Page 37

sketch for a proof of rebir th

My present nature, then, at any given level, remains constant until such time as it ceases to be satisfactory, when it gives place to an exactly contrary nature. But what is my present nature, at any one level, but the reversal of a previous nature? My nature, at any level on which I care to consider it, is built on the ruins of a past nature. The fact that I now have a nature at all requires that I must have had a nature in the past; for my present nature, in one sense, is my past nature. If, at one level, my nature changes to the exact opposite of my preceding nature, then at a more general level it necessarily remains the same; this is to say that at some level or other of generality my nature is what it was, and this is always true; and, in fact, whenever we reflect we shall invariably find that at one level or another we are in the middle of doing (or being) something. Thus the necessity of past experience is to be seen, if we look, in every moment of our present experience. If, therefore, at any time (at conception, at birth, last year, yesterday) I was created out of nothing or came into being spontaneously, then I was created with (or as) a nature (for otherwise I should not have a nature at present); and if I was created with a nature, I was created with past experience. Thus if I was created it was done in such a way that it is not just practically, but absolutely and inherently impossible for me to discover the fact. This, of course, is not a logical proof that I was not created; for it is equally impossible for me to refute the suggestion that I was created (say five minutes ago in the middle of writing this essay together with half of it already written in what appears to be my handwriting); but when I see that everything happens as if I always had a past it never occurs to me to try and do so. And when I notice in particular that I must have a past even to be able to consider the suggestion that I might not, then the suggestion remains meaningless, and I am quite untouched. And future existence? By observing our present experience we see that it has the structure of an autonomous system determining its own changes from one stable attitude to another. Whenever it changes its attitude (or adapts itself) at any given level it only does so by taking up a contrary attitude; and every attitude without exception persists until such a change takes place. In other words, our experience has a structure such that it cannot but continue indefinitely—time is powerless to stop it. The only way in which experience could possibly come to an end is if it changed from having-anattitude to not-having-an-attitude; but this change, like all other changes, must come from within experience itself, even though, unlike all other changes, it would be a change to end all changes. The fact of experience, then, is independent of any absolute time (it is ontologically prior to time: there is appearance of time only because of the fact of experiences—ap-

355

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...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you