No Beginning, no End, by Dalai Lama

Stupa in Burma Photo: © John AskeQuestioner: How does one arrive at the conviction that our consciousness has no beginning or end?

Dalai Lama: Generally speaking, there are two ways of coming to such a conclusion. One is through logical reasoning and the other is from seeing that if consciousness did have a beginning and an ending, a lot of contradictions and mysteries could not be explained. So, since the latter viewpoint has many inconsistencies, we can arrive at the conclusion that it must be the other way around i.e. that consciousness is without beginning or end.

On this question I think it is also important to understand that there are three types of phenomena — one is phenomena which can be directly observed, the obvious phenomena, the second is the slightly concealed phenomena which could be realised through the reasoning process, and the third is the very concealed phenomena.

I think it is also important to understand that there are different ways of observing these phenomena. Buddha spoke of the law of nature which includes such factors as consciousness, or mind, being the nature of luminosity and knowing. Why is consciousness in nature? There is no reason. In the same way, why are our physical bodies composed of certain atoms and chemical particles and so on? Again, there is no reason; it is simply its nature; it is simply the way it is. Then Buddha spoke of the law of dependence. This refers to phenomena that we normally posit in relation to something else, like parts and the whole, right and wrong, etc. And then there is the functional law — cause and effect. The function produces effects, and effects have the tendency to follow after their related causes.

All of this is quite close to scientific views; the subatomic physics theories come very near to explaining the natural law. It is also close to the Kalachakra Tantra explanation that space particles are the source, or origin, of all matter in the universe. And this natural law, on the subatomic level, is further expanded when there is interaction with different types of particles and so on. Then there is this second law — dependent law. And then, as a result of the interaction between various types of particles, different properties come into being; so this is quite similar to the third category — the functional law. By taking these three types of phenomena as the basis of analysis and logical examination, we use logical reasoning.

As far as logic is concerned, therefore, one would conclude that consciousness is beginningless because consciousness requires an earlier moment of consciousness as its cause, and that moment of consciousness would, in turn, require an earlier instant of consciousness.

As far as logic is concerned, therefore, one would conclude that consciousness is beginningless because consciousness requires an earlier moment of consciousness as its cause.

If we were to maintain that there must be a beginning at some point somewhere to consciousness, a big question mark would arise for us — how did that first moment of consciousness come about? Where did it come from? The only choice would be to accept that consciousness does not come from a cause at all. Another alternative, of course, would be to adhere to a belief in a creator.

As far as logic is concerned, therefore, one would conclude that consciousness is beginningless because consciousness requires an earlier moment of consciousness as its cause, and that moment of consciousness would, in turn, require an earlier instant of consciousness. Therefore, it is infinite and beginningless. This kind of explanation may not be a hundred percent satisfactory, but, still, it has less contradictions and inconsistencies within it than any other.

It is better to end this on a doubt!

[A question and answer given during a talk
given by HH Dalai Lama in London, April 1988.
From Buddhism Now Aug 1991]




Categories: Buddhism, Dalai Lama, Tibetan

Tags: , , ,

11 replies

  1. This is as good an explanation for not pondering how it all started as any. Our minds are not expansive enough. It appears to be an exercise in futility. If we can give up the idea of wanting to figure it out then we can move on to what matters. Such as letting go.

  2. wow… i love dalai lama :D

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    • Dear Kenau

      We use Google translate Not sure it gets it right but it should give you some idea. Below is a translation
      感謝
      Richard

      質問者 :一つは私たちの意識がない先頭または末尾を持っていないという信念で、どのように届くのでしょうか?

      ダライ·ラマ :一般的に言えば、そのような結論に来るのは2つの方法があります。 一つは、論理的な推論を介して、他は意識が始まりと終わりを持っていた場合には、矛盾と謎の多くは説明できなかったことを見てからです。 後者の観点は、多くの矛盾があるので、それで、我々はそれが意識は先頭または末尾なしであること、すなわち他の方法でなければならないという結論に達することができます。

      この質問に私はそれが現象の3つのタイプがあることを理解しておくことも重要だと思います – 1を直接観察することができる現象は、明らかな現象であり、二つ目は推論プロセスを通して実現することができるわずかに隠され現象であり、第三は、非常に隠さ現象である。

      私はそれがこれらの現象を観察するためのさまざまな方法があることを理解しておくことも重要だと思います。 仏陀は、明度の性質であると知って、意識や心のような要因が含まれています自然の法則について話した。 なぜ自然の中で意識は何ですか? 理由はありません。 同じように、なぜ私たちの肉体は、特定の原子と化学粒子からなるというようにですか? 繰り返しますが、理由はありません、それは単に、その性質であり、単にそれが方法である。 その後、仏陀は依存性の法則の話を聞いた。 これは正しいと間違った部品全体、等のように、何か他のものとの関係で我々が通常仮定する現象を指し、その後、機能法がある – 原因と影響が。 この関数は、効果を生成し、効果はそれに関連する原因の後に従う傾向があります。

      このすべてが科学的見解にかなり近いです。素粒子物理学の理論は自然の法則を説明すると非常に近く来る。 それは、宇宙粒子は宇宙のすべての物質の源、原点であることもカーラチャクラタントラの説明が近くにあります。 粒子の異なる種類の相互作用などがある場合は、この自然法は、素粒子レベルで、さらに拡張されます。 依存性の法則 – 次に、この第二法則があります。 そして、粒子の様々なタイプの間の相互作用の結果として、さまざまなプロパティがされて入って来ます。 – 機能的な法律ので、これは第三のカテゴリーに非常によく似ています。 分析と論理的な検討の基礎として現象をこれらの3種類を取ることによって、我々は論理的な推論を使用しています。
      As far as logic is concerned, therefore, one would conclude that consciousness is beginningless because consciousness requires an earlier moment of consciousness as its cause, and that moment of consciousness would, in turn, require an earlier instant of consciousness.

      限りロジックが懸念しているため、一つはその意識が、その原因として、意識以前の瞬間を必要とするので、意識は始まりがある結論に至るでしょう。

      我々はどこかで意識のどこかの時点で開始が必要であると主張した場合、大きな疑問符が私たちのために発生するだろう – 意識のその最初の瞬間はどのようにして来ましたか? それはどこから来たのか ? その意識を受け入れるであろう唯一の選択肢は全く原因から来ていない。 別の方法としては、もちろん、クリエイターの信念に従うことになります。

      限りロジックが懸念しているため、一つはその意識が、その原因として、意識以前の瞬間を必要とし、意識のその瞬間は、順番に、意識以前のインスタントを必要とするので、意識は始まりがある結論に至るでしょう。 したがって、それは無限と始まりがある。 説明この種の百パーセント満足できないかもしれませんが、、まだ、それは他よりもその中に以下の矛盾や不整合を持っています。

      それは間違いでこれを終了することをお勧めします!

      トーク中に指定された[質問と答え
      HHで指定されたダライ·ラマ 、ロンドンで、1988年4月。
      仏教から今1991年8月]

  4. Consciousness is inherent and fundamental. That is, in everything, always, everywhere. How else could we figure out this stuff.

  5. Amazing, this is simply sickening! Not your content; that was
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  6. It was helpful to have this line of thought spelt out by the Dalai Lama but it’s left me somewhat confused. If consciousness has no beginning and this ultimate consciousness is pure, and if the birth of any sentient being presupposes karmic deviation from that pure consciousness, then how did pure consciousness give rise to such deviation in the first place?

  7. It answered a big question I had. Thank you.

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