Non-duality AND Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Non-duality

Postby floating_abu » Mon Apr 27, 2009 5:05 am

pink_trike wrote:I'm curious if you were actually there during the "happy go lucky" sixties? If so, you must have missed the great awakening of wisdom that took place. :anjali:


pink: Apologies, I meant no offence to the age of the sixties. Best wishes.

:namaste:
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Re: Non-duality

Postby pink_trike » Mon Apr 27, 2009 5:22 am

Hi floating_abu,

We're pretty much in agreement. But at the same time....I know that some folks likely adopt a construct first re: the things that Christopher mentioned, and then perhaps grow into it with practice (not very different from adopting a "view" and then growing into it with practice in Buddhism). Some likely worked very hard to clearly recognize the things that Christopher points at - using different awareness methods and life experiences, rather than the view/techniques found in Buddhism. I don't know if you are, but to value one way of entering the path more than the other strikes me as religious chauvinism. It can be argued that their view is incomplete or perhaps clumsy from a Buddhist perspective - but both paths are leading in the same direction, imo and pre-Buddhist experience - I don't underestimate the potential of these paths, not being attached to the construct that Buddhism is the _only_ true and effective method for waking up. There are many Dharma paths - many of which fall outside of "Buddhism".

metta
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Non-duality

Postby pink_trike » Mon Apr 27, 2009 5:23 am

floating_abu wrote:
pink_trike wrote:I'm curious if you were actually there during the "happy go lucky" sixties? If so, you must have missed the great awakening of wisdom that took place. :anjali:


pink: Apologies, I meant no offence to the age of the sixties. Best wishes.

:namaste:

No offense taken, I was just curious if you were there. Lots of people have an idea what the 60s were like these days without having been anywhere near them. :rofl:
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Non-duality

Postby christopher::: » Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:16 am

Thanks for the "supportive" comments, pink trike, and thank you also floating abu for your eloquent "challenges." You make many excellent points, abu, which we need to be mindful of, as dharma practitioners. But how do you bring aspects of the dhamma into your livelihood, into your workplace?

It's not the easiest thing to do, for many of us.

I cannot speak of the Buddha's teachings in a Japanese Christian University classroom where I am asked to teach about American literature, language and culture. Hopefully I am providing some small service by helping my students reflect on the role of logic and thought patterns in literature, movies, history and politics. This is something the Buddha did talk about. It's not everything, but it was something he emphasized, something that many people are not conscious of...

Helping a few dozen students become more conscious of this each year adds meaning to the work I do, and will hopefully be helpful to them. But these are just seeds, small seeds..

Choices

"We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable.

"Look how he abused me and hurt me,
How he threw me down and robbed me."
Live with such thoughts and you live in hate.

"Look how he abused me and hurt me,
How he threw me down and robbed me."
Abandon such thoughts, and live in love.

In this world
Hate never yet dispelled hate.
Only love dispels hate.
This is the law,
Ancient and inexhaustible."

~Buddha, Dhammapada
Byron translation


:heart:
"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: Non-duality

Postby floating_abu » Mon Apr 27, 2009 9:51 am

pink_trike wrote:I don't know if you are, but to value one way of entering the path more than the other strikes me as religious chauvinism. It can be argued that their view is incomplete or perhaps clumsy from a Buddhist perspective - but both paths are leading in the same direction, imo and pre-Buddhist experience - I don't underestimate the potential of these paths, not being attached to the construct that Buddhism is the _only_ true and effective method for waking up. There are many Dharma paths - many of which fall outside of "Buddhism".

metta


No I wasn't but I was suggesting not to get stuck anywhere, something which a seasoned teacher can help students with perhaps in real life.

Thanks for your points above pink_trike, I don't know what is in store for each person, but I know that Buddhism is all encompassing. I appreciate your company - thankyou. :namaste:
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Re: Non-duality

Postby floating_abu » Mon Apr 27, 2009 9:52 am

pink_trike wrote:
floating_abu wrote:
pink_trike wrote:I'm curious if you were actually there during the "happy go lucky" sixties? If so, you must have missed the great awakening of wisdom that took place. :anjali:


pink: Apologies, I meant no offence to the age of the sixties. Best wishes.

:namaste:

No offense taken, I was just curious if you were there. Lots of people have an idea what the 60s were like these days without having been anywhere near them. :rofl:


Forrest Gump comes to mind :tongue:
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Re: Non-duality

Postby floating_abu » Mon Apr 27, 2009 9:53 am

christopher::: wrote:It's not the easiest thing to do, for many of us.

I cannot speak of the Buddha's teachings in a Japanese Christian University classroom where I am asked to teach about American literature, language and culture. Hopefully I am providing some small service by helping my students reflect on the role of logic and thought patterns in literature, movies, history and politics. This is something the Buddha did talk about. It's not everything, but it was something he emphasized, something that many people are not conscious of...

Helping a few dozen students become more conscious of this each year adds meaning to the work I do, and will hopefully be helpful to them. But these are just seeds, small seeds..


:smile: :namaste:
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Re: Non-duality

Postby Dharmajim » Mon Apr 27, 2009 3:09 pm

Dear Abu:

Thank you for your thoughtful comments. For the most part, I agree. I'm not against a non-dual view if it assists people. By 'assists people' I mean if it helps them to be more kind, to be less self-centered. My observation is that in some cases it accomplishes that.

My quarrel with non-dual teachings, particularly the truncated form in which western non-dualists present it, is the presumption that non-dual is automatically, simply because it is non-dual, superior to those teachings that are not non-dual. I think that is an unwarranted presumption. I think it is arrogant.

I tend to look at views as tools. In a garden shed there are many tools; rakes, clippers, hoes, etc. In cultivating the garden of the mind and heart sometimes we need one tool, sometimes another. Non-dual views can assist someone to see past the display of particularness to that which we all have in common. As a tool this can be efficacious. On the other hand, when the tool of advaita becomes a doctrine, my observation is that it can lead to a kind of callousness in the belief that ONLY the transcendent is real. This is why western advaitans are so lacking in any understanding of love and compassion. To counteract that another tool is needed; something like dependent origination.

Part of my reaction to western advaita is its refusal to recognize its own limitations. Western advaita is a severely truncated, partial presentation of a much broader tradition. Here's an example of what I mean: there are many western advaita teachers who claim to have a lineage connection, or to be inspired by, Ramana Maharshi. Yet I cannot think of a single one of these teachers who lives a life that is in any way similar to the life Ramana lived. All of these western advaita teachers dwell in materially elegant circumstances; none of them enter into renunciation and, in fact, argue against renunciation. In other words, their claim to have a connection with Ramana is completely mental, utterly abstract. It's like a musician saying he's inspired by a great pianist but never actually plays the piano. Or plays any music ever.

Again, thanks for your comments.

Best wishes,

Jim
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Re: Non-duality

Postby floating_abu » Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:21 am

Dharmajim wrote:Non-dual views can assist someone to see past the display of particularness to that which we all have in common. As a tool this can be efficacious. On the other hand, when the tool of advaita becomes a doctrine, my observation is that it can lead to a kind of callousness in the belief that ONLY the transcendent is real. This is why western advaitans are so lacking in any understanding of love and compassion. To counteract that another tool is needed; something like dependent origination.

Part of my reaction to western advaita is its refusal to recognize its own limitations. Western advaita is a severely truncated, partial presentation of a much broader tradition. Here's an example of what I mean: there are many western advaita teachers who claim to have a lineage connection, or to be inspired by, Ramana Maharshi. Yet I cannot think of a single one of these teachers who lives a life that is in any way similar to the life Ramana lived. All of these western advaita teachers dwell in materially elegant circumstances; none of them enter into renunciation and, in fact, argue against renunciation. In other words, their claim to have a connection with Ramana is completely mental, utterly abstract. It's like a musician saying he's inspired by a great pianist but never actually plays the piano. Or plays any music ever.

Again, thanks for your comments.

Best wishes,

Jim


Thankyou Jim. :namaste:

I am not familiar with the Western Advaita teachers you speak of but to the points you make - nods.

With regards to a "severely truncated version" this is what I also indicated in certain presentations of the Dharma. And I have no doubt there are many of us who do not actually play the piano. And this is our call and duty as Buddhists - to not only speak of music playing, but to play the music of our lives - through our lives. Thankyou for your reminder, I am humbled.

Jim, what is missing from all this presentation - is the issue of faith. How much faith do we have in pranjna, in the Dharmakaya that things are and will be fundamentally OK despite all of this. But perhaps that is a wider topic.

I may have muddied the waters a bit in this topic through talking about presentations of Dhamma, and Buddhist teachings, but certainly I don't view non-dual or dual as superior. And although there may be people who do, I think there are also people who believe all manner of things, and I think it might be the way of the world.

I am also not of the creed to believe that we can "believe" or "unbelieve" ourself into liberation - the word that comes to mind for that is "preposterous". And if there are teachers teaching that, then perhaps it is regrettable.

Your analogy of a skilled musician was something I remembered from the Grey Board days - and even as Buddhists I think we have to distinguish between the ability to read about music and play that - which is oft a different story. So thankyou for that presentation.

I have a great deal of respect for you, Jim, I think I always have. And it's not hard to see why. Thankyou again.

Best wishes,
Abu
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Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby clw_uk » Fri Jul 03, 2009 8:41 pm

Greetings


Ive been studying advaita vedanta lately and it strikes me how close it is to Buddhadhamma, i was in discussion with a follower of it and even found it hard to debate with him on the differences between the two, one thing i was surprised at was to hear him say that Atman isnt "I" and "I" is illusionary


Did Buddhadhamma influence advaita vedanta? Some Hindus claim its the other way around


Metta
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jul 03, 2009 9:09 pm

I'm no expert, but my impression is that that those sorts of paths see the "personal self" as an illusion but the "big self" (Brahma, or whatever) as real. Like the new-agey sounding stuff like: "lose your self and become one with the universe".

I think that the Buddhist view is that this just substitutes the illusion of a "big self" for the illusion of a "small self".

Mike
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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby cooran » Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:20 pm

Hello clw_uk,

This might be of interest:

Most independent sources place Sankara's birth over a thousand years after the Buddha.
DETERMINING SANKARA'S DATE - AN OVERVIEW OF ANCIENT SOURCES AND MODERN LITERATURE
Determining Sankara in a period according to the modern calendar is a difficult problem. The official date accepted currently is 788-820 CE, and the Government of India celebrated the 1200th anniversary of Sankara's birth in 1988
http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/avhp/dating-Sankara.html

What is the relationship between advaita and buddhism? Is advaita a mere copy of buddhism?
No, advaita is not a mere copy of buddhism. For a few centuries now, advaita has been criticized as being "pracanna bauddham" - buddhism in disguise. This criticism stems mainly from some of the vaishNava schools of vedAnta, but it is misplaced. Firstly, there is no one "buddhism" and for the criticism to be valid, it must be specified which school of buddhism is being referred to. SankarAcArya expends a lot of effort criticizing many of the philosophical positions taken by various schools of buddhism in his commentaries. Among modern academic scholars, advaita vedAnta is most often compared with the madhyamaka and yogAcAra schools of buddhism. This has been inspired mainly by the fact that the mANDUkya kArikAs, written by gauDapAda, Sankara's paramaguru, exhibit a great familiarity with this school of buddhism.
However, if it is held that advaita vedAnta is essentially the same as madhyamaka buddhism, it must be pointed out that such a view stems from a misunderstanding of the important tenets of both advaita vedAnta and madhyamaka buddhism. There are many key details in which advaita differs from the madhyamaka school of buddhism. As for yogAcAra, the points of similarity arise from the fact that both advaita vedAnta and yogAcAra buddhism have a place for yogic practice, as do other schools of Indian philosophy. For further details, consult http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/avhp/gaudapada.html.
http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/avhp/ad_faq.html#4

metta
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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby christopher::: » Sat Jul 04, 2009 3:46 am

I think for Hindus who hold strong beliefs about God, Brahman and the Atman, Advaita (with its challenge to all literal conceptions) might be seen as something far out at the edges, closer to Buddhism. I've found the teachings to be helpful. The focus is on helping one to dis-identify with the false self and instead become intimate with unborn awareness. This resonates as familiar, for many Zen Buddhists. Maybe cause we're also sometimes practicing a bit far out at the edges...

:tongue:

A related discussion over at ZFI....

Advaita Vedanta Teachings

excerpt:

If I am already fundamentally free, then why do l not feel as though l am free?

The only obstacle is your belief that you are an independent entity. That is the only obstacle. You are stuck in this belief. It belongs to a personality invented by society, education, experience, beliefs, second-hand information and all kinds of reading. You have identified yourself with this fictitious “I” and you live from this point of view. You look at and contact the surroundings from this viewpoint. Because the personality is an object like any other, you live in object-object relationship.

What happens when you become aware of it? The moment you become aware of it is the most important opportunity, an opportunity to see how this insight acts on you. Until now your brain has functioned in the pattern of taking yourself for someone, and when this pattern suddenly collapses there is a reorchestration of all your energy, a transformation of your being. The old reflex, which is so deep-rooted, may come up from time to time, but you are now aware of it. You ignore it and then forget it. Why put yourself in the cage of a fraction? You are the whole, the global.
"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: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby cooran » Sat Jul 04, 2009 5:07 am

Hello Christopher, all,

The focus is on helping one to dis-identify with the false self


Are you saying there is a true self?

metta
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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby christopher::: » Sat Jul 04, 2009 5:10 am

Chris wrote:
The focus is on helping one to dis-identify with the false self


Are you saying there is a true self?


I wouldn't say that.

:namaste:
"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: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby cooran » Sat Jul 04, 2009 5:24 am

Strange that you don't answer 'yes' or 'no'. :thinking:

metta
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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby christopher::: » Sat Jul 04, 2009 5:36 am

Well, if you look at some of the teachings the word "Self" is used at times, to refer to an awakened mind.

Advaita Vedanta Teachings

But should we call this Awareness our "true self"? Some Advaita teachers have used it that way, just as some Mahayana teachers will say everyone is a Buddha, or that our original mind is "Big Mind" as compared with small mind.

But these are words, and as soon as you point and say, aha, so "I'm an arhat" or we are Buddhas or "I have an Atman," they tell you no, you've missed the mark, that's not it. Don't objectify identity as self, I, atman, Buddha, etc...

Kind of paradoxical, but that's the suggestion teachers make. Talking about it, is not it, because there is no "it" to be found. There is no individual lasting or true self to hold on to...

Like water from the ocean in a cup. In one sense the true self of that water is the ocean. But actually, the ocean is not a "self"....

Best to let go of all such conceptions...

:heart:
"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: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Jul 04, 2009 2:25 pm

Chris wrote:Hello Christopher, all,

The focus is on helping one to dis-identify with the false self


Are you saying there is a true self?

metta
Chris

vedanta does and some mahayana sutras do as well. even in zen i would come across teaching about a big self and small self, real self, Self vs self etc.
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby cooran » Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:52 pm

Hello all,

Excerpt from “What the Buddha Taught” by Venerable Dr. W. Rahula
Chapter VI The Doctrine of No-Soul: Anatta. (beg. at p.56)

“People become nervous at the idea that through the Buddha’s teaching of Anatta, the self they imagine they have is going to be destroyed. The Buddha was not unaware of this.
A bhikkhu once asked him: ‘Sir, is there a case where one is tormented when something permanent within oneself is not found?’
‘Yes, bhikkhu, there is, ‘ answered the Buddha. ‘A man has the following view: “The universe is that Atman, I shall be that after death, permanent, abiding, ever-lasting, unchanging, and I shall exist as such for eternity”. He hears the Tathagata or a disciple of his, preaching the doctrine aiming at the complete destruction of all speculative views … aiming at the extinction of “thirst”, aiming at detachment, cessation, Nirvana. Then that man thinks: “I will be annihilated, I will be destroyed, I will be no more.” So he mourns, worries himself, laments, weeps, beating his breast, and becomes bewildered. Thus, O bhikkhu, there is a case where one is tormented when something permanent within oneself is not found.” (M 1)
<<<snip>>>
Those who want to find a ‘Self’ in Buddhism argue as follows: It is true that the Buddha analyses being into matter, sensation, perception, mental formations, and consciousness, and says that none of these things is self. But he does not say that there is no self at all in man or anywhere else, apart from these aggregates.
This position is untenable for two reasons:
One is that, according to the Buddha’s teaching, a being is composed only of these Five Aggregates, and nothing more. Nowhere has he said that there was anything more than these Five Aggregates in a being.
The second reason is that the Buddha denied categorically, in unequivocal terms, in more than one place, the existence of Atman, Soul, Self, or Ego within man or without, or anywhere else in the universe. Let us take some examples.
In the Dhammapada there are three verses extremely important and essential in the Buddha’s teaching. There are nos. 5,6 and 7 of chapter XX (or verses 277, 278, 279).
The first two verses say:
‘All conditioned things are impermanent’ (Sabbe SA.MKHAARAA aniccaa), and ‘All conditioned things are dukkha’ (Sabbe SA.MKHAARAA dukkhaa).
The third verse says:
All dhammas are without self’ (Sabbe DHAMMAA anattaa).
Here it should be carefully observed that in the first two verses the word sa.mkhaaraa ‘conditioned things’ is used. But in its place in the third verse the word dhammaa is used.

Why didn’t the third verse use the work sa.mkhaaraa ‘conditioned things’ as the previous two verses, and why did it use the term dhammaa instead?
Here lies the crux of the whole matter.
The term sa.mkhaara denotes the Five Aggregates, all conditioned, interdependent, relative things and states, both physical and mental. If the third verse said: ‘All sa.mkhaaraa (conditioned things) are without self’, then one might think that, although conditioned things are without self, yet there may be a Self outside conditioned things, outside the Five Aggregates. It is in order to avoid misunderstanding that the term dhammaa is used in the third verse.

The term dhamma is much wider than sa.mkhaara. There is no term in Buddhist terminology wider than dhamma. It includes not only the conditioned things and states, but also the non-conditioned, the Absolute, Nirvaa.na. There is nothing in the universe or outside, good or bad, conditioned or non-conditioned, relative or absolute, which is not included in this term. Therefore it is quite clear that, according to this statement: ‘All dhammas are without Self’, there is no Self, no Atman, not only in the Five aggregates, but nowhere else too outside them or apart from them.

This means, according to the Theravada teaching, that there is no self either in the individual (puggala) or in the dhammas. The Mahayana Buddhist philosophy maintains exactly the same position, without the slightest difference, on this point, putting emphasis on dharma-nairaatmya as well as on pudgala-nairaatmya.

In the Alagadduupama-sutta of the Majjhima-nikaaya, addressing his disciples, the Buddha said: ‘O bhikkhus, accept a soul-theory (Attavaada) in the acceptance of which there would not arise grief, lamentation, suffering, distress and tribulation. But do you see, O bhikkhus, such a soul-theory in the acceptance of which there would not arise grief, lamentation, suffering, distress and tribulation?’
‘Certainly not, Sir.’
‘Good, O bhikkhus. I, too, O bhikkhus, do not see a soul-theory, in the acceptance of which there would not arise grief, lamentation, suffering, distress and tribulation.’

If there had been any soul-theory which the Buddha had accepted, he would certainly have explained it here, because he asked the bhikkhus to accept that soul-theory which did not produce suffering. But in the Buddha’s view, there is no such soul theory, and any soul-theory, whatever it may be, however subtle or sublime, is false and imaginary, creating all kinds of problems, producing in its train grief, lamentation, suffering, distress, tribulation and trouble.

Continuing the discourse the Buddha said in the same sutta:
‘O bhikkhus, when neither self nor anything pertaining to self can truly and really be found, this speculative view: “The universe is that Atman (Soul); I shall be that after death, permanent, abiding, ever-lasting, unchanging, and I shall exist as such for eternity” - is it not wholly and completely foolish?”
Here the Buddha explicitly states that an Atman, or Soul, or Self, is nowhere to be found in reality, and it is foolish to believe that there is such a thing.”


metta
Chris
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---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
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Re: Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism

Postby cooran » Sat Jul 04, 2009 10:02 pm

Hello all,

"The five aggregates together, which we popularly call a 'being', are dukkha itself (sa.mkhaara-dukkha). There is no other 'being' or 'I', standing behind these five aggregates, who experiences dukkha. As Buddhaghosa says:
'Mere suffering exists, but no suffering is found;
The deeds are, but no doer is found.'

There is no unmoving mover behjind the movement. It is only movement. It is not correct to say that life is moving, but life is movement itself. Life and movement are not two different things. In other words, there is no thinker behing the thought. Thought itself is the thinker. If you remove the thought, there is no thinker to be found." (The Doctrine of No-Soul: Anatta. p. 26)

metta
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