From the Universe to Human Nature
From The Universe to Human NatureIn most major regions, the basic idea is to worship or follow their own God or Gods. They believe human has a soul, which is different with a physical body. Buddhism has a unique view, which is different from others. Buddha views all life potentially the same including himself. Buddha has never viewed himself as an omnipotent God in his early suggestion. He is more like a teacher, who shows the path to people becoming enlightened by practicing. (Kupperman, The, 2012, p39) Buddha believes that life is full of suffering and to immune the suffering is to get rid of all the desires. Buddha also believes there is no “atman” in the human body. The word “atman” comes from a Hindu philosophical collection of texts Upanishads. It means the “soul” as a personal core infinitely and continually existing in time through reincarnation. (Kupperman, The, 2012, p29) Knowing no “atman” is the basic idea to understand our self and human nature. The existence of “atman” is always a worthy and inevitable question to inquire whether by ordinary people, philosophers or different religions.Buddha says: “ ‘There sons belong to me, and this wealth belongs to me,’ with such thoughts a fool is tormented. Himself does not belong to himself; how much less sons and wealth?” The sentence contains two mine theories of Buddha. The first idea is that Buddha denies the existence of “atman”. In Buddha’s view, everything in the world are objective and changeable, which includes the subject (human’s mind). (Kupperman, HN, 2012, p2) Therefore, if the world is objective and no one ever experienced the “atman”, there is no evidence to support that “atman” continually exists and remains the same through reincarnation. (Kupperman, The, 2010, p32). The second idea is about suffering. Buddha says that all humans will experience suffering. The reason behind suffering is human’s desire. Desire is the thought that comes from our “atman”. It is this belief of “atman” where all the “me “or “mine”, selfish desire and “mine” comes from. (Kupperman, The, 2010, p37.). Buddha gives the solution that if we realize the non-existence of “atman”; we will realize the substantial self is not as important as we thought. Knowing emptiness (no “atman”) can purify the mind of desire. The result that will come is the immunity of suffering (Kupperman, The, 2010, p41). Based on this theory, if a person can also practice Buddha’s way, that person may finally achieve to become enlightened. (Kupperman, The, 2010, p39.). In conclusion, what Buddha says in this sentence is that whether sons, wealth or all any other things are all objects in the world. We think something that belong to us and suffer from losing them. We are fooled by our thoughts and desires. If we realize that we ourselves are objects in the world and no different from others, we will not or care less about gaining and losing in our life.
Someone may notice there is a contradicting argument in Buddha’ theory. Like Upanishads, Buddha also talks about reincarnation. However, someone may ask if there is no “atman”. What is rebirth after both the physical body and soul dies? In the book “Theories of Human Nature”, a story that talks about the King Milinda, who asks his teacher, Nagasena, a Buddhist. “He who is born, Nagasena. Does he remain the same or become another?” Nagasena answers, “Neither the same nor another” (Kupperman, The, 2012, p37.). It seems to be a bizarre answer. In order to understand Nagasena’s words, we may have to take a deeper look into the reality meaning of “self” in both Upanishads and Buddha’s view.When most people think of “self” as an abstract core that is the subject of combination of characteristics, experiences and memories. Buddha comes up with a different answer. Buddha believes that not everything in the universe infinitely uniformed, while Upanishads believes there is something much more eternal must remain the same. When the concept of rebirth exists in Buddhism, essence is different from Upanishads’. The rebirth of Buddha’s view is not as a conscious core identified through reincarnation. We can think this way, every new life formed somehow connects and shares with other things such as gene, nutrition, elements, which gives the foundation for life to be continuously existent. We often say that death is the beginning of a newborn. The supersession of new and old is the cycle of the universe. Nagasena tells Milinda that he will be the same but not the same. It is either the physical appearance, which can be called as our numerical identity, a person’ characteristics or self-core, which can be called as our qualitative identity (SIDERIT, 2007). With the answer replied from Upanishads, the “same” will be the qualitative identity, the not “same” will be numerical identity. In Buddhism, we will find an opposite answer. This question is really about what substance can continually exist through reincarnation by numerical identity or qualitative identity. Obviously, Buddha will not agree the qualitative identity or self-core can continually exist. Buddha believes there is no single core that can be responsible for all the actions we have. A bundle of thoughts makes our mind. Our actions and characteristics performed by interactions of multiple habits, talent or skills. It determines the life we live. We can experience the happiness by having a happy characteristic or being a virtuous man by having a virtuous characteristic. These actions and thoughts can be a function well within a single core. (SIDERIT, 2007.) Buddha says “All that we are the result of what we have thought: it is founded in our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him” “All that we are…If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him…” (Kupperman, HN, 2012, p10) However, how to prove numerical identity can remain the same? It seems ridiculous to say a physical appearance can exist after the death. Buddha’s nature and universe philosophy may answer this question. When we think about physical appearance, most of us will think our physical body, legs, arms, organs, etc. If we are the one of the object in the universe, there are no difference between others and us. We share the connection with other beings and nature. Through reincarnation, the elements unit, disrupt and re-unit, which creates a new form. For example, after a star dies in the universe, the energy of this star will release to the space, which proves the foundation source for new stars to form. Energy will not disappear completely after the formation disintegrate. It transfers from one to another. Like all the natural elements that exist on earth.