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Thread: Atman-Brahman in Buddhism

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    Atman-Brahman in Buddhism

    The work on the subject, in French, by Kamaleswar Bhattacharya has been translated into English now. Here is a link on both books and the late Bhattacharya's other related writings:

    http://prajnaquest.fr/blog/

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    Re: Atman-Brahman in Buddhism

    From Bhattacharya's conclusion, p. 207:

    The Buddha certainly denied the åtman. That åtman,
    however, is not the Upanishadic åtman. Better still: the true
    spiritual åtman, for the Upanishads as for the Buddha, is the
    negation of that which men generally consider to be the
    åtman, that is, the psycho-physical individuality.

    In actual fact, our controversy is nothing but an argument
    over words. The authentic åtman, being the negation of
    the empirical åtman, is anåtman; and anåtman is a negative
    expression which indicates the authentic åtman, which is ineffable
    and—from the objective point of view—“non-existent.”

    There is no contradiction between åtman and anåtman. The
    åtman, which is denied, and that which is affirmed, through
    that negation itself, pertains to two different levels. It is only
    when we have not succeeded in distinguishing between
    them, that the terms åtman and anåtman seem to us to be
    opposed.
    Basically, there is not even one buddha, only great wisdom. Bodhisattva Hsuan Hua

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    Re: Atman-Brahman in Buddhism

    Hello skull,

    While the empirical self is indeed ultimately denied by all astika schools as transient, unreal and hence sublateable, a spiritual atman that is unchanging and undergoes transmigration is positively affirmed. This is the same self that is mired in samsara and ultimately attains moksha/nibbana.

    I have not been able to read the document you have presented. Perhaps this is talked about there. Did Buddha affirm the existence of something/anything at all, in your opinion?

    Thanks.

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    Re: Atman-Brahman in Buddhism

    Since buddhas and bodhisattvas are real, dedicating eons to helping and teaching beings, the question turns on understanding reality. I am avoiding 'existence' and 'affirmation' because Mahayana teaches that non-conceptual awareness is indescribable, as is buddhahood, dharmakaya etc.

    So a short answer is yes, buddha says, in the Srimala Sutra and other tathagatagarbha teachings that there are positive qualities, each of which is empty of inherent existence. Thus Reality has a nature that lacks nature - tathata or Suchness it is named.
    Basically, there is not even one buddha, only great wisdom. Bodhisattva Hsuan Hua

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    Re: Atman-Brahman in Buddhism

    Hello,

    What Buddha negated is Anatma which is considered as Atman by us. So negation of Atman and Anatman is the same thing. The real self can not be negated because in Upanishada Atman is said to be that thing which can not be negated.

    Shuka says to Parikshita:


    " You yourself are That Brahman. You alone are that Supreme Absolute abode .. Seeing this cautiously you should fix your self in that undivided Atma " ( Bhagavata purana 12.5.11 )


    hinduism♥krishna™ ©

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    Re: Atman-Brahman in Buddhism

    This topic has sparked a very long thread at a Buddhist forum I frequent.

    I personally feel that the whole debate is flawed from the outset, as it relies upon assertions of what exists versus what does not exist. Within some sections of western Buddhism today I have detected a very strong nihilistic undercurrent, which I consider to be a cultural phenomena. This is countered from time to time by other Buddhists who are likely to be accused of adhering to eternalist doctrines and I think this disquieting and paradoxical situation forms the background for much of the debate.

    Unfortunately for both sides Buddha never gave any teachings on this topic - in fact he avoided it entirely, despite being repeatedly asked. He taught that such musings were not conducive to unbinding. A thicket of views, he described it.

    But what of anatta? Can that be posited as a metaphysical position?

    Many western Buddhists erroneously claim it means that there is no self. Others, following Tibetan teachings, say there is a conventional self but no ultimate self. Again, these are both positions which Buddha never championed and in no way represent anatta.

    Anatta is experiential - the powerful realisation that all aggregates and objects of the witnessing consciousness are not-self. It is a release from habitual self-grasping. It is not a metaphysical position. Others have built positions of various kinds out of it but Buddha never did.

    Whether Atman exists or not has to be a futile question - searching for a concept or idea to cling to when the state of non-duality is beyond all such things. In the liberated state self and other become meaningless categories.

    Namaste

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    Re: Atman-Brahman in Buddhism

    "one self-existent impersonal Spirit , the one universal Soul (or one divine essence and source from which all created things emanate or with which they are identified and to which they return) , the Self-existent , the Absolute , the Eternal... is Brahman."

    My questions are, which of the oldest Upanishad(s) plainly explain Brahman this way, without reliance on any commentators' interpretation.

    Do they or it equate Atman with Brahman also, again ignoring any commentaries.
    Basically, there is not even one buddha, only great wisdom. Bodhisattva Hsuan Hua

  8. #8

    Re: Atman-Brahman in Buddhism

    Pranams Skull for posting some good reading material.

    This debate of weather the self, the soul, the atman and Brahman is finally reached in Buddhism will always go on imo. I am not scholar but well read enough to know that the debate needs to be looked at from a different perspective rather than comparing different shastra's and traditions against each other.

    Siddharta Gautama in an essence taught that it is the defilements that needed to be worked on, and the problem we have at this moment in time lies within the 5 aggregates or kleshas, and there is no inherent self existence within the defilements or the kleshas, or as wundermonk puts it the objective self, the individual. From the Uphanishad point of view lets take the verse from Srimad Bhagavad Gita http://www.bhagavad-gita.org/Gita/verse-02-24.html which means in many ways that the soul or atman does not need to be saved, it remains unaffected in all situations , consciousness is usually understand both in Vedanta and Buddhism as Chitta, and Chitta can either take the form of the conditioned compounded self where it becomes Mind or it turns back into its orginal nature chaitanya. In the 4th state of consciousness Turiya we understand it in two ways, the rudimentary understanding is that of the witness and the ultimate understanding is that of pure transcendent nature free from any trace of phenomena, it cannot be imagined but only experienced, so the Buddha cut out mental proliferation on that Self and dealt exclusivley with the Kleshas and developed skillful means, ie Samatha, jhana, Vipassana and Satipatthana.

    For me its a very simple thing and not even a debate, and I see it as something that comes down to a choice of practice and what and how you approach the ultimate truth, the enlightened sages, rishis used what ever tricks they could to make paths to unbind the conditions which make up the objective individual.

    Ys
    Md

  9. #9

    Re: Atman-Brahman in Buddhism

    Verse VII of the Mandukya Upanishad describes Turiya:

    Turiya is not that which is conscious of the inner (subjective) world, nor that which is conscious of the outer (objective) world, nor that which is conscious of both, nor that which is a mass of consciousness. It is not simple consciousness nor is It unconsciousness. It is unperceived, unrelated, incomprehensible, uninferable, unthinkable and indescribable. The essence of the Consciousness manifesting as the self in the three states, It is the cessation of all phenomena; It is all peace, all bliss and non—dual. This is what is known as the Fourth (Turiya). This is Atman and this has to be realized.

    ====

    This is from Kevatta Sutta :

    Consciousness without feature,[1]
    without end, luminous all around:
    Here water, earth, fire, & wind
    have no footing.
    Here long & short
    coarse & fine
    fair & foul
    name & form are all brought to an end.
    With the cessation of [the activity of] consciousness
    each is here brought to an end.'"

    Note [1] Points to MN 49 and in a note in MN49 vinnanam anidassanam was explained.

    This is note 9 from MN 49

    Consciousness without surface (viññanam anidassanam): This term appears to be related to the following image from SN 12.64:
    "Just as if there were a roofed house or a roofed hall having windows on the north, the south, or the east. When the sun rises, and a ray has entered by way of the window, where does it land?"
    "On the western wall, lord."
    "And if there is no western wall, where does it land?"
    "On the ground, lord."
    "And if there is no ground, where does it land?"
    "On the water, lord."
    "And if there is no water, where does it land?"
    "It does not land, lord."
    "In the same way, where there is no passion for the nutriment of physical food ... contact ... intellectual intention ... consciousness, where there is no delight, no craving, then consciousness does not land there or grow. Where consciousness does not land or grow, name-&-form does not alight. Where name-&-form does not alight, there is no growth of fabrications. Where there is no growth of fabrications, there is no production of renewed becoming in the future. Where there is no production of renewed becoming in the future, there is no future birth, aging, & death. That, I tell you, has no sorrow, affliction, or despair."

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    Re: Atman-Brahman in Buddhism

    Aside from discussing the nature of bodhi, Mahayana followers like me wonder if the varied Hindu paths emphasize the bodhisattva vow? That is, returning voluntarily after liberation, to help for countless lives the countless unenlightened beings?

    Too much focus on liberation and unity with the 'eternal, all pervading' atman will result in ignoring all other beings.
    Basically, there is not even one buddha, only great wisdom. Bodhisattva Hsuan Hua

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