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Buddha Is Unnamable
Give a definite name to Deity, He would be no more than what ...

The Beatitude Of Zen
We are far from denying, as already shown in the foregoing ch...

The Third Step In The Mental Training
To be the lord of mind is more essential to Enlightenment, wh...

The Mystery Of Life
Thus far we have pointed out the inevitable conflictions in l...

An Illusion Concerning Appearance And Reality
To get Enlightened we must next dispel an illusion respecting...

The Usual Explanation Of The Canon
An eminent Chinese Buddhist scholar, well known as Ten Dai Da...

The Eternal Life As Taught By Professor Munsterberg
Some philosophical pessimists undervalue life simply because ...

Man Is Not Good-natured Nor Bad-natured But Buddha-natured
We have had already occasion to observe that Zen teaches Bud...

The Parable Of The Robber Kih
Chwang Tsz (So-shi) remarks in a humorous way to the followi...

The Errors Of Philosophical Pessimists And Religious Optimists
Philosophical pessimists[FN#214] maintain that there are on e...

Life Change And Hope
The doctrine of Transcience never drives us to the pessimisti...

Wang Yang Ming (o-yo-mei) And A Thief
One evening when Wang was giving a lecture to a number of stu...

Enlightenment Is Beyond Description And Analysis
In the foregoing chapters we have had several occasions to re...

Real Self
If there be no individual soul either in mind or body, where ...

The Betterment Of Life
Again, people nowadays seem to feel keenly the wound of the ...

The Parable Of A Drunkard
Now the question arises, If all human beings are endowed with...

The Great Person And Small Person
For these reasons Zen proposes to call man Buddha-natured or ...

Zen And Idealism
Next Zen makes use of Idealism as explained by the Dharmalaks...

Retribution In The Past The Present And The Future Life
Then a question suggests itself: If there be no soul that su...

The Law Of Balance
Nature governs the world with her law of balance. She puts t...




The Examination Of The Notion Of Self








The belief in immortality is based on the strong instinct of
self-preservation that calls forth an insatiable longing for
longevity. It is another form of egoism, one of the relics of our
brute forefathers. We must bear in mind that this illusion of the
individual Self is the foundation on which every form of immorality
has its being. I challenge my readers to find in the whole history
of mankind any crime not based on egoism. Evil-doers have been as a
rule pleasure-hunters, money-seekers, seekers after self-interests,
characterized by lust, folly, and cruelty. Has there been anyone who
committed theft that he might further the interests of his villagers?
Has there been any paramour who disgraced himself that lie might
help his neighbours? Has there been any traitor who performed the
ignoble conduct to promote the welfare of his own country or society
at large?

To get Enlightened, therefore, we have to correct, first of all, our
notions concerning Self. Individual body and mind are not the only
important constituents of Self. There are many other indispensable
elements in the notion of Self. For instance, I have come into
existence as another form of my parents. I am theirs, and may justly
be called the reincarnation of them. And again, my father is another
form of his parents; my mother of hers; his and her parents of
theirs; and ad infinitum. In brief, all my forefathers live and have
their being in me. I cannot help, therefore, thinking that my
physical state is the result of the sum total of my good and bad
actions in the past lives I led in the persons of my forefathers, and
of the influence I received therein;[FN#186] and that my psychical
state is the result of that which I received, felt, imagined,
conceived, experienced, and thought in my past existences in the
persons of my ancestors.

[FN#186] This is the law of Karma.


Besides this, my brothers, my sisters, my neighbours--nay, all my
follow-men and fellow-women are no other than the reincarnation of
their parents and forefathers, who are also mine. The same blood
invigorated the king as well as the beggar; the same nerve energized
the white as well as the black men; the same consciousness vitalized
the wise as well as the unwise. Impossible it is to conceive myself
independent of my fellow-men and fellow-women, for they are mine and
I am theirs--that is, I live and move in them, and they live and move
in me.

It is bare nonsense to say that I go to school, not to be educated as
a member of society, but simply to gratify my individual desire for
knowledge; or that I make a fortune, not to lead the life of a
well-to-do in society, but to satisfy my individual money-loving
instinct; or that I seek after truth, neither to do good to my
contemporaries nor to the future generations, but only for my
individual curiosity or that I live neither to live with my family
nor with my friends nor with anyone else, but to live my individual
life. It is as gross absurdity to say that I am an individual
absolutely independent of society as to say I am a husband with no
wife, or I am a son to no parents. Whatever I do directly or
indirectly I contribute to the common fortune of man; whatever anyone
else does directly or indirectly determines my fate. Therefore we
must realize that our Selves necessarily include other members of the
community, while other members' Selves necessarily comprehend us.






Next: Nature Is The Mother Of All Things

Previous: The Irrationality Of The Belief Of Immortality



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