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The Concept of Personality Revealed Through The Pancanikaya - Ven. Thich Chon-Thien
Institute of Buddhist Studies
Saigon, Vietnam

Part Two: Dependent Origination

II.2 Chapter 2

In the Light of Dependent Origination


The problems often discussed in a culture are the outlook on life and universe, individual questions, environment and values. These problems play their role in determining the course of development of culture. They are going to be reviewed in this chapter in the light of Dependent Origination.


Examining the origin or nature of life and universe is the main task of the sphere of metaphysics. This problem has a very important position in philosophy. It was examined from the dawn of Egyptian, Indian and Chinese thought. This is the searching for the essence of existing things relating to the problem of eternity and non - eternity, self and non - self, reality and annihilation, creator and creations, etc.

Lord Buddha Gotama, who Himself realized the Noble Truth, considered all metaphysical questions empty. He often kept silent and gave no answers to such metaphysical questions, because for Him, those questions do not realistically relate to the purpose a monk should aim at - that is the final freedom. This experimental attitude of His mind is mentioned in many discourses of the Pancanikāya. However, on the author’s way to study universe and human beings, some philosophical problems relating to spirituality and materiality are necessary tobe discussed.

When a man is examining universe, he is with it in the here - and- now. How can he know what the universe really is when he cannot understand who he really is? So, the practical thing for him is turning back to himself and seeing where and who he is so that he can come to the destruction of all hindrances to the truth of things. In doing this, he is to follow a practical method of phenomenology, and experimental method of mind by Lord Buddha.

For materiality, Lord Buddha declared that the material world is formed by the Four Great Elements as many Indian thinkers before Him did: they are Earth element, Water element, Fire element and Air element. These elements are dynamic and impermanent, so all existing things compounded by them must be impermanent. The question about the originof them is unacceptable to the truth of Dependent Origination as discovered by Lord Buddha; it becomes senseless.

According to Dependent Origination, this pheno menal world is conditioned, selfless and empty; human beings are but the compound of the five aggregates (pancakkhandha) which are selfless and empty; both the world and men co - exist, but cannot separate from each other. This truth was proved again by Lord Buddha’s teaching recorded in the discourse of Mahāpunnama (Majjhimanikāya,Vol.III) and of Dhātuvibhanga (Majjhimanikāya, Vol. III): Form aggregate among the five aggregates compounding a manincludes an inside part which is his physical body, and an outside part which is the physical world; this means the universe itself is a part of a man’s body.

Since men’s thought is limited by self - thought and by the limit of men’s sense organs, it cannot set its feet on the true world of things, so people may ask: does this universe exist as what human beings perceive? or, does it exist independently from what human beings perceive?

In response to the above questions, the realists claim the universe appears exactly as what human beings perceive; the Western idealists supposed men can know only the world perceived by their sense organs, but can never know the world itself, as Platon did; Immanuel Kant is a rationalist but he accepted that idealist point of view. Although there are various regards to things, Western philosophers and educators believe that there is an objective world independent from human beings that can never be known. This means to the author the root difference between Lord Buddha’s teaching and other schools of thought, and gives him a hope to find solutions for the crises caused by the self - thought way.

Once, in the discourse of Pātigamiya (Khuddakanikāya), Lord Buddha Gotama mentioned the unconditioned world (asankhāra) as the world existing out of the sphere of going and coming, birth and death etc., and declared that is the world of the destruction of suffering, or of attachment to things. This proves that the world people see and know is that of attachment or of inversions (mental, perceptual, emotional inversion andinversion of view) which is derived from ignorance (avijjā).

The true world is therefore this phenomenal world without men’s attachment to things. Lord Buddha affirmed:

" And, I, Bhaggava, who teach this and declare this, am wrongly, vainly, lyingly, and falsely accused by some ascetics and Brahmins who say: The ascetic Gotama is on wrong track, and so are His monks. He has declared that whoever has attained to the stage of deliverance called "the Beautiful" finds everything repulsive". But I do not say this. What I say is that whenever anyone has attained to the stage of deliverance called the Beautiful he finds that it is beautiful". (1)

("Evam - vādim kho mam Bhaggava evam akkhāyim eke Samana- Brāhmanā asatā tucchā musā abhutena abbhācikkhanti: Viparito Samano Gotamo, bhikkhavo, ca. Samano Gotamo evam āha: -Yasmim samaye subham vimokham upasampajja viharati, sabbam tasmim samaye asubhan t’eva sanjānātiėti". Na kho panāham Bhaggava evam vadāmi: "Yasmim samaye subbam vimokham upasampajja viharati, sabbam tasmim samaye asubhan t’eva sanjānātiėti. Evanca kho aham Bhaggava vadāmi: Yasmim samaye subbham vimokham upasampajja viharati, subhan t’eva tasmim samaye sanjānātiėti".) (2)

The above teaching also reveals Lord Buddha’seducational point of view which is: educating men means helping them culivate their mind for the deliverance from all troubles and defilements. When their mind is pure, they will immediately see the purity of the world (or the true world): Happiness and truth appear at the same time to them. It is not training them according to any theory of personality, or any pattern of education. It is not either the searching for the origin of life or universe.

Then another question may be asked: spirituality comes after materiality, or materiality comes after spirituality? - This is a problem of philosophy.

As mentioned before, man’s thinking operates on the basis of self - concept. Without self - concept, it cannot function. It is self - concept which makes up the concept of order of things, then the concept of "before", "after" or "the first cause". Reality itself has nothing to do with that self - concept. It always says that materiality or spirituality is conditioned as the doctrine of Dependent Origination does. If form aggregate cannot separate from other aggregates, materiality cannot either separate from spirituality: both co - exist. However, because of the emphasis of cultivating man’s mind, Lord Buddha declared:

" All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage". (3) Dhp.1.

(" Manopubbangamā dhammā manosetthā manomayā

Manasā ce padutthena bhāsati vā karoti vā

Tato nam dukkhamanveti cakkam va vahato padam".) (4)

-" All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him like shadow that never leaves him".(5) Dhp.2.

(" Manopubbangamā dhammā manosetthā manomayā

Manasā ce pasannena bhāsati vā karoti vā

Tato nam sukhamanveti chāyā va anapāyini".) (6)

Men should be sure that thought (or mind) mentioned in the above teachings is conditioned, even the Tibhava, or three Worlds, they are conditioned; and all conditioned things, as materiality and spirituality, are selfless and therefore empty. Only problem of suffering of man and its cessation, but not speculations, was considered seriously by Lord Buddha on His way of teaching.

Knowledge is another important matter to be reviewed. It relates to existing things and is so close to a man that he considers it something of his self. What is it? A knowledge of the outer world is but a synthesis of the sources of information given by sense - organs. But sense - organs are not believable information givers. For example, when a man puts his left hand in a basin of cold water, his right hand in a basin of pretty hot water; then right after that he puts both hands in a basin of warm water; his hands do not give him the same feeling. This is an error. It is the same for other sense organs. The above synthesis is done by the man’s thinking based on self -thought, so it is something of ignorance. Therefore, knowledge must not belong to the true self of the man, or to the true world. In the light of Dependent Origination, it leads men just to suffering; it really is not what human beings are expecting.

A system of education, which as almost all systems of education of today world only offers men knowledges, will not bring happiness to them. It should be adjusted as early as possible.

In addition to the above clarification, the doctrine of Dependent Origination, to the author’s knowledge, can suggest new regards to the problems of individuals, society and environment that will be studied next.


The big problems of a modern society with which leaders, educators and thinkers are concerned are individuals, individuals and society, history and environment, because these things have a very close relationship to individual happiness and survival; they seem to exist as a part of human existence, therefore they deserve to be observed under the light of truth- Dependent Origination.

Individuals and happiness:

It is very evident that everybody is born to be happybut not suffering, to serve his practical purpose of happiness but not any other purpose that does not relate intimately to it. It is also very evident that one is searching for truth of life because of his peace of mind in the here and now. So, the main object of education and culture must be individuals, and the root aim of education and culture must be happiness of individuals.

From the very old days, human beings gathered together in groups called tribes for their survival for the improvement of their life, and for the coping suitably with weather, environmental conditions and nature. It is these things which made up what is called society, culture and civilization. Since life stream was flowing from change to change, human beings’ efforts to build up their happiness and society must have changed from generation to generation accordingly. Then individuals came to work for two inseparable purposes: one for individuals, one for their group or society. When these two purposes did not work, individual problems arose and needed solutions. However, people’s regards to individuals, society and happiness are different from each other. This made the problems become more and more complicated, and the searching for solutions became the reason for religions and schools of thought to come into existence and to be developed. Let us follow the typical regards to them from great spheres of culture all over the world.

P.T. Raju, in the work titled "The concept of Man" edited by him and S.Radhakrishnan, gave the following comments:

For Greek thoughts :

"The pre - sophist philosophies did not say much about man’s relation to society... The sophists were more individualistic, being mainly devoted to training leaders of men who would influence society and use it as means to their own ends... Each man was the measure of things for himself, not only of things cognized but also of good and evil in society. But Plato and Socrates were opposed to this radical individualism and relativism of the sophists. Man, the measure of things, is not to be the particular man, but the universal man. The structure of society and the structure of man’s soul reflect each other, and are interdependent. The essence of man is rearon and is found in a rationally ordered society. The modern idea that the individual cannot be studied apart from society and that the personality of man is formed by society and grows in society, is not strong in Greek thought...

Socrates and Platon showed that society is a projection of human nature on a vast canvas or is a much enlarged reflection, of human nature. Man cannot live without society and can have full life only within it.

...Aristotle, a rationalist accepted main principles of Platon. Man cannot be man without society.. (7)

For Chinese thoughts:

"In Chinese thought, man’s concern for man is thestrongest and is considered to be self - sufficient... and how to have the best kind of state and society in which man can be virtuous is an ever - recurring question in the history of Chinese philosophy.

" Study human relationships in order to organize the state well is Confucian advice... When Mencius says that the universe, which is the universe of human relationships, is to be found within mind, he meant that this universe can be found within man and is not to be derived from any reality outside man. Hsun Tzu different from Mencius and said that man is essentially selfish and evil and therefore needs education and culture in order to become good...

... Man is essentially a social creature and can live a virtuous life only in a society of men, whether God exists or not. (8)

For Indian thoughts, they seem to be the most interesting of the world as mentioned in (I.2.)

For Marxist thought, P.T. Raju estimated:

" Marxist philosophy proceeds from the thesis that the individual is a social creature... Marx and Engels considered that the individual and the social life of a person are not different things, even though they have different forms of expression... "Man can settle only in society", Marx wrote, "Only in society can his individuality be revealed in accordance with the social conditions". (9)

In the author’s opinion, Greek thoughts belong to dualism supposing that every existing has its own nature, regardless of the point of view considering individual and society interdependent or not. So, they must belong to the operation of ignorance (avijja) which actually leads to suffering.

Chinese thoughts emphasize individuals as virtuous men living in the order of a society well - organized. They are but the production of self - thought, not of reality itself. These thoughts must bring troubles to individuals as people could see in the history of China: many tragical contradictions among human relationships happened.

Generally, to human beings’ point of views, Lord Buddha Gotama gave the following estimate:

" When those ascetics and Brahmins who are speculators about the past (the future and present), having fixed views about the past (the future and present), put forward views in sixty two different ways, that is merely the feeling of those who do not know and see, the worry and vascillation of those immersed in craving". (10)

("Tatra, bhikkhave, ye te samanabrāhmanā pubbantakappikā ca pubbantakappikā ca aparanta kappikā ca pubbantāparantā- parantānuditthino pubbantāparantam ārabbha aneka - vihitam adhivutti padāni abhivadanti dvā - satthiyā vatthųhi, tad api tesam bhavatam samana brāhmānanām ajānatam apassatam vedayitam tanhā - gatānamparitasitavipphanditam eva".) (11)

With His perfection of wisdom, Lord Buddha did know and see the truth of this Universe, then explained the formation of this earth and human beings’ society that may be summarized as below: (12)

- At the time of the contraction of this world, beings were mostly born in the Ābhassara Brahmā world. There they dwell, mind - made, feeding on delight, self - luminous, moving through the air, glorious...

- At the time of the expansion of this world, the beings having passed away from Ābhassara Brahmā world were mostly reborn in this world. Here they dwell, mind - made, feeding on delight, self - luminous, moving through the air, glorious...

- At that period expansion, there was just one mass of water; all was darkness...; night and day were not distinguished, beings being reckoned just as beings, no male and female were discriminated...

- Then earth appeared as a skin that forms over water with the colour of fine ghee or butter and was very sweet like wild honey.

- Then some beings of greedy nature tasted earth, attached the flavour; craving began to arise in them. They became more greedy, and earth became stuffy; they became coarser and coarser.

- Among those beings, those with less greedy nature became more good - looking, others became ugly. The good - looking dispised the ugly; this made the good flavourof earth disappear. Then, a fungus cropped up, in the manner of a mushroom with good colour, smell and taste.

- Then, beings’ craving increased more and more, earth became worse and worse, and beings became coarser and coarser.

- The rice appeared in open spaces, free from powder and from husks, fragrant and clean - grained. What beings had taken in the evening for supper had grown again and was ripe in the morning, and what they had taken in the morning for breakfast was ripe again by evening. At this time, beings became coarser; females developed female sex - organs, and males developed male - organs; passion was aroused and their bodies burnt with lust; then sexual intercourse appeared.

- At first times, beings cursed and swore at those who were making love, and threw dust and ashes at them; and did not allow them to live with others in villages, towns two months.

- Beings became more and more lazy and wanted to gather rice as much as possible and keep rice in their own places for personal use..., then rice fields appeared... sexual life was openly acceptable. Beings started building houses to cover sexual activities.

- Then some beings stole rice of others: stealing and lying appeared.

- Then beings chose the best looking man and asked him to be the one as a lawyer or a referee to try the cases of stealing rice. This person received a share of rice from them; he did not have to work for rice. Thiswas the start of the social class of Khattiya.

- Some beings kept away from a sexual life, lived in separate places in leaf - huts in forest, and practised meditation. They were called Brahmins. Some of them could not meditate in lonely places and turned to towns or villages to compile books; they were also considered as Brahmins.

- Other beings adopted various trades and were called Vessas. Those who went to forests for hunting were named Suddas.

So, right after this Earth was formed, the first beings from Ābhassara heaven appeared without need for food. Then the sweet taste of earth and rice attracted them and made desire for things arise and grow up in them. After that, sex organs appeared together with desire for sexuality. When their desire grew up, social needs existed requiring social organization: human society was formed then, and social classes came into existence according to beings’ conduct: society was for the response to the individuals’ requirements only. This is the first and last role of society. This is the reason why Lord Buddha concerned only about suffering of individuals in this life, and their deeds for their happiness. He therefore taught:

" One does not become an outcast by birth, one does not become a brahmin by birth. It is by deed that one becomes an outcast, it is by deed that one becomes a brahmin. (13)

("Na jaccā vasalo hoti, na jaccā hoti brāhmano, Kammanā vasalo hoti, kammuna hoti brāhmano".) (14)

Society should do nothing but help individuals resolve their problems by their own deeds. Culture and tradition which are belongings of a society should do the same thing. This is the most traditional meaning of the role of society, culture or tradition. And the most original or traditional meaning of individuals’ purpose of life may be, at least as it happened in the beginning of this world, a peaceful mind of self - delight.

The world of today appears as a whole society very great with so many problems to be resolved relating to languages, political systems, customs, ways of life, religions, beliefs, race, sex, ..., and environment. All these things which put a lot of strong influences on men are existing as a very rough ocean sinking a boat of individuals. In those conditions of life, individuals feel so strange to themselves that they are surprisingly asking about their origin while they actually are there, and the truth of life is there. Because of this, Lord Buddha, who did know and see the past and future of this universe, declared:

" Do not say that, Ānanda, do not say that! This dependent origination is profound and appears profound. It is through not understanding, not penetrating this doctrine that this generation has become like a tangled ball of string, covered as with a blight, tangled like coarse grass, unable to pass beyond states of woe, the ill destiny, ruin and the round of birth-and-death". (15)

("Mā h’evam, Ānanda, avaca, mā h’evam avaca. Gambhėro c’ayam, Ānanda, paticca samuppādogambhėrāvabhāso ca. Etassa, Ānanda, dhammassa ananubodhā appativedhā evam ayam pajā tantākulaka - jātā gulāgunthika - jātā munjababbaja - bhuųtā apāyam duggatim vinipātam samsāram nātivattati".) (16)

Indeed, when this culture cannot help individuals be themselves and cannot bring them happiness, human beings will not have any choice other than accepting the fateful suffering as they are, if its course of operation is not changed. A phenomenon, as the evident result of the current culture, happening is the grave pollution of environment which may cause disaster on Earth. There must be something wrong in men’s course of thought and action that needs to be adjusted for the protection of environment from pollution. This is the subject of hot discussion of our time that the author is going to mention in (II.2.3.). In his opinion, without understanding the close relationship between man and nature, people cannot understand what a man really is; without protecting environment from pollution as protecting men’s life from suffering, human beings will come to their ruin.


What is environment? What is pollution of environment? Let us start examining it now.

Environment is a new term of nature. A new study branch on environment of the modern time is called ecology.

Some concepts of ecology:

Ecology is relatively a new science dealing withvarious principles which govern the relationships between organisms and their environment. American ecologist Frederick Clements (1916) considered ecology to be "the science of the community"; British ecologist Charles Elton (1927) defined ecology as "scientific natural history" concerned with the "sociology and economics of animals"; Woodbury (1954) treated ecology as "a science which investigates organisms in relation to their environment, and a philosophy in which the world of life is interpreted in terms of natural processes". Krebs (1972) defined it as "the scientific approach to the study of environmental interactions which control the welfare of living things, regulating their distribution, abundance, reproduction and evolution".

P.D. Sharma (F.N.I.E.) (Department of Botany, Univ. of Delhi) wrote in his book titled "Ecology and Environment" that:

" These days ecology has been contributing very much to socio- economic, political and other similar policies of the world. It is so common to find references of ecology in socio - economic writings, magazines, weekly and daily newspapers... Ecology indeed plays an important role in human welfare. This is primarily a field subject and modern ecology which is concerned with the functional interdependencies between living things and their environment". (17)

P.D. Sharma introduced many basic concepts of ecology, in this part the author only quotes sometypical ones:

*"All living organisms and their environment are mutually reactive, affecting each other in various ways. Animal population, flora, and vegetation are interdependent through the environment and are mutually reactive". (18)

*"Environment, which is actually a complex of several inter-related factors and is much dynamic (i.e. varying with time and space), works as a sieve selecting organisms for growth from so many forms, as its one or the other factor becomes critical at critical stages of the life cycle of the species". (19)


*"It is not only environment which influences the life of organisms, but organisms too modify their environment as a result of their growth, dispersal, reproduction, death, decay etc. Thus, the environment is caused to change due to organisms’ activities. The dynamic environment and organisms make ways for the development of different kinds of organisms through a process known as succession. The process continues till the development of a community which is now able to keep itself adjusted in equilibrium with the environment. This final stage of community is called climax". (20)

The above three quotations prove that there is a live relationship between men and environment which iscontinuous, inseparabable and natural. This very close relationship says that violating environment means violating individuals’ life as people could see from the current environmental crisis.

Environmental crisis:

The current environmental crisis is enviromental pollutions: air, water, earth pollutions. These pollutions as recorded in books, magazines, etc., are caused by atomic tests, chemical arms tests, by poisonous gas emitted from engineering factories, and by the fast increase of world population, etc.

The term pollution is defined by the Environmental Pollution Panel of the President’s Science Advisory Committee in its report: "Restoring the Quality of Our Environment", held in November, 1965, as follows:

"Enviromental pollution is the unfavorable alteration of our surroundings, wholly or largely as a by - product of man’s actions, through direct or indirect effects of changes in energy patterns, radiation levels, chemical and physical constitution and abundances of organisms. These changes may affect man directly, or through his supplies of water and of agricultural and other biological products, his physical objects or possessions, or his opportunities for recreation and appreciation of nature". (21)

For air pollution produced in a year by human sources in the U.S.A., Edward J. Kormondy recorded (21 b)

(millions of tons per year)
* Natural dusts 63
* Forest fires 56.3
* Transportation 1.2
* Incineration 0.931
* Other minor sources 1.284
* TOTAL 122.715

Mentioning the problem of "Nuclear energy - Salvation or Damnation?", E.F. Schumacher, in his book titled "Small is Beautiful" wrote:

" Of all the changes introduced by man into the household of nature, large - scale nuclear fission is undoubtedly the most dangerous and profound. As a result, ionising radiation has become the most serious agent of pollution of the environment and the greatest threat to man’s survival on earth. The attention of the layman, not surprisingly, has been captured by the atom bomb, although there is at least a chance that it may never be used again. The danger to humanity created by the so called peaceful uses of atomic energy may be much greater". (22)

For water and earth pollution, E.F. Schumacher added:

"No international agreement has yet been reached on waste disposal. The conference of the International Atomic Energy Organization at Monaca, in November, 1959, ended in disagreement, mainly on account of the violent objections raised by the majority of countries against the American and British practice of disposal into the ocean. "High level" wastes continue to be dumped into the sea, while quantities of so - called "intermediate" and "low level" wastes are discharged into rivers or directly into the ground. An AEC report observes laconically that the liquid wastes work their way slowly into ground, water, leaving all or part (sic !) of their radioactivity held either chemically or physically in the soil". (23)

From the above quotations, it can be imagined how dangerous the current environmental pollution is, how threatened human beings life on earth is !

This pollution must be an evident result of the modern scientific civilization with its fast and uncontrolled development of industries and economics. This civilization, in its turn, is the result of a very high development of self- thought, way of thinking and enjoying pleasures of men. So, the main causes of the great environmental crisis which is being warned are ignorance (avijjā) and craving (tanhā) of men. Here, it may be asked whether Lord Buddha’s teaching on the truth of Dependent Origination (Paticcasamuppāda) can give a solution to it?

As mentioned before, the element of Name - and - Form (Nāma - Ruųpa) of the Dependent Origination is considered as the five aggregates of human beings which were defined by Lord Buddha Gotama as follows:

" And what, brethren, are the five factors? All body, brethren, be it past, future, or present, inward or outward, gross or subtle, low or lofty, far or near, that is called "the body factor".

Every feeling, every perception, all activities, ...,every consciousness, be it past, future or present, inward or outward, etc, that is called the "Consciousness factor". (24)

("Yam kinci, bhikkhave, ruųpam atėtānāgatapaccuppannam ajjhattam vā bahiddhā vā olārikam vā sukhumam vā hėnam vā paniėtam vā yam dure santike vā ayam vuccati ruųpakkhandho // Yā kāci vedanā // yā kāci sannā // pe // ...ayam vuccati vinnānakkhandho //".) (25)

Twenty six centuries ago Lord Buddha did give human beings a very interesting and extremely surprising definition: the body aggregate of a man includes his physical body and this whole physical world. This definition affirms that environment or nature really is the body, or a big part of the body, of a man; without it he cannot come into exsistence and survive. If nature or environment is gravely polluted, his physical body or life will immediately come to its ruin. So, if everybody understands the truth of Dependent Origination, or if allmeans of communication of men introduce this doctrine, he will voluntarily protect environment from pollution as he can, because this is the meaning of protection of his happiness and survival in this life.

It may be said that the science of ecology and the danger of the enviromental pollution are offering human beings a vision that there is no limit of the physical body of a man: it cannot be limited to the extent of his own body, of his country or of any continent: this is the real meaning of selflessness of his body. It is similar for his other aggregates. Does this truth say the Buddha’s doctrine of selflessness or Dependent Origination is the solution for the environmental crisis? - In the author’s opinion, Dependent Origination may be the solution for various problems of men. Let’s continue examining it.


To men, living means living with knowledges and values of life. As people could understand, the role of education is imparting to men knowledges about spheres of learning, nature and human beings. These knowledges, their values and the value itself, in fact, are created by men’s thinking which has been discussed about in philosophy as well as in education. What is men’s thinking? What is the meaning of the current values of life? The answers to these questions are what the writer must reach in this part of his work. These are great philosophical problems.

Mentioning philosophy, P.T. Raju wrote:

" Philosophy, if it is true to itself, has to be aphilosophy of life, not of one part of life but of the whole. This life is the life of man. He wants a theory of life as a guide. Other creatures do not care for any such theory, the drives themselves of their nature are enough for them. The aim of philosophy to be a guide to life is tacitly recognized by thinkers like Russel, who, speaking of logical analysis, says at the end of his book, "A History of Western Philosophy", that it also is meant to suggest and inspire a way of life" (26)

Chandradhar Sharma supposed:

" The etymological of the word "philosophy" is "love of learning" (or love of knowledge). It signifies a natural and a necessary urge in human beings to know themselves and the world in which they "live and move and have their being" It is impossible for man to live without a philosophy...

Western philosophy has remained more or less true to the etymological meaning of "philosophy", in being essentially an intellectual quest for truth. Indian has been, however, intensely spritual and has always emphasized the need of practical realization of truth..." (27)

As the above expressions suggest, the author also thinks that the common meaning of philosophy to be concerned much about is serving human beings and their happiness in life, and that the western way of thinking is different from the Eastern way: the former emphasizes knowledges about life, the latter concerns about therealization of the truth of life. This difference will be clarified if we examine men’s way of thinking, in general, expressed by Aristotle, a Greek great philosopher, as the following:

For Aristotle, there are three basic principles for men’s thinking:

1. Principle of identity: A thing called (A) must always be (A). If it changes from moment to moment, men’s thinking cannot operate.

2. Principle of no-contradiction: A thing called (A) may be named (A) or(<>A), but not sometimes (A), sometimes ( <>A). If it is often changed, men’s thinking cannot work.

3. Principle of excluded middle: A thing may be called (A) now, and (B) at another time, but not (A +B) - half is A and half is B-.

If it is (A + B), men’s thinking can never function. (28)

Those principles presuppose that every existing thing has a fixed nature, while in life it changes from moment to moment. This is a big gap between men’s knowledges about life and life itself that can never be filled up.

It is the above way of thinking which puts value on all things. Having no root in reality, these values only make men confused in making any choice between conventional values and the real life, and only brings them tragedies.

Having seen this wrong view and thought, Lord Buddha taught the doctrine of Dependent Originationshowing that men’s thinking is Activities element (sankhāra), or Activities aggregate of the five aggregates of Name- and - Form element (Nāma - Rųpa), which is of the operation of Ignorance (avijja) leading to suffering. So the true values of things exist only in the operation of wisdom (vijjā or pannā) or men’s regard of wisdom.

It is the above thinking which forces men to search for the first cause of life and the nature of man (or personality) which never exist in life as well as the conventional values.

In the author’s opinion any search for personality or any search for the essence of things is but a utopia. This problem will be discussed much more in the next part.


(1) : "Discourse on Pātika, Long Discourses, Translation by Maurice Walshe, Wisdom Publications, London, 1987, p.382.
(2) : "Pātika-Sutta", Dėgha-Nikāya, Vol. III, PTS, London, 1992, p. 34.
(3) : Dhammapada, Verse No. 1, Tr. by F. Max Muller, Sacred Books of the East, Reprinted by Motilal Banarsidass, 1992, p. 3.
(4) : Dhammapada, Verse No. 1, Devanāgari, Ist Edition, 1977, Department of Buddhist Studes, Delhi University.
(5) : Dhammapada, Verse No. 2, Translation by F. Max Muller,..., 1992, p.4.
(6) : Dhammapada, Verse No. 2, Devanāgari,..., Delhi University.
(7) : "The Concept of Man", edited by Radhakrishnan, P.T. Raju, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1992, p. 334.
(8) : Ibid., p. 335.
(9) : Ibid., pp. 511-512.
(10) : "Discourse on Brahmajāla", Long Discourses, Tr. by Maurice Walshe, Wisdom Publications, London, 1987, p. 88.
(11) : "Brahmajāla-Sutta", Dėgha-Nikāya, Vol. I, PTS, London, 1975, p. 41.
(12) : "Discourse on Knowledge of Beginnings", Vol. I, PTS, London, 1975, p. 41.
(13) : "Discourse on Vasala", Suttanipāta, Minor Sayings, PTS, London, 1985, p. 14.
(14) : "Vasala Sutta", Suttanipāta, Khuddakanikāya, PTS, London, 1990, p. 24.
(15) : "Discourse on Dependent Origination", Long Discourses, tr. by Maurice Walshe,..., p. 223.
(16) : "Mahānidāna-Sutta", Dėgha-Nikāya,Vol. II, PTS, London, 1982, p.55.
(17) : P.D. Sharma, "Ecology and Environment", Rastogi Publications, 6th edition, 1992, p.2.
(18) : Ibid., p. 14.
(19) : Ibid., p. 14.
(20) : Ibid., p. 14.
(21) : Edward J. Kormondy, "Concept of Ecology", Prenticehall of India, Private Limited, New Delhi-110001, 1991, p. 246.
(21b) : Ibid., p. 268.
(22) : E.F. Schumacher, "Small is Beautiful", An Abacus book, Printed in England by Clays Ltd. St. Ires plc, 1993, p. 112.
(23) : Ibid., p. 113.
(24) : Kindred Sayings, Vol. III, PTS, London, 1992, p. 41.
(25) : Samyutta-Nikāya, Vol. III. PTS, London, 1975, p. 47.
(26) : P.T. Raju, "The Concept of Man",..., 1992, p.30.
(27) : Chandradhar Sharma, "A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy", Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Pvt., Ltd, Delhi, 1991, p. 13.
(28) : Spaulding, "The New Rationalism", New York, Henry Holt and Company, 1918, pp. 106-107.

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