seeking the path
pendix vi refers), and experience itself must necessarily continue to exist until such time as it determines itself to stop ‘having-to-do with existence’. And when I see this necessity, that I must have a future, the suggestion that I might arbitrarily be annihilated (at death or at any other time) will fare no better than its brother a few minutes ago. We promised ourselves ‘an absolutely certain proof of rebirth’. Have we got it? Our proof is based on direct observation of present experience at any time; and we have shown that that experience appears to the observer as a system with certain structural features. In particular, the system is seen to involve past experience as an integral part of its structure and to be autonomous in time. Since this is direct observation of present experience, it shares the same degree of certainty as the actual existence of that experience, neither more nor less. See appendix iv. But how certain is the existence of our present experience? It is absolutely certain; for it is impossible to doubt. Anyone who genuinely, honestly and in good faith, is doubting the existence of his present experience is successfully deceiving himself; for of one thing he is certain, namely that he is doubting his present experience. He has no doubt whatever of the existence of his present experience, which is, precisely, his doubting. (It will be seen that there are two orders of consciousness involved here: if I am doubting my experience, that is itself a certain complex cognitive experience, which, non-cognitively, I do not doubt—appendices iv & vi refer.) But does certainty about the structure of experience make rebirth equally certain? If we see with absolute certainty that all experience without exception must involve previous experience, we shall be absolutely unable to entertain the idea of any first beginning to experience; and if we see with absolute certainty that it is autonomous, we shall be absolutely unable to entertain the idea of any ending to experience not brought about from within experience itself. But can we be absolutely certain that all experience without exception, and not just present experience, has these characteristics? Might not the structure of experience change? It is absolutely impossible to conceive that the structure of experience could be other than it is, for the reason that our conception of the structure of experience is itself experience and therefore the structure of experience: if the structure of experience changed there would no longer be any conception of the structure of experience (or indeed of anything else), and it is absolutely impossible to conceive of a state of affairs devoid of conception, because where there was no conception there would be no state of affairs. More simply: the structure of experience is the structure of existence or being, and if that structure changed I should cease to be—and it is impossible to imagine that situation, because there would not then be any situation to
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...