18. If it be said that (this) is to be explained through successive causality; we say 'no,' on account of their not being the causes of aggregation.
'If it be said that through the successive causality of Nescience and so on, the formation of aggregates and other matters may be satisfactorily accounted for.' To explain. Although all the entities (acknowledged by the Bauddhas) have a merely momentary existence, yet all that is accounted for by avidyâ. Avidyâ means that conception, contrary to reality, by which permanency, and so on, are ascribed to what is momentary, and so on. Through avidyâ there are originated desire, aversion, &c., which are comprised under the general term 'impression' (samskâra); and from those there springs cognition (vigñâna) which consists in the 'kindling' of mind; from that mind (kitta) and what is of the nature of mind (kaitta) and the substances possessing colour, and so on. viz. earth, water, &c. From that again the six sense-organs, called 'the six abodes'; from that the body, called 'touch' (sparsa); from that sensation (vedanâ), and so on. And from that again avidyâ, and the whole series as described; so that there is an endlessly revolving cycle, in which avidyâ, and so on, are in turn the causes of the links succeeding them. Now all this is not possible without those aggregates of the elements and elemental things which are called earth, and so on; and thereby the rationality of the formation of those aggregates is proved.
To this the second half of the Sûtra replies 'Not so, on
account of (their) not being the causes of aggregation'.- This cannot rationally be assumed, because avidyâ, and so on, cannot be operative causes with regard to the aggregation of earth and the other elements and elemental things. For avidyâ, which consists in the view of permanency and so on, belonging to what is non-permanent, and desire, aversion and the rest, which are originated by avidyâ cannot constitute the causes of (other) momentary things entering into aggregation; not any more than the mistaken idea of shell-silver is the cause of the aggregation of things such as shells. Moreover, on the Bauddha doctrine, he who views a momentary thing as permanent himself perishes at the same moment; who then is the subject in whom the so-called samskâras. i.e. desire, aversion, and so on, originate? Those who do not acknowledge one permanent substance constituting the abode of the samskâras have no right to assume the continuance of the samskâras.