sketch for a proof of rebir th
of things that emerges (and particularly after the discussion of equivocal premonitions in Appendix VII) it seems that we may be able to describe the possibility of precognition as a regular structural feature of experience. On the same view of things we find that we cannot describe the future as predetermined. If phenomenological ontology should be capable (as it seems it might), not only of accomodating such an awkward fact as precognition, but also of reconciling it with indeterminacy in a single coherent picture, it would certainly enjoy a decided advantage over the rationalist view, which is here at a complete loss. This,4 however, is no absolute criterion; for the Buddha’s Teaching is concerned with bringing an end to being, not with description for its own sake; and the final appeal in deciding on one line of approach rather than another can only be to whether or not it leads to extinction. But each must determine this for himself. Acknowledgement of indebtedness must also be made to Dr. Ross Ashby’s admirably lucid book (see References), which sets out to account for the stability of animal behaviour in physiological terms by making use of the principles of cybernetics. This book has clarified and crystallized certain ideas and suggested several fruitful lines of thought. But it will become clear that the basic assumptions of such an approach—common sense, the study of behaviour from outside (valid only for other people’s behaviour), the physiological view of feeling—are quite unacceptable. The work consists of a short essay followed by a series of appendices. In the essay matters are presented with extreme simplification and generality, and expansions and qualifications are omitted that would be indispensable in a longer account. In the appendices, however, certain descriptions have been developed in greater detail, but with less regard for orderly presentation. They are intended as threads to guide readers who have not been discouraged by the essay and who want to pursue matters further. There is no direct exegesis of the Suttas, and though (for example) most of the individual terms of the usual formulation of dependent arising (pa†iccasamuppåda) will be recognized in one place or another, such formulation is not discussed specifically. Nevertheless it is hoped that this enigmatic Sutta statement, as well as others, will seem less arbitrary in the light of what is said. A Pali-English Conversion Table of principal terms will be found at the end. Ceylon, April 1957
4. [From here to the end of this paragraph the typescript is crossed out in pencil.]
Published on Jun 26, 2013
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...