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Why Buddhas can't remember their previo

2007-1-15 16:00| 发布者: admin| 查看: 447| 评论: 0|原作者: Paul J.Griffiths|来自: 期刊原文

摘要: ·期刊原文Why Buddhas can't remember their previous livesBy Paul J. GriffithsPhilosophy East and WestVolume 39, no. 41989 OctoberP.449-451(C) by University of Hawaii Press--------------------------- ...
<p>·期刊原文

Why Buddhas can't remember their previous lives

By Paul J. Griffiths

Philosophy East and West

Volume 39, no. 4

1989 October

P.449-451

(C) by University of Hawaii Press

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    P.449

    Most papers published  by Western scholars of Indian

    philosophy  have, until now, been largely exegetical

    in  nature.  This  is  for  very  good  reasons.  An

    enormous  amount  of material  has needed (and still

    needs)  to  be  made  available   to  the  scholarly

    community by way of translation and commentary.  But

    perhaps  there  is  also  room,  and  need, for  the

    occasional   feuilleton   like   this,  an  avowedly

    polemical    piece   attempting    to   follow   the

    philosophical  implications of a particular argument

    or  set  of definitions  to  a conclusion  that  its

    authors  might not have wished to accept.  There is,

    after  all, a long  and honorable  tradition  of the

    application  of this  method  in Indian  (especially

    Buddhist) polemical  literature: what  else  is  the

    prasa^nga? The positive  results of such an approach

    to Indian  philosophy  might  be that  the positions

    argued  for  in the texts  are  taken  with  greater

    philosophical   seriousness   than   the  exegetical

    approach  allows, and that some of their entailments

    might  be more clearly  seen than is at present  the

    case.  Such, in a particular small instance, are the

    goals of the present piece.  The argument given here

    is presented  not  with  the  assurance  that  it is

    either valid or sound (though  naturally  I think it

    to be both), but rather  with the hope that it might

    lead to further discussion.

    The standard  Buddhist account of memory employs

    two technical terms--sm.rti and pratyabhij~naana. In

    this context, for reasons that will become apparent,

    I shall  translate  the former  as 're-presentation'

    (in  the sense  of presenting  again  what  has been

    presented  before), and the latter as 'recognition'.

    The former  will denote the reappearance  in a given

    mental  continuum  (cittasa.mtaana) of the  complete

    experiential   content  of  a  preceding  moment  or

    moments of experience.  Examples: I hear again music

    I heard twenty years ago; I see again the buttons on

    a coat my mother used to wear when I was a child;  I

    touch again my first lover's lips.  In all cases the

    re-presentation   (sm.rti)  is   of   the   complete

    experiential  content  of the  original  experience.

    Recognition  (pratyabhij~naana) denotes  a conscious

    acknowledgment  on the part  of the subject  that an

    experience  she has just had was in fact an instance

    of representation. So, for example, I acknowledge to

    myself  that the music  I just heard  with my mind's

    ear  was  a  re-presentation   of  the  version   of

    Beethoven's  Seventh  Symphony  that I heard  in the

    Roval Albert Hall when I was fifteen. And so forth.

    Buddhist  texts  typically  say that  there  are

    three  severally  necessary  and jointly  sufficient

    conditions that a given mental event must fulfill if

    it   is  to  be  classified   as  an   instance   of

    re-presentation,  a  smara.nacitta.  First, it  must

    have as its object something previously  experienced

    (puurvaanubhuutaartha) and must

    P.450

    re-present  that object in the sense given.  Second,

    it must be connected  causally  with that previously

    experienced  object.  And third, the mental event in

    which the original  object was experienced  and that

    in which it is re-presented must be part of the same

    mental  continuum  (ekasa.mtaanika).(1)

    Recognition then follows from re-presentation by

    way of a conceptualized (and perhaps even vocalized)

    judgment  that (iti) the experience  in question was

    an instance  of sm.rti.(2) Here we approach close to

    the heart of the argument: what kind of judgment  is

    at  issue  here? Typically,  it  is  said  to  be  a

    judgment of the form I saw this. Buddhist metaphysics

    requires that when and if Buddhas make judgments  of

    this kind, they do so only to speak with the vulgar.

    They do not really  mean it, or at least they do not

    mean it in the sense  in which  a p.rthagjana  would

    mean it, for they know that the personal pronoun has

    no referent, or, more precisely, that it refers only

    to the aggregates (skandha).  So Buddhas cannot have

    recognition in the exact sense in which that term is

    usually  interpreted  in  the  texts.  They  may, of

    course,   be   able   to   make   other   sorts   of

    judgments--for  example, the mental  event  thatjust

    occurred was a re-presentation  in the sense that it

    occurred in the same continuum  as did that event of

    which  it was a re-presentation--and  so be able  to

    preserve  their ability to have (a somewhat modified

    kind of) recognition.

    But there are deeper problems. A re-presentation

    is supposed  to re-present  the  full  content  of a

    previous moment of experience  and a recognition  to

    judge that this has indeed  occurred.  If we add the

    straightforward   (and  pan-Buddhist)  premise  that

    every  instance  of  experience   belonging  to  all

    non-Buddhas  is tainted  with  passions  of  various

    sorts, especially  egocentricity (asmimaana) and its

    concomitants   (raaga,  dve.sa,  moha) ,  then   the

    following argument is easy to construct:

    (1) An instance  of re-presentation  (smara.nacitta)

    represents  to its subject  the full experienced

    content of a past moment of experience.

    (2) An    instance of    recognition

    (pratyabhij~naanacitta) is  a judgment  that  an

    immediately   preceding   mental   event  was  a

    re-presentation.

    (3) All   moments   of   experience   belonging   to

    non-Buddhas have some passions as constituents.

    (4) All  moments  of  experience  belonging  to  all

    Buddhas are entirely free from passions.

    (5) All Buddhas make only true judgments.

    (6) No  Buddha   can  experience   an  instance   of

    re-presentation  that  re-presents  a moment  of

    experience  belonging to a non-Buddha [from (1),

    (3), and (4)].

    (7) No  Buddha   can  recognize   that  he  has  had

    re-presented  to  him  a  moment  of  experience

    belonging  to a non-Buddha  [from  (2), (5), and

    (6)].

    To  restate:  Buddhas   can  neither  experience   a

    re-presentation  of any moment of experience  in any

    past life (when they were not Buddhas), nor can they

    judge   that   they   have   so   experienced.   So:

    buddhaanaa.m puurvanivaasaanusm.rti.h puurvanivaa-

    sapratyabhij~naana.m ca na yujyete. Buddhas cannot

    remember their previous lives. Quod erut demonstrandum,

    or, if you prefer, siddham etat.

    P.451

    This argument  can be challenged, I think.  from

    two perspectives.  First, exegetically, it could  be

    claimed  that I have misrepresented  what  Buddhists

    have typically  meant in such contexts  as these  by

    sm.rti  and pratyabhij~naana, and that premises  (1)

    and    (2)    are    therefore    false. Second,

    philosophically,  it  could  be  claimed   that  the

    argument  as it stands is invalid, Either challenge,

    fully explored  and discussed, could  prove fruitful

    and productive of new knowledge.

    Finally, a brief  comment  on what  Buddhas  can

    have if they cannot  have memory  of their  previous

    lives.  They can have propositional knowledge of the

    truth  of large (perhaps  infinitely  large) sets of

    propositions  of the form experiential  event  E1 is

    causally  related to experiential  event E in such a

    way  that  it  is  proper   to  say  that  E1  is  a

    re-presentation of E.  But knowledge of propositions

    is, phenomenologically, very  far from  sm.rti  (and

    memory).

NOTES

    1.  This is the burden  of the account  given by

    Vasubandhu    in   the   ninth   chapter    of   the

    Abhidharmako`sabhaa.sya:  yadi   tarhi   sarvathaapi

    naasty   aatmaa   katha.m   k.sa.nike.su    citte.su

    ciraanubhuutasyaarthasya  smara.na.m bhavati

    pratyabhij~naana.m vaa/sm.rtivi.sayasa.mj~naanvayaac

    cittavi`se.saat/kiidr`saac    cittavi`se.saat   yato

    'nantara.m sm.rtir bhavati/ tadaabhogasad.r-

    `sasambandhisa.mj~naadim ato `nupahataprabhaavaad

    aa`srayavi`se.sa`sokavyaak.sepaadibhi.h/   taad.r`so

    'pi hy atadanvaya`s cittavi`se.so na samarthas taa.m

    sm.rti.m bhaavayitu.m tadanvayo 'pi caanyaad.r`so na

    samarthas taa.m sm.rti.m bhaavayitum/ ubhayathaa  tu

    samartha   ity   eva.m   sm.rtir   bhavati   anyasya

    saamarthyaadar`sanaat  (Abhidharmako`sa and Bhaa.sya

    of AAcaarya Vasubandhu with Sphuutaarthaa Commentary

    of AAcaarya Ya`somitra, ed.  Dwaarikaadaas `Saastrii

    (Varanasi: Bauddha Bharati, 1981), pp. 1215-1216).

    2. Ya`somitra, in his commentary

    (Abhidharmako`savyaakhyaa) on the  rather  unhelpful

    smara.naad   eva  ca  pratyabhij~naanam   from   the

    Abhidharmako`sabhaa.sya, says: tad eveda.m yan mayaa

    d.r.s.tam iti smara.naat (ed. cit., p. 1217).

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