absence of it among devas. You deny this, meaning that there is no want of it among devas. Then you imply that there is no need of self-control among them—this again you deny, by your proposition.

Granting that virtue is restraint from absence of self-restraint, does this restraint exist among devas? “Yes,” you say, but you are hereby implying also the co-existence of absence of self restraint. And this you deny.

Yet you admit the co-existence among humans. Why not among devas? For instance, you say “devas abstain from taking life, from intoxicating drinks.” Yet you deny that these vices are found among them. You contend they are not found among them, yet you will not allow that restraint from them is not found either, although you allow the co-existence of both among men.

Opponent: But if moral restraint is absent among devas, surely you are implying that all devas are takers of life, thieves, etc. They are not, hence, etc. …