Soul theories and the Dhamma

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Coëmgenu
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Nov 03, 2016 8:58 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:The problem here isn't a problem of legitimate of illegitimate interpretation of the Buddhavacana. The problem is with suttas being discarded and claimed to be inauthentic at a hat drop, IMO.
A left-handed reference to me I suppose. Can you show anywhere an example where a sutta has been claimed by me as inauthentic?
Its a left-handed reference to David Brainerd. We disagree, I guess, on the issue of Ven Thanissaro's dhamma-dispensation, and on the issue of if the Buddha argues, metaphysically and ontologically, if there is a self or not, but that is a minor issue compared to the profoundly serious issue of the mutilation the Pali Canon endures under the hand of poorly-informed pseudo-Protestant reformers.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

davidbrainerd
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by davidbrainerd » Thu Nov 03, 2016 9:19 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
ancientbuddhism wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:The problem here isn't a problem of legitimate of illegitimate interpretation of the Buddhavacana. The problem is with suttas being discarded and claimed to be inauthentic at a hat drop, IMO.
A left-handed reference to me I suppose. Can you show anywhere an example where a sutta has been claimed by me as inauthentic?
Its a left-handed reference to David Brainerd. We disagree, I guess, on the issue of Ven Thanissaro's dhamma-dispensation, and on the issue of if the Buddha argues, metaphysically and ontologically, if there is a self or not, but that is a minor issue compared to the profoundly serious issue of the mutilation the Pali Canon endures under the hand of poorly-informed pseudo-Protestant reformers.
Please explain how you deal with the issue of these suttas being certain that nibbana is deathless state and supreme security but those suttas being agnostic about whether anyone continues or ceases in nibbana. I already know how you deal with it: the same as me but minus the honesty. You reject one side of the contradiction, in your case the side of the suttas that say nibbana is deathless state and supreme security, but you lack the honesty to admit you rejected some suttas. The difference between my approach and yours is not merely that I reject the other side of the contradiction (the agnostic suttas), but that I admit this is what I've done.

And speaking of Protestantism, they pull the same thing. Baptists silently reject Acts 2:38 and 1st Peter 3:21 or any other passage saying baptism is necessary, and Restoration movement Church of Christ guys silently reject any passage that says justification by faith and not by works (in order to make room for baptism). Each pretends the canon only teaches their position, when in fact it contradicts itself and teaches both. I think honesty matters in these matters, so when I was a Christian I admitted point blank what passages I rejected, much to the chagrin of both groups, even the one that technically agreed with me but had to be dishonest to save face as being inerrantists.
Last edited by davidbrainerd on Thu Nov 03, 2016 9:27 pm, edited 3 times in total.

ToVincent
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by ToVincent » Thu Nov 03, 2016 9:21 pm

Spiny Norman wrote: Vinnana anidassana is tricky.
In this case, it doesn't seem so tricky at all.

Budha meant:
Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ, not claiming being with respect to all (good translation by Bodhi,), is not experienced as (through) the allness of the "all" (good translations by Thanissaro and Piya tan).
as in:
Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ anantaṃ sabbato pabhaṃ, taṃ pathaviyā pathavattena ananubhūtaṃ, āpassa āpattena ananubhūtaṃ, tejassa ..., sabbassa sabbattena ananubhūtaṃ.

So no "physical body" is involved here. Not trick there.

Anyway, even the rapture in SN 54.13 is not sāmisa (fleshly, carnal); but nirāmisa (spiritual - not of the flesh).
In one whose persistence is aroused, a rapture not-of-the-flesh arises. When a rapture not-of-the-flesh arises in one whose persistence is aroused, then rapture as a factor for Awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.
Āraddhavīriyassa uppajjati pīti nirāmisā. Yasmiṃ samaye, ānanda, bhikkhuno āraddhavīriyassa uppajjati pīti nirāmisāpītisambojjhaṅgo tasmiṃ samaye bhikkhuno āraddho hoti, pītisambojjhaṅgaṃ tasmiṃ samaye bhikkhu bhāveti, pītisambojjhaṅgo tasmiṃ samaye bhikkhuno bhāvanāpāripūriṃ gacchati.
So why so many materialists, (so called buddhists,) are having problems, with things that could be experienced out of the physical body? And why do they have to make of that, a special "super eternal Being/Sat" of some sort?

It is just a cognitive experience, that get you rid of the birth/death process; because it is not experienced through the body anymore. It is an experience, where there is no "contact" with the spheres of senses anymore.
Therein, bhikkhus, when those recluses who are [the whatever 60+ views are], proclaim on XX grounds the xxxxxxxxxxxxx — that is conditioned by contact. That they can experience that feeling without contact—such a case is impossible.
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all these recluses and brahmins experience these feelings only by repeated contacts through the six bases of contact.
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When, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu understands as they really are the origin and passing away of the six bases of contact, their satisfaction, unsatisfactoriness, and the escape from them, then he understands what transcends all these views.
DN1
Who said that this (transcendence,) had to be eternal; or that this should be some kind of Self (Sat/Atman or Whatever), with which you would finally merge, or whatever?

Note: I don't know if viññāṇa anidassana is atemporal or not, as Thanissaro views it - (although the space-time pair would say so. No more space = no more time). I don't really care much about these speculations. But I know one thing, from what Buddha said; and that is that viññāṇa anidassana, (and more particularly viññāṇañcāyatana (infinite consciousness*) that concerns us,) is experienced¨out of the physical body.

* Viññāṇa añcāyatana (infinite consciousness) seems to be of the same nature than viññāṇa anidassana. The difference being that viññāṇa anidassana does not experience the "all", while viññāṇa añcāyatana does experience the "all" (through sense-consciousness;) but abandon the "all".

Edited: Added end note.
Last edited by ToVincent on Thu Nov 03, 2016 10:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Some working for the Mara's world; some for the Brahma's world; some for the Unborn.
.
In this world with its ..., māras, ... in this population with its ascetics.... (AN 5.30).
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We are all possessed - more or less.
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And what, bhikkhu, is inward rottenness? Here someone is immoral, one of evil character, of impure and suspect behaviour, secretive in his acts, no ascetic though claiming to be one, not a celibate though claiming to be one, inwardly rotten, corrupt, depraved. This is called inward rottenness.”
SN 35.241
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https://justpaste.it/j5o4

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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Goofaholix » Thu Nov 03, 2016 10:03 pm

davidbrainerd wrote:Please explain how you deal with the issue of these suttas being certain that nibbana is deathless state and supreme security but those suttas being agnostic about whether anyone continues or ceases in nibbana.
Nibbana is called Amata (the deathless) not because you have eternal life but simply because rebirth ceases then death ceases.

There is no need to posit a permanent unchanging essense in order to make sense of that, Buddhism doesn't promise the end of anicca as anicca is just a fact of life therefore there is no possibility of a permanent unchanging essense in the Buddhas model.

I think the Buddha was deliberately vague on the detail on what happens after death because people would misunderstand and cling to their own interpretations, just as you are doing, and this would distract us from the path of practice here and now.
“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: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by davidbrainerd » Thu Nov 03, 2016 10:10 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:Please explain how you deal with the issue of these suttas being certain that nibbana is deathless state and supreme security but those suttas being agnostic about whether anyone continues or ceases in nibbana.
Nibbana is called Amata (the deathless) not because you have eternal life but simply because rebirth ceases then death ceases.

There is no need to posit a permanent unchanging essense in order to make sense of that, Buddhism doesn't promise the end of anicca as anicca is just a fact of life therefore there is no possibility of a permanent unchanging essense in the Buddhas model.

I think the Buddha was deliberately vague on the detail on what happens after death because people would misunderstand and cling to their own interpretations, just as you are doing, and this would distract us from the path of practice here and now.
Nobody said anything about unchanging. And no your interpretation is just plain stupid. Deathless means eternal life. Birthless would mean what you want. Yes we all know rebirth ceases in nibbana but that does not make deathless mean other than what it obviously means. And remember its not just deathless but deathless SUPREME SECURITY. Precious snowflakes of nihilist Buddhism need a safe space from the real suttas and the real Buddha because the concept of deathless supreme security triggers them.

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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Nov 03, 2016 10:27 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:Please explain how you deal with the issue of these suttas being certain that nibbana is deathless state and supreme security but those suttas being agnostic about whether anyone continues or ceases in nibbana.
Nibbana is called Amata (the deathless) not because you have eternal life but simply because rebirth ceases then death ceases.

There is no need to posit a permanent unchanging essense in order to make sense of that, Buddhism doesn't promise the end of anicca as anicca is just a fact of life therefore there is no possibility of a permanent unchanging essense in the Buddhas model.

I think the Buddha was deliberately vague on the detail on what happens after death because people would misunderstand and cling to their own interpretations, just as you are doing, and this would distract us from the path of practice here and now.
This strikes me as an answer that is in line with the nikayas and the individual teachings of various monks I have heard lecture online, who come from the Theravada tradition, which, I don't think is "stupid", as much as other posters here might think it is.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Goofaholix » Thu Nov 03, 2016 10:39 pm

davidbrainerd wrote:Nobody said anything about unchanging.
The definition of atta/atman is a permanent unchanging essense, that's the definition of self the Buddha is interested in deconstructing, if you haven't been arguing the case for a permanent unchanging essense over the past few month then you've wasted a lot of bandwidth. A view of self as something changing and conditioned is quite compatible with Buddhism I think, just not central to the practice or healthy to cling to.
davidbrainerd wrote:And no your interpretation is just plain stupid. Deathless means eternal life. Birthless would mean what you want.
Your response is not constructive. Deathless is an english word, always check the original pali, I think it's also correct to say Birthless as one of the other adjectives for Nibbana is Unborn.

A more literal translation would be "undead", interestingly enough; the sense should be "undying", i.e. that which, because it is not involved with arising, is also not involved with ceasing. – yuttadhammo
“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: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by Javi » Thu Nov 03, 2016 11:52 pm

davidbrainerd wrote:
No_Mind wrote:I formally ended the no soul conversation before embarking on why I subscribe to the idea of soul .. so I cannot be blamed for peddling. I object to this characterization. You asked me, my idea about soul. I replied. What is my fault that you accuse me?
I don't understand why you concede so early. The situation is not so simple. The canon doesn't present Buddha simply saying there is no self. It presents him on side (1) saying nibbana is deathless state and supreme security (i.e. an afterlife), it presents him as saying those who say he's teaching obliteration are misrrpresenting him (i.e. supports afterlife again), but then side (2) there are the agnostic suttas that turn him into a court jester saying that although his whole religion is about getting to nibbana after death he cannot tell you if you will cease or continue in nibbana. Hello, he told us that already many times! He taught side 1 all over the place. It should be obvious that side 2 is a characature making fun of Buddha. I don't get why I seem to be the only one to see that.
Nibbana is not an afterlife, he clearly states that in the suttas which you so call the "agnostic suttas" and which you so easily toss aside. The point that all of us are trying to get you to understand here is that tossing aside those suttas is a grave error and you only do so because of your incessant clinging to the self theory. If one wants to get a good understanding of what the Buddha taught, one has to look at the entire canon, not just pick and choose whatever one likes. It's the same with the interpretation of any collection of texts, like the bible. Your cherry picking of sources and dividing the canon into what you like and what you don't like is why your view is totally out of line with the teachings of the Tathagata.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice. — Diogenes of Sinope

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by Javi » Thu Nov 03, 2016 11:55 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
binocular wrote:No, you're misrepresenting him. He's just allowing for the possibility of the existence of something, on the grounds that experiential knowledge is limited. Allowing for the possibility that something exists is not the same as saying it exists.
You haven't been reading his posts then, he is emphatically stating that there is a self outside of the aggregates, that it exits, he shows no interest in taking an agnostic view on the topic and practicing the teachings as taught.
The post you're responding to was not about davidbrainnerd however, looks like you got confused like I did. That line of the thread runs back to No_Mind
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice. — Diogenes of Sinope

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by Sujith Manoharan » Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:49 am

No_Mind wrote: "But I am an Indian and it gives me some insight into his mind and what he saw (mostly because Hindu religion has at its surface remained the same for 3,500 years .. note I say Hindu religion is unchanged not Hindu philosophy). When I observe Hindu worship and read his suttas thereafter, it becomes immediately apparent what he was trying to say." The highlighted part is what you strategically omitted.

I see what he saw. Being a person who is both Hindu but not one (details written in conversation with ToVincent a page back) who having a high caste surname has access to worship and temples but does not believe in it .. being a person reasonably well versed in Upanishads and Hindu thought .. being a person reasonably well versed in what Buddha taught .. being logical, rational .. I can see what he despised and I can understand why. If I see Hindu worship and then read his suttas .. what he says makes absolute sense (speaking of Vedic Hinduism only).
Huh. And you go on to whine about hubris later in this thread.

Your position makes no sense. Watching Hindu worship with a 'rational, logical' mind can hardly make one understand the Buddha's Teaching. Constantly throwing your caste association (all too casually) doesn't make your reasoning stronger either. If you are well-versed in the Upanishads, then you should know that it is an excruciatingly painful mass of contradictions. You seem to deride everyone here because the dominant interpretation of the Teaching has a nihilistic flavor. But what is to be expected when the declaration of an Arahant is: Birth has been destroyed ?

Did the Buddha leave his family and kingdom because he saw Hindu rituals and 'despised' what he saw ? In the Canon, there is only one consistent picture of the Bodhisatta before his Awakening - a person who wanted answers for the questions which made him become an ascetic when he was 29.
His refutation of basically every system that existed at the time came after his Awakening.

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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by ancientbuddhism » Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:26 am

Coëmgenu wrote:Its a left-handed reference to David Brainerd. We disagree, I guess, on the issue of Ven Thanissaro's dhamma-dispensation, and on the issue of if the Buddha argues, metaphysically and ontologically, if there is a self or not, but that is a minor issue compared to the profoundly serious issue of the mutilation the Pali Canon endures under the hand of poorly-informed pseudo-Protestant reformers.
I see. Another of your baseless claims. If you feel so strongly, make a case rather than these rants without proof. Ṭhānissaro is the real ‘Protestant’. What is really puzzling is why so many sycophants accept his views over accepted tradition.
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Coëmgenu » Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:46 am

ancientbuddhism wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:Its a left-handed reference to David Brainerd. We disagree, I guess, on the issue of Ven Thanissaro's dhamma-dispensation, and on the issue of if the Buddha argues, metaphysically and ontologically, if there is a self or not, but that is a minor issue compared to the profoundly serious issue of the mutilation the Pali Canon endures under the hand of poorly-informed pseudo-Protestant reformers.
I see. Another of your baseless claims. If you feel so strongly, make a case rather than these rants without proof. Ṭhānissaro is the real ‘Protestant’. What is really puzzling is why so many sycophants accept his views over accepted tradition.
If you think that incorrect metaphysical ponderings are more serious a problem than the mutilation of the Pali Canon I am confused as to why you would think such a thing. Perhaps we have a misunderstanding in regard to this? If you think Ven Thanissaro is a Protestant take it up with his teachers. With his superiors. I assume many have before. He has yet to be disciplined by any serious source of Dhamma. Ven Thanissaro is beholden to the vinaya. David Brainerd is not.

That we disagree in regard to the legitimacy of Ven Thanissaro strikes me as the lesser of all problems manifest here.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by davidbrainerd » Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:59 am

Javi wrote:Nibbana is not an afterlife, he clearly states that in the suttas which you so call the "agnostic suttas"
The agnostic suttas state nothing clearly because they state nothing. Some agnostic says he can't say you continue in nibbana nor that you cease. That's nothing. He's not actually saying either of these positions are wrong, just that he's too silly to take a position. If he wanted to state clearly that nibbana is not afterlife, he'd say 'you cease to exist in nibbana' but ah he can't because of those other suttas where Buddha says anyone saying that is misrepresenting him. So Mr. Agnostic has to play games and try to insinuate his nihilism without stating it clearly.

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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by No_Mind » Fri Nov 04, 2016 5:22 am

davidbrainerd wrote:
No_Mind wrote:I formally ended the no soul conversation before embarking on why I subscribe to the idea of soul .. so I cannot be blamed for peddling. I object to this characterization. You asked me, my idea about soul. I replied. What is my fault that you accuse me?
I don't understand why you concede so early. The situation is not so simple. The canon doesn't present Buddha simply saying there is no self. It presents him on side (1) saying nibbana is deathless state and supreme security (i.e. an afterlife), it presents him as saying those who say he's teaching obliteration are misrrpresenting him (i.e. supports afterlife again), but then side (2) there are the agnostic suttas that turn him into a court jester saying that although his whole religion is about getting to nibbana after death he cannot tell you if you will cease or continue in nibbana. Hello, he told us that already many times! He taught side 1 all over the place. It should be obvious that side 2 is a characature making fun of Buddha. I don't get why I seem to be the only one to see that.
David, I did not concede. I accepted the inevitable.

There is no evidence in the texts* to show Buddha believed in atman.

Read ancientbuddhism's Anatta Thread K.R. Norman (A note on Attā in the Alagaddūpama Sutta – 1981) and R.F. Gombrich (Recovering the Buddha’s Message – 1988)

While like you and many others I feel (not know or be able to prove but just feel) Buddha did not entirely leave out possibility of a soul, we cannot quote a single sutta or writings of a scholar in support of our view.

All we have is conjecture. Conjecture is good as mental exercise but at end of the day it remains just that .. conjecture.

I do not see how I can deny the opinion of non-clergy independent scholars with nothing to firmly support the converse.

ancientbuddhism is the first Western Buddhist I have encountered who is acquainted with the neti neti concept of Advaita. He is obviously an erudite person. I cannot dismiss his opinion that easily (for last one year I have only been mostly participating in Lounge and hence did not read that thread before this week).

The conclusion being, if one wants to have belief in atman, Buddhism is not the religion for them (and so I have stopped wearing my Buddhist hat and participating in DW .. except for replying in this thread to Javi .. and all following conversations that others have taken up from the conversation between me and Javi).

If there is an argument for soul in Buddhism it would be best if someone collated all the references in the Nikayas that point to atman, backed up by some scholars (or at least one scholar) in same way as ancientbuddhism presented his argument in Anatta Thread.

:namaste:

* Extant texts to be accurate; in 2,500 years some texts may have been lost (not necessarily suggesting suttas on atman/anatta were lost). The original sangha split into twenty schools before Mahayana -- Twenty Sects of Hinayana
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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Nov 04, 2016 6:20 am

davidbrainerd wrote:
Javi wrote:Nibbana is not an afterlife, he clearly states that in the suttas which you so call the "agnostic suttas"
The agnostic suttas state nothing clearly because they state nothing. Some agnostic says he can't say you continue in nibbana nor that you cease. That's nothing. He's not actually saying either of these positions are wrong, just that he's too silly to take a position. If he wanted to state clearly that nibbana is not afterlife, he'd say 'you cease to exist in nibbana' but ah he can't because of those other suttas where Buddha says anyone saying that is misrepresenting him. So Mr. Agnostic has to play games and try to insinuate his nihilism without stating it clearly.
So you're saying that we have an Atman which merges with the eternal Deathless of Nibbana, or something? That is Hinduism, isn't it?

Actually I do see some ambiguity in the way that The Deathless is described. What I don't see in the suttas is support for an Atman.
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