400 verses | Āryadeva | 11


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

Part 11 | of 16

Indicating the Meditations
for Refuting (Truly Existent) Time

(1) When the vase has not yet come about,
the vase that will be present does not exist,
nor does (the vase) that will later have passed away.

(Otherwise, if the past, present and future were static and truly existent as you Vedāntins claim,

then) since both (the vase that will be present and the one that will have passed would already be existing when they had) not yet come about, then (in fact) there would be no (time when they had) not yet come.

(2) (Even) if (only a portion of the vase that) will have disintegrated (existed) in the nature of (the vase that) has not yet come about, it would (in fact) not yet have come about.

How can that which (truly) exists in the nature of having not yet come ever become what has already passed away?

(3) If (time) not yet come were a (substantially existent, static) functional phenomenon, (then time) not yet come would have to abide truly existently (and forever).

Therefore, because of that, (as such a time would have arisen, but never ceased to be,) it would become the present and would not exist at all as what had not yet come.

(4) (If, as you Vaiśeṣikas, Vaibhāṣikas, and so forth claim, time) not yet come were (truly) existent, and (time) already passed were (truly) existent, and (time) presently happening were (truly) existent, when would (any of them ever) not exist?

From what (grounds, then), would any (debater who asserted the substantial) existence of all (3) times (also be able to assert) non-staticness (or impermanence)?

(5) If a (truly existent time) already passed were to pass away, then for what reason would it have been a time passed, (if it need pass again)?

And if a (truly existent time) already passed were not to pass away, then for what reason would it be a time passed (since it would always be the case)?

(6) (If the 3 times were substantially existent, non-static functional phenomena, as you Vaibhāṣikas claim, and the past and future of an object were the same as that object itself,

then) if the (vase) not yet come has (already) arisen, how could it not become (equivalent to) a present (vase that is here and now, since it has arisen and not yet ceased)?

Either that (would be so), or if it has no arising, would the (vase) not yet come become eternal or what? (It would have to be eternal, since what is eternal and static has no arising.)

(7) Suppose (you say that) the (vase) not yet come is non-static (and impermanent) due to (the fact that) it disintegrates (when the vase of the present comes about from causes and circumstances), although (it itself) has no arising.

Well then, as the (vase) already passed does not have a disintegration, why do you not consider it as static (and eternal, with no arising)?

(8) As for the (vase) already passed away and the (vase) of the present, since these could not become impermanent (if they had substantial existence, because what has truly passed cannot disintegrate and what is truly present cannot be associated with a process of disintegration),

then the 3rd (time, namely that not yet come), which in aspect is different from these (2), cannot exist (as both substantially existent and impermanent either, since then it would be independent of the other two times).

(9) If (you accept that) functional phenomena that will arise later exist (substantially) before (they have arisen,

well because of that, don’t you fall to the distorted position of those propounders of chance (the Cārvākas who assert that everything exists without a cause)?

(10) It is unreasonable to say that whatever is to come about (later already) exists beforehand (as the substantially existent future).

If what already existed were to arise (later), it would amount to what has already arisen (needing to) come about again.

(11) If (substantially existent) functional phenomena not yet come about could be seen (by the yogis), then why couldn’t totally non-existent phenomena (like rabbit’s horns also) be seen?

Anyone who accepts time not yet come as (substantially) existent cannot have far-distant (occurrences happen) to him (since these would always remain truly in the future).

(13) If your Dharma (vows of the time not yet come already had substantial) existence without need to have done (any practice to develop an interest in taking them), then definitely to restrain (yourself by taking them) would become pointless.

Why make even a little (effort)? A result (of your effort) would be impossible, as (your vows of the time not yet come would already be substantially) existent.

(14) (If disturbing emotions and suffering not yet come did not exist as non-static, functional, objective phenomena, but only as static, non-functional, metaphysical ones, as you Sautrāntikas believe,

then) you would already be liberated without need to tighten (your effort to develop true pathway minds that cognize no true "self.").

Like (Arhats) who were freed, (disturbing emotions and suffering) not yet come would not exist (objectively at all for you and therefore could never come to affect you).

And if that were so, then when desire indeed came about in (your mental continuum, which should have been) without (any future) attachment, (it would come about without cause, as if in the mental continuum of an Arhat).

(15) For (you Sānkhyas and Vaibhāṣikas) who assert the true existence of the result (simultaneous with the cause) and (you Sautrāntikas) who assert the non-existence (as functional phenomena) of results (not yet come about), adorning (supports) such as pillars and so forth become pointless in order (to produce) a house (as their result).

(16) Suppose (as you Sānkhyas assert) that functional phenomena (of the time present truly exist, since they are) transformations (of truly existent, static primal matter in which they existed unmanifestly during the time when they had not yet come about.

But even this is incorrect, since such unmanifest existence of the present) is not cognitively taken (as an object) even by the mind.

As this is seen to be so, it is (only) the unlearned who conceive of the time present to be (truly) existent.

(17) As they have no (truly) existent abiding, how can functional phenomena be (the cause for imputing the true existence of time)? As they are non-static, how can they have an abiding?

If (something) were to abide (as it was) at first, it could never become old in the end.

(18) (Moreover,) just as one (moment of) consciousness cannot be conscious of 2 (moments of an) object, likewise 2 (moments of) consciousness cannot be conscious of the same (moment of an) object.

(19) If (on the basis of true existence) time had an abiding (as something currently happening), it would never change (from being) the abiding time.

(On the other hand, on the basis of true existence) how could (time) have no abiding, for then there could be no end to its not abiding (and nothing would ever occur)?

(20) If impermanence and functional phenomena were (truly existent and) different, functional phenomena could not become impermanent (and perish).

And if (they were truly existent and) the same, how could what was impermanent (and non-static) ever abide (for even an instant) as a functional phenomenon?

(21) (Truly existent phenomena) that have less strength impermanence (while they abide) cannot have less strength abiding (later, which they would need in order to perish.

For if they were truly existent in their former condition of abiding with weak impermanence), by whom could their later turning away (from the state of abiding) be seen? (Their impermanence would never have enough strength to overcome their abiding.)

(22) But if (on the basis of true existence) they had not less strength impermanence (while they abide – in other words, their impermanence was stronger then than their ability to abide),

then all functional phenomena that existed at all (times) would (truly existently) have no abiding (because their abiding would never have enough strength to overcome their impermanence and so they would instantly change).

Or, the whole lot (of them) could not (actually) be impermanent, (because none of them would ever abide long enough to perform a function and non-functional phenomena are static and permanent).

(23) If (functional phenomena truly existently abided, which means they would be) static (while abiding) and then they came to exist with impermanence (in order for them to perish), then their permanence would have no abiding.

Furthermore, what had already become static would later have become non-static, (which is self-contradictory).

(24) If (on the other hand) functional phenomena (truly) existed simultaneously as (both) abiding and non-static, then either their impermanence would have to reverse (while they were abiding) or their abiding would become false (when they perished).

(25) As it is certain that functional phenomena already seen cannot appear (again) and that a consciousness (with an actual past event as its object) cannot (arise) once more,

then what is known as “remembering” (is a deceptive cognition that) arises in but a distorted (manner) toward a distorted object.