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Buddhism Everything that arises also passes away, so strive for what has not arisen. - Buddha Nirvana most closely resembles nirguna Brahman of the Vedanta ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Buddhism

Everything that arises also passes away, so
strive for what has not arisen. - Buddha
Three Marks of Existence
Impermanence (anicca)
No Self (anatta)
Suffering (dukkha)
Buddhist Conception of Reality
Doctrine of Dependent Arising
Reality is a flow of multiple momentary mutually
conditioned events.
Impermanence is a pervasive feature of the
(1) All things come into existence and go out of
(2) While things exist, they undergo constant
The 12 Links in the Causal Chain of
Dependent Arising
John Holder Observation
The Buddhist view of reality stands in between
the extremes of theories that postulate a
transcendent absolute reality (e.g., Brahman in
Hinduism) and those that postulate that nothing
exists (metaphysical nihilism).
From the point of view of dependent arising,
things do exist, but only as complex,
interdependent, changing processes. (Holder, p.
Discourse to Kaccayana
Everything exists this is one extreme.
Everything does not exist this is the second
extreme. Without approaching either of these
extremes, the Tathagata teaches dhamma by the
middle. (Buddha, in Holder, p. 83)
No Self (Anatta)
All Things are Impermanent
There is No Self
There is no permanent self or enduring mind.
For the Buddhist there is no atman or essential
self underlying the changing stream of events
which constitute the mind-body complex. The
Buddhist doctrine of no-abiding-self (Pali
anatta Sanskrit anatman) provided a stark
philosophical contrast to brahmanical notions of
a substantial self (atman). Richard King,
Indian Philosophy, p. 78)
What is the human person?
Personhood in Buddhism
Buddhism maintains that a person is a dynamic
aggregation of five different elements
(skandhas), together called Nama-Rupa
Dispositions or Tendencies
Perception or recognition of sensation
Feelings or Sensations
The Physical Body
The Skandha-Identity Argument
  • (1) The self is not anything other than the
    five skandhas (individually or collectively
  • (2) None of the skandhas is permanent.
  • Therefore
  • (3) The self is not permanent.

The Five Elements (skandhas) constitute the
individual person, though not in any substantial
sense. Self is simply a name given to the
aggregate of skandhas. There is no soul or
permanent self residing in or behind the
skandhas. There is no atman.
Buddhaghosa, 5th century CE Buddhist Philosopher
The words living entity or ego are but a
mode of expression for the presence of the five
aggregates, but when we come to examine the
elements one by one, we discover that, in the
absolute sense, there is no living entity there
to form the basis for such figments as I am or
I in other words, that in the absolute sense,
there is only Nama and Rupa. - Buddhaghosa
The Chariot Analogy
Verses of Sister Vajira
Why do you assume a person? Mara, you have
adopted a wrong speculative view. This is only a
heap of processes. There is no person to be found
here. Just as the word chariot refers to an
assemblage of parts, so, person is a convention
used when the aggregates are present. (Holder,
p. 87).
Substantialist Tendencies?
In some branches of Buddhism, something similar
or functionally equivalent to atman seems to be
The Buddha-Nature
Mahayana Buddhism
In Mahayana Buddhism, the Buddha-nature
typically refers to an innate potentiality in all
sentient beings for becoming enlightened.
In several scriptures, though, the Buddha-nature
appears to refer to an underlying ontological
reality, a single essence shared by all sentient
beings. It seems to be functionally equivalent to
a transcendental Self.
This Buddha-nature is said to be uncreated,
immutable, and immortal.
Tantric Scripture exalts the beginningless
Self, the Self of primordial unity, and the
Supreme Being, each in contrast to the empirical
or phenomenal self. Jeff Hopkins (Mountain
Doctrine, pp. 279-294)
Permanent is the Self the Self is thoroughly
pure. The thoroughly pure is called bliss.
Permanent, blissful, Self, and thoroughly pure is
the one-gone-thus i.e. Buddha. Jeff
Hopkins (Mahayana Mahaparinirva?a Sutra, Trans.
Hopkins in Mountain Doctrine, p. 129)
The Buddha-nature is eternal bliss, the Self,
and the Pure. Buddha-Nature is not non-eternal,
not non-bliss, not the non-Self, and not
non-purity Buddha (Mahayana
Mahaparinirvana, Trans. Kosho Yamaoto in Mahanaya
Mahabarinirvana, vol. 8, p. 23)
What about Anatta?
  • Can this Buddhist view of a transcendent Self be
    reconciled with the anatta doctrine?

Anatta can be interpreted as no individual,
enduring self or no individual soul.
The term atman in the Upanishads sometimes
refers to the individual soul, sometimes called
Within the framework of Buddhism, Anatta can mean
(i) no permanent individual self or (ii) no
permanent self of any sort.
No self means to awaken to a Self that is so
vast and limitless that it cannot be seen.
Sekkei Harada (Essence of Zen, p. 63)
Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta
  • So the Buddhist anatta doctrine may be compatible
    with the conception of Atman affirmed in Advaita
    Vedanta, namely a single, pure undifferentiated
  • This may explain why bhakti vedantins accused
    Sankara of being a crypto-Buddhist.

The Goal, The Attainment
Nirvana - to be blown out.
What is blown out?
A man comes to believe in his essential nature,
to know that what exists is the erroneous
activity of the mind and that the world of
objects in front of him is non-existent. . .this
is called gaining nirvana. Asvaghosa (2nd
century CE Buddhist philosopher)
Nirvana is an indefinable state, independent of
all worldly ties, beyond all earthly passion,
freedom from all egotistical, false ideas, - in
short, it is the exact opposite of everything
known to the conditioned, individual existence
between birth and death. Von Glasenapp, modern
Buddhist commentator
Nirvana is the blowing out of . . .
False Ego
Greed Hate - Delusion
Craving for Identity and Permanence
Nirvana does not mean unqualified cessation of
existence, annihilation, or extinction. Only the
extinction of a false ego.
What remains after such extinction? Bliss, yes
bliss, my friends is nirvana. - Buddha
As in Vedanta, bliss (ananda) does not mean a
temporary pleasant or happy feeling. It just
means satisfaction, fullness, completeness, or
not needing. This state is compatible with
pleasant and unpleasant experiences.
Nirvana and God
While nirvana may be described as an ultimate
reality, it is not a personal Supreme being or
creator. It is not God as understood in the
theistic traditions of the east and west.
Nirvana plays a functional role similar to God in
the theistic traditions. It is spoken of with
language parallel to God in the theistic
traditions Imperishable and the
Eternal Immovable or Unchanging Power Secure
Refuge and Shelter Peace Truth
Nirvana most closely resembles nirguna Brahman of
the Vedanta traditions and God as understood in
the mystical traditions of the west as a being
beyond all positive description.
There is, O Monks, an unborn, neither become nor
created nor formed. Were there not, there would
be no deliverance from the formed, the made, the
compounded. Buddha
Buddhism and the Doctrine of Rebirth
Physical Death
The skandhas, which together constitute an
individual personality, are severally and
collectively impermanent. Hence, they cannot
survive death, individually or collectively.
At the time of death, the nama-rupa
disintegrates. The individual psycho-physical
person that once existed, no longer exists.
What Survives Death?
Not any soul or enduring mind.
The doctrine of anatta prevents this
understanding of rebirth.
Buddhaghosa considers it a confusion to suppose
that rebirth involves a beings transmigration
to another incarnation. . . .a lasting beings
manifestation in a new body. (Buddhaghosa,
Visuddhimagga 17.113-114)
First Approximation Ones individual karma
survives the death of the self, and provides the
basis for the emergence of a new personality.
What is reborn is a cluster of dispositions or
tendencies that constituted the character of the
formerly living person. The person has ceased to
exist with death, but his or her character
persists and becomes integrated with a new
psycho-physical person.
"There is rebirth of character, but no
transmigration of a self. Thy thought-forms
reappear, but there is no ego-entity transferred.
The stanza uttered by a teacher is reborn in the
scholar who repeats the words Buddha, The
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