the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Fri Mar 23, 2012 4:42 pm

nowheat wrote:So what I hear you saying is that because Anathapindika was talking about what is right view, and he did not include rebirth in that right view, rebirth is not a necessary part of right view. Sariputta does the same in MN 9. Do I understand that correctly?


I would say those were examples of the point that right view has a number of ways of being correctly expressed, and that while rebirth appears to be a suitable approach, it is also suitable to take another tack.

In addition, I note that SN 35.153 does not even mention the first two of the three knowledges (faring-on according to kamma, past lives) when it teaches how a bhikkhu can declare final knowledge. In addition, observe MN 115:

16. “He understands: ‘It is impossible, it cannot happen that a wished for, desired, agreeable result could be produced from bodily misconduct...from verbal misconduct...from mental misconduct ― there is no such possibility.’ And he understands: ‘It is possible that an unwished for, undesired, disagreeable result might be produced from bodily misconduct...from verbal misconduct...from mental misconduct ― there is such a possibility.’

17. He understands: ‘It is impossible, it cannot happen that an unwished for, undesired, disagreeable result could be produced from good bodily conduct...from good verbal conduct...from good mental conduct ― there is no such possibility.’ And he understands: ‘It is possible that a wished for, desired, agreeable result might be produced from good bodily conduct...from good verbal conduct...from good mental conduct ― there is such a possibility.’

18. He understands: ‘It is impossible, it cannot happen that a person engaging in bodily misconduct...engaging in verbal misconduct...engaging in mental misconduct could on that account, for that reason, on the dissolution of the body, after death, reappear in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world ― there is no such possibility.’ And he understands: ‘It is possible that a person engaging in bodily misconduct...engaging in verbal misconduct...engaging in mental misconduct could on that account, for that reason, on the dissolution of the body, after death, reappear in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, even in hell ― there is such a possibility.’

19. He understands: ‘It is impossible, it cannot happen that a person engaging in good bodily conduct...engaging in good verbal conduct...engaging in good mental conduct could on that account, for that reason, on the dissolution of the body, after death, reappear in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, even in hell ― there is no such possibility.’ And he understands: ‘It is possible that a person engaging in good bodily conduct...engaging in good verbal conduct...engaging in good mental conduct could on that account, for that reason, on the dissolution of the body, after death, reappear in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world.’


Kamma is important for right view in the sense of §§16-17; §§18-19 simply apply that principle to the prevailing cosmological structure, functioning to ethicize what was otherwise a largely ritualized affair. I'm not saying this ethicized rebirth matrix does not obtain as fact, nor am I saying it does so obtain. I am saying that the principle of the efficacy of kamma is hammered home as the essential point, but that this point can be applied to, say, a Xian soteriological cosmology just as easily as it can be applied to the brahminic soteriological cosmology.

(As to the utter absence of a soteriological cosmology - annihilationism - the Buddha declared at AN 10.29 that such a view was the highest of outside speculative views because one who accepts such a view will not be attracted to existence nor averse to the cessation of existence; this view is still to be seen with disenchantment, but a rebirth-view is not held up as a proper replacement - only liberation through non-clinging.)
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Sat Mar 24, 2012 1:29 am

A couple additions on this theme:

SN 42.11 wrote:"It would be good, lord, if the Blessed One would teach me the origination & ending of stress."

"Headman, if I were to teach you the origination & ending of stress with reference to the past, saying, 'Thus it was in the past,' you would be doubtful and perplexed. If I were to teach you the origination & ending of stress with reference to the future, saying, 'Thus it will be in the future,' you would be doubtful and perplexed. So instead, I — sitting right here — will teach you sitting right there the origination & ending of stress. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," Gandhabhaka the headman replied.


---
SN 42.13 - Pāṭaliya (no online copy?)

The beginning of this Sutta is basically MN 60, but strikingly, the "because there actually is the next world..." sections are absent. The context involves a headman being perplexed over differing views, including the "there is a next world" view, and the Buddha, rather than taking it up, simply juxtaposes it in a neutral way with its opposite view, and instructs that pervading the brahmaviharas might rid him of that perplexity if he were to "attain concentration of mind in that". The Sutta also treats the efficacy of kamma via this even-handed approach.

Tellingly, the practice of the ten wholesome courses of action (kammapatha, which includes having right view) comes first; then the practice of the brahmaviharas is done as a noble disciple - described as, among other things, "unconfused" - and all this before the Buddha says to go over the various earlier views according to "lucky throw" logic.

Fascinating.

:heart:

(the kammapatha + brahmavihara practice is called, here, "dhammasamādhi", and/or "cittasamādhi" - I'm not sure)
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Sat Mar 24, 2012 8:13 am

daverupa wrote:I would say those were examples of the point that right view has a number of ways of being correctly expressed, and that while rebirth appears to be a suitable approach, it is also suitable to take another tack.

I can see that.

(As to the utter absence of a soteriological cosmology - annihilationism - the Buddha declared at AN 10.29 that such a view was the highest of outside speculative views because one who accepts such a view will not be attracted to existence nor averse to the cessation of existence; this view is still to be seen with disenchantment, but a rebirth-view is not held up as a proper replacement - only liberation through non-clinging.)


I think we have to be a little careful in assigning the meaning of phrases like

'I should not be; it should not occur to me; I will not be; it will not occur to me.'


to annihilationism and then defining annihilationism in terms of what it would mean to us. The views presented in the canon are unlikely to be super-accurate renderings of the actual beliefs of folks of the day. We have only to read the way others distort the Buddha's views (for example, 'he an adherent of non-action') to recognize the strong possibility that the boilerplate for views in the Pali canon are also distorting what others believed.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sat Mar 24, 2012 9:15 am

Ron-The-Elder wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:
The only way to not have a view is to say "I don't know".

spiny


Hi, Spiny. Alternately, we can just dwell in emptiness abandoning all views.



I guess for me saying "I don't know" is the first step to abandoning views.
In the context of this debate, I personally have no idea whether rebirth occurs, though I'm pretty sure the Buddha taught it.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sat Mar 24, 2012 9:27 am

nowheat wrote: The views presented in the canon are unlikely to be super-accurate renderings of the actual beliefs of folks of the day.


Quite possibly. But for all we know the Buddha emphasized rebirth much more than the suttas suggest - we just don't know.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Buckwheat » Sat Mar 24, 2012 2:01 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
daverupa wrote: The context of saying that "disbelief in rebirth is a view" is the secondary target;


If we're talking about questions on which we're not currently certain then of course disbelief is a view. The same way that belief is a view.

The only way to not have a view is to say "I don't know".

spiny


In DN 1 - Brahmajala Sutta, "I don't know" is also a wrong view. It may be a more honest and less harmful wrong view than taking a leap to belief or unbelief, but it is still a wrong view.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Buckwheat » Sat Mar 24, 2012 2:08 pm

Whenever we act, we come from a place of assumptions. We tend to either assume there is rebirth and act accordingly, or disbelieve rebirth and act accordingly. The third option of "I don't know" leads to a tension, acting sometimes as if rebirth is true and sometimes as if there is only this one life. Of the three possible approaches, the one that is most skillful for the elimination of suffering is belief in rebirth.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Sat Mar 24, 2012 2:10 pm

Buckwheat wrote:In DN 1 - Brahmajala Sutta, "I don't know" is also a wrong view. It may be a more honest and less harmful wrong view than taking a leap to belief or unbelief, but it is still a wrong view.


I think that, if you check, you will not find this in that Sutta. You are probably remembering either the "dull and stupid" case, or the "confusion over whether something is wholesome or unwholesome" case, but neither of these amounts to a condemnation of simply not knowing.

[Buddha:] “It is fitting for you to be perplexed. Doubt has arisen in you about a perplexing matter."
~SN 42.13
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Sat Mar 24, 2012 3:17 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:[I personally have no idea whether rebirth occurs, though I'm pretty sure the Buddha taught it.

Spiny


I was watching Robert Thurman's dissertations on The Triple Gem this morning and actually agreed that we have identified the mechanism of rebirth: evolution. I love it when science and the sutta's converge.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Sat Mar 24, 2012 3:45 pm

Buckwheat wrote:Whenever we act, we come from a place of assumptions. We tend to either assume there is rebirth and act accordingly, or disbelieve rebirth and act accordingly. The third option of "I don't know" leads to a tension, acting sometimes as if rebirth is true and sometimes as if there is only this one life. Of the three possible approaches, the one that is most skillful for the elimination of suffering is belief in rebirth.


I agree that we come from a place of assumptions, but I disagree that this necessarily results in wobbling back and forth between the two, or that belief in rebirth is the most skillful for the elimination of suffering. This may be your experience, but it is not my experience.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 11:24 pm

nowheat wrote:Yes. And he tells us why he talks of where people end up, and among the reasons he gives, notably absent is "because it's the truth." He tells stories of where people go to inspire those who cared about them.



The Buddha tells what will lead where. If there is only one life, the one would automatically attain parinibbana at death. Thus it would pointless to aspire to better rebirth and pointless to deprive oneself trying to attain what will be attained at death anyhow. Without belief in rebirth, I don't see much point in being Buddhist, except for some CBT like advice of "don't desire what you can't attain. Be satisfied with what you have."

I've tried my best at trying to reinterpret rebirth in the way that I've seen it being taught here. It can't be done without ignoring many suttas,being very selective about passages used, and take them out of context.

I've seen many posts about supramundane right view (MN117) which is twisted in such a way as to sound like plain wrong view (no rebirth. no other world. etc). As far as suttas go, no kind of right view ever denies rebirth.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:41 am

Alex123 wrote:
nowheat wrote:Yes. And he tells us why he talks of where people end up, and among the reasons he gives, notably absent is "because it's the truth." He tells stories of where people go to inspire those who cared about them.

I've seen many posts about supramundane right view (MN117) which is twisted in such a way as to sound like plain wrong view (no rebirth. no other world. etc). As far as suttas go, no kind of right view ever denies rebirth.


You may be missing the point: "no kind of right view ever denies rebirth" = CORRECT! That's true, no right view ever denies rebirth. I don't know anyone who has ever said that the Buddha denies rebirth. I don't know anyone who has ever even suggested that the Buddha says one should deny rebirth.

This is not about denying rebirth. This is about something subtler. It's about not saying that belief in rebirth is a requirement. As long as folks (not limited to you, Alex) keep "hearing" others saying that the Buddha denied rebirth, no understanding is possible, because that's not what's being said.

Perhaps the confusion comes because so many people -- in this thread in particular -- argue about the likelihood of rebirth as a system (I try not to engage in those conversations as irresolvable without new evidence). But I doubt that the same people arguing that rebirth is unlikely would suggest that the Buddha was trying to tell us there is no rebirth.

But maybe you've found someone clearly saying "The Buddha preached against belief in rebirth" -- if so please send me a link, I'd like to examine their argument.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:20 am

Buckwheat wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:
daverupa wrote: The context of saying that "disbelief in rebirth is a view" is the secondary target;


If we're talking about questions on which we're not currently certain then of course disbelief is a view. The same way that belief is a view.

The only way to not have a view is to say "I don't know".

spiny


In DN 1 - Brahmajala Sutta, "I don't know" is also a wrong view. It may be a more honest and less harmful wrong view than taking a leap to belief or unbelief, but it is still a wrong view.


Do you mean this bit? If so it looks as if the Buddha is advising against evasion and endless equivocation, which is quite different from saying "I don't know"

"But, when questioned about this or that point, he resorts to evasive statements and to endless equivocation: 'I do not take it thus, nor do I take it in that way, nor do I take it in some other way. I do not say that it is not, nor do I say that it is neither this nor that.'
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Buckwheat » Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:05 pm

Yes, Spiny, you are correct. It had been a while since I read that sutta.

DN 1 - Brahmajala Sutta wrote:4. Doctrines of Endless Equivocation (Amarāvikkhepavāda): Views 13–16
61. "There are, bhikkhus, some recluses and brahmins who are endless equivocators.[9] When questioned about this or that point, on four grounds they resort to evasive statements and to endless equivocation. And owing to what, with reference to what, do these honorable recluses and brahmins do so?

62. "Herein, bhikkhus, a certain recluse or a brahmin does not understand as it really is what is wholesome and what is unwholesome. He thinks: 'I do not understand as it really is what is wholesome and what is unwholesome. If, without understanding, I were to declare something to be wholesome or unwholesome, my declaration might be false. If my declaration should be false, that would distress me, and that distress would be an obstacle for me.' Therefore, out of fear and loathing of making a false statement, he does not declare anything to be wholesome or unwholesome. But when he is questioned about this or that point, he resorts to evasive statements and to endless equivocation: "I do not take it thus, nor do I take it in that way, nor do I take it in some other way. I do not say that it is not, nor do I say that it is neither this nor that.' "This, bhikkhus, is the first case.

63. "In the second case, owing to what, with reference to what, are some honorable recluses and brahmins endless equivocators, resorting to evasive statements and to endless equivocation?

"Herein, bhikkhus, a certain recluse or a brahmin does not understand as it really is what is wholesome and what is unwholesome. He thinks: 'I do not understand as it really is what is wholesome and what is unwholesome. If, without understanding, I were to declare something to be wholesome or unwholesome, desire and lust or hatred and aversion might arise in me. Should desire and lust or hated and aversion arise in me, that would be clinging on my part. Such clinging would distress me, and that distress would be an obstacle for me.' Therefore, out of fear and loathing of clinging, he does not declare anything to be wholesome or unwholesome. But when questioned about this or that point he resorts to evasive statements and to endless equivocation: 'I do not take it thus, nor do I take it in that way, nor do I take it in some other way. I do not say that it is not, nor do I say that it is neither this nor that.' "This, bhikkhus, is the second case.

64. "In the third case, owing to what, with reference to what, are some honorable recluses and brahmins endless equivocators, resorting to evasive statements and to endless equivocation?

"Herein, bhikkhus, a certain recluse or a brahmin does not understand as it really is what is wholesome and what is unwholesome. He thinks: 'I do not understand as it really is what is wholesome and what is unwholesome. Now, there are recluses and brahmins who are wise, clever, experienced in controversy, who wander about demolishing the views of others with their wisdom. If, without understanding, I were to declare something to be wholesome or unwholesome, they might cross-examine me about my views, press me for reasons and refute my statements. If they should do so, I might not be able to reply. If I could not reply, that would distress me, and that distress would be an obstacle for me.' Therefore, out of fear and loathing of being cross-examined, he does not declare anything to be wholesome or unwholesome. But, when questioned about this or that point, he resorts to evasive statements and to endless equivocation: 'I do not take it thus, nor do I take it in that way, nor do I take it in some other way. I do not say that it is not, nor do I say that it is neither this nor that.'

"This, bhikkhus, is the third case.

65. "In the fourth case, owing to what, with reference to what, are some honorable recluses and brahmins endless equivocators, resorting to evasive statements and to endless equivocation?

"Herein, bhikkhus, a certain recluse or a brahmin is dull and stupid. Due to his dullness and stupidity, when he is questioned about this or that point, he resorts to evasive statements and to endless equivocation: 'If you ask me whether there is a world beyond — if I thought there is another world, I would declare that there is. But I do not take it thus, nor do I take it in that way, nor do I take it in some other way. I do not say that it is not, nor do I say that is neither this nor that.'

"Similarly, when asked any of the following questions, he resorts to the same evasive statements and to endless equivocation:

A.
2. Is there no world beyond?
3. Is it that there both is and is not a world beyond?
4. Is it that there neither is nor is not a world beyond?
B.
1. Are there beings spontaneously reborn?
2. Are there no beings spontaneously reborn?
3. Is it that there both are and are not beings spontaneously reborn?
4. Is it that there neither are nor are not beings spontaneously reborn?
C.
1. Is there fruit and result of good and bad action?
2. Is there no fruit and result of good and bad action?
3. Is it that there both is and is not fruit and result of good and bad action?
4. Is it that there neither is nor is not fruit and result of good and bad action?
D.
1.Does the Tathāgata exist after death?
2.Does the Tathāgata not exist after death?
3.Does the Tathāgata both exist and not exist after death?
4.Does the Tathāgata neither exist nor not exist after death?
"This bhikkhus, is the fourth case.

66. "It is on these four grounds, bhikkhus, that those recluses and brahmins who are endless equivocators resort to evasive statements and to endless equivocation when questioned about this or that point. Whatever recluses or brahmins there may be who resort to evasive statements and to endless equivocation, all of them do so on these four grounds or on a certain one of them. Outside of these there is none.

"This, bhikkhus, the Tathāgata understands... and it is concerning these that those who would rightly praise the Tathāgata in accordance with reality would speak.

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Disciples, this I declare to you: All conditioned things are subject to disintegration – strive on untiringly for your liberation.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:02 pm

Notron wrote:This question suggests a belief in a "permanent self" or entity that transmigrates from one lifetime to another...a belief in eternalism. Paticcasamuppada (dependent origination) describes something else entirely as explained by Ven. Buddhadasa.


If you think that the traditional understanding of DO requires a belief in eternalism then you've entirely missed the point. Buddhadasas re-interpretation is interesting but unecessary.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:26 am

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby cooran » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:28 am

I'm just wondering who took the photos and compiled the album? :tongue:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:46 am

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby paarsurrey » Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:43 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:i guess someone needs to get this ball rolling :twisted:

personally i believe in literal rebirth. it's just i don't care that much about it. and i don't think it's a necessity. i feel the non literal moment to moment view of rebirth is far more important to focus on in terms of one's daily practice.

what's your take?


I am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim. I joined this forum recently.

I am reading Gospel of Buddha by Paul Carus and I understand from Buddha's words:

Buddha said:

"Having attained this higher birth, I have found the truth and have taught you the noble path that leads to the city of peace"
.Page-118: Verse- 6: Chapter-41

http://reluctant-messenger.com/gospel_buddha/

I think Buddha here talks of his rebirth in the truthful belief after getting enlightenment or Word of Revelation from the Creator God.

Buddha treaded the noble path or right path and reached to enlightenment; this was his rebirth he talks of. Buddha does not talk of Reincarnation or Rebirth like the Hindus believe; he did not believe in the Hinduism concept of Reincarnation or Rebirth.

This is just an opinion, others could differ with me happily and could continue believing what the already believe in.

Please correct me if I am wrong.
I am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Sarva » Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:44 pm

paarsurrey wrote:
jcsuperstar wrote:i guess someone needs to get this ball rolling :twisted:

personally i believe in literal rebirth. it's just i don't care that much about it. and i don't think it's a necessity. i feel the non literal moment to moment view of rebirth is far more important to focus on in terms of one's daily practice.

what's your take?

(cut for space)

I think Buddha here talks of his rebirth in the truthful belief after getting enlightenment or Word of Revelation from the Creator God.

Buddha treaded the noble path or right path and reached to enlightenment; this was his rebirth he talks of. Buddha does not talk of Reincarnation or Rebirth like the Hindus believe; he did not believe in the Hinduism concept of Reincarnation or Rebirth.

This is just an opinion, others could differ with me happily and could continue believing what the already believe in.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

Hello Paarsurrey
In my personal opinion rebirth and kamma (karma) need to be understood as cause and effect, a natural law of nature/Dhamma (or the universe if one wishes to begin somewhere). One doesn't need to acknowledge rebirth and one may go through one's life without even considering it, however it needs to be acknowledged and studied in order to arrive at the conclusion of which Buddha spoke: unbinding, nibbana (nirvana) and removal of ignorance. It is also an explanation of morals without God; the problem of good and evil.

In my observation there is still a literal moment to moment rebirth (not strictly each second, but more than once through out our day). That which is born and reborn is the concept of self. This is could be open to debate.

My understanding is that the Buddha did not need to investigate the nature of God or creation to arrive at liberation. So God does not play a role in the teaching in the same way as semitic religions. Just to make a comparative point for quicker clarity. I do not believe this to mean he was agnostic or atheistic, both of which come close to a self concept or a clinging of views (an obstacle in the path to liberation).

Buddhists hold firm that there is no observable self, or no soul (anatta). The Upanishads and Hindu's hold there is an atman or soul.

In Hinduism one must know the Self or Atman in order to be liberated whilst living. In Buddhism one must know that there is no self and reach nibbana to be liberated whilst living.

I see no way of mixing other religions with Buddhism, although all are fascinating :) Warm welcome to the forum.
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