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Thread: Atman

  1. #1

    Atman

    Hi there, I was wondering if someone could give me a Hindu definition of what Atman is?
    I've been a practicing Buddhist for many years though I'm now in conflict about it and searching elsewhere.
    In Buddhism is it said there is no Atman, no soul, no unchanging self and that Science now proves this too.
    Opinions?

  2. #2
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    Re: Atman

    Let me present the Nyaya view on this. The Nyaya school engaged in large range of dialectics with Buddhists about the existence of the soul/self.

    The Nyaya is a realist school of philosophy. There are differing views of the soul in idealist schools of Hindu philosophy [Advaita, certain interpretatiions of Samkhya, etc.]

    Per Nyaya, the soul is a pervasive immaterial substance. That is as close to the definition of the self that we can get to. Consciousness is but an adventitious property of the self. Thus consciousness is an attribute of the self. The Nyaya holds that desire, pain, pleasure, happiness, sadness, etc. are possible to be felt only by entities that possess a "self". Thus, desire, pain, pleasure, happiness, sadness, etc. are lingas [marks] of the self from which the existence of the self can be inferred. [There is a debate in Nyaya about whether the self can ever be inferred or it can only be perceived but we can get into that some other time.]

    The Nyaya position is that every guna [property]/ karma [action] needs a substrate to be based on. For instance, the red colour of the apple is a property of the underlying substance. The underlying substance is something that is different from the various properties that it gets to be endowed with. Contrast this with the Buddhist position that a substance is nothing more than the simple aggregation of its properties.

    Why does the Nyaya feel the soul is pervasive instead of atomic as held by other schools of Hindu thought?

    The Nyaya believes that all our actions lead to Karmic potentialities. These potentialities lie in seed form and attach themselves to the pervasive immaterial substance - the self. If a substance is atomic, nothing can "cling" onto it, per Nyaya. When the situation presents itself, this seed potentiality with actualize as cause and effect. For the actualization of Karmic effects, a self needs to be embodied. Without embiment, a self remains unconscious as consciousness is considered to be an adventitious property of the self. It arises only when the self is embodied.

    You may want to refer to this thread. There are various arguments put forth by the Nyaya to support their ontology and refute the "no-self" theorists.

  3. #3

    Re: Atman

    Quote Originally Posted by Greggorious View Post
    Hi there, I was wondering if someone could give me a Hindu definition of what Atman is?
    I've been a practicing Buddhist for many years though I'm now in conflict about it and searching elsewhere.
    In Buddhism is it said there is no Atman, no soul, no unchanging self and that Science now proves this too.
    Opinions?
    Why do you need other's opinions on this? Buddhist view on self is not just a view but a tangible experience.

    Self-consciousness is something we always feel when we move about in the ordinary world awake. This is the most basic form of awareness. You don't need vedas, philosophies, ontologies to believe in self - it is the most natural belief and anyone will readily agree that he has a self or soul or an entity.

    Buddhist claim otherwise. What does that say? Either buddha was a complete retard OR he went much deeper into himself to reach a ground where the self itself becomes illusion. Surely what buddha says is not supported by ordinary consciousness of the common human mind. So either the Buddhist view is an exalted and uncommon view or he was a crazy & stupid person. Does his life indicate he was a crazy retard? Did he reached his conclusion very easily? On the other hand any tom-dick-harry can vouch for the Self without knowing any scriptures, without meditating even without thinking much. What does that say?

    This is my suggestion to you as a buddhist. I also believe most common understanding of Self in Hinduism is not on par with the exalted understanding of non-self in buddhism. The nyaya view above, is good for argumenting with the buddhist but is contadicted by conscious experience. Self floats like a small ball in the ocean of consciousness and not vice a verse. It is sometimes in the heart, sometimes in the head. It is mostly unaware of all unconscious, subconscious or even conscious processes. No doubt the other hindus saw self as atomic. Also making our individual selfs pervasive like in Nyaya makes it a difficult position for a theists who like depend on an almighty God for everything.

    But I am not happy with buddhistic non-self either. All things are supported in some form of conscious activity or inactivity. There is no way to deny that. Buddhist only see the interconnectedness (madhyamaka view) of all existing things, but that is only one way to see it, and even when waves on a ocean has subsided the ocean still remains, no? So buddhistic view is a bit oppressive after sometime.

    If you are not interested in religion let go of all views and just meditate - all views are imperfect in someway because they are just views. The expereince which led to these views are real, so lets target that instead. Ofcourse you will be rediculed as unorthodox anti-something for that, but I think it is a small price to pay in this world.

    Edit to Add: But if you want to believe in Self, I think the advaitic/vedantic and shaiva/shakta are better. The individual self which is denied in buddhism is also regarded as an illusion here (rather I should say the duality of individual selves is an illusion) - the true self is hidden in maya or malas and what we regard as self is basically a involution in prakriti or nature. So you can go in the same lines as buddhist, but don't need end everything with dependent orgination. All things may (and I often think maynot) have interconnectedness, but they all exist in the vast canvass of the self or consciousness. The interconnectedness of apprearences cannot deny the self. Affirmation of self must happen in experience, but this is where Hinduism often falters, and instead of providing experience of self it feeds a bunch of beliefs about it. Same with present day buddhism where belief on a non-self is fed all the time.
    Last edited by sm78; 02 March 2012 at 04:06 AM.
    What is Here, is Elsewhere. What is not Here, is Nowhere.

  4. #4

    Re: Atman

    Quote Originally Posted by wundermonk View Post
    The Nyaya is a realist school of philosophy. There are differing views of the soul in idealist schools of Hindu philosophy [Advaita, certain interpretatiions of Samkhya, etc.]
    I think this western classification of mind and matter, realism and idealism may be inappropriate for bharat dharmas.
    What is Here, is Elsewhere. What is not Here, is Nowhere.

  5. #5
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    Re: Atman

    Quote Originally Posted by sm78 View Post
    I also believe most common understanding of Self in Hinduism is not on par with the exalted understanding of non-self in buddhism.
    There is nothing "exalted" in non-selfness. No one is even able to define "non-selfness" accurately.

    The nyaya view above, is good for argumenting with the buddhist
    You got that right.

    but is contadicted by conscious experience.
    Really?

    Self floats like a small ball in the ocean of consciousness and not vice a verse. It is sometimes in the heart, sometimes in the head. It is mostly unaware of all unconscious, subconscious or even conscious processes. No doubt the other hindus saw self as atomic.
    Eh...the Nyaya holds that consciousness requires embodiment. So, even if the self is pervasive, consciousness is restricted to the embodied space. No problems here.

    Also making our individual selfs pervasive like in Nyaya makes it a difficult position for a theists who like depend on an almighty God for everything.
    What?

    You really need to come up with more arguments to support your positions instead of random assertions.

    Also, given our past experience on HDF, I suggest you make a concerted effort to put across your points without getting angry. Continue to maintain a level of politeness in your discussions and it will turn out to be a much better experience for the OP, you, me and other readers.

    We really dont want people to be banned from HDF, now, do we?

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    Re: Atman

    Quote Originally Posted by sm78 View Post
    I think this western classification of mind and matter, realism and idealism may be inappropriate for bharat dharmas.
    I think it is relevant in an indirect fashion.

    The western classification/philosophy came after Hindu Darshanas had thrashed out the issues centuries before philosophy picked up in the West.

    But we are having to converse and carry out discussions in English and hence we are constrained to use terms borrowed from English.

  7. #7

    Re: Atman

    Many Hindu sages was teach us how to lead peoples to understanding or to have interest to learn Veda . The wisdom how to teach.

    Bhagavan also have avatar to lead us in different era and different view, or different root of thinking, He is so wise and have many way to lead us to the light.

    But , just like some abrahamic said : "You are idiot idol worshiper will burn to hell,"
    so before other learn their teaching, they already make a hindrance to other who want to learn, and not let them learn, this is will hurt your self.

    Buddhist is too much sect
    just like Hindu also too much sect
    and different theory and teachings,

    if they are all like you
    Both Hindu and Buddhist is will very difficult to rise and lead other

    Then when you all of India philosphy (Hindu , Buddhist, Sikh, Jain) still hurting each others,
    How other will think : "Should i joined a peoples who hurting and hate each others in their culture ?" (Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh an Jain is product of India)
    The abrahamic is spread , get more with their smile and friendliness.

    i cant imagine this when the childrens of one Mother is slander and hurt each other.

    Now , i just saw, Mother India childrens has too bussy to revenge their brother and sisters, their own family culture.

    This is very different with my experience in both of Hindu and Buddhist teachings. And also so shocking.

    Edited : Delete the name and not pointing individual
    Im sorry SM 78 my english not good.
    Last edited by shian; 02 March 2012 at 04:43 AM.

    OM. VAJRA. VISHNUYA. SVAHA
    OM. VAJRA. GARUDA. CALE CALE. HUM PHAT


    OM. AMOGHA VAIROCANA. MAHA-MUDRA. MANI PADMA JVALA PRAVARTTAYA. HUM

    Om Saha Nau-Avatu |
    Saha Nau Bhunaktu |
    Saha Viiryam Karava-Avahai |
    Tejasvi Nau-Adhii-Tam-Astu Maa Vidviss-Aavahai |
    Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||


  8. #8

    Re: Atman

    This is like i am is orphan, then a compassionate Mother said i can move to Her home who is warm and She will protect me, then when i come to new home, they, the childrens of Mother , some of them tell me : "Becarefull, my sisters is evil." ; The other said : "Becareful, my brothers is an idiot." ; "Becarefull they is crazy."

    "But you both is childrens of that compassionate Mother."

    They answer : "I dont care! i hate them ."

    "But your Mother said here i will get warm , and peace for my life."

    They answer : "I dont care, i hate them ! They are wrong ! They are evil ! " (pointing each other)

    OM. VAJRA. VISHNUYA. SVAHA
    OM. VAJRA. GARUDA. CALE CALE. HUM PHAT


    OM. AMOGHA VAIROCANA. MAHA-MUDRA. MANI PADMA JVALA PRAVARTTAYA. HUM

    Om Saha Nau-Avatu |
    Saha Nau Bhunaktu |
    Saha Viiryam Karava-Avahai |
    Tejasvi Nau-Adhii-Tam-Astu Maa Vidviss-Aavahai |
    Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||


  9. #9

    Re: Atman

    Quote Originally Posted by wundermonk View Post
    Eh...the Nyaya holds that consciousness requires embodiment. So, even if the self is pervasive, consciousness is restricted to the embodied space. No problems here.
    No problem Nyaya can hold any premise it deems fit to defend its theories, except they are not true. Even individual consciousness has no well defined boundary and can be expansive and even all inclusive. It is not because these are attested in meditative experiences and scriptures - but also possible to experience oneself if one invests the time in meditation instead of arguments based on unfounded or dud assumptions. It is also a meditative experience of many buddhas which is available to navya nayakars like you which makes the experence of individual self an illusion. These are all real states of consciousness and hypothetical theories like Nyaya is meaningless under the circumstances. You can choose to stay out of the possibility, that's all. No room for arguments as such.

    Quote Originally Posted by wundermonk View Post
    What?

    You really need to come up with more arguments to support your positions instead of random assertions.
    What? If all pleasure, pains, joy are mine, what's a God got to do with any of it then? Why pray? to whom? what can he do? He may be bigger than me and have a bigger "boundary" (how does this boundary look like btw? what does Nyayakars say on that? How does one see it?) but can he do with things in my "boundary"? Did he create them? If he did, then please start your theory all over again as I heard pleasure pain etc are Self's creation or reception or feeling - whatever.

    Sure you can add some corollaries to the already phony theory to support the theism, but it takes one leg off the stool.
    What is Here, is Elsewhere. What is not Here, is Nowhere.

  10. #10
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    Re: Atman

    Quote Originally Posted by Greggorious View Post
    Hi there, I was wondering if someone could give me a Hindu definition of what Atman is?
    I've been a practicing Buddhist for many years though I'm now in conflict about it and searching elsewhere.
    In Buddhism is it said there is no Atman, no soul, no unchanging self and that Science now proves this too.
    Opinions?
    Dear Greg,
    Ref:Mandukya Upanishad-mantra 7.
    Love

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