seeking the path
choose (unless we are choosing not to be choosing) between the attitude of approving existence (or being) and the opposite attitude of disapproving it. ‘There are, monks, these two views: the view of being and the view of nonbeing. Whatever ascetics and recluses there are, monks, who adhere to the view of being, who resort to the view of being, who embrace the view of being, they all oppose the view of non-being. Whatever ascetics and recluses there are, monks, who adhere to the view of non-being, who resort to the view of non-being, who embrace the view of non-being, they all oppose the view of being.’ (Majjhimanikåya, ii,1) Conscious beings, for the most part (that is to say except when they are aware of their plight, at which time their reflexion tends to be sheer—appendix iv refers), are divided between these two reflexive attitudes in the face of existence; they are welcoming it or they are repulsing it, asserting it or denying it. And what is the still more general nature that must remain constant as we pass from the one to the other and back again? It is simply ‘having-to-do with existence’.5 (Strictly, this change in reflexive attitude will not be quite the same as the switch from one unreflexive attitude to another. But we need not stop to consider this.) And is it possible not to be ‘having-to-do with existence’? It seems likely: but if it is possible it is a one-way change; for it is the change from ‘having a nature at all’ to the nature of ‘not having a nature at all’, and when there is no nature at all there is no longer anything to change. Note that the description ‘the nature of not having a nature at all’ is self-destructive: that is because words are part of existence and can only describe existence, and where existence has ceased there is nothing to be said. ‘With the removal of all natures, all modes of saying, too, are removed.’ (Suttanipåta, V,vii,8) Let us see where we have got to. Our nature, at any given level, remains constant for just so long as it remains satisfactory; and that is to say that the structure of our experience is autonomous: experience does not vary as a function of an absolute time but determines its own changes from one stable attitude (at any level) to another; in a word, it is self-adaptive; and there is no given limit to the length of time its attitude, at any one level, will remain unchanged. In particular, when our nature does change, it changes completely: it is replaced by a nature that is the exact contrary. But it is the exact contrary only at a certain level of generality; which fact automatically entails that our nature at a higher level of generality remains unchanged (though with prejudice to its changing on some other occasion). But our nature only appears in this hierarchical form if we carefully observe it while it changes; and when we do not make this effort it keeps its secret. 5. [From here to the end of paragraph:] needs revision
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...