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   THIS Sutta, beginning with a discussion on the mystery of trance, passes over, by a natural transition, or association of ideas, to the question of soul. For trance (as is pointed out by Potthapâda in § 6) had been explained by adherents of the soul theory as produced by the supposed fact of a 'soul' having gone away out of the body.

   As is well known, this hypothesis of a soul inside the body has been adopted, and no doubt quite independently, among so many different peoples in all parts of the world that it may fairly be described as almost universal. It is even by no means certain that it has not been quite universal; in which case its adoption is probably a necessary result of the methods of thought possible to men in early times. But it is, unfortunately, very easy for us, who now no longer use the word 'soul' exclusively in its original sense, to misunderstand the ancient view, and to import into it modern conceptions{1}. The oldest and simplest form of the hypothesis was frankly materialistic. The notion was that of a double--shadowy, no doubt, and impalpable--but still a physical double of the physical body; and made up, like the body, of the four elements.

   When the 'soul' was away the body lay still, without moving, apparently without life, in trance, or disease, or sleep. When the 'soul' came back, motion began again, and life. Endless were the corollaries of a theory which, however devoid of the essential marks of a sound scientific hypothesis, underlies every variety of early speculation in India, as elsewhere.

   Long before the date of the earliest records of Indian belief this theory, among the ancestors of the men to whom we owe those records, had gone through a whole course of development of which the Vedas show us only the results. They take the theory so completely for granted that thc

{1. See above, p. 189.}

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details of it, as they held it, are nowhere set out in full, or in any detail. The hypothesis having been handed down from time immemorial, and being accepted by all, it was considered amply sufficient to refer to it in vague and indirect phraseology{1}. And the stage which the theory had reached before the time when our Sutta was composed can only be pieced together imperfectly from incidental references in the Upanishads.

   I have collected these references together in the article already referred to (J. R. A. S., 1899), and need here only state the result. This is that the Upanishads show how the whole theory of the priests, as there set out, is throughout based on this old theory of a soul inside the body. The numerous details are full of inconsistencies, more especially on the point, so important to theologians, as to what happens to the soul after it flies away from the body, But not one of these inconsistent views leaves for a moment the basis of the soul theory. That is always taken for granted. And the different views set out in these priestly manuals by no means exhaust the list of speculations about the soul that must have been current in India when Buddhism arose, and when our Sutta was composed. There were almost certainly other views, allied to one or other of the thirty-two theories controverted above (pp. 44, 45), A careful search would no doubt reveal passages, even in the later priestly literature itself, acknowledging views which do not happen to be referred to in the Upanishads, but which bear the stamp of great antiquity--such passages as Mahâbhârata XII, 11704, where we are told that if the soul, in departing from the body, goes out by way of the knees, it will go to the Sâdhyas.

   However, that may be, it is certain that all the religions, and all the philosophies, the existing records show to have existed in India, in the time when Buddhism arose, are based on this belief in a subtle but material 'soul' inside the body, and in shape like the body. It would scarcely be going too far to say that all religions, and all philosophies, then existing in the world, were based upon it. Buddhism stands alone among the religions of India in ignoring the soul. The vigour and originality of this new departure are evident from the complete isolation in which Buddhism stands, in this respect, from all other religious systems then existing in the world. And the very great difficulty which those European writers, who are still steeped in animistic

{1. For souls inside animals, see Rig-veda I, 163, 6; for souls inside plants, Atharva-veda V, 5, 7.}

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preconceptions, find in appreciating, or even understanding the doctrine, may help us to realise how difficult it must have been for the originator of it to take so decisive and so far-reaching a step in religion and philosophy, at so early a period in the history of human thought.

   Nearly a quarter of a century ago I put this in the forefront of my first exposition of Buddhism. The publication, since then, of numerous texts has shown how the early Buddhist writers had previously followed precisely the same method{1}. They reserve, as is only natural, the enthusiasm of their poetry and eloquence for the positive side of their doctrine, for Arahatship. But the doctrine of the impermanence of each and every condition, physical or mental; the absence of any abiding principle, any entity, any sub-stance, any 'soul' (anikkatâ, nissattatâ, niggîvatâ, anattalakkhanatâ, na h'ettha sassato bhâvo attâ vâ upalabbhati) is treated, from the numerous points of view from which it can be approached, in as many different Suttas.

   For the most part, one point only is dealt with in each text. In our Sutta it is, in the first place, the gradual change of mental conditions, of states of consciousness: and then, secondly, the point that personality, individuality (attapatilâbho) is only a convenient expression in common use in the world, and therefore made use of also by the Tathâgata, but only in such a manner that he is not led astray by its ambiguity, by its apparent implication of some permanent entity.

{1. See the authorities quoted in my 'American Lectures,' pp. 64, 65.}

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