free ebooks

A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

But there it means ignorance about the atman doctrine


2: See B@rh. IV. iv. Chandogya, VIII. 7-12.]

[Footnote 3: _Sa@myutta Nikaya_, III 45.]


experienced the thought (of the moment) as it were the self or experienced himself as being endowed with thought, or the thought in the self or the self in the thought. It is these kinds of experiences that he considered as the perception of the self [Footnote ref 1].

The Upani@sads did not try to establish any school of discipline or systematic thought. They revealed throughout the dawn of an experience of an immutable Reality as the self of man, as the only abiding truth behind all changes. But Buddhism holds that this immutable self of man is a delusion and a false knowledge. The first postulate of the system is that impermanence is sorrow. Ignorance about sorrow, ignorance about the way it originates, ignorance about the nature of the extinction of sorrow, and ignorance about the means of bringing about this extinction represent the fourfold ignorance (_avijja_) [Footnote ref 2]. The avidya, which is equivalent to the Pali word avijja, occurs in the Upani@sads also, but there it means ignorance about the atman doctrine, and it is sometimes contrasted with vidya or true knowledge about the self (_atman_) [Footnote ref 3]. With the Upani@sads the highest truth was the permanent self, the bliss, but with the Buddha there was nothing permanent; and all

was change; and all change and impermanence was sorrow [Footnote ref 4]. This is, then, the cardinal truth of Buddhism, and ignorance concerning it in the above fourfold ways represented the fourfold ignorance which stood in the way of the right comprehension of the fourfold cardinal truths (_ariya sacca_)--sorrow, cause of the origination of sorrow, extinction of sorrow, and the means thereto.

There is no Brahman or supreme permanent reality and no self, and this ignorance does not belong to any ego or self as we may ordinarily be led to suppose.

Thus it is said in the _Visuddhimagga_ "inasmuch however as ignorance is empty of stability from being subject to a coming into existence and a disappearing from existence...and is empty of a self-determining Ego from being subject to dependence,--...or in other words inasmuch as ignorance is not an Ego, and similarly with reference to Karma and the rest--therefore is it to be understood of the wheel of existence that it is empty with a twelvefold emptiness [Footnote ref 5]."


[Footnote 1: _Samyutta Nikaya_, II. 46.]

[Footnote 2: _Majjhima Nikaya_, I.p. 54.]

[Footnote 3: Cha. I.i. 10. B@rh. IV. 3.20. There are some passages where vidya and avidya have been used in a different and rather obscure sense, I's'a 9-11.]

[Footnote 4: _A@ng. Nikaya_, III. 85.]

[Footnote 5 Warren's _Buddhism in Translations_ (_Visuddhimagga_, chap. XVII.), p. 175.]


The Schools of Theravada Buddhism.

There is reason to believe that the oral instructions of the Buddha were not collected until a few centuries after his death.

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us