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becoming cured, becoming angry, becoming glad, but every kind of Becoming. Always and everywhere we become that which we grasp, by identifying ourselves at the same time with that which becomes in consequence of the grasping. Even my own body only becomes, if, and for as long as, I grasp food, and this, in consequence is incorporated into the body. If every grasping at food ceases, then there is no more becoming of the body as such, but it dissolves. The result therefore is this: If I grasp nothing more, then also nothing more can become in relation to me. Even a mere thought arising within me vanishes without foothold and dissolves, if I remain entirely indifferent towards it, that means, if no kind of grasping takes place: "If, Ānanda, the question were put: 'Is Becoming dependent on any thing?' then it ought to be replied: 'Yes, it is dependent?' And if it were asked: 'On what is Becoming dependent?' then the reply should be given: 'In dependence upon Grasping arises Becoming.""
However convincingly, because drawn from immediate observation, this line of argument may demonstrate that all Becoming has its cause in a grasping, none the less, it -and with it, also its outcome-is entirely strange and unaccustomed to us, because so completely different from our so-called scientific method. For our natural science regards all Becoming simply and solely from the point of view of the incessant changes of matter caused by the laws dominating it. This matter and its laws for it are the only things given, through which, therefore, like everything else in the world, man also is to be wholly and completely comprehended. Therefore our investigators take it for granted in advance that matter and its laws must conceal within themselves the sole causes of all the phenomena of nature and thereby also of man. From this there results, as the only method of all aetiology, the completest possible
exploration of nature within which man only represents a genus among many others. In consequence of this it is always only the external causal connection of phenomena that is recognized, but never the innermost principle from which they take their origin. This principle, called by us the force of nature, natural science, because of the nature of its method, leaves on one side as an unexplained and, for it, unexplainable residue. Hence we do not know how to behave at first when we suddenly find ourselves planted in the middle of the explanation of this force of nature itself. For it is nothing else but this explanation that is presented to us in the intuition that all Becoming proceeds from grasping. This grasping is the energetical principle resident in all the separate phenomena of nature, constituting therefore the essence of all natural forces. Of course we can thoroughly understand this only when, in place of the said objective standpoint of our natural science-called objective, because it proceeds from the object, regarding this as the primary thing, from which all other things, even the subject, are to be explained-we withdraw to the directly opposite one, the subjective standpoint taken up by the Buddha. According to him, as we already sufficiently know, the primary thing is not nature, not the world with its laws; but I myself am this primary thing; and the problem consists not in comprehending myself as a product of this world, thus in explaining how the world comes to me, but, on the contrary, in understanding how in my inscrutable essence I come to the world, to the realm of anatta, of non-ego; or what is the same thing, how I have got into this realm of Becoming. Precisely because of this, it can never be a question for the Buddha and for any one who from the Buddha's standpoint looks out into the world, as to how Becoming in itself, thus independent of me, is to be explained, but, just like the whole world, it becomes a subjective pheno
menon of the individual; and consequently, from the very outset always and without exception, must have its ultimate and sufficient cause within the private individual. But from this there results a method the very opposite of ours, for discovering this ultimate cause. We shall never come upon it by external investigation, even if we search the entire universe through to the depths of starry space, just as little as we could ever find the subterranean inlet of a lake by exploring however closely its surface in every direction, with every possible kind of instrument. We must retire from the world back into ourselves, to the "centre of our vital birth" and by persistent introspection seek to find out how we have come into all this Becoming in which we find ourselves enmeshed. Under the Buddha's guidance, as we have seen, we shall be able without much difficulty, definitely to ascertain that whatever becomes in and about and for me, does so through an antecedent grasping that has arisen within me; nay, that it is precisely through this that I myself first become an I. Only when thus is discovered the source from which Becoming flows, may we with some hope of success turn our eye, in this manner rightly directed, upon other beings with a view to ascertaining if all Becoming, in regard to them also, is based upon a grasping,-in direct contrast to natural science which always seeks to comprehend the particular from the general.* As all the phenomena of life are obviously alike, we shall without further ado come to the insight that the axiom holds good to its full extent, for them also, as it is expressed by the Buddha: "I have said: 'In dependence on grasping arises Becoming.' And this, Ananda, that in dependence on grasping arises Becoming is to be understood as follows.
* "Internally with body keeping watch upon the body, he becomes wholly calmed, wholly clarified, and because he is thus wholly calmed, wholly clarified, he is able wisely to maintain his gaze externally, upon other bodies." 148
Suppose, Ananda, that there was nowhere and nowise any grasping of any being at anything, that is to say, no grasping at Sensuality, no grasping at Views, no grasping at Ceremonial Observances, no grasping at Doctrines about the I, thus if grasping were entirely wanting, if grasping were entirely annihilated, would then any kind of Becoming be perceived?" "Certainly not, Lord."
"Thus, Ananda, there is here the cause, origin, arising, dependence of Becoming, namely, grasping."
Indeed, if only we are able to look deep enough, at last even all forces in the vegetable kingdom and in the realm of inorganic matter, disclose themselves as expressions of grasping. Take a box of matches. As soon as a match is rubbed against the surface of the box, fire flames up. Whence does it come? Neither within the friction surface nor yet within the match, of course, is it contained; we may investigate both of these physically and chemically in every imaginable way, never shall we find in either a trace of fire or of anything like it. And yet, every time a match is rubbed against the surface, fire appears. Accordingly, friction-surface and match are nothing more than conditions -occasional causes-for a third factor which seizes upon these conditions, grasps them, and by their means becomes manifest as fire. This third thing really lies in wait for these conditions, in order to grasp them and by their means to come violently into manifestation. Wherever a match is rubbed against a friction surface, whether this happens in Europe or in America, upon the moon or on Sirius, it is all the same. Everywhere and always this mysterious power of nature will eagerly seize upon these conditions and by means of them force its way into existence. And yet, although it is always and everywhere, nevertheless again, it is nowhere, for nowhere can it itself ever be found. In short, it is for us something inexplicable and inscrutable; it
ever arises anew for us out of the "nothing," into which it always again sinks back, on which account in the last analysis we can say no more about it than we can say about the manifestations of our own energies; only this, that it is a kind of grasping which comes to fruition, and which we then perceive as fire. And it is the same with every force of nature. As further illustration, the beautiful comparison in which Schopenhauer vividly depicts the essence of nature's forces, may here be given in Buddhist garb:
"Let us imagine a machine constructed in accordance with the laws of mechanics. Iron weights through their weight furnish the impetus to movement; copper wheels resist through their rigidity; they push and lift each other and the levers by means of their impenetrability and so forth. Here weight, rigidity, impenetrability are original and unexplained forms of grasping: merely the conditions under which they appear, and the manner in which they express themselves as dominating a given substance as well as time and space, are indicated by mechanical science. Now, for example, let a strong magnet act upon the iron of the weights and overcome their weight, at once the movements of the machine cease, and matter is immediately again the scene of some other kind of grasping, about which the aetiological explanation can tell no more than the conditions under which it happens, namely, magnetism. But if now the copper strips of this machine are laid upon zinc plates, and diluted acid is introduced between them, then at once the same matter of the machine falls prey to another kind of original grasping, that is, to galvanism, which now dominates it according to its laws, and reveals itself in it through its phenomena, of which aetiology can tell no more than the circumstances under which, and the laws according to which, they appear. Now let us raise the temperature, and introduce pure oxygen, and the whole machine burns up: