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The problem of good and evil

The good and evil of Social Preference do not affect or upset the workings of the law of kamma in any way, and should not be confused with it. “Good” and “evil” should be recognized as attributes of the law of kamma. Even though the two are related they are in fact separate, and have very clear distinctions.

The English words “good” and “evil” have very broad meanings, particularly the word “good,” which is much more widely used than “evil.” A virtuous and moral person is said to be good; delicious food might be called “good” food; a block of wood which happens to be useful might be called a “good” block of wood. Moreover, something which is good to one person might not be good to many others. Looked at from one angle, a certain thing may be good, but not from another. Behaviour which is considered good in one area, district or society might be considered bad in another.

It seems from these examples that there is some disparity. It might be necessary to consider the word “good” from different viewpoints, such as good in a hedonistic sense, good in an artistic sense, good in an economic sense, and so on. The reason for this disparity is a matter of values. The words “good” and “evil” can be used in many different value systems in English, which makes their meanings very broad. The law of kamma, the specialized terms kusala and akusala or skillful and unskilful, have very precise meanings.

Kusala and akusala, in terms of Buddhist ethics, are qualities of the law of kamma, commonly used for the words “good” and “evil.”

The operation of the law of kamma is related to other laws. Specifically, insofar as the inner life of the individual is concerned, kammaniyama interacts with psychological laws (cittaniyama), while externally it is related to Social Preference.

Although kusala and akusala are sometimes translated as “good” and “evil,” this may be misleading. Things which are kusala may not always be considered good, while some things may be akusala and yet not generally considered to be evil. Depression, melancholy, sloth and distraction, for example, although akusala, are not usually considered to be “evil” as we know it in English. In the same vein, some forms of kusala, such as calmness of body and mind, may not readily come into the general understanding of the English word “good.”

Kusala and akusala are conditions which arise in the mind, producing results initially in the mind, and from there to external actions and physical features. The meanings of kusala and akusala therefore stress the state, the contents and the events of mind as their basis.

Kusala can be rendered generally as “intelligent, skillful, contented, beneficial, good,” or “that which removes affliction.” Akusala is defined in the opposite way, as in “unintelligent,” “unskilful” and so on.

When there is goodwill, the mind is naturally happy, cheerful, and clear.

This is a condition which is beneficial to the psyche, supporting the quality and efficiency of the mind. Goodwill is therefore kusala. Sati enables the attention to be with whatever the mind is involved or engaged, recollecting the proper course of action, helping to prevent akusala conditions from arising, and thus enabling the mind to work more effectively. Sati is therefore kusala.

Examples of akusala conditions are: sexual desire; ill will; sloth and torpor; restlessness and anxiety; doubt[a], anger, jealousy, and avarice. Jealousy makes the mind spiteful and oppressive, clearly damaging the quality and health of the mind. Therefore, it is akusala. Anger stirs up the mind in such a way that rapidly affects even the health of the body, and thus is clearly akusala. Sensual desire confuses and obsesses the mind. This is also akusala.

Having established an understanding of the words kusala and akusala, we are now ready to understand good and bad kamma, or kusala kamma and akusala kamma. As has been already mentioned, intention is the heart of kamma. Thus, an intention which contains kusala conditions is skillful, and an intention which contains akusala conditions is unskilful. When those skillful or unskilful intentions are acted on through the body, speech or mind, they are known as skillful and unskilful kamma through body, speech and mind respectively, or, alternatively, bodily kamma, verbal kamma and mental kamma which are skillful and unskilful as the case may be.

An act of faith or generosity, moral purity, or even an experience of insight during meditation, which are all kusala conditions, can precipitate the arising of conceit, pride and arrogance. Conceit and pride are akusala conditions. This situation is known as “kusala acting as an agent for akusala.” Meditation practice can lead to highly concentrated states of mind (kusala), which in turn can lead to attachment (akusala). The development of thoughts of goodwill and benevolence to others (kusala), can, in the presence of a desirable object, precipitate the arising of lust (akusala).

It has been mentioned that the law of kamma has a very intimate relationship with both psychological laws and Social Preference. This very similarity can easily create misunderstandings. The law of kamma is so closely related to psychological laws that they seem to be one and the same thing, but there is a clear dividing line between the two, and that is intention. This is the essence and motivating force of the law of kamma and is that which gives the law of kamma its distinct niche among the other niyama or laws.

Cittaniyama, on the other hand, governs all mental activity, including the unintentional.

Human intention, through the law of kamma, has its own role distinct from the other niyama, giving rise to the illusion that human beings are independent of the natural world. Intention must rely on the mechanics of cittaniyama in order to function, and the process of creating kamma must operate within the parameters of cittaniyama.

Using an analogy of a man driving a motor boat, the “driver” is intention, which is the domain of the law of kamma, whereas the whole of the boat engine is comparable to the mental factors, which are functions of cittaniyama. The driver must depend on the boat engine. However, for the “boat engine” to lead the “boat,” that is, for the mind to lead life and the body, in any direction, is entirely at the discretion of the “driver,” intention. The driver depends on and makes use of the boat, but also takes responsibility for the welfare of both boat and engine. In the same way, the law of kamma depends on and makes use of cittaniyama, and also accepts responsibility for the welfare of life, including both the body and the mind.

There is not much confusion about this relationship between the law of kamma and cittaniyama, mainly because these are not things in which the average person takes much interest. The issue that creates the most confusion is the relationship between the law of kamma and Social Preference, and this confusion creates ambiguity in regard to the nature of good and evil. We often hear people say that good and evil are human or social inventions.

To say that good and evil are matters of human preference and social decree is true to some extent. Even so, the good and evil of Social Preference do not affect or upset the workings of the law of kamma in any way, and should not be confused with it. “Good” and “evil” should be recognized as attributes of the law of kamma. Even though the two are related they are in fact separate, and have very clear distinctions.

අව අටවක පෝය

පොසොන් අව අටවක පෝය ජුනි මස 15 වන දා සඳුදා අපර භාග 3.12 ට ලබයි. 16 වනදා අඟහරුවාදා අපරභාග 3.57 දක්වා පෝය පවතී සිල් සමාදන්වීම ජුනි මස 15 වනදා සඳුදාය.

මී ළඟ පෝය ජුනි 22 වන දා සඳුදා ය.

පොහෝ දින දර්ශනය

Second Quarterඅව අටවක

ජුනි 15

New Moonඅමාවක

ජුනි 22

First Quarterපුර අටවක

ජුනි 29

Full Moonපසෙලාස්වක

ජූලි 06

2009 පෝය ලබන ගෙවෙන වේලා සහ සිල් සමාදන් විය යුතු දවස

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