400 verses | Āryadeva | 14


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

Part 14 | of 16

Indicating the Meditations
for Refuting Grasping at Extremes

 (1) Any functional phenomenon (having true existence) could not have come about from having relied on something else.

(Furthermore, upon ultimate analysis,) its (independently existing) nature should be established (by itself alone).

But nothing at all exists like that.

(2) (If you) say (in terms of truly established existence), “A vase is a form in general,” they cannot be one; (otherwise, wherever there was a form, it would have to be a vase).

Also they cannot exist in different (categories of things, with) a vase possessing a form (like a man possessing a cow; otherwise, a vase by itself would have to exist independently of being a form).

Also a vase cannot exist (as the reliant basis of being) a form and a form cannot exist (as the reliant basis of being) a vase, (since they cannot exist in separate independent categories of things and yet rely on each other).

(3) (You Vaiśeṣikas) see the 2 (namely the universal “existence” and the item a “vase”) as being in dissimilar (truly existent categories) by definition.

But then, if a vase were (truly) different from the phenomenon (“existence”), it would not be (reasonable for it itself to exist).

Likewise, for what reason would the phenomenon (of “being existent”) not become (truly) different (and separate) from the vase, (thus also rendering a vase non-existent)?

(4) (Moreover, you also say that basic things such as substances, like the four elements, and qualities, such as number or quantity, also exist in different truly existent categories

and, although the basic things can exist on their own for a while to act as a basis for being qualified by a quality, yet qualities themselves can never exist on their own without qualifying some basic thing.

But,) if you do not accept that (the number or amount) “one” can (come to qualify) a vase, then neither can a vase come to be (qualified by the amount) “one” as a qualifier.

(This is because you do not allow for the existence of the amount “one” before it comes to qualify the vase.

And if you say that the vase comes to possess the amount “one” as a quality, yet the quality “one” cannot come to possess the vase as what it qualifies,

then since possession must be made between equals, namely between what can come to possess and what can come to be possessed, and) this possession is not between equals, then for this reason also, a vase cannot come to be (qualified by the amount) “one.”

(5) When the form (of a basic thing, as a quality of that substance, amounts to) just as much (in extent) as the substance (itself),

then (in the same way as the substance itself can possess the quality of being large), why can’t the form (as another quality of the substance also possess the quality of) being large?

If you opponents cannot (justify your thesis that qualities cannot act as the basis of other qualities on any grounds) other than (scriptural authority), your tradition could be said (to be logically deficient).

(6) Even if (you admit the refutation of truly existent) defining characteristics (or qualities), but (assert the true existence of) examples of what are characterized (by them, this too is unreasonable).

Their (true) existence cannot be established in any way. In this (way), there is no phenomenon that (truly) exists separately from (any qualities), such as number and so forth.

(7) A vase cannot be (truly existent) as one (with its 8 types of constituent sub-particles as you Sautrāntikas assert:

This is) because, being not separate (in nature from its 8 types of sub-particles, which each have their own individual) defining characteristics, (it too, as a single unit, would have to exist as 8 truly existent things).

But, as each (of the eight sub-particles alone) is not the vase, it is not reasonable for (the vase to exist) in a multiple manner (as something truly existing separately from the 8).

(8) There can be no such thing

as the simultaneous joining of (the 4 elemental sub-particles – earth, water, fire, and wind – which) possess (the ability to have) contact,

and (the 4 subsidiary sub-particles – form, smell, taste, and touch – which) do not possess (the ability to have) contact,

- (in order to form a single vase; for how would they all meet)?

Because of that, it is unreasonable in all respects for the joining of (the eight sub-particles of) form and so on (to establish an object that is a collection truly existing as a single unit).

(9) Form (for instance) is (just one of) the subsidiary (sub-particles) of a vase. Therefore, individually each (of the 4 subsidiary sub-particles) cannot be the vase.

Because of this, (a vase) having these subsidiary (sub-particles) cannot have true existence (as a collection relying on them).

And for that (same reason), the subsidiary (sub-particles) as well cannot have true existence, (since they too rely on directional parts).

(10) (Further,) as all forms are not dissimilar in their defining characteristics as form in general, then if one (form) were to (truly) exist as a vase, for what reason would all others not (also exist as a vase)?

(11) Suppose you assert that form is (truly) different from taste and so on (since each type of subsidiary sub-particle is cognitively taken by different senses) and yet a (form) is (truly) not different from a vase.

Well, how could any vase that itself could not exist without including these (subsidiary sub-particles of taste and so on, which you say are different from form), not (likewise) be different from a form?

(12) A vase does not have (truly existent) causes and it itself does not become (a truly existent) result. Because of that, there is no vase that can (truly) exist as different from (its constituent causes) such as form and so on.

(13) As a vase becomes established from (its own) causes and (these) causes become established from other (causes, therefore) anything not established from its own (self-establishing nature) can accordingly produce other things (as its result).

(14) Even if (the subsidiary sub-particles of form, smell, and so forth) were to gather together and meet (each other to constitute a whole), it is unreasonable for form to become a smell, (which it would need to become if they formed a truly existent, homogeneous whole).

Therefore, like a vase, it is illogical for (any) collections (to exist) as (truly existent) single units.

(15) Just as there can be no vase that can exist without depending on (its constituent subsidiary sub-particles) such as form and so on,

likewise there can be no (subsidiary sub-particles of) form as well, without depending on (the elemental sub-particles of) earth, wind, and so forth (upon which they are imputed).

(16) (Furthermore, fuel, which is in the nature of the three elements earth, water, and wind) can become hot in the nature of fire, but without (fuel, which can become) hot, how can (fire) burn?

Therefore, there can be no such thing as what is called (truly existent) fuel (existing independently of the element fire and in the nature of the three other elements).

Also there can be no (truly) existent fire without this (fuel).

(17) Even if (you say that fuel becomes) hot when (its own nature as earth, water, and wind is) overpowered (by the nature of fire), for what reason would (the fuel) not become fire (at that instance, because it was hot and burning?

If you insist that hot burning fuel does not become of the nature of fire,) well then it is improper to say there is the existence of fire (in relation to) a different functional phenomenon that is not hot.

(18) If a sub-particle (of fire) has no fuel, then there would be an (independently existing) fire without fuel, (which amounts to asserting a fire that is causeless.

Fearing this consequence,) if you say that even this (sub-particle of fire) has fuel, then it does not exist as a sub-particle with a nature of being a (truly existent, self-contained) unit.

(19) Any functional phenomenon, when fully examined, (is found) not to exist as a (truly existent unit or) oneness (since it is made of parts).

And by this (same reason whereby) things do not (truly) exist as singular units, they do not (truly) exist as multiples either (since “many” is made up of several units, which themselves do not truly exist).

(20) (Now consider the position) in (non-Buddhist systems) which (accept sub-particles of earth and so on, but claim that) they are not functional phenomena (but static substances).

If you (were also to) assert (that such sub-particles) are truly existent as (solitary units),

well then whatever (reason you use to show that) everything truly exists in a triple (way, namely as substances, singular units, and truly existents, also proves that) they do not truly exist as solitary units.

(21) For (refuting the various philosophical) positions of (asserting) existence, non-existence, both existence and non-existence and neither existence nor non-existence, the learned should always apply (such lines of reasoning as analysing whether things are truly existently) one and so on.

(22) (There are many misconceptions that people can hold:

For instance,) just as by regarding a continuity in a faulty manner, you can come to (the misconception) that (functional phenomena) exist as static;

likewise, by regarding a collection in a faulty manner, you can come to (the misconception) that functional phenomena truly exist.

(23) But, whatever (conventionally) exists as having arisen by depending (on causes and so forth) cannot come to be (found as having true) independent (existence).

As all these (things) are not independent, therefore there is no such thing as a (truly existent) “self,” (either of a person or of any phenomenon).

(24) (Consider the assertion of) functional phenomena as (having true existence on their own) without (or independent of) the result (they will produce and which) do not exist (in the sense of) always being gathered (dependently) on their result.

Any such (truly existent independent phenomenon) being gathered for the sake of (producing) a result cannot be included in (the sight of the total absorption of) an Ārya, (since Āryas are focused on the non-true existence of dependent arising).

(25) (In short,) the seed of compulsive Saṁsāra existence is the consciousness (that grasps at true existence), while objects (such as forms and so on) are the objects it utilizes.

But seeing that these objects have no (truly existent) “self” causes the seed of compulsive existence to come to an end.