The Atman of other religions in the Pali suttas

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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DooDoot
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The Atman of other religions in the Pali suttas

Post by DooDoot » Sun Dec 08, 2019 11:10 am

Dear DW forum

I cannot recall any suttas where Brahmans or those of other sects/religions debate or discuss with the Buddha and insist there is a immutable universal Self or Atman.

Could we kindly list any relevant suttas?

Thank you :thanks:
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Re: The Atman of other religions in the Pali suttas

Post by sentinel » Mon Dec 09, 2019 5:07 pm

The third teacher who does not have the view that in the present world there truly is a self, and who also does not have the view that in the afterlife there [truly] is a self ― this is the Tathāgata, the arahant, the fully awakened one, who in the present has abandoned craving, become separated from desire, has made them cease, and has attained Nirvāṇa.”

https://suttacentral.net/sa105/en/analayo
Last edited by sentinel on Tue Dec 10, 2019 12:00 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Atman of other religions in the Pali suttas

Post by cappuccino » Mon Dec 09, 2019 6:00 pm

"Bhikkhus, form is not-self. Were form self, then this form would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.' And since form is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.'

"Bhikkhus, feeling is not-self...

"Bhikkhus, perception is not-self...

"Bhikkhus, determinations are not-self...

"Bhikkhus, consciousness is not self. Were consciousness self, then this consciousness would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of consciousness: 'Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.' And since consciousness is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of consciousness: 'Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.'

Anatta-lakkhana Sutta: The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic

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Sam Vara
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Re: The Atman of other religions in the Pali suttas

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:41 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Sun Dec 08, 2019 11:10 am
Dear DW forum

I cannot recall any suttas where Brahmans or those of other sects/religions debate or discuss with the Buddha and insist there is a immutable universal Self or Atman.

Could we kindly list any relevant suttas?

Thank you :thanks:
Thanks for this interesting post, which raises lots of points. I'll say at the outset that I have been unable to recall or find any suttas that include such debates or statements in any detail, and that in itself is significant.

I thought that a good candidate might be this passage in DN 9, as rendered by Harold Beaver in The Broken Gong:
Potthapāda, I tell you, it's the same with those ascetics and Brahmans who postulate a so-called 'eternal self', but, under close questioning, admit that they have no personal, first-hand acquaintance with it...
But (as noted by Ajahn Sucitto in his editor's introduction) Beaver often takes liberties with the text in order to make his point. The nearest I can find to it in DN 9 is (Sujato's tr.):
‘The self is exclusively happy and is sound after death.’
‘ekantasukhī attā hoti arogo paraṃ maraṇā’ti.
This also appears in MN 79:
Sir, suppose there was a beryl gem that was naturally beautiful, eight-faceted, well-worked. When placed on a cream rug it would shine and glow and radiate. Such is the splendor of the self that is sound after death.
https://suttacentral.net/mn79/en/sujato

Not much, is it? And that's what is so puzzling. Lots of books introducing the Buddha's ideas for Western audiences highlight that the Buddha's comments on anatta are a critique of the Brahmin view that "atman is Brahman", but very few actually delve into what the Brahmins believed. Gombrich is an exception, as he is a Sanskrit specialist and claims that the Buddha was familiar with the Brhad-āranyaka Upanisad where the idea is clearly expressed. But neither he nor anyone else comes up with a reiteration of this within the Pali suttas. If there isn't such a passage, then it might be because the view was so firmly entrenched in the culture of the time that it didn't need re-stating. But this is hardly likely given that there are materialist/annihilationist accounts also presented. The doctrines of Pūrana Kassapa, Makkhali Gosāla, Ajita Kesakambala, Pakudha Kaccāyana, Nigantha Nāttaputta, and Sañjaya Belatthaputta are all set out in detail (eg DN 2) and refuted. So why not a doctrine of an immutable universal self?

I would be very interested to read your thoughts on this. Either as to what suttas I have missed, or by way of explaining why those accounts of the self are lacking. Or anybody's thoughts, really!

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Re: The Atman of other religions in the Pali suttas

Post by DooDoot » Tue Dec 10, 2019 1:39 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:41 pm
The nearest I can find to it in DN 9 is (Sujato's tr.):
‘The self is exclusively happy and is sound after death.’
‘ekantasukhī attā hoti arogo paraṃ maraṇā’ti.
This also appears in MN 79:
Thank you for the above Sam Vara, but, yes, as you suggested, it does not offer anything substantial in terms of doctrine.
Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:41 pm
Lots of books introducing the Buddha's ideas for Western audiences highlight that the Buddha's comments on anatta are a critique of the Brahmin view that "atman is Brahman", but very few actually delve into what the Brahmins believed.
My question arose from browsing (Sri Lankan) David J. Kalupahana's book on Nagarjuna. Thailand's Bhikkhu Buddhadasa made similar comments, as follows:
In India they developed the highest, most developed teaching about the ‘self’ in the period of the Upanishads. This belief in ‘self’ was most, it’s developed most fully within the sect or tradition within Indian culture that is now called the ‘Tantra.’ This was the highest idea about the ‘self’ which they called the Brahman or which is comparable to what is also called paramatman. This was the highest teaching as represented in the Tantra. At the time of the Buddha or just before the Buddha, this was considered to be the most perfect, most modern, most up-to-date teaching about the ‘self’ that contained within the Tantra tradition. When the Buddha appeared, he taught something completely different. First of all, he taught that this attā thing, this belief was wrong. It wasn’t true. It wasn’t really such a thing as they were talking about. And second, that the belief in attā, the illusion, delusion, was also the cause of dukkha; that all dukkha is based in belief in ‘self’. So the Buddha taught anattā or not-self because of these two reasons: one because of the teaching of attā is wrong; and two because that belief in attā is the basis of all dukkha. So the Buddha had to teach something completely different.

https://www.suanmokkh.org/system/books/ ... 1481939315
:alien:
Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:41 pm
Gombrich is an exception, as he is a Sanskrit specialist and claims that the Buddha was familiar with the Brhad-āranyaka Upanisad where the idea is clearly expressed. But neither he nor anyone else comes up with a reiteration of this within the Pali suttas. If there isn't such a passage...
The suttas never refer to Upanisads. Only Vedas.
Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:41 pm
then it might be because the view was so firmly entrenched in the culture of the time that it didn't need re-stating. But this is hardly likely given that there are materialist/annihilationist accounts also presented. The doctrines of Pūrana Kassapa, Makkhali Gosāla, Ajita Kesakambala, Pakudha Kaccāyana, Nigantha Nāttaputta, and Sañjaya Belatthaputta are all set out in detail (eg DN 2) and refuted. So why not a doctrine of an immutable universal self?
Yes.
Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:41 pm
I would be very interested to read your thoughts on this.
Thanks, I have little to add, for now. My question arises from not knowing.
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Re: The Atman of other religions in the Pali suttas

Post by DooDoot » Sat Jan 04, 2020 6:22 am

I came across this article today: On the Semantic Development of the Word ātmán in Vedic Language & Sanskrit. Its conclusion:
In the Rig Veda the basic meaning of ātmán is ‘breath’ but ‘breath’ as a vital essence that gives rhythm to everything “moving and stable”. Gradually it develops other meanings as ‘vital essence, essence, soul, spirit, body’. By the end of the period ātmán became to be used also as a reflexive, probably not without the influence of the phonetically similar word tmán. After the RV, in the Vedic literature the semantic field surrounding ātmán undergo significant changes, most of which are a direct reflection of the nature of the texts themselves. One of the primary changes is the appearance of a ‘composite self’ made up of a complex series of connections which are deliberately constructed in the ritual as a part of the representation of the micro-macrocosmic equivalences and representation of individual, social, seasonal and cosmological functions. In this ‘composite self’ ātmán represents a vital essence of an individual (which is internal). So it can be rendered also by the words ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’. The word ātmán is used repeatedly with púruṣa, a word that have signification of inclusive wholeness until the Upanishads. Ātmán is the essence of what moves and breathes on the earth, but is not constructed as an archetypical sacrifice. Ātmán is, instead, a component of that sacrifice.
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

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Re: The Atman of other religions in the Pali suttas

Post by auto » Sat Jan 04, 2020 1:38 pm

four continents which also are the east, west, north, south and what is in the middle is brahman. Sciences are based on it.

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cappuccino
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Re: The Atman of other religions in the Pali suttas

Post by cappuccino » Sat Jan 04, 2020 3:53 pm

DooDoot wrote:So it can be rendered also by the words ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’
"These positions that are undeclared, set aside, discarded by the Blessed One —
'The soul & the body are the same,' 'The soul is one thing and the body another,'
Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta

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Re: The Atman of other religions in the Pali suttas

Post by DooDoot » Sat Jan 04, 2020 10:29 pm

cappuccino wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 3:53 pm
"These positions that are undeclared, set aside, discarded by the Blessed One —
'The soul (jīva) & the body (sarīra) are the same,' 'The soul is one thing and the body another,'
Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta
:focus: The topic is "Atman" and not "jīva".
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

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Re: The Atman of other religions in the Pali suttas

Post by cappuccino » Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:24 am

DooDoot wrote: The topic is "Atman" and not "jīva"
you mentioned soul

hence I replied

this is the nature of discussions

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