Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby Alex123 » Thu Apr 11, 2013 12:51 pm

Can bhavanga sota be studied by science? If not, then it is article of faith.

Also, what does bhavanga sota depend on? What is its cause? It cannot be self-subsisting phenomenon.
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Apr 11, 2013 1:10 pm

Ven. Nyanatiloka Mahathera wrote:The term bhavanga-sota, is identical with what the modern psychologists, such as Jung, etc., call the soul, or the unconscious, thereby not meaning, of course, the eternal soul-entity of Christian teaching but an ever-changing subconscious process. This subconscious life-stream is the necessary condition of all life.


Interesting. This brings me back to the question which Alex posed at the start of this thread -- did the Buddha reject all notions of self/soul, as is sometimes claimed, or only a specific Indian concept of Atman?

Ven. Nyanatiloka's explanation implies that some definitions of a "soul" are compatible with the dhamma. Furthermore, such a "soul" is necessary for kamma-vipaka to work.

Follow up question: what causes the bhavanga-sota to be individuated?
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby kirk5a » Thu Apr 11, 2013 1:38 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
Ven. Nyanatiloka Mahathera wrote:The term bhavanga-sota, is identical with what the modern psychologists, such as Jung, etc., call the soul, or the unconscious, thereby not meaning, of course, the eternal soul-entity of Christian teaching but an ever-changing subconscious process. This subconscious life-stream is the necessary condition of all life.


Interesting. This brings me back to the question which Alex posed at the start of this thread -- did the Buddha reject all notions of self/soul, as is sometimes claimed, or only a specific Indian concept of Atman?


23. "You may well accept, monks, the assumption of a self-theory[27] from the acceptance of which there would not arise sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief, and despair. (But) do you see, monks, any such assumption of a self-theory?" — "No, Lord." — "Well, monks, I, too, do not see any such assumption of a self-theory from the acceptance of which there would not arise sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief and despair."

[27] Attavaadupaadaanam upadiyetha. While in most translations the term upaadaana has been rendered by "clinging," we have followed here a suggestion of the late Bhikkhu Ñanamoli, rendering it by "assumption" [see The Wheel No. 17: Three Cardinal Discourses of the Buddha, p. 19 (Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy)]. In this context, the word "assumption" should be understood: (1) in the sense of a supposition, (2) in the literal sense of its Latin source: adsumere, "to take up," which closely parallels the derivation of our Paali term: upa-aadaana, "taking up strongly." In this sense we have used it when translating the derivative verb upaadiyetha by "you may accept." Attavaadupaadaana is one of the four types of clinging (see Nyanatiloka's Buddhist Dictionary), conditioned by craving (tanhaa). This term comprises, according to Comy, the twenty types of personality-belief (sakkaaya-ditthi).

Quoting this passage of our text, the Ven. Dr. Walpola Rahula remarks: "If there had been any soul-theory which the Buddha had accepted, he would certainly have explained it here, because he asked the monks to accept that soul-theory which did not produce suffering. But in the Buddha's view, there is no such soul-theory..." (What the Buddha Taught, London, 1959; p.58).

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nypo.html
Ven. Nyanatiloka's explanation implies that some definitions of a "soul" are compatible with the dhamma. And moreover, such a "soul" is necessary for kamma-vipaka to work.

I read him as saying it serves some of the functions as "soul" or "unconscious" serves for those who advocate those views. However, it is not "self," not unchanging, not permanent. Therefore it would be substantially different from a soul-theory.
Follow up question: what causes the bhavanga-sota to be individuated?

What causes a literal stream, of water, to be individuated?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Apr 11, 2013 4:47 pm

Wouldn't a simpler explanation be that anatta is a higher teaching than kamma-vipaka, representing a deeper insight into the nature of things?

We see in the accounts of the Buddha's awakening that discernment of kamma-vipaka came about during the second watch of the night, so it is not the ultimate insight. Indeed, there is an interesting progression in the three watches:

1. "recollection of my past lives".
2. "passing away and reappearance of beings"
3. "knowledge of the ending of the fermentations"

With each new stage, the concept of "self" drops further and further away. First there is a "me" who can have past lives, then there are beings, and finally just processes and fermentations.

This would explain, it seems to me, why kamma-vipaka seems to imply a soul-theory.

There is also an interesting passage in the Sampasadanya Sutta (DN 28), where the "four degrees of discernment" are presented.

Again, lord, he goes on after that to discern the unbroken flux of human consciousness established both in this world and in another world. This is the third degree of discernment. Again, lord, he goes on to discern the unbroken flux of human consciousness as not established either in this world or another world. This is the fourth degree of discernment. Unsurpassable is this, lord, concerning degrees of discernment.


There doesn't seem to be any notion of individuation conveyed in the phrase "unbroken flux of human consciousness". Aside from that, we can see that with the final degree of discernment, this flux is "not established either in this world or another world".

kirk5a wrote: Quoting this passage of our text, the Ven. Dr. Walpola Rahula remarks: "If there had been any soul-theory which the Buddha had accepted, he would certainly have explained it here, because he asked the monks to accept that soul-theory which did not produce suffering. But in the Buddha's view, there is no such soul-theory..."


Did the Buddha teach bhavanga-sota, or was it a later elaboration?
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby Alex123 » Thu Apr 11, 2013 5:05 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Did the Buddha teach bhavanga-sota, or was it a later elaboration?


I searched the pali. bhavaṅg* is found only in (Milindapañha, Nettipakaraṇa, Peṭakopadesa) of Khuddhaka Nikaya and Paṭṭhāna in Abhidhamma.

First three books are not even attributed to Buddha himself, and in case of Milindapanha - it occurs centuries after the Buddha.

bhavaṅga sota is NOT found anywhere in tipitaka.
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby polarbuddha101 » Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:45 pm

When it comes down to it, there isn't any argument from commentarial concepts or from Ian Stevenson or from past life regression therapists that can actually lead one to have faith in rebirth, besides all these things are highly dubitable. Faith in rebirth comes from realizing that the Buddha is the wisest person in human history, no other religious figure, philosopher, scientist or whatever, comes close to being as wise as the Buddha. On that basis, one accepts that the Buddha really was awakened, that he wasn't deluded about that, and that he could tell the difference between a hallucination and an actual recollection of past lives. So all the metaphysical speculation about how the process of rebirth functions doesn't really do anything in the end. One experience ends and another begins, and this just goes on and on, according to the Buddha, until one relinquishes all craving.

(Edit: Just realized this is in the Pali section, my apologies for being off topic)

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Last edited by polarbuddha101 on Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby Alex123 » Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:12 pm

polarbuddha101 wrote: Faith in rebirth comes from realizing that the Buddha is the wisest person in human history, no other religious figure, philosopher, scientist or whatever, comes close to being as wise as the Buddha.


I agree. The only thing is that we have never met the live Buddha. All we have are texts. How do we know that the texts contain even a single word that Buddha as a historic person has taught? What proof do we have that the Buddha even existed? We have no video or audio recordings of Him. Does anyone actually believes that texts can remain unchanged for 2,500 years?

I believe in historical Buddha, but I cannot prove that.
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby Dmytro » Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:07 pm

Hello Alex,

Alex123 wrote:Anatta does NOT have to mean "No self". Anatta = "not Atman" where Atman is a Hindu metaphysical being not a modern western concept of "self".

The earliest use of word "Ātman" in Indian texts is found in the Rig Veda (RV X. 97. 11).


In matters of religion, particularly Hinduism, Wikipedia is often influenced by people with vested interests.

The concept of "Ātman" evolved at a relatively later time, in the Rig Veda it was mostly a reflexive pronoun:

"atman, ( Sanskrit: “self,” “breath”) one of the most basic concepts in Hinduism, the universal self, identical with the eternal core of the personality that after death either transmigrates to a new life or attains release (moksha) from the bonds of existence. While in the early Vedas it occurred mostly as a reflexive pronoun meaning “oneself,” in the later Upanishads (speculative commentaries on the Vedas) it comes more and more to the fore as a philosophical topic."

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/41350/atman

In the Pali Canon as well, 'atta' is mostly a reflexive pronoun.

What is the difference between Atta, and sayaṃ?


"Sayam" is rather a "reflexive adverb", like Russian "сам".
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby Alex123 » Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:24 pm

Thank you, Dmytro.
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