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Revival (IV). The «Strange Oriental System» called buddhism by Gogerly

Reverend DJ Gogerly devoted much of his forty-year work to research in Buddhism as set out in Pali’s original works, and the results of his research can not but be of interest to students of a religion that professes almost a the third of the human race.

The following text belongs to a lecture given in Colombo shortly before the death of Mr. Gogerly, it contains, it is believed, the last and most complete account published by him of this strange oriental system of mixed religion and philosophy.

This is a work of great interest to understand the strange and often ridiculous system of pseudo-magical beliefs in which a Buddhism had become that embarrassed his devotees, while causing interest in the Western scholars who approached him for the first time.

It is not surprising that this product was unpresentable before anyone with a minimum of rationality. This painful situation led Buddhism to its practical disappearance from the one that saved it from the revival to which theosophy subjected it.

Some conclusions of the speaker to which it may be desirable to draw attention. For example, a very agitated question a few years ago was, what was the previous system, Brahmanism or Buddhism? It will be seen that Mr. Gogerly maintains the now generally entertaining opinion that Buddhism was a reaction against the abuses of the Brahmanic system. The second paragraph of the conference refers to Gautama’s statement that many previous Buddhas had existed; possibly some of their doctrines had been taught by older sages, and this fact may have been exaggerated in the notion of the Buddhas of preceding kalpas.

A considerable part of the conference is occupied-with the Buddha’s description of the material universe. This is the weak point of Buddhism, which is placed in antagonism with the most obvious teachings of science.These statements are not mere allusions to the popular belief of that period; they are positive and detailed affirmations made by Buddha about the authority of his omniscience. To escape the difficulty, a few years ago an ingenious attempt was made to prove that these descriptions of the universe should be understood in an allegorical sense. Mr. Gogerly, however, in his Christian Pragnyapti demolished this explanation, showing that what the Buddha taught concerning the world was thought by him to be literally believed, as an essential part of his religion.

Probably the main novelty will be the representation that gives of the doctrines of Buddha regarding a Creator. The usual opinion of people familiar with Buddhism has been that the existence of a Supreme Being was not affirmed or denied in this system , being the subject simply ignored by Buddha. However, this was not Mr. Gogerly’s opinion. He held that the idea of ​​a Supreme and Infinite Creator was familiar to the mind of the founder of Buddhism, and deliberately rejected by him. Some curious extracts on this subject will be found in the conference.

There are three doctrines closely connected with each other and uniquely characteristic of Buddhism. These doctrines are related to the nature of man, transmigration and Nirvana. At each of these points, Mr. Gogerly’s Pali studies led him to conclusions that are clearly expressed in the following conference. First: Buddhism denies the existence of a soul in man; therefore, -Second, there can be no transmigration, in the popular sense of the term- there is only one series of beings, the later beings of the series inherit the merit or demerit of previous beings. Third, Nirvana is not Paradise, because when the series of sentient beings comes to an end, there is no soul to continue. Nirvana is therefore simply extinction . This is the vision of Nirvana in the hands of the highest authorities of Buddhism.

The notes are written by the Reverend David de Silva of the Wesleyan Mission. He was previously a student of Mr. Gogerly, and has acquired extensive knowledge of the Buddhist scriptures in Pali.

This is the text of the conference:

BUDDHISM, which was once the dominant religion of India, is now completely unknown in their native country; but when it is excluded from that region, it extends in other directions, and currently prevails in Nepal, Tibet, China, Burma, Siam, Ceylon and other countries, and counts among its devotees a large part of the human race.

Brahmanism certainly prevailed extensively at the time when Gautam Buddha was born, since upon his birth the Brahmins were consulted respecting the fortunes of the newborn prince; and it is asserted that the progress of Buddhism was faster among the lower castes: the kshatriya or warrior tribe rejecting it from the pride of birth, and the brahmins of the pride of learning; but the Brahmanism of that period differed materially from that of the present tense; no trace appears in the sacred books of the Buddhists of the worship of Shiva and Vishnu. The God to whom the offerings were generally made was Agni, the God of fire.

The state of caste at that time was also different from that prevailing at present, the warrior tribe being considered as the first, and the brahminical tribe as the second on the scale of dignity. Many princes have embraced the doctrines of Buddhism, the «warrior» tribe became their followers, but ultimately they were subdued by the ascendancy of the priesthood. Much darkness is based on that historical period that we will not try to eliminate; limiting ourselves briefly to the doctrines of the Buddha as recorded in his sacred books.

Although the present system of Buddhism is of comparatively recent origin, Gautama affirmed that, in the most remote times, the doctrines that he taught had been proclaimed by an incalculable number of Buddhas who lived in previous kalpas; as well as by three who preceded him in the present kalpa. The doctrines they teach are represented as identical to those of the present Buddha. It is said that the whole field of truth was opened before every Buddha, who therefore is called sabbaññū, omniscient; cakkhumā, who has a supernatural vision or wisdom;samantacakkhu, He who has eyes to see in all directions. The Buddhas, therefore, saw all things with infallible precision, and their teachings matched those of Gautama even at the most insignificant points. But these teachers and their doctrines «had been forgotten for a long time before the birth of Gautama Buddha, and he became the new discoverer of the system.»

Gautama Buddha was born in Kapilavatthu, a city in or near the present province of Oude

(It should be noted that Gogerly was previous to the famous swindler Dr. Führer who was the one who placed a column of Asoka in the place known today as Lumbini, in Nepal.Oudh or Awadh was a province of India, in the British Raj and was Located in what is now the northeast part of Uttar Pradesh, it is named after Ayodhya, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Kosala, which is believed to have coincided with the Oudh region.In the 12th century the Muslim invaders conquered it. The 16th century was part of the Mughal Empire and was invaded by the British in 1856, joining it in 1877 with the province of Agra to form the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh (United Provinces of Agra and Oudh). 1947 became part of the State of Uttar Pradesh).

in the year 624 before the Christian era . His father was a sovereign prince named Sudhodana . He was called Prince Siddhartha , and lived in royal splendor until his 29th year. At that time he was displeased with sensual pleasures; he considered the circumstances of the disease, decrepitude and death, and was eager to obtain the liberation of the continuous reproduction of existence, embraced the life of an ascetic and withdrew to the desert. Its object seems to have been twofold: first, to obtain that complete freedom of the passions. and affections that would guarantee the total cessation of his own personal existence: and second, that he may reach that perfection of wisdom and knowledge that will enable him to teach others the paths of perfect freedom. For this purpose, for six years, he performed painful penances, and his abstinence from food was such that his body was reduced to a skeleton; and, completely exhausted, he fainted and his associates considered him dead. However, he revived, and when he did not find any advantage in this course of life, he abandoned it and took the necessary sustenance for the restoration of his bodily strength, and with renewed energy directed his mind to intense meditation.

This deep meditation is called Jhāna, and while the devotee engages in these exercises, he becomes insensible to all external things: he can not see, hear or feel, but he is in a state similar to what is called the hypnotic trance, and there are no means by which I can be awakened from this state until the meditation is over. Buddha declares to the Brahmin Veranjo, that he, being persevering, calm in body and mind, pure of heart and free of all sensuality, is dedicated to examine and investigate the nature of things, and thus enjoys the first Jhāna. At the end of the investigation and the investigation, with a calm and self-centered mind, one enjoys the serene pleasure of the second Jhāna. Free from the disturbances of pleasure, reflective and wise, and healthy in the body, he enjoyed the third Jhāna, called the state of contentment. Free from the emotions of joy or sadness, previous exaltation and depression are eliminated, with a content and holy mind that reached the 4th Jhāna, without being moved by pleasure or pain.Being mentally calm, pure and holy, free from passion or contamination,

Then, with a clear and divine vision, which transcended that of men, he contemplated beings who died or were born, noble or low, beautiful or deformed; marked his behavior and his results. Having thus attained a high degree of wisdom, he then ascertained the causes of pain and continued existence, and the manner in which the series of existence and the misery connected with it could cease forever. When he obtained this knowledge, he became a Buddha, perfect in wisdom, purity and knowledge, and the head of all existing beings, the highest world of Brahma to the lowest hell; not to honor anyone as their superior, but to be worthy to receive the supreme honor of all.

Now we will briefly note his teaching concerning the system of the universe, embracing its inhabitants; and then consider their metaphysical and moral doctrines.

Buddha does not try to explain the origin of existing beings: he says: «Bhikkhus, the starting point of the transmigration series is not known: the beginning does not appear. Therefore, he confines his teachings to the system as it is during the present Kalpa. The duration of a Kalpa is not defined arithmetically, but uses a similarity: if there is a solid rock that forms a cube of a yojana (approximately 14 miles) and a delicately formed shawl should brush against it once in 100 years, the rock by the contact it would wear out gradually: but the kalpa would not be completed at that moment. All large measures of length are calculated by yojanas): thus 4 hetekma Sinhalese, or miles of a gow, or league, and since the hetekma is less than one English mile, the gow or league may be approximately 3.5 miles; 4 of these, or about 14 miles, constitute a Yojana.

The universe comprises an infinite number of systems or sakala-lokadhātu: each complete in itself, having its own sun, moon and stars, and its own heavens and hells. The sakala-lokadhātu with which we are connected is surrounded by an immense rocky circle, which has a height of 82,000 yojanas or more than 1,100,000 miles (13) above the surface of the sea, and has 3,610,350 Yojanas in circumference, which is, more than 16,000,000 miles in diameter. In the middle of the mountain is Maha Meru. This state of mountainous Buddha, in the sermon on the rising of seven suns, is 84,000 yojanas long, 84,000 yojanas wide, 84,000 yojanas high above the sea, and 84,000 yojanas below its surface. It is surrounded by seven circles of rocks, each circle is half as high as the previous one, beginning with Maha Meru and moving outward: thus the circle of Yughandera is half the height of Maha Meru, and the seventh circle, or Aswarkarna There are only 656 Yojanas well above the sea. (16.) Between these circles and the sakala-lokadhātu rocks there are four great continents (four mahādīpas), each accompanied by 500 islands, and separated from each other by stormy seas, so that they are inaccessible to all those who do not possess super – human powers. The four continents are Jambudīpa south of Maha Meru; this is the world inhabited by men: Uttarakuru is located to the north, Aparagoyāna to the west, and Pubbavideha to the east of Maha Meru. In reference to this, a stanza by Pali says: «When the sun rises on this continent (Jambudīpa) it is midday in Wideha late in Goyana and midnight in Kuruna,» because the Sun, Moon and Stars are represented as traveling daily around Maha Meru to the height of Yughandera.

In a sermon on earthquakes in the Aṅguttara, Nikāye Buddha states that the earth rests on water and that water is established in the air. When the air is stirred by storms, the water is shaken violently, and with this the earth trembles, constituting an earthquake. The land is 240,000 yojanas thick, «the water has a depth of 480,000 yojanas, and the atmosphere in which everything rests is 960,000 yojanas of depth. The four great continents are very frequently mentioned by Buddha in his sermons.

In the lower part of the system there are eight main hells, each accompanied by 16 subordinate hells. Under Maha Meru is the Asura world. The Asuras were formerly gods who inhabited the summit of Maha Meru, but gave way to intemperance to become insensitive, and Sakra (or Indra) with their hosts threw them to the bottom of Maha Meru and occupied the conquered region. The Asuras have often waged war against Indra to recover their lost possessions, but in all cases they have finally been defeated. Men, gods and demons inhabit the earth and its atmosphere. Demons are in many cases evil and of horrible appearance, while many others are beneficial and devout Buddhists.

The general name for demons is Yakshayo or «Devils». Half the height of Maha Meru, or 42,000 yojanas on the surface of the sea, is the heaven of the four guardian gods (cātumahārājika). In this the sun, the moon and the stars are situated. The sun is represented by a resplendent circular residence of 50 yojanas or 700 miles in circumference, and the moon has one of 49 yojanas in extension. It is said that the eclipses of these bodies are the result of the efforts of Asur Rahu, in the form of a large serpent, to swallow them.

We should almost have doubted that this was a doctrine of the Buddhist religion if it were not recorded in two Sutras or Buddha discourses, in the Saṃyutta Nikaya, which is part of the three Piṭakas. On one occasion, Suriya, the Sun God, is represented by great anguish as a result of Rahu’s efforts to swallow him and his residence. He invoked the help of the Buddha, who rebuked Rahu and ordered him to desist from his efforts;Rahu became terrified and trembled fleeing towards Asuralokaya. The Sutra immediately preceding this states that the Moon experienced a similar danger and called the Buddha for help, who freed him from the power of Rahu;

These discourses, in addition to the one that refers to the cause of the earthquakes in the Aṅguttara Nikāya, show the incorrect nature of the Buddha’s physical philosophy. At the top of Maha Meru, or 42,000 yojanas above, the Cātumahārājikā heavens – Tāvatiṃsa is placed, In this world, and these six heavens, the pleasures of the senses are enjoyed, and virtuous or vicious actions can be performed.

It is estimated that the period of human life in this world is around 100 years, therefore, it is calculated that of the gods of heaven immediately above the earth (Cātumahārājikā).

A day and a night, insurance is equivalent to 50 years of men: 360 of these days make a year, and the duration of life is 500 of these years; the entire period was 9,000,000 years of men.

The period of life in each ascending sky is a quadruple proportion, so in Tāvatiṃsa it is 36,000,000, in Yāma, 114,000,000, in Tusita, 576 million, in Nimmānarati 2,304 million, and in Paranimmita-vasavatti, the duration of life is 9,216 Million of years.

All these details are taken from the Vibhaṅga division of Abhidhamma Piṭaka .

On these heavens there are 16 worlds of Brahma. A birth in the worlds of Brahma is the result of the execution of the four Jhānas, or courses of deep meditation. There are three ways in which one can attend to the Jhāna, the imperfect, the medial and the perfect.

The imperfect execution of Jhāna’s first comprehensive investigation and investigation concerning the nature of things, seeks a birth in the lowest;of the worlds of Brahma called Brahmapārisajja, the duration being one third of a Kalpa.

The medial functioning of the Jhānas themselves leads to the Brahmapurohita Brahma world, in which the duration of life is half of a Kalpa. The perfect execution of that Jhāna gives entrance to the world of Maha Brahma, the duration of life is a complete Kalpa, these three worlds of Brahma, the six Heavens, the earth, the residence of the Nāgas and Asura®, and the various hells they are all destroyed at the termination of each Kalpa.

The execution of the 2nd Jhāna, which comprises the clear and unalterable perception of the truth, seeks an existence as parittābhadeva, appamāṅābhadeva and ābhassara deva in the worlds of Brahma, the period of life is 2,4 and 8 kalpas. Again we will have occasion to refer to the world of ābhassara Brahma.

The 3rd Jhāna, in which the devotee is free from the disturbances of pleasure or pain, and being healthy, in body and mind, lives in quiet and content meditation on the doctrines of truth, gives access to three other worlds of Brahma More exalted than the above mentioned, the term of life is 16, 32 and 64 Kalpas.

The 4th Jhāna, in which the passions are so dim that the devotee is always happy, uninfluenced by the sensations of pleasure or pain, gives access to the remaining seven worlds of Brahma and the four worlds Arūpa. The duration of existence is immense, from 500 to 16,000 Kalpas. There is a peculiarity in the first world in this last series, that is, the Asaññasattā Brahma world. In this, the duration of life is 500 Kalpas, but there is only the existence of the Body, without consciousness: they have neither sensation, perception nor knowledge «; but they are like beings in a deep dream without dreams. The whole of the inhabitants of the worlds of Brahma is completely free of sensual pleasures or desires: they are not subject to the laws of gravity, but move at will through the unobstructed atmosphere, and their pleasures and pursuits are all intellectuals and cigars; resembling perhaps what Saint Paul was referring to when he spoke of «spiritual bodies».

In the four Arūpa worlds that complete the series, there are unorganized bodies, but the inhabitants have sensation, perception, reasoning and knowledge or consciousness. I do not clearly understand the nature of existence or modes of operation in these worlds, and therefore I can not attempt to explain them. The term of life is set at 20,000, 40,000-60,000 and 84,000 Kalpas. The latter the longest possible duration of the existence of any Being.

I have said before that at the end of a Kalpa, the three lowest worlds of Brahma, the. six heavens, the earth and, below, the earth will be completely destroyed. The next destruction will be by fire, and the way in which this will be done is thus established by Buddha in his speech on the ascent of seven suns, content; in the Aṅguttara Nikāya: Bhikkhus, Seneru (or Maha Meru) the King of the Mountains, has a length of 84,000 yojanas, in a width of 84,000 yojanas, under the great sea 84,000 yojanas, and on the sea 84,000 yojanas. There will come a time when for hundreds, thousands and hundreds of thousands of years cloud rain will not descend, as a result of which the cultivated plants and herbs, the forests, the grass and the trees will be completely dried up and they will burn

At the expiration of a long period after this; a second sun will appear, and from the heat of these two suns, the small rivers, ponds and lakes will dry up and disappear. After another long period, a third sun will arise, and by the heat of these three suns, the great rivers, such as the Ganges, the Jumna, etc., will dry completely. When a fourth sun rises, the seas in which these great rivers once flowed will dry up. A fifth sun will emerge later, and by the heat of the five suns at a time, the great ocean (84,000 yojanas deep), will gradually dry up until there are only a few puddles left: a sixth sun will emerge, and by the combined heat of these six suns, the great earth and Maha Meru, will smoke continuously like a potter’s kiln.

At last a seventh sun will arise, and the heat of these seven suns, this great Earth and Maha Meru, the King of the Mountains, will burn; shine and become a mass of fire, and the flames, by the wind will ascend as high as the worlds of Brahma, and by the accumulated heat of the fiery and flaming mountain, its rocky peaks; from 100 to 500 yojanas in extension, will be destroyed; and finally this great land and Maha Meru will be so completely consumed that even the ashes will not appear and will not exist;

Even when butter or oil is consumed in a container, no residue appears or exists, therefore, this great land and Mount Meru will be so completely destroyed that no ash will appear or exist. and finally this great land and Maha Meru will be so completely consumed that even the ashes will not appear and will not exist; Even when butter or oil is consumed in a container, no residue appears or exists, therefore, this great land and Mount Meru will be so completely destroyed that no ash will appear or exist. and finally this great land and Maha Meru will be so completely consumed that even the ashes will not appear and will not exist; Even when butter or oil is consumed in a container, no residue appears or exists, therefore, this great land and Mount Meru will be so completely destroyed that no ash will appear or exist.

Buddhist scholars spread this destruction beyond what is stated in this quote from a Sermon of the Buddha . A learned Priest who resides near Bentotte, in a controversial treatise states: «The waters of the sea dry up, and seven suns shine simultaneously, the earth, the mountains, Mount Meru, the Sakwala gala and all the other things destroyed by the fire». The three worlds of Brahma, namely, parisadyaya, brahmapurohitya, mahabrahmaya, together with the six heavens will be burned: and thus one hundred billion Sakwala will be burned and destroyed once.

However, the worlds thus destroyed will re-exist, but not because of the power of Karma or the power of moral merit of their previous inhabitants, as some of the natives claim, who should have received better instruction in Buddhism; nor by the power of a Creator.

In the Milinda Prashna, a book of great authority among Buddhists, the priest Nagasena, speaking of the production of things, declares: «All sentient beings are kammaja (that is, produced by the accumulation of merit or demerit of previous actions) . The fire and all kinds of vegetables are hetuja, (produced by material causes such as seeds, etc.) The earth, the mountains, the waters and the winds are utuja (produced by the seasons) «.What he meant by the seasons that produce the causes of the earth, the mountains, the waters and the winds, is difficult if not impossible to determine.

Now we have finished our sketch of the material universe according to the system of Buddhism, and we will proceed to examine the most prominent parts of metaphysics.

The existence of a Creator of all things, and the dispenser to Man of pain and joy, Buddha expressly denies it; affirming that the pains or pleasures experienced by intelligent beings are not in any way the result of the power of a Creator. He himself claims to be the supreme: he told Upaka, an ascetic, who asked him who his teacher was and whose doctrine, he embraced, «I have no teacher, there is no one like me; ‘In the worlds of the Gods, I have no equal. I am the most noble in the world, being the irrefutable teacher, the only perfect Buddha. «

In the Parajika section of the Vinaya Piṭaka; Brahmin Weranjo who accused him of not honoring the old brahmins, of not rising in his presence, and of not inviting them to sit down, he replied: Brahman, I do not see anyone in the celestial or the Maraya worlds, nor among the inhabitants of the worlds of Brahma, neither among gods or men; whom I should honor, or in whose presence I should get up, or whom I should ask to sit down. If the Tathagata (ie, Buddha) acted like this against someone, that person’s head would collapse. «

And in the Jataka Atuwara it is stated that from the lowest hell to the highest world of Brahma there is no equal or superior to the Buddha in wisdom, virtue and knowledge. These assumptions are totally irreconcilable with the doctrine of a Universal Creator, which necessarily must be superior to the beings formed and supported by him. Buddha was aware of the doctrine of a Creator held by the Brahmins, and strives to account for their existence.

In the Brahma Jala Sutra, which is the first in Dīgha Nikāya, he discusses respecting the 62 different sects in the philosophical Schools, since they can hardly be called religions, among which four hold the doctrine of both the pre-existence of the soul, and of its eternal duration through innumerable transmigrations (the Buddhist doctrine of samsara is, antecedents and consequents).

Others believed that some souls have always existed while others have had a beginning of existence. Among these, a sect is described as believing in the existence of a Creator, and Buddha denies the accuracy of this opinion.Explaining how the opinion originated, he says: «There is a time Bhikkhus, when after a very long period this world is destroyed. In the destruction of the world, many beings obtain existence in the Ābhassara Brahma Loka, (which is the sixth of the series and in which the term of life never exceeds 8 Kalpas). There are spiritual beings (who have purified bodies uncontaminated with bad passions or with any bodily impurity): they have intellectual pleasures: they are resplendent to themselves, they cross the atmosphere unimpeded, and remain for a long time established in happiness. After a very long period, this worldly system reproduces, and the world called Brahma Vimane (the third of the Brahma Lokas) is born, but it is uninhabited. «

«At that time, a Being, consequently, either expired the period of residence in Abassara, or as a consequence of some deficiency in merit that prevented him from living there the full period, ceased to exist in Abassara, and reproduced in the uninhabited Brahma Vimane. He was a spiritual being: his pleasures were intellectual: he shone by himself, he crossed the atmosphere and for a long time he enjoyed an uninterrupted happiness. After living there a very long period in solitude, he feels the desire to have a companion, and he says: «I wish that other being were living in this place».

In that precise conjuncture, another being that ceases to exist in Abassara, is born in the Brahma Vimane in the vicinity of the first. They are both spiritual beings, they have intellectual pleasures, they are resplendent, they go through the atmosphere and for a long time they enjoy happiness.

Then the following thoughts arose in him, which was the first existing in that Brahma Loka: I am Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Supreme, the Invincible, the Omniscient, the Ruler of all things, the Lord of all. I am the Creator, the Creator of all things. I am the boss, the Dispenser and the controller of all; the Universal Father. This being was made by me. How does this appear?

Formerly I thought. I wish that other being was in this place, and by my will this being came here. These Beings also, who then obtained an existence there, they thought, this illustrious Brahma is the Great Brahma, the Supreme, the Invincible, the Omniscient, the Ruler, the Lord, the Creator of all. He is the boss, the Dispenser of all things, the Controller of everything, the Universal Father. We were created by him, because we see that he was first here, and that since then we have obtained existence. In addition, the one who first obtained existence there, lives for a very long period, exceeds in beauty and has immense power; but those who followed him are ephemeral of inferior beauty and little power. Then it happens that one of those Beings, ceasing to exist there, is born in this world, and then withdraws from society and becomes a recluse.

He submits his passions, he is persevering in the practice of virtue, and by deep meditation he remembers his previous immediate state of existence, but not before that: therefore, he says that the illustrious Brahma is the Great Brahma: the Supreme, the Invincible, the Omniscient, the Governor, the Lord, the Creator, the Creator of all.

He is the boss, the Dispenser of all things, the Controller of everything, the Universal Father. That Brahma by which we were created is always during, immutable, eternal and immutable, continuing forever the same. But we, who have been created by this illustrious Brahma, are changeable, short-lived and mortal.

According to this extract, it seems that Buddha had a clear perception of the doctrine of a supreme Creator that exists by himself, and yet he declares that this doctrine is false, because he says in another part of the same discourse. «The teaching of those Sramanas and Brahmins, who maintain that some Beings are eternal and others not eternal, is based on their ignorance and their lack of perception of the truth, and is the result of the impressions made in the senses».

There are many who call themselves Buddhists who recognize the existence of a Creator: but they do so out of ignorance of Buddha’s teachings. The Buddhist system does not recognize the possibility that such a Being exists.

Having noted the principles of Buddhism regarding a Creator, we will consider what it teaches about the nature of man. The totality of the constituent parts of a conscious being. The being is organized into five divisions called khandhas or collections: they are the rūpa-khandho); the organized body; vedanā-khandho, the sensations of pleasure, pain or indifference; saññā-khanhdo, or perceptions: saṅkhāra-khandho, or thoughts, contemplations and reasonings; and the viññāṇa-khando or understanding, consciousness. Except the body, there is no entity among these. There is simply no entity among these. It is nothing more than an organized body, and inherent in this body a capacity for sensation, perception, contemplation and knowledge, caused by contact with other objects: there is no feeling, thought or knowledge of the soul in a man. The body itself is mutable, and the other khandhas are in perpetual flux.

According to this system, man is never the same for two consecutive minutes: the arūpadhamma as the set of khandhas, except that it is called the body, constantly change: they occur, cease to be and never remain the same: they are compared to the periphery of a wheel in motion, always altering its position: and in the light of a lit lamp that, although it continues to shine, has its rays continuously changing. The lamp continues to burn throughout the night, constantly emitting new rays: so that man continues as long as his body lives, but the mental processes constantly change. This Buddha doctrine is certainly not in the hands of most lay Buddhists, and it was not, and perhaps to this day it is not, received by several of the priests, but it is taught more clearly in the sacred books. To clarify this question, it is necessary to determine the meaning that should be attached to the word Pali attā, translated into Sinhalese by the word ātmāya and to which we surrender «soul». In the Brahma Jala Sutra, Buddha states that some taught that the soul (attā) is eternal in duration;they said «living beings transmigrate: they die, they are born, but their existence continues being eternal». In another part of the same sermon when the doctrines of the ucchedavādī are discussed, or those who believe that the soul will finally be annihilated, relates a conversation among some philosophers: «Another will answer and say: Friend, I do not deny that there is such a state as you you mentioned, but the soul does not then be annihilated: there it is. Friend, another unknown and inexperienced state for you, but known and perceived by me; in that state, the form is divine, the pleasures are mental, and all the powers and faculties are in perfection.After the dissolution of that body by death, the being is cut off, destroyed and no longer exists.

These extracts are sufficient to show that by the word (attā) or soul, it means an immaterial substance that continues to exist after the death of the body. The Commentary affirms that there are four main opinions regarding the nature of the soul, the last of which is that it remains in the body like a jewel deposited in a chest: and that when it dies it moves away like a bird from its cage. Therefore, there can be no doubt that Buddha attached to the word (attā) the meaning we attribute to the word «soul».

We have already noted that the integral parts of a man are divided into five khandhas, but there is also another arrangement called āyatana or residences: they are the six āyatana personnel; verbigracia the eye, the ear, the nose, the tongue, the body, the understanding; and the corresponding external āyatana, figure / form, sound, smells, taste, touch and material or immaterial objects. Buddha declares that none of the khandha or āyatana constitutes a soul. There is also a more compendious arrangement in Namarūpa, the rūpa which means the body, and the nama, the intellectual faculties: this is frequently used in the Buddha’s writings. Relating to lakhandha says: Rūpaṃ bhikkhave anattā, vedanā anattā, saññā anattā, saṅkhārā anattā, viññāṇaṃ anattā.

«Bhikkhus, the body does not constitute a soul, sensations do not constitute a soul, perceptions do not constitute a soul, reasonings do not constitute a soul, consciousness or understanding does not constitute a soul». Thus he affirms of each one of the khanda that he is not a soul.

«Bhikkhus, the body is not a soul: if there is some kind of cause for the production of the body, that cause is also soulless: how can the body become a soul since it is produced by causes without a soul?» He repeats it is the same at face value with regard to sensations, perceptions and reasoning: and although some uninitiated Buddhists have assumed that viññana is a transmigrant almo, Buddha says. (40) «The understanding or consciousness (viññana) is not a soul: if there is any cause for which the viññana is produced, that cause is also soulless: how can viññana be a soul, seeing that it is produced by the soul – fewer causes? «

To remove all doubt about the fact that his doctrine is that a soul does not exist, we refer to his conversation with Susīmo, a Paribbājaka. Buddha says: «Susimo, the body, the sensations, the perceptions, the reasoning, the understanding or consciousness (enumerating each one clearly) either past, future or present, whether internal or external, whether gross or minute, base or excellent, remote or close are not mine none of them constitutes «me». None of these is for me a soul. This is known for true wisdom. « This teaching, which is reiterated again and again, is clear: there is no soul: nothing that an individual can say: «This is me». The body exists;the other khandha are only functions of the living body, produced by the contact of external objects with the bodily organs. The same doctrine applies, in a similar language, respecting the eye, the ear and other bodily organs, together with the hand, or viññana or understanding, the seat of which is the heart, as the eye is the seat of vision; this is repeated respecting the various organs, both individually and collectively.

But how does this affect the doctrine of transmigration, or more properly the ongoing process of perpetuated existence? In the book called Milinda Prashna (Suttapitaka / Khuddakanikāya / Milindapañhapāḷi), or the Questions of King Milinda, the subject is discussed by the King and the learned monk Nagasena. This work is of great authority among Buddhists, although it is not one of the sacred books. The term Namarūpa is frequently used in this discussion, which includes everything we want to say with body and mind. I will omit the Pali, simply by giving a translation of the conversations.

The King asked, Lord Nagasena, what is conceived (in a new birth)? The priest replied: the body and mind Namarūpa Great King, are conceived.But, Lord Nagasena, is this same body and mind (Namarūpa) conceived?No, Great King, this same body and mind are not conceived: but by this body and mind good or bad actions are performed, and as a result of these actions other bodies and souls are conceived.

To eliminate all doubt, the King asks: «Lord Nagasena, you have spoken of Namarūpa. Of these what is Nama and what is rūpaṃ? Great King, it is anything material oḷārikaṃ) which is Rūpaṃ. Anything is immaterial (sahúma) thoughts, they are Nama. «Thus, Namarūpa is represented as the constitution of all man, body and soul, and the doctrine clearly established is one of antecedents and consequents. A man performs good or bad actions: this is the antecedent. Due to these actions, another Being, another body and mind is produced: this is the consequent. In no sense are they the same: the latter is the result of the former, but there is no transmigrant soul. The King does not seem satisfied, and he processes his questions: saying: «Lord Nagasena, is the conception carried out without any kind of transmigration? Yes, Great King, the conception takes place without any being transmigrating. How does this happen? explain it by a metaphor. Great King, a man lights a lamp from another lamp: does the only lamp transmigrate to the other lamp? No, my lord. Same way. Great King, the conception takes place without transmigration. «

The King also asks: «Lord Nagasena, is there any being that transmigrates from this body to another? No, Great King. But, «Lord Nagasena, if there is no Being that transmigrates from this body to another body, is there not a liberation from the consequences of evil actions? It is true, Great King, if there is no conception, there is liberation. Through this body and mind, good or bad actions are performed, and as a result of those actions another body and mind is produced, and, therefore, there is no release from the consequences of sin. «

Buddha explicitly states that sin and punishment are necessarily united.But it seems that it is sin that is punished, and not the sinner. To avoid the difficulty related to this doctrine, Buddhists say that although the child born is not the same as the man who existed previously, it can not be said to be completely a new Being, because its current existence is the result of actions taken by a person who existed previously, but who does not exist now; and they illustrate it with the metaphor of a mango tree. Once a mango tree has been eaten, the stone is planted and a fresh mango tree is produced, which is not properly a new tree but a continuation of the previous one, which is produced from it. But according to this, the son must be the same with his father, being produced by his instrumentality.The metaphor of the mango tree is this: the mango tree represents an existing man: the mango fruit, the good or bad behavior of that man: like a stone from that tree, another tree grows that is not completely different from the first tree that is a result of that first tree, then of the good or bad actions of a man another man is produced, which is not properly another but a continuation of the first.

The metaphor will not lead to a strict investigation; but the Buddha’s doctrine is undoubtedly that the performer of an action is not the recipient of the result of that action.

In the Saṃyutta Nikāya it is stated that a Brahmin came to Buddha and asked him: «How is Gautama, the one who has performed actions (in a previous birth) experienced (in this world) the results? Brahmin, the doctrine that the one who has acted receives the result is one extreme (the sassatavāda or doctrine of the perpetual existence of a transmigrant soul.) How then, Gautama, does one person perform the action, and another person bear the results? Brahmin, the doctrine that one person performs the action and that another person endures the result is the other extreme (the ucchedavādī that teaches the annihilation of an existing soul). The Tathagata who avoids both extremes preaches a middle doctrine; namely, that, as a result of ignorance, merit or demerit accumulates, etc., declaring the Paticca-samuppada doctrine that we will examine next. We quote from another discourse, where the theme is more fully stated: Paribbājako’s inmate, named Timbaruko, came to Buddha and said, Gautama, does a person receive happiness or pain as a result of his own behavior (in an earlier state? ) Buddha replied: It’s not like that, Timbaruko. What Gautama! Do you receive happiness or pain as a result of another person’s behavior? It’s not like that, Timbaruko. What Gautama! Do you receive happiness or pain as a result of the joint action of yourself and another person? Bhagava replied: It’s not like that, Timbaruko. So, what Gautama receives a man happiness or joy, regardless of his own behavior or the behavior of others? It’s not like that, Timbaruko. «

He then declares that he has abandoned the doctrine of a transmigrant almo, supported by the sassatavāda, and also the split of an existing soul, held by the ucchedavāda and has chosen a middle doctrine, and then recites the Paticca-samuppada which seems to be the key to his philosophical position, explaining the processes by which existence is perpetuated.

As a result of ignorance, merit or demerit occurs. As a consequence of the merit or demerit of consciousness, as a consequence of consciousness, the body and the mental faculties, the six organs of sense; as a consequence of the six organs of sense, touch or contact (or the sensation of touch); as a consequence of contact with sensations, as a consequence of desired sensations, as a consequence of desire and attachment to existence, as a consequence of attachment or adherence to existence, a place of birth; as a consequence of a place of birth, birth in itself; as a result of the decline of birth, death, pain, crying, pain, discontent and dissatisfaction occur. Then it is added that a total cessation of ignorance necessarily results in a cessation of all consequents, so that the self is extinguished. It will be observed, that the intervention of a previously existing soul, or of a creator, or even of parents, is not considered necessary to complete this chain of existence; the first two as nonexistent; the other (parents) as that which can be for the production of the body, but which is not absolutely necessary, since in many cases the opapātika formation, (which Turnour in his translation of Mahāvaṃsa: The great Chronicle of Ceylon, calls appearance » aparicional «) replaces the need for patents, since in these cases merit or demerit leads to the instantaneous and complete development of a perfect man or woman, as well as of the gods and those who suffer in the underworld.

This account seems to be very unphilosophical and confusing. In the Vibhaṅga division of the Abhidharma, the terms used are clearly defined: thus, avijjā or ignorance is defined as ignorance of the four main doctrines of the Buddha:

They are

  1. That sadness is connected with existence in all its forms.

That its continuation is the result of a continuous desire for existence.

That a liberation of existence and its sorrows can only result from the complete extinction of this desire: and

That this extinction can only result from a pure moral course, eight divisions of which are specified.

From this ignorance saṅkhāra results, which is defined as – kusalā and akusalā or merit and demerit, accumulated in the various worlds of gods and men, or of the gods of Brahma, or of the inhabitants of the worlds of Arūpa. In the event that any individual comes into existence, this saṅkhārā is the merit or demerit of the acts of his immediate predecessor in that chain of being. From this saṅkhārā, viññāṇaṃ is produced, which is defined as the consciousness of the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and understanding, which form the six Ayatana and do not exist until after the body is formed: viññāṇaṃpor Therefore, it can only be understood as the meaning of a power in the future to be developed, when the organs have come into existence and come into contact with external objects. The way in which consciousness can exist in the abstract, without the existence of any conscious being, is difficult, if not impossible, to understand. This undeveloped consciousness is considered as the antecedent of the body and mind, and this body and mind as the antecedent of the organs of the body and mind.

The viññana or consciousness, which is the third in this chain of existence, is declared to be the viññāṇaṃo consciousness of the organs of body and mind that are the fifth of the series. All this non-philosophical confusion of thought and expression is used to avoid the need to recognize the existence of a creator. We can observe that the paccaya does not mean that for which a thing is made or produced, but that which is the antecedent of the thing produced, and without which the thing would not be. Thus, the beautiful organization of the body, with all its indications of a powerful and design architect, is claimed to be the consequence of his own consciousness: and the eye with its complicated mechanism is represented as the consequent of the cakkhuviññāṇaṃo or the consciousness of the eye: and the same goes for the other bodily organs. Moreover, in this passage, the saṅkhāra are not existing things, but simply the qualities of the actions performed previously, and Buddha teaches that the qualities of the actions performed by a Being (whether male or animal) now non-existent, are the efficient cause of the production of the body and mind of a new Man, without the intervention of any active agent. This I believe is a correct statement of the doctrine of the Paticca-samuppada in regard to the production of the body and mind of man.

The doctrine of Nirvana is intimately connected with the previous one. The word nirvana (of ni, a negative, and vain desire) means a complete freedom from desire, and this necessarily leads to a complete cessation of existence. Thus, at the end of Buddha’s first discourse in Benares, after having declared that he has experienced this cessation of tanha or desire, «This is my last birth; henceforth I shall have no other state of existence «and at the end of his speech he was called Brama Jala he says Bhikkhus, which ties the Tathāgato (ie, Buddha) to existence is cut off, but his body still remains, and while his body remains, gods and men perceive him; but at the end of life, when the body dissolves, neither gods nor men will perceive it; that is, it will no longer exist.

Nirvana is represented by the metaphor of a great fire that has been consumed, and by a lamp whose oil and wick are consumed completely, so that nothing remains; Nirvana is the total cessation of existence. It differs from annihilation, since that assumes that an existing soul has been destroyed, whereas according to Buddha there is no soul that can be annihilated.

The morality of the Buddhist system is pure, no vice is tolerated. The five binding precepts for each Buddhist are

  1. Do not destroy animal life ,

  2. Refrain from stealing,