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DEATH AND AFTER.
N his complete nature man is a complex of skandhas. Only in thought can we separate him into body (rupa) and mind (nāma). Language reveals to us the true nature of personality. One speaks not only of one's body but also of one's mind. Who then is the possessor of both body and mind, if it is not the complete man, the complex? Just as we are in the habit of saying 'the wind blows,' as if there were the wind existing apart from the act of blowing, so also do we say, by a license of speech, that a person owns body and soul, performs actions, directs the emotions, controls the impulses, and so forth. But in reality the totality of all these constitutes the person. Whatsoever a man does with his body, with his voice, with his mind, it is that that constitutes his person. "I am," says Professor Josiah Royce, "what on the whole I am conscious of having done, and what I propose to do." On one occasion the Blessed One was asked by some disciples: "What are old age and death? And what is it that has old age and death?" The Blessed One replied: "The question is not rightly put. To say: What are old age and death? And what is it has old age and death?' and to say: 'Old age and death are one thing, but it is another thing that has old age and death,' is to say the same thing in different ways. If the dogma obtain that soul and body are identical, then there is no holy life (for the soul would perish with the body); or, if the dogma obtain that the soul is one thing and the body another, then also there is no holy life (for, if the soul were a distinct entity, an immutable ātman, it would not be influenced by conduct and become better, and then there would be no use in leading a holy life). Both these extremes have been avoided by the Tathāgata, and it is a middle doctrine he teaches: On birth depend old age and death."
So long as the skandhas are united, we have being; when the skandhas dissolve, the being disappears and we have death. Just as fire, though not lying.hidden in the two
sticks rubbed against each other, originates through friction, in the same way, says the Blessed One, appears consciousness (vignāna) under certain conditions, and disappears when these conditions cease to exist. When the wood is burnt, the fire disappears. Just so, when the conditions of consciousness cease, consciousness disappears. Consciousness is known to us only as a phenomenon of life connected with an organism. Psychical processes are only known to us as dependent on organic processes. Changes in the brain and the nervous system are essential conditions for all phenomena of consciousness. Nor is the connection between psychic processes and organic processes as great as the connection between purely organic processes. Organic processes continue as long as there is life, but psychic processes are intermittent even during life. While organic life has no break in an individual's existence, conscious life performs its functions only from time to time, needs the refreshment of sleep, and varies in activity even when awake. The anaesthetised body lies puniping the blood through the vessels, and maintains the physical interchanges between the tissues, but contains no spark or vestige of consciousness. When the brain is injured or diseased, the loss of consciousness may last for an interminable period. Hence we should say that consciousness exists for the sake of life, and not life for consciousness. Rightly did the Buddha teach in plain language to his disciples: "It were better if the ignorant regarded the body, composed of the four elements, as the "I" instead of mind. And why do I say so? Because this body may endure for a year, ten years, hundred years and more. But what is called mind, cognition, cousciousness, is found to be day and night in restless change."
Normal psychology proves that consciousness can have no existence independent of the organism. This conclusion is strongly supported by mental pathology. Within the life history of a single individual various selves appear and disappear in a manner which shows that they cannot be regarded as connected by any felt continuity of interest with the rest of life. Cases of multiple personality and alternating personality prove that a plurality of selves might
alternate regularly or even coexist in connection with the same body. Such abnormal psychic phenomena force on us the conclusion that the origination and the disappearance of selves in the course of psychical events is a fact of constant occurrence. There are no known facts that imply the existence of a soul separable from the body. The progress of psychology during the last thirty years has been great, but it has produced nothing that would strengthen the popular faith in extra-human spirit agencies influencing human destinies. On the other hand, it has made intelligible, conformably to the rest of our knowledge,all such phenomena as anaesthesias, analgesias, hallucinations, monitions, &c., which have always been the props of the ignorant belief in spirits. The endeavours of the innumerable spiritualistic and theosophical bodies have not brought to light any scrap of scientific proof of the continuance of human personality beyond the grave. Can any proof be expected from "a method of inquiry which is not repelled by the grotesquery of the 'spirits,' and which accepts balderdash as the poetry of Shakespere, twaddle as the philosophy of Bacon, and the medium's thinly disguised person as the reincarnation of Socrates, the Virgin Mary, or the repentant pirate John King?" Scientific investigation of spiritualistic phenomena has shown that fraud, unconscious suggestion, and co-operation form sufficient explanations of what are presented.
Even the researches of the Society for Psychical Research have not been able to demonstrate the existence of spirits, but have only helped to strengthen the intra-human explanation of many phenomena previously not well understood. "Facts, I think," says Professor W. James in his Varieties of Religious Experience, "are yet lacking to prove 'spirit return,' though I have the highest respect for the patient labours of Messrs. Myers, Hodgson, and Hyslop." Although the sole interest of these psychologists and philosophers of the highest academic rank has been, as Dr. Stanley Hall points out, to establish the existence of a land of disembodied spirits and to demonstrate the possibility of a communication between them and this world, yet every fact and group of facts on which they rely point for their explanation to the past of the individual and the race and not to
the future, to the subnormal rather than to the supernormal, more to the body than to any disembodied spirit. Just as the alchemists in their search after the elixir of life neglected chemistry, just as astrologers in quest of the influence of the stars on human life overlooked astronomy, so have the leaders of the Psychical Research Movement in their zeal to find an answer to what is called the most insistent question of the human heart,—If a man die, shall he live again? -completely lost sight of the true import of the facts they have collected. They think and speak of the soul only in the future tense, and little does that word suggest to them any connection with the past. On the contrary, as the philosophic Roman poet has put it,-
"Not from the blank inane emerged the soul:
And deeds that built the present from the past
And in my hand their strength is plied again.
Science affords no evidence of the continuance of the conscious person after death, but, on the whole, it suggests. that the conscious person has ended too. Death, says the modern physiologist, consists in the dissolution of the combination of the various anatomical organs and in the dissolution of the consciousness which the individual possesses of himself, that is to say, of the existence of this combination. Similarly, it is said in the Bhārahāra Sutra that the laying down of the bearer (hāranikkhepana) is identical and simultaneous with the laying down of the burden (bhāranikkhēpana), that is, of the skandhas. More clearly is this truth brought out in the funeral elegy of the Buddhists: "Salutation to the Blessed One, the Holy.
It is interesting to note that in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishaď Yagnavalkya tells his wife Maitreyi: "A man comes out of these elements, and passes back into them as they pass away, and, after he has passed away, there is no more consciousness."
One, the Enlightened One. All sentient beings are doomed to die, for life indeed must terminate in death; even after reaching old age there comes death; such is the nature of sentient beings. Whether young or old, whether ignorant or wise, all fall under the hand of death, all are subject to death. Just as the seed in the field germinates and grows on account of the moisture in the soil as well as the vitality of the embryo, so do the elementary and composite forms of the organised being and the six organs of sense arise from a cause, and from a cause become disintegrated and perish. As the union of the constituent parts forms what is called 66 a chariot," so does the union of the skandhas, the attributes of being, form what is called a "sentient being." As soon as vitality, warmth and consciousness forsake the body, then the body is inanimate and useless. The deeper one reflects and meditates upon this body, the more he becomes convinced that it is but an empty and vain thing. For, indeed, in it does suffering originate, and in it does suffering perdure and perish; nothing else but suffering is produced, and nothing else but suffering perishes with it. All compound things are anitya: he who knows and com. prehends this becomes freed from suffering; this is the way that leads to purity. All compound things are duhkha: he who knows and comprehends this becomes freed from suffering; this is the path that leads to purity. All existing things are anatman: he who knows and comprehends this becomes freed from suffering; this is the path that leads to purity. Therefore, let every one, after hearing the words of the Holy One, restrain his tears; let him, on seeing that one has passed away and is dead, conclude: 'Never more will he be found by me.'
"How transient are things mortal!
"Life is a constant parting-