How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Heavenstorm » Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:22 pm

Its the "duty" of all Buddhists to fight against the "heretics" or "demonic teachings". :tongue:

clw_uk wrote:Im still in debate with a Hindu (follower of non-dualism school) and he keeps asserting that there is Atman/Brahman


I will use the substance argument against him, its the easiest. In my opinion, Atman/Brahman is some inaccurate Vedas' rip off theory from Theravada's distant cousin, Mahayana and its doctrine.

He also keeps quoting this

Verily, there is an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed. If there were not this Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed, escape from the world of the born, the originated, the created, the formed, would not be possible; Ud. VIII, 3.
There is a great clarity here that there is 'AN Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed'. So, it is a clear cut advaita. There are not 'many Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed'.

I have a hard time to get around this one since the pali text describing nibbana is exactly the same as the upanishadic description of Brahman/Atman


Buddhism Dharma have dependent Origination, Vedas don't have. He can say everything he wants about the ultimate reality, we have none of that in buddhism, the description of Nibbana in the suttas are just conventional or some secondary means for us to conceptualize what cannot be described. We certainly don't need them to understand or realize Nibbana, we have the doctrine of Dependent Origination, three marks of existence and the liberating path as taught in the Four Noble Truths.

Did his religious school taught him how our conventional perception of Samara arise from ignorance in the beginning of our birth and end up as a cycle of endless rebirths and deaths? I doubt so, therefore even his form of renunciation, any fanciful words about Nibbana and anatta must be alien to us in the same way like someone trying to compare apple and orange and said that since they are both fruits, they must be similar.

Ridiculous if you ask me.

Ive given the ususal of anatta but as they have "neti-neti" he just agrees with me and still states there is Atman/Brahman. Ive argued that all dhammas and nibbana are without self but he just then says that the word self is just a word and that Atman/Brahman is behind that still just as its behind "I" and consciousness which he agrees are anatta


Anatta is not an ultimate realm and reality but Brahman is. He is already proving himself to be confused without mentioning this essential difference. Anatta is the sword that cut Atman, their so called defined soul theory.

In the abhidharma, our mental consciousness (ignoring the first five), after analysis and dividing, are nothing more than seventeenth moments of thoughts which are also subject to arising and cessation. In the other words, they are conditioned and cannot be a permanent unchanging self like Atman is defined as.

Furthermore, ask him what happens to his consciousness when he attained the state of Brahman. If He said transform or unify, then he is as good as denying the Dharma for there is nothing of sort in the suttas.

His argument is that Nibbana is this Atman/Brahman reality since its permanent and outside of the khandas, thus the Buddha was able to function and teach (since he had realized Atman/Brahman)


Then he know nothing about Buddhism. :jumping: Nibbana is never described in the suttas as a permanent/ultimate/supreme (Pick one) reality like they did to Brahman in the Vedas. If he still insists otherwise, ask him to quote a verse from the suttas that suggest otherwise. And Nibbana is not outside of the five aggregates, what b*llsh*t is he trying to say?
:lol:

Nibbana is the recognization of the non arising of a permanent self in our five khandhas and cessation of all defilements, poisons (Greed and aversion), suffering and delusions.

And Buddha don't realize Brahman, :rofl: He realized three marks of existence (Ask that guy to define them and elaborate on his understanding), dependent origination of all conditioned phenomena and the Four Nobel Truths.

I don't bother to read his long winded argument with you as he just repeat the same, old boring stuffs over and over again without attempting to relate with the Four Noble Truths.

He is obviously playing on your ignorance. Any decent opponents will at least seek to read up on his opponent's school of thought before even trying to debate. Don't waste your time, really.
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby JD32 » Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:01 pm

"In my opinion, Atman/Brahman is some inaccurate Vedas' rip off theory from Theravada's distant cousin, Mahayana and its doctrine."

No, it didn't. It is quoted in the Pali Canon as the view of some sects (probably pre-Upanishadic since it isn't expressed in the Atman/Brahman terminology):

""He assumes about the view-position — 'This cosmos is the self. 8 After death this I will be constant, permanent, eternal, not subject to change. I will stay just like that for an eternity': 'This is me, this is my self, this is what I am.'"

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"In the abhidharma, our mental consciousness (ignoring the first five), after analysis and dividing, are nothing more than seventeenth moments of thoughts which are also subject to arising and cessation. In the other words, they are conditioned and cannot be a permanent unchanging self like Atman is defined as."

Traditional Theravadins are going to hate me for this, but I think they would be better off by jettisoning the Abhidhamma as it is rather illogical and leaves them susceptible to attack from other traditions (You can pretty much destroy the Abhidhamma when armed with Kant's Transcendental Unity of Apperception. Modern scholars have also destroyed the notion that it came from the Buddha).

As I indicated in the previous posts, Ajahn Thanissaro's approach totally destroys the Upanishadic positions. It's too bad that traditional Theravadins hate the guy.
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Abyss » Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:04 pm

clw_uk wrote:He also keeps quoting this

Verily, there is an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed. If there were not this Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed, escape from the world of the born, the originated, the created, the formed, would not be possible; Ud. VIII, 3.
There is a great clarity here that there is 'AN Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed'. So, it is a clear cut advaita. There are not 'many Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed'.


I have a hard time to get around this one since the pali text describing nibbana is exactly the same as the upanishadic description of Brahman/Atman

The abovementioned quote from the Udana cannot be understood correctly if taken by itself. Even a follower of a monotheistic religion like Christianity or Islam will agree with it, since "unborn", "unoriginated, "uncreated" etc. are attributes of their god. We have to look elsewhere in the suttas to understand what is meant. The Asankhata Samyutta tells us:

The destruction, monks, of lust, of hate, of delusion—this, monks, is called (the) non-determined/extinction.


So the "Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed" are synonyms for nibbana, i. e. the destruction of lust, hate and delusion. The verses from the Udana just tell us that nibbana is possible, otherwise there were no escape from suffering. Any other reading is nothing but a mystification of the matter.
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Heavenstorm » Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:38 pm

JD32 wrote:"In my opinion, Atman/Brahman is some inaccurate Vedas' rip off theory from Theravada's distant cousin, Mahayana and its doctrine."

No, it didn't. It is quoted in the Pali Canon as the view of some sects (probably pre-Upanishadic since it isn't expressed in the Atman/Brahman terminology):

""He assumes about the view-position — 'This cosmos is the self. 8 After death this I will be constant, permanent, eternal, not subject to change. I will stay just like that for an eternity': 'This is me, this is my self, this is what I am.'"


I'm referring to modern uptake on Atman/Brahman theory. If you notice carefully, that guy talked about non duality and the way which he related that to Buddhism. The stream of Buddhism that built a whole system on non duality, in my opinion, are some of the more popular Mahayana schools in centuries that came after the third or fourth Buddhist council.


Traditional Theravadins are going to hate me for this, but I think they would be better off by jettisoning the Abhidhamma as it is rather illogical and leaves them susceptible to attack from other traditions (You can pretty much destroy the Abhidhamma when armed with Kant's Transcendental Unity of Apperception. Modern scholars have also destroyed the notion that it came from the Buddha).

As I indicated in the previous posts, Ajahn Thanissaro's approach totally destroys the Upanishadic positions. It's too bad that traditional Theravadins hate the guy.


No one is going to hate you for that. I, on the other hand, just find your objection of abhidhamma misplaced or unrelated to the current topics at hand.

Susceptible to attacks from other traditions? LOL Some of their objections aren't new . (See the points of controversy)

And many people have different opinions on where Abhidhamma came from, there is a giant thread somewhere here that has been written heavily on that topic. See that if you want, then you will see how much the modern scholars' opinions really matters. :focus:
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby JD32 » Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:50 pm

"I, on the other hand, just find your objection of abhidhamma misplaced or unrelated to the current topics at hand."

It is certainly interesting and I wouldn't advocate that we throw all of it away. I just don't find the bundle theory (similar to Hume's views) that it advocates to be that convincing. We can throw out language such as soul, self, atman, etc., but I think Kant is ultimately right: there is some undefinable "something" outside of space-time that provides the condition for the unification of the "mind" and its functions in space-time:

"In conjunction with his analysis of the possibility of knowing empirical objects, Kant gives an analysis of the knowing subject that has sometimes been called his transcendental psychology. Much of Kant's argument can be seen as subjective, not because of variations from mind to mind, but because the source of necessity and universality is in the mind of the knowing subject, not in objects themselves. Kant draws several conclusions about what is necessarily true of any consciousness that employs the faculties of sensibility and understanding to produce empirical judgments. As we have seen, a mind that employs concepts must have a receptive faculty that provides the content of judgments. Space and time are the necessary forms of apprehension for the receptive faculty. The mind that has experience must also have a faculty of combination or synthesis, the imagination for Kant, that apprehends the data of sense, reproduces it for the understanding, and recognizes their features according to the conceptual framework provided by the categories. The mind must also have a faculty of understanding that provides empirical concepts and the categories for judgment. The various faculties that make judgment possible must be unified into one mind. And it must be identical over time if it is going to apply its concepts to objects over time. Kant here addresses Hume's famous assertion that introspection reveals nothing more than a bundle of sensations that we group together and call the self. Judgments would not be possible, Kant maintains, if the mind that senses is not the same as the mind that possesses the forms of sensibility. And that mind must be the same as the mind that employs the table of categories, that contributes empirical concepts to judgment, and that synthesizes the whole into knowledge of a unified, empirical world. So the fact that we can empirically judge proves, contra Hume, that the mind cannot be a mere bundle of disparate introspected sensations."

http://www.london-oratory.org/philosoph ... ental.html
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:52 pm

Heavenstorm wrote:
He also keeps quoting this

Verily, there is an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed. If there were not this Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed, escape from the world of the born, the originated, the created, the formed, would not be possible; Ud. VIII, 3.
There is a great clarity here that there is 'AN Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed'. So, it is a clear cut advaita. There are not 'many Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed'.
Since I do not have a lot of time at the moment, I'll quote something I wrote awhile ago, but have not gotten around to cleaning it up and formatting it.
The Udana 80 is a highly misunderstood text and a favorite of those who want find a god notion or some sort of metaphysical thingie in the early Buddhist texts. It just isn't there if we look at the context and grammatical structure of the text.

Udana 80:There is, O monks, an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed. Were there not, O monks, this Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed, there would be no escape from the world of the born, originated, created, formed. Since, O monks, there is an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed, therefore there is an escape from the born, originated, created, formed.'


For those who want to find some sort of god notion or metaphysical essence in the Buddha's teaching, this passage is always quoted but never is a careful exegetical analysis of it done to show that this mysterious concatenation of words is referring to some sort of god. It is most often simply quoted as if the words "an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed" all by themselves will mysteriously support the god contention. But never is the question asked of what do these "un" words mean in the contexts of how they are used.

The introduction to the whole of the Udana 80 passage clearly states that it is a discourse about nibbana/nirvana, not some sort of "Absolute," ground of being, godhead, or simply a god.

Both the words and the structure of this passage are important to fully understand what this passage is saying. We can start by looking at what is the most important of these words: "unformed," _asankhata_.

The word _asankhata_, "unformed/unconditioned," is of central importance, and its significance in the Buddhist texts is very easily seen. Sankhata means conditioned, compounded or formed--that is, it is that which is 'put-together,'and in a technical sense it is that which is put together by greed, aversion and delusion. In the Samyutta Nikaya III 87 we find: "Why does one say 'conditions' [_sanhkara_: the volitional conditions of greed, hatred and delusion]? Because they condition the conditioned [_sankhata_]." The _a_ in Pali, as in asankhata, is a privative and functions something like a minus sign (-), and its translation is dependent upon its context.

In S.N. IV 359 and S.N. 362 we find: "That which is the destruction of greed, hatred and delusion is _asankhata_." That is to say, it is the freedom from the conditioning, being without the conditions, of those three unwholesome factors. As an awake individual I am no longer conditioned -- I am unconditioned, asankhata --, by the volitional conditions of greed, hatred, and delusion. It is hard to find a more straightforward definition.

In the S.N. IV 251 and IV 321 we find: "That which is the destruction of greed, hatred and delusion is nibbana." Clearly nibbana/nirvana and asankhata are equivalent terms.

The "un" words are in Pali _ajatam_, _abhutam_, _akatam_, _asankhatam_. In the Pali texts when there is a list of words such as we have here, ajatam, abhutam, etc, they can be understood as synonyms. As we have already noted, each of these words starts with an _a_, which is a privative. The privative _a_ in Sanskrit/Pali is very much like the English privative _a_, for example, asexual reproduction -- that is, reproduction without sex. The privative _a_ in Sanskrit/Pali needs not be, as unfortunately it so often is, limited to being translated as "un," "not," or "non." Asankhata: unformed, or better: unconditioned, can be translated as free from conditions, without conditions, not conditioned, conditionlessness.

As we have seen, the word _asankhata_, a synonym for nirvana, tells us that one is no longer conditioned by hatred, greed, and ignorance. Each of the "a" terms, the "un" terms, of this passage, the Udana 80, are used in these forms or in variations to indicate nirvana.

Let me give you two further examples. The first is from the Majjhima Nikaya I 173 where _ajata_ is defined by nirvana/nibbana:
"Then the group of five monks, being thus exhorted, thus instructed by me [the Buddha], being liable to birth because of self, having known the perils in what is liable to birth, seeking freedom from birth [ajata, the unborn], the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana -- won freedom from birth [ajata], the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana...."


_Ajata_, unborn, freedom from birth is clearly defined as nibbana/nirvana.

"Knowing [natva] the destruction [khayam] of the formations [sankhara], you will know freedom from the made [akata, the uncreated; but better translated as _made_ rather than _created_]." Dhp 383.

The first sentence in our Udana 80 "un" passage reads in Pali: "Atthi [There is] ajatam [unborn], abhutam [unproduced], akatam, [unmade], asankhatam [unconditioned]." It is important to note that ajatam, abhutam, etc are adjectives, not nouns. The noun is implied. So we can ask, There is _what_? What is the implied noun? Since the early texts show that the Buddha did not indulge in a metaphysics of being, but rather was concerned with an "ontology" of becoming in terms of experiential states, it seems hardly likely that some sort of transcendent, metaphysical "entity" or "reality" are the concepts implied here. To assume that the Udana 80 text is referring to a metaphysical entity is to put this text outside of what the immediate and broader contexts show.

As to the question, "There is what," a word meaning "state" or "characteristic" rather than "entity" seems more likely and this is borne out by the Buddha in the Itivuttaka 39:

"Whoever, by knowing this state/this characteristic [padam] that is _not conditioned_ [(asankhatam) by greed, hatred, and delusion], their minds released by the extinction of becoming's conduit -- They, delighting in extinction [of hatred, greed, and ignorance],
reach the pith of mental states. Those who are 'such' get rid of all becomings."


_padam_ is literally 'step,' and has, according to the Pali Text Society's dictionary modal meanings of 'state' and 'characteristic.' It is a word that signifies transition. It also can be rendered as: 'way,' 'path,' 'position,' 'standpoint,' 'place,' 'abode,' and 'home.'

_Ye etad-an~n~aaya padam(ng) asankhatam(ng)...._

could be translated as:

"By knowing this unconditioned state/characteristic..."

or

"By knowing the state/characteristic that is without conditions [of
hatred, greed, and ignorance]...."


or

"By knowing this way/path/position/standpoint/place/abode/home that is
free of conditions...."


Let us not forget, unconditioned, asankhata, is a synonym for nirvana, which is to say: By knowing this place, this state, of the destruction of greed, hatred, and delusion, their minds released.... "The extinction of becoming's conduit" is another expression for nibbana/nirvana.

But we can approach the question of the implied even more simply. The opening sentences of the Udana 80 identify the discourse as being about nibbana/nirvana, and as we have seen the "un" terms are synonyms for nibbana. So, the question "there is what?" can be easily be answered by nibbana. "There is nibbana, free from birth, free from becoming, free from making, free from conditioning...."

The Itivuttaka, 37-8, contains the above quoted section of Udana 80, and most importantly the Buddha offers a verse auto-commentary to this passage.
This said by the Blessed One, the Worthy One, was heard by me in this way: "Monks, there is freedom from birth, freedom from becoming, freedom from making, freedom from conditioning. For, monks if there were not this freedom from birth, freedom from becoming, freedom from making, freedom from conditioning, then escape from that which is birth, becoming, making, conditioning, would not be known here. But, monks, because there is freedom from birth, freedom from becoming, freedom from making, freedom from conditioning, therefore the escape from that which is birth, becoming, making, conditioning is known."

[Here the Buddha, The Blessed One, offers his own verse commentary on the above statement.]

This meaning the Blessed One spoke, it is spoken here in this way:

That which is born, become, arisen, made, conditioned,
And thus unstable, put together of decay and death,
The seat of disease, brittle,
Caused and craving food,
That is not fit to find pleasure in.

Being freed of this, calmed beyond conjecture, stable,
Freed from birth, freed from arising, freed from sorrow,
Freed from passions, the elements of suffering stopped,
The conditioning [of greed, hatred and delusion] appeased,
This is ease [bliss].


===

Or this could be translated as:

"There is (a state, a standpoint) without birth, without becoming, without making and without compounding..."

Or

"There is nibbana, free from birth, free from becoming, free from making, free from conditioning."

Translating _ajata_, etc, by "freedom from birth," etc. supplies the implied noun via the privative _a_ as in _a_sankhata.

We do not see in the Buddha's own commentary any reference to a god or some sort of essence, but we do see that "being freed of this" is a state of ease -- the "appeasement of conditions (sankharupasamo)," a variation of _asankhata_, nirvana -- is reached. If the Buddha had wanted to teach a god, he would not have been so oblique in his references to a god as those who want to find a god or an essence end up making him, and the Buddha certainly would not have passed up this opportunity to clarify the "un" passage in terms of a god or an essence if that is what he saw as reality.
And here are two more msg posted on the Gray Forum covering much the same material:
Could please explain the grammar breakdown and why "freedom from" is the most appropriate translation?


I believe I did in one or both of the threads I listed above, but I will pull bits and pieces from those threads and cobble them together here.

In Pali the Udana 80 line in question reads:

"Atthi [There is] ajaata.m [unborn], abhuuta.m [unproduced], akata.m, [unmade], asankhata.m [unconditioned]."

What the most common way this line is translated fails to get across is that the four “un/not” words are in Pali adjectives. The noun is unstated. There is what? There is what that is ajaata.m, etc? The common translation turns these adjectives into nouns -- "the unborn," "the unconditioned."

As mysterious as Udana 80 sounds, context gives a look at what the text is about. The immediate context, the sutta opens:

Thus have I heard. At one time the Lord was staying near Savatthi in the Jeta Wood at Anathapindika's monastery. On that occasion the Lord was instructing, rousing, inspiring, and gladdening the bhikkhus with a Dhamma talk connected with Nibbana, and those bhikkhus, being receptive and attentive and concentrating the whole mind, were intent on listening to Dhamma. Then, on realizing its significance, the Lord uttered on that occasion this inspired utterance: There is, bhikkhus, ajaata....

What we see right off the top is that the subject is nibbana. There is what? Nibbana. The four adjective modify, describe nibbana. So in the forms we have them above or in variations these four words are used to describe or characterize nibbana or are synonyms of nibbana.

The most straightforward definition the Buddha gives of Nibbana is:

That which is the destruction of greed, hatred and delusion is nibbana. -- S.N. IV 251 and IV 321

And we see:

That which is the destruction of greed, hatred and delusion is asankhata. -- S.N. IV 359 and S.N. 362

Clearly nibbana and asankhata are equivalent terms, synonyms. Nibbana is asankhata, “unconditioned,” because there is no further conditioning - sankhata - by hatred, greed and ignorance. The prefix "a" in asankhata is just like the English (Latin/Greek) prefix a as in, for example, asexual, without sexual characteristics, free of sexual characteristics. (And before a vowel, just as in English the Pali/Sanskrit privative a becomes an as in anatta/anatama.)

The privative a in Sanskrit/Pali needs not be, as unfortunately it so often is, limited to being translated as "un," "not," or "non." Asankhata, unconditioned, can be translated as free from conditions (of hatred, greed, and ignorance), without conditions, or, conditionlessness.

One of things that is often said is that nibbana is "the Unborn." Let us look at that usage where ajaata and nibbana are clearly synonytms:

Then the group of five monks, being thus exhorted, thus instructed by me [the Buddha], being liable to birth because of self, having known the perils in what is liable to birth, seeking the unborn [jaata.m], the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana -- won the unborn, the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana...." -- from the PTS translation of the Majjhima Nikaya I 173

What is the "unborn?" What does it mean? Try this:

”Then the group of five monks, being thus exhorted, thus instructed by me [the Buddha], being liable to birth because of self, having known the perils in what is liable to birth, seeking freedom from birth, the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana -- won freedom from birth, the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana...."

There is no philological reason that the four words in question must be translated as we generally see them translated: unborn, unconditioned, etc.

As was said above the line in Udana is a sentence without a noun but with a string of adjectives, which are essentially synonyms, or at least words with significant over lapping meanings that clearly define nibbana.

We might translate the "un" line so:

"There is [nibbana], free from birth, free from becoming, free from making, free from conditioning."

Translating ajaata.m etc, by "freedom from birth," etc. supplies the
implied noun via the privative a as in asankhata.

We do not see in the Buddha's own commentary any reference to a Nibbana that has "never been born… has always been”, but we do see that "being freed of this" is a state of ease -- the "the conditions appeased (sankharupasamo)," a variation of asankhata, nibbana -- is reached. If the Buddha had wanted to teach a deathless, unborn “it,” we would have seen a very different sort of expression of the Dhamma.

That which is born, become, arisen, made, conditioned,
And thus unstable, put together of decay and death,
The seat of disease, brittle,
Caused and craving food,
That is not fit to find pleasure in.

Being freed of this, calmed beyond conjecture, stable,
Freed from birth, freed from arising, freed from sorrow,
Freed from passions, the elements of suffering stopped,
The conditioning
[of greed, hatred and delusion]appeased,
This is ease
[bliss].

So, I hope that explains it to some degree. There are more textrual references and detailed diwscussion to support my contention in this thread:

Now you are seen, Builder of the House. You will not build this house again. All your rafters are broken, your ridge-pole destroyed; the mind goes free from the compound; it experiences craving’s destruction.

or the mind goes free from constructing; it experiences craving’s destruction; or the mind goes free from putting together. Dhp 154
The problem I have with this rendition is that it makes of the sutta an utter tautology, thus eradicating any didactic function we should problably assume it was supposed to have served. In other words, a tautology doesn't tell us anything.


Well, someone actually resurrected this old thread, and to complain about the translation I offered. Given the context, I might tend to look at it as a compliment.

Is it a tautology? ”All women are females.” ”All causes have effects.” Tautologies do not necessarily not give us important information. No more, no less than would the standard translation, given that the four “un” words in question are all defining words for nibbana. The translation I offered here at least is consistent with the grammar and broader contexts of the words and concepts in question.

"Monks, there is freedom from birth [ajaata.m], freedom from becoming [abhuuta.m], freedom from making [akata.m], freedom from conditioning [asankhata.m]. For, monks if there were not this freedom from birth, freedom from becoming, freedom from making, freedom from conditioning, then escape from that which is birth, becoming, making, conditioning, would not be known here Udana 80/Iti 37-8

The structure of this line in Pali is:

"Atthi [There is] ajaata.m [unborn], abhuuta.m [unproduced], akata.m, [unmade] asankhata.m [unconditioned]."

As I pointed out above in discussing this above is that the four “un” words are adjectives; the noun is implied. One could easily ask of this line: There is what? And given the stated context of nibbana, this line could as easily read: There is nibbana….

The usual translation, There is an unborn...., turns the adjectives into nouns; whereas, these adjectives describe facets of nibbana. All four of the adjectives without the privative a -- jaata.m [born], bhuuta.m [produced], kata.m, [made], sankhata.m [conditioned] – have to do with putting together:

Knowing the destruction of the formations [sankhara],
you will know freedom from the made
[akata]. -- Dhp 383

Of that which is born[/b] [jaata.m], come into being [bhuuta.m],
compounded [sa.nkhata.m], and subject to decay, how can one say:
'May it not come to dissolution!'?"
DN ii 144 Walshe

Why is that? Because he has known that delight is the root of
suffering & stress, that from coming-into-being there is birth[/b]
[jaati], and that for what has come into being [bhuutassa]
there is aging & death.
-- MN i 6 Ven. Bodhi

The goal, of course, is to be free of this “putting together.” Also, let us not forget that each of the “un” words” are used in the suttas as in the above forms or in variations to refer to or define nibbana.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby JD32 » Sat Jan 23, 2010 4:26 pm

Tiltbillings,

As John Dewey pointed out, I think process metaphysics is just as susceptible to criticism as substance metaphysics and doesn't really address the problems:

"Not only the Parmenidean but also the Heraclitean branch of Greek philosophy falls to Dewey's criticisms. Even philosophers who emphasized the ever-changing condition of the world tended to "deify" change itself and turn it into an absolute category. (45)"

http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Amer/AmerLown.htm
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Heavenstorm » Sat Jan 23, 2010 6:30 pm

JD32 wrote:It is certainly interesting and I wouldn't advocate that we throw all of it away. I just don't find the bundle theory (similar to Hume's views) that it advocates to be that convincing. We can throw out language such as soul, self, atman, etc., but I think Kant is ultimately right: there is some undefinable "something" outside of space-time that provides the condition for the unification of the "mind" and its functions in space-time:


One thing that people failed to understand about the thought process in Abhidhamma is that it is never intended to be philosophical or psychological theory behind the workings of our mind. It is meant to be a form of investigation into the underlying reality of our five aggregates or a search for the mysterious and non existing ego. In the other hand, it is meant to be a support for the vipassana mediation. In this case, the thought moment also have something to do with three moments of time (past, present and future), a subject of debate or discussion in the Kathavatthu.

Basically, our consciousness or citta aggregate is dividing into parts again and again until it reduces to the fundamental present thought moment which is then seen as conditioned, impermanent, transitory and lacking in self. This is a common method used in insight analysis of our consciousness khandha. The original purpose/intention behind the abhidhammic reasoning of the thought process.

Unfortunately, many scholars and philosophers are more interested in the secondary unimportant psychological aspect of thought process which is then used to explain the mechanisms of our mental impressions collected from previous mindstreams. Frankly speaking, I'm not overly concerned by that aspect because after all and while interesting, it doesn't lead us to liberation.
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Sanghamitta » Sat Jan 23, 2010 6:57 pm

Just call me Mrs Simple Minded (again ) but going back to the OP I cant see why anyone gives a fig what a Vedantist ot Hindu thinks about Atman.
Rastafarians think that Haillie Sallassie was God. Should I worry about that ? Why not just let people get on with what gives them comfort on a dark night. Buddhadhamma doesnt need defending.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby JD32 » Sat Jan 23, 2010 8:48 pm

"One thing that people failed to understand about the thought process in Abhidhamma is that it is never intended to be philosophical or psychological theory behind the workings of our mind. It is meant to be a form of investigation into the underlying reality of our five aggregates or a search for the mysterious and non existing ego. In the other hand, it is meant to be a support for the vipassana mediation."

Sorry, I don't think you can have one without the other. Your philosophic starting point is ultimately going to guide you in framing appropriate questions and where you think the practice will end. You can see this in the huge divide between the Thai Forest Tradition and other Theravada traditions such as the Burmese.
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Jan 24, 2010 2:15 am

clw_uk wrote:Greetings


Im still in debate with a Hindu (follower of non-dualism school) and he keeps asserting that there is Atman/Brahman


Ive given the ususal of anatta but as they have "neti-neti" he just agrees with me and still states there is Atman/Brahman. Ive argued that all dhammas and nibbana are without self but he just then says that the word self is just a word and that Atman/Brahman is behind that still just as its behind "I" and consciousness which he agrees are anatta


His argument is that Nibbana is this Atman/Brahman reality since its permanent and outside of the khandas, thus the Buddha was able to function and teach (since he had realized Atman/Brahman)

Here are some of his points



Atman/Brahman is not a thingie. Atman is not atta, which refers to individual souls, which is called ego (ahamkara) in Vedanta parlance. Ahamkara is VOID and ignorance.

I repeat that Atman is not atta.


Verily, there is an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed. If there were not this Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed, escape from the world of the born, the originated, the created, the formed, would not be possible; Ud. VIII, 3.
and
Ud 1.3 PTS: Ud 2
Bodhi Sutta: Awakening (3)

When this is, that is. From the arising of this comes the arising of that. When this isn't, that isn't. From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.-----
Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:
As phenomena grow clear to the brahman — ardent, absorbed — he stands, routing the troops of Mara, like the sun that illumines the sky

The above two passages clearly show that there is Verily, an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed. You may call this by any name, it does not matter

This is plain copy of Upanishads and this much alone is my point. Atman in Veda/Vedanta parlance is Aja (unborn), unoriginated, unformed, indivisible, has no inner or outer cognition, cannot be said to have no cognition, is free of action, is unchangeable.
As a follower of Veda, I agree fully:

Verily, there is an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed. If there were not this Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed, escape from the world of the born, the originated, the created, the formed, would not be possible.

There is no need for further discussion.


Buddha was not a Brahmana, and neither he believed in self. It does not refer to a person of Brahman caste. It refers to an enlightened, who cannot be different from Brahman -- the unlimited Pragnya.

The writer paints the whole of Vedanta with one brush. The definition of 'Atman'-'atta' as the unchangeable eternal individual soul, is only held by dualists and not by non-dualists and also to some extent by qualified monists.

The whole contrast is pointless. It dis-regards that Vedanta has shruti that Atman is "NOT TWO". It is similar to the arguments between advaitins and dvaitins, who dis regard the clear cut abheda shruti by contrasting them with non-abheda mantras and other empirical teachings of Veda/Upanishad.

It does not take great intelligence to aver that one who holds to the unchangeable eternal individual soul, does not even aspire for a moksha proper. Such a devotee's mukti is bhakti/worship in eternal dual mode.

Upanishad says "Atman is fearless". On the other hand, it also says "One who sees a second is not free of fear" and "One who sees any difference here goes from death to death", we believe that "Atman" is indivisible "Not Two". We also believe that dualistic belief (even if vedantic) does not result in freedom from fear and death.

So, where is the validity of the contrast?

I can show that Atman is indeed "Not Two" as per Upanishads. It also is 'not a being and neither a non being'. So, starting with a premise of 'attas' which refers to 'many beings' in the Pali context, the whole issue is confused.


The simple thing to remember is:
Verily, there is an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed. If there were not this Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed, escape from the world of the born, the originated, the created, the formed, would not be possible; Ud. VIII, 3.
There is a great clarity here that there is 'AN Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed'. So, it is a clear cut advaita. There are not 'many Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed'.


An enlightened having escaped from the world of born, the originated, the created, the formed cannot yet make a second Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed' . Monism is the only truth for the enlightened and thus Guru Tattva is also non-dual.



He also keeps quoting this

Verily, there is an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed. If there were not this Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed, escape from the world of the born, the originated, the created, the formed, would not be possible; Ud. VIII, 3.
There is a great clarity here that there is 'AN Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed'. So, it is a clear cut advaita. There are not 'many Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed'.


I have a hard time to get around this one since the pali text describing nibbana is exactly the same as the upanishadic description of Brahman/Atman


Any ideas? Ive made some points with him but these few above prove difficult (also i thought it would be interesting topic of discussion :jumping:)


metta


This is the problem that can occur when people take that particular definition of nibbana from the Udana, which is quite reified in many ways, over other definitions in other texts, which are not.

You can easily use the classic and recognized form of Buddhist hermeneutics of distinguishing between suttas of neyyattha and nitattha type, declare that Udana statement as the former, and cite in it's place statements from the Samyutta Nikaya that state that nibbana is the cessation of defilements.

To further this, one can indicate that the Udana, as part of the KN, should not be taken as nitattha over statements in the SN. So, the decision of one over the other, is not just arbitrary, either.

Now, given most Theravadins inclinations to always include nibbana as a real ultimate Dhamma, they'll probably disagree. But we don't always have to follow Abhidhamma dhammavada and its taxonomies.

Abhidhamma dhammavada theory works great for it's time, but Advaita is later, and thus more sophisticated. Advaita knows many Buddhist ideas, but if we use pre-Advaita Buddhist material, we'll always be on the back foot. A little Sautrantika, more nuanced in approach, is the way to deal with these people.
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby christopher::: » Sun Jan 24, 2010 2:29 am

Sanghamitta wrote:Just call me Mrs Simple Minded (again ) but going back to the OP I cant see why anyone gives a fig what a Vedantist ot Hindu thinks about Atman.
Rastafarians think that Haillie Sallassie was God. Should I worry about that ? Why not just let people get on with what gives them comfort on a dark night. Buddhadhamma doesnt need defending.


Thank you, Sanghamitta.

The dhamma needs practicing, not defending, in situations like this.

Tolerance and Diversity; by Bhikkhu Bodhi

excerpt:

"Buddhist tolerance springs from the recognition that the dispositions and spiritual needs of human beings are too vastly diverse to be encompassed by any single teaching, and thus that these needs will naturally find expression in a wide variety of religious forms. The non-Buddhist systems will not be able to lead their adherents to the final goal of the Buddha's Dhamma, but that they never proposed to do in the first place. For Buddhism, acceptance of the idea of the beginningless round of rebirths implies that it would be utterly unrealistic to expect more than a small number of people to be drawn toward a spiritual path aimed at complete liberation. The overwhelming majority, even of those who seek deliverance from earthly woes, will aim at securing a favorable mode of existence within the round, even while misconceiving this to be the ultimate goal of the religious quest.

To the extent that a religion proposes sound ethical principles and can promote to some degree the development of wholesome qualities such as love, generosity, detachment and compassion, it will merit in this respect the approbation of Buddhists. These principles advocated by outside religious systems will also conduce to rebirth in the realms of bliss — the heavens and the divine abodes. Buddhism by no means claims to have unique access to these realms, but holds that the paths that lead to them have been articulated, with varying degrees of clarity, in many of the great spiritual traditions of humanity. While the Buddhist will disagree with the belief structures of other religions to the extent that they deviate from the Buddha's Dhamma, he will respect them to the extent that they enjoin virtues and standards of conduct that promote spiritual development and the harmonious integration of human beings with each other and with the world."


:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Jan 24, 2010 2:37 am

christopher::: wrote:
The dhamma needs practicing, not defending, in situations like this.



It is not so much a case of "defending", but a case of correctly explaining what the Bhagavan taught.
If we do not do this, and fail to maintain the teachings in the face of wrong views, even correct understanding of the Dhamma will soon be lost.
Then, what shall we even practice?
Separating understanding of right view from "practice" fails to notice that understanding right view is part of the practice.
"This the the truth of the path, it is to be practiced" (Dhammacakka sutta).
That understanding come from hearing teachings about right view, and discussing it with others. This also includes seeing the differences between right view and wrong view. So, I think that the OPs question is a good one.
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jan 24, 2010 3:09 am

JD32 wrote:Tiltbillings,

As John Dewey pointed out, I think process metaphysics is just as susceptible to criticism as substance metaphysics and doesn't really address the problems:

"Not only the Parmenidean but also the Heraclitean branch of Greek philosophy falls to Dewey's criticisms. Even philosophers who emphasized the ever-changing condition of the world tended to "deify" change itself and turn it into an absolute category. (45)"

http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Amer/AmerLown.htm

And your point is?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:55 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
christopher::: wrote:
The dhamma needs practicing, not defending, in situations like this.



It is not so much a case of "defending", but a case of correctly explaining what the Bhagavan taught.
If we do not do this, and fail to maintain the teachings in the face of wrong views, even correct understanding of the Dhamma will soon be lost.
Then, what shall we even practice?
Separating understanding of right view from "practice" fails to notice that understanding right view is part of the practice.
"This the the truth of the path, it is to be practiced" (Dhammacakka sutta).
That understanding come from hearing teachings about right view, and discussing it with others. This also includes seeing the differences between right view and wrong view. So, I think that the OPs question is a good one.
One of the better posting here in a long time. (It will likely be ignored.)
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:07 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:
christopher::: wrote:
The dhamma needs practicing, not defending, in situations like this.



It is not so much a case of "defending", but a case of correctly explaining what the Bhagavan taught.
If we do not do this, and fail to maintain the teachings in the face of wrong views, even correct understanding of the Dhamma will soon be lost.
Then, what shall we even practice?
Separating understanding of right view from "practice" fails to notice that understanding right view is part of the practice.
"This the the truth of the path, it is to be practiced" (Dhammacakka sutta).
That understanding come from hearing teachings about right view, and discussing it with others. This also includes seeing the differences between right view and wrong view. So, I think that the OPs question is a good one.
One of the better posting here in a long time. (It will likely be ignored.)


:anjali:
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Sanghamitta » Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:36 am

Absolutely correct when it comes to our views. Or in discussions with other Buddhists. However the OP is about a Hindu's understanding of Atman, which is an aspect of his own religion. I dont think that is a Buddhists business.
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Sanghamitta » Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:41 am

christopher::: wrote:
Sanghamitta wrote:Just call me Mrs Simple Minded (again ) but going back to the OP I cant see why anyone gives a fig what a Vedantist ot Hindu thinks about Atman.
Rastafarians think that Haillie Sallassie was God. Should I worry about that ? Why not just let people get on with what gives them comfort on a dark night. Buddhadhamma doesnt need defending.


Thank you, Sanghamitta.

The dhamma needs practicing, not defending, in situations like this.

Tolerance and Diversity; by Bhikkhu Bodhi

excerpt:

"Buddhist tolerance springs from the recognition that the dispositions and spiritual needs of human beings are too vastly diverse to be encompassed by any single teaching, and thus that these needs will naturally find expression in a wide variety of religious forms. The non-Buddhist systems will not be able to lead their adherents to the final goal of the Buddha's Dhamma, but that they never proposed to do in the first place. For Buddhism, acceptance of the idea of the beginningless round of rebirths implies that it would be utterly unrealistic to expect more than a small number of people to be drawn toward a spiritual path aimed at complete liberation. The overwhelming majority, even of those who seek deliverance from earthly woes, will aim at securing a favorable mode of existence within the round, even while misconceiving this to be the ultimate goal of the religious quest.

To the extent that a religion proposes sound ethical principles and can promote to some degree the development of wholesome qualities such as love, generosity, detachment and compassion, it will merit in this respect the approbation of Buddhists. These principles advocated by outside religious systems will also conduce to rebirth in the realms of bliss — the heavens and the divine abodes. Buddhism by no means claims to have unique access to these realms, but holds that the paths that lead to them have been articulated, with varying degrees of clarity, in many of the great spiritual traditions of humanity. While the Buddhist will disagree with the belief structures of other religions to the extent that they deviate from the Buddha's Dhamma, he will respect them to the extent that they enjoin virtues and standards of conduct that promote spiritual development and the harmonious integration of human beings with each other and with the world."


:anjali:

That isnt exactly the point I was trying to make Christopher. A) We can only practice properly when we have some understanding of the underlying basis of the teaching, and B) Not all religious views are equal. The point I was making is that we should understand and practice our own Dhamma, life is too short to correct wrong views when held by practitioners of others religions. lets concentrate on our own Views and see if they are Right.
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:13 am

Sanghamitta wrote:Absolutely correct when it comes to our views. Or in discussions with other Buddhists. However the OP is about a Hindu's understanding of Atman, which is an aspect of his own religion. I dont think that is a Buddhists business.
It is not entirely clear what the OP is doing, but if the Hindu is claiming, by virtue of the Pali texts, that the Buddha taught atman and brahman, that is worth challenging, but it is hardly a life or death issue.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: How to deny Atman - Help defending Buddhadhamma

Postby Heavenstorm » Sun Jan 24, 2010 2:30 pm

JD32 wrote:Sorry, I don't think you can have one without the other. Your philosophic starting point is ultimately going to guide you in framing appropriate questions and where you think the practice will end. You can see this in the huge divide between the Thai Forest Tradition and other Theravada traditions such as the Burmese.


Both traditions produced Arahants, different journey, same destination. (Those who believe otherwise, are entitled to other own opinions) The difference between the mind theories of two traditions is not that strong to the extent of reaching "wrong view" and affecting the results of the vipassana meditation. One should not waste too much time on them.

The dhamma needs practicing, not defending, in situations like this.


The Brahman in hindu Vedas and Upanishads read a lot like the Tao in Taoism and in certain parts, they are quite similar to the Brahma viharas (Four boundless states) teachings in Buddhism which is all to the similarity. The former two can lead beings to form and even formless Jhanas but that is all. They will be still trapped in Samara. No serious Buddhists will love to see that happen to anyone.
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