A Note on the Terms 'Volition' and 'Causation'

All phenomena, being the result of objectivisation, are necessarily conditioned and subjected to the chain of causation. Causation, being subjected to what we conceive as Time and Space, implies Space-Time, and vice versa, so that causation and volition may be regarded as one. Therefore every possible kind of temporal activity must be conditioned and subjected to the chain of causation.

Per contra whatever is intemporal, or whatever intemporality is, cannot be bound by the chain of causation - since it cannot be subjected to Space-Time. But whatever we are, whatever sentient-beings may be, is intemporal, and that which appears in Space-Time is phenomenal only.

Volition, therefore, in its phenomenal aspect is a manifestation of an I-concept, and it must be an element in the chain of causation, whereas 'volition' in its noumenal aspect is not in fact such at all, is never manifest as such, and functions as an unidentifiable urge, as spontaneity, independent of deliberation, conceptualisation, and all phenomenal activity.

This noumenal volition is neither volition nor non-volition: it is volition that is non-volition, as wei is the action that is wu wei, for all interference on the part of an I-concept is excluded, and action (wei) is the expression of volition.

Ultimately it is what intemporally we are, for it is devoid of objectivity. It is what all sentient beings are, all Nature that comes into manifestation and returns to non-manifestation, that is born or sprouts, grows, matures, reproduces and dies. It is the non-volitional living which is that of a Man of Tao.


Who is there to possess or exercise volition? Who is there to experience the results of volition?
Who is there to create a cause? Who is there to suffer an effect?
There is no entity to exercise volition, there is no entity to suffer the results of volition.
There is neither a causal nor an effectual entity.


Phenomenal subject-object are themselves results of temporality.
Phenomenal cause-effect are themselves dependent on the apparent seriality of time.

Phenomenal subject-object are never apart, are not independent entities: they are one whole concept revealing the mechanism of manifestation.
Phenomenal cause-effect are never separate, each is both, dependent on time, describing the temporal operation of the manifested universe.

Phenomenal subject-object and cause-effect not only are each a single concept divided by the temporal illusion, both are aspects of a single concept and are identical.
Therefore they can be called 'causal subject-effectual object', and causation is a name for the process of objectivisation whereby the sensorial universe is produced.

I repeat: only an object can suffer, for it requires an object to experience suffering, and only an object can suffer the effect of a cause.
Therefore only objects can be involved in causation and conditioning, for phenomenal subject becomes object at the instant of any such occurrence.
Noumenal subjectivity must be eternally unaffected by causation. Noumenal subjectivity is eternally unconditioned and unbound.

(© HKU Press, 1964)

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