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Buddhism

Zen And The Regent Generals Of The Ho-jo Period
No wonder, then, that the representatives of the Samurai clas...

The Honest Poverty Of The Zen Monk And The Samurai
Secondly, the so-called honest poverty is a characteristic of...

The Buddha Of Mercy
Milton says: "Virtue may be assailed, but never hurt; Sur...

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

The Irrationality Of The Belief Of Immortality
Occidental minds believe in a mysterious entity under the nam...

The Application Of The Law Of Causation To Morals
Although it may be needless to state here the law of causatio...

Zen After The Downfall Of The Ho-jo Regency
Towards the end of the Ho-Jo period, and after the downfall o...

Buddha The Universal Life
Zen conceives Buddha as a Being, who moves, stirs, inspires, ...

There Is No Mortal Who Is Non-moral Or Purely Immoral
The same is the case with the third and the fourth class of p...

The Four Alternatives And The Five Categories
There are, according to Zen, the four classes of religious an...

The Resemblance Of The Zen Monk To The Samurai
Let us point out in brief the similarities between Zen and Ja...

Enlightenment Implies An Insight Into The Nature Of Self
We cannot pass over, however, this weighty problem without sa...

Difficulties Are No Match For The Optimist
How can we suppose that we, the children of Buddha, are put a...

The Introduction Of The So-to School Of Zen
This school was started by Tsing-Yuen (Sei-gen), an emine...

Idealism Is A Potent Medicine For Self-created Mental Disease
In so far as Buddhist idealism refers to the world of sense, ...

Zen Is Iconoclastic
For the followers of Bodhidharma, however, this conception of...

Life And Change
Transformation and change are the essential features of life;...

Our Conception Of Buddha Is Not Final
Has, then, the divine nature of Universal Spirit been complet...

Poetical Intuition And Zen
Since Universal Life or Spirit permeates the universe, the po...

Zazen Or The Sitting In Meditation
Habit comes out of practice, and forms character by degrees, ...




Enlightenment Implies An Insight Into The Nature Of Self








We cannot pass over, however, this weighty problem without saying a
word. We shall try in this chapter to present Enlightenment before
the reader in a roundabout way, just as the painter gives the
fragmentary sketches of a beautiful city, being unable to give even a
bird's-eye view of it. Enlightenment, first of all, implies an
insight into the nature of Self. It is an emancipation of mind from
illusion concerning Self. All kinds of sin take root deep in the
misconception of Self, and putting forth the branches of lust, anger,
and folly, throw dark shadows on life. To extirpate this
misconception Buddhism strongly denies the existence of the
individual soul as conceived by common sense-that is, that unchanging
spiritual entity provided with sight, hearing, touch, smell, feeling,
thought, imagination, aspiration, etc., which survives the body. It
teaches us that there is no such thing as soul, and that the notion
of soul is a gross illusion. It treats of body as a temporal
material form of life doomed to be destroyed by death and reduced to
its elements again. It maintains that mind is also a temporal
spiritual form of life, behind which there is no immutable soul.


Both Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism teach the doctrine of
Anatman, or Non-self. It is the denial of soul as conceived by
common sense, and of Atman as conceived by Indian heterodox thinkers.
Some Mahayanists believe in the existence of real Self instead of
individual self, as we see in Mahaparinirvana-sutra, whose author
says: "There is real self in non-self." It is worthy of note that
the Hinayanists set forth Purity, Pleasure, Atman, and Eternity, as
the four great misconceptions about life, while the same author
regards them as the four great attributes of Nirvana itself.


An illusory mind tends either to regard body as Self and to yearn
after its material interests, or to believe mind dependent on soul as
Ego. Those who are given to sensual pleasures, consciously or
unconsciously, bold body to be the Self, and remain the life-long
slave to the objects of sense. Those who regard mind as dependent on
soul as the Self, on the other hand, undervalue body as a mere tool
with which the soul works, and are inclined to denounce life as if
unworthy of living. We must not undervalue body, nor must we
overestimate mind. There is no mind isolated from body, nor is there
any body separated from mind. Every activity of mind produces
chemical and physiological changes in the nerve-centres, in the
organs, and eventually in the whole body; while every activity of
body is sure to bring out the corresponding change in the mental
function, and eventually in the whole personality. We have the
inward experience of sorrow when we have simultaneously the outward
appearance of tears and of pallor; when we have the outward
appearance of the fiery eyes and short breath, we have simultaneously
the inward feeling of anger. Thus body is mind observed outwardly in
its relation to the senses; mind is body inwardly experienced in its
relation to introspection. Who can draw a strict line of demarcation
between mind and body? We should admit, so far as our present
knowledge is concerned, that mind, the intangible, has been formed to
don a garment of matter in order to become an intelligible existence
at all; matter, the solid, has faded under examination into
formlessness, as that of mind. Zen believes in the identification of
mind and body, as Do-gen says: "Body is identical with mind;
appearance and reality are one and the same thing."
Bergson denies the identification of mind and body, saying:
"It (experience) shows us the interdependence of the mental and the
physical, the necessity of a certain cerebral substratum for the
psychical state-nothing more. From the fact that two things are
mutually dependent, it does not follow that they are equivalent.
Because a certain screw is necessary for a certain machine, because
the machine works when the screw is there and stops when the screw is
taken away, we do not say that the screw is equivalent of the
machine." Bergson's simile of a screw and a machine is quite
inadequate to show the interdependence of mind and body, because the
screw does cause the machine to work, but the machine does not cause
the screw to work; so that their relation is not interdependence. On
the contrary, body causes mind to work, and at the same time mind
causes body to work; so that their relation is perfectly
interdependent, and the relation is not that of an addition of mind
to body, or of body to mind, as the screw is added to the machine.
Bergson must have compared the working of the machine with mind, and
the machine itself with body, if be wanted to show the real fact.
Moreover, he is not right in asserting that "from the fact that two
things are mutually dependent, it does not follow that they are
equivalent," because there are several kinds of interdependence, in
some of which two things can be equivalent. For instance, bricks,
mutually dependent in their forming an arch, cannot be equivalent one
with another; but water and waves, being mutually dependent, can be
identified. In like manner fire and heat, air and wind, a machine
and its working, mind and body.


The master strongly condemns the immortality of the soul as
the heterodox doctrine in his Sho-bo-gen-zo. The same argument is
found in Mu-chu-mon-do, by Mu-so Koku-shi.

'Creative Evolution,' pp. 354, 355.

Bergson, arguing against the dependence of the mind on
brain, says: "That there is a close connection between a state of
consciousness and the brain we do not dispute. But there is also a
close connection between a coat and the nail on which it hangs, for
if the nail is pulled out, the coat will fall to the ground. Shall
we say, then, that the shape of the nail gave the shape of the coat,
or in any way corresponds to it? No more are we entitled to
conclude, because the psychical fact is hung on to a cerebral state,
that there is any parallelism between the two series, psychical and
physiological." We have to ask, in what respects does the
interrelation between mind and body resemble the relation between a
coat and a nail?






Next: The Irrationality Of The Belief Of Immortality

Previous: Enlightenment Is Beyond Description And Analysis



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