可以說它正被取代。新的東西更有活力和朝氣。拉丁文字 Vita 是指生命，所以我們說的是生物能量，或生命能量，或類似之物，只要是掛個「生」字的。
In our contemporary world, old-fashioned concepts of physics are often challenged. The challengers frequently use the word "process". We also hear about "fields of energies". These remind one of flocks of birds flying as if all of them were a single body. Starlings in particular do that. They all turn at once and for a moment we hardly see them. They become invisible, but we know that they are still there. Let me carry this metaphor a little further: we think about a field of flowers, poppies, for example, and the field is all alive, something is moving through it, as spring comes and goes, or even as the wind blows. In our electronic age we are beginning to view our whole world a little bit like a field through which a movement passes, creating such illusions as the flock of birds, and the field of poppies. We are realizing that our world is not really a substance that operates thanks to a mechanical movement like a wind-up toy. Rather it could be compared to a field through which some form of energy passes by. These days we often call this field of energy "a process," and could expand the metaphor by saying that our world is a process that is blowing through a field. So the role of old-fashioned physics as we old people learned it in our traditional schools is not dominant any longer. It is in the process of being transformed into something else.
What, may we ask?
We could venture to say that it is being replaced by something that has more life in it, something more alive, or more "vital". The word vita means "life" in Latin, so we are talking about bio-energy, or life energy, or simply something with a biological orientation.
This contemporary change and process of transforming our concept of the world brings all of us a little closer to Buddhism. To be more exact, it brings us closer to some specific aspects of Buddhism. In order to understand this, it is necessary to dwell a little more on the concept of Karma.
Let me quote a very Buddhist phrase, "Enmity is never appeased by enmity, but it is appeased by non-enmity." This phrase can be taken as a starting point for a Western modern interpretation of Buddhism.
The above phrase is found in a Latin translation of the
Dhammapada that was published in 1855. This translation sparked the curiosity of a well-known Western thinker called Nietzsche. He built a whole system of philosophy on it and influenced many people. The point that he was making is also relevant to our discussion of Karma. Nietzsche stressed the fact that it is important to focus on the emotion of enmity as unhealthy, as something that decreases life, that decreases our "vital" energy. Therefore human beings need not struggle against sin as the evil thing, but against this feeling of enmity which causes us to suffer and weakens our body. It consumes us. The focus is on the particular feeling, not the possible ramifications of sin. This also has a physiological dimension: The feeling weakens your body, causing disease. So the advice which can be given against enmity is not so much a moral advice as a medicinal one. It is hygienic, a cleansing of the body.
It has to do with our biotic, or vital energies. Bearing this in mind, if we ask ourselves who are we, and accept that we are a phenomenon, and then ask ourselves what is "being," we could then answer that "being" is part of our world seen as a field of energy. These days "being" is often described as a stream of existence, or an existential flux. It is a movement, a thought process. A famous American philosopher, William James, who was also influenced by Buddhism, wrote in his essay titled "Does Consciousness Exist?":
"When scrutinized the stream of consciousness reveals itself to consist chiefly of my breathing — this is then "pure experience" and the instant field of the present... this succession of emptiness and fullness that have reference to each other are of one flesh. It is a succession in small enough pulses of pulsation of flux and nullity, which is the essence of our phenomena, and our central self is then the consciousness of the moment. We are throbbing actualities, puffs or drops of existence."
So the whole process of karma as activity, as part of this stream, can be regarded as the vicious circle of interdependent origination (paticca-samuppada) consisting of the twelve rings of causality, the first being "avijja".
Avijja means ignorance or "nescience" (lack of knowledge) about our emergence from the flux. The last causal ring is death. So we live in this polarity. But between the first and the last causal ring—between our ignorance and our death—there is a period when the self hesitates. This period is long enough for a free action to detach itself like an overripe fruit. It simply lets go. That is also how death could be regarded.
We have fulfilled a course, and having run out of energy, we have let go. But, in letting go have we fulfilled and exhausted our possibilities? We can disintegrate, use up the vitality but not necessarily the potential that propelled us into this world. This potential can be regarded as a thirst. Nothing will quench this thirst as long as that potential is not fulfilled. "And how is it fulfilled? " we may ask. It is fulfilled when the energy that threw us into this world is completed, not just interrupted; when it is gone and therefore brought to a standstill. Another famous German thinker, Martin Heidegger, found a good explanation for all this. His explanation, too, was similar to Buddhism: We can change the process of existence, stop it or direct it in a different direction, Heidegger said, if and when we develop the awareness of being there, of the here and the now. This awareness is in essence a "care" that we have for our being in the world. It is this
dukkha or worry that actually propels us into this world, and that makes us aware of who we are. It is the thing that keeps us here.
If we wish to take the concept dukkha a step further, it is that which manifests as our consciousness. The word consciousness is very important in understanding this description. It can be linked with the word conscience—or awareness. It is the awareness of who we are: consciousness and conscience. Conscience then discloses itself as an awakening call which can liberate us from our grief and our lost condition, our
dukkha, and our ignorance. So we are responding to the call of conscience. How does that come about? According to another contemporary German thinker, called Edmund Husserl, this comes about by keeping silent. Only when there is silence does conscience call and do we have a chance of hearing it.