Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Dec 09, 2009 2:39 am

seanpdx wrote:Out of curiosity, what was the established, brahminic understanding of atman/atta at the time of the Buddha?


This is not bad:

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/41350/atman
one of the most basic concepts in Hindu philosophy, describing that eternal core of the personality that survives after death and that transmigrates to a new life or is released from the bonds of existence. While in the early Vedic texts it occurred mostly as a reflexive pronoun (oneself), in the later Upanishads it comes more and more to the fore as a philosophic topic: atman is that which makes the other organs and faculties function and for which indeed they function; atman underlies all the activities of a person, as Brahman (the absolute) underlies the workings of the universe; to know it brings bliss; it is part of the universal Brahman, with which it can commune or even fuse. So fundamental was the atman deemed to be that certain circles identified it with Brahman. Of the various systems (darshans) of Hindu philosophy, the schools of Sāṃkhya and Yoga (which use the term purusha to convey the idea of atman) and the orthodox school of Vedānta particularly concern themselves with the atman, though the interpretation varies in accordance with each system’s general worldviews.

The Wiki article is not so good, because it jumps straight into later Advaita, which is rather irrelevant to what the Buddha was dealing with.

Here is also some quotes from the Upanisads, look about half way down:
http://www.hinduwebsite.com/atman.asp

Be careful with a lot of "quotes" about atman, eg. the Bhagavat Gita, as many of them come from much later post-Buddha philosophies, when the Brahmins had already often re-constructed their philosophical systems in the light of the challenges posed to them by the Buddha, Mahavira, and other thinkers.
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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:38 am

seanpdx wrote:
Ok... but any vedic or upanisadic references?

Richard Gombrich reasonably argues that the Buddha was quite familar with the contents of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, one of the very few Upanishads that predate the Buddha, and that there are a number of direct responses to it in the suttas.
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: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby seanpdx » Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:34 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
seanpdx wrote:
Ok... but any vedic or upanisadic references?

Richard Gombrich reasonably argues that the Buddha was quite familar with the contents of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, one of the very few Upanishads that predate the Buddha, and that there are a number of direct responses to it in the suttas.


This is why I ask. Much of what the Buddha taught was a direct response to brahminic teachings. The no/not soul/self discussions people have always made me wonder what the accepted understanding of atman/atta was.
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