The proof of substance shows that the universe is not entirely empty. Some people will think this goes against what the Buddha taught, but the Buddha chose to be neutral on the issue of whether anything was endowed with substance, or a “self.” And by self he meant identity. As in his example, even a cart, when examining its parts, the substance of the cart cannot be found, or no part of the cart is the cart itself, and since the cart is made of parts, none of which is the cart itself, the cart has no substance, it is only an amalgamation of parts. So the argument goes.
Now my proof of substance does not go against what the Buddha taught, because it is merely a proof that substance exists. And this proof doesn’t matter much, because a Buddhist should strive to notice emptiness, especially in oneself. This striving can be successful, and we will see how substance is fundamentally connected with ignorance. And how the existence of substance is merely the existence of ignorance, and ultimately results in the first noble truth: the existence of suffering.
1 The first step of the proof is asking: “Is this a question?”
It is like asking if ignorance exists. We cannot decide if it is or isn’t, because deciding would resolve its ignorance, but resolve it in the opposite way we decided: if we decide that it is a question, whether it is a question is no longer in question. After all, how can this question be, if its being were not in question?
2 The next step of the proof is asserting that “is this a question?” while it is undecidable on whether it is a question, is still a tangible thought.
What kind of thought we have when we ask “Is this a question?” is not known. This leads to the third step of the proof:
3 Because “Is this a question?” cannot fit in any form, and it exists, the only option for it is to be substance.
“Is this a question?” cannot necessarily be a question. If it isn’t then what is it? It seems that there isn’t any other kind of “what” it could be, and so it lies outside a what question, even though we know that it is. This is the fundamental ignorance. As you can see, it is fruitless to argue over whether it exists or not, which is what the Buddha said of the doctrine of self (by which he meant substance). Asserting “is this a question?” is a question yields a paradox, so it may be best to let this question remain in question. In either case, it may be going too far to assert that it is something. After all, a thing is a “what” and this ignorance cannot be categorized or partitioned. Yet it persists.