This text will contain errors even though I spent at least a few minutes on each page trying to correct major errors such as Sanskrit names



Download 1.64 Mb.
Page11/30
Date conversion29.04.2016
Size1.64 Mb.
1   ...   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   ...   30

The Ariya type of renunciation, presupposed by the Buddhist Doctrine of Awak­ening, is of a very different character. Even the term normally used-pa viveka, viveka-means detachment, scission, separation, aloofness, without any particular

2. Maijjh., 26: Mahāvagga (Vin.), 13.2-12; Angutt., 4.3a. where the simite is apptied to the Awakened One himsetf and is continued with the foltowing addition: "Thus I atso, born in the wortd, grown up in rhe wortd, have overcome the wortd and stand. untouched by the world."

74

affective tone.' Apart from this, the example of the Buddha himself is decisive. He left the world and took to the ascetic road, not as one forced to reject the world through necessity, indigence, or dangers', but as the son of a king, a prince, "in the first flower of life," healthy, endowed with "happy youth," possessing all that he could desire.' Neither religious visions of any description, nor hopes of a hereafter played any part in his decision: it came inevitably from the firm reaction of a "noble spirit" to the lived experience of samsāric existence. One text, here, is quite definite: it says that, on the path of the Ariya renunciation is not made by reason of the "four misfortunes": disease, disasters, old age, or the loss of dear ones-but by reason of the knowledge that the world is contingent, that one is alone and without help in it, that it is not one's own, and finally, that it is in the grip of an eternal insufficiency, unsated and burning with thirst.6



t is now easy to see how exoteric and popular are some of the views ascribed to the doctrine. Such views have led some Westerners to the conclusion that Buddhism begins and ends by showing that "the world is pain" and hence appealing to man's natural tendency to flee pain until he is induced to prefer the "nothing." For fhe same reason the legend of the four meetings-according to which Prince Siddhattha was persuaded to renounce the world after seeing a newborn baby, a sick man, an old man, and a dead man-is to be taken with great reserve. Causes such as these can only occasionally produce a reaction, which in any case will eventually transcend them. And the same must be said of the more general theme of the "divine messen­gers"-consisting likewise of new-birth, disease, old age, and death: through failure to understand their message one would be destined to the "infernal regions..'

This is only superstructure. The essential, rather, is to confront a man with a relentless analysis of himself, of the conditioned nature of common existence in this world, or any other world, and to ask him: "Can you say: this am I? Can you really identify yourself with this? Is it fhis that you wish?" This is the moment of fundamental testing, this is the touchstone for distinguishing the "noble beings" from average



  1. Cf. Angutt., 3.92. It should be noted in this passage how detachment oceurs as a resutr of the presence or a positive element-it states: since one's own conduct is rigbt. false conduct is got rid of: since one possesses true understanding, false understanding is got rid of; since the manias are shut out, the manias are got rid of.

  2. Majjh., 68.

  3. Ibid.; this describes all that Prince Siddhattha is supposed to have enjoyed. atthough with an intenrionat exaggeration, et. Angutt, 3.38.

  4. Majjh., 75; 82,

  5. Majjh., 130; Angutt., 3.35. It is easy to see that (he references to the infernat regions that are found in tbese texts are simply popular references, without logical connection with the central ideas expressed there. The "divine messengers" can only impress on the mind that terresrrial life is finite and contingent; One cannot sec why those who either do nor see the messengets or who limit themselves to taking note of that truth without deducing any special consequence, that is, by accepting contingent life as such, shoutd be punished with atl sorts of fantas13ic torments hereafter.

75
beings; it is here that they are separated according to their natures; it is thus that their vocations are decided. The test in Buddhism has various stages: from the most im­mediate forms of experience the disciple proceeds to higher levels, to supersensible horizons, to universality, to celestial worlds," where the question is repeated: Are you this? Can you identify yourself with this? Can you satisfy yourself in this? Is this all rhat you wish? The noble being always ends by answering in the negative. And then the "revolution" occurs. The disciple leaves his home, renounces the world, and takes the ascetic path.

This clearly shows the significance of the other renunciation, the Ariya renun­ciation. This is based on "knowledge" and is accompanied by a gesture of disdain and a feeling of transcendental dignity; it is qualified by the superior man's will for the unconditioned, by the will, that is, of a man of a quite special "race of spirit," Such a man, then, does not reject life-life that is interwoven with death-for "mor­tification." thereby doing violence to his own being, but because it is too little for him, and when he remembers himself, he feels it to be inadequate to his real nature. At such a moment it is natural to renounce, to cut oneself off, to stop taking part in the game. The only feeling there can be is one of scorn, when a man becomes aware that he has been deceived and finally discovers the author of the deception: it is like the blind man who, while seeking a clean white cloak, but, being unable to see, is given and accepts a discolored and filthy one, and who, when his eyes are opened, is hor­rified and turns against the man who had made him wear it and who had profited by his blindness. "For a long time, indeed, I was deluded, deceived, and defrauded by my heart."9 On the path of awakening, the point of departure is positive: it is not the forcible bending of a human being who is only conscious of being a man, aided and abetted by religious images and apocalyptic, messianic, or superterrestrial visions; it is rather, an impulse that springs from the supernatural element in oneself that-although it has been obscured during the passage of time-still survives in "noble beings" beyond their samsāric nature, like the lotus that, poised above the water, is free from the water. These are the beings who, according to a text, gradually realize that the world unveiled by ascesis is their natural place, "the land of their fathers," and that the other world-this world-is, instead, a foreign land to them.10

A short time ago we referred to a "quite special race of spirit," We must explain this point and, together with it. the specific place of the Ariya. The touchstone, as we have said, is the vision of universal impermanence, of dukkha and anattā, Now, it is not said that the realization that something is impermanent is eo ipso a motive for detachment from and renunciation of it. This depends, rather, on what we have else-

8. For the series of objects of possibte identification see Majjh., 1.

9. Majjh., 75; Dhammapada, 153-54.

10. Jataka, 168.

76

where called the "race of the spirit," which is at least as important as that of the body." Here are some examples. A "telluric" spirit may consider as quite natural a dark self-identification with becoming and with its elementary forces. to such an extent that it does not even become aware of its tragic aspect-as sometimes occurs among the Negroes, savage peoples, and even among certain Slays. A "Dionysian" spirit may consider universal impermanence of little account, opposing to it carpe diem, the joy of the moment, the rapture of a corruptible being who enjoys from instant to instant corruptible things, a joy so much the more acute hi that-as fhe well-known song of the Renaissance has it-"di doman non v'ecertezza." A "lunar" spirit, religiously inclined, may in its turn see in the contingency of life an atonement or a test, in face of which it should behave with humility and resignation, having faith in the impenetrable divine will and maintaining the feeling of being a "creature. created by it out of nothing. By others still this death of ours is considered as a completely natural and final phenomenon, the thought of which should not for a moment disturb a life turned toward earthly aspirations. Finally, a "Faustian," "titanic," or Nietzschean spirit may profess "tragic heroism," may desire becoming, and may even desire the "eternal return." And so on. From these examples, it is easily seen that "knowledge" produces "detachment. only in the case of a particular race of spirit, of that which in a special sense we have called "heroic" and which is not unconnected with the theory of the bodhisatta. Only in those in whom this race survives and who wish it, can the spectacle of universal contingency be the principle of awakening, can it determine the choice of the vocations, can it arouse the reaction that follows from "No, I want no more of it," from "This does not belong to me, I am not this, this is not my self' extended to all states of samsāric existence. The work, then, has one single justification: it must be done, that is to say, for the noble and heroic spirit there is no other alternative. Katam karanīyam-"that which has to be done has been done"-this is the universally recurring formula that refers to the Ariya who have destroyed the āsava and achieved awakening.

At this point anattā, the doctrine that denies the reality of the "I,. shows us a further aspect. The meaning of this doctrine here is simply that in the "current" and in the contingent aggregation of states and functions which are normally considered as "I," it is impossible to recognize the true self, the supersensible ātmā of the pre-ceding Upanisadic speculation; this true self is considered as practically nonexistent for the common man. Buddhism does not say: the "I" does not exist-but rather: one thing only is certain, that nothing belonging to samsaric existence and personality has the nature of "I." This is explicifly stated in the texts.

11. On the theory of the "races of rhe spirit," see our Sintesi di dotrina della razza (Mitan, 1941), pp. 1t3-70) from whieh is taken the terminology of the phrases to follow.



77

This is the scheme. The Buddha repeatedly makes his questioner recognize that the bases of common personality-materiality, feeling, perception, the formations, consciousness-are changeable, impermanent, and nonsubstantial. After which, the question is asked: Can what is impermanent, changeable, and nonsubstantial be con­sidered thus: this is mine, this am I, this is my self? The answer is always the same-as if it were perfectly natural and obvious-Certainly not, Lord. The conclusion is then more or less of this type: "All matter, all feeling, all perception, all formations, all consciousness, past, present, or future, internal or external, gross or subtle, low or high, far or near, all should be considered, in conformity with reality and with perfect wisdom, thus: `This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self.' Thus considering, the wise, noble disciple does not identify himself with materiality, does not identify himself with feeling, does not identify himself with perception, does not identify himself with the formations, does not identify himself with consciousness. Not iden­tifying himself, he is detached. Being detached, he is freed."12 The same theme has several variations in the carton, but the sense and the scheme are always the same. t is quite clear: that all the probative force of reason is a function of this implicit presmise: that by "1" we can only understand the unconditioned, that is to say, something that has nothing whatsoever to do with samsaric consciousness or with its formations. Only then do the texts become clear and logical. Only then can it be seen, for ex-ample, how it is that what is impermanent should always appear also as painful, and how this latter correlation is established: "That which is painful is void of that which is void of `I,' I am not, it is not mine, it is not my self-thus it is apprehended, in conformity with reality and with perfect wisdom."13 Only in this way can we un­derstand the passage from the ascertainment to a reaction and an imperative: recog­nizing the impermanence of the elements, of the groups of craving, of the senses, being convinced that they are not "1," being convinced that "they are in flames," the "wise Ariyan disciple. feels disgust; disgusted, he becomes detached; being detached, he is freed: he has had enough of form, of finite consciousness, of feelings, of the other khandha, of objects, of contacts, of the emotive states that proceed from them, whether they are pleasant, painful, or neutral: he becomes indifferent in face of them and he seeks their ending.14 Here is a saying: What is impermanent, what is anatta, what is compounded and conditioned, this does not belong to you, you should not desire it. you should put it away-"the putting away of it will be greatly to your benefit, will lead to your well being": there can he no joy in it nor desire for it.15 It is clear thaf all this will not be sufficient evidence for everyone, The tacit but indis-

  1. Majjh., 22: 109.

  2. Samyutt.. 22.15; cf. 16 and 17. 49, 59.76; 35.2, 3.

  3. Ibid., 22.6t. 9: 35 3, 12; Mahāvagga (Vin.). 1.21.4.

  4. Samyutt., 22.33; 23.25-33.

78

pensable prerequisite is a higher consciousness_ When this dawns, then in an entirely natural manner, not from painful renunciation or "mortification," hut almost accom­panied by an Olympian bearing of the spirit. there occurs viveka, detachment.16 Re­alizing this higher consciousness, it is said that one who attempts to find an "I" or something similar to the "I" (attena vā attaniyena) in the sphere of the senses is like a man who, when looking for heartwood, approaches a large tree and cuts it down hut who, although not taking the trunk or new wood or branches, takes only the bark where there is no core and certainly none of the hard wood that he is seeking." The "I," then, is like this hard primordial essential substance, and this "I" is the funda­mental point of reference for Buddhism.

There is more to it than this. In speaking of "Olympian bearing" and of detach­ment we should not think of something like the indifference of a badly understood Stoicism. The Ariyan "renunciation" is fundamentally based on a will for the uncon­ditioned considered also as liberty and power. This is apparent from the texts. The Buddha, while challenging the opinion that the stems of ordinary personality are self, asks his interlocutor if a powerful sovereign wishing to execute or proscribe one of his subjects could do so. The answer is naturally, yes. Then the Buddha asks: "You who say: 'materiality is my self,' do you now think that you have this power over material­ity: `Thus let my materiality be, thus let my materiality not be'?"-and the question is repeated for the other elements of the personality. The interlocutor is forced to an­swer no, and thus this view that the "I" is materiality, feeling, and so on comes to he confuted." The basic idea is in no doubt here: not only the simple fact that body, feeling, consciousness, etc.. are changeable, but that this changeability is independent of the "I," that it is such that, in the normal way, in samsaric existence, the "I" has little or no control over it-it is this fact that demands the statement "I am not this, this is not mine, this is not my self.. On this is based the saying: "Renounce what does not belong to you."19 This argument recurs in other passages. In particular it occurs in the second exposition of the doctrine given by Prince Siddhattha at Benares: "If materiality were the `I,' it would not be subject to disease, and regarding it one could say: `Let my materiality be thus, let my materiality not be thus.' But since materiality is subject to disease, and since, one cannot say regarding it: `Let my materiality be thus, let my materiality not be thus,' therefore materiality is not the 'I"';20 and the same formula is repeated for the other khandha. Elsewhere we find the attributes "power-less," "falling." "feeble," "infirm" associated with impermanence, anicca. t is by


  1. Cf. Majjh., t06.

  2. Ibid., 29.

  3. Majjh., 35.

19. Ibid., 22.

20. Mahavagga (Vin.) 1.6.38, 39-41: Samyutt., 22.59,

79

considering these particular characteristics that attachment vanishes and the identifi­cation provoked by mania is interrupted.21



The correspondence of the Buddhist view with that of archaic Greece should be noted here. It is the eternal ""privation" (οτέ ησις), the eternal impotence of things that become, that "Lae and are not," that brings about renunciation. "By recognizing that matter is impotent, unsatisfied, miserable, and that so are feeling, perception, the formations, and consciousness, by perceiving that in them that determines the clinging tendencies of the mind: by reflecting, destroying, abandoning it and by be-coming detached from it, I know that the mind is liberated"-so says the ascetic." One who considers materiality as self or materiality as belonging to self, or self as in materiality, or materiality as in self-continues the text-is like a man, carried off by a powerful alpine torrent, who believes he can save himself by grasping the grass or weak rushes on the banks.23 He will he dragged away.

On these grounds we can speak, in connection with Buddhist realization, of a will not only for liberation, but also for liberty, unconditionedness and unbreakability. One of the more common descriptions of an ascetic is that he is a man who, having broken each and every bond, is free. The ascetic is one who avoids the snare, as does a wild beast, and so does not fall into the power of the hunter, but "can go where he will"-while the others, those who are subject to craving, "can be called lost, ruined, fallen into the power of harm."24 The ascetic is one who has gained mastery over himself, who "has his heart in his power, and is not himself in the power of his heart."25 He is the master of his thoughts. "Whatever thought he desires, that thought will he think, whatever thought he does not desire, that thought will he not think."26 As a perfectly tamed elephant, led by his mahout, will go in any direction; as an expert charioteer, with a chariot ready on good ground at a crossroad and harnessed to a thoroughbred team, can guide the chariot where he wishes; or as a king or a prince with a chest full of clothes, may freely choose the garment that most pleases him for the morning, the afternoon, or the evening-so the ascetic can direct his mind and his being toward one state or another with perfecf freedom.27 Here are a few more similes: the ascetic is like a man burdened with debts, yet he not only pays them off but manages to gain a surplus on which to build his own life; or he is like a man enfeebled by disease, his body without strength, but who succeeds in removing the disease and regaining his strength; or, he is like a slave, dependent on others, but



  1. Cf. Majjh., 75; 74.

  2. Majjh.. 112.

23.Samyutt., 22.93.

24. Majjh., 25.



  1. Ibid., 32.

  2. Angutt., 4.35; Majjh . 20.

  3. Majjh.. tt9; 32.

80

who is able to free himself from his slavery and feel master of himself, independent of others, a free man who can go where he will; or, again, he is like a man traveling through desert places, full of snares and dangers, who yet arrives safe and sound at his destination without losing anything.28 To complete the list of what a noble spirit regards as valuable, let us remember these other epithets of the Awakened One: "he who has laid down the burden." the "unshackled one," the "unhooked one,. the "es­caped one," the "unhinger," the "remover of the arrow," the "leveller of the trench," "he who escapes from the whirlwind." The whirlwind is a synonym for the faculties of craving;29 the arrow should be understood as the burning, the thirst for living, which has deeply wounded and poisoned the higher principle; the trench is samsāra, which appears here with the same meaning that "becoming" and "matter" possessed in the ancient Hellenic concept: Penia, perennial insufficiency and "privation," in-ability of self-fulfillment, or, in the symbolism of Oknos: a cord that while being woven is continually consumed."

t is thus that "the noble sons moved by confidence" recognize their vocation and come to apprehend the "Ariyan quest": "Thus, 0 disciples, a man, himself subject to birth, observing the misery of this law of nature, seeks that which is without birth, the incomparable safety, extinction; himself subject to decay, observing the misery of this law of nature, seeks that which is without decay, the incomparable safety, extinction; himself subject to death, observing the misery of this law of nature, seeks that which is without death, the incomparable safety, extinction; himself subject to pain and to agi­tation, observing the misery of this law of nature, seeks that which is without pain, the without-agitation, the incomparable safety, extinction; himself subject to stain, observ­ing the misery of this law of nature, seeks that which is without stain, the incomparable safety, extinction. This, 0 disciples, in the Ariyan quest.'

Returning to the problem of the determination of the vocations, we have said that the touchstone consists in the identilication or nonidentification of oneself with a whole hierarchy of modes of being, and the point of departure-anatta--has already been implicitly indicated. Nonidentification of oneself not only with material­ity, with feeling, with perception, with the formations, but nonidentification also with consciousness itself, if regarded as individuated consciousness-that is to say, the overcoming of the belief in "pefsonality," attanuditthi, and in its persistency-this is the first test put to the noble nature.32 To remain in this belief is a sign of a form of "ignorance" (the "ignorance" whose transcendental base, in the conditioned




  1. Ibid.. 39.

  2. Samyutt., 25.200.

  3. Majjh., 22.

  4. Ibid.. 26.

  5. Majjh, 44; 64

81

genesis, is vinnana) and of being subject to one of the "five lower fetters."33 One places oneself at a distance until there is a feeling that one's own person is a simple instrument of expression, something contingent that in due course will dissolve and disappear in the samāric current, without the supermundane, Olympian nucleus in ourselves being in the slightest degree prejudiced. The doctrine of the inessentiality of the person, of the psychological and passional "I," must then result in a mind that becomes pacified, serene, uplifted, clarified,34 It should not be a cause of dismay, but a source of superior strength. It is said that only the man who has experienced this doctrine has strength enough to cross the eddying current and to reach the further shore in safety; a weak man, who is incapable of this, is one whose mind has not been liberated by the working of the doctrine.35 Therefore; consciousness must not be considered as one's self, nor one's self as possessed of consciousness, nor consciousness as in one's self, nor one's self as in consciousness-any more than one should so consider the other khandha: feeling, perception, and the formations.36

1   ...   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   ...   30


The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2016
send message

    Main page