Author Topic: The True Self in Mahayana Buddhism  (Read 1868 times)

Offline Dharma Flower

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The True Self in Mahayana Buddhism
« on: May 27, 2018, 05:50:37 pm »
The following is from a pamphlet that I got at service today about what Mahayana Buddhism teaches regarding this true or universal self:

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Buddhists can be very ‘soulful.’ However, we know that we don’t, other people do not, and, in fact, no one has a soul. No person, place, object or event has the sort of essence-thing called a “soul”. No real person has or is a soul. “Soul” is an abstract concept. It does not name a reality that exists. A soul is not the proper explanation for the unity of personal identity.

What is Denied

What was specifically denied by Sakyamuni Buddha and all of his most discerning disciples over these past 2,500 years is the atman. This soul theory of Brahmanical tradition, what is now called Hinduism, is pretty close to what is usually meant by a soul in Western religious and philosophical traditions as well.

The atman/soul would be: permanent, unchanging, subject of experience, non-physical, uniquely one’s own, and the true center of and explanation for the existence of one’s personal identity. This is not the correct explanation of the nature of our identity. It is not a description of anything that actually exists.

What is not Denied

Neither Sakyamuni nor any of his great disciples ever denied the purusha (the Self), nor the pudgala (the individual). We are each individuals and we are, each our own selves. Neither the self nor individuality is denied in early or classical Buddhism. A basic objective for Buddhists is to overcome our selfishness. If there were no self, in any sense, how could we worry about being too selfish?

As the Buddha-dharma is taught to individuals in specific contexts you may find otherwise competent teachers say-ing that there is no “self ”. In such cases, we must attend to what they are specifically meaning by “self ”. It is usually the concept of a soul lying behind and giving unity to a self that they mean to deny. Obviously, you do exist [pursha is not denied]. You are an individual [pudgala is not denied].

What is Implied by the Rejection of Soul theories

What is implied about your identity and mine, by denial of the soul theory, is that we are not, each of us, uniquely self-same. Your identity is not uniquely your own. My identity is not uniquely my own.

As John Lennon once put it, in charmingly simple fashion, “I am he, as you are he, as you are me, as we are all together” [Lennon/McCartney 1967].

In other words, we are each the big thing. We are each Reality Such-as-it-truly-is. We are each unique presentations of Buddha-nature. We are each unique appearances of the one Universe. This could not be true if the basis for our personal identities consisted of having or being a soul.

Who and What We Are in Truth

Each of us is a way in which the universe expresses and knows itself. This is what John Lennon was saying in “I am the Walrus,” quoted above. It is also the thrust of Mahayana Buddhist teachings which address identity.

Each of us is a way in which the Universe expresses itself. You are we being you, and I am we being me. In the final analysis, there is only this one great life we share together, but it does not swamp our individuality…

As the Heart Sutra put it, emptiness, one term for Reality-such-as-it-truly-is, only exists as specific forms. The universe only takes shape in particular forms such as you and me. Our uniqueness comes from our specific relations to others and from the qualities we have as individuals.

Our uniqueness does not involve our being some ghostly soul-things. That would separate us. That would make the universe split into meaningless multiplicity. That would disappoint both Sakyamuni Buddha and John Lennon. We certainly would not want to do that.
http://www.sfvhbt.org/no-soul-and-being-reality-itself/


Offline Shogun

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Re: The True Self in Mahayana Buddhism
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2018, 09:26:49 am »
Thats interesting.  Id agree with them on the basis a soul.  Id disagree with them though about their opinon on self.  If you look up the 5 things that make up a human being, none of it is really what you would call a self (something that is eternal and never changes.  If none of those things is truly a self, then there is no such thing as a, "self".

Offline philboyd

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Re: The True Self in Mahayana Buddhism
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2018, 12:32:42 pm »
Are you saying there is no eternal self, but there is a temporal self? Or do you mean there is no self whatsoever? If no self whatsoever, who then is in agreement/disagreement with the stated position? I find the idea of no such thing as a self confusing, and am unable to understand the concept.
Thats interesting.  Id agree with them on the basis a soul.  Id disagree with them though about their opinon on self.  If you look up the 5 things that make up a human being, none of it is really what you would call a self (something that is eternal and never changes.  If none of those things is truly a self, then there is no such thing as a, "self".
Peace

Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: The True Self in Mahayana Buddhism
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2018, 03:15:32 pm »
While we might colloquially speak as if there's a self, there is ultimately no permanent, unchanging, separate self. We are each instead manifestations of the one Buddha-nature.

Offline philboyd

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Re: The True Self in Mahayana Buddhism
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2018, 11:09:49 am »
While we might colloquially speak as if there's a self, there is ultimately no permanent, unchanging, separate self. We are each instead manifestations of the one Buddha-nature.
Would you kindly point me in the direction of teachings on "the one Buddha-nature" as I am not familiar with this concept. Is the one Buddha -nature eternal? Thanks for your help.
Peace

Offline Anemephistus

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Re: The True Self in Mahayana Buddhism
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2018, 02:15:45 pm »
"The words didn’t mean a lot. People draw so many conclusions, and it’s ridiculous. I’ve had tongue in cheek all along–all of them had tongue in cheek. Just because other people see depths of whatever in it…What does it really mean, ‘I am the Eggman?’ It could have been ‘The pudding Basin’ for all I care. It’s not that serious."- John Lennon

The song "I am the walrus" by the Beetles and written by John Lennon has a few messages in it, a shot a poet, a few things about the times and law enforcement personnel but the I think the inference is a bit much since he was referring to the characters from Alice in wonderland.


Offline Dharma Flower

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Re: The True Self in Mahayana Buddhism
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2018, 02:47:48 pm »
While we might colloquially speak as if there's a self, there is ultimately no permanent, unchanging, separate self. We are each instead manifestations of the one Buddha-nature.

Would you kindly point me in the direction of teachings on "the one Buddha-nature" as I am not familiar with this concept. Is the one Buddha -nature eternal? Thanks for your help.


I recommend reading the classic treatise, The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana:
http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/Translations/Awakening_of_faith.html

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: The True Self in Mahayana Buddhism
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2018, 06:23:54 am »
We are each instead manifestations of the one Buddha-nature.

How is this substantially different from Atman/Brahman?   
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline Shogun

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Re: The True Self in Mahayana Buddhism
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2018, 10:28:55 am »
Are you saying there is no eternal self, but there is a temporal self? Or do you mean there is no self whatsoever? If no self whatsoever, who then is in agreement/disagreement with the stated position? I find the idea of no such thing as a self confusing, and am unable to understand the concept.
Thats interesting.  Id agree with them on the basis a soul.  Id disagree with them though about their opinon on self.  If you look up the 5 things that make up a human being, none of it is really what you would call a self (something that is eternal and never changes.  If none of those things is truly a self, then there is no such thing as a, "self".
I would say that the concept of the self is something that our ego makes up.  Its a mental construct, of sorts.  If theres no self, how can I put myself over others?  How can my brain determine whats best for me if there is no self?  There is a self in the sense that I exists and you exist but other than that, I do feel like the self is a mental construct.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: The True Self in Mahayana Buddhism
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2018, 11:50:52 am »
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Shogun:  "There is a self in the sense that I exists and you exist but other than that, I do feel like the self is a mental construct."

Speaking from a purely secular perspective, I see the mundane self as a "process", which varies mentally and physically from moment to moment.  It is never the same.  It is constantly deteriorating from the time of birth.  It is truth seeking, orientation seeking (not sure about where it is in time-space), meaning seeking, and status relative to the rest of the universe examining. It has many fears, endless thoughts.  It performs experiments regarding its constantly changing environment.  It seeks food, comfort, to reproduce, power, peace, and understanding.  It is constantly evolving and its destruction is assured.

I could go on, but now I have lost interest.  Whatever I write will eventually change.  Therefore, what is the use of the discussion?   :-P :lipsseald:
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: The True Self in Mahayana Buddhism
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2018, 01:53:57 am »
I still struggle to see the substantial difference between "True Self" and Atman. 
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: The True Self in Mahayana Buddhism
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2018, 01:56:30 am »
I still struggle to see the substantial difference between "True Self" and Atman.


Buddha-nature are beyond the scope of civilisation, it is the primordial attainment through discovering the insight of what a being truly is. Atman can be a merge with Buddha-nature, which give rise to the perception of no-self, perfect compassion and tranquility. In this way, all beings have Buddha-nature, because whatever give rise to collective auspiciousness and cohesion by perfect compassion is to be seen as the Buddha in his own True state.

I really don't know, it all seems so speculative.   True Self, Universal Self, Atman, Buddha Nature, etc etc.
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

 


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