Life is empty. Let us eat, drink and make merry while we can. And why should we be so foolish to practise austerity? From Buddhisms point of view, such common talk in every society is foolish and self-deceptive, for on analysis, it may be said to be partly Annihilation and partly Eternalism. To say that life is empty falls into the concept of Annihilation and is in sharp contrast with the True Void and Reality of Buddhism; if they think that to eat, drink and make merry is a real thing in life, this carries the notion of permanence. Again, on the assumption that those real things would be annihilated and their extinction would be permanent, they would indulge themselves in the enjoyment of five sensuous desires to the utmost degree but make no effort to cultivate good deeds. Such is the outlook of life of those good and honest people at large. With their misunderstanding that Buddhism is established on theological basis and is deceitful and superstitious, those who are strongly entrenched with annihilation, however, defiantly ignore the law of Cause, Condition, Fruit and Retribution, and for their own advantages, would exert every effort to grab power, to seek wealth and to satisfy their selfish desires by all means. If they commit so much evil every day, surely their bad karma would lead them nowhere but infinite sufferings consequently. To understand Existence, Extinction, Annihilation and Permanence precisely, two charts are herewith presented in the following:
Chart A) What is Said by Buddha
Substance: neither existent nor extinct Non-Annihilation.
Illusory Phenomena: both existent and extinct Impermanence.
Chart B) Illusory Phenomena Misconceived by Sentient Being To Be Realty
a. Those illusory phenomena that have been formed are taken to be permanent.
b. Those illusory phenomena that have not become extinct are taken to be permanent.
c. Those illusory phenomena that are still unformed are take to be annihilated.
d. Those illusory phenomena that are extinct are taken to be annihilated.
By way of illustration, some scientific facts may be mentioned here to show
that in both charts A and B, all the statements can be substantiated to be valid
truths by scientific principles. When switch is turned on, there is electric
light. People who have knowledge of Electrical Science usually think that the
intensity of electric light is stable and unchangeable, and so is the electric
current. This may be said to be an illusion arising from permanence. In truth,
since the quantity and the direction of electric current undergo momentary changes
continually, electric light corresponds to the changes accordingly, but it changes
so quickly that this can hardly be seen by the naked eye. Again, those people
used to think that electric current, like water supply from waterpipe, comes
from the Power plant. This is general illusion regarding the coming
of electricity. Electric current is also called alternate current in the Electrical
Science, for the variations of its quantity corresponds to the sine curve, that
is, it proceeds to one direction by arising from zero to the maximum degree,
then diminishing its intensity gradually and receding back to the zero point,
where by the same process it goes to the opposite direction, and this is the
way electric current, while undergoing changes, moves alternately. From this,
it can be seen that in the sequence of its alternate transmutations from arising
to cessation and from cessation to arising operating incessantly in a cycle,
electric current is unstable at every moment. Also it may be inferred that when
the current runs back and forth along the wire, its quantity would neither increase
when it is turned on by the switch nor would decrease when it is turned off;
meanwhile, regardless of electric light being turned on or off, the quantity
of electrons of copper atoms of the electric wire remains unchanged. Where there
is no increase, there is no creation; where there is no decrease, there is no
extinction. As long as the process of alternate arising and cessation of electric
current is in continuous operation, such phenomenal changes only show that electric
current is unstable and impermanent at all times. As the electrons of copper
atoms neither decrease nor become extinct, they may be said to be non-extinct.
Then switch is on, electrons produce electric light, and when it is off, they
give no light, thus their functions may be said to be non-identical. As they
are unchanged, whether they are still or in motion, they may be said to be undifferentiated
from one another. When electric current is on, it causes the electrons of the
wire to be vibrating but no electrons are transmitted by power station; this
indicates that there is no coming of electricity at all. With the
cessation of electric current, the electrons remain where they are and this
may be said that there is no going of electrons. From this analogy,
the profound implications of the following statement from the Sutra may be realized:
neither existent nor extinct, neither increasing nor decreasing, neither permanent no annihilating, neither identical nor differentiated, and neither coming nor going.