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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Javi
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by 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

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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Coëmgenu
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by 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.
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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srivijaya
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by 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.

davidbrainerd
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by 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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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by 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.
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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Mkoll
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Mkoll » Tue Dec 27, 2016 9:51 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
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.
Can you quote a sutta that talks about this "mindstream" please? I've never read the term in translations of the suttas that I've read, but maybe it was translated differently.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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mikenz66
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Dec 27, 2016 9:57 pm

Probably "mindstream" is more of a commentarial term, which can certainly be found in texts such as:
A Comprehensive Manual of the Abhidhamma. http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=826

However, in the suttas it certainly seems to be the case that individual "streams" of actions and results don't get mixed together - the kamma of one individual doesn't turn up as vipaka in another.

:anjali:
Mike

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Coëmgenu » Tue Dec 27, 2016 10:14 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
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.
Then, in responce, since only 3 quotes can be embedded:
Mkoll wrote:Can you quote a sutta that talks about this "mindstream" please? I've never read the term in translations of the suttas that I've read, but maybe it was translated differently.
Mindstream=cittasantāna. It refers to an impermanent uneternal unstable and perhaps-ultimately-false, fundamentally arbitrary series of dhammas that frequently misconceives itself as an "eternal I", but is nonetheless united in its particularity of specific delusion. That is my understanding at least.
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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Mkoll
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Mkoll » Tue Dec 27, 2016 10:45 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote: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.
Then, in responce, since only 3 quotes can be embedded:
Mkoll wrote:Can you quote a sutta that talks about this "mindstream" please? I've never read the term in translations of the suttas that I've read, but maybe it was translated differently.
Mindstream=cittasantāna. It refers to an impermanent uneternal unstable and ultimately false and fundamentally arbitrary series of dhammas that frequently misconceives itself as an "eternal I", but is nonetheless united in its particularity of specific delusion. That is my understanding at least.
Thanks. I have never read of such an idea in the suttas. I believe Mike is correct in saying that it's a commentarial concept.
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

Post by Coëmgenu » Tue Dec 27, 2016 10:53 pm

Mkoll wrote:Thanks. I have never read of such an idea in the suttas. I believe Mike is correct in saying that it's a commentarial concept.
In the interest of full clarification I believe the orthodox Theravāda conception of the mindstream is that whatever it is, dhammas etc, it is not the self in the Buddhist sense of the word "self". My use of the word "perhaps" was my own hesitancy to claim to be able to speak on "absolute" terms vis-à-vis what is and what isn't authentic Buddhadharma.
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

CecilN
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by CecilN » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:57 pm

Mkoll wrote:I have never read of such an idea in the suttas.
:reading:
DN 28 : Sampasādanīyasutta
chavimaṃsalohitaṃ aṭṭhiṃ paccavekkhati. Purisassa ca viññāṇasotaṃ pajānāti, ubhayato abbocchinnaṃ idha loke patiṭṭhitañca … chavimaṃsalohitaṃ aṭṭhiṃ paccavekkhati. Purisassa ca viññāṇasotaṃ pajānāti, ubhayato abbocchinnaṃ idha loke appatiṭṭhitañca

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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Dec 28, 2016 12:10 am

Here's the translation
In this body are hairs, down, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bone, marrow, kidney, heart, liver, membrane, spleen, lungs, bowels, mesentery, stomach, faeces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, saliva, snot, synovial fluid, urine, and goes on to meditate after that on the human skeleton [as covered by] skin, flesh and blood. and he goes on after that to discern the unbroken flux of human consciousness established both in this world and in another world.
https://suttacentral.net/en/dn28/75
It doesn't appear to be a very common term, but perhaps there are other variations...

:anjali:
Mike

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Mkoll
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Mkoll » Wed Dec 28, 2016 12:22 am

CecilN wrote:
Mkoll wrote:I have never read of such an idea in the suttas.
:reading:
DN 28 : Sampasādanīyasutta
chavimaṃsalohitaṃ aṭṭhiṃ paccavekkhati. Purisassa ca viññāṇasotaṃ pajānāti, ubhayato abbocchinnaṃ idha loke patiṭṭhitañca … chavimaṃsalohitaṃ aṭṭhiṃ paccavekkhati. Purisassa ca viññāṇasotaṃ pajānāti, ubhayato abbocchinnaṃ idha loke appatiṭṭhitañca
Thanks. Is that what you're referring to as "mindstream," Coemgenu? You used a different Pali term...

For accuracy, I should have said I don't recall reading of such an idea. And that's not surprising because apparently the term only appears in that one sutta: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?t=8419

The pericope that term is contained in also seems unique—I don't recall reading it anywhere else.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Coëmgenu » Wed Dec 28, 2016 12:27 am

Mkoll wrote:
CecilN wrote:
Mkoll wrote:I have never read of such an idea in the suttas.
:reading:
DN 28 : Sampasādanīyasutta
chavimaṃsalohitaṃ aṭṭhiṃ paccavekkhati. Purisassa ca viññāṇasotaṃ pajānāti, ubhayato abbocchinnaṃ idha loke patiṭṭhitañca … chavimaṃsalohitaṃ aṭṭhiṃ paccavekkhati. Purisassa ca viññāṇasotaṃ pajānāti, ubhayato abbocchinnaṃ idha loke appatiṭṭhitañca
Thanks. Is that what you're referring to as "mindstream," Coemgenu? You used a different Pali term...
The definition given by the translator for the word "viññāṇasotaṃ" is congruent to what I know for "cittasantāna". I come from a Mahāyāna background, and "cittasantāna" might be merely be a Pali coinage of the Sanskrit term cittasaṃtāna, and viññāṇasotaṃ may well be the native terminology of the Pali Buddhavacana. Or cittasaṃtāna could be a retrojected "Sanskritization" of the Pali cittasantāna, I really don't know.
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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srivijaya
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by srivijaya » Wed Dec 28, 2016 7:25 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].
Very much so. Once the conceptually fabricated, metaphysical position is dumped a practitioner can begin to directly investigate. That's why I see no value at all in metaphysics (another story). Unchanging and eternal are not equivalent but tend to get mixed up together when the straw-man is to be refuted. I think it devalues the whole process, as it's obviously contrived, but it seems to be a persistent feature of these kind of debates.

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