Points of Controversy

9.11. Of Past, Future, and Present

Controverted Point: That a past or future experience is actually possessed.

Theravādin: But is not the past extinct, departed, changed, come to an end, finished? And is not the future unborn, not yet become, not come into being, not produced, not brought to pass, not manifested? How then can you call either something that is actually possessed?

Is one who possesses a present material or bodily aggregate also in possession of a past and a future bodily aggregate? Then must you admit three bodily aggregates. Similarly, if he is actually in possession of five past and. five future, as well as five present bodily and mental aggregates, you must admit fifteen aggregates… .

A similar argument applies to the organs and objects of sense, to the eighteen elements, to the twenty-two controlling powers.

Andhakas: But are there not those who, meditating on the eight stages of emancipation, can induce the four jhānas at their pleasure, can acquire the four serial grades? Surely then it is right to say that one can have actual present possession of past and future things?