400 verses | Āryadeva | 10

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400 Verses on the Middle Path
by Āryadeva c. 3rd century

Part 10 | of 16

Indicating the Meditations
for Refuting a (Static, Impossible) “self”

(1) A (static, truly existent) “self”
(or Ātman as asserted by you Vaiśeṣikas) internally
can be neither female, nor male, nor hermaphroditic,
(otherwise you would always have to be reborn as the same gender).
When this is so, then it is only out of unknowing (naivety)
that you can think in terms of being a (truly existent) male “self” (and so on).

(2) And when it is so
that none of the elements (constituting the body)
exist as male, female or hermaphroditic,
then how can (a “self”) that relies on these (externally)
 be (truly existently) male or female or hermaphroditic?

(3) That which is your “self” is not my “self.”

Therefore, this (object of your self-preoccupation) cannot be a (truly existent) “self,” because (if it were, it would also have to be the object of my self-preoccupation and this) cannot be ascertained (to be so).

Doesn’t the thought (of a “self”) arise (merely as an imputation) on the non-static functional phenomena (of one’s own aggregate factors of experience)?

(4) A “person” (or “self”) would have to change aspects from rebirth to rebirth in accordance with (the change in) body (and life form).

Therefore, it is unreasonable for you (to maintain) that (the “self”) is a different (substantial) entity from the body and static.

(5) It can never happen that something that cannot have contact (with anything) can be said to incite a functional phenomenon (into action).

Because of that, the “living one” (or “self”) cannot become the agent for (causing) the body’s motion.

(6) (If) it cannot be harmed, how can you think there is any use in causal (actions to prevent suffering) for a static “self”?

In no respect, would you ever need to protect a diamond-hard sceptre from wood-worms!

(7) If your “self” is static and permanent
because it has memories of (past) lives
(in which it also considered itself “me,”
well then) from seeing a mole (on your body
similar to one you) had in a previous (life),
why would your body itself not be static and permanent?

(8) And if (you say it is) a “self”

that possesses (the quality of) having consciousness that indeed is the knower (of previous lives and so on), well then such a “person” (or “self”) that is not conscious (on its own, but then comes to) have consciousness (as its quality) could not be static.

(9) You can see that the “living one” (or “self”) when it possesses (qualities) such as happiness and so on (takes on) varied (aspects) in accordance with whether (it is experiencing) happiness and so on.

Because of that, it is improper for (the “self”) to be static indeed while (it can experience being) happy and so on.

(10) But if, (according to you Sānkhyas, the “self” or “person,” which) has (a nature) of consciousness, is static and permanent, then (its needing to rely on cognitive sensors for) the action (of cognizing objects) becomes contrary (to this).

 If fire were static and permanent, (its reliance on) fuel (in order to burn) would not be meaningful.

(11) As long as there is a substantially existent (potential for awareness, which is not different from the static “person” or “self” and which has) the function (of causing the “person” to have cognitions), it will never fluctuate (from doing this) until (the “person”) disintegrates.

But, as (you assert that) the “person” exists (statically, forever), it is unreasonable to say its cognitions ever cease to exist.

(12) You see (the “person” or “self”) as sometimes in the sphere (of having the potential) for having cognitions and at others (actually) having cognitions.

Because this is like iron (sometimes being) in a molten state (and at other times not), the “person” becomes something that changes in aspect.

(13) (Now suppose as you Nyāyas say, that the “person” or “self” is the size of a particle and its) having consciousness (is due to its relying) on merely (being conjoined with a physical) mind (particle) and (also that) the “person” is vast (and as all-pervasive) as space.

Well then, because (the vast majority of the infinite “self” is not conjoined with this mind particle), it would appear as though its essential nature could not be one (that would allow for) having consciousness.

(14) If the “self” existed (as static, partless and pervasive) to everyone, why shouldn’t you, through (the “self” in) someone else, conceive of him as “me”?

It is unreasonable to say (it is because your) very (“self,” although present in someone else,) is obscured by (his) very (“self,” since then the “self” would have parts and not be single).

(15) Any (views, such as those of the Sānkhyas,

that assert primal matter with an equal proportion of the 3 constituent) qualities (namely the principles of happiness, suffering and indifference) as being the creator (of all manifestations of these) and yet not having consciousness of any of these aspects,

- have no difference whatsoever from those of madmen.

(16) What could be more unreasonable than for (primal matter, as a balance of these 3 constituent) qualities, to create all aspects, such as houses and so on, and yet not be conscious (of them) as the conscious experiencer (of the fruits of its actions)?

(17) (A “self,” as asserted by you Vaiśeṣikas, that) has actions cannot (also) be static. And (also), one that extends to all (times and places) cannot have actions (such as coming and going. Thus, your assertions about it are self-contradictory).

Further, (a “self”) that did not have actions would be tantamount to its being non-existent. (Therefore,) why not rejoice in (the fact that there is) no (truly existent) “self”?

(18) Some (such as you Vaiśeṣikas and Sānkhyas) see (the “self”) as extending in everyone.

Some, (such as you Jains, observe) the “person” to be merely (the same size as each individual’s) body. While some, (such as you Nyāyas, perceive) the “person” to be merely a particle.

But those with discriminating awareness see it as non(-truly) existent, (since if it truly existed, everyone should validly see it the same).

(19) Where can there be harm for (a “self” that is) static and permanent, and where can there be Liberation for what cannot be harmed?

Therefore, Liberation is unreasonable for anyone whose “self” is static and permanent.

(20) If there (actually) existed what is known as a (truly existent) “self,” it would be unreasonable to think there was no (such) “self,”

and it would indeed be a lie to say that you could pass beyond sorrow (into nirvāṇa) from a definite understanding of the facts of reality (namely, the voidness of the “self”).

(21) But suppose (you say that although there is no truly existent “self” in recurring Saṁsāra existence, yet the liberated “self” has truly established existence.

Well then,) if the liberated (“self”) were truly existent, it could not have been non-truly existent before:

(This is because) whatever is seen concerning (a “self”) that does not possess (any relation with anything else) is explained as being its self-nature (whether liberated or not).

(22) If non-staticness (or impermanence meant that things) discontinue completely (after their first moment, then) how could there still be grass and so on?

If this (absurd position) were true, there wouldn’t be any naivety occurring in anyone (since, being non-static, it too would have disappeared after its first moment).

(23) Even if a (static, truly existent) “self” existed, (it should produce things all by itself.

But,) as its bodily form can be seen to arise from (numerous) other (conditions being assembled), can be seen to abide from others (continuing to support it), and can be seen to disintegrate from others (no longer being present,

- therefore) it can be seen (that such a static and permanent “self” does not exist at all).

(24) Just as a functional sprout arises from a functional seed, likewise all non-static (phenomena) are produced from non-static (causes, not from a static “self”).

(25) (In short,) because functional phenomena come about (from them, causes) do not become discontinuous, (as you nihilists would assert).

And because functional phenomena become annulled (once they have produced an effect, causes) do not become static and permanent, (as you eternalists would assert).