Did Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self?

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SarathW
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Did Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self?

Post by SarathW » Sun Nov 08, 2015 9:02 pm

Did Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self?
I think Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self.
However the following book questions that.

=======================

The Buddha said that there are two types of people who misrepresent him: those who draw inferences from statements that shouldn’t have inferences drawn from them, and those who don’t draw inferences from those that should. These are the basic ground rules for interpreting the Buddha’s teachings, but if we look at the way most writers treat the anattæ doctrine, we find these ground rules ignored. Some writers try to qualify the no-self interpretation by saying that the Buddha denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self, but this is to give an analytical answer to a question that the Buddha showed should be put aside. Others try to draw inferences from the few statements in the discourses that seem to imply that there is no self, but it seems safe to assume that if one forces those statements to give an answer to a question that should be put.................

P96


http://cdn.amaravati.org/wp-content/upl ... e_2015.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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ihrjordan
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Re: Did Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self?

Post by ihrjordan » Sun Nov 08, 2015 10:41 pm

This question of whether there was an eternal or seperate self wasn't deserving of a catergorical answer, rather it is treated as a question aligned with innappropriate attention, something of which the Buddha didn't want his listeners to bring to discussions. The one time the Buddha deals directly with the question of self is when he says he does not see even a single view of self that wouldn't cause suffering to one who clings to it. There is the extreme of existence and the extreme of non-existence without veering towards either extreme, the Tathāgata has found a middle way.

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Re: Did Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self?

Post by phil » Sun Nov 08, 2015 11:17 pm

I find it a bit baffling that the Buddha does at times encourage a kind of self esteem ( "this is for the inferior person, not for the superior person, this is not for me" , for example) which might seem contradictory to anatta but is a reflection that anyone who has dealt with powerful kilesas knows can be very very helpful in regaining wholesome footing. I think this indicates that the profundity of Dhamma is not just about how deep the penetrative gaze of the liberated mind is but how flexible understanding has to be as it develops.

Off topic I guess.
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)

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ihrjordan
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Re: Did Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self?

Post by ihrjordan » Mon Nov 09, 2015 12:07 am

phil wrote:I find it a bit baffling that the Buddha does at times encourage a kind of self esteem ( "this is for the inferior person, not for the superior person, this is not for me" , for example) which might seem contradictory to anatta but is a reflection that anyone who has dealt with powerful kilesas knows can be very very helpful in regaining wholesome footing. I think this indicates that the profundity of Dhamma is not just about how deep the penetrative gaze of the liberated mind is but how flexible understanding has to be as it develops.

Off topic I guess.
He promoted a sense of self for those on the path to whom one would be beneficial. For example, those without right view are very much caught up in identifying, labeling, clinging etc, that is what they would be bringing with the them into the course of training, a whole lot of baggage. This is one of the reasons the Buddha took a more analytical stance on the various views of existence and non-existence, but would throw the question away if it came from a deluded motive. And as you say, the mind of one to convey such a doctrine is astounding and I am ever growing in apreciation and faith :anjali:

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ihrjordan
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Re: Did Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self?

Post by ihrjordan » Mon Nov 09, 2015 12:13 am

This is why it's very dangerous and wrong to say that the Buddha taught no-self and even for a newcommer on the path to hear a teaching on "not-self". It's very possible to fall into anihilationism and non-action.

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Re: Did Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self?

Post by Pasada » Mon Nov 09, 2015 2:54 am

My understanding is that the Buddha did not categorically deny or confirm any doctrine of self; when asked directly, it was one of the questions that he refused to answer.

I see the Buddha's teachings not as a metaphysical theory composed of statements like "there is such a thing as a self" or "there is no such thing as a self", but as a set of practices aimed at developing true happiness (or liberation from suffering). These practices center around the idea of skillfulness and application of skillful strategies of attention and intention, to our experience.

Ultimately, rather than looking at the world in terms of a real, ultimately existing self or that there is ultimately no self, it seems better to deploy perceptions of the self strategically. Sometimes, in certain contexts, it is skillful to apply perceptions of a self; in other contexts, it is not skillful to apply such perceptions and it is instead skillful to apply perceptions of not-self.

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Re: Did Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self?

Post by Pondera » Mon Nov 09, 2015 5:35 am

In dn1 the Buddha categorically denies 7 views of the self - omitting the view that would correspond to Nibbāna.

He then later goes on to say (about these seven views) that he "knows of them, their results," etc. etc. And that he knows higher truths as well.

So, the inference to be made is that he doesn't categorically deny the self. He doesn't categorically affirm the self either.

Just as Sariputta said about Nibbāna ," this is pleasure precisely because there is nothing here" - I think the Buddha would say "this is Self - precisely because it does not change and it is not ill - and ... There is nothing here".
Four simple meditations on earth, water, fire, and wind - leading to tranquility and pleasure, equanimity and peacehttps://drive.google.com/file/d/1G3qI6G ... sp=sharing

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lionking
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Re: Did Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self?

Post by lionking » Mon Nov 09, 2015 7:39 am

The separation of body from consciousness is discussed in the Anatta-lakkhana Sutta ~ The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic

The Buddha was living at Benares, in the Deer Park at Isipatana. Here he addresses a group of 5 Bhikkhus. The general flow of the conversation is as follows.

The Form (Body)
Bhikkhus, form is not-self. Were form self, then this form would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let
my form be not thus.' And since form is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.'
An unskillful person would normally perceive the form (her/his body) as "self". Buddha explains the body is not self. He explains the suffering (affliction) arises out of wanting the form (body) to be a certain way. i.e. pampered, non-aging, not becoming ill and so forth.

Is one's body permanent? No sir - its impermanent !
Is the impermanent body painful or pleasant? Its Painful, venerable Sir!
Is what is impermanent, painful and subject to change deserve to be regarded as I, me or self? No, venerable Sir!

The Consciousness
"Any kind of consciousness whatever, whether past, future or presently arisen, whether gross or subtle, whether in oneself or external, whether inferior or superior, whether far or near must, with right understanding how it is, be regarded thus: 'This is not mine, this is not I, this is not my self.'
Is the consciousness permanent? Impermanent, venerable sir !
Now is what is impermanent pleasant or painful? Its Painful
Now is what is impermanent, what is painful since subject to change, fit to be regarded as mine, I, myself? No, venerable Sir!

The Solution
Bhikkhus, when a noble follower who has heard (the truth) sees thus, he finds estrangement in form, he finds estrangement in feeling, he finds estrangement in perception, he finds estrangement in determinations, he finds estrangement in consciousness.
"When he finds estrangement, passion fades out. With the fading of passion, he is liberated. When liberated, there is knowledge that he is liberated. He understands: 'Birth is exhausted, the holy life has been lived out, what can be done is done, of this there is no more beyond.'"
Learn to distance (estrange) from from the body and the consciousness. He/she is finally LIBERATED when the estrangement becomes stronger. Re-birth ends and there is no more beyond.

References:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
grr ..

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Re: Did Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self?

Post by pegembara » Mon Nov 09, 2015 7:58 am

He did not give a direct answer since a categorical no would never satisfy the listener. Instead his approach was to deny that the self can be found in any of the aggregates that make up one's experience and lead the listener to make his own conclusion which is a wiser and kinder approach.
"Bhikkhus, form is not-self. Were form self, then this form would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.' And since form is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.'

"Bhikkhus, feeling is not-self...

"Bhikkhus, perception is not-self...

"Bhikkhus, determinations are not-self...

"Bhikkhus, consciousness is not self.

Anattalakkhana Sutta
"And if I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self — were to answer that there is no self, the bewildered Vacchagotta would become even more bewildered: 'Does the self I used to have now not exist?'"

If I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self — were to answer that there is a self, would that be in keeping with the arising of knowledge that all phenomena are not-self?"

Ananda Sutta
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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dhammacoustic
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Re: Did Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self?

Post by dhammacoustic » Mon Nov 09, 2015 8:33 am

The Buddha (re)discovered the purāṇa magga which led him to nibbāna.

...So too, monks, I saw the ancient path, the ancient road travelled by the Perfectly Awakened Ones of the past. And what is that ancient path, that ancient road? It is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. I followed that path and by doing so I have directly known aging-and-death, its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation. I have directly known birth ... existence ... clinging ... .craving ... feeling ... contact ... the six sense bases .... name-and-form ... consciousness ... volitional formations, their origin, their cessation, and the way leading to their cessation.
─ SN 12.65, Nagara Sutta

So no, he didn't categorically deny the ātman of the Upanishads, he actually corrected wrong interpretations, by teaching that the ātman isn't one of the khandhas. Also, the word 'ātman' only means 'that which pervades the body'. It is also the root for the Greek word ἀτμός, so it is seen as something air-like, or space.

“Bring me a fig from the tree over there.
- Here it is, Venerable Sir.

Split it.
- It is split, Venerable Sir.

What do you see?
- Some very small kernels, Venerable Sir.

Split one of those kernels.
- It is split, Venerable Sir.

What do you see?
- I cannot see anything, Venerable Sir.

Verily, that fine substance which you cannot see, my dear one, is from what the huge fig tree has grown. Believe me, my dear one, this fine substance is from what the whole existence is made. This is the reality, this is the ātman, this is you, Shvetaketu.”

─Upanishads, 12th Khanda

...there the Blessed One said, "Monks, whatever contemplatives or priests who assume in various ways when assuming a self, all assume the five clinging-aggregates, or a certain one of them"
─ SN 22.47, Samanupassanā Sutta

The Buddha taught that all conditioned phenomena (kamma formations) are anattā, he never said natthattā. According to the Upanishads, origination of a self (jīvātman) is a 'possibility' for the ātman, so, a conceptual 'self' can arise or it can cease, depending upon conditions, but ātman just is. It can become a tree, a rock, a planet, an animal, a human, or things we can't even begin to imagine, it can manifest in endless varieties, and this becoming is due to avijjā, which is also another beginningless attribute of this ātman. In short, when avijjā (which is the main sustenance of taṇhā and upādāna) is eleminated, ātman doesn't become, it then is its own foundation, in which there is unconditionality.

This is one way to look at it. If we're to reject both creationism and cārvāka-type ucchedavāda for the sake of awakening, then the best way to understand the middle way correctly, is to understand what is anattā.

I'd recommend 'The Doctrine of the Buddha: The Religion of Reason' by George Grimm. These things are explained in detail in the book.

:anjali:
Uppādā vā tathagātanaṃ anuppādā vā tathagātanaṃ, ṭhitāva sā dhātu dhammaṭṭhitatā dhammaniyāmatā idappaccayatā. Taṃ tathagāto abhisam­buj­jhati abhisameti. Abhisam­bujjhitvā abhisametvā ācikkhati deseti paññāpeti paṭṭhapeti vivarati vibhajati uttānīkaroti. ‘Passathā’ti cāha; ‘avijjāpaccayā, bhikkhave, saṅkhārā’. Iti kho, bhikkhave, yā tatra tathatā avitathatā anaññathatā idappaccayatā-ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, paṭiccasamup­pādo.
:heart: namō tassa bhagavatō, arahatō, sammā sambuddhassā

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Re: Did Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self?

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Nov 09, 2015 8:40 am

dhammacoustic wrote:


Verily, that fine substance which you cannot see, my dear one, is from what the huge fig tree has grown. Believe me, my dear one, this fine substance is from what the whole existence is made. This is the reality, this is the ātman, this is you, Shvetaketu.”

─Upanishads, 12th Khanda

...there the Blessed One said, "Monks, whatever contemplatives or priests who assume in various ways when assuming a self, all assume the five clinging-aggregates, or a certain one of them"
─ SN 22.47, Samanupassanā Sutta
Interstingly enough, the sutta does a nice job here of negating the Upanishad.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Did Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self?

Post by dhammacoustic » Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:19 am

tiltbillings wrote:Interstingly enough, the sutta does a nice job here of negating the Upanishad.
I don't think the ātman (of the Upanishads) means self, nor true self, and I have no idea why people think it does. As far as my understanding goes, ātman is both the potential and the actualizer.

Ātman is eternal, it is not born, it does not die, it existed before this universe was formed from restless heat. Suns rest in it, Gods rest in it, nature rests in it, it is everywhere, in everything.
─ Katha Upanishad

So, it is a synonym for the tao, it has no will/volition of its own, but volition originates within it, due to avijjā, which is also another beginningless attribute of the ātman;

“No beginning can be seen of beings hindered by ignorance”
─ SN 48.50, Āpaṇa Sutta

I know this reminds you of Ken Wheeler, that's why you probably hate it :tongue: I don't agree with Ken, but in fact, ātman doesn't imply any selfhood. It was seen as a machine in those times, as it has the potential to become a conceptual self (through the kammic origination of khandhas), it also has the potential for unconditionality (nibbāna).

I think this is in line with the Buddha's Dhamma.
Uppādā vā tathagātanaṃ anuppādā vā tathagātanaṃ, ṭhitāva sā dhātu dhammaṭṭhitatā dhammaniyāmatā idappaccayatā. Taṃ tathagāto abhisam­buj­jhati abhisameti. Abhisam­bujjhitvā abhisametvā ācikkhati deseti paññāpeti paṭṭhapeti vivarati vibhajati uttānīkaroti. ‘Passathā’ti cāha; ‘avijjāpaccayā, bhikkhave, saṅkhārā’. Iti kho, bhikkhave, yā tatra tathatā avitathatā anaññathatā idappaccayatā-ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, paṭiccasamup­pādo.
:heart: namō tassa bhagavatō, arahatō, sammā sambuddhassā

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Re: Did Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self?

Post by Zom » Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:21 am

Did Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self?
No. He did that gingerly.

SarathW
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Re: Did Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self?

Post by SarathW » Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:32 am

tiltbillings wrote:
dhammacoustic wrote:


Verily, that fine substance which you cannot see, my dear one, is from what the huge fig tree has grown. Believe me, my dear one, this fine substance is from what the whole existence is made. This is the reality, this is the ātman, this is you, Shvetaketu.”

─Upanishads, 12th Khanda

...there the Blessed One said, "Monks, whatever contemplatives or priests who assume in various ways when assuming a self, all assume the five clinging-aggregates, or a certain one of them"
─ SN 22.47, Samanupassanā Sutta
Interstingly enough, the sutta does a nice job here of negating the Upanishad.
Thanks Tilt
To me, it sounds like Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self of any self what soever.
:D
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

SarathW
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Re: Did Buddha categorically denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self?

Post by SarathW » Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:45 am

dhammacoustic wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Interstingly enough, the sutta does a nice job here of negating the Upanishad.
I don't think the ātman (of the Upanishads) means self, nor true self, and I have no idea why people think it does. As far as my understanding goes, ātman is both the potential and the actualizer.

Ātman is eternal, it is not born, it does not die, it existed before this universe was formed from restless heat. Suns rest in it, Gods rest in it, nature rests in it, it is everywhere, in everything.
─ Katha Upanishad

So, it is a synonym for the tao, it has no will/volition of its own, but volition originates within it, due to avijjā, which is also another beginningless attribute of the ātman;

“No beginning can be seen of beings hindered by ignorance”
─ SN 48.50, Āpaṇa Sutta

I know this reminds you of Ken Wheeler, that's why you probably hate it :tongue: I don't agree with Ken, but in fact, ātman doesn't imply any selfhood. It was seen as a machine in those times, as it has the potential to become a conceptual self (through the kammic origination of khandhas), it also has the potential for unconditionality (nibbāna).

I think this is in line with the Buddha's Dhamma.
Hi D
I have seen people are describing Atman (Upanishads) and God (Abrahamic religions) with exactly the same description as Nibbana.
Unconditioned, Not born, not die, eternal etc.
However they also assume a separate small Atman to be re-union with the big Atman or Soul to be rewarded or punished by the God.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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