Being ignorant of the Buddhist Theory of Causation, people assume that everything is unchanging and permanent, consequently they attach undue importance to material possessions, particularly life and wealth, but when they see the common incidents of death and loss of fortune in everyday life, the become passive and pessimistic with the opposite thought that whatever has ceased to exist is extinct permanently. However, if they realize the principle that everything produced by causes and conditions is devoid of self-nature, they would come to understand that the existence of everything is illusory and unreal, and so is its extinction. If its extinction is real, how can it exist again after its extinction? On the other hand, if its existence is real, there should be no extinction at all. According to the Theory of Conservation of Matter, in the old physics, all material things were taken to be real, permanent and immutable. If this was true, there should be no annihilation; on the other hand, if annihilation was real, consequently, there should no existence at all e.g. once mountains, people and things were annihilated, their extinction should be permanent and immutable. However, as prove by modern scientists, material things are neither stable nor immutable, and so is their extinction. When matter becomes extinct, it turns into energy; inversely, when energy is extinct, matter is formed. Thus the transformations of matter and energy are inter-changeable. This is in full accord with the Buddhist principle that insofar as the essence of a thing is neither existent nor extinct, despite the manifold transformations of its illusory phenomena, everything may be said to be neither existent nor annihilating. On the other hand, those who are ignorant of this truth, assume that every illusory phenomenon is stable and real, and so they cling to the Theory of Eternalism. And on learning from Buddhist Scriptures that all illusory phenomena exist and become extinct, by causation, again they make the wrong assumption that the essence of everything is to exist and to become extinct by causation, and so they abide in Annihilation. In short, Eternalism is a conventional misconception but Annihilation is a far more vicious and dangerous heretical view.

“Life is empty. Let us eat, drink and make merry while we can. And why should we be so foolish to practise austerity?” From Buddhism’s point of view, such common talk in every society is foolish and self-deceptive, for on analysis, it may be said to be partly Annihilation and partly Eternalism. To say that life is empty falls into the concept of Annihilation and is in sharp contrast with the True Void and Reality of Buddhism; if they think that to “eat, drink and make merry” is a real thing in life, this carries the notion of permanence. Again, on the assumption that those “real” things would be annihilated and their extinction would be permanent, they would indulge themselves in the enjoyment of five sensuous desires to the utmost degree but make no effort to cultivate good deeds. Such is the outlook of life of those good and honest people at large. With their misunderstanding that Buddhism is established on theological basis and is deceitful and superstitious, those who are strongly entrenched with annihilation, however, defiantly ignore the law of Cause, Condition, Fruit and Retribution, and for their own advantages, would exert every effort to grab power, to seek wealth and to satisfy their selfish desires by all means. If they commit so much evil every day, surely their bad karma would lead them nowhere but infinite sufferings consequently. To understand Existence, Extinction, Annihilation and Permanence precisely, two charts are herewith presented in the following:

Chart A) What is Said by Buddha
Substance: neither existent nor extinct – Non-Annihilation.
Illusory Phenomena: both existent and extinct Impermanence.

Chart B) Illusory Phenomena Misconceived by Sentient Being To Be Realty
a. Those illusory phenomena that have been formed are taken to be permanent.
b. Those illusory phenomena that have not become extinct are taken to be permanent.
c. Those illusory phenomena that are still unformed are take to be annihilated.
d. Those illusory phenomena that are extinct are taken to be annihilated.

By way of illustration, some scientific facts may be mentioned here to show that in both charts A and B, all the statements can be substantiated to be valid truths by scientific principles. When switch is turned on, there is electric light. People who have knowledge of Electrical Science usually think that the intensity of electric light is stable and unchangeable, and so is the electric current. This may be said to be an illusion arising from permanence. In truth, since the quantity and the direction of electric current undergo momentary changes continually, electric light corresponds to the changes accordingly, but it changes so quickly that this can hardly be seen by the naked eye. Again, those people used to think that electric current, like water supply from waterpipe, comes from the Power plant. This is general illusion regarding the “coming” of electricity. Electric current is also called alternate current in the Electrical Science, for the variations of its quantity corresponds to the sine curve, that is, it proceeds to one direction by arising from zero to the maximum degree, then diminishing its intensity gradually and receding back to the zero point, where by the same process it goes to the opposite direction, and this is the way electric current, while undergoing changes, moves alternately. From this, it can be seen that in the sequence of its alternate transmutations from arising to cessation and from cessation to arising operating incessantly in a cycle, electric current is unstable at every moment. Also it may be inferred that when the current runs back and forth along the wire, its quantity would neither increase when it is turned on by the switch nor would decrease when it is turned off; meanwhile, regardless of electric light being turned on or off, the quantity of electrons of copper atoms of the electric wire remains unchanged. Where there is no increase, there is no creation; where there is no decrease, there is no extinction. As long as the process of alternate arising and cessation of electric current is in continuous operation, such phenomenal changes only show that electric current is unstable and impermanent at all times. As the electrons of copper atoms neither decrease nor become extinct, they may be said to be non-extinct. Then switch is on, electrons produce electric light, and when it is off, they give no light, thus their functions may be said to be non-identical. As they are unchanged, whether they are still or in motion, they may be said to be undifferentiated from one another. When electric current is on, it causes the electrons of the wire to be vibrating but no electrons are transmitted by power station; this indicates that there is no “ coming” of electricity at all. With the cessation of electric current, the electrons remain where they are and this may be said that there is no “going” of electrons. From this analogy, the profound implications of the following statement from the Sutra may be realized:
“neither existent nor extinct, neither increasing nor decreasing, neither permanent no annihilating, neither identical nor differentiated, and neither coming nor going.”