Points of Controversy

9.6. Of Past and Future Mental Objects

Controverted Point: That consciousness of a past object is without object.

Theravādin: But you admit that there is such a thing as a mental object that is past? Then how can you make such a self-contradictory statement? Again, is there not adverting of mind, ideation, co-ordinated application, attention, volition, anticipation, aim, concerning that which is past?…

Controverted Point: That a consciousness, having an idea that is future, is without object.

are verbatim as in Kv9.6.1 and Kv9.6.2 “future” substituted for “past”. Note by Sujato: In the original English translation, these were in a separate section, Kv.9.7. This appears to be a mistake, and I have followed the Mahāsaṅgīti edition in combining these. This means that all subsequent sections in this vagga are numbered one less than the original.

Theravādin continues: You admit of course concerning what is present, that there can be adverting of mind, ideation, and so on (Kv9.6.1), so that consciousness of a present idea has its mental object. And you admit that there can be adverting of mind and the rest about the past and also about the future. Yet in both these cases mind, you say, is without mental object. Why not also say then that, while there can be adverting of mind, etc., about the present, mind occupied about a present object is mind without object?

Andhakas: But you admit that a “past object” does not exist at the present moment? Surely then a mind occupied with past object is occupied with no (that is, with a non-existent) object… .