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Though death is the dissolution of body and mind, yet it does not end all. The Blessed One has declared that he is neither a sāsvatavādin like the Brahmans, nor an ucchedavādin like the Charvākās and the Lokayatās. While the Dharma discards the existence of a permanent self, an ātman which transmigrates from birth to birth, it at the same time upholds the persistence of karma. Man is nothing more than the temporary union of the five skandhas; the beginning of this union is birth, and its end is death. But as long the union lasts, the ego manifests itself at every moment as an active, pain-avoiding, pleasure-seeking will, having relations to other individuals. From this point of view each individual existence is spoken of as a complex of karmas. But the content of one's ego, as we have already seen, is never confined wholly to himself; it passes on to others and remains preserved in them even after his death. So man dies, but his karma is reborn in other individuals. Just as when a man has written a letter, the writing has ceased, but the letter remains, so when the skandhas dissolve, the deeds remain to bear fruit in the future. When a lamp is lit at a burning lamp, there is a kindling of the wick, but no transmigration of the flame. The mango that is planted rots in the ground, but it is reborn in the mangoes of the tree that grows from its seed. From the seed to the fruit there is no transmigration of a mango soul, but there is a reconstruction of its form, and the type in all its individual features is preserved in the new mangoes. Thus man reincarnates, though there is no transmigration. One man dies, and it is another that is reborn. "What is reborn," says the Milindapanha, “is name and form. But it is not the same name and form. By one name and form deeds are done, and by these deeds another name and form is reborn. One name and form finds its end in death, another that is reborn. But that other is the result of the first, and is therefore not thereby released from its evil deeds." As Buddha• Translated by Dr. P. Carus. Gems of Buddhist poetry.
gosha says in his Visuddhimagga, "those groups which came into being in the past existence in dependence on karma, perished then and there. But in dependence on the karma of that existence other groups have come into being in this existence. Not a single element of being has come into this existence from a previous one. The groups which have come into being in this existence in dependence on karma will perish, and others will come into being in the next existence, but not a single element of being will go from this existence into the next. Moreover, just as the words of the teacher do not pass into the mouth of the pupil, who nevertheless repeats them; and just as the features of the face do not pass to the reflection in mirrors and the like, and nevertheless in dependence on them does the image appear; and just as the flame does not pass over from the wick of one lamp to that of another, and nevertheless the flame of the second lamp exists in dependence on that of the former; in exactly the same way not a single element of being passes over from a previous existence into the present existence, nor hence into the next existence; and yet in dependence on the groups, organs of sense, objects of sense, and sense consciousness of the last existence were born those of this one, and from the present groups, organs of sense, objects of sense, and self-consciousness will be born the groups, organs of sense, objects of sense, and sense consciousness of the next existence."
Here and there in the Pitakas may be found passages which appear to suggest that the Buddha admitted the transmigration of an actual entity from one birth to another. But the fact that such statements occur in the popular discourses and the parables, the so-called Jātaka stories, shows that the Blessed One was speaking in a manner suited to the capacity of the ordinary man (prthagjana). In these parables the aim of the Master was to teach the common people in a simple way the truth of the relation between action and its fruit. But the Blessed One never wanted to imply that one and the same person is reborn. Once a bhikshu, named Sati, disputed with the other bhikshus that consciousness (vignana) persisted unchanged in the cycle of rebirths. The Blessed One sent for him and asked him: "What is it
you regard as consciousness, Săti ?" The latter answered: "That which as self, O Master, enjoys again and again the fruits of good and bad actions." The Buddha then admonished him thus: "From whom hast thou, deluded man, heard that I have taught such a doctrine? Have I not in many ways explained the conditioned nature of consciousness? Without sufficient cause arises no consciousness." . The teaching of the Dharma concerning karma cannot be clearly understood except in the light of what the Blessed. One has taught as to the nature of personality. What is essential in personality is not the "I" but the content. This content is never for two moments the same. What serves to conserve this content is continuity, and it is this that gives rise to the illusory idea of identity. As the Bodicharyavatāra says, "aham eva tadāpīti mithyāyām parikalpana, that I am one and the same person is the result of an illusion." Strictly speaking, man is dying every moment. But so long as the mode of association of the elements which constitute the ego remains largely the same, we. speak of the ego as the same. But really at one moment it is one ego, and at the next moment it is a different ego, though connected with the former by certain links. It is the continuity of thought that gives rise to the oneness. What determines the connection between the doer of a deed and the enjoyer of its fruit is also this continuity of thought (chittasamtāna). As the Bodhicharyāvatāra says, "hetumān phalayogiti drifyate naisha sambhavah, samtānasyaikyamāçritya kartā bhoktěty děçitam. If a person is changing from moment to moment, there is evidently no reason for suppos ing that the doer of a deed necessarily enjoys its fruit. Only the oneness arising from the continuity of thought determines the connection between the doer of a deed and the enjoyer of its fruit." Similarly, when a person dies, that is to say, when an ego ceases to have sensations, volitions. &c., the elements no longer occur in their customary mode of association, but the content of the ego is not lost. Barring a few worthless personal reminiscences the content of an ego remains preserved in others. Thus the individual is preserved in new forms. Anyaeva-mrito, anyaeva: prajāyale. It is one that dies,' and it is another that is reborn.
Na cha so, na cha anno-It is not he, and yet it is not.. another. As the poet says,
"I call that something " I " which seems my soul;
For lo! this ego, where shall it be sought?
I'm wont to say "I see ", yet 'tis the eye
That sees, and seeing, kindleth in the thought
The beaming image of memory.
"I hear " we say Hearing is of the ear,
And where the caught word stirs, there cords resound
Of slumbering sentiment; and echoes wake
Of sounds that long ago to silence lapsed.
Not dead, perfected only, is the past ;
And ever from the darkness of the grave,
The 'I' is but a name to clothe withal
The clustered mass that now my being forms.
The transient for th' eterne. Mine ego, lo!
This fluctuant moment of eternities
That now are crossing where my heart's blood beats.
I was not, am, and soon will pass. But never
My soul shall cease; the breeding ages aye
Shall know its life. All that the past bequeathed,
This shall endure in immortality."
As science teaches, a particular person is not a discrete individual, but a focus to which converge and from which again diverge many physical and psychical activities. In him have been impressed samskāras by heredity, example and education. Only by a process of evolution do samskāras come into being. No samskāra ever comes into being without a gradual, becoming. The whole history of the development of an individual, as observed in a higher organised animal, is a continuous chain of reminiscences of the evolution of all those beings which form the ancestral series of that particular animal. The history of no individual begins with his birth, but has been endless ages in the making. The assumption that each human being starts life for himself and commences a development of his own, as if the thousands of generations before him had been in existence in vain, is in striking discord with the facts of daily life. No human being can be regarded as something supernaturally
added to the stock of nature; on the contrary, he must be treated as a new segregation of what already existed. No individual can wholly detach himself from his parent source. "Each one of us bears upon him," as Huxley says, "obvious marks of his parentage, perhaps of remote relationship. More particularly the sum of tendencies to act in a certain way, which we call 'character,' is often to be traced through a long series of progenitors and collaterals. So we may justly say that this 'character '-this moral and intellectual essence of a man-does veritably pass over from one fleshy tabernacle to another, and does really transmigrate from generation to generation. In the new born infant the character of the stock lies latent, and the ego is little more than a bundle of potentialities. But, very early, these become actualities; from childhood to age they manifest themselves in idleness or brightness, weakness or strength, viciousness or uprightness, and with each feature modified by confluence with another character, if by nothing else, character passes on to its incarnation in new bodies."
No human being can completely sever himself from other human beings. Human beings form constituent units of society, not only by reason of the inter-dependence of their divers external functions, but by reason of their mental inter-dependence. Man cannot isolate his mental life from that of his fellowmen. He is ever subject to the influence of the community of which he is a member. He can sever his connection with one circle of men only by joining another. Even a hermit is not alone. He lives psychically in a union conceived in his mind, but none the less real, with an idea! society (of his gods, of his saints) which is formed after the model of real society. It is indeed exclusively through psychical inter-dependence that human existence as such has been possible. It is through the mutual dependence of their minds upon one another that men are civilized, social, and ethical beings. A correct understanding of mental life is not possible with the belief in a substantial soul. He who regards physical separateness as a barrier between centres of psychic life can never understand the possibility of a mental life reaching beyond the