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Thread: Soul..There Yet Not There?

  1. #1
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    October 2009
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    Soul..There Yet Not There?


    I was reading a few line from Brahma Sutra Bashya(BSB) and I wanted to discuss this.

    BSB says:

    1)The individual soul has no origin, because the Upanishads do not mention this because its eternality is known from them and(because of other reasons).

    then this line is supported by Taittiriya Upanishad that says "He made Himself by Himself" therefore the individual soul has no origin.


    2)The Vedantin says: The individual soul should be a part of God even as a spark is of fire.The individual is a part of only apparent, for the partless Brahman can have no part in the literal sense.


    3) The Individual soul is only a reflection of the Supreme Self to be sure.

    Commentary: And this has to be understood that this individual soul is a reflection of the Supreme Self like the semblance of the sun in water.
    Not that the soul is the Self Itself nor is it something else.

    Ok what I would like to discuss here is:

    1)So it seems that the individual soul has no origin and is merely a reflection of the Supreme Self that is sort of compartmentalized Supreme Self Reflections like a house of mirrors..that is one man enters a house of mirrors and see countless reflections of himself.

    So the Supreme Self here is reflected as the soul in the house of mirrors of Maya and we have the countless Jeevatamas(Souls)

    2)So going by this..that means to say that a soul as an individual existence that is divorced from Brahman is not possible because Brahman is partless.

    Only a reflection as many but yet partless is possible.

    3)That means that Technically Jeevas are just reflections so it can be said that a Soul on it own has no origin or does not really "exists" in the real sense.

    I was just linking this to Lord Buddhas teachings when He said there is no soul.

    It could be that He was not denying the presence of a Jeevatma (soul) as in reflection of Brahman but the fact that its only a reflection renders it not having an independent existence and what He said got misunderstood that there is no soul.

    Because Lord Buddha did preach about Karma and without the presence of the reflections of Brahman as Jeevas the Karma theory can not stand.

    So is this what Lord Buddha really meant?

    It seems to have a standing in Brahma Sutra Bashya.

  2. #2
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    December 2007
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    Re: Soul..There Yet Not There?

    Namaste Renuka,

    I have thought on this issue for long. Buddha or anyone in quest of the Truth must reach the same destination and even if there are issues in choosing the right words/terms, they would more or less mean the same.

    The relationship between Jeeva and Brahman is the most difficult part to understand. Whatever language/words/terms/analogy you choose, it cannot be described as it really is. This is because, this Jeeva perceives differences very strongly and has most characteristics of being labelled as "existing". Otherwise valid questions are : "If there is no Jeeva, who takes birth, who accumulated karma, who dies and who is re-born ? If Jeeva is non-existent then what is Karma, what is bondage and what is liberation ?" ... and yet, Upanishads say unequivocally that there is Self alone and anyone "who sees differences here goes from death to death" (Ref : Kathopanishad) ! So, we take the analogy of rope and snake, imagined reality over the absolute reality.

    Buddha faced similar dilemma. Perhaps, that is why he chose not to indulge into such discussions. Such discussion, anyway won't lead to anywhere and it would hardly help in attaining liberation. We must keep in mind that Buddha was able to spread his message to masses whereas Advaita had difficulty in making this common. This was because in Advaita VedAnta, discussion and enquiry are of such a high level that unless one is more intelligent than average, he won't be able to make any headway in this discussion. So, Advaita VedAnta failed in being spread in common public even though it addressed the reality in much better way than Buddha did.

    I think Buddha did it purposefully so that people don't waste time in discussion and straightway aim for the highest goal through meditation. Again, Buddha aims for the highest goal and not anything less than that. That is Turiya state or Buddha state. By holding on to any notion strongly, one cannot reach this state. Even holding on to concept of God can be a hindrance in attaining this state as happened to Ramkrishna Paramhansa. That is why Buddha, perhaps thought not to encourage having any concept of "individual soul" or "jeeva" or even "Self" in his preaching. He advises to be patient in meditation and wait for the Reality to reveal Itself upon the seeker. He feels that any concept which has to be abandoned in the end is only a hindrance and therefore there is no need to keep on head any baggage even in the beginning.

    If you say that there is Jeeva your natural tendency is to hold on to the concept of Jeeva. Even if you don't mention anything about Jeeva, the sense of individuality tries to make us feel that we have separate existence. Therefore, Buddha wants that this concept must be denied any cognizance from the beginning itself. Even the word "Self' gives a notion of some entity other than "ourselves" and that becomes a hindrance !

    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

  3. #3

    Re: Soul..There Yet Not There?

    Pranams devotee

    Even the word "Self' gives a notion of some entity other than "ourselves" and that becomes a hindrance !
    This is such an important point. In Zen there is a saying, if you see the Buddha on the road kill him. Of course this is not a an action of killing, but the self is not outside the self, we dont make the mistake of mistaking phenomena even if it is seemingly divine as self. We dont see self we are self, and according to their practice its more or less impossible to see self because its blocked by a wall of material phenomena, so sometimes our projection of pure self can be just that, a projection of the mind/consciousness of subtle habitual grasping to the phenomena of self.

  4. #4

    Re: Soul..There Yet Not There?

    Quote Originally Posted by renuka View Post

    Because Lord Buddha did preach about Karma and without the presence of the reflections of Brahman as Jeevas the Karma theory can not stand.

    Why is that?

    Buddha taught that there is no Atman and there is no Brahman. He didn't exactly say there is no soul, since that is an english word which invokes a western concept, denial of which normally entails the denial of any continued existence after death

  5. #5

    Re: Soul..There Yet Not There?

    Quote Originally Posted by rainycity View Post
    Why is that?

    Buddha taught that there is no Atman and there is no Brahman. He didn't exactly say there is no soul, since that is an english word which invokes a western concept, denial of which normally entails the denial of any continued existence after death

    The Buddha never denied Brahman in the Pali texts actually........Brahma, the god, asked him to teach the Dhamma.

    This is a common misunderstanding as is the term "atta" hence AN-atta or Anatman.

    The word atta/atman had various meanings back in the Buddha's day and we don't know what he denied exactly as there is no clear definition of
    the term atta/atman as he understood it.


  6. #6

    Re: Soul..There Yet Not There?

    Namaste Stefos,

    The word BrahmA as in BrahmA Deva, whose was known back then as brahmA sahampati is not the same as Brahma as Brahman, there is grammatical and pronunciation differences so The two are different, there is a lot of reference to Brahman~Brahma in Pali Suttas, which is only one of the 5 main schools, and only came into texts forms or suttas 300 years after Siddharta.

    They seem to always want to distance themselves for some reason from the other Hindu teachings. Many names with Brahma were associated with High Level Bikkhus. Interestingly that only Siddharta was known as Tathagatha, and this transcended the limited being contained within the elements and can never be described with words, and all others who reached a stage of Arahatship or Sainthood, this has wonderful meaning when deliberated on, Tathagata can not be limited to or contained to just one individual being, but a saint can, but the Arahts being is no longer limited to his own self identification as a limited individual being, along these lines.......

    In terms of being liberated or secure on the path for final realization can be attained in 4th Jhana where one becomes stream enterer or stream winner, meaning they are on a irreversible path but not quite at the destination, but are carried onwards.

    In short Buddhism rejects all ways to truth by philosophical systems or punditry or debate to find the truth. Vedanta and all yogas systems the same too, the knowledge's are there to strike at the heart of Kleshas through upayas or subtle and skillful means and Siddharta's stress was on good living and perfection within the meditations or jhana and dhyana as way to liberation. This isnt to say that we dont study Shastra, for this day and age where its harder for the average person to see subtle truths as inherent in natural sattvic equanimity of pure mind, but one one should use the study of Shastra and the epistemology with introspection and reflection to help enter into meditation and literal meaning should be avoided because it hampers growth.

    Last edited by markandeya 108 dasa; 09 February 2017 at 05:11 AM.

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