以理观察前生后世存在的对话

A Dialogue on the Existence of Past and Future Lives Based on Reasoning

慈云

20140318100054589

一、初义

I. Prologue

甲:佛教说前生后世存在,虽然听说过一些回忆前世的例子,但我和周围的人没一个能回忆前世的,所以也不知真假。怎么能说明前后世存在呢?

A: Buddhism posits the existence of past and future lives, and there are some supporting cases of people remembering their past lives. However, I still have doubts about these claims, because neither I nor others around me have such recollections. How can the existence of past and future lives be clarified?

乙:这样的事例古今中外都有很多记载,若没有理由一概否定肯定不合理。美国弗吉尼亚大学的史蒂文森博士和塔克尔博士等一批科学家,以严谨的科学态度调查了几千个事例,最后他们也完全相信前后世的确存在。

B: Many accounts of the recollection of past lives can be found at home and abroad, during ancient and modern times. A groundless and flat denial of them is unjustifiable. A number of scientists, such as Dr. Ian Stevenson and Dr. Jim Tucker at the University of Virginia, have investigated thousands of such cases using strict scientific discipline. In the end, they cannot but be convinced of the existence of past lives.

甲:这些我也了解一些。但如果前世存在,为什么我们周围都没有人记得呢?

A: I am familiar with that. However, if that were the case, why can’t everyone around us remember their past lives as well?

乙:不记得是正常的。你小时候的事情大部分都不记得,前世更久远,而且经过一次生和死,更不容易记得。就像有的人受到强烈刺激而得了失忆症一样。因此不记得也不能说明不存在。

B: Not remembering things is normal. You can’t remember most of the events in your childhood, can you? How about a past life that was much further back in time? In addition, after having wandered around through death and rebirth, one’s ability to recall the past only worsens. For example, some people become amnesiacs when encountering strong emotional blows. Hence, the inability to remember something can hardly validate the lack of its existence.

甲:话虽如此,但没有亲眼见到、亲身经历,还是难以相信。

A: I grant you that. But without seeing it with my own eyes or experiencing it personally, I am afraid I remain unconvinced.

乙:你的爷爷的爷爷你也没有亲眼见到,为什么你会相信他存在呢?

B: You have not seen your great grandfather with your own eyes, but you have no doubt that he existed, correct? Why is that?

甲:这从道理上也可以知道,我是我爸爸妈妈生的,如果没有我爸爸就没有我,没有我爷爷就不会有我爸爸,这么往前推,肯定有我爷爷的爷爷。

A: This is obvious by reasoning. See, I was born because of my mom and dad. Without them, I would not be here; and without my granddad, my dad would not be here either. Deducing similarly onward, my great grandfather must have existed.

乙:前后世的存在,虽然你没有亲眼见到,但也一样可以推理推出来。

B: Well, past and future lives, even beyond your personal perception, can also be deduced to exist in exactly the same way.

甲:是吗?那你怎么推?
A: Really? How can you do that?

乙:佛教的内容很广,其中有一部分叫做“因明”,以推理方式抉择很多重大问题,包括前生后世的存在。

B: Within the vastness of Buddhism, there is a branch of knowledge called Buddhist Logic (Hetuvidya) that applies reasoning to ascertain many major issues, including the existence of past and future lives.

甲:那请你尽量通俗地讲一讲。
A: In that case, please try to explain it in general terms.

二、明前生后世是心识的流转

II. Our mind stream flows from life to life

乙:首先要明白前生后世究竟是怎么回事。人有身体和心识。如果没有心,就和尸体没有差别了。人死了以后身体火化或者安葬了,肯定不会带到后世,最关键的,就是这个心识,心识会和生前一样继续存在,延续到后世。

B: We must, first of all, know what is meant by past and future lives. We humans consist of a body and a mind. Without a mind, we are no different from corpses. After we die, the body is cremated or buried; this physical form definitely is not carried over to the next life. What’s most crucial here is the mind, which will continue to exist just as in this lifetime and move on to future lives.

甲:心识怎么延续呢?

A: How does the mind continue to go on?

乙:你从小到大一直到今天,每天这个心识都在感觉颜色声音、回忆过去、计划未来,明天后天、明年后年也这样延续下去,这就是心识的相续。人死的时候,身体虽然坏了,但这个心识的相续不会因此中断,而会迁移到下一个身体,这就是转世。就像一个人住在一个房子里,过一段时间可以换一个房子住一样。

B: Our mind stream continues from moment to moment—from when we were young to becoming an adult to today; it continues to see colors and shapes, to hear sounds, to remember the past and to plan the future. In the same way, it will move on to tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, next year, the year after that, and so on. When we die, although our body disintegrates, the mind stream will not perish as a result; instead, it transmigrates to another body form. This is reincarnation. It’s like a person, after having lived in one house for some time, moves on to a new house to live.

三、破以身体死亡推知心识断灭

III. The death of the body does not account for the cessation of the mind.

甲:这怎么可能呢?人有了身体才有心识,身体死了心就灭了,就像油没有了灯也就灭了一样,所以心识不可能继续延续。

A. How can that be? A human has to have a body first before possessing a mind. When the body dies, so will the mind, as an oil lamp dims and goes out when there is no more oil. Hence, the mind simply cannot continue by itself.

乙:我们分析一下。你说人有了身体才有心识,身体死了心就灭了,这是什么缘故?

B. Now let’s do some analysis. You said, “A human has to have a body first before possessing a mind. When the body dies, so will the mind.” Why is that?

甲:人活着的时候能说会笑,死了以后像石头一样没有反应,这不就是没有心识了吗?

A: A person, when alive, can talk or laugh, but when dead, will become as inanimate as a piece of rock. Doesn’t it indicate that the mind has ceased to be?

乙:这只能说明心识不再和这个尸体有关系,但不能说明心识根本就没有了。好比一个房子里有人住的时候,房子里会传出音乐声、发出灯光、冒出炊烟。但如果有一天房子不再有音乐声、灯光和炊烟,你能肯定说里面的人死了、消失了吗?

B: The only conclusion to draw is that the mind is no longer connected to the body, but hardly that the mind has ceased to be. For instance, when a house is occupied, from it comes music, light, and chimney smoke. But should someday no more music, light, and chimney smoke come out from the house, can you tell for sure that the people in the house have died?

甲:那倒不一定。里面的人可能是搬家了。

A: That’s not necessarily the case. Those people could have moved out.

乙:人死也是一样,心识离开这个身体,这个身体就不再说笑,但心识还会投胎到下一个身体里。这边虽然死一个人,其他地方还有哇哇哭着生下来的小婴儿,这就是心识转移了。

B: It’s the same when a person dies. The mind departs from the body, rendering the body no longer capable of talking or laughing. Yet the mind will take birth in another body subsequently. While over here, a person dies; yet over there, with a cry a baby is born. This is the transmigration of the mind.

四、破心识为物质运动,明心识明知之法相

IV. The mind’s quality is clarity and awareness and it cannot be the function of physical elements.

甲:可是科学证明,心识根本就不能离开大脑存在,它是大脑的一种活动而已,所以脑死亡了,这种活动停止了,心识自然就灭了,哪儿能转移呢?

A: But science has shown that the mind can never exist without the brain, and that the mind is nothing more than the brain’s byproduct. When the brain dies, all its activities cease, so naturally will the mind stop. How on earth can the mind transmigrate further on?

乙:这是个关键问题,不能含糊,我们来看科学是否真的已经证明了这一点。你说,大脑是不是物质的东西?

B: This is a crucial issue and we better be certain about it. Let’s see if science has really proved this point. Now please tell me, is the brain a material substance?

甲:是啊,大脑实际上是一团神经细胞,神经细胞就是物质的。

A: Yes it is. The brain is in fact a bunch of nerve cells, and nerve cells are physical materials made of atoms and molecules.

乙:你说心识是大脑的一种活动,既然大脑是物质的,那么大脑的活动就是一种纯粹的物质活动,比如像水变成蒸汽这样的物理变化,或者酸碱中和变成盐这样的化学变化。这怎会是心识的活动呢?二者根本不一样。

B: As you said, the mind is a function of the brain. Insofar as the brain is a material substance, it follows that its activity must also be purely the activity of materials, just like the physical change of water into steam, or the chemical change of salt forming as a result of neutralizing an acid with an alkali. But how can such a reaction be the activity of the mind? The two are simply poles apart.

甲:那么你说的心识的活动是什么?感觉、思想到底是什么呢?

A: What, then, are the activities of the mind that you are alluding to? What exactly are feeling, thinking, and so on, anyway?

乙:这个实际上不需要问别人,自己就知道。比如,你现在听到我说话吗?

B: This in fact we do not need to ask others; one has the answer already. For instance, don’t you hear me talking now?

甲:听到。
A: I do hear you.

乙:你看到我的脸吗?
B: Do you see my face?

甲:看到。
A: Sure.

乙:你感觉到这个房间里的温暖吗?
B: Do you feel the warmth of this room?

甲:感觉到。
A: Definitely.

乙:你知道自己在思维我们说的这个话题吗?
B: You know that you’re thinking of the topic of our discussion, right?

甲:知道。
A: Right.

乙:那好,就你现在明明白白了知颜色、声音、冷暖、所想的事情的这个,就是心识。一句话:心识即是明知者。你明知,这就是你自己的心识,我明知,就是我的心识,我们各自都明明白白地知道。这就是心识。《量理宝藏论》里说:“识之法相即明知”。如果心识的活动就是物质的活动,那你还有什么感觉、有什么思想呢?人整个就和一个会动的尸体没有区别了。

B: Okay. That which perceives exactly the colors and sounds, warmth or cold, and the thinking process is precisely your mind. In a nutshell, the mind is that which is clear and knowing. Your conscious experience is your mind, my conscious experience is my mind, and we all experience consciousness individually. This is our mind. The Treasury of Logic on Valid Cognition says: “The characteristics of the mind are merely clarity and awareness.” Now, suppose the activities of the mind are nothing but the reactions of physical elements; how on earth could you experience feelings or have ideas? Wouldn’t you be just like a moving corpse?

甲:这太模糊、太抽象了。能说具体一点吗?

A: This is getting too fuzzy and too abstract. Can you be a bit more specific?

乙:比如,你明知颜色形状的这种心识叫做眼识。虽然看颜色要借助眼睛,但眼睛本身不是你这个明知颜色的心识,好比盲人也可以知道有黑暗,而不是连黑暗也不知道,而且也可以做梦,梦里也可见到各种景象。颜色本身也不是你的心识,比如桌子的颜色在桌子上,如果这个颜色自身就是明知,那应该桌子自己知道,而你对桌子的颜色应该一无所知。但你明明白白地“知道”它,这个不是眼睛、不是桌子的颜色,就是你见颜色的、明知的心识。

B: The mind that can perceive colors and shapes is the visual consciousness. To see things, we need the eye organ; but the physical eye by itself is not the conscious experience of seeing. A blind person can still perceive darkness; blindness does not eradicate the conscious experience of darkness. In addition, a blind person has nightly dreams, which are filled with various scenes. Colors and shapes themselves are not your consciousness. For instance, a desk surface has a certain color. Should the color have knowing quality, it follows that the desk should be cognitive of its color, not you. However, it is you who perceive personally the visual object. That which sees and perceives color is your mind, which is neither the eye organ nor the color on the desk.

甲:可是这个心识存在在哪儿呢?它是脑电波或者电磁场吗?

A: Excuse me, where does this mind reside exactly? Is it in brainwaves or an electromagnetic field?

乙:你这么想的话就弄不清楚心识是什么了。如果说心识是电磁场、是脑神经,或者说心识像雾、像虚空或者像任何别的什么东西,那这些是电磁场、是脑神经,是雾、是虚空或者是别的什么东西,偏偏不是心识。为什么呢?它们全都不是你当下最亲切的这个明明白白的了知。你仔细体会一下。

B: If you think this way, you will not be able to make sense of the mind. Saying that the mind is an electromagnetic field, or neurons or that the mind is like a mist, the empty sky, only renders all these suppositions anything but the mind. Why? Because none of these things is your subjective knowing, your most intimate experience right now. Try to grasp it justly.

甲:…(体会这种“明知”)。嗯,明白你说的是什么了,这个“明知”就是现在这个,这都不用问别人,自己清楚。还真得要体会一下,一想是不是电磁波什么的反倒想远了。

A: (Trying to grasp the sense of “subjective knowing”). Okay, I think I got it. This knowing is what I’m experiencing, clearly, right now. I don’t need to ask others about it. I really should try to feel it. To imagine it as an electromagnetic wave or something else only moves me further away from understanding.

乙:对。另外,除了眼识,还有听到说话声音的这种心识叫做耳识,明知冷热痛痒的叫身识,明知香臭气味的叫鼻识,明知酸甜苦辣等味道的叫舌识,明知所想、所回忆的事情的是意识。这些不是外在的声音气味等,都同样是你明明白白的了知。

B: That’s it. Furthermore, besides eye consciousness, there are the auditory consciousness that hears sound; the tactile consciousness that feels heat, cold, pain, and itchiness; the olfactory consciousness that smells fragrant or unpleasant odors; the tongue consciousness that tastes sweet, bitter, sour, or spicy flavors; and the mental consciousness that thinks and remembers. These non-external experiences of sound, odor, and so on are all equally your very own subjective knowing.

甲:心识是明知的,这可以理解。但怎么就不能同时是大脑的活动了呢?比如既是脑电波之类的,同时也是明知的,就象一个人既是人,又是教授。

A: That the mind is clarity and knowing, I have no problem with that. But why can’t it simultaneously be the activity of the brain, that is, an electromagnetic wave that also has a knowing quality? For instance, a person is a human being and a professor at the same time.

乙:一个人可以同时是教授这一点,我们可以现见,所谓教授就是这个人上班时做相应的教学、研究工作,并因此有这个头衔,他作为教授的教学、研究工作我们现见就是这个人的活动,并非可以和这个人区分开,也并非和这个人有各自不同的性质。而你说既是大脑的活动、又是明知的这一点却根本没有理由。比如像刚才说的,大脑的活动是水变成蒸汽的物理变化或者酸碱中和变成盐的化学变化等这一类物质的活动,那么你见到明知在脑的酸碱中和这类物质活动中吗?或者,在仪器测到的脑电波上有你的明知吗?

B: That a person can be a human being and a professor at the same time is easy for us to see. The so-called professor is this human being, when going to work, who teaches and does research, and who holds this title. The professor’s teaching and research are the activities of this person; they are not something separate, or having features distinct from this person. On the other hand, your argument that the brain’s chemical or electrical reactions can simultaneously be a subjective knowing mind is tenuous. As mentioned, the brain’s activity is like the physical changes of water turning into steam, or the chemical reaction of acid mixing with alkali to form salt. Then, can you find the cognitive knowing among the physical reactions in the brain, like the neutralization of acid and alkali? Or, can you detect awareness among the brain waves measured by instrument?

甲:见不到。
A: I’m afraid not.

乙:所以说明知是明知,物质活动是物质活动,把二者混为一谈是没有任何道理的。如果把一对长得很像的双胞胎姐妹弄混了还可以理解,然而明知的心识和物质的脑的活动迥然不同,把二者当成一回事,这错得太厉害了。

B: Therefore, subjective knowing is subjective knowing, and physical reaction is physical reaction. It makes no sense to mix up these two entities. To mistake the identities of look alike twin sisters is excusable; however, to hold the knowing mind and the molecular reactions of the brain as identical is inexcusable, as these two are utterly different.

五、破心识为物质的产物,明心识唯依自之前因而生

V. The mind arises merely from its own proceeding moment and it cannot be the product of material substances.

1、观察近取因与俱有缘,明大脑产生心识为不定因

Examining causes and conditions and conclude that the brain is not a definite cause to produce the mind.

甲:虽然心识的特征和物质很不一样,也不是物质活动本身,但可以是脑的物质活动中自然而然具有的一种作用。这个方面科学家有很多有力的证据。

A: Although the characteristics and activities of the mind differ greatly from those of physical materials, it can still be argued that the mind is a function derived naturally from the chemical and electrical reactions of the brain. Scientists have obtained much strong evidence in this respect.

乙:请你说一说。

B: Please tell us about it.

甲:比如你看见一朵花的时候,视觉怎么产生的呢?就是这朵花的反光通过眼球照到视网膜上形成影像,光影刺激视网膜上的视觉神经末稍,发生电化学反应产生电化学信号,信号通过视觉神经纤维传导到大脑的视皮层,视皮层对这些信号做了综合处理以后,就产生了见到花的视觉。这只是大概讲个过程,这个过程中具体什么化学物质起什么作用,科学家们都研究得很清楚。

A: For instance, how does visual consciousness come about when you see a flower? First, light bounces from the flower, enters the eye and reaches the retina, where nerves endings are stimulated. This leads to a series of electrochemical reactions and the signals are transmitted to the visual cortex of the brain. Once the cortex processes the signals, the consciousness of seeing a flower then ensues. This is but a rough summary; scientists have delineated meticulously the detailed chemical and electrical reactions.

乙:科学家们很不简单。

B: Indeed, aren’t scientists amazing!

甲:不仅如此,科学家甚至对人的感情的大脑机制也有很深入的研究。比如脑垂体下部所分泌的一些化学物质作用于神经系统,就会使人对异性产生爱情。内啡肽则可使人产生愉悦感、减轻疼痛。还有些例子,脑部受损伤的人性格发生很大的变化。还有吸毒的人由于毒品的化学作用,会产生各种幻觉。而所谓“酒后吐真言”就说明酒精对人的意识的直接影响。

A: That’s not all. Scientists even have studied in depth the brain’s mechanism of human emotions. Certain neurochemicals secreted by the pituitary gland can activate brain neurons and are involved in the chemistry of romantic love. Also, brain endorphins can produce a feeling of euphoria and reduce pain. Brain injury can cause personality changes and people taking recreational drugs experience drug-induced hallucinations. The saying that “truth is at the bottom of the decanter” also reveals that alcohol affects human consciousness directly.

乙:…
B: …..

甲:美国华盛顿大学的研究者还成功地做了一个实验,一个人意识里想手做一个动作,此时把他的脑电波记录下来传到另一个那里,并转换成磁信号刺激那个人的脑,结果前者想的动作就真的由后者做出来。

A: Recently, researchers at the University of Washington have successfully demonstrated the concept of human brain-to-brain interfacing. One person, using electrical brain recordings and a form of magnetic stimulation, sent a brain signal of a hand movement to another person. This magnetic signal stimulated the receiver’s brain cortex and elicited a response that corresponded to the intention of the sender.

乙:…

B:…..

甲:这都是实际情况,你不得不信。由这些发现足以证明心识的明知、意识的活动不外乎脑细胞的活动,而且意识可以通过脑电波来传递。如果脑死亡了,这些作用都停止了,视觉、感觉、意识也就彻底消失了。

A: These are all actual events and you’d better believe them. These discoveries are sufficient to prove that cognition and conscious perceptions are nothing but the activities of brain cells. Furthermore, a conscious intention can be transmitted through trans-cranial magnetic stimulation. Therefore, when the brain dies, all these activities—visual perception, tactile sensation, mental consciousness—will all disappear completely as a consequence.

乙:谢谢你的介绍。科学家们的这些研究显示出意识和脑之间的确是有密切联系。但有一点,“意识本身就是脑神经的活动、作用或产物”这个结论却是得不出来的。

B: Thank you for informing me. Scientific research did demonstrate an intimate relationship between the mind and the brain. Here’s one point though. The conclusion that “consciousness itself is the brain neuron’s activity, function, or product” can hardly be drawn.

甲:科学实验如此可靠,你为什么还不接受呢?

A: Scientific experiments are obviously reliable; why do you still hesitate to accept them?

乙:可靠的科学实验结果我完全接受,这和佛法也完全相容。但你知道吗,“意识本身就是脑神经的活动”这个结论根本不是这些实验结果的必然结论,而只是一种设想!他们的实验结果可靠,不等于他们的设想就对。这二者一定要区分开,很关键!

B: I absolutely acknowledge reliable scientific findings, and Buddhism has no problem with that either. But don’t you know that the statement “consciousness itself is the brain neuron activity” cannot be a definitive conclusion drawn from these experiments. Rather, it is merely an assumption! Scientists have done reliable experiments, yet this does not guarantee their conclusion is faultless. We must differentiate between these two aspects; it is crucially important!

甲:为什么你说这只是设想而不是必然结论呢?

A: Why do you say that their statement is only an assumption rather than a definitive conclusion?

乙:我们仔细分析。首先要明白,两种事物现象之间的关系有两种不同的情况,一种是一体,另一种是他体。比如这张桌子的桌腿,它有支撑桌面使之不掉到地上的作用,这种支撑作用与桌腿一体,如果桌腿没有了,支撑作用不可能还存在。他体的情况就如桌腿和桌面的关系,桌腿可以支撑桌面,如果桌腿没有了,桌面会落到地上,但不会随着桌子腿的消失而消失。所有的事物或现象之间的关系不外乎这两种,再没有第三种。这在佛教的因明之中称为同性相属和彼生相属。

B: Let’s analyze this cautiously. First, we must be clear that between two things, there are two kinds of relationships: They are of the same entity or they are of different entities. For instance, the table legs support the tabletop and prevent it from falling to the ground. This supporting function and the table legs are of one entity—if the table legs are gone, the supporting function no longer exists. The second relationship, being of different entities, is analogous to that between the table legs and the tabletop. The table legs support the tabletop; if the table legs are gone, the tabletop will fall to the ground—but the tabletop will not disappear simply because the table legs are gone. Now, the relationships of all things or phenomena are of these two kinds; there is not a third type. In Buddhist Logic, the relationships are called the same-entity relationship and the other-entity relationship.

甲:嗯,那么这和脑和心识的问题有什么关系呢?

A: Well, then, how do you apply these relationships to our discussion on the mind and the brain?

乙:你刚才讲到的很多实验现象说明脑和心识的确有密切的关系,这一点我们完全赞同。但很多人不加思索地就认定二者是一体的关系,也就像桌腿和桌腿的支撑作用之间的关系一样,认为心识和脑属于一体,不可分割。但二者他体的可能性怎么就没有考虑呢?如果心识和脑不是一体,而是如同桌腿和桌面那样的关系,你所说的这些现象仍然全部会发生,也丝毫不会有不合理之处。

B: The scientific experiments you just mentioned indeed point out a close relationship between the brain and the mind, and on this we agree completely. However, many people jump to the conclusion that the two are of the same entity, like the relationship between the table leg and its function to support the tabletop. They assume that the mind and the brain are one and the same, and are thus inseparable. But why has the other alternative, that they are of different entities, not been considered? If the mind and the brain are not the same thing, but are like table legs relating to a tabletop, all the discoveries you mentioned can still be fully explained without any ambiguity.

甲:这不可能吧?如果是他体,怎么作用呢?

A: It’s not possible, is it? If they are distinct from each other, how does the brain function by itself?

乙:就像你刚才说的那个华盛顿大学的实验,一个人的意识导致另一个人的手可以动,前者的意识和后者不是一体,但也可以有作用。同样,即便是同一个人,他的意识和脑不是一体,但也可与他的脑有相互作用,这有什么不可以的呢?完全可以。

B: In the experiment at the University of Washington you cited, a person’s conscious mind elicited the hand movement of another person. The mind of the first person and the brain of the second are discrete, yet there is an interaction. Similarly in a person, if the mind and the brain are not the same entity, the mind can still interact with the brain. Why can’t this be the case? It is absolutely possible.

甲:还是不可以。比如有的人没有吸毒的时候没有幻觉,吸毒之后产生了幻觉,那么这个幻觉原来没有,不就是毒进入脑神经以后产生的吗?如果像你说的心识和脑他体的关系,应该没有吸毒的时候幻觉也单独存在,就像桌子面在没有桌子腿的时候可以单独存在一样。

A: No way. For instance, people don’t have hallucinations when they are drug-free. Once they take drugs, they then hallucinate. It can be argued that the hallucination is nonexistent in the first place, and that it comes only after a drug acts on brain neurons. If, according to your assertion, the mind and the brain are distinct from each other, it follows that hallucination should have existed by itself without taking drugs, much as the tabletop exists by itself in the absence of the table legs.

乙:你混淆了心识的明知的本体和心识中的各种显现。好比一面镜子立在那里,来一个男人,镜子里就出现男人的影像,来一个女人,就有女人的影像,虽然影像随外面的人不同而有生有灭,但镜子本身却并不随外面的人来往而生灭,而完全独立于外面的人。明知的心识与脑之间的关系也是类似,脑受到毒品的刺激之后,会引发明镜一样的心识里出现一定的幻像,但心识本身却不是脑和毒品产生的。

B: I am afraid you are mixing up the mind’s clear knowing nature with the appearances occurring in it. The mind is clear in that it has a reflective ability, like a mirror, that allows objects to be reflected in it. Let’s say here stands a mirror. A man comes along, the mirror then reflects the image of a man; next a woman comes along, there appears a woman’s image in the mirror. The images appear and disappear according to the coming and going of the people in front of the mirror. However, the mirror by itself will not appear or disappear as a result; it is utterly independent of those people. The relationship between the mind and the brain is just like that. The mind has the nature of clarity and awareness. When drugs stimulate the brain, a corresponding hallucination will appear in the mirror-like mind; the mind simply reflects the effect of the drugs, but itself is not produced by the brain and drugs.

甲:似乎也有一定的道理。这样看来,好像确实不容易排除心识和脑他体的情况。

A: Hm, this sounds reasonable. So, it really seems difficult to dismiss the case that the mind is distinct from the brain.

乙:我看到不少书籍、文章里面一谈到脑对意识的作用,就说大脑产生意识,如此下结论未免太草率了。

B: I have read many books and articles that discuss the brain’s effect on the mind, and they invariably proclaim that the mind is a byproduct of the brain. It’s just too premature to draw such a conclusion.

2、观察因果随存随灭,明心识在胎儿形成之前不存在为不定因

Examining the temporal relationship between cause and effect and determining that in a fetus, the brain cannot be qualified definitely as the cause for mind formation.

甲:但人的心识应该是在胎儿的脑形成以后才出现的,胎儿的脑还没有形成的时候哪里有心识?根本没有心识。

A: However, the mind of a fetus is supposed to appear only after its brain has developed. Before the brain forms in the fetus, where is the fetus’s mind? It’s absolutely nonexistent!

乙:这个说法也是一个假想,没有任何根据。如果要证明两个事物中的一个产生另一个,必须先明确前者没有的时候后者也没有,而前者有了之后后者才有,而且没有其他产生后者的原因。比如没有电的时候,灯泡不亮,通了电灯泡才亮,而又没有其他使灯泡亮的原因,就说明电是造成灯泡发光的原因。

B: This statement, again, is an assumption and is groundless. To say one thing causes the formation of the other thing, the following points must be ascertained: 1. The absence of the former dictates the absence of the latter, and 2. The arising of the former decrees the arising of the latter, and 3. All the while nothing else can produce the latter. For instance, during a power outage, the lights go off; when power is restored, the lights go back on; and all the while nothing else can make the lights go on. These conditions support that the electricity is what causes the lights to go on.

甲:是这样。
A: Okay.

乙:但一个胎儿的脑形成之前,人们是怎么知道这个胎儿的心识根本不存在呢?如同我的心识现在明明白白的感受你根本不知道,如果胎儿的心识在胎儿的脑形成之前本来就存在,你也同样不知道,凭什么说心识是胎儿的脑形成以后才有的呢?

B. But how can anyone tell that the fetus’s mind is definitely nonexistent before its brain develops? Just think, you have absolutely no idea what my mind is experiencing exactly right now. In the same vein, if the fetus has a mind before its brain forms, you won’t have any idea either. On what basis are you making your assumptions?

甲:…
A:….

乙:就像前面提到的回忆前世的事例,实际上就是因为胎儿在形成之前,其心识就是其前世的心识,一直就存在的。即便你不承认这些事例,我暂时也不用这些事例证明什么,但从道理上来说,一口咬定心识就是脑形成以后才出现的作用,这不合理。

B: As mentioned, case studies of remembering past lives have been reported. The underlying premise of these accounts is that there was a mind in existence before the fetus formed, which is the mind of the previous existence, i.e., the mind had been there all along. However, if you are reluctant to agree, I won’t cite this as proof for the moment. But logically, to state categorically that the mind is a function emerging only after the fetal brain forms is unfounded.

3、明自宗心识相续之理

3: Explaining our tradition’s reasoning on the mind’s continuation

甲:那你认为心识是怎么产生的呢?

A: Then, how do you think the mind is created?

乙:心识不需要大脑来产生,也不需要其它因,就是这个明知相续不断。往前可以追溯到初生时,再往前则是在母胎里时,再往前是前世,乃至前世的前世,追溯到无始。换句话说,产生此刻心识的原因就是前一刻的心识,如同产生此刻豆芽的原因是前一刻的豆芽,乃至追溯到豆子一样。而如果往后推,只要没有令心识灭尽的因,也会一直延续下去。这个道理,就是《量理宝藏论》所说的:“心不观待他因故,依因前际无始成。因聚齐全无障碍,依因后际无终成。”

B: The mind needs neither a brain nor other factors to come about; it just perpetuates itself. Our consciousness at this moment can be traced back to the time of being born and of the baby in the womb, back to the previous life, more previous lives, back, and back, and back through the infinite regression of time. In other words, the present mind stream depends on the mind stream of previous moments, just like a sprout at this moment depends upon the sprout of the previous moment, which can be tracked back to the moment of being a seed. Moving forward, the mind stream will likewise continue on infinitely, unless it meets causes and conditions capable of stopping its perpetuation. This principle is what’s taught in the Treasury of Cognition and Logic

The mind has continued itself since beginingless time,
Therefore the mind needs no other causes to form anew.
The mind will perpetuate itself forward endlessly likewise,
If obstacles do not disrupt its necessary causes and conditions.

甲:如果这样,怎么解释我刚才说的大脑对心识的影响呢?

A: If this is the case, how do you explain the effect of the brain on the mind I just discussed above?

乙:佛教里对心识的本质有小乘和大乘各宗深浅不同层次的揭示,以适应智慧根基不同的人。深的暂时不谈,层次较浅的,大概原理可以用DVD播放机来比喻,DVD碟片上是电影内容的编码,特定的编码会导致屏幕上出现相应的画面。同样,大脑如同DVD碟片,大脑里的电信号如同DVD碟片上的编码,心识如同屏幕,大脑的电信号会导致心识里反映出相应的知觉。而屏幕和DVD并非一体,同样,心识和大脑也不是一体。

B: In order to suit beings of various capacities and acumen, in Buddhism the nature of the mind is explicated at different levels of profundity in the various schools of Hinayana and Mahayana. Putting profound levels asides for the moment, let’s approximate the basic level to a DVD disc and its player. A DVD disc contains the codes of a movie, which specify the display of corresponding stories on the screen. By the same token, the brain is like a DVD disc and the mind the player. The brain’s electro-chemical signals are like the codes on a DVD disc that can cause a corresponding consciousness to display on the mind. Now, the DVD disc and the screen are not the same thing, nor are the brain and the mind.

甲:能否用你这个观点具体解释一下我刚才说的看到花的过程?

A: Can you use this model to explain specifically the process of seeing a flower I described?

乙:看到花的过程,从花的光线进入眼球、视网膜成像一直到信号传入大脑,这些都和你说的一样,唯一不同的地方,就是你说的“视皮层对这些信号做了综合处理以后,就产生了见到花的视觉”。你的观点是说,视皮层处理信号以后直接从这个物质上产生了明知的视觉。而我的观点是说,视皮层是物质,它本身不会产生视觉,而是本来就有的心识一直在和视皮层有相互作用,视皮层接受到信号以后,心识就会受到影响而产生对花的明知。这就是关键的区别。

B: Our view on the earlier steps of seeing a flower—from light entering the eyeball, to form an image on the retina and transmit signals to the brain—are similar to what you have said. The one and only difference is related to your assertion: “After the visual cortex processes the transmitted signals, the consciousness of seeing a flower is thus produced.” In your opinion, visual consciousness arises directly from material bases—the electro-chemical signals processed by the visual cortex. In my model, the visual cortex is a mere physical entity, and that it cannot create visual consciousness by itself. Rather, there is a pre-existing mind that has been closely interacting with the visual cortex. The electrochemical signals, upon reaching the visual cortex, affect the mind that is intimately associated with it, which then gives rise to the consciousness of seeing a flower. This is the key difference.

甲:就这么点区别吗?看上去区别不大啊。

A: That’s it? It doesn’t seem to be a big difference.

乙:这个区别可是不小啊,而且最为关键!按你的观点,视皮层死了,则见花的心识根本就断灭了,整个脑死了,人整个心识就消失了。但按我的观点,脑死了,心识仍然存在,这就是轮回的主体。所以,你的和我的观点,一者反对轮回,一者支持轮回,由此对我们生活的目标、每天的行为都会有巨大的影响。你能说区别不大吗?

A: This difference is actually rather immense, and is most critical! According to your point of view, when the visual cortex dies, the consciousness of seeing a flower will also extinguish; when the brain dies, all the consciousness of a person will also perish. Conversely, my model says that when the brain dies, the mind remains, which, as it turns out, is what goes through cyclic rebirth. Thus, in our respective claims, one works against a cyclic existence while the other supports a cyclic existence. This difference will influence enormously our outlook of life and everyday conduct. Don’t you agree it is really critical?

甲:这倒也是。

A: Indeed it is.

乙:而且从这个地方也可以明白,科学研究发现的整套脑的生物化学的机制,对于心识独立存在、轮回存在这个观点没有丝毫的妨害。因为这一整套生物化学的物质活动机制我们完全可以承认,唯一就是在这些物质活动最终怎样被心识明知这一点、轮回不存在的结论!

B: Furthermore, it is clear that the whole set of biochemical mechanisms discovered by scientific research does not dent even a little the proposition of the independent continuation of the mind and the existence of cyclic rebirth. We Buddhists have no qualms at all about embracing this set of biochemical mechanisms on material interactions. However, the viewpoint on how signals eventually become perceivable to the mind and the saying that there is no cyclic existence are both unacceptable to us!

甲:嗯,很有意思。看来确实不能这么定论。按你的观点,脑垂体分泌的激素影响感情看来也可以有你的解释,就是说激素自身的物质上不产生感情,而是会影响原本就存在的心识,感情是心识的,而不是物质的。

A: Well, it sounds quite intriguing. Indeed a conclusion can’t be drawn in haste. I gather your model can also explain the induction of romantic sentiment by the neuropeptide secreted by the pituitary gland. That is, the peptide hormone by itself does not produce romantic emotions; rather, it exerts an effect on a pre-existing mind. Emotion is a conscious mental factor, not a physical element.

乙:对,正是这样。

B: Rightly so!

4、观察同类因之理,明大脑产生心识为相违因

The brain is not a direct, or concordant cause in the production of the mind.

甲:虽然你说的也有道理,但又怎能排除我的观点呢?这两种观点都有可能,也都不确定。

A: Although your point sounds plausible, how is my point invalid? Both views can be permissible or both can be uncertain.

乙:可以确定。刚才已经详细辨析过心识和物质活动的不同之处。物质的脑只是这些原子、分子、电磁场机械地活动,这些机械活动怎能变出明明白白的了知——了知五颜六色、冷热痛痒,还有欢喜、忧伤等等呢?二者完全不同类,根本无法从脑中产生心识。而我所说的观点中,心识原本就一直是明知,只是物质活动对其会产生影响,这是很合理的。

B: My point can be ascertained. I have now explained in detail the differences between conscious experience and physical reactions. The activities of the physical brain are but the physical-chemical reactions of atoms, molecules, and electromagnetic fields. How can such reactions mechanistically churn out the subjective cognition that perceives colors and shapes; feels warmth, cold, aches, and itchiness; and knows happiness and sadness? These two things belong to completely different categories, and the brain simply cannot give rise to the mind. The mind, let me reiterate, is by itself always clear and aware, although it can be influenced by material reactions. This is justifiable.

甲:你说因为不同类,所以无法从脑中产生心识。这不一定。比如冷冰冰的木头就能生出炽热的火,太阳光照到土壤上,就可以让土壤里长出草,这些不都是不同类的产生吗?脑的物质结构极其复杂,它产生明知心识也是可能的。

A: You argued that by merely being of different categories, the brain can’t give rise to the mind. This is not necessarily the case. For example, hot burning fire comes from cold wood, and sprouts emerge from the soil as a result of sunlight shining on the earth. Don’t these cases reveal the production of one thing from another thing of a different category? The structure of the brain is extremely complicated, which sets the stage for it to generate a perceiving mind.

乙:分析你这两个例子之前先说明一些道理。佛法里面把产生果的因分为两大类,一类对果的本体起作用,叫作近取因,另一类对果的差别或者说某些细节特点起作用,叫作俱有缘(也叫俱有因)。比如草的种子在土壤里,遇到水、阳光等合适的条件的时候就会发芽,芽的近取因是种子,从种子到芽是一个本体的相续。而阳光并非种子的近取因,只是促进种子发芽的俱有缘。

B: Before analyzing the two cases you cited, let’s go over a few suppositions. In Buddhism, the causes that bring about results are of two kinds: the direct or substantial cause that acts on the nature of the results, and the supporting or cooperative condition that acts on the variations or fine characteristics of the result. In the case of grass seeds in soil growing into sprouts, the direct cause of the sprout is the seed, in that the sprout continues the essence of the seed. Water, sunshine, and other favorable elements are supporting conditions. That is, sunlight is not a direct cause for the sprout; it is a supporting condition that promotes the seed to become a sprout.

甲:这个可以理解。

A: I can see that.

乙:前面说的同类因,是说近取因必然是同类,如种子和芽,而俱有缘则不一定同类,如阳光和芽。而且同类也不是说一定要颜色形状等相同才叫同类,但因和果的本体一定是同类。所以阳光不是草的同类因,而草的种子是同类因。

B: A direct cause and its result must be “concordant,” like that of a seed and its sprout. A “supporting condition,” on the other hand, does not have to be concordant, like that of sunshine and the sprout. Furthermore, a similarity in colors, shapes, and so on, is not what’s mandated in “being a concordant cause.” Rather, it requires a similarity in the nature between cause and result. Therefore, sunshine is not the concordant cause of grass, while a grass seed is.

甲:那你怎么解释冰冷的木头能生出炽热的火呢?

A: Well then, how do you explain that from cold firewood comes a hot burning fire?

乙:现代科学其实已经给出了很好的答案。木头燃烧的过程,实际上是木头里的碳原子和空气里的氧原子结合变二氧化碳的过程,碳、氧原子结合时原本具有的电子的能量以光能和热能的形式释放出来,这就是火。所以,实际上火的近取因是木头原本具有的能量,二者同类,而木头作为近取因而生的果是二氧化碳,这也仍然是同类因。这一点和萨迦班智达在《量理宝藏论》里说的“石及柴等非火因,火因本为火微尘”完全一致。也就是说,木柴不是火的真正的近取因,火的真正的近取因是“火微尘”,所谓“火微尘”,按照佛教的经部宗的观点来说,是物质微粒上能产生火的这种细微的能力,实际上相当于现代科学中所说的高能级电子具有的能量。

B: A good answer for this has been, in fact, provided by modern science. The process of burning firewood is actually a process of carbon dioxide formation through the combination of the carbon atoms in the wood and the oxygen molecules in the air. This combination releases the energy inherent in carbon and oxygen in a form of light and heat, which is fire. Hence, fire has the inherent energy of the firewood as its direct cause and these two are concordant. Wood, as a direct cause producing the result of carbon dioxide, is also a concordant cause. This point echoes perfectly with what Sakya Pandita says in The Treasure of Logic on Valid Cognition:

Stones, firewood, and so on are not the causes for fire
Instead minute fire particles are.

In other words, it is not the firewood per se, but rather the “minute fire particles” that are the real direct cause of fire. According to the Buddhist Sautrantika School, the “minute fire particles” are the subtle energy inherent in the minute particles of matter that are capable of producing fire, which, in terms of modern physics, in fact are equivalent to the energy stored in high-energy electrons.

甲:嗯,这一点的确如此。但你说的同类因太模糊,因和果有同有异,挑同的部分就说同类,挑不同的地方就说不同类,根本说不清。比如木头是因,燃烧产生二氧化碳这个果,你挑里面碳原子的部分说是同类。那我说水也能产生二氧化碳,因为我也可以挑出同类来:水和二氧化碳都是质子、中子和电子这些。可是水里哪儿能生二氧化碳呢?根本不能。

A: Hm, surely this seems to be the case. But the criteria of your “concordant cause” are way too fuzzy. Between cause and result, there are similar and dissimilar aspects, and you just picked some similar parts and designated them “concordant,” and the dissimilar ones “not concordant.” It’s just random. In producing carbon dioxide from burning wood, you argue that they both contain carbon atoms, which justifies them to be concordant and establishes that wood is the direct cause to produce carbon dioxide. Then, I’ll argue that both water and carbon dioxide contain protons, neutrons and electrons, which will justify them to be concordant and establish that water is a direct cause to produce carbon dioxide. But can water produce carbon dioxide? It’s absolutely impossible!

乙:在特定条件下,同类的东西有个同类的基础。比如木头燃烧的条件下,同类的基础是原子。如果你在质子、中子和电子这个基础上分析同类的话,那应放在核反应的条件下,元素可以改变、可以人工合成,此时水变二氧化碳原则上也是可以的。

B: Concordant things must have a specific condition as their common basis. In the case of burning firewood, the common basis is set at the level of atoms. If you choose protons, neutrons, and electrons, the common basis will be set at the level of subatomic particles. At this specific condition, what happens is nuclear reaction, in which elements can be interchanged or be synthesized artificially. Then, in principle, water can be turned into carbon dioxide.

甲:虽然如此,不过还是觉得你说的这个同类因界限不清楚,到底怎么样就算同类。

A: Nevertheless, I still feel your definition of concordant cause is ambivalent. What are the criteria to group things as “concordant” anyway?

乙:你觉得界限不清楚也不影响心识和脑的这个问题。因为界限再不清楚,它也有最低限度的同类基础。比如木头、水和二氧化碳在粒子和场的物质基础上同类,所以相互产生是有可能的。米饭蔬菜和脑也是基本粒子和场组成的,所以脑可以由米饭蔬菜等物质产生。但心识和物质的脑却没有任何同类的基础,脑是粒子、是场,不是明知,而心识不是粒子、不是场,是明知颜色、苦乐等。所以物质的脑再怎么复杂,还是机械性的物质,产生心识不可能。

B: Even if you deem my criteria unclear, it does not affect our discussion on the mind and the brain. See, no matter how vague the criteria may be, there still exists a minimal common basis. For example, wood, water, and carbon dioxide are similar in terms of their physical basis of atoms, molecules, and an electromagnetic field, thus one can give rise to the other. Rice, vegetables, and the brain are also made from atoms, molecules, and an electromagnetic field; thus the brain can be produced from these ingredients. However, there is no such common basis between the mind and the brain: The brain is composed of atoms, molecules, and an electromagnetic field, and it does not perceive colors or experience happiness or pain. On the other hand, the mind is non-material; it has no atoms, molecules, nor an electromagnetic field, and it is what perceives colors and experiences happiness or pain. Thus, however complex the brain can be, it remains a material substance, a mechanical entity that cannot possibly give rise to the mind.

甲:嗯,比较有道理。越讨论越发现这个心识确实太特别了,跟物质一点也不一样!

A: Hm, now this sounds more convincing. The more we discuss, the more extraordinary the mind seems to be. It is entirely dissimilar to materials!

乙:再从物理学的角度稍微详细分析一下。物理学里所有物质的活动特征都可以用七个基本物理量来描述:长度、质量、时间、电流、温度、物质的量和发光强度,其他物理量都可以用这七个组合运算而得到。再复杂的物质结构和活动,也可以用这七个物理量表达清楚,比如,描述成质量、电流、温度等随时间、空间的分布和变化。

B: Furthermore, let’s investigate from the perspective of physics. Physicists use seven fundamental physical qualities to define the characteristics of all physical reactions. They are: length, mass, time, electrical current, temperature, amount, and luminous intensity. Any physical characteristics, even the most complicated structure or interactions, can be qualified clearly by the combined operation of these seven units. For instance, they can delineate the distribution and changes of mass, electrical current, and temperature of any material substance as a function of time and location.

甲:是这样。

A: Ah yes.

乙:脑的成分结构虽然复杂,但原则上也可用这些物理量完整描述。人脑形成的过程,实际上是米饭蔬菜等被孕妇吃了以后,其部分原子或离子被吸收而进入胚胎并逐渐形成胚胎的脑。虽然具体变化过程很复杂,除了米饭蔬菜还需要母体等很多物质的因素,也需要足够长的时间,但其中所有细节的本质是完全可以这么概括的。

B: The brain, even with its complicated structure, can in principle be described fully in terms of these physical characteristics. Let’s look at the formation of human brain. Rice, vegetables, and other foods ingested by a pregnant woman are converted into atoms or ions, which are then absorbed into the fetus to build up the fetal brain in due time. The whole process is quite elaborate and involves other physical factors such as the womb and a sufficient gestation time. Nonetheless, these parameters can cover in detail all the characteristics of the process.

因此若用这些物理量来描述,就是一堆原子离子,最初其质量、电场、温度等随时间、空间的分布和变化是某种情况,此时称之为蔬菜,后来这同一堆原子离子的质量、电场、温度等随时间、空间的分布改变了一下成为另一种情况,此时称之为脑。这个变化前后,没有不能用这七个物理量描述的部分。

Using these seven physical qualities, the formation of a brain can be described as the changes of a collection of atoms and ions. Initially, at a certain time and location, the atoms and ions forms a collection of mass, electrical field, and temperature, which is called the vegetable. At another time and location, these atoms and ions assume another set of characteristics in mass, electrical field, temperature, and so on, which is then called the brain. Throughout the whole process of change, there is no stage that cannot be delineated by the seven units of physical measurement.

甲:是这样。物理学家用这七个物理量可以描述从宇宙大爆炸之初一直到现在的整个物质世界。当然米饭变成脑的这些物理、化学变化过程也一样可以用这七个物理量描述。

A: That is the case. By employing these seven physical parameters, physicists can give an account of the whole physical universe, from the Big Bang in the beginning to the present day. It goes without saying that the same parameters can be applied to describe the physical and chemical changes from rice to the brain.

乙:对,其实物理学家用这七个物理量描述整个宇宙,这也是同类因的道理,虽然宇宙中物质的具体形态千变万化,但都能用这七个物理量表示,这也就是同类基础不改变。

B: Right. In fact, it is the principle of concordant cause that enables physicists to use the seven physical qualities to describe the whole universe. See, although the physical entities in the universe vary tremendously, all of them can be characterized by these seven physical parameters, because their concordant bases are the same.

甲:有道理。

A: It makes perfect sense!

乙:我们来看心识。明知的心识能用这七个物理量描述吗?比如你正在看这张桌子时,桌子质量是20千克,你对桌子的明知是多少千克?桌子的宽度是1米,你明知桌子的心识宽多少米?还有,你很喜欢这张桌子的颜色,但不喜欢它的式样,你心里明明白白的这个“喜欢”和“不喜欢”是电流?是重量?还是大小、温度等等?

B: Now let’s take a look of the mind. Can the knowing mind be described by the seven basic physical parameters? For instance, this table you are looking at has a mass of 20 kilograms. How many kilograms is your cognizance of this desk? The desk has a width of one meter; what is the width of your cognizance of this desk? Furthermore, you like the color of this desk but not its style. Are the “like” and “dislike” you experience exactly in your mind the electrical currents? Do they have certain weights, sizes, or temperatures?

甲:好像不能这么描述心识吧?

A: I doubt the mind can be depicted in such a way.

乙:当然不能。明知是你自己明明白白的了知,又不是机械的物质质量、大小等。而且假如能这么描述的话,别人也都能见到你的心识的质量、大小了。但别人能见到的质量和大小也只是质量和大小,却根本不是见到你的明知。所以说“明知”根本不能用任何物理量描述。

B: Certainly not. Awareness is your subjective knowing, not the mechanical weight or the size of something physical. If it could be measured in this way, then other people would be able to see the mass and size of your mind. Even so, that’s all they can see— numbers describing mass and size—but not your subjective knowing. That’s why we say that the “subjective knowing” is beyond the scope of any physical measurement.

甲:这一点同意。但用物理量描述脑的物质活动,也就相当于描述了对应的心识。比如心里“喜欢”时,一定是有对应的脑组织的物质活动,如电流的某种分布或脑电波的某个频率。

A: I agree. However, in describing the activity of the brain using physical parameters, scientists can also pinpoint parallel reactions of the mind. For instance, when one is “pleased,” responses like electrical currents or certain frequencies of brainwaves are elicited at a corresponding region of the brain.

乙:二者有对应关系是有可能,但电流分布明明和明知的“喜欢”不一样,描述前者不等于描述了后者。. 比如前面说的DVD播放机,DVD碟片里的编码和屏幕的图像是有对应关系,但碟片上的1010这样的编码毕竟不是屏幕上的人物、情节。如果说描述了碟片的编码就完全等同于描述了图像,那么给一个人直接看这个圆形的碟片,就完全等于看了这个电影,那根本不需要屏幕了。脑的物质活动和心识也同样,二者可以有一定的对应关系,但各有各的特征,描述前者根本不等于描述后者。

B: It is possible for these two to have some corresponding relationships. Nonetheless, the distribution of electrical currents is obviously different from your cognizing feeling of “like.” What is described for the former is not necessarily true for the latter. Going back to the DVD player analogy, the code on the disc corresponds to the movie played on the screen. But those “1-0-1-0” codes on the disc are not the characters or the plot of the movie. Should a description of the code on the disc be completely equivalent to the images and plot, then looking directly at the circular disc would be tantamount to seeing the whole movie, and there is no need for a DVD player and its screen after all! The same argument goes with the brain’s physical activities versus the mind. The two can have certain interrelationships, but each has its own special features. The qualities attributed to the former will not unequivocally fit the latter.

甲:嗯,确实是这样的。

A: Hm, it is exactly so.

乙:这样的话按你所说,米饭蔬菜原本没有明知,其原子重组而成为脑的时候却有了明知。这就等于承认说,米饭蔬菜的原子重组而成为脑的时候,在这一堆原子中竟然出现了七个基本物理量根本不能描述的新的“物理量”——明知!物理学家会怎么想?

B: To follow your assumption, rice, vegetables, and so on could not have any awareness in the first place, yet they attained it in the process of becoming a brain. This amounts to saying that through rearranging the atoms of rice and vegetables to form the brain, incredibly among these bunch of atoms out popped a brand new “physical quality”—cognizing awareness! And this new entity is utterly beyond the measurement of the seven basic physical qualities. How will physicists respond to this?

甲:(思维…)是啊,这真是匪夷所思!物理学家恐怕也不会同意物质还有不能用七个基本物理量描述的特征的.

A: (pondering..) Yeah, isn’t it an absurd assumption! I am afraid physicists would not like to say that there exists a physical entity that cannot be quantified by their seven basic physical parameters.

乙:你有机会的话问一问物理学家们吧,呵呵。话说回来,由此我们应该很清楚了,原子分子组成的脑,再怎么复杂也还是原子分子的物质特性。而我们明知的心识原本自己就存在,根本不是这团物质里出现的,只不过二者有一定的相互影响而已。

B: There we go, so why don’t you ask a physicist when you get a chance? Still, the point is quite clear to us now: The brain, composed of atoms and molecules, will remain in the physical domain of atoms and molecules, regardless of how complicated its structure may turn out. On the other hand, the mind, which is clear and knowing, exists by its own preceding causes; it is by no means a product of physical conglomeration; the two merely influence each other to some degree.

5、观察物质活动的假名,明此等未超出物质活动

Physical functions are designated by name and they remain in the physical domain.

甲:你说的很有启发,还需要好好想想。不过还有其他情况。比如说,计算机里面的电路都是一些半导体器件等,这些器件原本没有运算功能,但按一定的规则组合起来就具备了运算功能,能做1+1=2这样的运算。这种运算功能和半导体器件根本不是同类。如果有的关键器件坏了,运算功能就消失了。计算机电路可以产生运算功能,所以人脑也可产生意识,与此类似。

A: What you have said is quite enlightening; I need to ruminate over it. There are other issues though. The circuits in a computer are all semiconductor components, which originally cannot perform calculations. But after being combined in certain configurations, they are able to do so, such as calculating 1+1=2. The function to calculate and the mechanical parts of semiconductors are essentially discordant entities. If some key components in the assembly are broken, the calculating function will be lost. Using the same logic, inasmuch as the computer’s circuits give rise to the ability to calculate, why won’t the human brain give rise to a conscious mind?

乙:这二者不能相比。运算功能本质是什么呢?其实就是半导体器件上的输入电压和输出电压按一定的规则改变,输出和输入电压之间的关系可以代表1+1=2这样的运算。除了电压电流的变化以外,并没有一种性质完全不同的所谓“运算”这种东西。换句话说,计算机的运算实际上是给输入输出电压信号按一定规则的变化的这种功能起名字叫“运算”。“运算”是个名字,本质上是电路上的电压电流的变化。

B: No, there is no comparison between the two. What’s the nature of a calculating function? It is the change of input and output voltages according to programed paths, which is manifested as a calculation function like 1+1=2. Apart from the changes in voltage, there is not a completely new entity of so-called calculation. In other words, we give the name “calculation” to the function resulting from varying input and output voltage signals. “Calculation” is but a name so designated; its nature is the changes of current and voltage in electrical circuits.

甲:心识为什么就不能说成仅仅是脑里面的化学变化的一个名字呢?

A: Then, why can’t we say the mind is merely a name given to the chemical reactions occurring in the brain?

乙:这二者是完全不同的。在计算机电路上,除了电压电流的变化以外,并没有一种性质完全不同的所谓“运算”这种东西。而除了脑里面的化学变化之外,是不是也同样没有一种性质完全不同的所谓“心识”呢?并非如此。我们前面仔细分析过,我们直接就知道这种性质完全不同于化学反应的“明知”,所以心识并非仅仅是给脑的化学反应起的名字。

B: These two are totally disparate. In the computer’s circuits, other than the mere changes of voltages and currents, there does not exist an entirely different entity called “calculation.” Now, in the brain, other than the mere chemical changes, is it also devoid of an entirely different entity—the so-called mind? No, it is not devoid of this entity. From our previous analysis, we can see directly that in the brain there exists a perceiving mind that is utterly different from chemical reactions. Hence the “mind” cannot be a name designated to the chemical reactions occurring in the brain.

甲:但现在发展人工智能、机器人,有的机器人下棋比人还厉害,这不完全可以和人相比吗?

A: Nonetheless, artificial intelligence and robotics are being developed these days. In fact, some robots score better than humans in chess. Isn’t such artificial intelligence entirely on a par with that of a human?

乙:你应该透过表面假象看到里面的实质。表面上看机器人和人都能做复杂的事情、都能“学习”,但机器人所谓的智能和学习本质上就是刚说的这种“运算”,完全是电路和软件程序的运作,并起个名字叫做“智能”。而心识与此的本质区别已经讲得很清楚,无须重复了。

B: You must see through the deceptive facade to grasp the inner essence. On the surface, both human and artificial intelligence are capable of learning and performing complex tasks. Yet the so-called intelligence and learning of robots are by nature the “calculation” function mentioned above; they are nothing more than the execution of computer programs, designated by the term “artificial intelligence.” The basic difference between the mind and this calculation function is quite distinct and needs no more reiteration.

甲:仔细观察,不得不承认是这样的。

A: Upon closer examination, we have to admit this is the case.

乙:总之,明知的心识不可能从物质里面产生,而是自己前后相续不断地存在着。这也就是前后世存在的实质。

B: In all, the mind that is clear and knowing cannot arise from physical materials; rather, it’s a continuum of itself from a previous moment to the next, unceasingly. This is precisely what accounts for the existence of past and future lives.

6、遣此理简单而科学家不知故不合理之诤

This valid viewpoint, despite its simplicity, has eluded scientists.

甲:你讲的这些道理看来不是很难懂。但为什么那么多很有智慧的科学家并没有持你说的观点呢?

A: The ideas you alluded to do not seem that complicated. But why have many intelligent scientists not seen eye to eye with you?

乙:人的原有观念力量是很大的,很有智慧的人也会不知不觉地受到这些观念的左右。不用说科学家,人类和动物生来就会执着身体就是自己,似乎没有身体就没有了自己和自己的心识。这在佛法中称为“俱生我执”。在此基础上又受到包括唯物论在内的各种思想的熏陶,比如物质产生意识,这种观念是后天得到的,在佛法中称为“遍计所执”。这些观念很难突破。全知麦彭仁波切在《中观庄严论释》中对人们的这种现状说的很深刻:“在诸如此类众说纷纭的俱生铁镣上钉上各式各样遍计所执法的钉子,立宗创派。”

B: Old habits die hard; even many intelligent individuals, scientists included, are inadvertently subject to its sway. All humans and animals are born with an attachment to their body, identifying it as “me”—meaning that without a body there won’t be “me” and “my mind.” This is called “innate grasping” in Buddhism. On this basis, more concepts, like that of physical matter producing the mind, developed under the influence of materialism and other ideas. In Buddhism, this kind of concept is called “imputed grasping,” as it is acquired. All of these concepts are hard to crack: this is described aptly by the omniscient Mipham Rinpoche in his The Commentary on Ornament of the Middle Way: “On top of the iron chains of various innate grasping, people nailed more diverse imputed grasping upon it, and established their own schools and thoughts.”

甲:但科学家的很多发现、发明创造是非常了不起的。如果你说的这些确实是真理,以他们的智慧也应该不难发现到。

A: However, scientists have achieved incredible discoveries and inventions. If what you said is really the unfailing truth, they should have observed it readily with their superb intelligence.

乙:这个道理说出来的话的确不难理解,但没有说出来的话,人们也不一定会朝这个方向去想,也就不会得出这样的结论。尤其习惯研究物质规律的人,对心识的根本特征是明知这一点都不一定会意识到,反而一直把心识想成某个东西,并按固有的观念沿着物质如何产生意识这个方向一直往下跑。好比爱迪生让学数学的助手测灯泡容积,这位助手自然而然地按数学的方法在那里计算,很久也算不出来,结果爱迪生简单地往里倒满了水,再把里面的水倒在量杯里就测出来了。

B: My reasoning, once stated, indeed seems quite plain and easy to understand; still, if it has not been spoken of, this way of thinking may not be obvious to people and hence they would reach no such conclusion. Specifically for people accustomed to the analysis of physical laws, they won’t have the slightest inkling that the essential nature of the mind is clear and knowing. Instead, they get hung up on considering the mind as something material. Fixated in their opinions, they keep moving in this one-track way of matter creating mind. For example, once Thomas Edison asked an assistant majoring in mathematics to figure out the volume of a light bulb. The assistant automatically applied mathematical equations to calculate it, and could not determine the answer after a long time. Edison, on the other hand, simply filled the bulb with water, and then poured the water into a measuring cylinder. He determined the volume right away.

甲:是有这个情况。

A: Yes, there was such an incident.

乙:另外有智慧不等于不犯错误。比如刚才说过,很多人因为刺激神经影响到意识感觉,就得结论说物质产生意识,但根本没有考虑物质和意识他体的情况。我们不论其结论本身对错,但忽略如此重要的一个可能性,这本身就是个错误。可见科学家也会犯关键性的错误。

B: Furthermore, being smart does not guarantee being free from errors. As mentioned before, many people, based on the effect of stimulating brain neurons on conscious feelings, conclude that the mind is a product of matter, without even considering the scenario of how matter and the mind may be different entities. Whether their conclusion is right or wrong, simply ignoring such a crucial possibility is a mistake by itself. Hence, scientists are not immune to making critical blunders either.

六、尾义

Epilogue

甲:你说的这些的确是有一定的道理。不过说心识能离开大脑而存在,还能轮回、有前世后世,感觉上还是比较离奇、不容易接受。

A: Well, what you said definitely makes some sense. Nevertheless, I still find it strange that the mind can exist independently of the brain and cycles from life to life. I just can’t readily accept it.

乙:认为“离奇”、难以接受,这只是和固有的想法不同,则会“少见多怪”,但这不等于不符合现实。比如相对论刚问世的时候,因为和人们固有的绝对时空观抵触,很多人也觉得离奇,并强烈反对。所以我们要依靠智慧观察分析,而不是跟着感觉走。

B: When something contradicts our fixed thought patterns, we label it as “strange” or difficult to accept. This only betrays our limited vision and we can’t affirm that it contradicts reality. For instance, the theory of relativity when first introduced was regarded as weird and met much opposition, since it contradicted people’s pre-existing notion of absolute time and space. Hence, it’s only prudent that we rely on intelligent analysis and wise investigation, rather than follow our feelings blindly.

甲:虽然如此,对很多人来说要一下子接受你说的观点还是比较困难的。

A: Still, it’s not that easy for many people to swallow your point of view immediately.

乙:这完全可以理解。根深蒂固的成见不是那么容易动摇的。但只要你为了寻求真理而敢于审视自己原有的见解,并准备接受任何合理的观点,这也不是很困难。这是佛教的精神,也是真正的科学精神。很多人误以为科学就等同于唯物论,实际上真正的科学精神不论唯物与否,是唯真理是从。这和佛教的精神是完全一致的。

B: This attitude is perfectly understandable. Frankly, it is by no means easy to stave off deep-rooted prejudices. However, if, on the premise of seeking truth, you are willing to challenge your own concepts and be ready to embrace any reasonable viewpoint, then it won’t be that difficult. Such is the spirit of Buddhism and, incidentally, it is also the true scientific spirit. Many people mistakenly equate science with materialism. In fact, materialism or not, the real scientific spirit adheres only to the truth, which is perfectly in line with the spirit of Buddhism.

甲:嗯,看来很多人对佛教和科学都不太了解呢。

A: I see, it looks like many people understand neither science nor Buddhism in a deeper way.

乙:是这样。而且,面对实际事例的态度也是这样。不少人一听到前生后世的事例就毫无理由地怀疑其可靠性。不应该这样。

B: Exactly. The same goes for the attitude toward true case studies. Quite a few people upon hearing the reports of reincarnation immediately doubt their validity, without even a shred of reasoning. That’s not the way it should be.

甲:前生后世的事例也不容易弄清楚其真实性。

A: Honestly, it is tough to tell how true those case reports on reincarnation are.

乙:这多半是个借口。生活中常见到人们对道听途说的事情或者一些令人眼花缭乱的商品广告很容易信以为真,实际上这些也同样不容易弄清其真实性。根本上来讲,怀疑前后世的事例的真实性,最主要的还是和自己的唯物论的先入之见冲突。

A: Again, this is mostly an excuse. In life people are often gullible and believe hearsay or fall for dazzling commercials, which in fact reflects their inability to discern what is true. Basically, the suspicion of the validity of cases of reincarnation comes mainly because it crashes against one’s pre-existing view of materialism.

甲:有道理。刚才和你讨论过程中,我也试着站到你的观点上来看这个问题,发现确实是合理的,而且对前生后世的事例也觉得不奇怪了,反倒是可以理解的。而如果一直坚持大脑产生心识的观点的话,的确会很排斥前生后世的事例,认为不合理。我原来就对前生后世的事例不以为然,也不太重视,但今天跟你讨论之后觉得很想再看看这些事例。想想自己的心识如果也真的是从前世延续到现在,一直到死后,那这些事例原来就是很平常的事情了。

A: That’s reasonable. While we were talking, I have tried to look at this issue from your perspective, which I find is indeed plausible. Furthermore, the cases on reincarnation no longer seem surprising; instead, they appear conceivable now. Should I hold tight onto the notion that the brain produces the mind, I would dismiss these cases and deem them unjustifiable. Frankly, I have never been impressed by the reincarnation reports and could care less about them. But after discussing with you today, I would like to revisit them. If I accept that my mind really continues, from past lives to now, and to the future after I die, then all such cases are but commonplace.

乙:很高兴听你这么讲。寻求真理就是应该让自己站到双方立场上客观公正地比较,这不仅对自己没有任何危害,反而会让你很受益,因为你会因此得到无价的真理。

B: I am pleased to hear that. The quest for truth commands a fair comparison of the perspectives from both sides. This kind of attitude is not only harmless to yourself but also, on the contrary, is rather beneficial to you. After all, what you’ll be rewarded with is nothing other than the priceless truth.

翻译: 圆弘少光
校对: Tom Liu