Points of Controversy

9.4. Of Bias as without Mental Object

Controverted Point: That latent (immoral) bias is without mental object.

Theravādin: Then the forms of latent bias must be either material quality, or Nibbāna, or one of the five organs or five objects of sense, which you deny.

But let us take the first form, the bias of sense-desire. If this is without mental object, must you not also affirm the same of all manifestations and notions of sense-desire—to wit, sense-desire as lust, as an outburst of lustful desire, as a Fetter, as a Flood, as a Bond, as an Obstacle? Would you not rather affirm just the opposite of these, that they are concomitant with mental object?

Or again, in what aggregate is latent bias included? The aggregate of mental coefficients, you say. But these are concomitant with object not less than the other mental aggregates: this you of course admit. How then can you maintain your proposition? If you affirm that (a) the bias of sense-lust has the aggregate of mental coefficients involved with it, and yet is without mental object, you must say no less of (b) sense-lust in general. But you refuse (making of sense-lust as bias a thing apart). Thus you get: (a) aggregate of mental coefficients without mental object; (b) aggregate of mental coefficients with mental object.

Then is that aggregate partly with, partly without, mental object? Then must you affirm the same of all the mental aggregates… which you may not… .

Or, passing over the next five latent biases—resentment, conceit, mere opinion, doubt, lust of rebirth—as disposed of by this same argument, take similarly the seventh—delusion—if this as latent bias is without object, it must be no less without mental object when figured as Flood, Bond, Outburst, Fetter, Obstacle—which you deny keeping the latent bias a thing apart.

The argument about the aggregates applies no less to this form of bias.

Andhakas and Uttarapāthakas: But is it not right to say that, when an average man of the world is thinking of something that is morally good or indeterminate, he may be described as “having latent bias”? And are not at that moment those forms of bias latent in him without mental object?

Theravādin: But you could equally well say of him at such a moment that he had lust in his heart, and you deny that lust is without mental object… .