[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

Re: Pedro on his "Difficulty" about use of concepts "Atma" and "Soul"

Nov 22, 2004 03:55 AM
by prmoliveira

--- In, "Daniel H. Caldwell" 
<danielhcaldwell@y...> wrote:

> 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 


[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application