This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

The Becoming of the individual consciousness

Regarding causality we can also stress the point that there is no first cause in the chain of causes, or more precisely the First Cause, or the Principle cannot be located at the same level as the ceaseless flux of cause and effect. The Principle, although acting as First Cause in relation to conditioned existence, does not participate in it, and so from the point of view of existence there is no beginning and no end, there is only the succession of instants of which no two are the same. This holds true for the individual consciousness as much as anything else:

“Strictly speaking, the duration of the life of a living being is exceedingly brief, lasting only while a thought lasts. Just as a chariot wheel in rolling rolls only at one point of the tire, and in resting rests only at one point; in exactly the same way, the life of a living being lasts only for the period of one thought. As soon as that thought has ceased, the living being is said to have ceased.

“As it has been said:

“The being of a past moment of thought has lived, but does not live, nor will it live.

“The being of a future moment of thought will live, but has not lived, nor does it live.

“The being of the present moment of thought does live, but has not lived, nor will it live.”[1]

The modern mentality, particularly in light of the Cartesian duality of spirit-matter, body-mind, tends to imagine that only the physical body is susceptible to the laws of change that go hand in hand with birth, development, and death. The Buddha reminds us (even if we ought to have already known since tradition universally proclaims it) that the invisible parts of man also are subject to these same conditions even if they are not composed of ‘matter.’ The psyche develops and changes just like anything else. The lesson of this teaching is that even the consciousness with which we tend to identify our being, and the chain of thoughts that present themselves to that consciousness, are subject to Impermanence, to Anicca. And this applies to everything that constitutes individual man: body and soul alike, the substance of either is changing from moment to moment.

To claim a name for myself is a matter of expediency, for the ‘I’ who was yesterday or this morning is not the ‘I’ who is at this moment.

To recapitulate what we’ve said so far: Suffering (Dukkha) is the disease, Impermanence (Anicca) is the cause. By enumerating the first two terms of the triple formulation Dukkha-Anicca-Anatta, we have arrived at the physician’s diagnosis.

[1] Visuddhi Magga, Ch. VIII.

Share This