The Mechanism of Appearance

(as it may be conceived)

The apparent universe neither arises via, nor independently of, sentient beings. The apparent aspect of sentient beings arises with that of the universe, and the universe becomes apparent concurrently.

Their sentience is responsible for their interpretation of arisal, or manifestation, their sentience being the perceptive aspect of 'mind', and their appearance being the perceived aspect, as is that of all phenomena.

The apparent difference between what are known as animate and inanimate objects is inexistent objectively, that is as objective phenomena, but, subjectively, non-apparent sentience, though as such it does not occasion arisal or manifestation (which is causal), is responsible for perception.

One might say that sentient beings as phenomena arise, are manifested, 'directly', like all phenomena whatsoever, but that the apparent universe as known to sentient beings is an indirect arisal, or manifestation via their sentience, such sentience being expressed by means of cognitive faculties (known as the skandha), themselves conceptual, but in itself a direct manifestation of whole-mind.

Can this be made clearer by saying that sentience is that aspect of arisal, or manifestation, by means of which phenomena are cognised as such, although itself is not responsible for their arisal? Sentience may be seen as an expression of the dynamic aspect of manifestation (whereas appearance itself is the static aspect), by means of which the faculties of cognition interpret, but are not causative elements in, such manifestation.

The mechanism here described is all purely conceptual: this is not, therefore, a description of anything factually existing, but a schema illustrating the position and function of apparent sentient beings in the phenomenal universe in which objectively they are integral, but in the perception, conception and interpretation of which they constitute a functional element.

Metaphysically nothing of this kind can be said to be, for the mechanism of causation is entirely phenomenal.

Metaphysically there is only the apparent manifestation of non-manifestation, of which latter nothing whatever can be cognised since it has no objective quality whatever, and sentient beings themselves are nothing but what 'it' IS.

(© HKU Press, 1965)

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