Запретная тема. Христианский взгляд. Светский взгляд. Буддийский взгляд.

Оглавление Далее>>
Вера в вечную жизнь и в полное уничтожение. Вытеснение страха смерти и его последствия. Буддист и смерть.
Перевод Таблица Оригинал

The Great Unmentionable

(Note: It is still often thought today that any form of belief in an afterlife is "unscientific." To disarm any criticisms on that score, readers are referred to the Appendix in which the question is briefly treated.)

It is sometimes said that Death today has replaced Sex as "The Great Unmentionable," and certainly it is, for most people, an uncomfortable subject which they do not care to think about overmuch. Yet if there is one thing that is certain in life it is that we shall all die, sooner or later. There was once a creed which declared: "Millions Now Living Will Never Die," and it had great appeal — but all those who first heard it proclaimed are now dead. So we all have to face death, whether we like it or not. And we all know it, however we may try to forget the fact. Let us, then, at least for a while, stop trying to forget it and look death straight in the face. It is, of course, perfectly true that we can be too preoccupied with death. There are those who are eaten up with fear of death so that they hardly have any energy or zest for living, and there are some for whom mortality and all its accompaniments and trappings have a peculiar fascination. Facing death realistically does not mean being obsessed by it. Here, as in other respects, Buddhism teaches a Middle Way. For those who have an unhealthy preoccupation with the subject, it can teach a saner and more balanced concern; for those who seek at all costs to avoid thinking about it, it can likewise show a reasonable approach. Fear of death is an unwholesome state of mind, and for this, as for other unwholesome states of mind, Buddhism can show a remedy. In the West today, there are many different attitudes to death and a large number of people are probably quite bewildered by it, not knowing what to believe. But two main ones predominate: the Traditional Christian view and the Modern Secular view. The Traditional Christian view (which has many variations of detail) asserts the reality of an after-life, which the Modern Secular view denies or at the very least calls strongly into question.

The Traditional Christian View

This asserts that man has an immortal soul, created by God. After death a man will, in some shape or form, receive the reward or punishment for his deeds on earth. In short, the good will go to heaven and the wicked to hell. Heaven and hell are everlasting. Of course, many Christians — even fairly "traditional" ones — are more or less uneasy about this, especially about the eternity of hell, but this doctrine is still taught by many Churches in some form, with whatever loopholes or reservations. It should also be noted that on this view only man has an "immortal soul," and that (non-human) "animals" simply perish at death. A few Christians, especially in England, dislike this and hope to be reunited with their pets in another world. Inquiry would probably show that this is a genuine stumbling-block for more people than might have been supposed.

The Modern Secular View

According to this view, which usually claims to be "scientific," man is just another animal and, like the animals in the Christian view, simply perishes totally at physical death. This could actually be in part an unrecognized heritage from Christian thinking. The Christian says: "Animals have no souls." The Secularist caps this by saying: "Man is an animal, therefore he has no soul." Modern biology, medical science, psychology and so on tend markedly (whether quite explicitly or not) to take this view for granted. As has been stated and will be shown, the "scientific" basis for this attitude is at the very least, highly questionable. But its exponents are often people enjoying considerable prestige and are widely listened to by those who do not feel able to form an independent opinion on this subject.

The Buddhist Attitude

The Buddhist attitude to both of these types of view is that they are extremes, neither of which is in fact true. The first type of view is called in Buddhism "the heresy of eternalism" (sassatavaada), while the second is called "the heresy of annihilationism" (ucchedavaada). They both in fact miss the point.

What actually happens according to Buddhism can only be clearly understood if we have some acquaintance with the Buddhist view of the general nature of man. But before considering this (as far as it is relevant to our subject), it may be as well to observe how the Buddhist view can be misinterpreted. If we say, for instance, that in the Buddhist view man is not distinguished from animals by the possession of an "immortal soul," then this looks very like the Modern Secular position. If, on the other hand, it is pointed out that according to Buddhism we reap the rewards and penalties, after death, for our actions in this life, then this looks rather like the Traditional Christian view. If both propositions are stated to be correct, the result looks like a contradiction, though in fact it is not. These misapprehensions about Buddhism result from failure to realize the kind of "optical illusion" which occurs when a middle position is viewed from one of the extremes. If an island is exactly in the middle of a river then from either bank it looks closer to the opposite bank than to the observer. Only an observer on the island can see that it is equidistant. Viewed from the extreme left, any middle position looks much further to the right than it is, and vice versa. The same phenomenon is commonly observable in politics and other walks of life.

In this case, the true Buddhist view is that the impersonal stream of consciousness flows on — impelled by ignorance and craving — from life to life. Though the process is impersonal, the illusion of personality continues as it does in this life.

In terms of Absolute Truth, there is no "immortal soul" that manifests in a succession of bodies, but in terms of the relative truth by which we are normally guided, there is a "being" that is reborn. In order to gain Enlightenment, it is necessary to come to a realization of the situation as it is according to absolute truth; in order to face and begin to understand the problem of death we can, in the first instance, view it in terms of that "relative truth" which normally rules our lives and which has its validity in its own sphere. We need merely, for the present, to remind ourselves that this is but a "provisional" view of things. In this connection, too, we have to observe that we are dealing only with the question of death as it affects the ordinary person, not one who has attained Enlightenment.

We may therefore say that Buddhism, rejecting Annihilationism outright, partly agrees with the Eternalists, to the extent of accepting a form of Survival, without, for the moment, considering the differences further.

Оглавление Далее>>
Вера в вечную жизнь и в полное уничтожение. Вытеснение страха смерти и его последствия. Буддист и смерть.

Редакция перевода от 05.01.2015 15:18