The Great anattā/anātman debate

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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piotr
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Re: On anattā/anātman

Post by piotr » Wed Aug 10, 2016 6:20 pm

Hi,
Coëmgenu wrote:
piotr wrote:Hi,

jīva/sarīra was a dichotomy which wasn't taken up by the Buddha in his teachings. He famously rejected to answer if the soul (jīva) and the corpse (sarīra) are the same or different. Instead, to prevent from falling into sassata and uccheda possitions, he taught about name-form with cognizance (nāmarūpa saha viññāṇa) and their dependence.
When the Buddha talks about no-self, in the sutras, does he use anattā terminology exclusively, or instead a terminology that also includes there being "no soul" in the sense of the jīva being an equally problematic postulation as the ātman? (Provided there is any differentiation between the two, the monastery I quoted above seems to think both ātman and jīva are incorrect, and perhaps equivalent?
sorry for late reply. Here's good quote from "The Buddhist Critique of Sassatavada and Ucchedavada" by prof. Yakupitiyage Karunadasa which gives nice overview of the issue:
  • Among the many religions of the day, some were a linear development of Vedic thought while others seem to have emerged either in isolation from or in opposition to it. In the former, the trend was more towards theism, monism and orthodoxy; in the latter, it was more towards non-theism, pluralism and heterodoxy. Between the two groups there were a variety of religious teachings which were based on epistemological grounds such as scriptural authority (pitaka-sampada), revelation (anussava), the omniscience of the teacher (sabbaññuta), knowledge gained through extrasensory perception and arguments based on pure reasoning (takka-vimamsa). Although they represented a wide spectrum of religious views and practices, they all appear to have subscribed to a belief in a soul or self-entity. This common belief, though it had many variations, is represented in the early Buddhist discourses as a general statement: aññam jivam aññam sariram (the jiva or soul is one thing and the sarira or body is another). This distinction seems to emphasize the fact that while the soul is something permanent, the body is something perishable. This distinction is also one between the physical body and the metaphysical self. There seems to have been general agreement among all religions that, since this self-entity is something immutable, it survives death and that it is in this self-entity (soul) that man's true essence is to be found. This religious or spiritual view of the human personality is the theory of the metaphysical self. It was this belief in a permanent spiritual substance within man that came to be represented in the Pali suttas as sassatavada. Accordingly, from the Buddhist point of view, all the religions of the day which subscribed to an eternal self-subsisting spiritual entity were but different kinds of sassatavada.

    The materialist tradition which emerged in direct opposition to religion also seems to have had more than one school of thought. These took their stand on the epistemological ground that sense-perception was the only valid means of knowledge. Hence they questioned the validity of theological and metaphysical theories which do not come within the ambit of sense-experience. This explains why they rejected the religious version of atmavada, the belief in a metaphysical self, and gave it a new interpretation. This new interpretation is expressed in the Pali suttas by the words tam jivam tam sariram (the self is the same as the body). This is quite in contrast to the religious view which emphasizes their duality rather than their identity. The line of argument which seems to have led to this conclusion may be stated as follows: there is no observable self-entity apart from the body, and since only the observable exists, this self-entity must be identical with the physical body. Therefore, for materialism the soul is a product of the four primary elements of matter (ayam atta rupi catummahabhutiko). This materialist view of the human personality is the theory of the physical self. Because materialism identifies the self with the physical body, it necessarily follows that at death, with the break-up of the body, the self too is annihilated (ucchindati, vinassati), without any prospect of post-mortal existence. In view of this inevitable conclusion to which the materialist view of life leads, it came to be represented in the Buddhist texts as ucchedavada (annihilationism).
Last edited by piotr on Wed Aug 10, 2016 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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davidbrainerd
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Re: On anattā/anātman

Post by davidbrainerd » Wed Aug 10, 2016 6:33 pm

binocular wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:The Buddha repeatedly asserted there is no self "in" the aggregates, that is crystal clear.
Because the atta is non-physical and extra-corporeal, grasping to the body but not in the body, grasping to the body via the emanated and conditioned proxy that is the vinnana.
The proponents of no-soul say that the aggregates are all there is, and since it is stated that there is no self in the aggregates, this means there is no self/soul anywhere.
They are playing a game by changing the word self to soul there to hide that they are changing "the aggregates are not-the-self, neither is the self inside the aggregates" to "there is no self beyond the aggregates, therefore the aggregates are the only self there is."

When you get down to it, no-self is not even a possible position; everyone either beleives the self is the aggregates or is something outisde the aggregates; either that the body is the self or the self is inside the body, or that the self is beyond the body; there is no no-self position, they're just deluded into thinking when they say "the aggregates are the only self there is" that they've said "there is no self" and that when they say "there is no self" they've said "aggregates are the only self there is."

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Re: On anattā/anātman

Post by Dinsdale » Wed Aug 10, 2016 7:42 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:Because the atta is non-physical and extra-corporeal, grasping to the body but not in the body, grasping to the body via the emanated and conditioned proxy that is the vinnana.

Where do the suttas say that?
The suttas don't say anything of the sort. The suttas repeatedly make it clear that there is no self "in" the aggregates.
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Re: On anattā/anātman

Post by binocular » Wed Aug 10, 2016 7:57 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:The suttas don't say anything of the sort. The suttas repeatedly make it clear that there is no self "in" the aggregates.
The question is whether from this it follows that there is no soul, ever, anywhere --?
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Re: On anattā/anātman

Post by Goofaholix » Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:01 pm

binocular wrote:Their line of reasoning goes so: Since the aggregates are not the self/soul, and the aggregates are all there is, and the self is not (in) the aggregates, it follows there is no self, no soul, other than an imagined one.
Who's they? My line line of reasoning goes "Since the aggregates are not self, and the Buddha never posited an alternative to or definition of self, self therefore is irrelevant to the Buddhas teachings and practice.".
Last edited by Goofaholix on Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Re: On anattā/anātman

Post by binocular » Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:04 pm

tiltbillings wrote:That other experienced, educated Dhamma practitioners hold differing views from Thanissaro's interpretations, it is not slander that they are voiced.
The question is whether nobody gets to nirvana except through those "other experienced, educated Dhamma practitioners."
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Re: On anattā/anātman

Post by Goofaholix » Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:05 pm

davidbrainerd wrote:Because the atta is non-physical and extra-corporeal, grasping to the body but not in the body, grasping to the body via the emanated and conditioned proxy that is the vinnana.
You made this up, or got it from Hinduism, you've been asked to cite where the Buddha says this several times and so far have shown no interest in doing so.

I think it's well past time this thread be moved to the "Other Paths" subforum.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Re: On anattā/anātman

Post by davidbrainerd » Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:06 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:Because the atta is non-physical and extra-corporeal, grasping to the body but not in the body, grasping to the body via the emanated and conditioned proxy that is the vinnana.

Where do the suttas say that?
The suttas don't say anything of the sort. The suttas repeatedly make it clear that there is no self "in" the aggregates.
I didn't say the self is in the aggregates. I said the self generates a temporal vinnana (one of the aggregates) to be in the rupa aggregate for it, and to give rise to the remaining three aggregates. The vinnana is essentially the name (nama) aspect of namarupa, name-and-form.
Sn 5.1 wrote:[Ajita:] Discernment & mindfulness, name & form, dear sir: Tell me, when asked this, where are they brought to a halt?

[The Buddha:] This question you've asked, Ajita, I'll answer it for you — where name & form are brought to a halt without trace: With the cessation of consciousness they're brought to a halt.

link on ATI
When the atta stops generating a nama by which to grasp a rupa, namarupa ceases, which is the same as to say "consciousness ceases," i.e. the generation of a new vinnana by the atta as a temporary and artificial 'arm' by which to grasp a rupa ceases.

If you want to argue there is no atta but only a vinnana or sequence of subsequent vinnanas without an atta generating them, then you're left in the precarious position of explaining who makes consciousness cease, or the production of consciousness cease, one of the consciousnesses itself? Then you've made consciousness, one of the aggregates, into the self! Of course you'll probably just say "there is no doer, no experiencer, just phenomena flowing on," or in other words: nobody generates a vinnana and nobody ceases generation of vinnana, its all an automatic autonomic process run but the random movements of subatomic particles. Lol.

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Re: On anattā/anātman

Post by Goofaholix » Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:07 pm

binocular wrote:The question is whether from this it follows that there is no soul, ever, anywhere --?
That question is not relevant to Buddhism, you'll have better luck asking it elsewhere.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Re: On anattā/anātman

Post by binocular » Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:08 pm

Goofaholix wrote:Who's they?
Last I checked, Spiny held that position here, for example. I've learned it from him.
My line line of reasoning goes "Since the aggregates are not the self, and the Buddha never posited an alternative to or definition of self, self therefore is irrelevant to the Buddhas teachings and practice.".
I can't say I agree, until we clarify what one thinks the implications of that are or should be.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: On anattā/anātman

Post by binocular » Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:10 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
binocular wrote:The question is whether from this it follows that there is no soul, ever, anywhere --?
That question is not relevant to Buddhism, you'll have better luck asking it elsewhere.
Of course it is. I still remember the verbal kicks I have received from some Buddhists -- in positions of power -- for not submitting to their no self/no soul stance, and I was not the only one.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: On anattā/anātman

Post by Mkoll » Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:10 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:Because the atta is non-physical and extra-corporeal, grasping to the body but not in the body, grasping to the body via the emanated and conditioned proxy that is the vinnana.

Where do the suttas say that?
The suttas don't say anything of the sort. The suttas repeatedly make it clear that there is no self "in" the aggregates.
Indeed. And also no aggregate(s) in self, self as possessing aggregate(s), or self as aggregate(s) (SN 22.47 and many, many others). I think that there is a reason why this is stated in these 4 specific ways over and over—namely, to provide sharp tools that aid in investigating experience and thus in developing wisdom.

:anjali:
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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piotr
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Re: On anattā/anātman

Post by piotr » Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:15 pm

Hi,
binocular wrote:The question is whether from this it follows that there is no soul, ever, anywhere --?
In Samanupassana Sutta (SN 22.47) the Buddha said that:
  • Monks, whatever contemplatives or brahmans who assume in various ways when assuming a self, all assume the five clinging-aggregates, or a certain one of them.
So, in dhammic terms, when someone claims that there is this or that kind of self, it is always possible to reduce or relate this self to five khandhas. And five khandhas (past, present or future) are always not-self (SN 22.48 in conjunction with SN 22.59)
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

binocular
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Re: On anattā/anātman

Post by binocular » Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:17 pm

piotr wrote:Hi,
binocular wrote:The question is whether from this it follows that there is no soul, ever, anywhere --?
In Samanupassana Sutta (SN 22.47) the Buddha said that:
  • Monks, whatever contemplatives or brahmans who assume in various ways when assuming a self, all assume the five clinging-aggregates, or a certain one of them.
So, in dhammic terms, when someone claims that there is this or that kind of self, it is always possible to reduce or relate this self to five khandhas. And five khandhas (past, present or future) are always not-self (SN 22.48 in conjunction with SN 22.59)
Sure, we've already established this in a number of ways before.

The question is whether from this it follows that there is no soul, ever, anywhere --?
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Re: On anattā/anātman

Post by Goofaholix » Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:19 pm

binocular wrote:Of course it is. I still remember the verbal kicks I have received from some Buddhists -- in positions of power -- for not submitting to their no self/no soul stance, and I was not the only one.
Please provide a quote from the Buddha that demonstrates that this "question" about self is relevant to his teachings.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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