Nor is it characterized by being formless. As for that which is formless, it is comprised of the four [non-form] aggregates and the unconditioned. Because those four aggregates in question are impermanent, because they are not inherently existent, and because they are subsumed within causes and conditions, it should not be the case that they constitute the "spiritual soul." Within the three unconditioned dharmas, there is no reckoning of the existence of a spiritual soul. This is because there is nothing which is experienced. On account of all sorts of reasons such as these, one knows that it is not the case that the spirit is characterized by being formless.
In this manner, one looks for a self throughout heaven and earth and no matter whether one looks among that which is subject-related or that which is object-related, or whether one looks throughout the three periods of time or the ten directions, it cannot be found. There is only a coming together of the twelve sense bases generating the six consciousnesses. Where these three factors come together it is referred to as "contact." "Contact" generates feeling, perception, consideration and other dharmas associated with the mind. In the midst of these dharmas, on account of the power of ignorance, a view of the body as constituting the self (satkaayad.r.s.ti) arises. On account of the arisal of the view of a body, one is of the opinion that a spiritual soul exists. As for this "view of a body constituting a self," it is cut off when one experiences the seeing of the truth of suffering (du.hkhasatyadar'sana) and gains the Dharma wisdom associated with suffering (du.hkhe dharmajnaana)+and+the+comparative+wisdom+associated+with+suffering+(du.hkhe+'nvayajnaana). When it is cut off one does not then perceive the existence of a spiritual soul.
As for your earlier question which asked, "If there was no subject-related spiritual soul or related form, since consciousness is newly produced and destroyed in every instant, how could one distinguish and know the colors of blue, yellow, red and white?", if it were the case that you had such a spiritual soul, it too would be unable to be aware [of these colors] on its own. It must rely upon eye consciousness in order to be aware of them. If this is the case then the spiritual soul has no function. The eye consciousness is aware of the production and extinction of [visual] forms [by way of] a facsimile of production and a facsimile of extinction. Afterwards, a dharma arises in the mind known as mindfulness. This mindfulness is a characteristic occurring in relation to conditioned dharmas. Although this [event of a particular] extinction is already in the past, this mindfulness is able to remain aware of it.
This is comparable to the arya who, through the power of wisdom, is able to know matters having to do with future time. He is equally able in each successive thought moment to be aware of past dharmas. When an earlier [instance of] eye consciousness is extinguished one gives rise to a subsequent [instance of] eye consciousness. The later [instances of] eye consciousness transform in their acuity so that they possess a power. Although the [visual] forms exist only temporarily and so do not abide, on account of the acuity of the power of mindfulness one is able to remain aware of them. It is on account of this factor that, although there is impermanence by virtue of the production and extinction which takes place in each successive thought-moment, one is still able to distinguish and be aware of [visual] forms.
Again, as for your saying that the consciousness of people in the present is continuously being newly produced and destroyed such that when the lifespan is cut off, it too is cut off, and [as for your asking], who then accords with and who experiences [retribution for] offenses and merits, who experiences suffering and bliss and who gains liberation,-- I shall now reply to you. Now, when a person has not yet gained the actual way, afflictions cover over his mind. He engages in karmic actions which serve as the causes and conditions for being born. When he dies, following upon these five aggregates there is a subsequent production of five aggregates.
This is analogous to one lamp then lighting another lamp. It is also like the production of grain. There are three causes and conditions: earth, water and seed. The birth of the body in the later life is just like this: there is the body, there is karmic activity characterized by outflows, and there are the fetters. It is on account of these three factors that the subsequent body is produced. Herein the causes and conditions associated with the karma of the body are such that they cannot be cut off and cannot be destroyed. Only the fetters can be cut off. When the fetters are cut off, although there exists a residual body and residual karma, one is able to succeed in gaining liberation.
Just as when one has a seed, has soil, but because one has no water, it is unable to grow, so too, although one may have the body and have the karma, if there is no moistening by the water of affection-related fetters, one is not reborn. This is how one is still able to gain liberation even though there is no "spirit soul." It is on account of ignorance that one is bound up. It is on account of wisdom that one is released. If this is the case then the "self" serves no function.
Then again, it is the coming together of this "name and form" that is artificially referred to as a "person." This person is tied up by the fetters. When one gains the "claw" of non-outflow wisdom, then one unties all of these fetters. At this time this is a case of a person having gained liberation. It is analogous to the tying up and untying of a rope. The rope is just the fetters. There are no other dharmas involved in this bondage.. In worldly parlance one speaks of the tying up done with a rope and the untying of a rope. Name and form (naamaruupa, i.e. the five aggregates) are just like this. The two dharmas of name and form are together artificially referred to as "a person." These fetters are no different from name and form. They are simply referred to as "name and form" or as "the fetters." The untying of [the knot of] name and form or the undergoing of [retribution for] offenses and merits are just like this. Although there is no single dharma by which a "person" is real, on account of name and form, there is the experiencing of the fruit resulting from offenses or from merit. Thus it is that a "person" becomes so named.
This is analogous to a cart's carrying of goods. If one analyzes according to each and every part, then there is finally no actuality found to the term "cart." But "cart" is the name for that which takes on a load of goods. A person's taking on of offenses and blessings is just the same as this. Name and form take on offenses and blessings and so a "person" receives that name. The taking on of suffering and bliss is just like this. On account of all sorts of causes and conditions such as these, a "spiritual soul" cannot be found. The "spiritual soul" is just the one who performs the giving. The one who is the recipient is just the same. You take it that it is a "spiritual soul" which constitutes a "person." [But], for all of these reasons a person who performs the giving cannot be found. A person who receives [the gift] cannot be found either. It is on account of all sorts of causes and conditions such as these that it is said that the valuable object, the person who gives, and the person who receives [all] cannot be found.
Question: If the giving as well as the other dharmas correspond to the reality mark whereby there is nothing which is demolished through reductive analysis, nothing which is extinguished, nothing which is produced and nothing which is created, why is it said that, when subjected to reductive analysis, the three factors cannot be gotten at?
Response: Those who are like the common man do perceive [the existence of] a donor, a recipient and a valuable object. This constitutes an inverted and false view. When one is born into the world one [may] experience bliss. When the merit is exhausted, one then experiences a reversal [of fortunes]. It is on account of this that the Buddha wished to cause the bodhisattva to practice the way of reality and gain the real resultant retribution. The real resultant retribution is just the way of the Buddha. It was in order to demolish false views through reductive analysis that the Buddha said that the three factors cannot be gotten at. In actuality there is nothing which is demolished through reductive analysis. How is this the case? It is because all dharmas from their origin until the present are and always have been ultimately empty. The incalculable number of other such causes and conditions cannot be gotten at either. It is on the basis of this that one speaks of the perfect fulfillment of dana paramita.