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penetrate it, however, it is, first of all, necessary to be able to regard it in a purely objective manner, that is, without presuppositions, so that we may not proceed to its investigation wearing the spectacles of the philosophical views to which one is sworn. We must not start out, for instance, with the presupposition that the Buddha was teaching a purely idealistic world-view, in the modern sense of the word, and that the formula must therefore represent the Buddhist dianoiology. By such pre-conceived notions we render it impossible from the very first to understand the formula. The only correct thing is to place oneself in relation to it at the standpoint of a Perfected One, as far as one is able to do so. Already we have treated of this in detail. To state it precisely yet once more, it is as follows: The Perfected One is in such wise alienated from the five groups, out of which the complex called personality, representing the world, is built up, and is so far cured of the delusion that they are in any way an efflux of his essence, that in contemplating them, not even the thought of his ego arises in him. To him they are nothing more than processes restlessly heaving up and down, which at bottom have nothing at all to do with him. From the unmoving pole of his real essence lying beyond them, he looks down upon them as upon a phantasmagoria flitting before him; he perceives them as foreign elements rising incessantly from the realm of the uncognizable, or,-what, as we already know, means the same thing-from Nothingness, like bubbles rising out of the water of a swamp, on the instant to dissolve again and again. The idea of his ego does not even come to him to make him want to know the manner in which it is interlocked with those elements foreign to its essence. For the fundamental insight that all cognition is directed outwards, and that, accordingly, the essential and its whole domain are unattainable to it, has become so vivid within
him that he only cultivates this kind of thinking that is perfectly adapted to reality.
If we are able completely to grasp this standpoint, then, even before we know anything at all about the formula of origination through dependence, it will be clear to us that it can only consist in showing us how these processes which yield the total impression of personality and world, are conditioned one by the other, how one arises through another, and we shall no longer think that there can be any talk of a person actuating these processes. In short: We already know beforehand that the formula of origination through dependence must be taken quite impersonally, since in the realm of the cognizable a person is not to be found, and the realm of the uncognizable, precisely as such, yields no ideas at all. And so, the formula of origination through dependence, in fact shows us nothing more than mere processes running their course against the background of nothing, as the domain of our innermost essence, withdrawn from knowledge, arising out of this "nothing" and always again disappearing into it:
"But who, O Lord, touches?"
""The question is not rightly put,' the Exalted One replied. I do not say: 'He touches.' If I said: 'He touches;' then of course the question, 'Lord, who touches?' would be rightly put. But I do not say so. But if some one should ask me who do not say so: 'On what, O Lord, depends touch? then this question would be put rightly, and the right answer to it would run thus: 'In dependence upon the six organs of sense arises touch, and in dependence upon touch arises
"But who, O Lord, feels?"
"Neither is this question rightly put,' the Exalted One replied. I do not say: 'He feels.' If I said: 'He feels;' then the question, 'Lord, who feels?' would of course be
But if some one should
rightly put. But I do not say so. ask me who do not say so, 'On what, O Lord, depends sensation?' then this question would be rightly put, and the right answer to it would be: 'In dependence upon touch arises sensation.'" 139
Only because there is really no person, is there room left for a causal connection as conceived by the Buddha. For a person is thought of as a being to which sensation and perception are essential. If there were such a being, then of course every question as to the primary causes of sensations and perceptions would be meaningless, and every causal connection as conceived by the Buddha impossible. For to feel and to perceive would then be just the manifestation of my essence. These qualities would find their sufficient reason in the latter, so that no room would be left for any further cause, in the same way that the question, why a certain creature has wings, is sufficiently answered by pointing out that the said creature is a bird. But thereby any deliverance from sensation and perception, and thereby from suffering itself would be impossible. For it is impossible for me to annihilate myself.*
If now this peculiarity of the formula that it is an entirely impersonal conception, appears as self-evident, it will, for the rest, show itself to be of extreme lucidity, if only we always keep before our eyes the standpoint of the Buddha, as expounded above.
* See above p. 134.
OLD AGE AND DEATH
BIRTH AS IMMEDIATE
CONDITIONS OF SUFFERING
amsara is an endless chain of single personalities strung one on to the other. Personality, as we know, consists in the interworking of the five groups of grasping in such a manner that the corporeal organism—the first grouprepresents the personality's substratum, the six senses-machine, that by means of the action of the organs of sense first rouses consciousness and then, in union with it, generates sensation, perception and the activities of the mind. Since, further, as we know, these five groups constitute at the same time all the elements and thereby the totality of all suffering, we might also well call the corporeal organism the machine of suffering.
With this, however, it becomes apparent that, if the endless chain of misery that is called Samsara is to be shown as being causally conditioned, the corporeal organism,* the same machine of suffering itself, appears as the immediate cause of Suffering. It receives its character as a machine of suffering, as we saw above, in that it "ages and withers, worn out, becomes gray and wrinkled, vitality disappears, and the senses becomes dulled," 140 until at last, in death, entire ruin and dissolution follow. These two fundamental qualities of the substratum of personality, old age and death, give at the same time to the whole process of personality and therewith to the whole of life in all its details and in every direction the stamp of transiency, and precisely in doing so, make life as such full of Suffering. In old age and death, therefore, suffering culminates; they are suffering's most pregnant expression. Precisely on this account, the first question that arose in the Buddha's mind, as in deep
meditation he sought to discover the conditioned nature of the process of suffering, was: "Are old age and death dependent on something?" The answer, of course, was: "Yes, they are dependent."-"On what are old age and death dependent?"—"In dependence on birth arise old age and death." 14 Any one can see without further ado that this answer is correct. Because old age and death are nothing but the gradual decay and the final definitive dissolution of the corporeal organism, therefore they are inevitably bound up therewith, which means, they are conditioned by the same process whereby the organism itself arises with the accession of the element of consciousness: "Hence, Ananda: Whatever is born, or becomes old, or dies, or perishes, or originates, that is the corporeal organism together with consciousness." This process of the arising of "the body endowed with consciousness" takes place within the maternal womb, extending from the moment of conception to the extrusion of the foetus from the womb. The whole process in its entirety is comprised by the Buddha under the expression "birth”: “And what, ye monks, is birth? Of beings in this or that class of life the birth, the becoming born, the germination, the conception, the appearing of the groups, the grasping of the realms of sense,—this, ye monks, is called birth." 142
From this insight that old age and death are by necessity of nature involved in birth that is to say, in the formation of "the body endowed with six senses," since they are only the external manifestation of the laws to which this body is subject, the first result for the Buddha was that liberation from old age and death to which was subject the body he at that time occupied, was proven to be impossible. With regard to this present old age and the death bound up with it, he was from the outset powerless. In
* See above pp. 77,78.