Lights of ‘Irfán Book Eight 127
kinds of consistency problems because that conceptcontradicts the goal of explanation strictly by physicallymeasurable means. The ontological constitution of sciencedoes not allow such a concept.Like science, every religion has an ontology which is the basisof its identity and, of course, the basis for its differences fromother religions. From this it also follows that if we seriouslyintend to study how two religions are alike, then we mustcompare their respective ontologies. Without that, nophilosophical understanding of a religion is possible.However, before we plunge into our exploration, we mustdraw attention to the fact that contrary to the impressiongiven by many popular books, Buddhism does not speak with‘one voice’ even on some fundamental, ontological issues. Forexample, the often cited concept of emptiness is interpreted inat least three logically incompatible ways. Even the famous
or no-self doctrine is subject to variousinterpretations and at least one major Mahayana sutra
, TheMahaparinirvana Sutra
specifically asserts the existence of aself. Of course, it is not up to this paper to decide whichdoctrine represents ‘true Buddhism’; that is best left toBuddhists to settle amongst themselves. All this paper can do ispoint out and explore the ontological similarities wherever theyexist in the spectrum of Buddhist ontology. Doing so, willcover the following topics:
(impermanence);momentariness; dependent origination; God; nirvana; the
and the concept of Manifestations; emptiness;
(no-self) and re-incarnation.
Logically speaking, the fundamental ontological principle ofBuddhism is the concept of
, universal impermanence orthe transitoriness of all things. In the words of the Buddha,Impermanent are all component things,They arise and cease, that is their nature,They come into being and pass away,Release for them is bliss supreme.