(A) ILLUSORY PHENOMENA OF EGO-PERSONALITY AND OTHER-PERSONALITY
According to Buddhism, man is made up of five Aggregates, viz. Form, Sensation, Conception, Volition and Consciousness. Form is a material and the other four Aggregates are the activities of the mind. Sensation comprises feelings of suffering, pleasure, sorrow and joy. Conception is thought or imagination. Volition is mental activity for good or for evil. Consciousness is that which makes discriminations. If the physical body of man, made up of skin, hair, bone, flesh, blood and salivia, is analysised, by chemical process, it is nothing but a number of atoms of carbon, hydrogen, dioxide, phosphorus, calcium, iodine and other elements. This holds true with the body of everyone, yours and mine, and also with the body of every animal. In view of the fact that on analysis, the iron element of my body is not different from that of yours, the principle of Equality is established by deductive reasoning that as far as the material aspect is concerned, there is no difference between man and animal at all.
Let us turn to the spiritual or psychical aspect of man. Mencius (Ancient Chinese Philosopher) said: The sense of Compassion is in everyone; the sense of Shame is in everyone; the sense of Right and Wrong is in everyone; and the sense of Humility is in everyone. This may be said to be in line with the Buddhist Theory that the four psychical functions of Sensation, Conception, Volition, and Consciousness are common to everybody. Regarding the last three psychical elements, thought animals do not and cannot function so well as man, nevertheless, they are sensitive to pain and pleasure all the same. Moreover, craving for live and fear of death are natural instincts of all animals. Thus, Buddha says: Because Buddha-nature is inherent in all sentient beings, they are at parity with each other. However, people generally separate themselves from others, by making distinctions between Ego-personality and Other-personality. Furthermore, they pay so much attention to the Five-Aggregates-constituted body that it leads them to egoism, craving, stupidity and arrogance. Consequently, they come into conflict with others and resort to every means to overcome them. After all, if they realize this fundamental Buddhist Principle of Universal Equality, they can see that Ego-personalty is unreal and illusory, and the so-called enemy is also illusory. An Enlightened being can easily see that the whole thing is but an illusion.
The Sutra says: All causally produced phenomena, I say, are empty and unreal, and their names are also fictitious. This is the Middle-Way Doctrine. Inasmuch as the I-personality constituted by the five Aggregates, is casually produced, it can be seen that neither from those psychical aspects of sensation, conception, volition and consciousness, nor from the material aspects of the body, such as bone, blood, flesh, etc. and still less, from atoms, can it be found. Positively, the phenomenon of I-personality is empty and unreal; for conventional usage, however, it is called the I-personality. At any rate, if we are free from stupidity, arrogance, conceit and craving, not only we would regard all sentient beings to be of one entity with us, but also would extend every help to them, thus we may be said to be carrying out the Middle Doctrine in practical way. Moreover, apart from the I-personality, the phenomena of all things are also produced by causes and conditions, hence, they are devoid of self-nature; inversely speaking, had they had self-nature, they would not have been dependent upon causes and conditions. This holds true not only with all material things but also with all Terms, all Theorems and all ISMs. For instance, if a country, which is constituted of land, people and sovereignty, lacks any of these elements, it is no longer a country, because of its being dependent on the combination of elements, it is devoid of self-nature, and because it is an illusory phenomenon, it is said to be empty and unreal. Likewise, an army, made up of a multitude of people in uniform and with military training, is also devoid of self-nature; for without uniform, military training, and people, no army can be formed. In the light of this understanding we would perceive the reality of everything without being deceived by its illusory phenomenon and also we would be free from misconceptions and discriminations. Again, on the question of mental phenomena, all principles and theories are nothing but a group of names, where nothing real can be found. Therefore, those who fail to see that both the ego-personality and things are empty and illusory, are really pitiable and ignorant of Truths of life.
From what you have said someone may argue to say, Buddhism, as a Dharma, is also devoid of self-nature, thus it is empty and unreal, isnt it? I would reply: Yes, it is. You are absolutely correct and this is right understanding of Buddhism. The Diamond Sutra says in the same vein: What is called Buddhism is not Buddhism. Also it says: If someone says that the Tathagata expounds the Dharma, he is slandering the Buddha, for he does not understand what I say at all. Subhuti, one who expounds Buddhism has no Dharma to expound, and thus he may be said to expound Buddhism. In view of the fact that owing to their ignorance, sentient beings are subjected to numerous defilements and heterodox views, Buddha therefore expounds Buddhism in various ways to cure them of their specific ills and to help them realize self-enlightenment according to their cultivation of awareness. In short, Buddhism is established on the basis of sentient beings stupidity, and if their stupidity is removed, there would be no (need of) Buddhism at all.