The Difference Between Saṁsāra and Nirvāṇa
By David Loy

Philosophy East and West
Vol. 33, No. 4 (October 1983)
pp. 355-365

Copyright 2000 by University of Hawaii Press
Hawaii, USA


 

 

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That saṁsāra is nirvāṇa is a major tenet of Mahāyāna philosophy. "Nothing of saṁsāra is different from nirvāṇa, nothing of nirvāṇa is different from saṁsāra. That which is the limit of nirvāṇa is also the limit of saṁsāra; there is not the slightest difference between the two." [1] And yet there must be some difference between them, for otherwise no distinction would have been made and there would be no need for two words to describe the same state. So Nāgārjuna also distinguishes them: "That which, taken as causal or dependent, is the process of being born and passing on, is, taken noncausally and beyond all dependence, declared to be nirvāṇa." [2] There is only one reality -- this world, right here -- but this world may be experienced in two different ways. Saṁsāra is the "relative" world as usually experienced, in which "I" dualistically perceive "it" as a collection of objects which interact causally in space and time. Nirvāṇa is the world as it is in itself, nondualistic in that it incorporates both subject and object into a whole which, Mādhyamika insists, cannot be characterized (Chandrakīrti: "Nirvāṇa or Reality is that which is absolved of all thought-construction"), but which Yogācāra nevertheless sometimes calls "Mind" or "Buddhanature," and so forth.

But if, as Buddhism claims, there never was an "I, " how can "I" experience dualistically? The answer, of course, is that "I" do not experience dualistically; the sense of duality is only an illusion, since all experience is and always was nondual. However, this only raises the question in a different form: if not how does the delusion of duality originate (since Buddhism "turns aside" all such questions about first causes), then how is this delusion of duality perpetuated? Since we are told it is possible to overcome the sense of duality and attain -- or, more precisely, realize -- nirvāṇa, what obstructs the experience of nonduality?

The purpose of this paper is to outline an answer to that question. It seems to me that there are three main factors which constitute "the process of being born and passing on," two of which -- craving and conceptualizing -- are well-known. What is not so well understood is the relation between them and their relation with a third factor which Nāgārjuna identifies-causality. The interaction of these three factors works to sustain the sense of duality. Avidyā, ignorance, is not a separate factor but a generic term for their interaction.

 

I

Craving, taṇhā, is the most obvious factor, since the Buddha's Second Truth identifies it as the cause of our dukkha (dissatisfaction). Fundamentally, the problem of craving is not sensual desire but attachment in general, whether to sense-experience or to "mental events." How does such attachment generate the

 

 

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sense of duality? Does not the concept of attachment presuppose duality -- an "I" which is necessary in order to cling to something? The Yogācāra answer is that the tendency of nondual Mind to "freeze" or "fix itself" gives rise to the distinction between subject and object: "that-which-is-grasped" becomes reified into an objective "thing" and "that-which-grasps" becomes the "self." Here the mutual interdependence of subject and object is obvious: there can be no "that-which-grasps" without "that-which-is-grasped." But it is claimed that this dualism is delusory, for there is no real distinction between the content of consciousness and consciousness itself. "When cognition no longer apprehends an object, then it stands fully in [nondual] consciousness-only, because where there is nothing to grasp there is no more grasping... The absence of an object results in the absence also of a subject, and not merely in that grasping." [3] Nirvāṇa, of course, is "the end of craving" and therefore the end of such grasping. "The tendencies to treat object and subject as distinct and real entities are forsaken, and consciousness is established in just the true nature of one's own [nondual] consciousness." [4]

So the problem of craving is not "moral" (whatever that could mean) but epistemological: it distorts "my" perception of the world.

 

II

But such attachment seems limited to what is immediately presented. "I" can "grasp at" a particular appearance only because that appearance is now appearing. How can I grasp at something that is not present any more? In such a case, the ability to "re-present" an appearance will be beneficial. It gives me a way of retaining "it" and referring to "it." It enables "grasping at a distance." Hence the advantage of a system of re-presentation -- that is, a language.

But this is also the origin of a problem. The fundamental difficulty with craving is that it generates a sense of duality -- "I" desire that "thing" which, more fundamentally, I already am. The problem of re-presentation is that it widens the gulf between the "I" and the "object." I re-present a particular "object" by calling it, say, an "urg." This enables me to refer to the "object" even when it does not immediately appear. But when the appearance is again introduced, the re-presentation "urg" does not disappear, as having no more function. It still re-presents the appearance. Now we know what the appearance is. It is "urg"; or it is a particular instance of a universal: "an urg." Now I experience the appearance "through" the re-presentation. The problem is that, the more successfully a system of representation functions, the more likely we are to confuse the representation with the appearance. So tathatā, the "thusness" quality of things as they really are, is subjected to vitarka, conceptualizing, and to vikalpa, false imaginings, which filter and distort sense experience; we are urged to "cut through" this "fog of concepts" if we want to realize the true nature of the world. Mahāyāna emphasizes this problem of conceptualizing more than Theravāda, which emphasizes craving generally. In fact this is the source of much of the

 

 

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quarrel between them: Mahayanists criticize Theravādins for reifying the Buddha's words into a doctrinal system, and the paradoxes of the Prajñāpāramitā sūtras may be understood as an attempt to avoid that pitfall.

But there is a serious confusion in the above analysis. It is not the case that the presented world is divided up into grasped "objects" which we later re-present; rather, we divide up the world the way we do (that is, learn to notice what is present) with a system of representation. John Searle, a contemporary philosopher of language, explains this well:

... I am not saying the language creates reality. Far from it. Rather, I am saying that what counts as reality... is a matter of the categories that we impose on the world; and those categories are for the most part linguistic. And furthermore: when we experience the world we experience it through linguistic categories that help to shape the experiences themselves. The world doesn't come to us already sliced up into objects and experience: what counts as an object is already a function of our system of representation, and how we perceive the world in our experiences is influenced by that system of representation. The mistake is to suppose that the application of language to the world consists of attaching labels to objects that are, so to speak, self-identifying. On my view, the world divides the way we divide it, and our main way of dividing things up is in language. Our concept of reality is a matter of our linguistic categories. [5]

Such an approach is reminiscent of Kant's distinction between things-in-themselves and phenomenal things-as-we-perceive-them -- the same distinction we have made in order to distinguish saṁsāra from nirvāna. In place of Kant's twelve "Aristotelian" categories Searle offers language, "our system of representation." Searle and Kant both doubt that it is possible to experience "things-in-themselves," but the contemporary view seems to leave the door open in a way that Kant did not: Is it possible to get behind language? Is that not what occurs in meditation, when one "lets go" of all ideas and concepts?

That this contemporary Western view of language is consistent with Buddhist teachings may be seen by looking at the Buddhist analysis of perception. Various schools divide up the act of apperception into a different number of stages (even the five skandhas may be interpreted as one such version), but fundamentally they agree about the nature of the process. This is summarized by Conze into "three levels of the apperception of stimuli," to which "three kinds of 'sign' correspond -- the sign as (1) an object of attention, as (2) a basis for recognition, and as (3) an occasion for entrancement." In the first stage, one turns towards a stimulus; attention is directed to a "bare" percept. In the second stage, what has been perceived is recognized, "as a sign of its being such and such a part of the universe of discourse, and of habitually perceived and named things." So the "bare" percept is now recognized as a girl, or table, or whatever, with all its connotations. These connotations are elaborated in the third stage, which "is marked by the emotional and volitional adjustment to the 'sign.'" [6] In the case of a girl, I may be attracted by her and so try to get to know her.

This whole sequence usually occurs so quickly that we are not able to distin-

 

 

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guish one stage from another; hence we take it to be one simple mental event: "seeing a pretty girl." Consequently, we are normally never aware of what it is like to experience just the first stage, for we never have experienced just that by itself. So philosophers as different as Wittgenstein and Heidegger assert that what we do immediately experience is "a pretty girl." But Buddhism emphasizes that we can learn to distinguish these separate stages, and in fact to experience that first stage by itself is the goal of the Buddhist path:

The task is to bring the process back to the initial point, before any 'superimpositions' have distorted the actual and initial datum. The seemingly innocuous phraseology of the formula which describes the restraint of the senses opens up vast philosophical vistas, and involves a huge philosophical programme which is gradually worked out over the centuries in the Abhidharma and the Prajñāpāramitā. 'He does not seize on its appearance as man or woman, or its appearance as attractive, etc., which makes it onto a basis for the defiling passions. But he stops at what is actually seen.' ... 'He seizes only on that which is really there.' [7]

The claim of Buddhism, and most Indian philosophy, is that "that which is really there" is very different from what we would normally think it to be. The Yogācāra view is that, contrary to what Conze writes, I can let go of the seizing," too -- that is, the "I" can be let go -- and what is then experienced is the original thing-in-itself, nondual "Buddhanature."

One might therefore conclude that thinking (and language), because they distort perception, have solely the negative function of obscuring reality; hence we should strive to "transcend" or minimize them. But this would be a mistake, just as it is a mistake to think that sense-perception or physical activity must be "transcended." Nothing is to be rejected, but its actual nature must be clarified. The linkage between perception and conception is a problem that has two sides. Just as concepts veil the true nature of percepts, so perceptions also obscure the true nature of thought. When the thought-forming activity of the mind is used solely or primarily as a system of representation, something fundamental about the nature of thinking is concealed. Just as there is nondual perception, so there must be nondual thinking -- both of which must be radically different from our dualistic way of understanding them. Mahāyāna calls our usual representational thinking vijñāna and distinguishes it from prajñā, which is defined as that knowledge in which the known, the knower, and the act of knowledge are one. The etymologies of the words are revealing: they both share the same root jñā, "to know," but the vi- prefix in vijñāna (and in vi-kalpa, vi-tarka) signifies "separation, differentiation"; hence it refers to that type of knowing which discriminates one thing from another -- most fundamentally, the knower from the known. The pra- of prajñā signifies "to spring up (by itself)" -- evidently referring to a more spontaneous and creative thinking in which the thought no longer seems to be the product of a subject (which, of course, it never was), but is experienced as arising from a deeper, nondual source. In such knowing the thought and that which is conscious of the thought are one.

 

 

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The second and third of Conze's stages of apperception are subjective interpretations based upon the first. The second, recognition, is part of what we have called conceptualizing -- the application of our system of representation to what is immediately perceived. The third, our emotional and volitional response, will generally be some expression of craving. It is important to see how these two work together. In order to crave something, I must be able to distinguish the object of my craving from other things, and in order for this to be done most successfully, language -- a system of representation -- is necessary. It may be possible for me to crave a particular taste without being able to identify it, but it helps enormously if I can represent that flavor as "chocolate." The vast number of possible conceptual distinctions can thereby increase and refine our cravings. This does not mean that craving is dependent upon our concept-formation; the Buddhist view is the opposite: that our system of representation is at the mercy of our desires, and in fact evolved in order to help us satisfy and elaborate them. The motivation behind the particular way in which we "divide up" the world through language (hence transforming nirvāṇa into saṁsāra) is, fundamentally, our craving. In this way Wittgenstein and Searle turn out to have been right: we do not first perceptually "pick out" objects and only later name them and crave them; rather, we learn to notice them by naming them, and the motivation behind that naming was originally the assistance it gave in satisfying desires. (This is not contradictory to the Buddhist view of perception discussed above, for what is important to the Buddhist is that the association of perception with craving and conceptualizing can be broken.) So a child learns to cry "Mama!" in order to be fed or comforted. Perhaps this can be stated more strongly: through language I become conscious of -- that is, am able to represent to "myself" -- desires which otherwise remain "unconscious."

 

III

The third factor which polarizes nondual into dualistic experience is causality. Inasmuch as any connection between two bits of experience can be interpreted as causal, causality may be the most fundemental of the three; in this way Schopenhauer was able to reduce Kant's twelve categories to a single one. For both Kant and Schopenhauer, causality cannot be predicated of things-in-themselves, because it is part of what we superimpose upon the noumenal world in order to experience it phenomenally. Nāgārjuna agrees:

The universe viewed as a whole is the Absolute [nirvāṇa], viewed as a process it is the phenomenal [saṁsāra]. Having regard to causes and conditions, we have the phenomenal world; this same world when causes and conditions are disregarded, it is called the Absolute. [8]

This is generally the view of those who distinguish between Appearance and Reality: Causality is the way we relate one object or event to another in the phenomenal world, but it cannot be predicated of Reality itself. In fact, the

 

 

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category of causality first becomes necessary because we phenomenally distinguish between one thing and another; insofar as we then perceive the world as a collection of separate objects and occurrences, we must then determine their relationships to each other. If and when we experience the world as a "Whole," there is no such necessity, as Nietzsche pointed out:

... Cause and effect: such a duality probably never occurs -- in reality there stands before us a continuum of which we isolate a couple of pieces; just as we always perceive a movement only as isolated points, therefore do not really see it but infer it... An intellect which saw cause and effect as a continuum and not, as we do, as a capricious division and fragmentation, which saw the flux of events -- would reject the concept of cause and effect and deny all conditionality.

One should make use of "cause" and "effect" as pure concepts only, that is to say, as conventional fictions for the purposes of designation and communication, not for explanation. In the an sich [Kant's "things-in-themselves"] there is nothing of "causal connection, " of "necessity, " or "psychological unfreedom." There is no following of effect after cause. No laws hold. It is we alone who have invented the causes, the after-one-anothers, the for-one-anothers, the relations, the constraint, the number, the law, the freedom, the ground, the purpose. [9]

The well-known problem with Kant's metaphysic is that, while agreeing that causality is a phenomenal category, he also illegitimately inferred that things-in- themselves must be the cause of our phenomenal appearances. Nor can be easily escape this difficulty, for without some such view there is no reason to postulate the existence of things-in-themselves at all, since he believed they cannot in principle ever be directly experienced. The Mahayana view is not subject to either criticism, since "things-in-themselves" -- the Absolute in Nāgārjuna's quotation just given -- are experienced immediately upon the cessation of appropriation or dependence -- that is, of attachment. Furthermore, the view that reality is actually nondual avoids the error of postulating a Reality "behind" Appearance; rather, Reality is "within" Appearance -- or, more precisely, the Reality that is sought is Appearance itself, but not, of course, appearance as we normally understand it. From this perspective, it is our usual "common sense" view -- in which we distinguish between material objects and their appearance to us -- that is (as Berkeley realized) guilty of metaphysically postulating a Reality "behind" appearance. Vasubandhu, like Berkeley, denied not sensible qualities, such as solidity, but the independent substratum -- matter -- in which they supposedly adhere.

Kant, of course, was responding to the problem with causality that Hume had pointed out. To say that one event causes another is to assume a necessary connection between the two, but such necessity is not something we can ever observe or infer from the events themselves; we can conclude only that there seems to be a constant conjunction. The idea of necessary connection is something we superimpose upon our sense-perceptions. Hume's view is that this arises due to the constant association of ideas, that we eventually notice the connection between events and then come to expect it. But Kant and others since him have

 

 

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pointed out that our minds are not so passive: we instinctively look for -- try to make -- causal relations between events.

Nāgārjuna would agree that causal connections are something that we superimpose upon the world we experience -- hence one of the ways we "transform" nirvāṇa into saṁsāra. This applies not only to relations between perceptions but also to relations between thoughts. Objectively, exploring the relationships between thoughts results in logic; subjectively, the apparent connection between thoughts is an essential aspect of our sense of self. But this link, like the self, is an illusion:

So with former thoughts, later thoughts, and thoughts in between: the thoughts follow one another without being linked together. Each one is absolutely tranquil. [10]

In the exercise of our thinking faculty, let the past be dead. If we allow our thoughts, past, present, and future, to link up in a series, we put ourselves under restraint. On the other hand, if we never let the mind attach to anything, we shall gain liberation. [11]

The general problem with making causal connections is that in so doing we never experience the thing-in-itself (tathatā) wholly, because only part of the mind is perceiving it; the rest is busy relating it to something else. Of course, insofar as objects are perceived as distinct, they must be causally related, but as a consequence we miss something important about the true nature of that "object." Just as recognizing and craving for an object mean we distort "what is actually there," so does relating the object causally to other objects and events. The ingrained tendency to see causal relations is part of that subjective gloss which distances me from the object and keeps me from realizing that I am it. [12]

Heidegger's concept of zuhanden [13] ("utensils"; Greek, pragmata) is helpful here: In our usual day-to-day living what we immediately experience are not objects just "simply there" but utensils to be used in various ways. I do not perceive the pen I am writing with as it is in itself because I am busy utilizing it to write down words, and the paper I write upon is not perceived in its full presence but also just utilized as something to write words upon; the table is utilized as something to support the paper; the chair as that which supports me, and so forth. Heidegger concludes that we immediately experience the world as a "totality of destinations" (purposes) which ultimately refers back to me. Vorhanden, objects just "lying there, " are a derivative category dependent upon zuhanden, for we become aware of objects as zuhanden only when they fail or are not where they should be, or as something unexpected that "gets in the way"; so, for example, I will experience my pen as vorhanden only when it runs out of ink and perhaps not even then: for I may see it then as a utensil whose utensility is that it is something to be thrown away into the rubbish bin.

The fact that we normally experience things in this way fits perfectly with the Buddhist view that we do not experience things as they are because we view them causally. But there are two significant differences between Heidegger and the

 

 

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Buddhist attitude. First, in Buddhism the "totality of destination" does not refer back to me, it is "me"; that is, the tendency to treat things in this way (part of our saṁskāras) constitutes the sense of self, or an important part of it. Second, Heidegger views vorhanden as derivative from zuhanden; he saw his project in Being and Time as overcoming the error (prevailing since Parmenides) of basing a metaphysics upon vorhanden. The Buddhist view, as we saw in Conze's three levels of apperception, is that the primary category is "that which is actually given, " upon which craving, conceptualizing, and causality build -- except, the Buddhist agrees, for the fact that usually the various processes occur so quickly that we are not able to distinguish between them.

Why do we tend to see objects causally, that is, as utensils? This is obvious enough: insofar as I crave, I will need to manipulate the world in order to obtain what I want. To manipulate requires us to think causally: what causal factor will lead to the desired effect? In fact, the desire for such manipulation may be seen as the root of the concept of causality:

The idea of cause has its roots in purposive activity and is employed in the first instance when we are concerned to produce or to prevent something. To discover the cause of something is to discover what has to be attested by our activity in order to produce or to prevent that thing; but once the word "cause" comes to be applied to natural events, the notion of altering the course of events tends to be dropped. "Cause" is then used in a nonpractical, purely diagnostic way in cases where we have no interest in altering events or power to alter them. [14]

However, this view that causality is merely phenomenal would seem to contradict the Mahāyāna understanding of śunyatā as dharma-nairātmya. Śunyatā in Mahāyāna has two primary meanings: first, that the world (the true world, nirvāṇa) is empty of predication; this is essentially the point already made about conceptualizing as obscuring tathatā. Second, śunyatā means dharmanairātmya, that there is not anything `in' the world that has any self-nature, because all things are conditioned by each other and hence are relative. So Nāgārjuna interpreted pratītyasamutpāda, the law of dependent origination, as showing the interdependence of all things -- presumably, as their causal interdependence. This seems inconsistent with our view that causality is merely thought-expectation, part of the subjective filter which interprets what is immediately experienced.

But there is no contradiction. The essential interdependence of all phenomena does not mean causality, in the sense that we and Nowell-Smith have meant, which is rooted in purposive activity to attain something desired or to prevent something disliked. That sense is temporal and linear: some specific cause A will produce effect B. This presupposes experiencing the world as a collection of separated objects; causality explains their relationship, and our understanding of their interaction is used to obtain one object and not another. Śunyatā as complete interdependence means that there are no objects and hence no linear causal relations between objects. Dharma-nairātmya implies that the world, as

 

 

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Nietzsche pointed out, is a continuum. We may isolate a couple of pieces, designate them as objects and try to determine their causal relationship; but in fact there are no such isolated pieces; there is only a holistic flux of events. All particulars are simply momentary appearances, empty forms that the continuum takes in its constant transformation. Each form is empty because it has no nature of its own: it is simply what the whole continuum is doing at this place at this moment. The other side of the coin is that because each form is empty it is the complete manifestation of the entire continuum. Each particular contains and manifests the whole. Hua-yen expresses this insight with the analogy of Indra's infinite net: at each interstice is a jewel which may be said to be empty because it simply reflects all the other jewels; but it may also be said to contain all the others. Thus our cosmos is symbolized as an infinitely repeated interrelationship among all its members -- each one of which encompasses and expresses all the others. This is very different from our more usual linear and temporal conception of causality; Jung's concept of synchronicity -- "an acausal connecting principle" -- is closer. [15]

 

IV

Let me summarize what has been said so far. In answer to the question of why we experience this world (which in itself is nirvāṇa) as saṁsāra, three factors have been identified: craving, conceptualizing, and causality. The relations between craving and the other two have been discussed: insofar as I crave, I will need to distinguish conceptually the objects I crave, and I will relate to objects causally in order to obtain that which is craved. To complete the triangle, we must look at the relation between conceptualizing and causality. What remains to be seen is how causality is built into language itself.

Earlier, Searle was quoted to point out that naming is not just a matter of pinning labels on objects that are self-identifying. "The world doesn't come to us already sliced up into objects and experiences: what counts as an object is already a function of our system of representation, and how we perceive the world in our experiences is influenced by that system of representation." So, in naming, I do not first see a thing and then decide to call it a "door," for example; to call it a "door" is how we learn to pick it out and notice it. We divide up the world and come to see it as a collection of objects by giving names to those objects. But now we must take a further step. How does naming "mean"? The conclusion of recent philosophers such as Wittgenstein is that we cannot understand how language functions until we see its connection with our behavior. Language is an integral part of a way of life, and the only way we have to determine whether a person "understands" certain language patterns is by observing his behavior. A person understands the meaning of "door" not by being able to give us a verbal definition, but by being able to use it in the appropriate way for going in and coming out. So to understand that "that" is a door includes understanding the

 

 

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To understand that "that" is "a door" is thus to define my relationship with "that"; the concept "door" itself is enough to identify the place of that thing in my vorhanden system of utensils. As soon as I recognize something as "a piece of chalk," my causal relationship with it is established: It is to be used for writing on a blackboard. At that point, I will usually put it in its "place" and then pay no more attention to it until I need to write on the blackboard. Of course, other recognitions are more emotionally charged, such as identifying particular forms as "cigarette" (if one is addicted to tobacco) or "a pretty girl"; in such cases my possible relationships with these objects are more obviously defined in terms of cravings.

So causality is built into language. Names do not simply cover things like a blanket of snow resting on the roof of a house. Learning a language is learning to make causal connections, learning to see the world as a collection of utensils used in order to accomplish certain ends. Naming, in the act of picking out objects, also determines how we relate to them. In this way, craving, conceptualizing, and causality work together to sustain a sense of self "in" an objective world. If "I" want to experience the "world-in-itself," all three must be overcome. The "thing-in-itself" -- - tathatā -- -must be realized to be distinct from any craving for it, from my representation of it, and from whatever causal associations it may have for me. For only then can I realize that I am it.

 

 

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Notes

1. Na samsārasya nirvānat kiṁcid asti viśeṣanam,
Na nirvānasya samsārāt kiṁcid asti viśeṣanam,
Nirvānasya ca yā kotih kotih samsāramasya ca,
Na tayor antaram kiṁcit susukṣmān api vidyate
(Nāgārjuna's Mādhyamaka Kārikā XXV, 19-20)

2. Ya ajavamjavibhāva upādāya pratītya vā
So pratītya anupādāya nirvānam upadiśyate
(Ibid., XXV, 9 (Sprung's translation)).

3. Vasubandhu's Triṁśikā-vijñāpti-kārīka, 28.

4. Ibid., 29.

5. From Men of Ideas, ed. Bryan Magee (New York: Viking Press, 1978), p. 184.

6. Edward Conze, Buddhist Thought in India: Three Phases of Buddhist Philosophy (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1962), pages 62-63. The emphasis is Conze's; he quotes from his own Buddhist Meditation.

7. Ibid., p.65.

8. Mādhyamaka Kārikā XXV, 9 (Murti's Vedāntic translation of footnote no. 2 above).

9. Nietzsche's The Gay Science, section 112, trans. Hollingdale; and Beyond Good and Evil, section 21, trans. Danto.

10. Zen master Ma-tsu (d. 788) , from the Ku-tsun-hsu Yu-lu (Shanghai: Fu-hsueh-Shu-chu, no date), I:4.

11. From the Platform Suutra of the Sixth Patriarch, chapter IV: "Samādhi and Prajñā."

12. This view of causality is intimately related to a different way of understanding time. Causality requires that the past become the present; that is, that past causes determine present effects. To deny causality is to deny this also. Past things are in the past and do not go there from the present, and present things are in the present, and do not go there from the past.... Rivers which compete with each other to cover the land do not flow. The 'wandering air' that blows about is not moving. (Seng-chao, Chao Lun) Dogen later elaborated on this: ... we should not take the view that what is latterly ashes was formerly firewood. What we should understand is that, according to the doctrine of Buddhism, firewood stays at the position of firewood... There are former and later stages, but these stages are clearly cut... We do not consider that winter becomes spring or that spring becomes summer. (Shobogenzo, fascicle 1)

13. Being and Time, III; "The Worldhood of the World", 15.

14. P. H. Nowell-Smith, "Causality or Causation".

15. The link between the two Mahāyāna meanings of śūnyatā -- otherwise an obscure relationship -- is that by eliminating thought-constructions we experience the world as such a nondual continuum.