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Has Buddhism been wrong about the soul (atta) for 2,000 years?

If the Buddha really taught that there is no eternal soul (atta) then Buddhism is an absurd nihilistic religion. If the only self is Samsaric and there is no transcendent self (soul, atta in the Vedic sense), then there is no possibility of enlightenment, rebirth or liberation from Samsara because by definition there is nothing to take rebirth, gain enlightenment or be liberated. Just a phantom and an illusion that ceases to exist at death when it's causes, the 5 aggregates, perish. It cannot be "experience" either, because experience is impermanent and thus dukkha and Buddha said experience is without self (soul - atta). Without atta (eternal soul), the entire project of Buddhism falls apart. You can try to spin it, but whatever notion of "self" you cobble together to explain how something that you have defined as not existing can take rebirth and be enlightened, from a no soul perspective, will be Samsaric by definition, impermanent and thus dukkha. This is the central problem with Buddhism. It has gotten the lesson of anatta wrong. Anatta is an adj. that describes that which is without soul (atta). Therefore the use of atta in suttas does not mean "oneself" (no reflexive term for self in ancient pali) but logically means "Soul" or "True Self" in the Vedic sense since Anatta means an absence of the soul, true self in the Vedic sense. So annatta is being used by the Buddha to point out what atta is not, namely everything within Samsara. If you could identify atta within Samsara, then there would be no possibility of enlightenment because your essential nature will be Samsaric. But because atta cannot be found in Samsara, that means escape from Samsara is possible because your essential nature is Nirvana (the unborn, unmade etc. that makes liberation from the born, made etc. possible). There is zero basis in the suttas to support the claim that the Buddha taught there is no eternal soul and thus, the entire foundation of Buddhism for the last 2,000 years crumbles and falls apart. Understand?

“Whatever form, feelings, perceptions, experiences, or consciousness there is (the five aggregates), these he sees to be without permanence, as suffering, as ill, as a plague, a boil, a sting, a pain, an affliction, as foreign, as otherness, as empty (suññato), as Selfless (anattato). So he turns his mind/will/spirit (citta, Non-aggregate) away from these; therein he gathers his citta (nous/spirit/mind) within the realm of Immortality (amataya dhatuya). This is tranquility; this is that which is the most excellent!” [MN 1.436]

“Whenever we deny something unreal, is it in reference to something real”[Br. Sutra III.2.22].

"The purification of one's own mind/will (citta); this is the Doctrine
of the Buddha" [DN 2.49]

"How is it that one is called a 'Buddha'?...gnosis that the mind/will
(citta) is purified (visuddham)...such is how one is deemed a
'Buddha'." [MN 2.144]

'Etam amatam yadidam anupada cittassa vimokkho' - "This is
immortality, that being the liberated mind/will (citta) which does not
cling (after objectivity)" [MN 2.265]

You may find this video interesting of the Arahant, Ajahn Maha Boowa, describe his enlightenment. Powerful stuff. The money quote: "The basis of death exists right there in the citta. Birth and death are both present in the citta. The citta itself IS NEVER BORN AND NEVER DIES, rather, the defiling things that infiltrate the citta lead us to repeated birth and death."

upekka
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Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    I think you're confusing a whole load of information.
    There is no transmigrating Soul that exists. Consciousness is the key of rebirth.

    The Buddha wasn't wrong, but I think you're mistaken in your view.

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    I think there is only one section of Theravada that proposes annihilation upon parinirvana. So I think you are right to say that no self doesn't mean nothing and Buddhism generally agrees with that. I think the crux of the argument is about the nature of that "no"thing/something that is left. It gets very esoteric and I don't understand it but there is much disagreement even within Buddhism as to its nature, let alone if you bring Hinduism or any other religion into it.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited December 2016

    Feel free to pick the bones out of this one.... ;)

    As is usual, The Buddha declined to be drawn in great detail, into pointless arguments, and emphasised the raison d’être of his teachings: To indicate the Origin of Stress, the Cessation of Stress, the means in which to engineer the Cessation of Stress, and the remedy and prescription for the Cessation of Stress.

    personKeromeDhammaDragon
  • LOTUS69LOTUS69 Boston New

    Federica, where in the suttas does the Buddha say this? To say you transmigrated from lifetime to lifetime with no transcendent entity is illogical. The Buddha never once said "look monks, you have no soul" he only says this that and the other thing (samsara) are Anatta without soul

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    Have you read the link I gave you?

  • LOTUS69LOTUS69 Boston New

    Person- If the argument is there is no self ultimately then it mean just that. Nothing. Nothing to take rebirth. Nothing to be enlightened. Nothing to attain Nirvana. Just an illusion. How can an illusion be enlightened? It is absurd and illogical which should alert you to the fact there is something very flawed about the premise, that Buddha said you have no transcendent self - soul. But Buddha is not illogical which is why you cannot find anything in the suttas to support this claim.

  • namarupanamarupa Veteran
    edited December 2016

    You are wanting something to exist that may exist already. There may just be an aggregate that fuels a never ending chain reaction, and it just may be this eternity you speak of. Buddhism does support the idea of rebirth. But I have to ask.

    How are you defining soul?

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    @LOTUS69 said:
    Person- If the argument is there is no self ultimately then it mean just that. Nothing. Nothing to take rebirth. Nothing to be enlightened. Nothing to attain Nirvana. Just an illusion. How can an illusion be enlightened? It is absurd and illogical which should alert you to the fact there is something very flawed about the premise, that Buddha said you have no transcendent self - soul. But Buddha is not illogical which is why you cannot find anything in the suttas to support this claim.

    Well Buddhism definitely says there isn't an independent, truly existing conventional self. The sort of everyday self that we relate to is made up entirely of non self elements and is in constant flux and change. That sort of self doesn't attain enlightenment, it is, as you say, an illusion and as such can't be enlightened.

    But Buddhism does believe in enlightenment, so what gives? My uninformed opinion is it has to do with the way we define and think about it. If you define something as eternal it means unchanging and not subject to causes and conditions. Citta differs from Atman in this way, Citta is like a stack of blocks, one moment conditioning and causing the next. Atman is like a thread in a string of pearls, holding them together but non-causally connected.

    I don't really know, but you haven't really changed my mind. I also wonder what you hope to accomplish? Are you trying to convert us or is this an attempt to boost your own views up in relation to our foolishness?

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I think the explanations of non-self and impermanence make it relatively clear, the process is one of transformation from one self to the next. There may not be a permanent unchanging soul, but that doesn't mean that there isn't continuation in the process of living.

    I think it was telling that the Buddha said that he never found anything that could be termed a self, in all his meditations.

    Shoshinkarasti
  • LOTUS69LOTUS69 Boston New

    Interesting and thought provoking sutta Federica. Thank you for posting. What is curious is that they contradict this sutta where the Budhha clearly states we transmigrate:

    At Savatthi. There the Blessed One said: "From an inconstruable beginning comes TRANSMIGRATION. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. What do you think, monks: Which is greater, the tears you have shed while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — or the water in the four great oceans?"

    "As we understand the Dhamma taught to us by the Blessed One, this is the greater: the tears we have shed while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — not the water in the four great oceans."

    "Excellent, monks. Excellent. It is excellent that you thus understand the Dhamma taught by me.

    "This is the greater: the tears you have shed while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — not the water in the four great oceans.

    "Long have you (repeatedly) experienced the death of a mother. The tears you have shed over the death of a mother while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — are greater than the water in the four great oceans.

    "Long have you (repeatedly) experienced the death of a father... the death of a brother... the death of a sister... the death of a son... the death of a daughter... loss with regard to relatives... loss with regard to wealth... loss with regard to disease. The tears you have shed over loss with regard to disease while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — are greater than the water in the four great oceans.

    "Why is that? From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. Long have you thus experienced stress, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling the cemeteries — enough to become disenchanted with all fabricated things, enough to become dispassionate, enough to be released."

    SN 15.3

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited December 2016

    Yes, but it's not the soul, it's Consciousness. This is the work of Kamma. People are reborn because of their attachment. Hence the 'Stress' of Mourning.
    And as I said, the Buddha was not drawn on the irrelevant.

    personkarasti
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited December 2016

    OP, that is why some Buddhists say that the Buddha did not teach rebirth from lifetime to lifetime. He taught about achieving enlightenment within the current lifetime, according to them, which would convey a sort of rebirth as an enlightened being within one lifetime.

    On the other hand, the Mahayana tradition refers to the Buddha's Parinirvana Suttras, the teachings he gave just before his death, in which he speaks of a True Self. However, it is not the Vedic True Self, but the Enlightened Self that comes to fruition after many years (or lifetimes) of practice; it is Buddhahood, the ripening of the seed of Buddha nature that we all carry within.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @LOTUS69 said:
    If the Buddha really taught that there is no eternal soul (atta) then Buddhism is an absurd nihilistic religion.

    That's a big "if" though.

    If the only self is Samsaric and there is no transcendent self (soul, atta in the Vedic sense), then there is no possibility of enlightenment, rebirth or liberation from Samsara because by definition there is nothing to take rebirth, gain enlightenment or be liberated.

    I would disagree. There are probably a few ways it could work but there is the possibility that while there is no independent and unchanging self, there could be an eternal but ever-changing process of being that we are all aspects of.

    Just a phantom and an illusion that ceases to exist at death when it's causes, the 5 aggregates, perish. It cannot be "experience" either, because experience is impermanent and thus dukkha and Buddha said experience is without self (soul - atta). Without atta (eternal soul), the entire project of Buddhism falls apart.

    Not really. Separation is the illusion, not being.

    You can try to spin it, but whatever notion of "self" you cobble together to explain how something that you have defined as not existing can take rebirth and be enlightened, from a no soul perspective, will be Samsaric by definition, impermanent and thus dukkha.

    Buddha never said the individual does not exist. He said there is no abiding self which is different. If the individual did not exist (even if it is illusion, there must be something to be fooled, right?) then it is kind of a waste of time fostering compassion or trying to be mindful isn't it?

    This is the central problem with Buddhism. It has gotten the lesson of anatta wrong. Anatta is an adj. that describes that which is without soul (atta). Therefore the use of atta in suttas does not mean "oneself" (no reflexive term for self in ancient pali) but logically means "Soul" or "True Self" in the Vedic sense since Anatta means an absence of the soul, true self in the Vedic sense. So annatta is being used by the Buddha to point out what atta is not, namely everything within Samsara. If you could identify atta within Samsara, then there would be no possibility of enlightenment because your essential nature will be Samsaric. But because atta cannot be found in Samsara, that means escape from Samsara is possible because your essential nature is Nirvana (the unborn, unmade etc. that makes liberation from the born, made etc. possible). There is zero basis in the suttas to support the claim that the Buddha taught there is no eternal soul and thus, the entire foundation of Buddhism for the last 2,000 years crumbles and falls apart. Understand?

    “Whatever form, feelings, perceptions, experiences, or consciousness there is (the five aggregates), these he sees to be without permanence, as suffering, as ill, as a plague, a boil, a sting, a pain, an affliction, as foreign, as otherness, as empty (suññato), as Selfless (anattato). So he turns his mind/will/spirit (citta, Non-aggregate) away from these; therein he gathers his citta (nous/spirit/mind) within the realm of Immortality (amataya dhatuya). This is tranquility; this is that which is the most excellent!” [MN 1.436]

    “Whenever we deny something unreal, is it in reference to something real”[Br. Sutra III.2.22].

    "The purification of one's own mind/will (citta); this is the Doctrine
    of the Buddha" [DN 2.49]

    "How is it that one is called a 'Buddha'?...gnosis that the mind/will
    (citta) is purified (visuddham)...such is how one is deemed a
    'Buddha'." [MN 2.144]

    'Etam amatam yadidam anupada cittassa vimokkho' - "This is
    immortality, that being the liberated mind/will (citta) which does not
    cling (after objectivity)" [MN 2.265]

    You may find this video interesting of the Arahant, Ajahn Maha Boowa, describe his enlightenment. Powerful stuff. The money quote: "The basis of death exists right there in the citta. Birth and death are both present in the citta. The citta itself IS NEVER BORN AND NEVER DIES, rather, the defiling things that infiltrate the citta lead us to repeated birth and death."

    In my opinion, you are interpreting wrong and would advise coming at this with a cup empty of preconceived ideas.

    All things depend on everything else and are really just aspects of an ever-changing process.

    If that process can be called a soul, I don't know but personalities are temporal.

  • LOTUS69LOTUS69 Boston New

    "Do you remember, your majesty, when you were a boy learning some verse from a teacher?"

    "Yes, venerable sir."

    "Your majesty, did this verse transmigrate from the teacher?"

    "Certainly not, venerable sir."

    "Indeed just so, your majesty, one does not transmigrate and one is reborn."

    ....Let's examine this from a sutta sited earlier here, the "verse" does not "transmigrate, because neither the teacher nor the student POSSESS the verse. For example, if you had a tv, the tv does not possess the signal. The tv is without signal - anasignal :). Smash the tv and there is no signal. The signal, because the tv never possessed it in the first place, cannot transmigrate to another tv. Why? Because the signal transcends all tvs. In the same way, the soul does not transmigrate because the body does not possess it. It is transcendent. The soul is the signal, it transcends Samsara.

    In my view, this is the most important passage in all of Buddhism and clears the entire thing up:

    “Whatever form, feelings, perceptions, experiences, or consciousness there is (the five aggregates), these he sees to be without permanence, as suffering, as ill, as a plague, a boil, a sting, a pain, an affliction, as foreign, as otherness, as empty (suññato), as Selfless (anattato). So he turns his mind/will/spirit (citta, Non-aggregate) away from these; therein he gathers his citta (nous/spirit/mind) within the realm of Immortality (amataya dhatuya). This is tranquility; this is that which is the most excellent!” [MN 1.436]

    Citta (mind/will/spirit/soul) is identified by the Buddha as the transcendent "signal", transcendent because it can be turned away from the 5 aggregates (therefore, it transcends the 5 aggregates) and be gathered in the real of IMMORTALITY. This is because its nature is non samsaric. Sorry to break the bad news, but you and everyone you love has an eternal soul.

    DavidDakini
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited December 2016

    Um, the tv picks up the signal. Smash the tv and it can no longer receive the signal but it doesn't end the signal and the signal can be picked up by any tv that's tuned in to it.

    For your analogy to work there is only one soul and no individual souls.

    I think of it like the hydrological system here on Earth, kind of.

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    @LOTUS69 said:
    Sorry to break the bad news, but you and everyone you love has an eternal soul.

    Are you though? Because you seems pretty excited to wreck everyone's idea of Buddhism.

    Vastmind
  • LOTUS69LOTUS69 Boston New

    David: "All things depend on everything else and are really just aspects of an ever-changing process."

    This is true within Samsara (conditioned existence). But the point of Buddhism is that there is a transcendent reality that is independent of this.

    "There is, monks, an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that EMANCIPATION from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned."

    — Ud 8.3

    Anatta describes that which is without self, everything in conditioned existence, because Atta (soul) transcends Samsara (conditioned existence) and therefore cannot be of the same nature as Samsara (not the tv). And because it transcends Samsara (the signal) it is of the same nature as Nirvana: unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated which means your soul (atta) can be amancipated from the born — become — made — fabricated. If ultimately you have no transcendent self (soul), then self is just Samsara, impermanence, death, dukkha. No hope of emancipation.

  • @David said:
    Um, the tv picks up the signal. Smash the tv and it can no longer receive the signal but it doesn't end the signal and the signal can be picked up by any tv that's tuned in to it.

    For your analogy to work there is only one soul and no individual souls.

    I think of it like the hydrological system here on Earth, kind of.

    Actually, though, his analogy sounds like what the Buddha did teach about True Self and Buddhanature, the tathagatagarbha. The OP has really hit on something; now I'll have to go back and study those particular teachings again. But the idea was that when any of us, including the Buddha, reaches Enlightenment, we attain that transcendent state that's eternal, and beyond the mundane self. Upon reaching that state, we're in some kind of universal realm of transcendence, in which we dwell permanently.( His doctrine of impermanence doesn't apply to Buddhahood.) All of us have the latent potential to realize this, but it's a universal potential. It's not part of our mundane "self", it's supramundane. So, if there are no individual souls, that is "non-self" or "no-self".

    It kind of fits, but more clarification is needed. I thought it was an intriguing analogy.

  • LOTUS69LOTUS69 Boston New

    "Are you though? Because you seems pretty excited to wreck everyone's idea of Buddhism."

    How on earth could I "wreck" Buddhism? The idea that there is no eternal soul can either be supported by Sutta and logic or it can not.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @LOTUS69 said:
    David: "All things depend on everything else and are really just aspects of an ever-changing process."

    This is true within Samsara (conditioned existence). But the point of Buddhism is that there is a transcendent reality that is independent of this.

    That's the process of being. It is unborn, unbecome, unmade and unfabricated. If it were not it would have a beginning but it does not. Every cause is also an effect of a prior cause. This is because that was.

    "There is, monks, an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that EMANCIPATION from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned."

    — Ud 8.3

    Anatta describes that which is without self, everything in conditioned existence, because Atta (soul) transcends Samsara (conditioned existence) and therefore cannot be of the same nature as Samsara (not the tv). And because it transcends Samsara (the signal) it is of the same nature as Nirvana: unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated which means your soul (atta) can be amancipated from the born — become — made — fabricated. If ultimately you have no transcendent self (soul), then self is just Samsara, impermanence, death, dukkha. No hope of emancipation.

    Samsara is just nirvana obscured as far as I understand. I don't believe in a magic "nothing" or an individual having an eternal soul apart from the very process of being which is unborn, unmade, unfabricated and of which every individual is an aspect of.

  • LOTUS69LOTUS69 Boston New

    "Buddha never said the individual does not exist. He said there is no abiding self which is different."

    I agree. Buddha didn't say a lot of things people claim he said, like we have no eternal soul for example.

    Atta'sarana anan'n'asarana............"Soul as a refuge with none other as refuge" DN 2.100

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @Dakini said:

    @David said:
    Um, the tv picks up the signal. Smash the tv and it can no longer receive the signal but it doesn't end the signal and the signal can be picked up by any tv that's tuned in to it.

    For your analogy to work there is only one soul and no individual souls.

    I think of it like the hydrological system here on Earth, kind of.

    Actually, though, his analogy sounds like what the Buddha did teach about True Self and Buddhanature, the tathagatagarbha. The OP has really hit on something; now I'll have to go back and study those particular teachings again. But the idea was that when any of us, including the Buddha, reaches Enlightenment, we attain that transcendent state that's eternal, and beyond the mundane self. Upon reaching that state, we're in some kind of universal realm of transcendence, in which we dwell permanently.( His doctrine of impermanence doesn't apply to Buddhahood.) All of us have the latent potential to realize this, but it's a universal potential. It's not part of our mundane "self", it's supramundane. So, if there are no individual souls, that is "non-self" or "no-self".

    It kind of fits, but more clarification is needed. I thought it was an intriguing analogy.

    I don't see the distinction between the mundane and the supramundane except through the illusion of separation.

    I don't think there is another realm we go to by transcending this one. I think all borders are convention and thus illusion. Not that it's a bad thing. The illusion is a handy tool.

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    @LOTUS69 said:
    "Are you though? Because you seems pretty excited to wreck everyone's idea of Buddhism."

    How on earth could I "wreck" Buddhism? The idea that there is no eternal soul can either be supported by Sutta and logic or it can not.

    You make some decent arguments supporting your view but you come onto a Buddhist website carrying along internet douchebaggery in your wake and I wonder what you hope to accomplish? Your general disposition doesn't come across as open or honest.

    DhammaDragonVastmind
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited December 2016

    @LOTUS69 said:
    "Buddha never said the individual does not exist. He said there is no abiding self which is different."

    I agree. Buddha didn't say a lot of things people claim he said, like we have no eternal soul for example.

    Atta'sarana anan'n'asarana............"Soul as a refuge with none other as refuge" DN 2.100

    He didn't say there was, either.
    Like I said, he chose to remain silent on the irrelevant and immaterial.
    Whether we have a soul or not is entirely both.

    Frankly, it can make no difference to me, in the here and now.
    ( @Jason would probably be able to discuss this to its finest degree...)
    Once it is time for me to move on, I will have little opportunity to permit others to know something I didn't in my life.

    If there's no proof either way, it's advisable to not ponder the imponderable, let it be, and move on.

    (Subtle hint there.)

  • @David said:

    I don't see the distinction between the mundane and the supramundane except through the illusion of separation.

    I don't think there is another realm we go to by transcending this one. I think all borders are convention and thus illusion. Not that it's a bad thing. The illusion is a handy tool.

    I'm going to sit on the sidelines for awhile, and watch the discussion. I have to take all this in and process it. By all means, carry on! GREAT discussion!

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    @federica said: If there's no proof either way, it's advisable to not ponder the imponderable, let it be, and move on.

    (Subtle hint there.)

    That's not a hint to stop talking about it, by the way... that's more of an indication that ultimately, something like this will tie one up in knots, without really getting to any conclusive moment....
    So this could just end up going round 'n' round in circles.... I can confidently say such a thing has befallen us before....

    Cinorjer
  • I'm sorry, @LOTUS69 but I can't let that pass.

    And pass it will ... However whilst we are here ... I am sure I will get my reward from the next absurd, nihilistic, religion basher/troll/excited douchebaggery shouting LOTUS flowering who transmigrates our way ... [too wrathful? - ah well] :p

    @person said:
    You make some decent arguments supporting your view but you come onto a Buddhist website carrying along internet douchebaggery in your wake and I wonder what you hope to accomplish? Your general disposition doesn't come across as open or honest.

    Indeed.

    I feel reborn in an age old ... what is the word ... imponderable? Irrelevance? Conflicted arising? Sutta and dogma cherry picking? Comedy routine? Trumpette blowing?

    Here is more of the same - for those so inclined/excited ... o:)
    http://www.darkzen.org

    Cinorjer
  • Its in the bag.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited December 2016

    It's highly possible that @LOTUS69 is what is known as, in interweb circles, a "blue touch-paper merchant"....In other words, they let off a humdinger of a firework, then sit well back and watch the ensuing, cacophonous display....usually an economy-sized whopper of a Catherine Wheel.....

    (ETA: I couldn't possibly use the word 'humdinger' twice in the same sentence. It's just not the done thing....!)

    TravellerCinorjerlobsterDhammaDragon
  • TravellerTraveller East Midlands UK Veteran

    A bit of a worky ticket as they say in the north east @federica.

    federica
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    Right, me duck....

    Traveller
  • TravellerTraveller East Midlands UK Veteran

    You've got the East Midlands slang down pat @federica.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited December 2016

    I watched The Goodies too, you know..... ;)

    dhammachick
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited December 2016

    The central theme in Buddhist teaching is conditionality, everything arising in dependence on conditions. The idea of an eternal soul is a comforting one because it means the continuity of an "essence", the continuity of "I". But essences don't sit comfortably with anatta and sunyata.

  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @federica said:
    I watched The Goodies too, you know..... ;)

    This is one of my faves

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Sutras can be difficult because they often address the same questions but seem to answer differently. But that is dependent on who the Buddha was addressing and what their beliefs were to start as to how he answered the same questions. The answer is not actually different. It is just explained differently based on the audience's understanding.

    In any case, I don't find Buddhism to be nihilistic whatsoever. There is plenty in it to keep me busy day in and day out just going through daily life without much concern about exactly what a soul is or isn't, whether it does or doesn't exist and what happens to it when I die. I agree with @federica that is it Consciousness and Karma that are the continuation. If you want to call it a soul, then by all means, call it whatever you want. But to most people, the word "soul" has a lot of connotations related to Christianity among other belief sets and Buddha said explicitly that such a soul does not exist. It is not WE who carry on but our stream of consciousness, and in Buddhism, IMO, that is what we are working to be better in touch with and have better control over rather than living our lives from a place of random thoughts and emotions and senses.

    lobsterCinorjerperson
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I think because the Buddha has chosen to express no opinion, we should take care to preserve that - to keep the dharma focussed on its original purpose. Personally, it leaves you free to believe what you will, with the caveat that since it is not part of the dharma giving it too much time may take your attention away from your study of what is dharma.

    DhammaDragonCinorjerShoshin
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    @federica said:
    It's highly possible that @LOTUS69 is what is known as, in interweb circles, a "blue touch-paper merchant"....In other words, they let off a humdinger of a firework, then sit well back and watch the ensuing, cacophonous display...

    When people seem to use the suttas against Buddhism, on a Budhist site, I get really suspicious at the motivations behind it.

    It reminds me of Eisel Mazard, this phd of sorts who is apparently very versed on Pali, but has raved and ranted against Buddhism under different pseudonyms in different Buddhist sites for years.
    Since nobody in the Buddhist world takes him seriously anymore, he has decided to channel all that useless energy to uphold the vegan cause, the only niche where he seems to ellicit some admiration.

    I agree with @Kerome: we should tread cautiously and at our own peril on issues where the Buddha has chosen to express no opinion, and really focus on the parts of the Dhamma that are really relevant to cessation of dukkha.

    federicaCinorjerkarastilobster
  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    @LOTUS69, I'd like cheese curly-fries with my order please...

    Cinorjerlobsterdhammachick
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @LOTUS69 has put forward his argument (be it in a somewhat abrupt forthright manner) and for him personally, this may hold 'true'...However tis "Different strokes of the paddle, for different folks on the raft"

    I choose to seek out the flowing truth through ~BodhiDharma~ method...

    "The most essential method which includes all other methods is to behold the mind
    The mind is the root from which all things grow-If you can understand the mind
    Everything else is included!"

    TravellerCinorjer
  • @LOTUS69 said:
    Interesting and thought provoking sutta Federica. Thank you for posting. What is curious is that they contradict this sutta where the Budhha clearly states we transmigrate:

    At Savatthi. There the Blessed One said: "From an inconstruable beginning comes TRANSMIGRATION. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. What do you think, monks: Which is greater, the tears you have shed while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — or the water in the four great oceans?"

    SN 15.3

    OP, you're choosing a translation (or perhaps, substituting your own gloss?) that uses the term "transmigration" instead of the more conventional "rebirth". And therein lies the crux of the matter. They may seem the same or similar to you, but they're not to most Buddhists. Battles have raged on Buddhist forums over the interpretation of the term "rebirth"; it's a key term in Buddhism, as you know, and as this thread demonstrates. The question of whether or not this is mere hair-splitting, or whether, OTOH, this happens to be a very crucial hair will a lot riding on how one splits it, can be debated endlessly.

    In any case, I don't see anything wrong with the OP raising the question/s he does, as discussing this helps us clarify our understanding of the Buddha's teachings. This issue, or a very similar and related one, has come up before, when members as what "True Self" means in the Buddha's final teachings. Provocative questions like this help us think, and figure out why we believe the way we do, in our practice. Just my 2 cents. I always learn a lot from discussions like this.

    lobsterpersonCinorjerShoshin
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    @Dakini said:
    In any case, I don't see anything wrong with the OP raising the question/s he does, as discussing this helps us clarify our understanding of the Buddha's teachings. This issue, or a very similar and related one, has come up before, when members as what "True Self" means in the Buddha's final teachings. Provocative questions like this help us think, and figure out why we believe the way we do, in our practice. Just my 2 cents. I always learn a lot from discussions like this.

    The monastery I go to a retired a professor of Asian religious studies teaches once a month. ATM we recently started slowly going through The Ornament Of Clear Realization, the main text Tibetans look to to understand Buddha Nature and the qualities of a Buddha. We haven't gotten far but there is talk of some sort of unchanging qualities and more Hindu sounding descriptions. The teacher does a great job of pointing out the disagreements and arguments from differing schools. I can't claim to have a good understanding but Buddhists aren't some kind of monolithic nihilists as the OP claims, even the ones who sound nihilistic don't believe in nothing.

    Cinorjerlobster
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited December 2016

    @person said:

    The monastery I go to a retired a professor of Asian religious studies teaches once a month. ATM we recently started slowly going through The Ornament Of Clear Realization, the main text Tibetans look to to understand Buddha Nature and the qualities of a Buddha. We haven't gotten far but there is talk of some sort of unchanging qualities and more Hindu sounding descriptions. The teacher does a great job of pointing out the disagreements and arguments from differing schools. I can't claim to have a good understanding but Buddhists aren't some kind of monolithic nihilists as the OP claims, even the ones who sound nihilistic don't believe in nothing.

    That sounds really interesting. Please share as you learn more. You could even start your own thread on it, if you feel motivated. You're lucky to get a course like that, and from an academic instructor, too. Wish I could be there. :)

    The Tibetans are definitely the more Hindu-leaning and shamanic-leaning bunch of the Buddhist family, fwiw. Though I've read comments from scholars that call Nagarjuna, upon whose "commentaries" to the teachings TB is heavily based, "that old nihilist". lol I think we can learn from a variety of opinions, too.

    But Cinorjer made a good point, which Stephen Batchelor also makes: the Buddha taught how to improve life and reduce suffering in this lifetime. What he taught about what happens after life is over (if he taught anything at all about it, i.e. if the teachings ascribed to him were authentic) is contested. But there's no question that he taught about how to alleviate one's own suffering as one goes through life. If one accepts that he was all about the current lifetime, then whether he was nihilistic about what happens after death is irrelevant.

    personCinorjer
  • my motto:

    1. whatever i experience now (like/dislike) is the results of my previous own doing, so i can not blame others for it,
      the experience i like i take with pleasure but if i take dislike with whinging that means i am suffering now because of my ignorance
      and
    2. present ignorance itself cause for future (from the next moment any future moment) suffering

      so try to be mindful of 1. and avoid 2.

    true, it is easy to said than done but it is possible

    rather than arguing about a 'thing has been said' it is advisable to try and see whether 'the thing has been said could be true'

    lobsterCinorjer
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    @Dakini said:
    OP, you're choosing a translation (or perhaps, substituting your own gloss?) that uses the term "transmigration" instead of the more conventional "rebirth". And therein lies the crux of the matter. They may seem the same or similar to you, but they're not to most Buddhists. Battles have raged on Buddhist forums over the interpretation of the term "rebirth"; it's a key term in Buddhism, as you know, and as this thread demonstrates.

    Thanissaro Bhikkhu's choice of the word "Stress" as translation of Dukkha does not seem to agree with many scholars either.

  • LOTUS69LOTUS69 Boston New

    In the Brahmajala Sutta the Buddha shot down every conceivable explanation of the ultimate nature of self and the universe. ALL of them including a no soul view which he called out as annihilationist. This Sutta leaves many bewildered. So what IS the TRUTH if Buddha just shot down every concievable explanation. The Buddha is having some fun with us but he eventually lets us in on his profound joke and the real point he is making. "When those recluse and brahmins who are speculators about the past, speculators about the future, speculators about about the past and future together etc. - that too is only the feeling of those who do not know and do not see; that is only the agitation and vacillation of those immersed in craving....that too is conditioned by contact. That they can experience that feeling without contact-such a case is impossible" Buddha explains why he is different and why his knowledge is superior, "the Tathagata, having realized for himself with DIRECT KNOWLEDGE, propounds to others; and it is concerning these that those who would rightly praise the Tathagata in accordance with reality would speak" thus the Buddha's dharma is TRUTH because it springs from the Tathagata's direct knowledge. The 4 noble truth, 8 fold path which leads to nirvana and emancipation of atta from samsara. View the video I posted at beginning of this thread for an excellent description of Buddhas true dharma from an Arahat who has successfully completed the path and attained the enlightenment of the Buddha.

    CinorjerlobsterDakini
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