Hinayanism And Its Doctrine

The doctrine of Transience was the first entrance gate of Hinayanism.

Transience never fails to deprive us of what is dear and near to us.

It disappoints us in our expectation and hope. It brings out grief,

fear, anguish, and lamentation. It spreads terror and destruction

among families, communities, nations, mankind. It threatens with

perdition the whole earth, the whole universe. Therefore it follows

that life is full of disappointment, sufferings, and miseries, and

that man is like 'a frog in a dry well.' This is the doctrine called

by the Hinayanists the Holy Truth of Suffering.

Again, when Transcience once gets hold of our imagination, we can

easily foresee ruins and disasters in the very midst of prosperity

and happiness, and also old age and ugliness in the prime and youth

of beauty. It gives rise quite naturally to the thought that body is

a bag full of pus and blood, a mere heap of rotten flesh and broken

pieces of bone, a decaying corpse inhabited by innumerable maggots.

This is the doctrine called by the Hinayanists the Holy Truth of


[FN#146] Mahasaptipatthana Suttanta, 7, runs as follows: And,

moreover, bhikkhu, a brother, just as if he had been a body abandoned

in the charnel-field, dead for one, two, or three days, swollen,

turning black and blue, and decomposed, apply that perception to this

very body (of his own), reflecting: 'This body, too, is even so

constituted, is of such a nature, has not got beyond that (fate).'

And, again, Transience holds its tyrannical sway not only over the

material but over the spiritual world. At its touch Atman, or soul,

is brought to nothing. By its call Devas, or celestial beings, are

made to succumb to death. It follows, therefore, that to believe in

Atman, eternal and unchanging, would be a whim of the ignorant. This

is the doctrine called by the Hinayanists the Holy Truth of No-atman.

If, as said, there could be nothing free from Transience, Constancy

should be a gross mistake of the ignorant; if even gods have to die,

Eternity should be no more than a stupid dream of the vulgar; if all

phenomena be flowing and changing, there could be no constant noumena

underlying them. It therefore follows that all things in the

universe are empty and unreal. This is the doctrine called by the

Hinayanists the Holy Truth of Unreality. Thus Hinayana Buddhism,

starting from the doctrine of Transience, arrived at the pessimistic

view of life in its extreme form.

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