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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No_Mind
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby No_Mind » Sat Nov 05, 2016 12:07 pm

Bundokji wrote:
No_Mind wrote:
Bundokji wrote:We know that "identity" or "self" are useful in our daily life when dealing with society and other people, but why believing in a soul is important/useful? what are the consequences of this belief on the individual's behavior and/or well-being?


Why is belief in 31 planes of existence important? Yet Buddhists believe it.

In same way, rest of the folks, if they so wish, believe in soul. It is faith.

:namaste:


A belief in other realms (or literal rebirth) can influence human behavior and this as i remember has been discussed few times on this forum. However, i am asking what are the effects of believing in soul on the individual who believe in it.

If a soul exists, it has to be outside the realm of experience, yet the "belief" is in the realm of experience and should have an impact on those who choose to believe in it. You as a believer in the existence of a soul might be in a good position to tell us how this belief is useful/harmful?

Please note that i am not asking if this belief is justified or not, this is not my concern.


I can answer for myself. I guess reasons for belief in soul will differ.

I believe, I (or you or anyone else) am a part of Brahman who is the Param-atman (pervasive, infinite, eternal truth and bliss which does not change, yet is the cause of all changes). I am (or you are) a Jiv-atman. When the atman identifies itself with mind and body, it is called Jiv-atman. In the state of Moksha this identification disappears and Jiv-atman merges with Param-atman (it is not exactly merging but exposition of its own untainted nature .. but that is a different conversation altogether).

A simple analogy-- if you ask a cell in your body why do you exist .. it will reply because you exist. It is same here. My atman exists because Brahman exists. To deny my atman is to deny Brahman. I believe in Brahman, so I believe in atman.

If you ask how do you know experientially that atman exists, I would say I do not .. just like an ordinary Buddhist has not examined his five aggregates but goes by what has been told to him .. I do the same. Faith not experience guides most of us who do not devote many hours a day to meditation and discover sixteen stages of insight.

Buddhists believe if they do good Karma they will be reborn in good places (deva realms). It is faith. In same way this too is faith.

Obviously people who answer Bundokji will be non-Buddhists since they believe in soul. Please be nice to anyone who answers and not get aggressive. You have your beliefs, I have mine. In last few days I have been at receiving end of personal insults twice - oddly enough both times by people with Tamil user names (an Indian ethnic community). It is not a nice feeling to be at receiving end of personal insults. I am only participating in dying embers of this post and not elsewhere in this forum since I hung up my Buddhist hat few pages ago.
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby Bundokji » Sat Nov 05, 2016 1:24 pm

No_Mind wrote:If you ask how do you know experientially that atman exists, I would say I do not .. just like an ordinary Buddhist has not examined his five aggregates but goes by what has been told to him .....

Buddhists believe if they do good Karma they will be reborn in good places (deva realms). It is faith. In same way this too is faith.


But the difference is: the aggregates are testable, atman is not. Let us not forget that one of the definitions of the dhamma is: an invitation to investigate.

Believing in literal rebirth does influence people's behavior (regardless of the truth of it). As you said, if someone believes in deva realms, he/she might be more inclined to do good and to avoid harm in order to be reborn in a good realm. All of this is still in the realm of experience. However, I still fail to see what is the effect of believing in something that is out of the realm of experience! Whether there is an atman or not, it is the quality of our actions that bears fruit within the realm of experience.

My main concern is how this idea (atman) can influence the way we practice. Those who don't believe in atman or suspend judgement will focus on observing impermanence of the conditioned phenomena, which should result in detachment and eliminating suffering (which is the point of the whole practice). But if you believe in atman, you will be seeking something permanent/eternal using your impermanent aggregates, and this is by definition is clinging which is the cause of suffering.

I hope what i am saying makes sense.
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby No_Mind » Sat Nov 05, 2016 1:36 pm

Bundokji wrote:
No_Mind wrote:If you ask how do you know experientially that atman exists, I would say I do not .. just like an ordinary Buddhist has not examined his five aggregates but goes by what has been told to him .....

Buddhists believe if they do good Karma they will be reborn in good places (deva realms). It is faith. In same way this too is faith.


But the difference is: the aggregates are testable, atman is not. Let us not forget that one of the definitions of the dhamma is: an invitation to investigate.

Believing in literal rebirth does influence people's behavior (regardless of the truth of it). As you said, if someone believes in deva realms, he/she might be more inclined to do good and to avoid harm in order to be reborn in a good realm. All of this is still in the realm of experience. However, I still fail to see what is the effect of believing in something that is out of the realm of experience! Whether there is an atman or not, it is the quality of our actions that bears fruit within the realm of experience.

My main concern is how this idea (atman) can influence the way we practice. Those who don't believe in atman or suspend judgement will focus on observing impermanence of the conditioned phenomena, which should result in detachment and eliminating suffering (which is the point of the whole practice). But if you believe in atman, you will be seeking something permanent/eternal using your impermanent aggregates, and this is by definition is clinging which is the cause of suffering.

I hope what i am saying makes sense.


You do not need to believe it. Just like Buddhism. Investigate it .. (of course that means lot of time on the cushion that I guess neither of us have and so we follow our own respective faiths).

In Hinduism (not proselytizing) one is asked to reduce the ego .. the false self (lower case). Some sadhaks will not say "I want water" but "this body wants water". All reference to "I" must disappear because they obscure the real nature of atman. When the aggregates (to borrow Buddhist terminology) disappear the self reveals its true nature as part of Self or as the Self.

One can see obvious similarities with Buddhism in most of what I have written. That is what got me started few years ago .. to find if I can bridge the gap.

At end of the day for either of us it is a matter of faith. Your faith in what Buddha taught and my faith in Adi Shankara taught. We both believe in Dharma, Karma, in good/bad rebirths, in lokas. Only point we actually differ on is if atman exists/does not exist.

I have excluded Vedic practices of worship (hoi polloi Hinduism) from this discussion. I do not believe in them. Many Hindus do not believe in them.

:namaste:

Edit Add

I wrote above "We both believe in Dharma, Karma, in good/bad rebirths, in lokas. Only point we actually differ on is if atman exists/does not exist."

In fact there is is so much similarity between the two, that Surendranath Dasgupta (refer to last page post above yours for link) wrote in Volume I --

Śaṅkara and his followers borrowed much of their dialectic form of criticism from the Buddhists. His Brahman was very much like the śūnya of Nāgārjuna. It is difficult indeed to distinguish between pure being and pure non-being as a category. The debts of Śaṅkara to the self-luminosity of the Vijñānavāda Buddhism can hardly be overestimated. There seems to be much truth in the accusations against Śaṅkara by Vijñāna Bhikṣu and others that he was a hidden Buddhist himself. I am led to think that Śaṅkara’s philosophy is largely a compound of Vijñānavāda and Śūnyavāda Buddhism with the Upaniṣad notion of the permanence of self super added.
Last edited by No_Mind on Sat Nov 05, 2016 2:06 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Nov 05, 2016 1:54 pm

Bundokji wrote:But if you believe in atman, you will be seeking something permanent/eternal using your impermanent aggregates, and this is by definition is clinging which is the cause of suffering.


Though it could be argued that Buddhists are seeking something unconditioned, ie Nibbana.
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby Bundokji » Sat Nov 05, 2016 2:15 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
Bundokji wrote:But if you believe in atman, you will be seeking something permanent/eternal using your impermanent aggregates, and this is by definition is clinging which is the cause of suffering.


Though it could be argued that Buddhists are seeking something unconditioned, ie Nibbana.


I agree, but it is also said that even the desire for enlightenment should be dropped at some stage. I don't know if you agree, but seeking the unconditioned can be beneficial at some stage, but can be a hindrance at another, depends on each individual and where they are on the path to enlightenment.

The problem is, we cannot fake belief or disbelief. It seems to me that ultimately, all beliefs have to be dropped to cause a radical change in our conscious experience. If seeking the unconditioned persists, it means we are not yet ready, all in my opinion.
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby rajitha7 » Sat Nov 05, 2016 3:36 pm

No_Mind wrote:We both believe in Dharma, Karma, in good/bad rebirths, in lokas. Only point we actually differ on is if atman exists/does not exist.


As per the Upanishad "Atman" is in trees, shrubs and bushes too.

Chhandogya Upanishad 6-11-1 & 6-11-2:

प्राचीनशाल औपमन्यवः सत्ययज्ञः पौलुषिरिन्द्रद्युम्नो भाल्लवेयो जनः शार्कराक्ष्यो बुडिल आश्वतराश्विस्ते हैते महाशाला महाश्रोत्रियाः समेत्य मीमाꣳसां चक्रुः को न आत्मा किं ब्रह्मेति ॥ ५.११.१॥
ते ह सम्पादयाञ्चक्रुरुद्दालको वै भगवन्तोऽयमारुणिः सम्प्रतीममात्मानं वैश्वानरमध्येति तꣳ हन्ताभ्यागच्छामेति तꣳ हाभ्याजग्मुः ॥ ५.११.२॥

1.If some one were to strike at the root of this large tree here, it would bleed, but live. If he were to strike at its stem, it would bleed, but live. If he were to strike at its top, it would bleed, but live. Pervaded by the living Self that tree stands firm, drinking in its nourishment and rejoicing;

2.But if the life (the living Self) leaves one of its branches, that branch withers; if it leaves a second, that branch withers; if it leaves a third, that branch withers. If it leaves the whole tree, the whole tree withers . In exactly the same manner, my son, know this.


That means you have the same essence that is in a Cactus tree for example.

It also means when you eat a carrot you are committing a murder.

So is this what you have faith at present?
Unsurpassed is the Lord’s way of teaching the Dhamma concerning one’s proper moral conduct. One should be honest and faithful, without deception, chatter, hinting or belittling, not always ready to add gain to gain, but with the sense-doors guarded, moderate in food, a promoter of peace, observant, active and strenuous in effort, a meditator, mindful, with proper conversation, steady-going, resolute and sensible, not hankering after sense pleasures, but mindful and prudent. This is the unsurpassed teaching concerning a person’s proper ethical conduct. - Sampasādanīya, Dīgha Nikāya 28

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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby No_Mind » Sat Nov 05, 2016 4:32 pm

rajitha7 wrote:
No_Mind wrote:We both believe in Dharma, Karma, in good/bad rebirths, in lokas. Only point we actually differ on is if atman exists/does not exist.


As per the Upanishad "Atman" is in trees, shrubs and bushes too.

Chhandogya Upanishad 6-11-1 & 6-11-2:

प्राचीनशाल औपमन्यवः सत्ययज्ञः पौलुषिरिन्द्रद्युम्नो भाल्लवेयो जनः शार्कराक्ष्यो बुडिल आश्वतराश्विस्ते हैते महाशाला महाश्रोत्रियाः समेत्य मीमाꣳसां चक्रुः को न आत्मा किं ब्रह्मेति ॥ ५.११.१॥
ते ह सम्पादयाञ्चक्रुरुद्दालको वै भगवन्तोऽयमारुणिः सम्प्रतीममात्मानं वैश्वानरमध्येति तꣳ हन्ताभ्यागच्छामेति तꣳ हाभ्याजग्मुः ॥ ५.११.२॥

1.If some one were to strike at the root of this large tree here, it would bleed, but live. If he were to strike at its stem, it would bleed, but live. If he were to strike at its top, it would bleed, but live. Pervaded by the living Self that tree stands firm, drinking in its nourishment and rejoicing;

2.But if the life (the living Self) leaves one of its branches, that branch withers; if it leaves a second, that branch withers; if it leaves a third, that branch withers. If it leaves the whole tree, the whole tree withers . In exactly the same manner, my son, know this.


That means you have the same essence that is in a Cactus tree for example.

It also means when you eat a carrot you are committing a murder.

So is this what you have faith at present?


Do I believe plants have souls? Yes I do. In fact there is mention in Vedas of a forest Goddess or forest spirit called Aranyani. Let us use soul for animals and spirits for others, lest we get confused.

I have same essence as a Cactus tree in the sense that we are both parts of Brahman. No objection to that either.

As long as I eat a carrot because I am hungry .. it is fine I guess. I will take a life if that is needed to satisfy my hunger. That is why I mostly eat vegetarian food but consume meat twice a month. I swat mosquitoes too if they bite too much.

Very often (if I am out of town) I like to stop by a huge tree besides the highway .. sit under it .. imagine all the things it has been witness to in last hundred years or more.

That is why I use old dilapidated furniture my grandparents had. Makes no sense chopping trees down mindlessly. A good table at least lasts a century if not more.

Now .. just in case you want to ask do I believe in cutting down a tree .. only if it is necessary .. not because I need a new table every decade. If a tree is short circuiting the power line to my house, then I will request to have its branches trimmed (not to have it chopped down).

I will do what is need based - if a tiger has eaten you and its hunger is satisfied, it will not eat me. In same way I will not consume more than I need from nature.

And why me .. lot of people believe trees have a spirit .. there was even a blockbuster movie based on it called Avatar (different planet though).
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby rajitha7 » Sat Nov 05, 2016 4:50 pm

No_Mind wrote:
rajitha7 wrote:
No_Mind wrote:We both believe in Dharma, Karma, in good/bad rebirths, in lokas. Only point we actually differ on is if atman exists/does not exist.


As per the Upanishad "Atman" is in trees, shrubs and bushes too.

So is this what you have faith at present?


Do I believe plants have souls? Yes I do. In fact there is mention in Vedas of a forest Goddess or forest spirit called Aranyani. Let us use soul for animals and spirits for others, lest we get confused.

I have same essence as a Cactus tree in the sense that we are both parts of Brahman. No objection to that either.

And why me .. lot of people believe trees have a spirit .. there was even a blockbuster movie based on it called Avatar (different planet though).


Well, when trees, bushes and cattle are treated with a higher reverence than certain classes of people, it seems Brahman has utterly confused priorities.
Unsurpassed is the Lord’s way of teaching the Dhamma concerning one’s proper moral conduct. One should be honest and faithful, without deception, chatter, hinting or belittling, not always ready to add gain to gain, but with the sense-doors guarded, moderate in food, a promoter of peace, observant, active and strenuous in effort, a meditator, mindful, with proper conversation, steady-going, resolute and sensible, not hankering after sense pleasures, but mindful and prudent. This is the unsurpassed teaching concerning a person’s proper ethical conduct. - Sampasādanīya, Dīgha Nikāya 28

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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby No_Mind » Sat Nov 05, 2016 5:05 pm

rajitha7 wrote:Well, when trees, bushes and cattle are treated with a higher reverence than certain classes of people, it seems Brahman has utterly confused priorities.


Let me be clear .. as I have been many times in past pages ..

I do not believe in caste system. My family does not. I cannot be held responsible for it. Just like Protestants cannot be held responsible for views of Catholics.

What other Hindus do is no concern of mine. What school they follow is no concern of mine. What idols they worship is no concern of mine. They want to die on banks of Ganges is no concern of mine.

My faith (Hindu sub sect I belong to) does not believe in caste system. My faith believes in Brahman. My faith has led me to explore Upanishads and Buddhism.

I maintain ten arms length between myself and mainstream Hinduism (from two dozen feet away I may observe their worship). So you are preaching to the choir.

I am not here as a Hindu apologist. I am just a guy who was trying to bridge the gap between Advaita and Buddhism who is now on his way out of this forum.
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby Mkoll » Sun Nov 06, 2016 1:45 am

No_Mind wrote:I am only participating in dying embers of this post and not elsewhere in this forum since I hung up my Buddhist hat few pages ago.

At least you only hung up your hat and didn't sell it or throw it away. You never know: it may rain and you find yourself happy to still have it! ;)

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Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby No_Mind » Sun Nov 06, 2016 3:11 am

Mkoll wrote:
No_Mind wrote:I am only participating in dying embers of this post and not elsewhere in this forum since I hung up my Buddhist hat few pages ago.

At least you only hung up your hat and didn't sell it or throw it away. You never know: it may rain and you find yourself happy to still have it! ;)

:anjali:


Mkoll, glad you commented. We debated a lot when I was "new kid on the block". I am not giving up studying Buddhism and by continuing to believe in atman all I am doing is subscribing to Wrong View which is part of paññā.

Paññā is very far away at the moment. I have to focus on sīla and meditation for at least next twenty years.

I will be back to ask questions and doubts but not to take part in debates. There is not much difference in practice except probably at the final stages.

An unrefined analogy -- to the passenger in economy, business and first class there is not much difference between Boeing and Airbus. Only when one flies the plane the difference is apparent -- Boeing aircraft leave ultimate control mostly to the pilot whereas Airbus aircraft limit pilots' capabilities through the flight computer in situations that require extreme remedial action.

I am just boarding the plane. The cockpit is far, far away.

It has been eight days. I am signing out of this thread.

:namaste:
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby Mkoll » Sun Nov 06, 2016 3:32 am

No_Mind wrote:
Mkoll wrote:
No_Mind wrote:I am only participating in dying embers of this post and not elsewhere in this forum since I hung up my Buddhist hat few pages ago.

At least you only hung up your hat and didn't sell it or throw it away. You never know: it may rain and you find yourself happy to still have it! ;)

:anjali:


Mkoll, glad you commented. We debated a lot when I was "new kid on the block". I am not giving up studying Buddhism and by continuing to believe in atman all I am doing is subscribing to Wrong View which is part of paññā.

Paññā is very far away at the moment. I have to focus on sīla and meditation for at least next twenty years.

I'm glad you're not giving up studying Buddhism! :)

I wouldn't frame you as subscribing to wrong view. In fact just a few posts ago you said you believed in rebirth, kamma, etc. And that is good enough for right view—see below. I'd just say you're not ready to let go of your belief in atman. Hey, I'm not ready to let go of pursuing and enjoying the 5 cords of sensual pleasure. As long as we're not acting immorally because of these things, it's alright for now. We've all got our own things we're not ready let go of and it's best not to develop aversion around them. All in good time.

MN 41 wrote:10. "And how are there three kinds of mental conduct not in accordance with the Dhamma, unrighteous conduct? Here someone is covetous: he is a coveter of another's chattels and property thus: 'Oh, that what is another's were mine!' Or he has a mind of ill-will, with the intention of a mind affected by hate thus: 'May these beings be slain and slaughtered, may they be cut off, perish, or be annihilated!' Or he has wrong view, distorted vision, thus: 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed, no fruit and ripening of good and bad kammas, no this world, no other world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously (born) beings,[1] no good and virtuous monks and brahmans that have themselves realized by direct knowledge and declare this world and the other world.'[2] That is how there are three kinds of mental conduct not in accordance with the Dhamma, unrighteous conduct.

[...]

14. "And how are there three kinds of mental conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct? Here someone is not covetous: he is not a coveter of another's chattels and property thus: 'Oh, that what is another's were mine!' He has no mind of ill-will, with the intention of a mind unaffected by hate thus: 'May these beings be free from enmity, affliction and anxiety, may they live happily!' He has right view, undistorted vision, thus: 'There is what is given and what is offered and what is sacrificed, and there is fruit and ripening of good and bad kammas, and there is this world and the other world and mother and father and spontaneously (born) beings, and good and virtuous monks and brahmans that have themselves realized by direct knowledge and declared this world and the other world.' That is how there are three kinds of mental conduct in accordance with the Dhamma, righteous conduct.


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

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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby Coëmgenu » Mon Nov 07, 2016 3:15 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:I think rendering the Pāli anattā into English as "identityless" and "identitynessless" really seems to express more easily the actual practice associated with cultivating a right-view on anattā. A doubting of permanent identity. The halting of grasping at identities. The halting of the formation of identities. What is actually discarded in Buddhism? We can say "the self is discarded", and that sound very mystical and profound and "Buddhisty" to an English speaker, but if we say "identity is discarded", I think that communicates what is actually meant in a clearer way, albeit less mystical and profound sounding.

Obviously someone could still misinterpret and develop wrong-views from hearing the word "identityless" as a part of anattā-teachings in English, I am thinking specifically that it could be interpreted by someone not informed about Buddhism as implying that we are all a group-consciousness, but people already make that misunderstanding with the terminology we currently use anyways.


It's an interesting approach. Would you say that "identity" is equivalent to self-view ( sakkāya-diṭṭhi )?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_ ... science%29
Yes.

Spiny Norman wrote:I assume you don't mean that individuality is also discarded?
Well, I think that this would fall under the possible misinterpretation of self-as-identity that I listed here:
Coëmgenu wrote:Obviously someone could still misinterpret and develop wrong-views from hearing the word "identityless" as a part of anattā-teachings in English, I am thinking specifically that it could be interpreted by someone not informed about Buddhism as implying that we are all a group-consciousness, but people already make that misunderstanding with the terminology we currently use anyways.


But consider, what is the discipline of the monastic life, for instance, with its hierarchies and obeisance? What is the discipline of discarding self-views? These seem to be also describable as the discipline of discarding self-conceived identities. I think that is clearer than saying "discarding selves" or "discarding selfing", since the formation of "selfness" is an action, not a svabhāva "innate" and passive mode of being.

This may be an instance of my own Mahāyāna Buddhism being at odds with Theravāda, but in Mahāyāna Buddhism, in the Lotus school in particular, the Awakening of Buddhas is believed to be identical, to the point where it is really considered that there is only one Buddha, truly, for Buddha has discarded all self-view. All identity save for suchness, which is understood to be simply truth, "things-as-they-are". Perhaps this is not acceptable to Theravada Buddhists though. I am here to find out the relations between the different branches of the teaching after all.

So perhaps I am indirectly saying I think the Buddhadharma calls us to discard individuality on a certain level. Perhaps I am very wrong. I know what you mean though, and how horrible for society it would be to have "individual-less conformity" enforced by any authority, powerful or not, Buddhist or secular.
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Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
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此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby Javi » Sat Dec 24, 2016 12:02 am

This may be an instance of my own Mahāyāna Buddhism being at odds with Theravāda, but in Mahāyāna Buddhism, in the Lotus school in particular, the Awakening of Buddhas is believed to be identical, to the point where it is really considered that there is only one Buddha, truly, for Buddha has discarded all self-view. All identity save for suchness, which is understood to be simply truth, "things-as-they-are". Perhaps this is not acceptable to Theravada Buddhists though. I am here to find out the relations between the different branches of the teaching after all.


There is an issue here though, because to say that there are two people who have discarded self view and to say that they are one person is to say two different things.

In Mahayana and Theravada, there are still different mindstreams. Buddhists are not Advaita monists. If you kill someone, I am not responsible for that or suffer the effects of your mindstreams karmic imprints. Likewise, if you drop a brick on your foot tomorrow, I am not going to notice that.

So you have to spell out in what sense you mean that all Buddhas are truly one Buddha and exactly what that could even mean.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Tārakā timiraṃ dīpo māyāvaśyāya budbudaḥ supinaṃ vidyud abhraṃ ca evaṃ draṣṭavya saṃskṛtam — A shooting star, a clouding of the sight, a lamp, An illusion, a drop of dew, a bubble, A dream, a lightning’s flash, a thunder cloud — This is the way one should see the conditioned — Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā

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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Coëmgenu
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby Coëmgenu » Sat Dec 24, 2016 8:28 pm

Javi wrote:
This may be an instance of my own Mahāyāna Buddhism being at odds with Theravāda, but in Mahāyāna Buddhism, in the Lotus school in particular, the Awakening of Buddhas is believed to be identical, to the point where it is really considered that there is only one Buddha, truly, for Buddha has discarded all self-view. All identity save for suchness, which is understood to be simply truth, "things-as-they-are". Perhaps this is not acceptable to Theravada Buddhists though. I am here to find out the relations between the different branches of the teaching after all.


There is an issue here though, because to say that there are two people who have discarded self view and to say that they are one person is to say two different things.

In Mahayana and Theravada, there are still different mindstreams. Buddhists are not Advaita monists. If you kill someone, I am not responsible for that or suffer the effects of your mindstreams karmic imprints. Likewise, if you drop a brick on your foot tomorrow, I am not going to notice that.

So you have to spell out in what sense you mean that all Buddhas are truly one Buddha and exactly what that could even mean.
This is off-topic, but the Mahāyāna doctrine comes from the Lotus Sutra, through interpretation by Tiantai, and the Mahāyānabrahmajālasūtra:
Now, I, Vairocana Buddha, am sitting atop a lotus pedestal; on a thousand flowers surrounding me are a thousand Sakyamuni Buddhas. Each flower supports a hundred million worlds; in each world a Sakyamuni Buddha appears. All are seated beneath a Bodhi-tree, all simultaneously attain Buddhahood. All these innumerable Buddhas have Vairocana as their original body.
There are multiple mindstreams, but one Buddhahood, in the Lotus tradition at least.
Bhagavā arahaṃ sammasāmbuddho:
Svākkhāto yena bhagavatā dhammo / Supaṭipanno yassa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
(Dedication of Offerings)
此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶

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Javi
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby Javi » Sat Dec 24, 2016 10:35 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:This is off-topic, but the Mahāyāna doctrine comes from the Lotus Sutra, through interpretation by Tiantai, and the Mahāyānabrahmajālasūtra:
Now, I, Vairocana Buddha, am sitting atop a lotus pedestal; on a thousand flowers surrounding me are a thousand Sakyamuni Buddhas. Each flower supports a hundred million worlds; in each world a Sakyamuni Buddha appears. All are seated beneath a Bodhi-tree, all simultaneously attain Buddhahood. All these innumerable Buddhas have Vairocana as their original body.
There are multiple mindstreams, but one Buddhahood, in the Lotus tradition at least.


is there any philosophical arguments or reasons for this doctrine besides scriptural appeal in Tiantai?

Do mindstreams melt into Buddhahood at elightenment like souls melt into Brahman in Vedanta? I know the metaphor of the waves and the ocean is a common one in east asian Buddhism.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Tārakā timiraṃ dīpo māyāvaśyāya budbudaḥ supinaṃ vidyud abhraṃ ca evaṃ draṣṭavya saṃskṛtam — A shooting star, a clouding of the sight, a lamp, An illusion, a drop of dew, a bubble, A dream, a lightning’s flash, a thunder cloud — This is the way one should see the conditioned — Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā

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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Coëmgenu
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby Coëmgenu » Sat Dec 24, 2016 11:33 pm

Javi wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:This is off-topic, but the Mahāyāna doctrine comes from the Lotus Sutra, through interpretation by Tiantai, and the Mahāyānabrahmajālasūtra:
Now, I, Vairocana Buddha, am sitting atop a lotus pedestal; on a thousand flowers surrounding me are a thousand Sakyamuni Buddhas. Each flower supports a hundred million worlds; in each world a Sakyamuni Buddha appears. All are seated beneath a Bodhi-tree, all simultaneously attain Buddhahood. All these innumerable Buddhas have Vairocana as their original body.
There are multiple mindstreams, but one Buddhahood, in the Lotus tradition at least.


is there any philosophical arguments or reasons for this doctrine besides scriptural appeal in Tiantai?

Do mindstreams melt into Buddhahood at elightenment like souls melt into Brahman in Vedanta? I know the metaphor of the waves and the ocean is a common one in east asian Buddhism.
Its typically explained as being because the Dharmakaya is unconditioned.
And the mindstream is not viewed as annihilated upon Awakening, nor is the Dharmakaya seen as something that a mindstream melds into or combines with. The Dharmakaya is seen as tathāta, or reality-without-delusion.
Bhagavā arahaṃ sammasāmbuddho:
Svākkhāto yena bhagavatā dhammo / Supaṭipanno yassa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
(Dedication of Offerings)
此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶

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srivijaya
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby srivijaya » Sun Dec 25, 2016 8:27 am

A postulated "eternal, unchanging" soul is a conceptually fabricated straw-man. The refutation predicated on this 'assertion' has as much "substance" as 'the child of a barren woman'. Self/No-self assertion and denial are meaningless obscurations.

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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby davidbrainerd » Tue Dec 27, 2016 8:51 pm

srivijaya wrote:A postulated "eternal, unchanging" soul is a conceptually fabricated straw-man.


Because a self by very definition is a living thing and must change [in some sense at least]. Nor are unchanging and eternal equivalent words [at least not in all senses].

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Postby Coëmgenu » Tue Dec 27, 2016 9:00 pm

davidbrainerd wrote:
srivijaya wrote:A postulated "eternal, unchanging" soul is a conceptually fabricated straw-man.


Because a self by very definition is a living thing and must change [in some sense at least]. Nor are unchanging and eternal equivalent words [at least not in all senses].
Thats why I suggested that the English word "identity" is closer to the Buddhist conception of "attā" than "self". The equivalent of the English term "self" is "mindstream" in Buddhist terminology, that is just my opinion though. Denying the mindstream is ucchedavāda as far as I know, by most orthodoxies.
Bhagavā arahaṃ sammasāmbuddho:
Svākkhāto yena bhagavatā dhammo / Supaṭipanno yassa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
(Dedication of Offerings)
此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶


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