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THE RIDDLE OF THE WORLD.
ARMAJAM loka vaichitryam." All things are born of activities. Everything is in a state of continual transformation. "Na cha nirodhosti na cha bhāvosti sarvadā; ajātam aniruddham cha tasmād sarvam idam jagat." There is neither creation nor destruction; there is neither beginning nor end. Vichāreņa nāsti kim chid ahetutah." Yet nothing happens without cause and reason.
Every change is determined by a number of conditions. The most striking of these conditions is ordinarily called its cause, and the change itself is said to be the effect of that cause. Strictly speaking the cause (pratyaya) of any change is the totality of all the conditions needed for its occurrence. That in the cause which makes the effect possible is spoken of as the reason (hetu) of the change. When a seed changes into a plant, that in the seed which makes it become a plant of a particular kind is the reason of the change, while the totality of conditions, such as the soil, water, light, air, space, needed for its germination and growth, constitutes the cause. Similarly sentiency, the germ of consciousness (vignāna bījam), is the reason for the development of individuality (nāma rupa), while the union of parents, the womb of the mother, the potentialities derived from parents, vegetative and animal activities,. and the environment constitute the causes that produce a particular individuality.
No change occurs by itself. Every change stands in the relation of cause to some other change, and in the relation of an effect to a third change. All changes in the world depend more or less upon one another. This causal nexus, which is found everywhere in experience, is called in the Dharma by the technical name of pratitya samutpāda. A correct understanding of this dependent origination, of the conditioned nature of all existence which has neither beginning nor end, is of the greatest importance in Buddhism. Pratitya samutpādam pacyanti te dharmam paçyanti; yo
dharmam pacyati sa buddham pacyati." He who has understood the chain of causation has understood the inner meaning of the Dharma, and he that has grasped the Dharma has perceived the essence of Buddhahood.
If every change has a cause, and that cause again a cause, is there then no ultimate unchangeable or first cause? Replies the Blessed One in Samyuttaka Nikāyo: “If a man should gather all the grasses and herbs, twigs and leaves of this vast continent of India, and arrange them in heaps, saying: This is my mother, this is the mother of my mother, and so on, there would be no end seen to the mother of mother of this man, even though he might reach the end of all the grasses and herbs, twigs and leaves of this continent of India. What is the reason of this? Without beginning and end is this world-process (samsăro)." There can be no first cause. In experience we find no absolute beginning. We come across no change instituting a series of changes, which has not itself been preceded by some other change. The question of cause never even arises except where there is change, and the cause demanded is always another change. Hence, it is meaningless to speak of a first cause. Science knows nothing of first causes. There is no branch of rational investigation from which they can be inferred. Wherever we find the existence of a first cause asserted, we find we have reached a temporary limit to knowledge, or that we are inferring something outside the limits of sense experience, where knowledge and inference are meaningless. As Prof. A. Riehl says in his Philophische Kriticismus, “a first cause with which as a creative act the series of changes should have begun originally, would be an uncaused change. The necessity of conceiving every change as effect which has its cause in a preceding change makes such an uncaused change absolutely unthinkable."
Is there then no I'svara? In a conversation with Anathapindika the Blessed One argued the matter as follows. "If the world had been made by I'svara, there should be no change nor destruction, there should be no such a thing as sorrow or calamity, as right or wrong, as all things, pure and impure, must come from him. If sorrow and joy, love and hate, which spring up in all conscious beings, be the work of
I'svara, he himself must be capable of sorrow and joy, love and hatred, and if he has these, how can he be said to be perfect? If I'svara be the maker, and if all beings have to submit silently to their maker's power, what would be the utility of practising virtue? The doing of right or wrong would be the same, as all deeds are his making and must be the same with their maker. But if sorrow and suffering are attributed to another cause, then there would be something of which I'svara is not the cause. Why, then, should not all that exists be uncaused too? Again, if I'svara be the maker, he acts with or without a purpose. If he acts with a purpose, he cannot be said to be all perfect, for a purpose necessarily implies the satisfaction of a want. If he acts without a purpose, he must be like the lunatic or suckling babe. Besides, if I'svara be the maker, why should not people reverently submit to him, why should they offer supplications to him when sorely pressed by necessity? And why should people adore more gods than one? Thus the idea of I'svara is proved false by rational argument, and all such contradictory assertions should be exposed." (Asvaghosha's Buddhacharitra.)
Is not the world in which we live, it is asked, an orderly world where everything is governed by law? Do not laws imply a law-giver? All the order which exists in the world arises from the simple fact that, when there are no disturbing causes, things remain the same. The observed grouping of things and sequence of events we speak of as the order of the world, and this is the same as saying that the world is as it is and no more. No natural law is the cause of the observed sequence in nature. Every natural law merely describes the conditions on which a particular change is dependent. A body falls to the ground not in consequence of the law of gravitation, but the law of gravitation is the precise statement of what happens when a body is left unsupported. A law of nature does not command that something shall take place, but it merely states how something happens. While a civil law is a prescription involving a command and a duty, a natural law is simply a description, in which is formulated the repeated sequence of perceptions. As Karl Pearson says, "law in the scientific sense is essen
-tially a product of the human mind and has no meaning apart from man. There is more meaning in the statement that man gives laws to nature than in its converse that nature gives laws to man," When a law has been found to be true in all known cases, we naturally expect that it would apply to cases that might hereafter come to our knowledge. The greater the number of cases in which a law has been observed to hold good, the greater is the probability that it is universally true. If the sun has risen daily without fail during the last 5,000 years (= 1,826,213 days), the odds in favour of its rising to-morrow are 1,826,214 to 1, and this .amounts to saying that the rising of the sun to-morrow is pratically certain. Thus every natural law represents a limitation of our thoughts, of our expectations. The more closely our thoughts are adapted to the sense-given facts, the greater are the restraints to the possibilities of our thinking, and stronger is the instinctive tendency to expect an event to happen in exactly the same manner as before. It is only in this sense that we speak of the uniformity of nature. We can only say that the laws of nature are practically universal, but not theoretically so. This practical certainty is all that man is capable of obtaining, and this is enough to serve him as a guide in life. Theoretical certainty would imply perfect and infinite knowledge, but this evidently is beyond man's capacities. All attempts to go far beyond the region of experience, whether it be in time or in space, must be affected with the greatest insecurity, because the probability of the results is nil.
This so-called teleological argument for the existence of I'svara often takes another form. From certain relations observed between the parts of organisms, it is inferred that they have been designed to serve a definite purpose. The eye, it is imagined, has been made for the purpose of seeing, just as a watch is constructed to show the hour. But in drawing this inference they are applying analogy to a region far beyond the limits of experience, and the conclusion must accordingly be "infinitely precarious," that is to say, can have no element of probability connected with it. Further, the idea of purpose, as has been pointed out by Kant, is not a principle of the knowledge of nature, but a mode
in which the human mind judges of certain organic forms. Just as man gives laws to nature, so man thinks the organising character of nature as analogous to causality aiming at ends. But this cannot be presumed to offer an explanation, just as no scientific law can account for any natural phenomenon. Just as law in the scientific sense is a product of the human mind and has no meaning apart from man, so the end is merely a point of view which arises from man's reflection about organic forms, and not a principle according to which they have been created. Properly speaking, teleology belongs only to the description of nature, and can give no valid conclusion as to the origin and inner possibility of organic forms. If one should ask whether material bodies could apply geometrical calculations to themselves, if material bodies could be the joint artists of their own combinations, we can only answer that under such and such conditions they do behave in such and such a way. Beyond this we know nothing. If we could penetrate into the intimate nature of bodies, we might clearly see that natural beings could not admit of any other disposition than what they possess at present. Because the facts of this world can be conveniently described in some special fashion, does it follow that the world has been designed by I'svara? Because one finds a wound on one's body, does it follow that it has been inflicted by Hotchli Potchli with a Rimbo Rambo? All that we could infer from the condition of the world is that there must be a cause. But the necessity of thought which compels us to affirm that the world had a cause compels us to postulate a cause of that cause, and so on ad infinitum, a first cause being, as we have already seen, even unthinkable.
If the heavens above do not declare the glory of I'svara, does not the moral law within derive its sanction from the belief that I'svara has ordained it, and that he will distribute to men, according to their deeds, rewards and punishments in a life beyond the grave? No doubt the observance of the laws of morality is of supreme importance to mankind, but it has nothing to do with the belief either in a future life or in I'svara. He who thinks that this world would be a worthless place without immortality is on the same level as the