Points of Controversy

14.3. Of Immediate Contiguity in Sense

Controverted Point: That one sensation follows another as an unbroken fused sequence.

Theravādin: Do you imply that the mental adverting, adjusting, etc., conjured up by visual consciousness is the same as that conjured up by auditory consciousness? Would you not affirm that this was wrong? And if wrong, do you mean that the auditory consciousness brings about no adverting or adjustment of mind? Is not the opposite true? But if it be true, then your proposition falls.

Again, you agree that “visual consciousness” occurs to the person attending to a visible object. But you cannot urge that auditory consciousness also occurs to such an one attending to a visible object… . In other words, if visual consciousness have only visible object as its object, and nothing else, the unbrokenly succeeding auditory consciousness must have the same kind of object only and nothing else… .

Our doctrine says: “Because of eye and visible objects visual consciousness arises. Can you substitute the words “auditory consciousness”? You deny this. But I repeat the question, and ask, Is the Suttanta thus? No, you say, the former quotation was alone right. But if your proposition be right, you are implying that the given visual consciousness is none other than the given auditory consciousness.

The same argument holds whichever two of the five kinds of sense we take.

Uttarãpathakas: But if I am wrong consider any kind of dramatic performance, when there is dancing, singing, reciting, does not the spectator see objects, hear sounds, smell odours, taste tastes, and touch tangibles? Surely then it is right to say that the five kinds of sense-cognition arise in unbroken unitary sequence.