Soul theories and the Dhamma

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
davidbrainerd
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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by davidbrainerd »

Goofaholix wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:Dependent on what. When you deny everything actual existence you break dependant origination because there is nothing for anything to depend on. Dependant origination requires something to inherently exist to be the dependency. Dependent on the craving of the self an embodied existence arises. No self, no embodied existence, because no dependency, no craving. Dependant origination is not some Abrahamic God creating things Ex Nihilo, so the dependency cannot be nihilo.
Who is, as you put it, "deny everything actual existence"?

Not self does not mean nothing exists, it just means it's not self ie not a permanent essence. I really don't see the point in bringing up your own strawmen again and again or asking questions when you have no interest in the answers.
Nobody gives any real answers. The no-self side of Buddhism isn't interested in providing any systematic explanation but has a vested interest in maintaining whooly-headed thinking and just putting subjects off-limits because they realize their position is not logical and foesn't hold up to scrutiny. Its like a bunch of Trinitarians proclaiming 1+1+1=1 and if snyone analyzes that statement and finds it logically lacking they accuse them and call the names, not a real Christian, don't believe in the Bible, rejecting the gospel, rejecting truth, yada yada yada. No-selfers if you ask what gets reborn or ask what the aggregates are or what the dependency in dependrnt origination is if everything is really non-existent would rather say you're not a real Buddhist, reject the dhamma, blah blah blah, than offer any explanation because any attempt at explanation will be found to refute them and they know it.
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Goofaholix
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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by Goofaholix »

davidbrainerd wrote:Nobody gives any real answers. The no-self side of Buddhism isn't interested in providing any systematic explanation but has a vested interest in maintaining whooly-headed thinking and just putting subjects off-limits because they realize their position is not logical and foesn't hold up to scrutiny. Its like a bunch of Trinitarians proclaiming 1+1+1=1 and if snyone analyzes that statement and finds it logically lacking they accuse them and call the names, not a real Christian, don't believe in the Bible, rejecting the gospel, rejecting truth, yada yada yada. No-selfers if you ask what gets reborn or ask what the aggregates are or what the dependency in dependrnt origination is if everything is really non-existent would rather say you're not a real Buddhist, reject the dhamma, blah blah blah, than offer any explanation because any attempt at explanation will be found to refute them and they know it.
If that's the case it should be quite easy to prove us wrong, go on, prove what you think aggregates are are in fact that, prove what you think self is is in fact that, prove the Buddha said there that self is something that exists, prove that self is of central importance of the Buddhas teaching warranting thread after thread discussing it.

You haven't done that because you can't, you just don't like the Buddhas teaching because your obtuse interpretations of it don't conform to your black and white view of the world and because it doesn't define things that you can conveniently put into conventional boxes that you can understand.

You've been given several quite good explanations pointing to what the teaching on aggregates is about, all of them have a degree of understanding in them and probably build on each other;
Processes,
A model,
Aspects of mind and body,
A concept whose purpose is to help inform and guide people's contemplations and discernment.

I think it should be clear from the above that they are probably not things that make up a human nor things that get reborn as you would like to think, which is I think a pretty pedestrian understanding of Dhamma.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah
davidbrainerd
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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by davidbrainerd »

Goofaholix wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:Nobody gives any real answers. The no-self side of Buddhism isn't interested in providing any systematic explanation but has a vested interest in maintaining whooly-headed thinking and just putting subjects off-limits because they realize their position is not logical and foesn't hold up to scrutiny. Its like a bunch of Trinitarians proclaiming 1+1+1=1 and if snyone analyzes that statement and finds it logically lacking they accuse them and call the names, not a real Christian, don't believe in the Bible, rejecting the gospel, rejecting truth, yada yada yada. No-selfers if you ask what gets reborn or ask what the aggregates are or what the dependency in dependrnt origination is if everything is really non-existent would rather say you're not a real Buddhist, reject the dhamma, blah blah blah, than offer any explanation because any attempt at explanation will be found to refute them and they know it.
If that's the case it should be quite easy to prove us wrong, go on, prove what you think aggregates are are in fact that, prove what you think self is is in fact that, prove the Buddha said there that self is something that exists, prove that self is of central importance of the Buddhas teaching warranting thread after thread discussing it.

You haven't done that because you can't, you just don't like the Buddhas teaching because your obtuse interpretations of it don't conform to your black and white view of the world and because it doesn't define things that you can conveniently put into conventional boxes that you can understand.

You've been given several quite good explanations pointing to what the teaching on aggregates is about, all of them have a degree of understanding in them and probably build on each other;
Processes,
A model,
Aspects of mind and body,
A concept whose purpose is to help inform and guide people's contemplations and discernment.

I think it should be clear from the above that they are probably not things that make up a human nor things that get reborn as you would like to think, which is I think a pretty pedestrian understanding of Dhamma.
I think I'll just answer like you guys: Dependent origination. Duh.
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Goofaholix
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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by Goofaholix »

davidbrainerd wrote:I think I'll just answer like you guys: Dependent origination. Duh.
Or, you could take responsibility for progressing your own practice and learning rather than expect others to give you all the answers.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah
Javi
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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by Javi »

Aggregates are not some ontological things. Aggregates are categories of phenomenological processes grouped together. In short, the skandas are the five categories of phenomena that people mistake as a self and cling to. They are activities that help explain how suffering arises. Anything outside the skandas is something which does not matter to the Buddha's system, which sees the "world" (loka) as being encompassed by our phenomenological experience and who's main goal is ending suffering, not providing an ontological theory.

The aggregates don't get reborn, not even consciousness - the Buddha is clear about this. What you're asking is the age old question of "what actually gets reborn" or "what experiences karma". The answer to that is that the Buddha never gave an answer. Some believe it is some subtle form of being that explains the continuity of karma - the alaya or the bhavanga - but this was something invented after the Buddha's death. Basically, the Buddha would answer that these types of questions are pointless, they are like the questions of the person in the Malunkyaputta sutta who wanted to know all these details about the arrow, instead of working to remove the arrow. As Thanissaro says:
A large part of the history of Buddhist thought has been the story of ingenious but unsuccessful attempts to settle these questions. It's instructive to note, though, that the Pali canon never quotes the Buddha as trying to answer them. In fact, it never quotes him as trying to define what a person is at all. Instead, it quotes him as saying that to define yourself in any way is to limit yourself, and that the question, "What am I?" is best ignored. This suggests that he formulated the concept of the khandhas to answer other, different questions. If, as meditators, we want to make the best use of this concept, we should look at what those original questions were, and determine how they apply to our practice.
For a better understanding of the skandas see the above quoted article: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/stud ... html#intro

Here is a question to you. If the Buddha really believed in a self outside the five aggregates, why not just say so? There were many systems of thought at the Buddha's time, like Samkya and Jainism who held this view. It would have been much easier and less confusing to just talk about an atman in the way they did, and yet he does not. He never talks about achieving an atman outside the five skandas, he never says that nibbana is some kind of union or realization of atman, which you would expect of a teacher holding your view. There is no evidence from any Buddhist tradition after the Buddhas death that he held this view, even the personalist school was careful not to use the term atman and instead used the term pudgala and hedged that it wasn't some eternal thing either, because they understood that the Buddha denied atman.

Only with much later Mahayana texts do we get the Buddha teaching this view, and even in those texts, they are clear in stating that this term atman is a skillful means and does not mean the same atman of the Hindus.

If the Buddha would have taught an atman, why is there absolutely no evidence for such a view, at all?
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice. — Diogenes of Sinope

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14
davidbrainerd
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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by davidbrainerd »

Javi wrote:Aggregates are not some ontological things. Aggregates are categories of phenomenological processes grouped together. In short, the skandas are the five categories of phenomena that people mistake as a self and cling to. They are activities that help explain how suffering arises. Anything outside the skandas is something which does not matter to the Buddha's system, which sees the "world" (loka) as being encompassed by our phenomenological experience and who's main goal is ending suffering, not providing an ontological theory.

The aggregates don't get reborn, not even consciousness - the Buddha is clear about this. What you're asking is the age old question of "what actually gets reborn" or "what experiences karma". The answer to that is that the Buddha never gave an answer. Some believe it is some subtle form of being that explains the continuity of karma - the alaya or the bhavanga - but this was something invented after the Buddha's death. Basically, the Buddha would answer that these types of questions are pointless, they are like the questions of the person in the Malunkyaputta sutta who wanted to know all these details about the arrow, instead of working to remove the arrow. As Thanissaro says:
A large part of the history of Buddhist thought has been the story of ingenious but unsuccessful attempts to settle these questions. It's instructive to note, though, that the Pali canon never quotes the Buddha as trying to answer them. In fact, it never quotes him as trying to define what a person is at all. Instead, it quotes him as saying that to define yourself in any way is to limit yourself, and that the question, "What am I?" is best ignored. This suggests that he formulated the concept of the khandhas to answer other, different questions. If, as meditators, we want to make the best use of this concept, we should look at what those original questions were, and determine how they apply to our practice.
For a better understanding of the skandas see the above quoted article: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/stud ... html#intro

Here is a question to you. If the Buddha really believed in a self outside the five aggregates, why not just say so? There were many systems of thought at the Buddha's time, like Samkya and Jainism who held this view. It would have been much easier and less confusing to just talk about an atman in the way they did, and yet he does not. He never talks about achieving an atman outside the five skandas, he never says that nibbana is some kind of union or realization of atman, which you would expect of a teacher holding your view. There is no evidence from any Buddhist tradition after the Buddhas death that he held this view, even the personalist school was careful not to use the term atman and instead used the term pudgala and hedged that it wasn't some eternal thing either, because they understood that the Buddha denied atman.

Only with much later Mahayana texts do we get the Buddha teaching this view, and even in those texts, they are clear in stating that this term atman is a skillful means and does not mean the same atman of the Hindus.

If the Buddha would have taught an atman, why is there absolutely no evidence for such a view, at all?
He uses it constantly in the Dhammapada.
Javi
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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by Javi »

I'd like to see the Dhammapada verse that says there is a permanent enduring self that is outside the skandas and that the goal of the path is to realize this self
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice. — Diogenes of Sinope

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14
davidbrainerd
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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by davidbrainerd »

Javi wrote:I'd like to see the Dhammapada verse that says there is a permanent enduring self that is outside the skandas and that the goal of the path is to realize this self
Basically the whole thing says that.
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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by Javi »

Quote a few passages for us then, you must be reading quite a different Dhammapada than I am.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice. — Diogenes of Sinope

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14
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Polar Bear
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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by Polar Bear »

What are the aggregates:
At Savatthi. "Monks, any brahmans or contemplatives who recollect their manifold past lives all recollect the five clinging-aggregates, or one among them.

"And why do you call it 'form'?[1] Because it is afflicted,[2] thus it is called 'form.' Afflicted with what? With cold & heat & hunger & thirst, with the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles. Because it is afflicted, it is called form.

"And why do you call it 'feeling'? Because it feels, thus it is called 'feeling.' What does it feel? It feels pleasure, it feels pain, it feels neither-pleasure-nor-pain. Because it feels, it is called feeling.

"And why do you call it 'perception'? Because it perceives, thus it is called 'perception.' What does it perceive? It perceives blue, it perceives yellow, it perceives red, it perceives white. Because it perceives, it is called perception.

"And why do you call them 'fabrications'? Because they fabricate fabricated things, thus they are called 'fabrications.' What do they fabricate as a fabricated thing? For the sake of form-ness, they fabricate form as a fabricated thing. For the sake of feeling-ness, they fabricate feeling as a fabricated thing. For the sake of perception-hood... For the sake of fabrication-hood... For the sake of consciousness-hood, they fabricate consciousness as a fabricated thing. Because they fabricate fabricated things, they are called fabrications. [3]

"And why do you call it 'consciousness'? Because it cognizes, thus it is called consciousness. What does it cognize? It cognizes what is sour, bitter, pungent, sweet, alkaline, non-alkaline, salty, & unsalty. Because it cognizes, it is called consciousness.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Javi wrote:Aggregates are not some ontological things. Aggregates are categories of phenomenological processes grouped together. In short, the skandas are the five categories of phenomena that people mistake as a self and cling to. They are activities that help explain how suffering arises. Anything outside the skandas is something which does not matter to the Buddha's system, which sees the "world" (loka) as being encompassed by our phenomenological experience and who's main goal is ending suffering, not providing an ontological theory.

The aggregates don't get reborn, not even consciousness - the Buddha is clear about this. What you're asking is the age old question of "what actually gets reborn" or "what experiences karma". The answer to that is that the Buddha never gave an answer. Some believe it is some subtle form of being that explains the continuity of karma - the alaya or the bhavanga - but this was something invented after the Buddha's death. Basically, the Buddha would answer that these types of questions are pointless, they are like the questions of the person in the Malunkyaputta sutta who wanted to know all these details about the arrow, instead of working to remove the arrow. As Thanissaro says:
Not exactly, but you do you have a point. For example here:
"Exactly so, lord. As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it is just this consciousness that runs and wanders on, not another."

"Which consciousness, Sāti, is that?" [1]

"This speaker, this knower, lord, that is sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & evil actions."

"And to whom, worthless man, do you understand me to have taught the Dhamma like that? Haven't I, in many ways, said of dependently co-arisen consciousness, 'Apart from a requisite condition, there is no coming-into-play of consciousness'? [2] But you, through your own poor grasp, not only slander us but also dig yourself up [by the root] and produce much demerit for yourself. That will lead to your long-term harm & suffering."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
However, the process of consciousness continues as a being not yet reborn is said to be craving sustained and consciousness is a necessary condition for craving to be:
"But, Master Gotama, at the moment a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"

"Vaccha, when a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, I designate it as wind-sustained, for the wind is its sustenance at that time."

"And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"

"Vaccha, when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
But let us not think that a being is some stable entity:
"'A being,' lord. 'A being,' it's said. To what extent is one said to be 'a being'?"

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for form, Radha: when one is caught up[1] there, tied up[2] there, one is said to be 'a being.'[3]

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for feeling... perception... fabrications...

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for consciousness, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
But yes, the aggregates are the aspects of experience that people take as the self:
At Savatthi. There the Blessed One said, "Monks, whatever contemplatives or brahmans who assume in various ways when assuming a self, all assume the five clinging-aggregates, or a certain one of them.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
David Brainerd will not recognize the validity of the following sutta as it contradicts his idiosyncratic theory of the purpose of anatta, but it shows that a Tathagata is not the aggregates, but also not something apart from them. This is the full teaching on anatta, but it is not annihilationism:
"What do you think: Do you regard the Tathagata as form-feeling-perception-fabrications-consciousness?"

"No, my friend."

"Do you regard the Tathagata as that which is without form, without feeling, without perception, without fabrications, without consciousness?"

"No, my friend."

"And so, my friend Yamaka — when you can't pin down the Tathagata as a truth or reality even in the present life — is it proper for you to declare, 'As I understand the Teaching explained by the Blessed One, a monk with no more effluents, on the break-up of the body, is annihilated, perishes, & does not exist after death'?"

"Previously, my friend Sariputta, I did foolishly hold that evil supposition. But now, having heard your explanation of the Dhamma, I have abandoned that evil supposition, and have broken through to the Dhamma."

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

Also, see here
Davidbrainerd, you should realize that your obsession with self is a cancer, an arrow, poison. Being obsessed with the conceit "I am" you cannot go beyond birth, aging, death, suffering, sorrow, lamentation, and despair.
"'I am' is an act of conceit. 'I am this' is an act of conceit. 'I shall be' is an act of conceit. 'I shall not be'... 'I shall be possessed of form'... 'I shall not be possessed of form'... 'I shall be percipient'... 'I shall not be percipient'... 'I shall be neither percipient nor non-percipient' is an act of conceit. An act of conceit is a disease, an act of conceit is a cancer, an act of conceit is an arrow. Therefore, monks, you should train yourselves: 'We will dwell with an awareness free of acts of conceit.'"

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
All is burning:
"And how does a monk burn? There is the case where a monk's conceit of 'I am' is not abandoned, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. This is how a monk burns.

"And how does a monk not burn? There is the case where a monk's conceit of 'I am' is abandoned, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. This is how a monk doesn't burn."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
I understand some people get annoyed by posts that are basically entirely composed of copy and paste but generally speaking, posting suttas and providing a few undeniable inferences is the most assured way to present what the teachings of early buddhism have to say about a matter. Of course, some people cannot be persuaded even with a great deal of evidence.

:anjali:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
Javi
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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by Javi »

polarbear101 wrote: Not exactly, but you do you have a point. For example here:
"Exactly so, lord. As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it is just this consciousness that runs and wanders on, not another."

"Which consciousness, Sāti, is that?" [1]

"This speaker, this knower, lord, that is sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & evil actions."

"And to whom, worthless man, do you understand me to have taught the Dhamma like that? Haven't I, in many ways, said of dependently co-arisen consciousness, 'Apart from a requisite condition, there is no coming-into-play of consciousness'? [2] But you, through your own poor grasp, not only slander us but also dig yourself up [by the root] and produce much demerit for yourself. That will lead to your long-term harm & suffering."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
However, the process of consciousness continues as a being not yet reborn is said to be craving sustained and consciousness is a necessary condition for craving to be:
"But, Master Gotama, at the moment a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"

"Vaccha, when a flame is being swept on by the wind and goes a far distance, I designate it as wind-sustained, for the wind is its sustenance at that time."

"And at the moment when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, what do you designate as its sustenance then?"

"Vaccha, when a being sets this body aside and is not yet reborn in another body, I designate it as craving-sustained, for craving is its sustenance at that time."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
And yet
"It is as if two sheaves of reeds were to stand leaning against one another. In the same way, from name-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness, from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-form....
"If one were to pull away one of those sheaves of reeds, the other would fall; if one were to pull away the other, the first one would fall. In the same way, from the cessation of name-form comes the cessation of consciousness, from the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-form...." http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Without name and form, consciousness cannot exist, so after death, there cannot be some consciousness which floats around and enters a body like some disembodied soul thingy. So yes, there is craving, and there is ignorance, and there is some kind of karmic continuity. But there are none of the five aggregates floating on to the next life.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice. — Diogenes of Sinope

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14
Spiny Norman
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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by Spiny Norman »

Javi wrote:Here is a question to you. If the Buddha really believed in a self outside the five aggregates, why not just say so? There were many systems of thought at the Buddha's time, like Samkya and Jainism who held this view. It would have been much easier and less confusing to just talk about an atman in the way they did, and yet he does not. He never talks about achieving an atman outside the five skandas, he never says that nibbana is some kind of union or realization of atman, which you would expect of a teacher holding your view. There is no evidence from any Buddhist tradition after the Buddhas death that he held this view, even the personalist school was careful not to use the term atman and instead used the term pudgala and hedged that it wasn't some eternal thing either, because they understood that the Buddha denied atman.
Only with much later Mahayana texts do we get the Buddha teaching this view, and even in those texts, they are clear in stating that this term atman is a skillful means and does not mean the same atman of the Hindus.

If the Buddha would have taught an atman, why is there absolutely no evidence for such a view, at all?
:goodpost:
Buddha save me from new-agers!
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No_Mind
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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by No_Mind »

Javi wrote:
Here is a question to you. If the Buddha really believed in a self outside the five aggregates, why not just say so? There were many systems of thought at the Buddha's time, like Samkya and Jainism who held this view. It would have been much easier and less confusing to just talk about an atman in the way they did, and yet he does not.
The answer to that is remarkably simple. Buddhism, Jainism and early Hinduism was teaching much the same thing (in the sense of teaching same jargons -- Karma, samsara, rebirth).

He wanted to do what is called in marketing brand differentiation. He wanted his teachings to appear different to a person listening to him for an hour (much in same way manufacturers hold on to your attention with a slightly altered feature .. what is called hook in marketing .. to get your primary interest aroused .. he was a master of human psychology no denying that).

As an Indian the first thing one notes (not apparent to Westerners) about him is he chose to begin teaching at Sarnath, a stone's throw away from the most famous Hindu pilgrimage site. In a 86,000 square mile province (Bihar and Eastern half of UP) he chose a place that was only 5 miles from the principal Hindu pilgrimage site to begin his ministry. Is there any other way than brand differentiation to interpret this?

That speaks volumes .. about his objectives and ambitiousness (nothing wrong there) and a meticulous genius like him had to have approached commencement of his ministry with a carefully laid out hook.

If Hindus (here by Hindus I mean those who were following the religion that later came to be called Hinduism) who visited Varanasi came to listen to him they would not find much daylight between his words and those of other teachers if he used the word soul.

Yet, he left sufficient wriggle room to fit in the concept of soul (a debate which we find arises time and again).

Later (after he passed away) probably the monks took a hard line stance and made the teachings evolve in the way that we find. You have to remember a religion is as much about politics as about metaphysics and we have no way of knowing what was his position (to which suttas/concepts he attached more weight) and what was the position of the sangha which survived him and came to have considerable political influence from 3rd century BCE.

I can ask the converse question -- if he disbelieved in the soul, why not just say so?

:namaste:

Edit Add -- However this opinion I put forward should not be shared in a forum like this. What I did is in bad taste and I apologize. It is like writing in a Christian forum that Jesus was nothing more than a political activist whose teachings were a call for regime change, for ending Roman hegemony over Judea and ending a corrupt and oppressive aristocratic priesthood.
Last edited by No_Mind on Sat Oct 29, 2016 6:10 am, edited 4 times in total.
"The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”― Albert Camus
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Polar Bear
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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by Polar Bear »

Javi wrote: And yet
"It is as if two sheaves of reeds were to stand leaning against one another. In the same way, from name-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness, from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-form....
"If one were to pull away one of those sheaves of reeds, the other would fall; if one were to pull away the other, the first one would fall. In the same way, from the cessation of name-form comes the cessation of consciousness, from the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-form...." http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Without name and form, consciousness cannot exist, so after death, there cannot be some consciousness which floats around and enters a body like some disembodied soul thingy. So yes, there is craving, and there is ignorance, and there is some kind of karmic continuity. But there are none of the five aggregates floating on to the next life.
It isn't some soul thingy, it's just that events of consciousness can continue to arise apart from a physical body according to early buddhism as far as I can tell. But yes, name-and-form and consciousness condition each other:
"If one is asked, 'Is there a demonstrable requisite condition for name-and-form?' one should answer, 'There is.'

"If one is asked, 'From what requisite condition does name-and-form come?' one should say, 'Name-and-form comes from consciousness as its requisite condition.'

"If one is asked, 'Is there a demonstrable requisite condition for consciousness?' one should answer, 'There is.'

"If one is asked, 'From what requisite condition does consciousness come?' one should say, 'Consciousness comes from name-and-form as its requisite condition.'

...

Name-and-form

"'From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form.' Thus it has been said. And this is the way to understand how from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form. If consciousness were not to descend into the mother's womb, would name-and-form take shape in the womb?"

"No, lord."

"If, after descending into the womb, consciousness were to depart, would name-and-form be produced for this world?"

"No, lord."

"If the consciousness of the young boy or girl were to be cut off, would name-and-form ripen, grow, and reach maturity?"

"No, lord."

"Thus this is a cause, this is a reason, this is an origination, this is a requisite condition for name-and-form, i.e., consciousness."

Consciousness

"'From name-and-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness.' Thus it has been said. And this is the way to understand how from name-and-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness. If consciousness were not to gain a foothold in name-and-form, would a coming-into-play of the origination of birth, aging, death, and stress in the future be discerned?

"No, lord."

"Thus this is a cause, this is a reason, this is an origination, this is a requisite condition for consciousness, i.e., name-and-form.

"This is the extent to which there is birth, aging, death, passing away, and re-arising. This is the extent to which there are means of designation, expression, and delineation. This is the extent to which the sphere of discernment extends, the extent to which the cycle revolves for the manifesting (discernibility) of this world — i.e., name-and-form together with consciousness.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Coëmgenu
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Re: what do no-selfers think the aggregates are?

Post by Coëmgenu »

Javi wrote:Here is a question to you. If the Buddha really believed in a self outside the five aggregates, why not just say so?
This is similar to my line of reasoning when approaching the subject. A "true self" that transcends, but is "trapped in" delusion, ignorance, and suffering, which is not the aggregates and exists indépendant of namarupa (if I am using the term correctly), isn't necessarily that difficult a concept to communicate. If it is the case that Buddha thought there was a true self he would literally just say that. If the Buddha did believe in such a thing he obviously thought it was completely impossible to communicate, or completely understand on the part of a practitioner, assuming he didn't think it was just plain wrong, which seems most likely. The fact that annihilationism is considered a wrong-view should be sufficient for any practitioner dealing with annihilationist tendencies in thought.
Javi wrote:Only with much later Mahayana texts do we get the Buddha teaching this view, and even in those texts, they are clear in stating that this term atman is a skillful means and does not mean the same atman of the Hindus.
I don't know about usage of the term "Ātman" specifically, but sometimes these sūtra are even more heretical from what I think the Theravada interpretation is. The Lotus Sutra, for instance, labels the passing-away of the Buddha as a skillful means. The Buddha neither exists not doesn't exist, therefore is not "gone" according to that sūtra, "I am always here preaching the Law [...] on the Holy Eagle Peak" (paraphrase). So sometimes in certain Mahāyāna sūtra there actually does seem to be sidestepping of traditional anattā.
"...and so concludes the exposition of the originated," spake Thomas the Bodhi Wizard. Then, he summarized in a verse:

"I tell you as I told my darling Auntie Wanda,
'It's all a ball of wibbly-wobbly Dharma-Wharma.'"

They rejoiced and lauded.

(Dharmatā verse from the Sūtra of Dubious Import)
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