Having refuted that revealing forms (rnam-par rig-byed-kyi gzugs, Skt. vijñaptirūpa) of the body are karmic impulses, Sautrantika nevertheless accepts the existence of revealing forms. However, it does not accept them as existing or as knowable in the same ways that Vaibhashika asserts.
Revealing Forms Are Not Distinct Substantial Entities
Vasubandhu, in Treasure House of Special Topics of Knowledge (IV.2ab) (Gretil ed., Derge Tengyur vol. 140, 10B-11A), presents the Vaibhashika assertion that the karmic impulses for actions of the body include revealing forms and that these revealing forms are the shape of the body as a distinct substantial entity (rdzas, Skt. dravya) separate from color:
Regarding them (the karmic impulses of body and speech, they have) a revealing (form) and a nonrevealing (form). The revealing (form) of the body is asserted as (the body’s) shape.
(Skt.) te tu vijñaptyavijñaptī kāyavijñaptiriṣyate / saṃsthānaṃ
(Tib.) de dag rnam rig rnam rig min/ lus rnam rig byed dbyibs su ‘dod/
In his (Auto)commentary on “A Treasure House of Special Topics of Knowledge” (Chos mngon-pa’i mdzod-kyi rang-’grel, Skt. Abhidharmakośa-bhāṣya), (Gretil ed. 194.15-18, Derge Tengyur vol.160, 167B), Vasubandhu presents the Sautrantika objection to the Vaibhashika assertion that shape is a distinct substantial entity that can be cognized by itself, independently of color:
According to the Sautrantikas, on the other hand, shape is not something (existing) as a (distinct) substance (separate from color). In reference to a large number of colored (particles lined up) in a single direction having been formed, a “long form” is designated. In comparison with that, a “short (form)” is [Tib. only: designated] on a small number having been formed. A “square” is [Tib. only: designated] on many (spread out) in four directions having been formed. A “circle” is [Tib. only: designated] on all (being arranged) equally (in the four directions). All (shapes) are like that.
(Skt.) nāsti saṃsthānaṃ dravyata iti sautrāntikāḥ / ekadiṅmukhe hi bhūyasi varṇa utpanne dīrghaṃ rūpamiti prajñapyate/ tamevāpekṣyālpīyasi hrasvamiti / caturdiśaṃ bhūyasi caturasramiti / sarvatra same vṛttamiti / evaṃ sarvam /
(Tib.) mdo sde pa rnams na re dbyibs ni rdzas su med de, phyogs gcig gi sgor kha dog phal cher byung ba la gzugs ring go zhes ‘dog-pa byed/ de nyid la ltos nas nyung ngur byung ba la thung du zhes ‘dogs par byed/ phyogs bzhir mang por byung ba la gru bzhi zhes ‘dogs par byed/ thams cad du mnyam pa na lham pa zhes ‘dogs par byed de/ thams cad kyang de dang ‘dra’o/
A visible form, a sight as a physical phenomenon, consists of a “color-shape,” but according to Sautrantika, neither color nor shape exist as distinct substantial entities, because neither is self-sufficiently knowable (rdzas-su yod-pa, Skt. dravyasat). A shape is only imputedly knowable (btags-yod, Skt. prajñaptisat) on the basis of an arrangement of colored particles that are similar to pixels. Being imputedly knowable means that to cognize a shape, one first needs to see with eye consciousness an arrangement of a collection of colored particles and then cognize conceptually with mental consciousness this arrangement together with a shape mentally labeled on it.
In reference to the Vaibhashika claim that shape can be cognized by itself both by eye cognition and, in the dark, by body cognition, Chim Jampeyang (mChims ‘Jam-pa’i dbyangs) states this Sautrantika position in A Commentary to “A Treasure House (of Special Topics of Knowledge)”: A Filigree of Abhidharma (Chos mngon-mdzod-kyi tshig-le’ur byas-pa’i ’grel-pa mngon-pa’i rgyan) (Sera Je Library ed., 296):
Although (an arrangement of colored particles) is interpolated by conceptual mental cognition as being a shape, a shape cannot be cognitively taken (as a cognitive object) by either of the two – eye cognition or body cognition.
(Tib.) yid shes rtog pas dbyibs su sgro btags pa yin gyi dbyibs mig shes dang lus shes gnyis kas’dzin med/
In the case of a person, or a self, both Vaibhashika and Sautrantika assert that a person is a noncongruent affecting variable (ldan-min ‘du-byed, Skt. viprayuktasaṃskāra) – a nonstatic phenomenon that is neither a form of physical phenomenon nor a way of being aware of something. Vaibhashika asserts that such a person is a self-sufficiently knowable substantial entity and can be cognized by itself, for instance by eye cognition. The True Aspectarian (rnam bden-pa) interpretation of Sautrantika accepts that a person is a substantial entity that can be cognized by eye cognition but rejects that a person is self-sufficiently knowable; rather, a person is imputedly knowable. To cognize a person, for instance to see a person, one must first see the sight of their body from among their five aggregates and then simultaneously see the sight of their body as a basis for imputation and the person as an imputation phenomenon on that basis. A person, in a sense, is something that is “tied” to the five aggregates as its basis, which is the connotation of its being an imputation phenomenon. Thus, a person can be cognized in this way non-conceptually by sensory cognition such as eye cognition.
According to Sautrantika, although a shape and a person are both imputedly knowable, a shape is not a substantial entity and therefore cannot be cognized non-conceptually by eye cognition. It can only be cognized conceptually and thus only by mental cognition. This is indicated by Chim Jampeyang in the above passage by the term “interpolated.”
An interpolation (sgro-‘dogs, Skt. samāropa) is something extraneous tied to a basis – unlike a person, which is not something extraneous tied to the five aggregates as a basis. But being imputedly knowable like a person, a shape can only be cognized simultaneously with its basis – in this case, the basis being a “color-shape,” meaning an arrangement of colored particles. First one must non-conceptually cognize an arrangement of colored particles (a color-shape) with eye cognition and then, with a conceptual mental cognition mentally label that arrangement of colored particles as a “shape” and mentally cognize conceptually both the arrangement of colored particles and the shape. In this case, the arrangement of colored particles is the basis for labeling (gdags-gzhi) and a “shape” is a mental label (btags, Skt. prajñapti). This mental label “shape” is something extraneous, something added conceptually by a mental cognition.
In more detail, according to Sautrantika, in the visual non-conceptual cognition of a color-shape, an objective (rang-mtshan, Skt. svalakṣaṇa), externally existing, substantial entity – the color-shape, or sight, of some material object casts an aspect (rnam-pa, Skt. ākāra) of itself on both the eye sensors and eye consciousness together with its accompanying mental factors. This aspect appears and is the appearing object (snang-yul) in the eye cognition, somewhat like a mental hologram.
In the conceptual cognition of a shape, however, the object category (don-spyi, Skt. arthasāmānya) of a shape is the appearing object. Such an object category is a metaphysical entity (spyi-mtshan, Skt sāmānyalakṣaṇa) – a static, non-substantial entity that has no form or appearance of its own. Technically, a category is a specific type of isolate (ldog-pa, Skt. apekṣā, “nothing-other-than”), or exclusion of something else (gzhan-sel, Skt. anyāpoha) – namely, a conceptual exclusion (blo’i gzhan-sel) of everything other than what it is the category of.
A conceptual exclusion is a type of implicative negation phenomenon (ma-yin dgag, Skt. paryudāsapratiṣedha). An implicative negation phenomenon, after negating its object of negation, leaves an explicitly apprehended (dngos-su rtogs-pa) negation phenomenon (dgag-pa, Skt. pratiṣedha), which appears, and an implicitly apprehended (shugs-la rtogs-pa) affirmation phenomenon (sgrub-pa, Skt. siddha), which does not appear.
In the case of the conceptual cognition of a shape, nothing-other-than a shape is explicitly apprehended and appears, while a shape mentally labeled on and tied to a color-shape is implicitly apprehended and does not appear. Nothing-other-than a shape, however, is a static phenomenon and has no form that can appear. Therefore, to represent nothing-other-than a shape, a mental hologram appears of a shape mentally labeled on and tied to a color-shape.
An externally existent sight of a shape mentally labeled and tied to a color-shape, however, does not cast an aspect of itself on the mental consciousness and its accompanying mental factors. This is because a shape is not a substantially established phenomenon (rdzas-su grub-pa) that exists externally and that can be cognized non-conceptually by eye cognition. Since it can be cognized only conceptually by mental cognition and can only appear in such cognition, the shape that appears tied to a color-shape in a conceptual mental cognition of a shape is merely a nominal visual form (gzugs btags-pa) and not a definitional visual form (gzugs mtshan-nyid-pa). Only a color-shape (an arrangement of colored particles) is a definitional visual form.
Vasubandhu, Autocommentary (Gretil 195.18-19, Derge 168B), goes on to present the Sautrantika position concerning revealing forms:
(Suppose you ask), “Now, rejecting here the going of the body as well as its (substantially existent) shape (as being the revealing form of the body), then being of that (opinion), what do (you) Sautrantikas designate as the revealing (form) of the body?” It is just the shape (as a nominal visible form), in fact, that they designate as the revealing (form) of the body, but not, however, existing as a substantial (independently existing) entity.
(Skt.) athedānīṃ kāyasya gatiṃ nirākṛṭya samsthānaṃ ca tatra bhavantaḥ sautrāntikāḥ kāṃ kāyavijñaptiṃ prajñapayanti / saṃsthānameva hi te kāyavijñapti prajñapayanti / natu punardravyataḥ /
(Tib.) /yang da ni mdo sde pa khyed rnams kyi lugs kyis lus kyi 'gro ba dang dbyibs kyang bsal nas gang la lus kyi rnam par rig byed du 'dogs par byed ce na/ de dag ni dbyibs kho na la lus kyis rnam par rig byed 'dogs par byed la rdzas su ni ma yin no/
The reference to the Sautrantika rejection of the revealing form of the body to be its going (‘gro-ba, Skt. gati) to other positions and locations is to the assertion of the Vatsiputriya (gNas-ma’i bu’i sde-pa, Skt. Vātsīputrīya) school. Vatsiputriya asserts that when an action of the body is committed, the revealing form of the body during the course of going to different positions and locations in implementing a method for causing the action to occur is not a momentary phenomenon that arises and perishes in a single moment. Rather, they assert that the revealing form of the body, as the shape of the body, lasts as a substantial entity for several moments throughout the course of the action, as the body’s shape goes from one position to another and from one location to another. In A Treasure House of Special Topics of Knowledge, Put in Verses (Chos mngon-pa’i mdzod-kyi tshig-le’ur byas-pa, Skt. Abhidharmakośa-kārikā) (IV.3), Vasubandhu rejected this view as well because, according to Vaibhashika, the revealing form of the body, as its self-sufficiently knowable shape, is a momentary affected phenomenon. Sautrantika, however, rejected revealing forms of the body as its going to other positions and locations for a different reason.
In The Meaning of the Facts, An Annotated Subcommentary to (Vasubandhu’s) “Autocommentary to ‘A Treasure House of Special Topics of Knowledge’” (Chos mngon-pa mdzod-kyi bshad-pa'i rgya-cher ‘grel-pa don-gyi de-kho-na-nyid, Skt. Abhidharmakoṣa-bhāṣyā-ṭīkā-tattvārtha) (Derge Tengyur vol. 210, 10B), Sthiramati expands on Vasubandhu’s statement of the Sautrantika assertion of revealing forms of the body:
As for “you,” (it means) you (Sautrantikas). As for “it is just the shape (as a nominal visible form), that they (designate as the revealing form of the body),” (its meaning) is expanded. Although there is no difference between the going and the shape (of the body) in terms of their both being imputedly knowable, yet since they are not pervasive, only shape is taken (to be a revealing form) after discounting that it is a going.
(Tib.) /khyed rnams kyis zhes bya ba ni/ khyed cag rnams kyis so/ /de dag ni dbyibs kho na la zhes bya ba rgyas par ‘byung ste/ ‘gro ba dang dbyibs gnyis btags pa yod par khyad par med kyang / khyab pa ma yin pas ‘gro ba bsal nas dbyibs kho na yongs su bzung ste/
A “going” is imputedly knowable on the basis of a temporal sequence of moments of the shape of the body in different positions and locations.
Sthiramati, The Meaning of Facts (Derge 10B), continues:
It is like (this). Even when the palms pressed together in prayer and so on are without any motion, yet since they reveal the mind that causes (motivates) them to arise (in this gesture), (the nominal shape of the palms pressed together like this) is called “a revealing (form).” Thus, even when the palms pressed together in prayer and so on are not generated in a different position, they reveal the mind that causes them to arise (in this position). Since that is the case, then because it is pervasive (that an unmoving nominal shape of the body, such as the palms pressed together in prayer, reveals the motivation that causes it to arise), only the (nominal) shape (of the body) is taken (to be a revealing form) and not the going (of the body to a different position and location). But (the shape of the body as an independently existent and self-sufficiently knowable object) does not exist as a substantially (established entity) as the Vaibhashikas would claim.
(Tib.) /‘di ltar thal mo sbyar ba la sogs pa g.yo ba med pas kyang go bar byed la/ rang kun nas slong bar byed pa’i sems rig par byed pas kyang rnam par rig byed ces bya na/ yul gzhan dag tu ma skyes pa’i thal mo sbyor ba la sogs pa de yang rang kun nas slong ba’i sems rnam par rig par byed pas/ de’i phyir khyab pas dbyibs kho na gzung gi ‘gro ba ni ma yin na/ ji ltar bye brag tu smra pa rnams zer ba ltar rdzas su ni ma yin no/
In The Clarified Meaning, An Explanatory Commentary on (Vasubandhu’s) “Treasure House of Special Topics of Knowledge” (Chos mngon-pa’i mdzod kyi ‘grel-bshad don-gsal-ba, Skt. Sphuṭārtha Abhidharmakośavyākhyā) (Gretil ed. 351, Derge Tengyur vol. 143, 6B), Jinaputra Yashomitra summarizes the Sautrantika position regarding the nominal shape of the body as its revealing form during the committing of an action of the body:
“There is no cognitive stimulator that is a sight except for a color-shape.” Nothing other than that can be conceived of as a substantial (entity). It being like that, then even a shape (by itself as a nominal visible form) is not to be conceived of (as a substantial entity) separate from a color.
(Skt.) na ca varṇasaṃsthānavyatiriktaṃ rūpāyatanam astīti. yathā nānyat kiṃcid dravyaṃ kalpyate. tadvat saṃsthānam api na varṇavyatiriktaṃ kalpayitavyaṃ. tatra bhavanta iti. te bhavanta ity arthaḥ. itarābhyo ‘pi dṛśyanta iti vacanāt.
(Tib.) /ji ltar kha dog dang dbyibs las ma gtogs pa’i gzugs kyi skye mched kyang yod pa ma yin pas rdzas gzhan cung zad kyang mi rtog pa de bzhin du dbyibs kyang kha dog las ma gtogs par brtag par mi bya’o/
Sautrantika, then, does not accept the Vaibhashika assertion that the ripened body, its shape, and its color each constitute a distinct, self-sufficiently knowable, substantial entity. Because these three are separate substantial entities, the ripened body, being an unspecified phenomenon, must always remain unspecified, whereas its shape takes on and reveals the ethical status of the mind that causes (motivates) it to arise. Because of that, the revealing form of the shape of the body, being a distinct substantial, material entity, must be located somewhere and cannot occupy the same space as the ripened body does. Therefore, Vaibhashika asserts that the revealing form of the body is located in the interstitial spaces between the particles of the ripened body.
Further, Vaibhashika asserts that the mind that causes (motivates) a shape of the body to arise as a revealing form refers to a consciousness and its accompanying mental factors. These mental factors include a mental urge and a constructive, destructive, or only an unspecified emotion or attitude. The mind as a whole and the revealing shape of the body that it causes (motivates) to arise as a karmic impulse take on the ethical status of the accompanying emotion or attitude and, by means of this, the revealing form makes that ethical status known to others.
As indicated in the passage quoted above from Sthiramati, The Meaning of the Facts (Derge 10B), about the nominal shape of the palms pressed together in prayer being a revealing form, Sautrantika also accepts that a revealing form reveals the ethical status of the mind that causes it (motivates it) to arise, but not as a karmic impulse.
Since they reveal the mind that causes (motivates) them to arise (in this gesture), (the nominal shape of the palms pressed together like this) is called “a revealing (form).”
(Tib.) rang kun nas slong bar byed pa’i sems rig par byed pas kyang rnam par rig byed ces bya/
But because the shape of the body, as a revealing form, is merely a nominal visible form, knowable only by conceptual mental cognition, and is not a substantial, material entity, it is not located anywhere. It does not need to be located in the interstitial spaces between the particles of the ripened body, for instance. Thus, while the arrangement of colored particles (the color-form) that constitutes the sight of the ripened body remains an unspecified phenomenon cognizable non-conceptually by eye cognition, the nominal revealing form interpolated, mentally labeled and imputedly knowable conceptually by mental cognition on the basis of the color-form, reveals the ethical status of the mind that causes (motivates) it to arise.
I have been unable to locate any original source explicitly mentioning the Sautrantika assertion of a revealing form of speech, although we may assume that Sautrantika accepts that there is such a revealing form. The revealing form of speech is undoubtedly the vocalization of distinctly pronounced phrases through which a meaning is made understandable, and which are comprised of vocalized syllables that communicate that desired meaning to others, as described by Sumatishila, An Annotated Commentary (Derge 100A-100B).
There Are No Such Things as Nonrevealing Forms
Vasubandhu, Autocommentary (Gretil 195.22-25, Derge 168B), goes on:
(Vaibhashika then asks the Sautrantikas), “In that case, what are what have been spoken of as ‘an inciting karmic impulse and an incited (karmic impulse)?’” (Sautrantika replies), “It (an inciting karmic impulse) is a prior mental urge for a conceptual thought (kun-du rtog-pa, Skt. samkalpa),” [Tib. adds: “that thinks, ‘something like this and this is to be done.’”] Just as there is (this) mental urge for a conceptual thought, (there is a mental urge for a conceptual thought that thinks), “I shall do just like that.” Like that, an incited karmic impulse arises later as a mental urge to do (that). That (mental urge) by which the body is impelled (to move) is spoken of here as an “incited karmic impulse.”
(Vaibhashika responds), Well, being like that, because of the nonexistence of a revealing (form as a distinct substantial entity that is a karmic impulse), there would not be a nonrevealing (form) that existed on the plane (of sensory objects of) desire (such as a pratimoksha vow). A great many faults follow (from) asserting that it (a nonrevealing form) does not exist.
(Skt.) yattarhi "cetanā karma cetayitvā ce" tyuktaṃ saṃkalpacetanā pūrvaṃ bhavatyevaṃ saṃkalpacetanā pūrvaṃ bhavatyevaṃ caivaṃ ca kariṣyāmīti / tathā cetayitvā paścāt kriyā cetanotpadyate / yayā kāyaḥ preryate sā 'sau cetayitvā karmetyucyate / evaṃ tarhi vijñaptyabhāvādavijñaptirapi kāmāvacarī nāstīti mahānto doṣā anuṣajyante /
(Tib.) /'o na gang sems pa dang / bsam pa'i las so zhes gsungs so zhe na/ 'di dang 'di lta bu zhig bya'o snyam pa'i kun du rtog pa ni sngar 'byung la/ de ltar bsams nas de'i 'og tu gang gis lus 'jug par byed par bya ba'i sems pa skye bar 'gyur te/ de ni bsam pa'i las zhes bya'o/ de ltar na 'o na rnam par rig byed med pa'i phyir 'dod pa na spyod pa'i rnam par rig byed ma yin pa yang med bas nyes pa chen por thal bar 'gyur ro/
Jinaputra Yashomitra, Clarified Meaning (Gretil 351, Derge 7A), explains the Vaibhashika objection:
“Because of the nonexistence of a revealing (form as a distinct substantial entity that is a karmic impulse)” needs to be expanded. If perhaps there were no revealing (form as a distinct substantial entity that is a karmic impulse), there would perhaps be no nonrevealing (form) belonging to the plane (of sensory objects of) desire. However, (there is) a nonrevealing form belonging to the plane (of sensory objects) of desire (namely, a pratimoksha vowed restraint and an avowed nonrestraint). It is something dependent on a revealing form and not “something that follows from a mind.”
(Skt.) vijñaptyabhāvād iti vistaraḥ. yadi vijñaptir na syāt. avijñaptir api kāmāvacarī na syāt. vijñaptyadhīnā hi kāmāvacary avijñaptir na cittānuparivartinīti. sā caivaṃ nāstīti.
(Tib.) /rnam par rig byed med pa'i phyir zhes bya ba rgyas par 'byung ba ni gal te rnam par rig byed med par gyur na/ 'dod pa na spyod pa'i rnam par rig byed ma yin pa yang med par 'gyur te/ 'dod pa na spyod pa'i rnam par rig byed ma yin pa ni rnam par rig byed la rag las pa yin gyi sems kyi rjes su 'jug pa ni ma yin no /
According to Vaibhashika, a nonrevealing form arises having depended on (rgyur-byas-pa, Skt. upādāya) the great elements (earth, water, fire and wind) of a revealing form as its foundation (gzhi, Skt. āśraya) and that function as its generating cause (skyed-pa’i rgyu, Skt. jananahetu). In this sense, the revealing form “follows” (rjes-su ‘jug-pa, rjes-su ‘brang-ba, Skt. anuparivartini) from the great elements of the revealing form with which it simultaneously arises.
According to Sautrantika, a revealing form of the body, not being a distinct substantial entity, is merely a nominal form and is not comprised of great elements. Further, it is not even a karmic impulse. If the karmic impulse for an action of the body is merely the mental factor of an urge, as Sautrantika asserts, and as the mind that consists of this mental urge, a sensory consciousness and its other accompanying mental factors obviously also is not comprised of great elements, then Vaibhashika asks, how can a nonrevealing form follow from a mind, which is something that is not comprised of great elements? How can a nonrevealing form exist without a substantial material foundation?
Jinaputra Yashomitra, Clarified Meaning (Gretil 351, Derge 7A), continues:
[Tib. only: Moreover,] a great many faults follow [Tib. adds: from negating (nonrevealing forms).] The consequences (would be), “the fault of the nonexistence of vowed restraints (vows) and avowed non-restraints, the fault of the nonexistence of an increase in positive karmic force (merit) from the seven material objects that (when offered) bring about the production of positive karmic force,” and so on.
(Skt.) mahānto doṣā anuṣajyante. samvarāsamvarābhāvadoṣaḥ saptaupadhikapuṇyakriyāvastupuṇyavṛddhyabhāvadoṣa ity evam ādayo 'nuṣaṃgāḥ.
(Tib.) /de yang de ltar med pas nyes pa chen por thal par 'gyur te/ sdom pa dang sdom pa ma yin pa med pa'i nyes pa dang rdzas las byung ba'i bsod nams bya ba'i dngos pos bsod nams 'phel ba med pa'i nyes pa zhes bya ba de lta bu la sogs par thal bar 'gyur ro/
Jinaputra Yashomitra, Clarified Meaning (Gretil 353, Derge 8A-9A), cited in an earlier part of these series, cites an unnamed sutra listing the seven material objects that, when offered, bring about an increase of the donor’s positive karmic force when made use of. These are offering:
- A grove to a monastic community
- A monastery to be constructed in such a grove
- Beds, seats, teaching platforms, cushions, blankets, or four-cornered pillow for the monastics in such a monastery
- An invitation to the monastics for steady alms (of food)
- Alms to those who arrive from outside as guests to a monastery
- Alms to sick persons or to those caring for the sick in a monastery
- Food and clothing to the monastic community in cold, rainy places.
The Sautrantika reply to these objections will be discussed in the next parts.