Page 27


Sketch for a Proof of Rebirth1 A Phenomenological Approach to the Teaching of the Buddha

preface This short work sets out to explore certain aspects of the Buddha’s Teaching recorded in the Pali Suttas. Its manner of doing so, however, may seem unfamiliar in the prevailing atmosphere of scientific common sense. And in fact its aim is also to suggest that the Suttas will necessarily remain incomprehensible so long as common sense is taken for granted, and to exemplify what may perhaps be found a more fruitful way of approach. But it makes no claim to finality. What, exactly, did the Buddha teach? That he taught the way to nibbåna or extinction there is no doubt at all. But what is extinction? We are told (Aπguttaranikåya, X,i,6) that extinction is cessation of being, bhavanirodha. We shall not be surprised, therefore, to find that the Suttas are largely devoted to the analysis of being. And the key to an understanding of the Suttas is undoubtedly recognition of the fact that they are centred on a hard nucleus of ontology—things ‘must be seen, with right understanding, as they are’ (Khandha Saµyutta, vi,7). But how, in fact, are things? The answer is really very simple:2 things are as they appear; for how else could right understanding ever see them as they are? If a thing can appear, however, it can also disappear; and this shows that it must appear to something that does not disappear. To what does it appear? It appears to me. It seems, then, that a thing as it appears is only part of a total situation, the other part of which is myself; and since to understand a thing as it is I must study its 1.  not for publication – This article is out of date (, and partly misleading, particularly as regards Dhamma. There is, however, a certain amount, particularly some of the analysis of action and presence/absence in the later appendices, that remains valid. It has to do with the three saπkhatalakkha~as (see Aπguttara Tikampålå). For ‘field’ read ‘thing’ throughout. The notion of craving = gradient of feeling is false and misleading. In some passages ‘degree of consciousness’ will do instead of ‘gradient of feeling’. There can be feeling (in the arahat) without craving. 2.  [From here to the end of the paragraph:] Confusion.


Early Writings (Seeking the Path - Ñāṇavīra Thera)  

Part B includes two early essays (Nibbana and Anatta and Sketch for a Proof of Rebirth) as well as notes from a Commonplace Book and Margina...