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Buddhism

Great Men And Nature
All great men, whether they be poets or scientists or religio...

The Second And The Third Patriarchs
After the death of the First Patriarch, in A.D. 528, Hwui Ko ...

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

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

Bodhidharma And The Emperor Wu
No sooner had Bodhidharma landed at Kwang Cheu in Southern Ch...

There Is No Mortal Who Is Purely Moral
By nature man should be either good or bad; or he should be g...

Decline Of Zen
The blooming prosperity of Zen was over towards the end of th...

Zazen And The Forgetting Of Self
Zazen is a most effectual means of destroying selfishness, th...

The Fifth And The Sixth Patriarchs
Tao Sin transmitted the Law to Hung Jan (Ko-nin), who being e...

The Courage And The Composure Of Mind Of The Zen Monk And Of The Samurai
Fourthly, our Samurai encountered death, as is well known, wi...

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

Where Does The Root Of The Illusion Lie?
Now let us examine where illusion lies hidden from the view o...

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

Let Go Of Your Idle Thoughts
A famous Zenist, Mu-go-koku-shi, is said to have replied ...

Introduction Of Zen Into China By Bodhidharma
An epoch-making event took place in the Buddhist history of C...

Calmness Of Mind
The Yogi breathing above mentioned is fit rather for physical...

Do Thy Best And Leave The Rest To Providence
There is another point of view which enables us to enjoy life...

Where Then Does The Error Lie?
Where, then, does the error lie in the four possible proposit...

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

Each Smile A Hymn Each Kindly Word A Prayer
The glorious sun of Buddha-nature shines in the zenith of Enl...




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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