Universal Atman in Buddhism

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Nicholas Weeks
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Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:26 am

After 40 plus years the scholar K. Bhattacharya's French edition has been put into English.

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchR ... t+Buddhism
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by krodha » Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:52 am

A universal ātman in the context of the buddhadharma is an absurd and unfounded notion.

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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:04 am

From reading the brief publishers blurb I am in agreement with the general idea, but it's a controversial argument.

It is worth reading Bikkhu Bodhi's comments on the Brahmajala Sutta in this regard: he points out that 'eternalism' is the idea that there is an eternal self that will continue to exist for ever and ever in one life to the next (the wording is something like: 'while everything else rises and passes away, this self-and-world will exist eternally, like a post set fast or a mountain peak'.) Given a religious culture within which the claim to recall many previous lives was frequently made, the notion that one could continue to go on forever being re-born was quite an understandable idea to have - but that is the idea that is rejected.

But the idea that there is no self is also rejected, as that is the opposite extreme of nihilism (ucchevevada). So the middle path avoids both those extremes, but that makes it a very subtle philosophy.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by dzogchungpa » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:21 am

asunthatneversets wrote:A universal ātman in the context of the buddhadharma is an absurd and unfounded notion.
Just out of curiosity, do you know anything about Kamaleswar Bhattacharya?
If you focus on an object, you are not meditating. - Dudjom Rinpoche

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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by krodha » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:43 am

dzogchungpa wrote:Just out of curiosity, do you know anything about Kamaleswar Bhattacharya?
I know I have a first edition of his Vigrahavyāvartānī translation. But all in all I don't have to know anything about Kamaleswar Bhattacharya to know that one is reaching significantly when they veer down the road of arguing for an ātman (of whatever stripe) in Buddhism.

A topic like this really coincides quite well with what Malcolm mentioned earlier today about scrutinizing information that is presented by so-and-so scholar or teacher. These individuals are of course entitled to their opinions, but at the end of the day if their views are not in harmony with buddhavacana then there is no reason to accept it as valid.

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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Wed Apr 29, 2015 2:08 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:A universal ātman in the context of the buddhadharma is an absurd and unfounded notion.
Just out of curiosity, do you know anything about Kamaleswar Bhattacharya?
Use the Look Inside function at Amazon where the Publisher has a short graph on him. Discovered some Sanskrit fragments in Cambodia etc.
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:23 pm

Here is that tiny bio on Bhattacharya, who died in 2014:
Kamaleswar Bhattacharya was born in 1928 in northeast
India. After mastering Sanskrit in a way that is only possible
in India, he came to Paris in 1955 on a French Government
Scholarship. He there received his doctorate in 1962, for work
on the Sanskrit inscriptions of Cambodia. With the support of
Louis Renou, he became Attaché de Recherche at the Centre
National de la Recherche Scientifique in 1960. He retired from
there as Directeur de Recherche in 1996.
His book is also on Amazon.
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Crazywisdom » Wed Apr 29, 2015 7:22 pm

Will wrote:Here is that tiny bio on Bhattacharya, who died in 2014:
Kamaleswar Bhattacharya was born in 1928 in northeast
India. After mastering Sanskrit in a way that is only possible
in India, he came to Paris in 1955 on a French Government
Scholarship. He there received his doctorate in 1962, for work
on the Sanskrit inscriptions of Cambodia. With the support of
Louis Renou, he became Attaché de Recherche at the Centre
National de la Recherche Scientifique in 1960. He retired from
there as Directeur de Recherche in 1996.
His book is also on Amazon.
Those crazy crazy Northeasterners... boy... what a bunch...
Delete my account

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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Thu Apr 30, 2015 3:14 am

Bhattacharya's French original - 17MB:

http://prajnaquest.fr/blog/wp-content/u ... ancien.pdf
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Wed May 06, 2015 3:05 pm

Since Reigle's thread has been locked, and I have finished reading Bhattacharya's book, here is the summation in his conclusion, p. 207:
The Buddha certainly denied the åtman. That åtman,
however, is not the Upanishadic åtman. Better still: the true
spiritual åtman, for the Upanishads as for the Buddha, is the
negation of that which men generally consider to be the
åtman, that is, the psycho-physical individuality.

In actual fact, our controversy is nothing but an argument
over words. The authentic åtman, being the negation of
the empirical åtman, is anåtman; and anåtman is a negative
expression which indicates the authentic åtman, which is ineffable
and—from the objective point of view—“non-existent.”

There is no contradiction between åtman and anåtman. The
åtman, which is denied, and that which is affirmed, through
that negation itself, pertains to two different levels. It is only
when we have not succeeded in distinguishing between
them, that the terms åtman and anåtman seem to us to be
opposed.
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Malcolm » Wed May 06, 2015 3:12 pm

  • If selflessness is demonstrated, the immature grasp to the explanation thinking there is no self. The intelligent on the other hand think "The [self] exists conventionally, there is no doubt."
-- Nirvana Sūtra

Hardly a ringing endorsement for Bhattacarya's views.
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Wed May 06, 2015 3:20 pm

Malcolm wrote:
  • If selflessness is demonstrated, the immature grasp to the explanation thinking there is no self. The intelligent on the other hand think "The [self] exists conventionally, there is no doubt."
-- Nirvana Sūtra

Hardly a ringing endorsement for Bhattacarya's views.
A view which you do not understand. Since you have not read the book, that is understandable.
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Malcolm » Wed May 06, 2015 3:29 pm

Will wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
  • If selflessness is demonstrated, the immature grasp to the explanation thinking there is no self. The intelligent on the other hand think "The [self] exists conventionally, there is no doubt."
-- Nirvana Sūtra

Hardly a ringing endorsement for Bhattacarya's views.
A view which you do not understand. Since you have not read the book, that is understandable.
I do understand his view.

His view is not different than that of many people in the past who have tried to argue that Buddha was not refuting the pre-Buddhist Upanishadic view of atman. He uses the same arguments, use the same citations (incorrectly) and has the same set of misunderstandings because, in the end, he is not a Dharma practitioner, he is a Hindu scholar trying to reconcile what the Buddha explicitly teaches with what he wants to believe.

He presents not one single decisive argument.

M
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


The knowledge imparted through the guru’s instructions that formerly was unknown (avidyā) is vidyā.


—Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle, Longchenpa.

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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Wed May 06, 2015 3:37 pm

Assertions are not thought.

Make you a deal Malcolm. I will apologize for presuming you have not read the book, if you will also apologize for presuming you understand his book based on a few excerpts & comments by those who have read it.
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Sherlock » Wed May 06, 2015 3:43 pm


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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by DGA » Wed May 06, 2015 3:47 pm

Will wrote:Assertions are not thought.
What are assertions if not thoughts articulated in discourse?

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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Malcolm » Wed May 06, 2015 3:49 pm

Will wrote:Assertions are not thought.

Make you a deal Malcolm. I will apologize for presuming you have not read the book, if you will also apologize for presuming you understand his book based on a few excerpts & comments by those who have read it.
Will, you posted a plethora of his articles, which I have had a chance to review. I am telling you, his arguments are just wishful thinking.
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The knowledge imparted through the guru’s instructions that formerly was unknown (avidyā) is vidyā.


—Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle, Longchenpa.

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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by daverupa » Wed May 06, 2015 3:59 pm

Malcolm wrote:His view is not different than that of many people in the past who have tried to argue that Buddha was not refuting the pre-Buddhist Upanishadic view of atman. He uses the same arguments, use the same citations (incorrectly) and has the same set of misunderstandings because, in the end, he is not a Dharma practitioner, he is a Hindu scholar trying to reconcile what the Buddha explicitly teaches with what he wants to believe.

He presents not one single decisive argument.
I read the book, Will; this is an accurate assessment from Malcolm.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Wed May 06, 2015 4:23 pm

Sherlock wrote:Will, can you vote here? http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.ph ... 95#p282495

Thanks
Nope, there was no category for my previous condition of Insouciant.
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Re: Universal Atman in Buddhism

Post by Nicholas Weeks » Wed May 06, 2015 5:19 pm

daverupa wrote: I read the book, Will; this is an accurate assessment from Malcolm.
Every word, even in the copious endnotes; then you are a better man than I.

To repeat myself and wrap up this dead horse:
The Tathågata (= tathatå = ≈sünyatå) of the Mådhyamikas is, in fact, none other than the åtman-brahman of the Upanisads. The Samyutta-Nikåya (XXII, 85) [Yamaka sutta] already established
this equivalence...
[from Bhattacharya]

That cited sutta just makes clear what the Tathagata is not - any concept or reified khanda(s) - fine, standard teaching. Any inferred psychological nature (as opposed to ontological) of the buddha is clear to Bhattacharya, but not to me.

The main weakness I notice, so far, is that the positive arguments against the universal atman-brahman found in Mahayana are not yet mentioned. So he uses Mahayana tathagatagarbha texts that show (to his mind) identity between Hindu Atman & tathata, but, so far, the Mahayana criticisms are not used.
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
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