Pali Term: Atta(n)

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Pali Term: Atta(n)

Post by Assaji » Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:54 pm

Hello Pali friends,

A couple of excellent books to start with:

The Selfless Mind: Personality, Consciousness and Nirvāṇa in Early Buddhism

Brian Peter Harvey ... frontcover" onclick=";return false;

Self and Non-self in Early Buddhism

Joaquín Pérez Remón ... frontcover" onclick=";return false;

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Re: Pali Term: Atta(n)

Post by Assaji » Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:41 pm

Here's a definitive passage:

‘‘Natthi loke raho nāma, pāpakammaṃ pakubbato;
Attā te purisa jānāti, saccaṃ vā yadi vā musā.

‘‘Kalyāṇaṃ vata bho sakkhi, attānaṃ atimaññasi;
Yo santaṃ attani pāpaṃ, attānaṃ parigūhasi.

There is
in the cosmos
for one
who has done

Your own self knows, my good man,
whether you are true
or false.
You underestimate the fine witness
that is yourself,
you with evil
in yourself
that then you hide. ... .than.html" onclick=";return false;

Peter Harvey on page 22 of this book wrote that no underlying "Great Self" is implied here, and I agree with him.

IMHO, the Christian-minded interpretation of "attan (atman)" as "soul" has obscured the usage of this term.
Later Brahmanic metaphysical concept of Atman also hinders understanding of earlier texts.

The sutta above shows that "I" in Buddha's time was understood experientially (in one of the meanings) as a witness (sakkhi).

This understanding lingers, in metaphysical form, in later Indian texts:

"3. He who is the cogniser of the manifestation and disappearance of the knower, knowledge, and the knowable, but is himself devoid of such manifestation and disappearance, and is self-luminous, is called the Sakshi, Witness." ... nishad.htm" onclick=";return false;

"The Paramatman is only the Sakshi." ... idaya.html" onclick=";return false;

The non-dual and resplendent Lord is hidden in all beings. All-pervading, the inmost Self of all creatures, the impeller to actions, abiding in all things, He is the Witness, the Animator and the Absolute, free from gunas. ... upanishad/" onclick=";return false;

13(b)-14(a). That man who sees (his) Atman which is all-witness and is beyond all caste and orders of life as of the nature of Brahman, becomes himself Brahman.

17(b)-18. Persons with spiritual eyes see Brahman, that is the witness of the
three states that has the characteristics of be-ness, wisdom and bliss, that is
the underlying meaning of the words 'Thou' (Tvam) and 'I' (Aham) and that is
untouched by all the stains.

28-30. By cognising clearly my form, one is not trammeled by Karma. He is an
undaunted person who by his own experience cognises as his own real nature all
(the universe and Brahman) that is without the body and the organs of sense -
that is the all-witness - that is the one noumenal Vijnana, that is the blissful
Atman (as contrasted with Jivatma or the lower self) and that is the
self-resplendent. He is one that should be known as 'I' (myself). O Ribhu, may
you become He. ... tml?page=2" onclick=";return false;

Metta, Dmytro

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