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Consciousness is capable of change.

Against the assertion that the alleged non-origination of consciousness at the same time proves that consciousness is not capable of any other changes (p. 36), we remark that the general proposition on which this conclusion rests is too wide: it would extend to antecedent non-existence itself, of which it is evident that it comes to an end, although it does not originate. In qualifying the changes as changes of 'Being,' you manifest great logical acumen indeed! For according to your own view Nescience also (which is not 'Being') does not originate, is the substrate of manifold changes, and comes to an end through the rise of knowledge! Perhaps you will say that the changes of Nescience are all unreal. But, do you then, we ask in reply, admit that any change is real? You do not; and yet it is only this admission which would give a sense to the distinction expressed by the word 'Being' 1.

Nor is it true that consciousness does not admit of any division within itself, because it has no beginning (p. 36). For the non-originated Self is divided from the body, the senses, &c., and Nescience also, which is avowedly without a beginning, must needs be admitted to be divided from the Self. And if you say that the latter division is unreal, we ask whether you have ever observed a real division invariably connected with origination! Moreover, if the distinction of Nescience from the Self is not real, it follows that Nescience and the Self are essentially one. You further have yourself proved the difference of views by means of the difference of the objects of knowledge as established by non-refuted knowledge; an analogous case

p. 55

being furnished by the difference of acts of cleaving, which results from the difference of objects to be cleft. And if you assert that of this knowing--which is essentially knowing only--nothing that is an object of knowledge can be an attribute, and that these objects--just because they are objects of knowledge--cannot be attributes of knowing; we point out that both these remarks would apply also to eternity, self-luminousness, and the other attributes of 'knowing', which are acknowledged by yourself, and established by valid means of proof. Nor may you urge against this that all these alleged attributes are in reality mere 'consciousness' or 'knowing'; for they are essentially distinct. By 'being conscious' or 'knowing', we understand the illumining or manifesting of some object to its own substrate (i.e. the substrate of knowledge), by its own existence (i.e. the existence of knowledge) merely; by self-luminousness (or 'self-illuminatedness') we understand the shining forth or being manifest by its own existence merely to its own substrate; the terms 'shining forth', 'illumining', 'being manifest' in both these definitions meaning the capability of becoming an object of thought and speech which is common to all things, whether intelligent or non-intelligent. Eternity again means 'being present in all time'; oneness means 'being defined by the number one'. Even if you say that these attributes are only negative ones, i.e. equal to the absence of non-intelligence and so on, you still cannot avoid the admission that they are attributes of consciousness. If, on the other hand, being of a nature opposite to non-intelligence and so on, be not admitted as attributes of consciousness--whether of a positive or a negative kind--in addition to its essential nature; it is an altogether unmeaning proceeding to deny to it such qualities, as non-intelligence and the like.

We moreover must admit the following alternative: consciousness is either proved (established) or not. If it is proved it follows that it possesses attributes; if it is not, it is something absolutely nugatory, like a sky-flower, and similar purely imaginary things.


54:1 The Sânkara is not entitled to refer to a distinction of real and unreal division, because according to his theory all distinction is unreal.

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