sketch for a proof of rebir th
imagine. If we see that it is inherently impossible to conceive of experience with a different structure, we shall be absolutely unable to suspect that a different structure could ever exist. This proof of rebirth is absolutely certain: it is as certain as our own existence. By sheer reflexion at any time it is possible for us to see in the structure of our present experience that our existence is necessarily without a beginning and that it necessarily continues until it puts an end to itself from within. And to the extent that we see these necessities at all we see them with certainty: but the trouble is that to see them is by no means easy—that needs hard work.
appendix i There is a curious but widespread assumption, based on the confusion of internal and external point of view, that pain is a physical object. It is assumed that my toothache as I now endure it is absolutely identical with the decayed tooth as the dentist unfeelingly prods it, or rather with the associated neural modifications, which are also observable, at least in theory. The dentist, who has a practical outlook, says that he sees my tooth (and perhaps also my nerve if it is exposed); but a neurologist who imagines that he is investigating my behaviour will say that by means of his various instruments he sees my pain. (A medical student recently explained that ‘pain is carried by nerves’, which seems to be the current teaching.) The neurologist is maintaining, in other words, that body-consciousness is the object of eye-consciousness. It is far less absurd to say, as we normally do, that the objects of eye-consciousness and of body-consciousness are the same—that we see what we touch, that it is the decayed tooth that is aching. This confusion of points of view is also responsible for the assumption (to which the very names bear witness) that the phenomena known as telaesthesia and telekinesis are sporadic and anomalous manifestations of ‘action at a distance’. (At a distance from what, pray? From my intention?) But once the ambiguity is understood and it is seen that they involve two radically discrete levels of experience without possible means of communication, they cease to be sporadic anomalies, and, though they will continue to disconcert the materialist, they are found to be a regular and persistent feature (namely feedback) of our equally ambiguous ‘existence in the world’. From this double point of view, every perception and every action (the two are not inseparable) is a violation of the deterministic laws of matter.
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...