Where Then Does The Error Lie?





Where, then, does the error lie in the four possible propositions

respecting man's nature? It lies not in their subject, but in the

predicate-that is to say, in the use of the terms 'good' and 'bad.'

Now let us examine how does good differ from bad. A good action ever

promotes interests in a sphere far wider than a bad action. Both are

the same in their conducing to human interests, but differ in the

extent in which they achieve their end. In other words, both good

and bad actions are performed for one end and the same purpose of

promoting human interests, but they differ from each other as to the

extent of interests. For instance, burglary is evidently bad action,

and is condemned everywhere; but the capturing of an enemy's property

for the sake of one's own tribe or clan or nation is praised as a

meritorious conduct. Both acts are exactly the same in their

promoting interests; but the former relates to the interests of a

single individual or of a single family, while the latter to those of

a tribe or a nation. If the former be bad on account of its ignoring

others' interests, the latter must be also bad on account of its

ignoring the enemy's interests. Murder is considered bad everywhere;

but the killing of thousands of men in a battle-field is praised and

honoured, because the former is perpetrated to promote the private

interests, while the latter those of the public. If the former be

bad, because of its cruelty, the latter must also be bad, because of

its inhumanity.



The idea of good and bad, generally accepted by common sense, may be

stated as follows: 'An action is good when it promotes the interests

of an individual or a family; better when it promotes those of a

district or a country; best when it promotes those of the whole

world. An action is bad when it inflicts injury on another

individual or another family; worse when it is prejudicial to a

district or a country; worst when it brings harm on the whole world.

Strictly speaking, an action is good when it promotes interests,

material or spiritual, as intended by the actor in his motive; and it

is bad when it injures interests, material or spiritual, as intended

by the actor in his motive.'



According to this idea, generally accepted by common sense, human

actions may be classified under four different heads: (1) Purely good

actions; (2) partly good and partly bad actions; (3) neither good nor

bad actions; (4) purely bad actions. First, purely good actions are

those actions which subserve and never hinder human interests either

material or spiritual, such as humanity and love of all beings.

Secondly, partly good and partly bad actions are those actions which

are both for and against human interests, such as narrow patriotism

and prejudiced love. Thirdly, neither good nor bad actions are such

actions as are neither for nor against human interests--for example,

an unconscious act of a dreamer. Lastly, purely bad actions, which

are absolutely against human interests, cannot be possible for man

except suicide, because every action promotes more or less the

interests, material or spiritual, of the individual agent or of

someone else. Even such horrible crimes as homicide and parricide

are intended to promote some interests, and carry out in some measure

their aim when performed. It follows that man cannot be said to be

good or bad in the strict sense of the terms as above defined, for

there is no human being who does the first class of actions and

nothing else, nor is there any mortal who does the fourth class of

actions and nothing else. Man may be called good and bad, and at the

same time be neither good nor bad, in that he always performs the

second and the third class of actions. All this, nevertheless, is a

more play of words. Thus we are driven to conclude that the

common-sense view of human nature fails to grasp the real state of

actual life.





Where Does The Root Of The Illusion Lie? Zazen And The Forgetting Of Self facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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