Enlightenment Implies An Insight Into The Nature Of Self


We cannot pass over, however, this weighty problem without saying a

word. We shall try in this chapter to present Enlightenment before

the reader in a roundabout way, just as the painter gives the

fragmentary sketches of a beautiful city, being unable to give even a

bird's-eye view of it. Enlightenment, first of all, implies an

insight into the nature of Self. It is an emancipation of mind from

illusion concerning S
lf. All kinds of sin take root deep in the

misconception of Self, and putting forth the branches of lust, anger,

and folly, throw dark shadows on life. To extirpate this

misconception Buddhism[FN#179] strongly denies the existence of the

individual soul as conceived by common sense-that is, that unchanging

spiritual entity provided with sight, hearing, touch, smell, feeling,

thought, imagination, aspiration, etc., which survives the body. It

teaches us that there is no such thing as soul, and that the notion

of soul is a gross illusion. It treats of body as a temporal

material form of life doomed to be destroyed by death and reduced to

its elements again. It maintains that mind is also a temporal

spiritual form of life, behind which there is no immutable soul.

[FN#179] Both Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism teach the doctrine of

Anatman, or Non-self. It is the denial of soul as conceived by

common sense, and of Atman as conceived by Indian heterodox thinkers.

Some Mahayanists believe in the existence of real Self instead of

individual self, as we see in Mahaparinirvana-sutra, whose author

says: There is real self in non-self. It is worthy of note that

the Hinayanists set forth Purity, Pleasure, Atman, and Eternity, as

the four great misconceptions about life, while the same author

regards them as the four great attributes of Nirvana itself.

An illusory mind tends either to regard body as Self and to yearn

after its material interests, or to believe mind dependent on soul as

Ego. Those who are given to sensual pleasures, consciously or

unconsciously, bold body to be the Self, and remain the life-long

slave to the objects of sense. Those who regard mind as dependent on

soul as the Self, on the other hand, undervalue body as a mere tool

with which the soul works, and are inclined to denounce life as if

unworthy of living. We must not undervalue body, nor must we

overestimate mind. There is no mind isolated from body, nor is there

any body separated from mind. Every activity of mind produces

chemical and physiological changes in the nerve-centres, in the

organs, and eventually in the whole body; while every activity of

body is sure to bring out the corresponding change in the mental

function, and eventually in the whole personality. We have the

inward experience of sorrow when we have simultaneously the outward

appearance of tears and of pallor; when we have the outward

appearance of the fiery eyes and short breath, we have simultaneously

the inward feeling of anger. Thus body is mind observed outwardly in

its relation to the senses; mind is body inwardly experienced in its

relation to introspection. Who can draw a strict line of demarcation

between mind and body? We should admit, so far as our present

knowledge is concerned, that mind, the intangible, has been formed to

don a garment of matter in order to become an intelligible existence

at all; matter, the solid, has faded under examination into

formlessness, as that of mind. Zen believes in the identification of

mind and body, as Do-gen[FN#180] says: Body is identical with mind;

appearance and reality are one and the same thing.

Bergson denies the identification of mind and body, saying:[FN#181]

It (experience) shows us the interdependence of the mental and the

physical, the necessity of a certain cerebral substratum for the

psychical state-nothing more. From the fact that two things are

mutually dependent, it does not follow that they are equivalent.

Because a certain screw is necessary for a certain machine, because

the machine works when the screw is there and stops when the screw is

taken away, we do not say that the screw is equivalent of the

machine. Bergson's simile of a screw and a machine is quite

inadequate to show the interdependence of mind and body, because the

screw does cause the machine to work, but the machine does not cause

the screw to work; so that their relation is not interdependence. On

the contrary, body causes mind to work, and at the same time mind

causes body to work; so that their relation is perfectly

interdependent, and the relation is not that of an addition of mind

to body, or of body to mind, as the screw is added to the machine.

Bergson must have compared the working of the machine with mind, and

the machine itself with body, if be wanted to show the real fact.

Moreover, he is not right in asserting that from the fact that two

things are mutually dependent, it does not follow that they are

equivalent, because there are several kinds of interdependence, in

some of which two things can be equivalent. For instance, bricks,

mutually dependent in their forming an arch, cannot be equivalent one

with another; but water and waves, being mutually dependent, can be

identified. In like manner fire and heat, air and wind, a machine

and its working, mind and body.[FN#182]

[FN#180] The master strongly condemns the immortality of the soul as

the heterodox doctrine in his Sho-bo-gen-zo. The same argument is

found in Mu-chu-mon-do, by Mu-so Koku-shi.

[FN#181] 'Creative Evolution,' pp. 354, 355.

[FN#182] Bergson, arguing against the dependence of the mind on

brain, says: That there is a close connection between a state of

consciousness and the brain we do not dispute. But there is also a

close connection between a coat and the nail on which it hangs, for

if the nail is pulled out, the coat will fall to the ground. Shall

we say, then, that the shape of the nail gave the shape of the coat,

or in any way corresponds to it? No more are we entitled to

conclude, because the psychical fact is hung on to a cerebral state,

that there is any parallelism between the two series, psychical and

physiological. We have to ask, in what respects does the

interrelation between mind and body resemble the relation between a

coat and a nail?