Points of Controversy

8. Of Some of the Past and Future as still Existing

Controverted Point: That (i) some of the past exists, some does not; (ii) some of the future exists, some does not.

(i) Theravādin: Does the past exist? Some of it exists, you reply, some does not exist. You must then admit, in equivalent terms, that some of it has ceased, departed, passed away, utterly passed away; some of it has not ceased, departed, passed away, utterly passed away. Yet you deny this.

You must also admit, more specifically, that of past things of which the results are not yet matured some are existent, some not—you deny this—and that of past things of which the results are matured, some are existent, some not—you deny this—further, that of things which are without result, some exist, some do not. This also you deny.

Again, referring to your declaration that the past exists in part, which of the past exists, which not?

Kassapika: Those past things of which the effect is not matured exist; those past things of which the effect is matured do not.

Theravādin: But if you admit the existence of the former part, you must also admit the existence of the latter part, and also the existence of those past things that are without effect. Again, if those past things of which the effect is matured are non-existent, no less are those past things of which the effect is not matured existent, as well as those things which are without effect. Once more, you say, those past things the effect of which is not matured exist, but might not such past things be said to have ceased? You admit this? But you cannot say that a thing both is and has ceased.

Do you contend that those past things, the effect of which is not yet matured, but which have ceased, exist? Then must you also admit that those past things, the effect of which is matured and which have ceased, exist, as well as those past things which are without effect—that these, too, exist.

If, on the other hand, you say that those past things, the effect of which is matured, and which have ceased, do not exist, then must you also admit that those past things, the effect of which is not yet matured, and which have ceased, do not exist contradicting what you have previously affirmed, as well as those things which are without effect.

Or do those past things, the effect of which is not yet matured, but which have ceased, exist? And are those past things, the effect of which is matured, but which have ceased, non-existent? Then you hereby affirm also that some of those past things, the effect of which is in part matured, and in part not yet matured, but which have ceased, exist, while some do not exist—which you deny.

Kassapika: Is it then wrong to say “those past things, the effect of which is not yet matured, exist”?

Theravādin: Yes.

Kassapika: Is it not a fact that past things, the effect of which is not yet matured, will become mature as to effect?

Theravādin: Yes.

Kassapika: If that be so, then it is surely not wrong to say that past things yet immature in their effect exist.

Theravādin: Granting that such past things will become mature as to their effect, can they be said to exist? Yes, you say; but granting that they will in this respect mature, can they be said to be present? If you admit this, then, granting that present things will perish, are they non-existent?

(i) To the question “Does the future exist?” you reply “some of it exists, some does not.” You must then admit in equivalent terms that some of it is born, produced, has happened, appeared, some of it not. Yet you deny this. Granting your declaration, do some things that have been inevitably determined exist, and some not? You are committed to this, and also to this: that some future things which are not inevitably determined exist, and some not.

Referring to your declaration (ii): which of the future exists, which does not exist? You reply: “Those future things which are inevitably determined exist, those that are not so determined do not.” You deny then that those future things not inevitably determined do exist, though you are really committed to this by the former half of your reply. Again, if future things not inevitably determined are non-existent, then also future things which are inevitably determined are also non-existent.

With regard to those future things inevitably determined which you say “exist,” would you not admit that such future things have not been born? Yes? Then how can you say that things not yet born exist?

Or, if inevitably determined future things, which are not yet born, do exist, then future things not so determined, which are not yet born, exist. Or again, if future things not inevitably determined, which are not yet born, are nonexistent, then you must say no less of similar but inevitably determined things.

Kassapika: Then is it wrong to say “those future things which are inevitably determined exist”?

Theravādin: Yes.

Kassapika: But will not future things which are inevitably determined happen?

Theravādin: Yes.

Kassapika: Surely then things inevitably determined exist.

Theravādin: Granting that future things, if inevitably determined, will happen, do they exist?

Kassapika: Yes.

Theravādin: Granting they will happen, are they present?

Kassapika: No the future is not the present.

Theravādin: I repeat my question.

Kassapika: Yes since, if they are existent, they are present.

Theravādin: And granting that present things will cease, are they non-existent?

Kassapika: No, that cannot truly be said.

Theravādin: But you have already admitted this.