Soul theories and the Dhamma

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Mahabrahma
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Mahabrahma »

Coëmgenu wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:32 pm
Mahabrahma wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 5:50 pm Someone find me a specific Sutta where the Buddha explicitly stated that there is no soul at all. :broke:
:rofl:
The least you could do is at least pretend to have even the slightest bit of respect for the Buddha's Dharma while you use the usual Hindu tricks to try to twist it.
I have full respect for the Dhamma and I think it is not fully faithful to what the Buddha taught to say that He didn't believe in the soul. It seems to me like the Suttas don't say there isn't a soul, however some very Learned Buddhist Teachers who I might say are Enlightened have said there is no soul. I believe this is an Expedient Means to draw in those who would have difficulty understanding the soul, and instead explain to them who they are in deep philosophical Buddhist terminology that I greatly respect, that the Buddha formulated and used. I don't think the Buddha explicitly stated there is no soul in the Suttas, and those Buddhists who do state that there isn't one based on how they have decided to preach Anatta I greatly respect nonetheless, just as much as I respect the Buddha. I have equal respect for all Buddhists and full respect for the Dhamma and Sanga which I have taken refuge in as the Three Jewels. But I don't believe that the Buddha didn't think there wasn't a soul, despite His Perfect and correct Teaching method which has withstood the test of time. Anatta is a perfect expounding on how to reach Nibbana.

:candle:
Last edited by Mahabrahma on Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
coconut
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by coconut »

Mahabrahma wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 5:50 pm Someone find me a specific Sutta where the Buddha explicitly stated that there is no soul at all. :broke:
Soul = Consciousness

When one dies, they linger around their body for a while. See the vinaya story of monks taking robes from corpses, and a ghost chasing a monk to get his robes back and then the Buddha made the rule that you must wait a certain amount of time to take robes off the dead.

Your consciousness is reborn every millisecond, when you die, it dies as well but there is still energy remaining and you linger around your body for a few days to review your life, and then you're reborn depending on your karma. If you're going to hell, then hells wardens will drag you down to King Yama. If you're going to heaven, you will rise naturally. If you're a hungry ghost, you will stay in your current form and linger around the physical human plane until your karma runs out and you're reborn again. Hungry ghosts are everywhere as they are one of the most common rebirths for humans.
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Mahabrahma
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Mahabrahma »

I don't want to argue it right now as it's been done so and formulated for thousands of years. But if someone could find me a genuine Sutta that states so, I would be thankful.
coconut
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by coconut »

Mahabrahma wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:50 pm I don't want to argue it right now as it's been done so and formulated for thousands of years. But if someone could find me a genuine Sutta that states so, I would be thankful.

Well just to be clear, you're asking for non-existence, which is a logical fallacy. Just because the Buddha doesn't mention soul, doesn't mean he believes in a soul.

And from the Milinda Panha, it says there is no soul https://suttacentral.net/mil3.7.15/en/tw_rhysdavids

And in the suttas that the Buddha uses soul as a synonym for mind, consciousness or identity - https://suttacentral.net/sn12.35/en/bodhi
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Coëmgenu »

Mahabrahma wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:50 pm I don't want to argue it right now as it's been done so and formulated for thousands of years. But if someone could find me a genuine Sutta that states so, I would be thankful.
You need to view the Anātmalakṣaṇasūtra (Sūtra of the Characteristic of Selflessness) at SN 22.59 and SĀ 33-34 and cross-reference it with with the Sabbasutta at SN 35.23 (you will not be able to check the Sarvāstisūtra without knowing some Chinese) if you think SN 22.59 is not definitive. Whether you translate ātma as "self" or "soul," there isn't one.
The thus come thus gone,
who has neither came nor went,
enthroned on men’s breath,

like the still turtle,
withdraws six appendages
and is clothed in light --

illuminating
the unilluminated
with three shining cures.
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Mahabrahma
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Mahabrahma »

coconut wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:58 pm
Mahabrahma wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 8:50 pm I don't want to argue it right now as it's been done so and formulated for thousands of years. But if someone could find me a genuine Sutta that states so, I would be thankful.

Well just to be clear, you're asking for non-existence, which is a logical fallacy. Just because the Buddha doesn't mention soul, doesn't mean he believes in a soul.

And from the Milinda Panha, it says there is no soul https://suttacentral.net/mil3.7.15/en/tw_rhysdavids

And in the suttas that the Buddha uses soul as a synonym for mind, consciousness or identity - https://suttacentral.net/sn12.35/en/bodhi
I Love in this Sutta, 12.35, as stated:
If there is the view, ‘The soul and the body are the same,’ there is no living of the holy life; and if there is the view, ‘The soul is one thing, the body is another,’ there is no living of the holy life. Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma by the middle: ‘With ignorance as condition, volitional formations.’
There is clearly an acceptance of the soul here, asking us to take the Middle Way in understanding it. And the soul isn't denied here, clearly it being stated that 'The soul is one thing, the body is another,' is a mistaken view. Again, we are to take the Middle Way.

As for in Mil 3.7.15, the Elder is using progressive wisdom but it has not fructified in fullness, as just because someone is hurt or injured, or killed, doesn't mean they cease to live. This is evident in the basic Buddhist doctrine of reincarnation.
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Mahabrahma
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

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I will try to take a look, thank you, Coëmgenu. Atman can mean many things: including soul or self, but it doesn't have to mean both. Soul and self are not the same thing when it comes to advanced Buddhist philosophy in my opinion because of how deeply Anatta has to be expounded on. But you've got this right from your perspective so I'll take a look. It's just that in modern pre-Buddhist philosophies soul and self were usually synonymous, and since, I will have to counter that there is a soul just like there is the unequivocal truth that there is Love or morality, in Buddhism soul and self don't have to be viewed as the same thing, based on the various views of Anatta. Anatta gives me great joy, but at the same time I understand the soul is there, to me it is what all life is.
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Mahabrahma
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Mahabrahma »

Here is the Anātmalakṣaṇasūtra.
SN 22.59

Anatta-lakkhana Sutta: The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic

Thus I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Benares, in the Deer Park at Isipatana (the Resort of Seers). There he addressed the bhikkhus of the group of five: "Bhikkhus." — "Venerable sir," they replied. The Blessed One said this.

"Bhikkhus, form is not-self. Were form self, then this form would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.' And since form is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.'

"Bhikkhus, feeling is not-self...

"Bhikkhus, perception is not-self...

"Bhikkhus, determinations are not-self...

"Bhikkhus, consciousness is not self. Were consciousness self, then this consciousness would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of consciousness: 'Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.' And since consciousness is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of consciousness: 'Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.'

"Bhikkhus, how do you conceive it: is form permanent or impermanent?" — "Impermanent, venerable Sir." — "Now is what is impermanent painful or pleasant?" — "Painful, venerable Sir." — "Now is what is impermanent, what is painful since subject to change, fit to be regarded thus: 'This is mine, this is I, this is my self'"? — "No, venerable sir."

"Is feeling permanent or impermanent?...

"Is perception permanent or impermanent?...

"Are determinations permanent or impermanent?...

"Is consciousness permanent or impermanent?" — "Impermanent, venerable sir." — "Now is what is impermanent pleasant or painful?" — "Painful, venerable sir." — "Now is what is impermanent, what is painful since subject to change, fit to be regarded thus: 'This is mine, this is I, this is my self'"? — "No, venerable sir."

"So, bhikkhus any kind of form whatever, whether past, future or presently arisen, whether gross or subtle, whether in oneself or external, whether inferior or superior, whether far or near, must with right understanding how it is, be regarded thus: 'This is not mine, this is not I, this is not myself.'

"Any kind of feeling whatever...

"Any kind of perception whatever...

"Any kind of determination whatever...

"Any kind of consciousness whatever, whether past, future or presently arisen, whether gross or subtle, whether in oneself or external, whether inferior or superior, whether far or near must, with right understanding how it is, be regarded thus: 'This is not mine, this is not I, this is not my self.'

"Bhikkhus, when a noble follower who has heard (the truth) sees thus, he finds estrangement in form, he finds estrangement in feeling, he finds estrangement in perception, he finds estrangement in determinations, he finds estrangement in consciousness.

"When he finds estrangement, passion fades out. With the fading of passion, he is liberated. When liberated, there is knowledge that he is liberated. He understands: 'Birth is exhausted, the holy life has been lived out, what can be done is done, of this there is no more beyond.'"

That is what the Blessed One said. The bhikkhus were glad, and they approved his words.

Now during this utterance, the hearts of the bhikkhus of the group of five were liberated from taints through clinging no more.
Anatta Understanding involves not-self. However it's not mentioned here that there is no soul. By attaching the term soul to self when you are trying to meditate into a state of Anatta may not lead you all the way unless you secretly understand the soul. It is this little rebellion from the expounded truth that we have utilized to save others who don't believe in the soul, and we bring them into Buddhism, however it is for the purpose of Expedient Means, as no part of Buddhism is meant to deceive anyone and it is a perfect Philosophy of the Enlightened. Anyway, this Sutta is about "not-self" which is something different, it is about overcoming the Skandhas and attaining Nirvana by Anatta.
Last edited by Mahabrahma on Sun Oct 18, 2020 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Mahabrahma »

As for the Sabba Sutta:
SN 35.23

Sabba Sutta: The All

"Monks, I will teach you the All. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. [1] Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range."
Exactly, this is the understanding of Anatta. I Love Buddha. However just because something lies beyond range doesn't mean it isn't there, in fact it implies it's existence. How can something be considered beyond range if it didn't exist?
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

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Also I found this, talking about true Self which I think is very important:
saṃyukta āgama 34

Five Monks

thus have i heard. At one time the Bhagavān was dwelling in Vārāṇasī, at the Deer Park of Ṛṣipatana. At that time, the Bhagavān told a group of five bhikṣus, “Form does not exist as a self. If form existed as a self, then form would not be associated with the arising of illness and suffering. Regarding form, it is also not possible to cause it to be like this, or not like this, because form is not oneself. From form and the arising of illness and suffering, one also grasps the desire to make form like this, or not like this. For sensation, conception, synthesis, and discrimination, it is also such as this.

“Bhikṣus, tell me what you think: is form permanent or impermanent?” The bhikṣus addressed the Buddha, saying, “Impermanent, Bhagavān.” “Bhikṣus, is that which is impermanent, suffering?” The bhikṣus addressed the Buddha, saying, “It is suffering, Bhagavān.” “Bhikṣus, regarding these impermanent and afflicting dharmas, easily subject to change, does a well-learned venerable disciple perceive in these a self or a non-self, and thereby dwell in appearances?” The bhikṣus addressed the Buddha saying, “No, Bhagavān, and for sensation, conception, synthesis, and discrimination, it is also such as this.” “For this reason, bhikṣus, all form that exists—whether in the past, the future, or the present; internal or external; coarse or fine; appealing or unappealing; far or near—all these are not a self, not a true self. Correct contemplation of sensation, conception, synthesis, and discrimination is also such as this.

“Bhikṣus, regarding the Five Skandhas, a well-learned venerable disciple perceives they are not a self, not a true self, and contemplates thusly. Regarding the various realms, because there is no clinging, there is no suffering, and because there is no suffering, there is self-awakening and Nirvāṇa. ‘My births have come to an end, Brahmacarya has been established, what was to be done has been done, and there is the self-realization of no further suffering.’”

After the Buddha had spoken this sūtra, the group of five bhikṣus did not give rise to outflows, and their minds attained liberation. After the Buddha had spoken this sūtra, then the bhikṣus heard what the Buddha had said, and blissfully practiced in accordance.
-SA.34

The Teaching of not-self is a little simpler than no-self when it comes to this kind of Truth.
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Coëmgenu »

That's an interesting find.

自知不受後有
knowing for oneself no suffering thereafter there is

It is not an instance of the term "ātma"/我 from above, but it does relate to the Buddhist paradox of what is awakened if there is no ātma. What the translator renders as "self-realization" is 自知, which is "knowing for oneself" or "personally experiencing" if we want to use looser language.
The thus come thus gone,
who has neither came nor went,
enthroned on men’s breath,

like the still turtle,
withdraws six appendages
and is clothed in light --

illuminating
the unilluminated
with three shining cures.
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Mahabrahma
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Mahabrahma »

Well to me, Anatta is beyond words and can't be described only with not-self, and the no-self approach. Though words are helpful to get there. Though Anatta itself can be communicated Mystically by words. Really, to me, Anatta is a state of full Mahakaruna. Without the highest ideal one isn't in full Anatta.
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by skandha »

Coëmgenu wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 10:45 pm That's an interesting find.

自知不受後有
knowing for oneself no suffering thereafter there is

It is not an instance of the term "ātma"/我 from above, but it does relate to the Buddhist paradox of what is awakened if there is no ātma. What the translator renders as "self-realization" is 自知, which is "knowing for oneself" or "personally experiencing" if we want to use looser language.
That's basically what sambuddho is commonly translated to, self awakened, meaning the sammasambuddhas are pioneers that discover the path by themselves. So a sammasambuddha is a rightly self awakened one.
Form is like a lump of foam, Feeling like a water bubble; Perception is like a mirage, Volitions like a plantain trunk, and consciousness like an illusion
- SN 22.95
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Coëmgenu
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Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Coëmgenu »

skandha wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 11:50 pm
Coëmgenu wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 10:45 pm That's an interesting find.

自知不受後有
knowing for oneself no suffering thereafter there is

It is not an instance of the term "ātma"/我 from above, but it does relate to the Buddhist paradox of what is awakened if there is no ātma. What the translator renders as "self-realization" is 自知, which is "knowing for oneself" or "personally experiencing" if we want to use looser language.
That's basically what sambuddho is commonly translated to, self awakened, meaning the sammasambuddhas are pioneers that discover the path by themselves. So a sammasambuddha is a rightly self awakened one.
Yes. I looked it up, and it is translating "(abhiññā) sacchikatvā," or "having realised; having experienced for oneself." Because Chinese is not an inflected language "having experienced for oneself" becomes "experiencing for oneself" when we strip away the tense (what encodes for time in English).
The thus come thus gone,
who has neither came nor went,
enthroned on men’s breath,

like the still turtle,
withdraws six appendages
and is clothed in light --

illuminating
the unilluminated
with three shining cures.
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Coëmgenu
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Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: Soul theories and the Dhamma

Post by Coëmgenu »

Buddhists have, and indeed the Buddha has, no problem using the language of "self" provisionally. When the Buddha instructs his follows in the four mindfulness bases, he instructs them to view internally, adhyātma (Pali: ajjhatta), and externally, bahirdhā. Similarly, when the Buddha, or anyone else speaking Middle Indic and/or Classical Sanskrit, wishes to indicate a particular living being or an individual, they might refer to an "ātmabhāva" (Pali: attabhāva). So we know that the Buddha was well-aware of the meaning of the term. All the same, he says "anātma" when questioned, not "ātma."
The thus come thus gone,
who has neither came nor went,
enthroned on men’s breath,

like the still turtle,
withdraws six appendages
and is clothed in light --

illuminating
the unilluminated
with three shining cures.
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