Points of Controversy

1.10. Of Existence in Immutable Modes

Controverted Point: That things exist so and not otherwise.

Theravādin: Does the past exist?

Andhaka: It exists on this wise, it does not exist on that wise.

Theravādin: Does the past, as you describe it, both exist and not exist? You deny, then affirm—for you must affirm. And if this same past both exists and does not exist, then is also existence non-existence and conversely, then is the state of being a state of non-being and conversely, then are “is” and “is not” convertible terms, identical, one in meaning, the same, same in content and in origin. And this of course you do not admit.

Similarly, you say the future exists only on this wise, not on that wise. This is to say it both exists and does not exist; and that involves the same antinomy.

Similarly, you say the present exists only on this wise, not on that wise—and you are landed as before.

If the past exists only as you say it does, how is it existent, how non-existent?

Andhaka: The past exists only as past; it does not exist as future, it does not exist as present.

Theravādin: But this still commits you to saying that the same both is and is not, and thus to the same antinomy.

Similarly as regards the “how” of such future and present as you hold to exist.

Andhaka: Then is it wrong to say “the past or the future or the present exists only on this wise, not on that wise”?

Theravādin: Yes.

Andhaka: Do you mean then that the past exists also as future and as present, the future also as past and as present, the present also as past and as future—for to this you are committed? Hence I am surely right.

Theravādin: Do material qualities exist?

Andhaka: They exist on this wise, they do not exist on that wise.

Theravādin: Here again you are committed to saying “the same both exists and does not exist,” and to the same antinomy as before. Similarly in the case of the other four aggregates—feeling, etc. Again, with reference to how they exist on this wise, and how they do not, when you reply, “he one aggregate, e.g., the bodily, exists as such, but not as any of the four mental aggregates,” you are equally committed to the antinomy stated above.

Andhaka: Then is it wrong to say “any aggregate exists only on this wise, not on that wise”?

Theravādin: Yes.

Andhaka: But this commits you to saying that each aggregate exists equally as any of the other four. Surely then I am right in saying that each aggregate exists in a specific fashion, and not otherwise.