The Theory Of Buddha-nature Adequately Explains The Ethical States Of Man

This theory of Buddha-nature enables us to get an insight into the

origin of morality. The first awakening of Buddha-nature within man

is the very beginning of morality, and man's ethical progress is the

gradually widening expression of that nature in conduct. But for it

morality is impossible for man. But for it not only moral culture or

discipline, but education and social improvement must be futile.

Again, the th
ory adequately explains the ethical facts that the

standard of morality undergoes change in different times and places,

that good and bad are so inseparably knit together, and that the bad

at times become good all on a sudden, and the good grow bad quite

unexpectedly. First, it goes without saying that the standard of

morality is raised just in proportion as Buddha-nature or real self

extends and amplifies itself in different times and places.

Secondly, since good is Buddha-nature actualized to a large extent,

and bad is also Buddha-nature actualized to a small extent, the

existence of the former presupposes that of the latter, and the mess

of duality can never be got rid of. Thirdly, the fact that the bad

become good under certain circumstances, and the good also become bad

often unexpectedly, can hardly be explained by the dualistic theory,

because if good nature be so arbitrarily turned into bad and bad

nature into good, the distinction of good and bad nature has no

meaning whatever. According to the theory of Buddha-nature, the fact

that the good become bad or the bad become good, does not imply in

the least a change of nature, but the widening or the narrowing of

its actualization. So that no matter how morally degenerated one may

be, he can uplift himself to a high ethical plane by the widening of

his self, and at the same time no matter how morally exalted one may

be, he can descend to the level of the brute by the narrowing of his

self. To be an angel or to be a devil rests with one's degrees of

enlightenment and free choice. This is why such infinite varieties

exist both among the good and the bad. This is why the higher the

peak of enlightenment the people climb, the more widely the vista of

moral possibilities open before them.