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seeking the path

appearance (and disappearance) I must consequently not ignore that total situation; but I cannot investigate the total situation without investigating myself. Thus there can be no understanding of things as they are without self-observation. It is precisely because of its blindness to this fact that natural science is compelled, in the last analysis, to invoke the mysterious notion of common sense. The professional rationalists, however, do not hold undisputed sway. Their unreasonable claims that reason can explain all things have always been questioned, and of late years particularly by the phenomenologists. This school (which is comparatively little known in the English-speaking world), basing itself on the absolute reflexive certainty of the Cartesian cogito ergo sum, understands that phenomena show themselves for what they are and that since they do not conceal any reality behind their appearance they can be studied and described simply as they appear. The fact will at once be plain that the remarks above on the Buddha’s Teaching were not made in ignorance of such doctrines. And indeed, as regards method, the present work owes a particular debt to the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre, one of the leading exponents of the school. If this work should be found to throw light in dark corners, the fact of such indebtedness may be of value as indicating a possible way of transition from traditional Western ideas to the Buddha’s Teaching. What follows, however, is not a treatise on phenomenology as such, and it supposes that other sources will be accessible to those who find difficulty in adapting themselves to an unaccustomed way of thinking. Moreover it should not be presumed that an acknowledgement of indebtedness necessarily implies agreement at all points with the writings concerned: the present work, in fact, goes further than they; nor does it accept them as unquestionably authoritative. In certain matters, indeed, they are thought to be3 mistaken. This needs emphasizing; for though they may seem to provide a means of access to the Buddha’s Teaching they are not in any way regarded as supplanting it. Common sense may denounce as scandalous and highly unlikely the view of things that eventually emerges, namely, that my manifold possibilities at every level of generality are always all existing at once, and that they continue to be so on the express condition that they do not appear as such but as so many rival intrinsic probabilities—as an objective world. But, after all, the phenomenon of precognition is antecedently no less unlikely in the eye of reason; yet, by the ultimate standards of reason itself, to wit, statistical exclusion of chance, it is a well-established fact. And on the view 3.  [‘thought to be’ is pencilled out and written in is:] certainly. Ñå~av⁄ra.


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...