Re: Hello, i'm new to this group and would like to ask a few questions.
- --- In Pali@y..., Robert Eddison <robedd@i...> wrote:
>Thanks man ! :)
> Welcome to the list.
> In fact both usages are found in Buddhist texts. The onlydifference is
> that when it is used in Buddhist texts to mean soul it willgenerally be
> part of some passage in which soul theories are rejected, whereasin a Jain
> text the soul's existence will be asserted. (By the way, although afew of
> the older Jain texts use aya -- a Prakrit cognate of attaa -- forthe soul,
> the vast majority always use jiiva).Um... From what i gather from the translations i've read (which are
plenty) i've never seen the denial of a soul. I've only seen the
denial to the claim that the soul's abode is within the khandas.
Would you have an example from the Suttas were Buddha says there's no
soul at all? that there's nothing which reaches the other shore?
Thanks in advance.
> As for the use of attaa for the reflexive pronoun, this is notlimited to
> Pali Buddhist texts. You will find exactly the same usage in textswritten
> in other Indian Sanskritic and Prakritic dialects, no matterwhether their
> authors are Buddhist, Hindu or Jain.in
> Even in a Hindu text that does propound a soul theory, if the text
> question has a lot of narrative content (e.g. the Bhagavad Gita,Sanskrit
> Ramayana, Avadhut Gita and suchlike), you will find that the
> "aatman" more often functions as a reflexive pronoun than as a wordfor the
> Siitaa-devii praaptaprasavavedanam AATMAANAM atidu.hkhasa.mvegaad
> Gan.gaa-pravaahe nik.siptavatii
> "Queen Sita, when the pangs of childbirth were upon her, in the
> of her suffering, threw *herself* into the Ganges."Thanks, point taken.
> I wouldn't put it like that. The word attaa/aatman must have hadsome
> generally accepted denotations, else it would have been impossiblefor
> Buddhists, brahmins and Jains to talk to each other on the subject.On the
> other hand each sectarian group had its own take on what preciselythe soul
> was, or on whether such a thing existed.Yeah, thanks for bringing this up, which helps my theory, which is
that Buddha's view on the soul were different from those who preached
that the soul was to be found in the khandas, imho, the Buddha is not
preaching that there's no soul at all. It'd be strange if that were
the case, why do i think this? Because then, what would realize
illumination? what is reborn? what suffers? what is liberated from
> In English when I say 'spirit' I might well be referring to gin,whiskey,
> vodka and suchlike. Strangely, when Germans say 'Geist' (spirit)they never
> mean anything of the sort. How come German is different?Spanish?
> What exactly are you asking here? How come Pali isn't the same as
> And are you seriously suggesting that in Spanish each word has only
> meaning? I find it hard to believe the language could be thatimpoverished.
> In the case of espiritu does it not also mean espectro, ánimo, alma,didn't have
> respiración.... ?
> The point to note is that Pali, Sanskrit and related languages
> any words that corresponded exactly to reflexives such as 'myself',reflexivity (of
> 'himself', 'oneself' etc. So in order to convey the idea of
> an action falling back upon the agent) some other method had to beoneself').
> employed. One was to use the indeclinable particle saya.m ('by
> The other, much more common way, was to use attaa.I'm suggesting that when i use the word Espiritu within a certain
context, in this case a philosophical context, i know the meaning of
the word. For example, to use the example of the english word Spirit,
i'd like to point out that to say Spirit by itself can be interpreted
in the several meanings it has (same in spanish, you are right). But
if i say: "I'm gonna go down the bar and drink spirits" Then i'd know
that you ain't talking about a Soul/Essence.
Within the Buddhist texts, however, the context is philosophically
and religiously inclined to say the least. Thus, the reason why i
asked the question.
> As noted above, it is not a strange characteristic of Pali, but ashared
> feature of Aryan languages in the Indic group. It is very rare thatany
> sectarian concerns determine the everyday conventions of usage in
> language.Right, maybe not sectarian concerns, but certainly the context where
words are put will determine their meaning, would not you agree?
> Firstly because this is linguistically correct. Secondly because
> the above translators subscribe to the mainstream Buddhistinterpretation
> of anattaa, and not to any of the heterodox variants (e.g. those ofthe
> Puggalavadin schools in bygone days, or of Rhys Davids, GeorgeGrimm and
> Ven. Thanissaro in more recent times).So, in fact, there are different interpretations and methods when it
comes down to translating a Buddhist pali text which are dependent
upon which sectarian understanding you subscribe to ?
It seems that there are several linguistically correct ways to
translated the Suttas, but, the meaning they give are sometimes even
contradictory ! What a puzzle !.
> But whoever made such a claim? Though "himelf, oneself, herself,etc" are
> probably the most common meanings of attaa in narrative passages,they
> don't by any means exhaust the range of applications this word hasin Pali.
>Yeah, i was just making sure that within the Buddhist context the
meaning of the word Attan is not dependent upon interpretations,
rather, dependent upon what is it what is the "preacher" trying to
> >What use would there be to say that the 5 skandhas are Anatta ifWell, this answer you give me is not really related to pali, but to
> >there was no Attan at all?
> Because worldlings don't know that there's no attaa at all and this
> non-knowing leads them into suffering.
your interpretation of why is Anatta used to express that the five
aggregates are empty.
My question begs the answer to the philosophically analysed, because
if the usage of the word Anatta to convey the message that the 5
khandas are not the Attan, is taken for granted, then, we'll leave
too much space for interpretations which may at times conclude things
from things not being said. For example, when it is stated that The 5
khandas are Anatta. Can we really and honestly and without fooling
ourselves arrive at the conclusion that there is no Attan (as in
Animus) at all? not even beyond the khandas?
Thanks in advance.
> Best wishes,Thanks for your helpful reply. Hope to hear from you.
Good Day. :)
- Dear Samatha, Robert, Andy, Piya and friends,
as I am away from home, I am quite short of useful references, this
is what I have got from the Web.
#1. Britannica: Soul
Immaterial aspect or essence of a person, conjoined with the body
during life and separable at death. The concept of a soul is found in
nearly all cultures and religions, though the interpretations of its
nature vary considerably. The ancient Egyptians conceived of a dual
soul, one surviving death but remaining near the body, while the
other proceeded to the realm of the dead. The early Hebrews did not
consider the soul as distinct from the body, but later Jewish writers
perceived the two as separate. Christian theology adopted the Greek
concept of an immortal soul, adding the notion that God created the
soul and infused it into the body at conception. In Hinduism, each
soul, or atman, was created at the beginning of time and imprisoned
in an earthly body; at death, the soul passes to a new body according
to the laws of karma. Buddhism negates the idea of a soul, asserting
that any sense of an individual self is illusory.
:-) What I understand is that the concept of an unchanging permanent
soul was already in existence during Buddha's time. It is a prevalent
teaching of the Vedic/Brahmanic religious teachings. The Buddha
belongs to the Sramana (philosophical) era when there was a great
evolutionary leap in ideas. During this era, there are many
philosophers proposing new ideas for a paradigm change. This
phenomenon is also observed during almost the same period in China
and Greece. So, if you like, the Buddha and his followers belongs to
a bigger and wider group of people generally called the Sramana
movement. And, yes, you may have guessed so - the founder of Jainism,
can be said (academically) to belong to this new movement too. The
general characteristics of the Sramana movement is it opposed many
things that are considered norms in the Vedic fold. However, mere
opposition would be carry the movement to any great length. Indeed,
each of the groups proposed new ideas to replace the Vedic/Brahmanic
philosophy. Although the main idea is to replace the Vedic
philosophical system in its entirety, it is possible that some groups
retain certain concepts of Brahmanism. One example, which I think is
now very clear, is Jainism's retaining the idea of 'soul' from
Brahmanism. It is of course NOT true to say that Buddhism has nothing
in common at all with Brahmanism. Buddhism has the concept of
karma/kamma, this term has a similar "baseline" meaning as its usage
in Brahmanism. It means action in both religion. But if we were to
further study the doctrine of kamma in both religions, we will notice
that there is a great difference.
#2. PTS Dictionary: Attan
The soul as postulated in the animistic theories held in N India in
the 6th and 7th cent. B. C. It is described in the Upanishads as a
small creature, in shape like a man, dwelling in ordinary times in
the heart. It escapes from the body in sleep or trance; when it
returns to the body life and motion reappear. It escapes from the
body at death, then continues to carry on an everlasting life of its
own. For numerous other details see Rh. D. Theory of Soul in the
Upanishads J R A S 1899. Bt. India 251--255. Buddhism repudiated all
such theories, thus differing from other religions. Sixteen such
theories about the soul D I.31. Seven other theories D I.34. Three
others D I.186/7. A "soul" according to general belief was some thing
permanent, unchangeable, not affected by sorrow S IV.54 = Kvu 67; Vin
I.14; M I.138.
:-) The dictionary describe the word attan as soul in Vedic animistic
theories. Buddhism is definitely far from being an animistic
religion. I do not know how Jainism describe soul. By referring to
#1, we know that each religion has an almost different interpretation
of such an entity. But Buddha denies its existence, and it is
noteworthy to know that he wasn't the only one who denies it. There
are several Sramana groups that deny the existence of a soul. Of
course, each has its own reasoning. Buddha was a well-learned person,
both from his childhood education and his 6-year pre-enlightenment
learning. If we look under #2, the Buddha mentioned 16 theories in
total in regard to soul in just the Digha Nikaya alone. His chief
objective was to point out the futility of such views.
:-) The idea of not having a soul seems very peculiar. Maybe not from
a secular viewpoint, but definitely from a religious standpoint. All
religions, with the exception of perhaps only Buddhism, talk about
soul or spirit. It is therefore not surprising that throughout
history, even long after the Buddha, buddhists and non-buddhists
alike are trying to grasp the possibility of salvation without a
soul. (Just as people would wonder how they could speaking to each
other without a face-to-face meeting.) Many buddhist philosophers has
carried the concept of "soullessness" to creatively new levels.
Especially in the Mahayana schools, there are several convincing
reasoning for this topic.
:-) Soullessness, impermanence and suffering are three interlinked
concepts in Buddhism. Impermanence refers to the transient nature of
life, it is this transient nature of life that the Buddha have
clearly understood, while others either indulge in pleasures that are
not lasting or are ignorant of the underlying facts of existence:
soullessness, impermanece and suffering.
With this, I wish you peace.
- Dear Samatha Savaka (and Robert Eddison),-- In
Pali@y..., "samathasavaka" <samathasavaka@y...> wrote:
--- , imho, the Buddha is not
> preaching that there's no soul at all. It'd be strange if thatwere
> the case, why do i think this? Because then, what would realizeDear Friend,
> illumination? what is reborn? what suffers? what is liberated from
Just in case Robert Eddison is busy this quotation from The
Visuddhimagga might help:
567 VRI Su~n~natekavidhaadiihiiti-ettha su~n~nato taava paramatthena
hi sabbaaneva saccaani vedakakaarakanibbutagamakaabhaavato
su~n~naaniiti veditabbaani. Teneta.m vuccati
"Dukkhameva hi, na koci dukkhito;
kaarako na, kiriyaava vijjati;
atthi nibbuti, na nibbuto pumaa;
maggamatthi, gamako na vijjatii"ti.
(thanks to Andy Shaws brilliant Pali trans 2.o)
Translation from nanamoli xvi 90
...As to void, single fold and so on: firstly, as to void: in the
ultimate sense all the truths should be understood as void because
of the absence of any experiencer, any doer, anyone who is
extinguished and any goer. hence this is said:
For there is suffering, but none who suffers;
Doing exists although there is no doer;
Extinction is but no extinguished person;
Although there is a path there is no goer'""
BTw Robert, amazing reply to the previous letter.
- Dear Samatha and friends,
--- In Pali@y..., "samathasavaka" <samathasavaka@y...> wrote:
> Hello Yong Peng, i'd like to note that this definition you give us
> along with the comentary is a bit strange, because not only in
> Hinduism the idea of 'something' (to not call it Soul for those
> aversion to the word) does in fact goes to a new body after the
> of the current one. We have in the Suttas hundreds of tales were
> Gotama Buddha recalls his past lives for example.
The definition DOES come from the authoritative Britannica. I put it
as the first quote merely to illustrate that different religions take
a different stand to soul theory. In fact, we can say that it is for
the convenience of academic study that we generalise them as 'soul's.
But from an individualistic perspective, the Egyptian dual soul is
different from the Christian better refined soul. The concept of a
soul is nonetheless, on a theological basis, to support and reinforce
concepts such as creation and soforth.
> I see that the main difference between Vedic religion and the one
> Gotama Buddha preached was essentially with regards to the way to
> attain the fruit the religion preached, which include rituals,
> and other methods. Gotama's Buddha revolution, in my view, was to
> properly understand what was being said in the Vedas and
> thereby ending with the confusion that prevailed regarding wether
> not the religion was effective.
Do you mean that Buddhism and Brahmanism/Hinduism share the same
religious goal? From both a theological and buddhist viewpoint, you
are wrong. From a theological viewpoint, Hinduism is basically a
polytheism while Buddhism is atheism. They are both fundamentally
different in their views and goals. The claim you have made is what
had actually caused Buddhism to disappear in India. So beware. From a
buddhist viewpoint, the Buddha was no revolutionary, he is a
discoverer and share with the Indian people of his time his
discoveries. He had to communicate with them in the proper context,
he had to speak in their language. Many of the suttas have to be read
in this light. Furthermore, some of the older English translations
can be quite "crude" in the use of words, but they do reveal the
audience characteristic the Buddha was addressing.
I would not say that Buddha hated or disliked any Brahmanic theories.
That's not the way Buddhism works, definitely not "passionistic".
Rather, he was revealing the fact that such theories are unnecessary
and even obstructive to understand the true nature of life and
attaining enlightenment. You are not wrong to say that the Buddha did
point out faults of the Vedic belief. If you read the Tipitaka, there
are many areas where the Buddha dismisses concepts of different
belief systems, not just Vedic but Sramanic too. These are generally
classified as 'wrong views'. And I see there is no reason why the
Buddha, as a compassionate person on one hand and a philosopher on
another, would not contrast his religion with others.
> I have never come across a passage in the Suttas/Sutras that denies
> the existence of a soul, like i said in another post, i've only
> Buddha denying the khandas to be the soul, or denying dharmas
> (phenomena, things) to be the soul.
Neither have I, I guessed the main contents of the Tipitaka is not to
promote a soul or deny a soul, but on the four noble truths and noble
eightfold path. Fortunately, the authors of the Tipitaka did not get
the priority wrong. :-) However, I am pretty sure that there are many
passages where the Buddha directly or indirectly dismiss the soul
theory. I hope that other members on list can give us some relevant
> I bring this up in regards the Animistic comments, for if the
> are animated (live) due to their own grace, why are they said to be
> empty and without substance?
Animism has nothing to do with animation. The word animistic means
the belief in the existence of individual spirits that inhabit
natural objects and phenomena. For example, the belief of tree
spirits and so forth. It is a category consisting of many primitive
> Salvation in Buddhism, imho, is reaching the other shore, where we
> realize freedom from dukkha. What realizes this freedom though?
Well, certainly not a soul. Btw, just a short question. What is
needed to gain enlightenment? You may like to meditate on this. :-)
- samathasavaka wrote:
> I have never come across a passage in the Suttas/Sutras that deniesHi SS:
> the existence of a soul, like i said in another post, i've only seen
> Buddha denying the khandas to be the soul, or denying dharmas
> (phenomena, things) to be the soul.
Courtesy of Tang Huyen over on usenet, responding to the claim that the
soul can be found beyond the aggregates:
"The Buddha says: "There are four stations for consciousness. What are
the four? Approaching form, consciousness, standing, stands,
takes-as-its-object form, with form as platform, delights in it, waters
it and grows it; approaching feeling, consciousness, standing, stands,
takes-as-its-object feeling, with feeling as platform, with notion,
compositions as platform, delights in them, waters them, and grows them.
Monks! In them consciousness comes, goes, dies, gets born and grows. If
one was to declare consciousness' coming, going, dying, getting born,
and growing apart from them, that would only be speech (Skt.
vag-vastu-matram), and if asked one would be unable to answer, it would
increase one's stupidity (Skt. sammoham apadyeta), for it would be
beyond one's sense-field (Skt. avisayatvat). When passion with regard to
the modality of form is done away with, the contact occasioned by mind
getting entangled with form is cut, and when the contact occasioned by
mind getting entangled with form is cut, the taking-as-object ends, when
the taking-as-object ends, consciousness has no place to stand on, and
will no longer grow. When passion with regard to the modalities of
feeling, notion, and compositions is done away with, the contact
occasioned by mind getting entangled with them is cut, and when the
contact occasioned by mind getting entangled with them is cut, the
taking-as-object ends, when the taking-as-object ends, consciousness has
no place to stand on, and, unestablished (apatitthita), will no longer
grow. As it no longer grows, it no longer composes (na abhisankharoti),
when it no longer composes, it is stable (thita), when it is stable, it
knows that it has enough (thitatta santusito), when it knows that it has
enough, it is liberated (santusitatta [vimutto]), when it is liberated,
with regard to the world it has nothing to grasp ([vimuttam] na kiñci
loke upadiyati, Skt. na kiñcil loka upadatte), not grasping he is
unperturbed, unperturbed, internally he fully blows out (aparitassam
paccattaññeva parinibbayati, Skt. aparitasya atmaiva parinirvati). Birth
is ended, the chaste life has been lived, what has to be done is done,
one knows for oneself that there is no further becoming. I say that that
consciousness will not go east, west, south, north, the zenith or nadir,
the intermediaries, or any other direction (nanyatra), in the present
things it is shadowless (nischaya), blown-out (parinirvvati or
parinirvrta), cooled, become pure (brahmi-bhuta)." SA, 39, 9a, 64, 17a,
SN, III, 54-55 (22, 54), 58 (22, 55), Vyakhya, 271-272, 668.
The important part, which survives in the Chinese _Conjoined Agama_
(Samyukta-Agama) and in Sanskrit fragments, says very clearly that
anything outside of the six sense-spheres (or the five aggregates) is
"only a thing of speech (Skt. vag-vastu-matram)", or more completely:
"If one was to declare consciousness' coming, going, dying, getting
born, and growing apart from them [the four stations for consciousness,
which are the four aggregates outside of consciousness], that would only
be speech (Skt. vag-vastu-matram), and if asked one would be unable to
answer, it would increase one's stupidity (Skt. sammoham apadyeta), for
it would be beyond one's sense-field (Skt. avisayatvat)."
Again, if you do not take that to be explicit enough about the "all",
the Buddha makes the famous declaration:
"All (sarva), that is the twelve places (dvadasayatanani), from the eye
and forms to the mind and objects-of-mind, that is how the Tathagata
makes known the all (sarvam ca prajñapayati) and the concept of the all
(sarva-prajñaptim ceti). If any recluse and brahman was to declare:
'this is not the all, I shall revoke it and declare another all,' that
would only be speech (vag-vastu-matram), and if asked one would be
unable to answer, it would increase one's stupidity (sammoham apadyeta),
for it would be beyond his sense-field (a-visayatvat)." SA, 319, 91a,
Zitate, 507, SN, IV, 15 (35, 23), Maha-vibhasa, T, 27, 1545, 378b-c."
So you can continue to claim all over the internet that the soul is
beyond the aggregates, but, as noted by the Buddha, such a claim "would
only be speech (vag-vastu-matram), and if asked one would be unable to
answer, it would increase one's stupidity (sammoham apadyeta)." The
commentary to this sutta reads "Tassa vacavatthur ev assa. Spk: It would
be just mere utterance. But if one passes over the twelve sense bases,
one cannot point out any real phenomenon."
- An excellent book to study concerning these issues would be Steven Collins'
SELFLESS PERSONS. It is a very careful, considered look at the Pali text.
- Dear Samatha Savaka,
Thanks for your reply. I gave no personal interpretation: the quote
came from Buddhaghosa and is simply a succint summary of reality
according to the Theravada. As it happens, I believe it is the
I don't know the 'Awakening of Faith Shastra', but your comments
about an 'unchanging essense... [that] we have never been apart
from' is contrary to the texts of the Theravada.
> Robert, thanks for your reply, but, the interpretation which you
> seem to imply through the quote you posted seems a bit odd, why?
> first, it proposes that effects manifest without a cause. Second,
> assumes that the passage means there's no Essence, when it canalso
> be interpreted in this way: That since all there has always beenis
> an unchanging, deathless essence, and since we have never beenapart
> from it, then, there's no going or comming. An interpretationwhich
> is possible due to the comentaries and other Suttas/Sutras whichwrote:
> tells us this, like the Awakening of Faith Shastra.
> Good Day :)
> Samatha Savaka. In Pali@y..., "samathasavaka" <samathasavaka@y...>
> --- In Pali@y..., "robertkirkpatrick.rm" <robertkirkpatrick@r...>realize
> > Dear Samatha Savaka (and Robert Eddison),-- In
> > Pali@y..., "samathasavaka" <samathasavaka@y...> wrote:
> > --- , imho, the Buddha is not
> > > preaching that there's no soul at all. It'd be strange if that
> > were
> > > the case, why do i think this? Because then, what would
> > > illumination? what is reborn? what suffers? what is liberatedthe
> > > suffering?
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > +++++++++++++++++++++++=
> > Dear Friend,
> > Just in case Robert Eddison is busy this quotation from The
> > Visuddhimagga might help:
> > 567 VRI Su~n~natekavidhaadiihiiti-ettha su~n~nato taava
> > hi sabbaaneva saccaani vedakakaarakanibbutagamakaabhaavato
> > su~n~naaniiti veditabbaani. Teneta.m vuccati
> > "Dukkhameva hi, na koci dukkhito;
> > kaarako na, kiriyaava vijjati;
> > atthi nibbuti, na nibbuto pumaa;
> > maggamatthi, gamako na vijjatii"ti.
> > (thanks to Andy Shaws brilliant Pali trans 2.o)
> > Translation from nanamoli xvi 90
> > ...As to void, single fold and so on: firstly, as to void: in
> > ultimate sense all the truths should be understood as voidbecause
> > of the absence of any experiencer, any doer, anyone who is
> > extinguished and any goer. hence this is said:
> > For there is suffering, but none who suffers;
> > Doing exists although there is no doer;
> > Extinction is but no extinguished person;
> > Although there is a path there is no goer'""
> > BTw Robert, amazing reply to the previous letter.
> > best wishes
> > robert