400 verses | Āryadeva | 9

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

Part 9 | of 16

Indicating the Meditations
for Refuting Static Functional Phenomena

(1) All (functional phenomena) arise as a fact of being the result (of a collection of causes and circumstances). Therefore, there’s no such thing as a static (functional phenomenon that is causeless and truly existent).

Except for the Thusly Gone Able Sage (Buddhas), there isn’t anyone (who can simultaneously cognize, non-conceptually,) just how functional phenomena (are both non-static and devoid of true existence).

(2) Whatever (functional phenomena there are) do not exist just at any place or at any time without relying (on causes and circumstances).

Therefore, there is no such thing whatsoever as a (functional phenomenon that is) static, anytime, anywhere.

(3) There is no such thing as a functional phenomenon without a cause, and no such thing as something static having a cause.

Therefore, concerning (a static functional phenomenon) established from no cause, it is said that such indeed cannot be established (as an object of valid cognition even) by the Omniscient One.

(4) (Suppose you Vaiśeṣikas say the criterion for knowing something to be) non-static is from seeing that it has been produced, while if (you can) not (see it) has been produced, (that makes it) static.

(Well then,) from seeing that it has been produced, (you merely know something to be) existent. (Therefore, not seeing an atman or “self” as having been produced) makes (such a so-called) static object non-existent.

(5) Space and so forth are understood to be static (and substantially existent,

because they perform the function of serving as objects of the cognition of them, only) by ordinary folk (such as you Vaibhāṣikas, who do not correctly understand Buddha’s texts).

The wise do not see such things as objects (of valid cognition), even on a worldly (conventional level).

(6) Directional (space), such as (that of the eastern) direction, does not abide everywhere.

Because of that, it’s extremely clear that directional (space) indeed has directions and other (divisions such as parts.

Thus, it cannot be a static functional phenomenon in the way you Vaiśeṣikas define it as being both all-pervasive and partless).

(7) And any (type of time) that exists, allowing either the occurrence or prevention of a functional phenomenon to be seen (at its proper time) must, (in order to function as a cause), come under the influence of other (factors).

Therefore, it itself becomes a result (and thus cannot be static as you Vedantins claim).

(8) Any cause that does not have a result cannot exist as a cause.

Because of that, you are forced to conclude that every cause must itself be a result, (for its ability to produce its result is itself the result of other conditions).

(9) If a cause transforms, it becomes the cause of something else.
Whatever has transformation cannot be called static.

(10) (Further,) a functional phenomenon that has something static (such as time) as its cause should arise (at its proper time even) from (other supporting conditions) not coming about.

Thus, it becomes something arising independently, in which case such (a functional phenomenon) would become the opposite of (something that relies on) causes.

(11) (After all), how can a functional phenomenon
that arises from something static be non-static?

A cause and effect that have dissimilar characteristics can never be seen.

(12) (Consider the ultimately smallest particles, which you Vaiśeṣikas say are static and partless.

How can they form an object?)

Any (such particles) that had certain sides, (which when they met) were the cause (for an object’s forming, and certain sides, which were not the cause), would (therefore) have various (parts).

How is it logical for that which has various (parts) to be static (by your definitions)?

(13) (The objects that would be) the result of (the meeting of such static particles, which as) a cause are round, do not have (this same round shape and size).

Therefore, it is (also) unreasonable for (such) particles to join with their entire natures (merging on all sides all at once to form an object).

(14) (Suppose you said that they do not actually merge on all sides, since) you do not accept that the place occupied by one particle can also be (occupied) by another.

Well then, because of that, (you are forced to say that in order to build up a gross, visible object, they must meet with at least some sides not joining, since) it cannot be accepted that (each of) the causal (particles) and the resultant (objects they form) are both equal in size.

(But, then, if some sides join and some do not, these particles cannot be partless).

(15) Any (ultimately smallest particle) that has an eastern side also has an eastern part.

(Therefore) any particles that have directional sides cannot be asserted as particles that are the ultimately smallest (partless) particles.

(16) Any (ultimately smallest particle) that, (when moving), has both (a space) before it that it takes and one behind it that it gives up cannot be (partless, since it has a front and a back).

Or (else you would have to say that such particles) cannot be something that moves (to form an object).

(17) And any (ultimately smallest particle) that has no first (part in front), that has no middle, and any that has no end (in the rear) cannot be (situated) before (any mind).

As this is so, by what kind (of valid yogic cognition) could it be seen?

(18) (With the production) of its result, a cause disintegrates.
Therefore, (particles as) a cause must be non-static and impermanent.

Otherwise, whatever had (static eternal particles) as its cause
would have its cause and effect existing (simultaneously).

(19) A functional phenomenon that can (have its motion) obstructed (which implies a change of state) and yet is static cannot be seen anywhere.

Therefore, the Buddhas never said that particles are static and permanent.

(20) (Now) Liberation (as the noble truth of true stoppings, in being static and permanent,) is different from the binding (truth of true origins of suffering), the bound (truth of true sufferings) and the method (truth of true pathway minds).

If, (however,) it had (substantial) existence (because of performing the function of serving as a cause for the cognition of it, as you Vaibhāṣikas claim, it should produce an effect). But nothing at all arises from it.

Therefore, such (a substantially existent stopping) cannot be said to be Liberation.

(21) (You also incorrectly think that) in the nirvana state beyond sorrow (without any residue), aggregates do not exist at all and a person (or conventional “me” relying on them) does not exist either.

But, as (only a truly existent “person”) who has passed beyond sorrow cannot be seen anywhere, how can Nirvāṇa (itself be substantially existent)?

(22) At the time of Liberation, when there is parting from craving, if (the Ātman or “self”) had (a nature of) consciousness (as you Sānkhyas assert), what point would there be (to this, since according to you there would be no objects for it to perceive).

And if it were to exist then and not be conscious, this amounts to what is clearly not so (according to your system, since you assert that the “self” with the nature of consciousness is static and permanent).

(23) If a “self” that was liberated had (true) existence, then (even if) it existed (in this condition) as having (only) the potential for consciousness, (this would still be unreasonable, since by not actually being conscious, it contradicts your definitions).

And if (a truly existent “self”) did not exist (with consciousness when liberated), it wouldn’t be (reasonable) for it ever to have thought about (becoming released from) recurring Saṁsāra existence, (since being truly existent and static, it could never have been conscious at all).

(24) (Thus,) it is definite that people who are liberated from suffering do not have (an independently existing “self”) different from (that which can merely be labelled on the basis of their aggregate factors of experience).

Because of that, it is said that it is best to eliminate (grasping at a truly existent) “self” in all respects.

(25) (But you may object that) worldly ones easily (accept the conventional existence) of these (ordinary things), while not (doctrinally asserting) at all their ultimate (true existence;

so why bother trying to refute true existence?

After all,) for worldly ones, the slightest (things) have existence, but do not have ultimate (true) existence.

(Well then, just because they do not have doctrinally based grasping at things to have true existence, this does not negate or eliminate their having automatically arising grasping).