Re: Pedro on his "Difficulty" about use of concepts "Atma" and "Soul"
Nov 22, 2004 03:55 AM
--- In email@example.com, "Daniel H. Caldwell"
> I think these leads may help you in understanding
> this subject.
Thank you for the quotations. I am sure you are aware that this
controversy (Atma x Non-Self) is at least 25 centuries old, which
means as old as the Buddhist tradition. But it never ceases to
fascinate me. Sometimes I wonder if they are complementary views of
an essentially indescribable Reality.
There is no doubt, imo, that the traditional Buddhist teaching denies
the existence of Atman categorically, for "anatta", literally 'Not-
self', non-ego, egolessness, impersonality, is the central doctrine
of Buddhism. It is considered the only really specific Buddhist
doctrine (see "Buddhist Dictionary" by Nyanatiloka). One of the
canonical texts of the Hinayana teaching, the Visuddhi Magga (XVI),
"Mere suffering exists, no sufferer is found;
The deeds are, but no doer of the deeds is there;
Nirvana is, but not the man that enters it;
The path is, but no traveller on it is seen."
Walpola Rahula, a renowned Buddhist scholar from Sri Lanka, in his
book "What the Buddha Taught", has this to say about the
controversial passage in the Mahaparanibbana-sutta:
"Another example of the attempt to introduce the idea of self into
the Buddha's teaching is in the well-known words *Attadipa viharatta,
attasarana anannasarana*, which are taken out of context in the
*Mahaparinibbana-sutta*. This phrase literally means: 'Dwell making
yourselves your island (support), making yourselves your refuge, and
not anyone else as your refuge.' Those who wish to see a self in
Buddhism interpret the words *attadipa* and *attasarana*, 'taking
self as lamp', 'taking self as a refuge'." He then offers a literal
translation of the sentence in the Sutta in question:
"Therefore, Ananda, dwell making yourselves your island (support),
making yourselves, not anyone else, your refuge; making the Dhamma
your island (support), the Dhamma your refuge, nothing else your
refuge." (op. cit. p. 61)
The recently translated Lam-Rin Chenmo treatises, a very profound
exposition of Tibetan Buddhism, does not mention the concept of Atman
as part of its teaching.
HPB says in the Preface to "The Voice of the Silence" that the
teaching in that little book comes from "The Book of the Golden
Precepts" which is part of the same series of the "Book of Dzyan"
comes from. In spite of their Buddhist connections (according to
HPB), to my knowledge nobody has ever seen these books.
Is it possible that the school of Esoteric Buddhism to which the
Mahatmas M. and K.H. belong continues to be a secret school, unknown
to all other existing schools? Or is my question indiscrete and
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