Causation in the Chinese Hua-Yen Tradition
By Francis Cook

Journal of Chinese Philosophy
V. 6 (1979)
pp. 367-385

Copyright 1979 by D. Reidel Publishing Co.


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The Chinese Hua-yen tradition is an academic form of Buddhism which arose in the later part of the seventh century under the leadership primarily of Fa-tsang (643-712) and his two later successors, Ch'eng-kuan and Tsung-mi. It is an important form of Buddhism because, first, in its predominantly syncretistic and interpretive work, it drew together all the diverse philosophical strands of Buddhism and rewoven them into the one Dharma which Buddhism is supposed to be. It thus shows that all the philosophical traditions and schools of Buddhism are parts of an integral whole. Second, recognized as it has been since its formation as the culmination of Buddhist philosophical enterprise, its description of the structure and nature of existence has served for over a thousand years as the metaphysical presupposition of Zen and Pure Land Buddhist ethics and practice. But the reason why this tradition is of some interest to students of Western process thought is that, in its predominant concern with the problem of causality, in its tendency to equate reality and causal efficacy, in its generally Buddhist belief that the what of things can only be understood in terms of the how of things, and in its portrayal of reality as a dynamic continuum of constantly changing, interdependent parts, it has more in common with Western process thought than any other form of Buddhism, not excluding Naagaarjuna's Maadhyamika.

    Hua-yen may be described as the Chinese response to Naagaarjuna's thought, specifically the teaching of emptiness as interdependent being. Ya.h pratiityasamutpaada.h `suunyataam taa^m praca.smahe. (Kaarikaas ch. 24, vs. 18). But more generally Hua-yen represents the Chinese way of understanding the dominant philosophical concern of the whole previous history of Buddhism, which is the concern with causality. It is my belief that Hua-yen Buddhism shows that Chinese Buddhists by Fa-tsang's time clearly understood the Indian emptiness doctrine and that the Hua-yen treatment of the doctrine is in no sense a distortion of the Indian material. The observable differences are due, I believe, to a crucial shift in emphasis, and the potential for such

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a shift was latent in the Indian data. The new interpretation and emphasis were due to a gradual tendency on the part of the Chinese to fit the Indian doctrine to certain presuppositions, patterns of thought, and esthetic orientations which were peculiarly Chinese and which felt right to them. This difference in emphasis may be stated in various ways. While both Indian and Chinese Buddhists understood emptiness as being synonymous with interdependence, the Indians emphasized the point that, because of this pervasive interdependence, things lack any ultimate reality and are unworthy of attachment. For the Indians, emptiness as the absence of any enduring permanence, substantiality, and value was of paramount importance. The Chinese chose to stress the point that emptiness is the interdependent relationship of real phenomenal events. The Indian view tends to be negative in its devaluation of events, and reduces them to the level of insignificance and triviality. The Chinese view tends to raise all events to a common level of supreme value by seeing their crucial roles in the nexus of interconditionality. Fa-tsang himself recognized this difference in negative and affirmative appreciations of emptiness, when he says, in the Hua-yen i-ch'eng chiao i fen-ch'i chang,

Naagaarjuna's argument is based on negation, while the [Hua-yen] six meanings of cause rely on affirmation. In his 'eight noes,' the principle of emptiness is revealed through the negation of common-sense judgements. In the six meanings of cause, common-sense judgements are negated through an affirmative revelation of the principle. However, the two methods are just six of one and a half dozen of the other.[1]

Thus, both traditions rest on the principle of emptiness, but Naagaarjuna achieved this by negating the common-sense judgements that things are born and cease, arrive and depart, and so on. Fa-tsang instead shows how all things depend upon each other in the ceaseless process of interdependent becoming, and in doing so, these same judgements are negated. But the vision of things mutually creating and sustaining gave rise to gratitude, respect, and something approaching love which were absent in the Indian view.

    The doctrine of `suunyataa is, stated in the most direct way, a denial of the independent existence of any thing. In criticising events as empty, the `suunyavaadins rejected the view according to which an event or thing is what it is by virtue of an underlying substratum of a metaphysical nature which endows the event with self identity over a span of time. Any event is that particular event for an exceedingly brief period of time, if it can indeed be said to endure at all, and then it becomes a new event. This constant change in turn

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is due to the changing nature of the conditions which constitute the environment of the particular event. Thus, the emptiness doctrine should not be understood as a naive rejection of the material world as pure illusion; it indeed recognizes the existence of the natural world but denies that it has any duration or independent being. In fact, being is rejected in favor of a constant, never-fully-completed becoming. The utterly impermanent, substanceless nature of the becoming process is underscored in the Kaarikaas when Naagaarjuna negates even the concept of causality. Consistent with his radical critique of mundane experience, he points out that there can be no causation unless there is some thing which can act as a cause, and since anything which we may isolate as a cause is itself the impermanent effect of other events, there is nothing which can be identified as cause.

    Between the time Naagaarjuna systematized the emptiness doctrine in the middle of the second century and the time of the final systematization of Hua-yen by Fa-tsang in about 700 A.D., the Chinese had come to understand the Indian doctrine perfectly. It is true that in earlier generations, there had been a tendency to misinterpret both the meaning and function of the doctrine, but Hua-yen treatises show that by Fa-tsang's time, not only did the Chinese understand the doctrine adequately, but they also had assimilated the doctrine so well that in their own writings they could discuss the idea creatively in a manner consistent with native sensibilities. Hua-yen Buddhist thought is Chinese because the basic formats which were Indian in origin came to be expressed through the medium of patterns of thought and esthetic tendencies which are distinctly Chinese. I should add here that while the Chinese treatment of emptiness does not do violence to the Indian idea generally, it is true that Fa-tsang's treatment is in some ways at variance with that of Naagaarjuna. However we must remember that Naagaarjuna represents one form of `suunyavaada and handles it in a unique manner, and there is a vast amount of `suunyavaada literature which adopts a different approach. While Naagaarjuna's Maadhyamika is `suunyavaada, not all `suunyavaada is Maadhyamika. In many ways, the Indian doctrine paralleled concepts which were parts of Chinese thought. However, the Indian concept arrived in China colored with Indian patterns of thought and presuppositions, and it was finally appropriated by the Chinese when it was filtered through Chinese patterns of thinking and presuppositions.

    Specifically, well before the beginning of the Christian era, Chinese thinkers such as Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu articulated a view of existence as

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one of harmonious coexistence in interdependence of the many particulars which constitute the organic whole called existence. In Chuang-tzu's writing, particularly in the section named, "Seeing Things as Equal," we find a classical Chinese enunciation of a vision of a world in which things are naturally what they are by virtue of a pervasive, thoroughgoing interdependence. As in Whitehead's system, such a world of particular events is not to be seen as inhering in or growing out of anything beyond itself, nor may we look beyond it for any causal agency. It is itself self-sustaining and self-creating, and this is achieved through the interaction of a conditioning nature of all its parts. An example of this view is clearly expressed in the Kuo-hsiang commentary on Chuang-tzu's writing:

When a person is born, insignificant though he may be, he has all the requisites necessary for his life. However trivial his own life may be, he needs the whole universe as a condition for his existence. No thing in the universe, nothing that exists, can cease for a moment without some effect on him. If one factor is lacking, he might not exist any longer. If one principle is violated, he might not live.[2]

    Other passages similar to this one might be quoted. Students of process thought can observe several major areas of agreement between Taoist and process thought. One is the understanding that existence is process and change. Whitehead's "creative advance into novelty" is prefigured in the Taoist view of the natural world as constant transformation. Indeed, this vision of constant change and newness is probably the central feature of Taoist thought, starting with the Book of Changes. Second, the world is organic in nature. Each individual exists and changes by appropriating its whole environment, with which it is intrinsically related. As Kuo-hsiang says, the individual needs the totality of existence as a condition for its being. Thus, the individual is an organism, and so then is the whole a larger organism. Perhaps nothing in Chinese culture exhibits this view of things so clearly and concretely as its landscape paintings. Third, Whitehead's dictum that we need not look beyond the actual entities for something more basic or fundamental is clearly reflected in the Taoist rejection of an underlying substance or mysterious external agency. Other areas of agreement might be discovered, but these three major ideas indicate an interesting similarity between the two philosophies. Of equal interest is the fact that Mahayana Buddhism shares these same concepts in its teaching of universal emptiness.

    The point I wish to make here is that the Chinese - mainly Taoist - view

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of existence had a transforming effect on the Indian Buddhist data. The Chinese reacted differently to the understanding that things are not embedded in any enduring substratum. The Taoist came to feel a deep respect and appreciation for the many transient things of the natural world inasmuch as each of them played an important role in the nexus of interdependence. Once an individual was able to put aside the normal human penchant for arranging things in a hierarchy of values - such penchant being a function of ego-gratification - he may be able to perceive each part of the 'Great Barn' as having equal value, and a supreme value, for all things function identically as parts of the whole. Ordinary things are thus respected and prized, and the changing scene is one of charm and fascination. Indeed, the very transience and fragility of things adds a certain dimension to their beauty. Cessation of attachment to certain parts of the whole, along with its corollary turmoil, was achieved by elevating all things to a rank of supreme good; for when all things are good, there is no longer anything to pick and choose. The Indian Buddhists were able to achieve this same freedom from attachment only by concluding that since things are impermanent and lacking in any ultimate substantiality, there is nothing worthy of attachment. Indeed, there are no real things to become attached to or even to become attached. The vision of universal emptiness was able to destroy attachment because it robbed the world of worth and charm; a world in which all things are equal in their emptiness is a world equal in its valuelessness.

    As I mentioned earlier, Fa-tsang seems to have accurately assessed the difference between Indian `suunyavaada and the Hua-yen version when he spoke of the difference between negative and affirmative approaches. Another indication that this is the case may be observed in the interesting fact that in his writings Fa-tsang tends to substitute the Chinese term li z with its ancient Taoist connotations, for the term k'ung which usually translated the Sanskrit `suunyataa. Other Chinese also frequently made the same substitution, and the reason seems to be that although they wished to deal faithfully with the concept of emptiness, they felt that k'ung (emptiness) carried with it negative connotations or flavoring which li did not. Li, meaning something like 'pattern' or 'principle,' always had 'warm' connotations for the Chinese.[3] Thus, both k'ung and li were used to denote interdependence, change, and substancelessness, but the former connoted voidness and valuelessness, while the latter connoted fullness and goodness. I do not consider this to be a distortion of the emptiness doctrine itself, for it is primarily an esthetic

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orientation towards the fact of interdependence which is the basis for the Indian doctrine itself. The affirmation of interdependent things is thus a different way of responding to interdependence and change.

    But now let us turn to the Hua-yen system itself. Fa-tsang's philosophy of interdependence and identity is formed in three steps. First, he demonstrates the fundamental Mahayana teaching of the identity of form and emptiness as presented in the Praj~naapaaramitaa literature. The result of his discussion is the assertion of the identity of all things or events by virtue of this common emptiness. Next, he shows that events are causally interdependent. This causal relationship is not, as in Whitehead's process thought, the asymmetrical one whereby the past is prehended in the present. Hua-yen causality is completely multidirectional, moving from past to present, future to present, and, most importantly, existing among contemporaries. Finally, in an analogy of a building and a rafter, Fa-tsang shows the relationship of identity and interdependence existing between the part and the whole. The bulk of the remainder of this paper will be devoted to a description of these three phases.

    The initial phase in the development of the discussion of identity consists of a demonstration of the identity of events, which Fa-tsang calls "form" (an abbreviation. for 'phenomenal existence'). and the absolute or unconditioned, which goes by many names but is usually called "emptiness" or "principle." In classical Buddhist terminology, this is to claim that sa^msaara and nirvaa.na, the natural world and the cosmic body of the Buddha, and so on, are identical. This part of Fa-tsang's argument is not much more than a demonstration, probably for the sake of completeness. of the recurrent passage in the Praj~naapaaramitaa Suutra which says that form and emptiness are one and the same thing - ruupam `suunyataa `suunyataaiva ruupam. His method of showing this is interesting for many reasons to the student of Buddhist intellectual history, but I shall not discuss it here out of considerations of space. Fa-tsang did not invent this concept, which is fundamental to all of Mahayana Buddhism. Emptiness is not a more 'real' or spiritual entity lurking within illusory phenomena; the phenomena themselves, just as they are, are what is meant by emptiness.

    Such a doctrine is not a species of pantheism or panbuddhism, nor is it the reintroduction into Buddhism of the view of substance. The equation of form and emptiness simply means that by emptiness is meant the how of things, and it points to a situation in which there are not any actual static forms to

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be found, but only a never-completed forming. It points to the fact that by 'existence' we mean something happening which occurs on the basis of a mutual conditioning at all points of the continuum. Since emptiness points to the mode of becoming of phenomena, it seems obvious that if there were no emptiness, there would be no form, and without form, there would be no emptiness. Emptiness is thus exactly coincidental with the process of forming by mutual conditioning, it is not a separate order of being apart from phenomenal events, any more than the Whiteheadian 'creativity' is something apart from the passage of nature.

    I have greatly abbreviated the discussion of the identity of form and emptiness because it is a well-known concept in Mahayana Buddhism and because it serves only as a prelude to a doctrine which is not so well known but which is characteristically Hua-yen. I mean the doctrine of the identity of phenomena, form, or events. The particulars which constitute existence are all obviously different in form and function. A louse and the emperor of China look different and act differently; fire is hot and can cook food, while ice is cold and can chill the same food. And yet they are identical. The differences are not annulled in Hua-yen thought, for the identity of things is an identity in differences; indeed, the paradox is that they are identical just because they are different. The genius of Hua-yen is that the perception of universal emptiness does not in any way obliterate or devalue the vibrant, lovely world of things .

    The claim that things are identical is not as unlikely as it may seem. We all recognize identity in difference on one level. We know that there is a common denominator that links all races, despite differences in color, hair, language, and so on. They are all identical on the basis of their humanity. Once we can accept the fact that all things are empty, we can see that despite differences in form and function they are identical because they are all empty. Hua-yen observes, even celebrates, the difference, but for purposes of emancipation and enlightenment, the identity of things in their common emptiness is more significant than the fact that some things are long, some short, some red, some square, and so on.

    But this kind of identity is a static identity based on a significant property possessed in common. These things, however, are very real things which interact dynamically with each other, each thing having a dynamic relationship with its whole environment. Ultimately, identity results from this dynamic interaction. Fa-tsang illustrates this with the analogy of ten coins (ten symbolizing totality in Hua-yen literature).

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    Let us imagine the ten coins spread out in a row. They symbolize the totality of things existing in a togetherness. They are, in other words, contemporaries, and there is no question of temporal priority. Fa-tsang first selects the first coin in the row (an arbitrary choice) and asks what its relationship is to coin #2, coin #3, and so on throughout the whole row of coins. He says that the first coin is identical with the second coin, the third, and so on. Why is this? Starting with the Buddhist axiom that there are no self-existent entities, Fa-tsang says that coin #2 can not be coin #2 all by itself, but its 'coin twoness' is dependent on coin #1. This means that coin #2 is merely the conditioned result of coin #1. If this were not so, coin #2 would be coin #2 even in the absence of the first coin; i.e., it would inherently be 'coin 2,' possessing that character independently of external circumstances. In other words, it would possess a substance identifying it as 'coin 2'. But it does not. Thus, seen from the standpoint of the first coin, the second coin is empty. But the first coin is a real, concrete individual which bears causal power and exerts it on the second coin, and in this capacity it is said to exist. That is, 'existence' refers to the concreteness and conditioning power of the first coin, while 'emptiness' refers to the conditioned nature of the second coin. It should be remarked here that in actuality the second coin is conditioned simultaneously by all of the other nine coins, not just by the first one.

    But so far identity has not been established, and the reason is that in our analysis of the relationship of coin #1 to all the other nine coins, the first coin has always been seen as conditioning, while the other nine coins have been seen as the conditioned result. To stop at this point would be tantamount to asserting that there is one single origin of causal power, but Hua-yen in fact recognizes no such causal center. The first coin, which seems to possess so much more solidity and responsibility than the others is no less empty than those others. For 'coin #1' is itself not a self-existent 'coin #1' but receives its being from the conditioning power of coins 2,3,4, and so on. Now we may say that from the standpoint of coin #2, coin #1 is empty as a conditioned result of the second coin, and this second coin is existent, as a real object which exerts causal power. The same may also be said concerning the relationship of coin #3 to the first coin. Finally, it needs to be noted that each of the ten coins is both the empty result of the conditioning power of the rest of the totality individually and collectively, and is simultaneously a real, existent entity exerting causal power on the whole. The identity of event

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with event derives from this situation: each event conditions and is conditioned; it is simultaneously empty and existent.

    The above analogy has always seemed to me to be a little unconvincing, the reason being that we can imagine the coins being laid out in sequence, with a coin #1 having that character because it was placed on the table first. However, it is only an analogy, and we must remember that the point to this is that contemporaries constituting a totality have a certain kind of relationship. If we use the human body as an analogy, we would be noting that the cells of the body are identical in this sense inasmuch as each cell is dependent on the rest of the cells and simultaneously is a condition for the existence and change of all the others collectively and individually. The body is an organism precisely because of this relationship between the part and the whole. Our task is to try to see that the 'Great Barn' which we call existence is no less organic in this sense.

    Before going on to a discussion of causality per se, I would like to digress briefly and explain the curious Hua-yen claim that things are identical because they are different. To revert for a moment to the analogy of the human body, to say that my nose and liver are identical is not an attempt to nullify the obvious differences in shape, location, and function of the two organs. In fact, if I insisted that my liver is only identical with my nose, and if I insisted that there were no differences at all, I would in effect be just one large nose. To put it another way, I could not be this body, since my body is constituted of much more than a nose. In order for my body to be this body, I must have nose, liver, eyes, hands, brain, and so on, and when all parts are what they are, in the places where they are supposed to be, functioning as they do, I am this body. This is just to say that when we speak of 'whole,' parts are implied, for there is no whole apart from its constituents. When each part plays its own role, there is a whole, and the identity of discrete particulars results from the situation whereby each particular acts as a necessary condition for the whole identically with all other particulars when it plays its own unique role. If all things are literally and exactly identical, there can not be a whole. The Mahayana Buddhist life of respect and gratitude for all things finds its ideological support in this understanding of identity. What can I legitimately despise or devalue if everything is a condition for my own life and the life of all other things?

    The matter of causality per se has of necessity been discussed somewhat in the above analysis of identity, because in reality they can not be separated.

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The reason for this is that identity and interdependence are simply two different ways of looking at one situation. We may inspect the static nature of events and recognize their identity in sharing this nature, or we may choose to inspect the dynamic interaction among these same events; but in both cases, we are merely recognizing the universal emptiness of things. Things are empty because they are interdependent, and in their interdependence they are identical.

    Each event or phenomenal object is a distinct individual with its own unique form and function, and as an individual it has a relationship with its environment. How extensive this environment is may be a matter of debate, but Hua-yen Buddhists claim that the whole universe is the environment of any individual. It is a venerable position in Buddhism also that no one thing (Or dharma or event) can of itself alone be the cause of another thing, for a multiplicity of conditions is required in order that another event occurs. A single dharma-event does not possess all the qualities required to bring about a certain result. For instance, if we take the example of a blade of wheat, it is obvious that more is required than just a seed, for the causal seed can not bring about the resultant blade of wheat. More is required, such as soil, sunlight, water, the absence of crows, and many other conditions. The seed alone lacks the qualities of support, warmth. moisture, and so on. As a matter of fact, Hua-yen would say that the whole universe must function as a condition for the blade of wheat. This does not have the obvious meaning that the seed needs the aid of these other conditions, but that in some sense these qualities of the other conditions are borrowed by, or, to use one of Fa-tsang's terms, are usurped by, the wheat seed. What Fa-tsang wants to say is that these other conditions-qua-necessary qualities are included within the seed. This is in fact what is meant by 'interpenetration' in the Hua-yen tradition. It may be more helpful for the reader to imagine it as a situation in which things cooperate to bring about a result, but it is said to be a matter of interpenetration because any single event, as a condition for the whole, is said to include within itself all these other conditions.

    The above analogy (and case) of the blade of wheat is not a perfect analogy because there the direction of causal power flows only in one direction; it is an obvious case of temporal causality. Causality in Hua-yen is not so restricted, although it includes this temporal causality, but rather is completely multidirectional. Thus, what is ordinarily seen as the cause is also seen simultaneously as the result of other conditions, including the event

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conventionally seen as the result. Event 'a' as cause of result 'b' is also the simultaneous result of 'b' (as well as many other conditions). What is more, the categories of 'cause,' 'result,' and 'aiding conditions' are completely fluid and interchangeable, for the conditions which collaborate with a causal event to produce a result are themselves the result of the cause, because each event is seen as being the cause for the whole. These same helping conditions, which are also the result of the cause, are at the same time (i.e., simultaneously) the cause of the one event being considered the cause of the whole. Consequently, there is no one event which is only a cause, a result, or a helping condition; each thing is simultaneously all three. It is true that wheat grows from seeds. Yet, the seed is the cause only in relation to the resultant sprout; if there is no result, it is not a cause, and so the cause is conditioned by the result. Moreover, the other conditions such as the rain, soil, and heat which aid the seed as supportive elements are at the same time the cause of the seed and are caused by the seed.

    In the discussion of identity, the identity of one thing with all other things was asserted on the basis of the possession of each thing with the simultaneous natures of emptiness and existence. Intercausality, or interpenetration, results from the event's possessing the qualities of causal power and lack of causal power. To have causal power means that by absorbing into itself the qualities of all other events, a certain event acts as a cause for the whole. This also means in turn that those other events not being considered the cause are conditioned, empty events. Conversely, lacking causal power means that this same event which was previously considered to be the cause from its own point of view is simultaneously the empty, conditioned results of a host of other events, seen from the standpoint of these others.

    The categories of causal power and lack of causal power would thus seem to function as a means of showing that any single event may be seen as both a concrete event serving as a necessary condition for the whole, and simultaneously as an empty, conditioned result of the causal whole. And to return briefly to the matter of identity, as it will be recalled, identity is claimed on the basis of this endowment by all things of the nature of being a condition and being conditioned. We all - men, rocks, weeds, tigers, saints, and stars - are alike in our essential emptiness, for we are all conditions for each other.

    Fa-tsang concludes his "Treaties on the Five Doctrines" (the translation of a shorter title of the above-mentioned Hua-yen i-ch'eng chiao i fen-ch'i chang) with a description of the relationship between a rafter and the whole building

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of which it is a part. It is an analogy for any whole and its parts. By means of it, Fa-tsang shows the relationship of identity and interdependence (or interpenetration) discussed earlier. He analyzes this relationship by means of six characteristics which are possessed by each part of the whole. The six are totality, particularity, identity, difference, integration, and non-integration. In terms of the rafter, this means that the rafter is the totality, a particular, identical with all other parts and consequently with the whole, different in form and function, integrated into, and thus part of, the whole, and non-integrated in the sense that the rafter remains an observable, removable part with its own nature. The rafter is all six simultaneously.

    What do we mean first of all by 'totality'! Fa-tsang answers, "It is the building." But the building is just a number of conditions, such as a rafter. What is the building itself? Again Fa-tsang replies, "The rafter is the building. The reason is that this rafter itself completely creates the building. If you remove the rafter, there is no building. If you have a rafter, you have a building." But how can a rafter all by itself wholly create the building if there are no roof tiles, nails, and other things?

It can not, says Fa-tsang, because if there are no roof tiles, nails, and the like, there is no such thing as a rafter. A real rafter is only a rafter in the context of the whole building, and therefore, when it is a real rafter, it wholly creates the building. A non- rafter can not do this.[4]

    Several points should be noted in this slight paraphrase of the original. First, Fa-tsang clearly says that it is a particular object - the rafter - which is the building. We might insist that the rafter is only part of the building, not the building. but we would be missing the point. It is a particular, with a definite shape, location, and function, but if we remove each particular comprising the whole in order to find the real building, we will never find it. For it is just these particulars in their conjunctive togetherness which we call 'building.' However, we must not overlook the other part of the relationship, which is that the rafter is only a rafter in the context of the building, and it is therefore itself the result of the causal building. In claiming that the rafter-part is the building whole, Fa-tsang is making the point that the two are completely interdependent, for there is no whole apart from parts and no part separate from the whole. Consequently, the parts which conjunctively make up the whole are not independently existing individuals at all; they are empty of independent being. The individual is simply a function of the whole environment and at the same time is the whole. We might note here that in

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physics, the Mach principle portrays a very similar situation. Mach said that the inertial mass of any bundle of matter is not an intrinsic property of the matter being analyzed, but rather is a function of all the rest of the matter in the universe, such that if all matter were to vanish except for the one bundle of matter, the inertial mass of the latter would immediately be reduced to zero.[5] We are speaking, then, of a pervasive interconditionality or interdependence which denies the autonomy of any particular.

    It is evident also from the above passage that the traditional linear, temporal causality has been partially rejected (though not completely) for an alternative view in which the categories of cause and result are completely interchangeable. This is, after all, what is meant by mutual conditionedness or inter-dependence. It is true in a sense, and probably in fact, that as the father of my son I am the cause and he is the result, but it is not less true that my fatherhood is the result of the appearance in existence of a being I call 'son.'

    While the part is universalized by its integration into the whole, the part does not at all lose its particularity, uniqueness, or special character, for a whole necessarily implies parts.

All the various conditions such as the rafter are parts of a whole. If they were not parts, they could not make a whole, because without parts, there is no whole. This means basically that the whole is intrinsically composed of parts, so that you can not have a whole without parts. Also, the parts are parts because of the whole.

But if the part and the whole are identical, how can there be a whole?

It is a whole precisely because it is identical with the part. Just as the rafter is the building and therefore is the whole, so also because it is a rafter it is a particular. If the rafter is not the building, it is not a rafter; if the building is not the rafter, it is not a building. Whole and particular are identical.

But if they are identical, how can you even speak of parts? Isn't the part obliterated in its identification with the whole?

I speak of parts because they are parts on the basis of their identification with the whole. If whole and part are not identical, the whole would exist without parts, but then how could you have a building without parts? The parts would also then exist outside the whole, but then they would not be parts.[6]

Thus, Fa-tsang recognizes the reality of the individual. It is no less real, no less significant than wholeness; indeed, the two necessarily go together.

    Much is said of Eastern 'mysticism,' a highly unsatisfactory term which

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seems to cover much phenomena. Fa-tsang was not a mystic. If anything, he was a realist in the Chinese tradition of realism. He might in fact be called a radical realist, for his vision of process, change, and interdependence does not finally, as it does in Whitehead's system, have to include the consequent nature of God or some such supposition. Like all Buddhists, he insisted on knowing what reality is, whatever it is, and when he glimpsed it,it was not with alarm or apprehension but with something akin to joy. He found no need to reinvest his vision of incessant change and novelty with some human value and meaning which would give him solace.

    Fa-tsang continues his discussion by showing how a thing is both identical with and different from other things, and how all are united in a unity of integration and yet maintain their individualities (the categories just discussed in the above paragraph), but they are essentially elaborations and variations of the discussion of whole and part, and I will not summarize these arguments. The discussion of the relationship of the many and the one is typical of the Hua-yen attempt to draw out the implications of the central point of its system, which is that existence is an interdependent existence only. The ethical. esthetic, and practical life of the Buddhist follows from this situation.

    In conclusion, I would like to draw some comparisons between the Hua-yen system and Whitehead's thought. First, it seems clear that for both Whitehead and the Hua-yen thinkers, the universe is alive and dynamic through and through. Whitehead's statement that actualities act is reflected in the Hua-yen picture of a universe in which to exist means necessarily to exert a conditioning influence on all things and to be conditioned by them in turn This is not only true of obviously living things but also of the not-so-obviously living ones such as earth, stone, water, and so on. There is no discernible entity anywhere, in either system, which is static, for process and transformation are the very essence of existence. On the convention level (the level of samvriti-satya to use Buddhist terminology), we may observe events about us which apparently possess enough permanence for us to deal with them practically, but in truth (paramartha-satya) everything is new from moment to moment. The change at any point of the unbroken totality is so rapid and continuous that Buddhism had to conclude, as did Whitehead centuries later, that permanent 'things' were an abstraction from process, the results of a complicated mental act of synthesis. Buddhists, like Whitehead, recognized the reality of a certain amount of continuity which made

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practical day-to-day life possible, but the fact of constant change and newness held a potential for religious life that permanence or continuity did not.

    Second, it will have been observed from all the analogies used that the conditioning or causal power exerted by one event on another exists among contemporaries and between successive events. The Hua-yen doctrine of simultaneous causality is somewhat similar to our own recently discovered understanding of ecological interdependence, although the Hua-yen version is a 'cosmic ecology,' to use a term I have used in a recent monograph on Hua-yen thought. While recognizing the reality and importance of temporal causality, the Chinese Buddhists were equally interested in a mutual causality among contemporaries. There appears to have been a predisposition in pre-Buddhist China to see individuals as deeply involved in each other, and it is interesting to think of the Hua-yen cosmology as an extrapolation and more comprehensive version of the kind of relationship seen in the Chinese family, which was considered a whole of dynamically interacting, mutually supporting parts. Harmony of parts is a desirable feature of both the family organism and the larger, cosmic family. The Chinese Buddhists included temporal, sequential causality within their more comprehensive view, of course, as they had to as Buddhists. The Buddhist doctrine of karma and rebirth is basically a recognition of a situation in which an individual becomes what he has experienced from moment to moment. The perfuming residue of karma is prehended by each of us and eventually is responsible for the quality of our lives. It is therefore basically a concept of sequential causation, for the present act serves as cause for a future effect. Each of my 'lives' - what I am from moment to moment - is included in the next moment or life and is never lost. The cause will have a result. To this extent, Hua-yen agrees with Whitehead that causation is sequential. But Hua-yen goes beyond this to claim other forms, such as the important 'horizontal' causation. The Hua-yen thinkers, to repeat, were more interested in the question of the relationship between contemporaries, for this had important implications for ethics and practice.

    Third, the Hua-yen insistence that the world is a world of identity in differences seems to parallel Whitehead's concept of a pluralistic universe which is nevertheless one continuum or field. It must be strongly emphasized that the Hua-yen teaching of identity does not obliterate the world of distinct, different events, and hopefully some of the earlier discussion in this paper has made it clear how things are different yet the same. The delightful

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paradox of the Hua-yen teaching is that things are identical because they are different. Thus, things are identical because they are all identically conditions for the whole, and this Great Immensity, in all its throbbing vitality, color, drama, and, yes, ultimate Goodness, could not be what it is if each thing were not what it is. In stressing the complete identity and equality of all things as necessary conditions for the whole, Chinese Buddhists were able to free themselves from hatred, the greed born of attachment, pride, and delusion, and thus achieve the self-transcendence that is at the heart of Buddhism. In seeing that this equality and identity lay in the very difference of the ten thousand things, the Chinese Buddhist could find a place in his heart for everything just as it is. His 'yes' of affirmation was unconditional and unbounded. I find this a significant feature of Chinese Buddhism and a departure from the Indian view of the natural world. This approach to the religious life is not only distinctly Chinese and different from the Indian approach, but to make a flat value statement, I personally find it superior. Impermanence and change are not occasions for despair and horror, to be left behind for higher ethereal realms of freedom and joy. This world, with its birth and death, joy and sorrow, angels and devils, butterflies and cobras, disease and health, is itself the very body of the Buddha, the Pure Land; the absolute is nothing other than process itself.

    There are various areas where Whitehead and Hua-yen do not seem to agree. There is no Buddhist equivalent of the Whiteheadian 'eternal objects,' nor do Buddhists feel any necessity for the categories of 'objective immortality' and the 'consequent nature of God.' to name just a few concepts. But the problem which needs the most clarification is the whole matter of causality, which is central to both systems.

    Several questions may be asked. Is Whitehead's version of causality the only possible one? It may be said in reply that his idea of causality is in conformity with the facts of physics and the dictates of logic, but is the causality to be found in the world of atoms or molecules the only legitimate form of causality? Is the logic which is the pride of the Western world the only logic? Western thinkers have no logical equivalent of what D. T. Suzuki called the Buddhist logic of soku-hi ('x' is a 'non-x', therefore it is 'x') but it is a powerful and effective logic in Buddhism. Do we in fact even know what causation is and is not? Is Hua-yen causation really causation at all? I have used the terms 'cause' and 'condition' throughout this paper, and they are literal translations of Chinese terms, but the question may remain as to

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whether we should use the words 'cause' and 'condition' when speaking of the kinds of relationship discussed in this paper. Yet, the Chinese texts certainly speak of cause and conditions. The relationship of one event with another in Hua-yen philosophy is similar to the relationship between a yucca tree and a yucca moth; without the moth, no tree, and without the tree, no moth. May we legitimately speak of each as being a necessary condition for the other? May we legitimately say that the moth is a cause for the tree and vice-versa? Does causation have anything to do with interdependence? We might multiply the questions, but these indicate some areas that need to be clarified.

    The Hua-yen causation works in all directions, from past to present, present to future, future to present, future to past, and mutually among contemporaries. There seems to be a strong reluctance on the part of process thinkers to admit, for instance, that the future has a causal effect on the present, an idea which has tremendous implications for practice for the Buddhist. There seems to be some feeling on the part of Professor Hartshorne and others that such a form of causation would result in the lack of freedom of choice or self-determination by the individual, though it is not clear to me that this is necessarily so. Buddhism is able to maintain both positions in equilibrium; the future influences the present, but the individual is free from moment to moment to choose what he will become, and Buddhist literature constantly exhorts the individual to choose enlightenment and freedom from the cycle of birth and death. Yet, this decision is made by an individual who is conditioned by time, place, heredity, economics, weather, food supply, parental training, and, of course, the millions of volitional acts performed by himself and all other living beings in.the planet's past.

    I believe that part of the problem is that scholars such as Charles Hartshorne read too much determinism into the Buddhist view of causation or conditioning. There certainly is some determination, as most would agree, but being conditioned and being determined are two different things. Is it not possible, for instance, that out of the countless conditions which make us what we are, one condition or even several conditions are such as to allow for freedom of choice and some degree of self-determination? Free will and determinism are hoary problems in western intellectual circles, but they have never been among Buddhists. The Buddhist would ask the process philosopher, 'Just who or what is it that is determined or has free will?' This may be the crux of the whole problem.

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    The value of the Buddhist understanding of reality is well known; it was never meant to be philosophy for its own sake but was meant to be a lure to decision and action and a corrective to egocentric and homocentric pride. Under the cool, objective scrutiny of the meditator, the world of selves encased within their own skins, autonomous and independent, evaporated into a complex web of interdependence, in which events found their being and meaning as mere functions of the totality. The belief in a self or substance became philosophically untenable, and the belief in man's supreme importance was dissolved by a vision which allowed of no hierarchies in nature. But the Hua-yen philosophy was never meant to demean or nullify. For in the growing understanding of the way in which things exist in interdependence, the Buddhist was led to a broadening of concern, a concern which encompassed more and more of the whole of existence, extending to other animal forms, the vegetable world, the 'inanimate' world, and finally to human artifacts. To understand the world as essentially interdependent is to understand how things need each other and serve each other, how what I am, or anything is, depends on so much else. The Hua-yen vision as a lived experience, leads to an expansion of concern beyond the petty needs of some imagined self in wider and wider circles to encompass more and more of existence.

    I believe that something very similar to this is what Whitehead meant when he spoke so movingly of 'Peace':

The peace that is here meant is not the negative conception of anesthesia. It is a positive feeling which crowns the 'life and motion' of the soul.... It is not a hope for the future, nor is it an interest in present details. It is a broadening of feeling due to the emergence of some deep metaphysical insight, unverbalized and yet momentous in its coordination of values. Its first effect is the removal of the stress of acquisitive feeling arising from the soul's preoccupation with itself. Thus Peace carries with it a surpassing of personality. Thus it is an inversion of relative values.. . . There is thus a grasp of infinitude, an appeal beyond boundaries. Its emotional effect is the subsidence of turbulence which inhibits ... It results in a wider sweep of conscious interest. It enlarges the field of interest. Thus Peace is self control at its widest, - at the width where the 'self has been lost, and interest has been transferred to coordinations wider than personality.[7]

It is interesting that this surpassing of personality, loss of self, and concomitant transfer of interest to "coordinations wider than personality" is the outgrowth of a vision of reality as organic, processive, and interrelated, and what is of interest to a Buddhist or student of Buddhism is that Whitehead's

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cosmology seems to have the same potential for the modification of character and action that Buddhist cosmology has in Buddhist cultures. Our conception of what we are and how we are related to the infinity of others is ultimately the outgrowth of a deep metaphysical insight, as Whitehead and Buddhism both have told us.

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NOTES

1.    Taisho Shinshu Daizokyo, no. 1866, p. 502, col. a.

2.    Fungi You-lan, A Short History of Chinese Philosophy, tr. by Dirk Bode (New York: Macmillan, 1960), p. 222. I have made some slight changes in Fung's translation.

3.    I am indebted to Professor Robert Gimello of the University of California at Santa Barbara for calling my attention to this in a conversation.

4.    Taisho Shinshu Daizokyo, no. 1866, p. 507, col. c.

5.    Mendel Sachs, 'Space, time and elementary interactions in relativity,' Physics Today (Feb. 1969), pp. 58-59.

6.    Taisho, no. 1866, p. 508, col. a.

7.    Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas (New York: New American Library, 1955), pp. 283-284.