The Concept of Non-self in Buddhism
The concept of Anattā (non-self or absence of separate self) in Buddhism has always been the main subject of confusion among the followers. Now, let us analyse this. Simply, it means - Now you see it; now you don't. This is what the concept of emptiness in Buddhism is all about - absence of static entity. Nothing stays unchanging even for the slightest moment at all times. By the time you think who you are, you are already not the same you seconds ago. So, where are you to find the original static of you as you assume along every passing moment?
At the end of the day, you could only see a stream of you constantly passing by on every slightest moment. So, I repeat, you could only see a stream of you; not the one stop entity of you. Just like, you could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you. The stream of you would mean you are part of the becoming processes that arise in the nature. All different shapes and forms that exist in the nature or the so-called you as being are merely momentary outcomes of the constant and continuous becoming processes in the realm of existence.
Under balance phenomenon, one could witness shapes or forms arise; under imbalance phenomenon, one could see no shapes or forms arise - and the cycle of conditional phenomena continues repeatedly. Finally, the stream of you is devoid of inherent existence. It means that you do not exist independently by the definition of physical container that you always assumed to be. You are merely the results of energy or matter orientation that evolve constantly and continuously in a plane of space at all times.
In other words, you are just like part of the Lego pieces or bricks that can be assembled and connected in many ways, to construct such objects as vehicles, buildings, and even working robots - anything constructed can then be taken apart again, and the pieces used to make other objects. When one is fully awakened on the principle of emptiness or non-self, the state of egolessness in oneself would arise concurrently. This realisation is part of the fundamental routes to enlightenment as prescribed by the Buddha.
What is Suffering?
The word ‘suffering’ seems to appear in every corner of Buddhism. And generally, one would tend to associate suffering with pain, agony, sadness, and all sorts of negativity in one’s life time. Unfortunately, this is not the case in the eyes of the Buddha.
For general understanding, the meaning of Dukkha or suffering would be ‘to bear with’ in the Buddhist context. Any circumstances that would involve one - to continue with; to persevere with; to soldier on with; to carry on with; to undertake with; to go through with would mean suffering. Literally, it is not so much about oneself associating with the condition of unsatisfactoriness, pain, agony, joyful or happiness; for these conditions reflected as the consequences of Dukkha arising.
‘To bear with’ is to suffer and the antonym of it is ‘to let go’. So, stop submitting yourself to the conditional circumstances and you would be freed, be liberated and be disappeared!
Cure the cause; not the symptoms!
What is Heaven? What is Hell?
For general understanding, Heaven or Hell is not a respective plane of existence waiting for exclusive memberships. Instead, it is the ‘member’ that has made up the self-qualifying arrangement for the chance of Heaven or Hell to arise. Just like, inhabitant is a necessary pre-requisite for any villages to exist; without it, the village would be impossible. Therefore, once again, Heaven or Hell is not a plane of existence to be found ‘up-there’ or ‘down-there’ waiting to be filled in by the so-called rightful elements.
In fact, Heaven or Hell is simply next to your mind, your eyes, your ears, your consciousness, your sub-consciousness, etc. When a person lay dead on the ground, the three basic elements i.e. energy, matter and space elements would separate from each other. Precisely, both conscious and sub-conscious (energy) aggregates would depart the body (matter).
However, only sub-conscious aggregates would sustain in liberated forms but not the conscious aggregates. The switch of conscious aggregates would be turned off and it would not carry on beyond the graveyard. But the sub-conscious aggregates that have no switch for on or off-turning and would stay behind in the so-called soul or spirit forms.
And it is the characteristics of the sub-conscious aggregates that would determine the next plane of existence for the so-called soul or spirit. Therefore, one should not miss the chance of moulding the sub-conscious aggregates in correct manners before kicking the bucket! For instance, it is right to say that good begets good, evil begets evil. When one pays to live a Hell-like condition in the present life time, one would be repaid in the next phase of existence as in Hell. Just as sow apple seeds, reap apple fruits; sow orange seeds, reap orange fruits or Action 1 conjures up Reaction 1; Action 2 conjures up Reaction 2.
So, when one is dedicating one’s life towards Hell-like conditions, then the sub-conscious aggregates would retain the so-called ‘Hellish’ information that would carry on surpassing the demise time period. The retention would only weaken through conscientious goodwill prayers or persuasions being performed by the third parties (transference of merit).
Therefore, please be aware of the nature of circumstances that you are exposed to or associated with during your lifetime. And if possible, it is beneficial to create Heaven-like ambience at all times; more importantly during the closing chapter of your present life. This is because where you ended up to in the next phase of existence is dependent on the retained information in your sub-conscious aggregates - be it Heaven-like or Hell-like ones.
In conclusion, the fate in your next life is very much dependent on the characteristics of your sub-conscious aggregates. It is the originator or architect for the Heaven or Hell realm. Mould it well at all times and if possible, be enlightened to eradicate the suffering of it.
Once again – be freed, be liberated, be disappeared!
What is Enlightenment, Awakening, Nirvana?
Nirvana is a phenomenon beyond all conventional phenomena. Conventional phenomenon is subjected to conditional & duality influences – in continuous & constantly changing state of affairs. Nirvana phenomenon would arise when there is non-existence of conditional & duality influences – a complete neutralising state of affairs.
There is no mind, no thinking, no becoming, no changing, no evolution, no clinging, no wanting, no impermanency in Nirvana. Moreover, Nirvana is not about wanting for nothing. In the first place, there is no wanting to begin with, therefore, wanting could not be the cause for nothing. Letting go is not the same as giving up hope (a frustrated expression). Not to hope is not to become; not to become is not to cling and suffer.
So the choice is yours ultimately – to hope & suffer or not to hope and not to suffer. There is no right or wrong choice – but simply wholesome or unwholesome choice. Wholesome would mean seeing things as they truly are & in totality of perspectives; unwholesome would mean seeing things as they delusively are & in non-totality of perspectives. As such, for one to be awakened or otherwise is entirely a personal aspiration and not a commandment of sorts.
In Buddhism, there are no commandments to be found; no hierarchical ranking between followers, etc. All sorts of authoritative claims based on personal gratifications are purely egocentric in nature and devoted followers must not put in their faith blindly on anything; come what may.
To see it, know it and let go – no need to grasp it – this is how one practises ‘Seeing things as they are’ – see only with eyes and mind, don’t get into any involvement; more importantly – let go the self and ego factors.
Be freed, be liberated, be disappeared!
Energy? What is it about? How does it derived?
What is energy? It is generally described as the ability to cause change or do work. So, we are here talking about some sort of ‘ability’ to cause change or do work. Now, the next question would be, ‘Where on earth the ability does come from?’
For general understanding, conditional phenomenon is a necessary pre-requisite for energy to exist; without it, existence would be impossible. Let us conduct in-depth analysis into conditional phenomenon.
Conditional phenomenon is also known as dependent nature of phenomenon. While emptiness of phenomenon is static, dependent nature of phenomenon is dynamic – but why dynamic instead of static? It is because there is rise or fall event. Why is there rise or fall event? It is because there is balance or imbalance event. Why is there balance or imbalance event? It is because there is becoming event. Why is there becoming event? It is because there is ignorance in the dependent nature of phenomenon.
In other words, when one realises on the emptiness of phenomenon fully, the vicious cycle of dependent nature of phenomenon would come to an end. All things would then become static or frozen indefinitely or permanently.
Once again, energy is the fundamental element for all existence. Even the so-called soul or spirit or ghost is part of energy aggregates as it could positively be detected by the modern day electromagnetic devices.
Law of Karma & Science
Law of Karma is a natural phenomenon law discovered and realised by human civilisation long time ago; so as all the natural law principles testified and verified by modern scientists. In other words, the natural phenomenon law has ever existed since the dawn of time with or without any discoveries by human beings.
For general understanding, law of Karma is a comprehensive law that runs in phenomena full of complexity and way beyond the simple and straight forward action-reaction principles discovered by modern scientists. If we look intently at the Newton’s 3rd law of motion and law of Karma, both laws did share similarities in certain extent.
For instance, it is correct to say that good begets good, evil begets evil. When one pays to behave like an animal in the present life time, one would be repaid in the next life as an animal. Just as sow apple seeds, reap apple fruits; sow orange seeds, reap orange fruits or Action 1 conjures up Reaction 1; Action 2 conjures up Reaction 2.
Law of Cause & Effect in Motion
Generally speaking, there are two categories of motion – constant and variable motion. When we mention that the rising force of something would generate a new equal opposing force (law of balancing), we are actually referring to action or cause and reaction or effect process under constant motion phenomenon.
But under variable motion phenomenon, the law of balancing would orientate in a unique harmonising mechanism. Let us look at the following illustrations: -
Under constant motion circumstance, come factor equals to become factor: -
Come factor = Become factor
When come factor accelerates, the relative become factor would decelerate: -
Come factor ↑, Become factor ↓
(End results: Mental & physical progresses slow down à time dilation circumstance in Einstein’s special theory of relativity).
When come factor decelerates, the relative become factor would accelerate: -
Come factor ↓, Become factor ↑
(End results: Mental & physical progresses speed up à ambience of meditation. For now, we know that meditation is the way to speed up the path to Enlightenment and that is why monks or nuns need to become celibate and disengage themselves from the common society before re-engage again for spreading Dhamma.)
More examples: -
When a car stops suddenly in a quick action; the reaction process becomes slow down in relative to the action and this is a basis for greater inertia effects – serious injuries on the passenger.
When a car stops steadily in a slow action; the reaction process becomes faster in relative to the action and this is a basis for lesser inertia effects – mild injuries on the passenger.
When one launches a bullet towards a target – too fast an action would take the target longer time to react relatively.
If compared with launching a throw of baseball – slower an action would give relatively longer time for the target to react.
When one runs water on a piece of paper in low velocity; the atoms or molecules within the paper have sufficient time to react relatively quicker to hold tight as a scale unit and vice versa.
In reality, we always exist in motion that varies under the influence of conditional phenomena and this scenario coincides with the Buddha’s saying that the working result of Karma was one of the four unconjecturables and to speculate about it would bring madness and vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.
What is Space? What is Time?
Some people may say that time is an illusion and does not exist after all. So, what actually is time? Frankly speaking, time is something that is created; not born (a non-natural existence). Time is an indicator for event; whereas length, width & height are indicators for size and volume. All these indicators belong to a category named as dimension. In other words, dimension is created for the task of measurement per se and therefore, not something that arises out naturally.
Also, time is a scalar factor. A scalar refers to a quantity or phenomenon that exhibits magnitude only, with no specific direction. Example of scalars include speed, mass, electrical resistance, and hard-drive storage capacity. Any interval of time is also scalar - it has magnitude only.
On the other hand, space is a natural element in the realm of existence; just like energy and matter elements as well. Space is merely a plane for all activities of existence i.e. the orientation of energy or matter elements under balance and imbalance conditional phenomena. Presently, scientists have discovered that space has three spatial dimensions (length, width & height) and one temporal dimension; that is time. In cosmology, the concept of spacetime combines space and time to a single abstract universe. In fact, there is another X-factor dimension exists to accommodate for non-discerning circumstances.
As a summary, we could mention that the three spatial dimensions were created for expressing all existence under static phenomena and the combination of 3 + 1 + X-factor dimensions were created for expressing all existence under dynamic phenomena.
What actually happens to an object under accelerating motion?
When an object is set under accelerating motion, the becoming process of the object would be stretched as compared with a relative object that is set under constant or decelerating motion. In other words, the becoming process of the object has been slowed down comparatively; not the time has been dilated or slowed down. Time would only assume the expression that the becoming process has slowed down and not the other way round.
The principle in effect: -
Time is an expression that becoming process exists;
Becoming process is not an expression that time exists.
Length, width & height are expressions that size & volume exist;
Size & volume are not expressions that length, width & height exist.
Shadow is an expression that object & light exist;
Object & light are not expressions that shadow exists.
Effect A is an expression that Cause A exists;
Cause A is not an expression that Effect A exists;
Cause A is an expression that Effect pre-A exists.
In other words,
When no cause arises, no effect would arise;
When no object & light arise, no shadow would arise;
When no becoming process arises, no time would arise.
Similarly, the word of time has been used frequently for expressing different scenario of becoming processes, such as follows: -
NO TIME = an expression of no opportunity for a new becoming process to begin.
TIME TO TIME = an expression of moving from past to present becoming process; present to future becoming process.
TIME PASSED SLOWLY = an expression of hoping for a faster becoming process.
TIME DILATION = an expression that becoming process slows down.
Once again, time is a dimension because it is a scale of measurement created for gauging event of changes. Therefore, time could not be self-sustainable and has no entity. For one to reflect time as an entity is a point of view based on delusion, just like the misconception of self entity in beings. When there is no becoming process, there is no time. So, time does not exist in Nibbana.
What is Time travel? Possible?
Is it possible for someone to do a time travel to change on his or her destiny? Yes, it is plausible but with conditions. Generally, time is defined as a non-spatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future. In other words, past thoughts or actions would determine the present conditions; whereas, present thoughts or actions would determine the future conditions. Whatever things or events happening now are the consequences of past events taken place. Like a saying - I shall reap for what I sow.
When one has a chance to a do time travel it does not literally mean that one could do this; do that; undo this and that at whim and fancy. No, there can be no reshuffling of happenings. It is just like a saying - Seeing without sensing. In other words, one can do a time travel to the past or future condition from the present condition but has no influence on it. But then, one may ask since everything has been pre-determined or destined, what is there left for a change? Frankly speaking, while one can’t change the past condition, adjustment can still be done to the present condition to reduce the impact on the future condition.
One may have heard that some trained individuals or high ranking monks could relate future events while sustaining their physical form in the present phenomena by doing time travelling in the same plane of existence. This is what we commonly known it as future visions or de-ja vu experiences and it could save lives. Let us take an illustration of a forest at Mountain Island surrounded by a sea or ocean. Supposedly, Person A inhabits on lower ground within a dense forest and Person B inhabits on top of the mountain far-off from the dense forest.
On one fine day, there was an underwater earthquake miles and miles away from the island. Both Person A and Person B could not feel anything on the earthquake. But the earthquake has set off Tsunami and it was fast approaching the Mountain Island. Still both Person A and Person B continued with their respective daily activities with no inkling of the Tsunami approaching them.
But being positioned at the top of mountain, Person B has an added advantage. He could see the Tsunami from far distance and fast approaching the Mountain Island as compared with Person A who could see nothing but surrounding of trees. Person B has estimated the Tsunami would hit the island in 10 hours time and immediately alerted Person A who still has no idea about the imminent danger.
At the end of the day, we could conclude that underwater earthquake is equated to past condition; Person A and Person B is equated to present condition and Tsunami is equated to future condition.
So, can Person B prevent the Tsunami from hitting the Mountain Island? The answer is a Nay. But can Person B make adjustment on the impact caused by the Tsunami? The answer is a Yea. In addition, one could also do a time travel into another world of existence and return to relate one’s unique experiences. Let us take an example of the Buddha’s experience on achieving Nibbana while still sustaining in the Samsara world. Literally, time is absent on Nibbana and all elements - energy, matter and space are practically frozen.
When one does a time travel to the plane of Nibbana, one could literally glance at the plane of Samsara all events passing one after another from the present condition to past condition until the beginning of events. It is just like the vision from a stationed podium on a moving train locomotive and coaches.
From direct experience, time travelling to the future condition is plausible and could be evidently proven. detailed excerpts pertaining to several of my future visions or de-ja vu experiences that have taken place: -
The sinking of a boat in Johore.
– April 29, 2009
The death of Michael Jackson.
– June 25, 2009
The political situation in Malaysia revealed by Wikileaks.
– December 15, 2010
The simultaneous big floods in several countries.
– January 12, 2011
The death of Osama bin Laden.
– May 1, 2011
~ Ignorance triumphs when wise men do nothing ~