在Maha-hatthipadopama-sutta 經，佛陀宣稱：見因緣者見法也，見法者見因緣也。在 Itivuttaka 佛陀說：如有比丘見法者，則見我也。在Aryasalistamba 經中，以上兩個說法合起來，勾畫出了一個等式：因緣＝法＝佛。雖則因緣法是佛教的一個核心教義，也是宇宙的一個真理，我們應該牢記在心的是佛之境界不可思議，佛還有其他的品質（如四智、十力、三十二相等等。）
然而對凡夫，這是一個十分令人驚恐的思想，佛陀深悉此中道理。如果我不存在，還需要做事嗎？還要用功修行呢？為什要清淨自心呢？佛教中無有一個存在或是永恆的實體，但是有一股意識流。這股意識流不斷地滌垢生淨，遷流不斷。但是我們不能給它貼一個標籤，說這一個自我。在日常語言中，我們時常說「我們」，也說「我」和「你」。為教眾生，佛假語言方便，但他從未說到自我是一個終極存在物。在 Mahayaba-sutralamkara 經中如此區別權教與實教，並勸說「只可說人因為我們言其存在而存在，而無真正之存在」。”
無我理論可以通過兩個方法來實證：一是通過觀想，二是智力分析。巴利文 Abhi-dharma 文學算計與分類，將宇宙分成極微元素。這種現像的原子分析論是必將它們析至空、至無。若以此方法，這一理論可以將生命以分析法將有分到極小的組成元素，進而入空。在佛教有不同層次和種類的空，最終都到空空，以防修行人執著頑空。五種空中，小乘方法可令人明白分析法空。成就空觀，小乘多修此法。
我們再繼續研究。Abhidharma Pitaka 將人分成一百七十二種組成元素（小乘），或是七十五種(Sarvastivadins)。可是問題是，以此小乘一百七十二種元素的分法讓人看成是絕對現實而不是傳統標法。持此觀點之人，只將空觀到一半；只知人空，未透法空。大乘佛教 Madhyamika 宗回駁這種「多元現實論」以他們自己的理論，即所有的現象都是空的，自我空與自性亦空。大乘佛教，不僅人空，亦空諸法，諸法不實。
空理的邏輯證據是由Madhyamika dialecti-cian Nagarjuna發展而成的。他說所有的現象都是空的，因為所有的現象都缺少一個根本與獨立的存在體。從經驗與邏輯上，他們都有相互依存緣生的關係。宣公上人說，自性之見最後走上執著、自私和煩惱之路。
From last issue:Causation, Dependent Origination, Free Will
In the Maha-hatthipadopama-sutta the Buddha declares, ”He who sees causality sees the Dharma, and he who sees the Dharma sees causality.” In the Itivuttaka the Buddha states, “A monk sees the Dharma and seeing the Dharma he sees me.” In the Arya-salistamba-sutra these two statements have been combined to give the equation causality = Dharma = Buddha. But even though causality is central to the Buddhist teaching, and indeed a cosmic principle, we should bear in mind that the Buddha’s state is inconceivable and that he has many other qualities as well (such as the Four Wisdoms, the Ten Powers, the 32 hallmarks, etc.).
The question of the freedom of the will has been central in Western philosophy and the various Indian schools had conflicting ideas of it as well. But in Buddhism, in the light of dependent origination, this question does not really arise. As all of existence is relative, conditioned, and interdependent, how could will alone be free? Naturally there is a conditioned and relative free will, but not an absolute one. Yet Buddhism does not teach fatalism, nor does it deny moral causation or man’s responsibility for his actions. But since will or volition [Skt. samskara, fourth of the five skandhas], has no independent or permanent existence, discussing its freedom or lack of freedom is rather pointless. As Bhikkhu Nyanatiloka explains:
The problem ‘whether man has a free will’, does not exist for the Buddhist, since he knows that, apart from these ever changing mental and physical phenomena, no such entity as ‘man’ can be found, and that ‘man’ is merely a name not relating to any reality. And the question, ‘whether will is free’, must be rejected for the reason that will, or volition, is a mental phenomenon flashing forth only for a moment, and that as such, it has no existence at the preceding moment. For a thing which is not, or is not yet, one cannot properly speaking, ask whether it is free, or unfree.
No Self and Emptiness
The doctrine of rebirth raises the question of who undergoes this constant process of being born and dying. Is there a permanent self that experiences rebirth? And, if so, what constitutes this self? Buddhism sees a person as composed of five psycho-physical components called aggregates or skandhas: form, feeling, cognition, formations, and consciousness. In Buddhism there is no ‘I’ or ‘ego’ or ‘self’ or ‘soul’ behind the flux of the five skandhas. This is the doctrine of no self. In his second sermon to the five Bhikshus the Buddha posited the three characteristics of existence--having no self, being impermanent, and subject to suffering--and advised the Bhikshus to see the skandhas thus: “All [skandhas] (...) should be understood by right knowledge in their real nature as: ‘These are not mine; these I am not; these are not my soul.’ As there is no self in the skandhas, and no self outside of them, the self cannot be located anywhere and is in fact a mere fabrication.
The teaching of no self is one of the most fundamental of the Buddha’s teachings. Suffering, the Buddha taught, is caused by our clinging to a self, an individuality that is illusory and does not exist. The ‘self’ that does not exist is not merely the personality, or ego, but also the basic self of our physical being, as well as the so-called ‘soul’ and various other levels of spiritual ‘Self.’ The ‘self’ of cosmic consciousness that identifies with the universe--which the Hindus call atman--is also included. All these are mere attachment to illusion.
Buddhaghosa’s verse illustrates how no self can be found in any actions:
Mere suffering exists, no sufferer is found;
The deeds are, but no doer of the deeds is there;
Nirvana is, but not the man that enters it;
The path is, but no traveller on it is seen.
However, to ordinary people this might be a very frightening idea, as the Buddha well knew. If ‘I’ don’t exist, why do anything? Why exert one’s efforts in cultivating the Way, or in purifying one’s mind? There is no being or permanent entity in Buddhism, but there is a stream of consciousness. It is this stream of consciousness that is gradually purified of all defilements. The stream of consciousness flows on, but it cannot be labelled a ‘self,’ a person. Yet in ordinary language we constantly refer to individual persons and talk of an ‘I’ and a ‘you.’ In order to teach living beings the Buddha adhered to linguistic conventions, but he never spoke of the self as ultimately existing. The Mahayana-sutralamkara distinguishes these two levels of conventional and ultimate meaning and advises: "A person should be mentioned as existing only in designation, but not in reality."
The doctrine of no self can be approached either through contemplation or through intellectual analysis. The Pali Abhidharma literature enumerates and classifies the basic elements of the universe in extremely fine detail. This atomistic analysis of phenomena reduces them to emptiness; in this way the doctrine of no self can be approached analytically, by splitting existence up into its ultimate constituent parts, into mere empty, insubstantial phenomena or elements. There are many lists of various kinds and levels of emptiness in Buddhism, ending with the emptiness of emptiness, which prevents the cultivator from falling into one-sided emptiness and becoming attached to the idea of emptiness itself. Of a list of five kinds of emptiness, the Theravada approach leads to the understanding of the emptiness of analyzed dharmas, which is a realization of emptiness cultivated by those of the Small Vehicle.
Following this line of investigation, the constituents of a person were laid down in the Abhidharma Pitaka as 172 (by the Theravadins) or 75 (by the Sarvastivadins) in number. The problem is that among the Theravadins these 172 constituents are sometimes seen as absolute realities instead of conventional appellations. Adherents to such a view apply the doctrine of no self only halfway: they see the emptiness of the person, but not the emptiness of phenomena. The Madhyamika school of Mahayana Buddhism countered this ‘pluralistic realism’ with their doctrine of all phenomena being empty, which declared all phenomena empty of own-being or inherent nature. For Mahayana Buddhists, not only is the person empty; all phenomena are empty and unreal as well. The logical proofs for the doctrine of emptiness were developed by the famed Madhyamika dialectician Nagarjuna. He stated that all phenomena are empty since they lack intrinsic, independent being. Both empirically and logically they can only occur in the mutual dependence of pratityasamutpada, dependent origination.
Master Hua discusses how the view of an inherent nature or self-nature leads to attachment, which inevitably leads to selfishness and afflictions:
If one says that one has a self-nature, then one has an attachment. If one thinks that there is no self-nature, then one is without attachment. If one has attachment, then one still has afflictions and ignorance. If one doesn’t have any attachments, then one is without afflictions and ignorance. (...) This teaching is to help people get rid of their attachments. Don’t be attached to the existence of a self. [If you’re not,] that is emptiness. (...) Therefore, don’t have any attachments. If one has attachments, then automatically one will give rise to ignorance and afflictions. If one has attachments, there is selfishness, and then one is bound to have afflictions. When one has no attachments and there is no self, then there is no selfishness and there are no afflictions.
To be continued