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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

Is stirred up by the wind of ignorance avidya


it is said that all consciousness starts from this fundamental truth, it should not be thought that consciousness had any real origin, for it was merely phenomenal existence--a mere imaginary creation of the perceivers under the influence of the delusive sm@rti. The multitude of people (_bahujana_) are said to be lacking in enlightenment, because ignorance (_avidya_) prevails there from all eternity, because there is a constant succession of sm@rti (past confused memory working as instinct) from which they have never been emancipated. But when they are divested of this sm@rti they can then recognize that no states of mentation, viz. their appearance, presence, change and disappearance, have any reality. They are neither in a temporal nor in a spatial relation with the one soul, for they are not self-existent.

"This high enlightenment shows itself imperfectly in our corrupted phenomenal experience as prajna (wisdom) and karma (incomprehensible activity of life). By pure wisdom we understand that when one, by virtue of the perfuming power of dharma, disciplines himself truthfully (i.e. according to the dharma), and accomplishes meritorious deeds, the mind (i.e. the _alayavijnana_)


which implicates itself with birth and death will be broken down and the modes of the evolving consciousness will be annulled, and the pure and the genuine wisdom of the Dharmakaya will manifest

itself. Though all modes of consciousness and mentation are mere products of ignorance, ignorance in its ultimate nature is identical and non-identical with enlightenment; and therefore ignorance is in one sense destructible, though in another sense it is indestructible. This may be illustrated by the simile of the water and the waves which are stirred up in the ocean. Here the water can be said to be both identical and non-identical with the waves. The waves are stirred up by the wind, but the water remains the same. When the wind ceases the motion of the waves subsides, but the water remains the same. Likewise when the mind of all creatures, which in its own nature is pure and clean, is stirred up by the wind of ignorance (_avidya_), the waves of mentality (_vijnana_) make their appearance. These three (i.e. the mind, ignorance, and mentality) however have no existence, and they are neither unity nor plurality. When the ignorance is annihilated, the awakened mentality is tranquillized, whilst the essence of the wisdom remains unmolested." The truth or the enlightenment "is absolutely unobtainable by any modes of relativity or by any outward signs of enlightenment. All events in the phenomenal world are reflected in enlightenment, so that they neither pass out of it, nor enter into it, and they neither disappear nor are destroyed." It is for ever cut off from the hindrances both affectional (_kles'avara@na_) and intellectual (_jneyavara@na_), as well as from the mind (i.e. _alayavijnana_) which implicates itself with birth and death, since it is in its true nature clean, pure, eternal, calm, and immutable. The truth again is such that it transforms and unfolds itself wherever conditions are favourable in the form of a tathagata or in some other forms, in order that all beings may be induced thereby to bring their virtue to maturity.

"Non-elightenment has no existence of its own aside from its relation with enlightenment _a priori_." But enlightenment _a priori_ is spoken of only in contrast to non-enlightenment, and as non-enlightenment is a non-entity, true enlightenment in turn loses its significance too. They are distinguished only in mutual relation as enlightenment or non-enlightenment. The manifestations of non-enlightenment are made in three ways: (1) as a disturbance of the mind (_alayavijnana_), by the avidyakarma (ignorant

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