Points of Controversy

7.7. Of the Earth and Karma

Controverted Point: That land is a result of action.

Theravādin: As well say that the earth belongs to feeling pleasant, painful, or neutral, or is conjoined as mental with feeling or with perception, or volition, or cognition, that the earth has a mental object, that she can advert to, reflect upon, consider, attend, intend, anticipate, aim. Is not just the opposite true of her? Hence your proposition is wrong.

Again, compare her with something mental—with contact. Of contact you could say that it is both (i.) a result of action and also that it (ii.) belongs to feeling, and so on (as in § 1). But you cannot say both these things of earth. Or if you affirm the former (i.) and deny the latter predicate (ii.) of earth, you must be prepared to do no less in the case of contact.

Again, the earth undergoes expansion and contraction, cutting and breaking up. Can you say as much of the mental result of action?

Again, the earth may be bought and sold, located, collected, explored. Can you say as much of the result of action?

Again, the earth is common to everyone else. But is the result of my action common to everyone else? “Yes,” you say. But was it not said by the Exalted One:

“This treasure to none else belongs,
No bandit hence may bear it.
The mortal who would fare aright
Let him work acts of merit”?

Hence it is wrong to say that a result of action is experienced by everyone else.

Again, you would admit that first the earth is established and afterwards beings are reborn on it. But does result first come to pass and afterwards people act to insure result? If you deny, you cannot maintain that earth is a result of action.

Again, is the earth a common result of collective action? Yes, you say? Do you mean that all beings enjoy the use of the earth? If you deny, you cannot affirm your proposition. If you assent, I ask whether there are any who pass utterly away without enjoying the use of it? You assent, of course. But are there any who pass utterly away without exhausting the experienced result of their actions? Of course you deny… .

Once more, is the earth a result of the action of a being who is a world-monarch? and do other beings share in the use of the earth? Yes, you reply. Then do other beings make use of the result of his actions? You deny… . I ask again, and you assent. But then, do other beings share also in his contact, feelings, perception, volition, consciousness, faith, energy, mindfulness, samādhi, understanding? Of course you deny… .

Andhaka: But if I am wrong, surely there is action to gain dominion over the earth, action to gain sovereignty on the earth? If so, surely the earth is a result of action.