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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

Buddhism holds everything to be momentary


So the effects produced in

us by objects at different moments of time may be similar but cannot be identical. Each moment is associated with a new effect and each new effect thus produced means in each case the coming into being of a correspondingly new existence of things. If things were permanent there would be no reason why they should be performing different effects at different points of time. Any difference in the effect produced, whether due to the thing itself or its combination with other accessories, justifies us in asserting that the thing has changed and a new one has come in its place. The existence of a jug for example is known by the power it has of forcing itself upon our minds; if it had no such power then we could not have said that it existed. We can have no notion of the meaning of existence other than the impression produced on us; this impression is nothing else but the power exerted by things on us, for there is no reason why one should hold that beyond such powers as are associated with the production of impressions or effects there should be some other permanent entity to which the power adhered, and which existed even when the power was not exerted. We perceive the power of producing effects and define each unit of such power as amounting to a unit of existence. And as there would be different units of power at different moments, there should also be as many new existences, i.e. existents must be regarded as momentary, existing at each moment that exerts a new power. This definition
of existence naturally brings in the doctrine of momentariness shown by Ratnakirtti.

Some Ontological Problems on which the Different Indian Systems Diverged.

We cannot close our examination of Buddhist philosophy without briefly referring to its views on some ontological problems which were favourite subjects of discussion in almost all philosophical circles of India. These are in brief: (1) the relation of cause and effect, (2) the relation of the whole (_avayavi_) and the part (_avayava_), (3) the relation of generality (_samanya_) to the specific individuals, (4) the relation of attributes or qualities and the substance and the problem of the relation of inherence, (5) the

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relation of power (_s'akti_) to the power-possessor (_s'aktiman_). Thus on the relation of cause and effect, S'a@nkara held that cause alone was permanent, real, and all effects as such were but impermanent illusions due to ignorance, Sa@mkhya held that there was no difference between cause and effect, except that the former was only the earlier stage which when transformed through certain changes became the effect. The history of any causal activity is the history of the transformation of the cause into the effects. Buddhism holds everything to be momentary, so neither cause nor effect can abide. One is called the effect because its momentary existence has been determined by the destruction of its momentary antecedent called the cause. There is no permanent reality which undergoes the change, but one change is determined by another and this determination is nothing more than "that happening, this happened." On the relation of parts to whole, Buddhism does not believe in the existence of wholes. According to it, it is the parts which illusorily appear as the whole, the individual atoms rise into being and die the next moment and thus there is no such thing as "whole [Footnote ref 1]. The Buddhists hold again that there are no universals, for it is the individuals alone which come and go. There are my five fingers as individuals but there is no such thing as fingerness (_a@ngulitva_) as the abstract universal of the fingers. On the relation of attributes and substance we know that the Sautrantika Buddhists did not believe in the existence of any substance apart from its attributes; what we call a substance is but a unit capable of producing a unit of sensation. In the external world there are as many individual simple units (atoms) as there are points of sensations. Corresponding to each unit of sensation there is a separate simple unit in the objective world. Our perception of a thing is thus the perception of the assemblage of these sensations. In the objective world also there are no substances but atoms or reals, each representing a unit of sensation, force or attribute, rising into being and dying the next moment. Buddhism thus denies the existence of any such relation as that of inherence (_samavaya_) in which relation the attributes are said to exist in the substance, for since there are no separate substances there is no necessity for admitting the relation of inherence. Following the same logic Buddhism also does not


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