The definition of one word where modern Pseudo-Buddhism took a turn into the dark corner of ignorance
Copyright 2007 webmaster kathodos.com, REVISED 2-2008
Or, How the Entirety of Buddhism falls upon the sword of anatta's definition
Copyright 2007 webmaster kathodos.com
The ‘renowned’ Theravada materialist Nyanatiloka has said:
Rightly so, all of Theravada fears and protects the meaning and ‘interpretation’ of anatta like a pack of rabid dogs protect their fresh kill. They fear and protect the meaning of anatta more so than Christians protect their position that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus ‘arose from the dead’. More than Nyanatiloka have stated the obvious, ALL of Theravada would fall, upon the exposure of the genuine meaning become accepted and widely known as regards anatta, not however would “fall Buddhism”, but Theravada and others misconceptions of same, nothing more. Theravada, a great portion of Vajrayana, and much of Zen fear the soul like a pious monk fears the devil to sneak up upon him, in any event they have heaped upon the definition more sophistry and ages of sectarian fecal matter to make Buddhism appear to be nothing more than the most base form of materialism, that only a very rare few independent scholars who delve deep into the presectarian Nikayan Pali texts can see that Buddhism has not, nor ever denied the atman, and that anatta no more denies the atman, nor is a ‘doctrine’ (i.e. doctrine of anatta, as so often coined by the Theras), that the Upanishads themselves in so saying the “atman is not this, nor that (neti net)”.
The more superficially one studies Buddhism, the more it seems to differ from the Brahmanism in which it originated; the more profound our study, the more difficult it becomes to distinguish Buddhism from Brahmanism, or to say in what respects, if any, Buddhism is really unorthodox. The outstanding distinction lies in the fact that Buddhist doctrine is propounded by an apparently historical founder, understood to have lived and taught in the sixth century B.C. Beyond this there are only broad distinctions of emphasis. It is taken almost for granted that one must have abandoned the world if the Way is to be followed and the doctrine understood.
We can only suppose that Buddhism has been so much admired mainly for what it is not. A well known modern writer on the subject has remarked that "Buddhism in its purity ignored the existence of a God; it denied the existence of a soul; it was not so much a religion as a code of ethics"( Winifred Stephens, Legends of Indian Buddhism, 1911, p. 7.). Similarly M.V Bhattacharya maintains that the Buddha taught that "there is no Self, or Atman" (Cultural Heritage of India, p. 259). Even in 1925 a Buddhist scholar could write "The soul . . . is described in the Upanishads as a small creature in shape like a man . . . Buddhism repudiated all such theories" (PTS Dictionary, s.v. attan). It would be as reasonable to say that Christianity is materialistic because it speaks of an "inner man". Few scholars would write in this manner today, but ridiculous as such statements may appear, (and it is as much an ignorance of Christian doctrine as it is of Brahmanism that is involved), they still survive in all popular accounts of "Buddhism"; such as (. Th. Scherbatsky Buddhist Logic 1. 1932, p. 2) saying Buddhism "denied a God, it denied the Soul, it denied Eternity"! Scherbatsky's The Doctrine of the Buddha (BSOS, V1. 867L) provides a good critique of Keith's demand to "lay aside our natural desire to find reason prevailing in a barbarous age", in his ‘Buddhist philosophy, p. 29’.
It is of course, true that the Buddha denied the existence of a "soul" or "self "in the narrow sense of the word (one might say, in accordance with the command, deneget seipsum (deny himself ), (Mark, VIII.341) but this is not what our writers mean to say, or are understood by their readers to say; what three mean to say is that the Buddha denied the immortal, unborn and Supreme Self of the Upanishads. And that is palpably false. For he frequently speaks of this Self or Spirit, and nowhere more clearly than in the repeated formula ‘na me so atta’, "That is not my Self ", excluding body and the components of empirical consciousness, a statement to which the words of Sankaracharya are peculiarly apposite, "Whenever we deny something unreal, it is with reference to something real" (neti-neti Brahma Sutra III.2.22); as remarked by Mrs. Rhys Davids, "so, 'this one', is used in the Suttas for utmost emphasis in questions of personal identity" (Minor Anthologies, I, p. 7, note 2). ‘Na me so atta’ is no more a denial of the Self than Socrates' “the body is not the man” , is a denial of the Man"!
One of the ‘great’ books thumped by the ignorant manyfolk calling themselves Buddhists today and of which deny the atman, is "Selfless Persons" by Steven Collins, in which he himself in his book never makes the conclusion for the denial of the Atman in Buddhist doctrine, in so saying himself, albeit unintelligently, "Buddhist metaphysics could be reduced to a kind of pragmatic agnosticism in which the self is not so much denied as declared inconceivable. Anatta then simply advises against uselessly trying to conceive it (the Self)." [Page 10, Selfless Persons, Steven Collins]. More laughable than can be imagined, the entire book, large though it is, only contains three pages under the heading of “proof for anatta” (i.e. Souls denial), and yet these same three pages contain absolutely no doctrinal evidences whatsoever.
The Theras and others fear the inevitable slippery slope Buddhism (theirs) will fall into upon acceptance of the genuine meaning of anatta, whereupon “if anatta doesn’t deny the atman, than how is Buddhism any different than Vedanta, by and large?” The answer is of course none whatsoever. They protect anatta like their very own baby in the cradle, they will surrender its meaning and definition with their life, like no other word in pali they propagate a lie which is now running on 1700 years old. The only reason they have been unable to crush opposition, is that the Nikayas were recorded and propagated long long before Sarvastivada (Theravada) came into existence to exterminate it.
Buddhisms rejection of the brain/consciousness construct, its contrast to the Will (citta)Copyright 2007 webmaster kathodos.com
This incredibly rancid heresy as taught by modern so-called Buddhist commentators to wit, that purification is as regards the brain and the empirical reflected-light consubstantial consciousness, is everything Buddhism has taught against to its adepts by Gotama. In fact the brain is equated to piss, spit, urine, and blood at [Pati. 1.7], and at [Sn #201] “And with (this body) hollow head, filled with a (vile) brain (matthalunga), a fool overcome with ignorance, thinks this is somehow beautiful.”, also the brain is compared to the five khandhas of “mara” (SN3). Buddhism pays absolutely no heed to the brain whatsoever, treated seemingly identical to the ancient Egyptians that pulled the brain out at mummification and pitched it in the ditch, giving it no validity whatsoever. What is the reason for this? The ancient peoples, Indians and otherwise, did not have our current knowledge of the Brain’s intricateness but they were fully aware of what it was and the purpose it served, being the receptacle for the manifestation of the will (citta), but empirically so. They did not, like modernity does, confuse consciousness and the brain in which it was inhabited, with the Mind/Will (citta) which was not in the brain.
The entirety of Suttic Buddhism revolves around nothing else but the incorporeal Citta (mind), not the brain-construct (vinnana), which is indeed “transcending human comprehension (i.e. psycho-physicality).” Such as: His mind (citta) after death goes to the supernal realm [SN 5.371], Followers, this Brahmin life is lived for the sole preeminent purpose of emancipation of the mind (citta) alone [MN 1.197], He gathers the mind (citta) inside the immortal realm [AN 1.282]. The citta (mind) is not part of psycho-physicality (namo-rupa, including the brain/consciousness construct) [MN 1.436].
In Buddhism, the brain/consciousness construct was merely a reflection (by conjunction) between the unmanifest Light (citta/will/mind) and the form it gives illumination to, thereby birthing consciousness (vinnana), such as: [SN 2.102-104] “Suppose there was a house or a hall with a roof and widows on the north, east, and south sides. When the sun rose and a beam of light entered through the window, where would it become established? On the western well venerable. And if there were no western wall, where then would it become established? On the ground venerable. And if there were no ground there, where would it become established? On the waters venerable. And if there were no waters either, where then would it become established? In that case, venerable, it would become established nowhere (no topographically or phenomenally discernable location). So too, followers, if there is no lust after food, lust after nutriment, lust after contact, lust after mentation, and lastly lust after consciousness, then consciousness itself is without establishment (appatit.t.hitam. tattha viñña’n.am. aviru’l.ham.); (there are ten occurrences of ‘established’, and ‘unestablished’ consciousness in this sutta as per mind [the light ray] being unestablished on namo-rupa, therein being vinnana).” The consciousness/brain was never commended to be anything but utterly vile phenomena and went no further than form: [SN 2.104] “The consciousness turns and processions back, it goes no further than namo-rupa (name and form).”
Whereas the Will (citta/mind) was the highest absolute and the only noun in Buddhism deemed to be purified: “This is immortality, that being the liberated mind/will (citta) which does not cling (after anything)” [MN 2.265], “This said: ‘the liberated mind/will (citta) which does not cling’ means Nibbana”[MN2-Att. 4.68], “The purification of one’s own mind (citta); this is the Doctrine of the Buddha” [DN 2.49].“How is it that one is called a ‘Buddha’?...gnosis that the mind (citta) is purified (visuddham)…such is how one is deemed a ‘Buddha’.” [MN 2.144] [AN 1.6] "I do not have, followers, insight into anything or any dharma which, when made to become and made to expand that brings greater bliss than the mind (citta). The mind, followers, when made to become and made to expand, brings the greatest bliss."; the brain/consciousness is given no such validity: [SN 3.61] “The Aryan Eightfold Path is for making cessation of consciousness, the vinnana.”, and the vinnana is merely the reflective and consubstantial citta which re-incarnates or re-invigorates the psycho-physical therein denoting an entity [MN 1.296, Dhp. #41]. The consciousness/brain (vinnana) is entirely conditional and the will (citta) is not: [Th2 96] “Behold ultimate Truth (thing as they are or as become), these very aggregates as manifest; my mind is emancipated (vimuttacitta) from these, now fulfilled is the Doctrine of the Buddha.”, [Nettippakarana 44] “The mind (citta) is cleansed of the five khandhas (pañcakkhandha’, including consciousness, being the 5th khandha)”.
In Buddhism, [SN 3.195] “Vinnana is Mara (evil)”, it is not ‘purified’, it is not thought of as being the nexus of anything but the vile, its transient nature is that it “goes no further than name or form” because it is entirely manifest and phenomenal construct, a fleeting codependent entity. Just as white Light (will/citta) falls upon red form, one gets back the reflection of red-vinnana, or white light upon blue form, one gets reflected back blue-vinnana. Consciousness’ nature being thusly codependent, it can neither be the basis for “immortality”, nor for Nibbana as the will/citta is: [MN 1.436]. “This is immortality, that being the liberated citta” [MN 2.265]. [AN 1.282] “He gathers the citta inside the immortal realm”, [DN 2.157] “No longer with (subsists by) in-breath nor out-breath, so is him (Gotama) who is steadfast in mind (citta), inherently quelled from all desires the mighty sage has passed beyond. With mind (citta) limitless (Brahma) he no longer bears sensations; illumined and unbound (Nibbana), his mind (citta) is definitely (ahu) liberated.” The taintless (anasava) mind (citta) being = parinirvana: [SN 3.45] “The mind (citta) being so liberated and arisen from defilements, one is fixed in the Soul as liberation, one is quelled in fixation upon the Soul. Quelled in the Soul one is unshakable. So being unshakable, the very Soul is thoroughly unbound Parinirvana).” “This said: ‘the liberated mind (citta) which does not cling’ means Nibbana” [MN2-Att. 4.68].
Regardless of the endless thousands of scriptural citations that deny the brain/consciousness construct as anything but “what is to be transcended”, or that the heretical notion that modern Buddhism advocates that any aspect of the empirical brain and its consciousness is the locus of purification is absolutely absurd and nonsensical, for if purity were as regards the brain, the liberation and immortality (amata) which Buddhism commands his path is (path to immortality = amatagamimagga SN5), then Gotama Buddhism himself was both self-contradictory in what he taught and also a raving lunatic whose religion must be rejected outright by anyone with the sense given even to a fool . As Samkara himself said in perfect accord with Buddhism: [Upadisa 12-1] “Just as a man (erroneously) looks upon his body (5 khandhas, including vinnana) placed in the sun as having the property of light in it, so, he looks upon the intellect pervaded by the reflection of Chit (will/mind) as the Self.”, and [#6] “An ignorant person mistakes the intellect (consciousness/brain-awareness) with the reflection of Citta (mind/will) in it for the Self (Soul), when there is the reflection of the Self in the intellect like that of a face in a mirror.” I have shown by scriptural citation that earliest Buddhism denied that A: the will/mind/citta was in the brain as consciousness itself was, B: that consciousness/brain was ever taught to be the point of purity, C: that the brain itself was given no stature greater than being compared to the foulest components of the corporeal body [Pati. 1.7]. We know the will/citta to be the locus of “past life recollection”, not the brain which rots at death, for it is “the will that recollects past lives” [DN 1.80].
One cannot logically vindicate the praise of any brain as “pure” or a point of focus, when the prime commandment of Buddhism is Emancipation (vimutta) by the will (citta) from same, and that the “end-goal” is Aryan immortality for the will/citta ([MN 1.436], [MN 2.265], [AN 1.282]). Unless one heretically and against Buddhism is advocating that Gotama taught a fleeting and “only as long as life lasts” Humanistic purity, then the doctrinal de-emphasis of the brain must be heralded, for this brain, the jello-like lump, the putrid mass of something that grows and dies with the body, that this is the “made”, the “form”, the “become”, and Buddhism’s message nowhere upon this rests: [Udana 81] “There is, an unborn, an unoriginated, an unmade, and an unformed. If there were not monks, this unborn, unoriginated, unmade and unformed, there would be no way out for the born, the originated, the made and the formed.”
The Teaching on the Self (Atman)
in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra
In the Nirvana Sutra, the Buddha upholds his earlier teaching that what the ordinary person regards as his or her "self" is in fact "not the Self" (anatman). That is to say, the five skandhas (constituent elements) which make up our "mundane ego" are not the essence of what we are. What are these skandhas? They are: 1) form/ matter; 2) feeling; 3) ideation/perception; 4) intention-related impulses; 5) consciousness. None of these, whether taken singly or together, constitutes our Self (atman).
However, according to the Buddha's final Mahayana teachings, as embodied in this Mahaparinirvana Sutra, there does exist a "true Self" (ATMAN). This is equated with the Buddhic Element (Buddha-dhatu) which resides deep within all beings, beneath the coverings of negative states of mind and character which have, since beginningless time, concealed this Supramundane essence from view. Here follows a discussion from Chapter Four of our sutra (Tibetan version) between the Buddha's monks, who have long been meditating on ("cultivating") the notion of impermanence, suffering, and non-Self, and the Buddha, who now teaches them to balance their practice with the recognition that there is a Self, and that it is eternal and unchanging:...when those monks heard that the Tathagata [Buddha] was going to pass into Parinirvana [Complete Nirvana, at death] , they became downhearted. Murmuring "How terrible!", their eyes brimming with tears, they bowed their heads at the Tathagata's feet and circumambulated him many times. Then they said this to the Blessed One [Bhagavat]: "Blessed One, you have related to us your teaching that suffering, impermanence, and non-Self is most excellent [just as] the footprint of an elephant is the greatest of all footprints. Thus, we shall eradicate our attachment to [the Realm of ] Desire, eradicate our attachment to [the Realm of ] Form, eradicate our attachment to the Formless [Realm], if we repeatedly cleave to, and cultivate, the idea of impermanence; all ignorance will be eradicated; all arrogance will be totally eliminated.
“… Blessed One, for example, a person might drink wine and become intoxicated, not even knowing who he is himself, unable to distinguish right and wrong, unable to recognize his mother, his sisters or his daughters; he falls head over heels and soils his whole body with urine and excrement; later he becomes sober and learns for some reason what befell him and reflects how useless alcohol is and decides to rid himself of all his sins. Then he thoroughly trains himself to regard the drinking of alcohol as utterly useless, and gives it up. Likewise, Blessed One, this world of living beings has spun around from time without beginning like a dancer. Whirling around, completely confused, they are unable to recognize their mothers, sisters or daughters, and so get lustful thoughts towards their mothers, sisters or daughters, and like those inebriated by alcohol, they experience suffering. Then those people who have a sense of shame, just like a drunk becoming sober, train themselves thoroughly to regard the world as useless and then totally leave behind its miseries.
“Moreover, just as a castor-oil shrub (eranda) does not have a core, likewise this body does not have a self (atman), a being (sattva), a life-essence (jiva), an individual (pudgala), manava, nara or an acting agent (kartr). In that way, we repeatedly cultivate the idea that a self does not exist. For example, just as it is pointless to plant even ten million (koti) dry husks, likewise is this body, which is devoid of a Self. For example, just as the flowers of wheat (valla-puspa) have no fragrance, likewise this body is devoid of a Self. In that manner do we cultivate repeatedly the idea that this body is devoid of a Self. “The Blessed One has instructed us [in this way]: ‘Monks, all phenomena [dharma] are devoid of a Self. Practise thus! Those who practise thus will eliminate clinging to self (atma-graha). When clinging to self has been utterly eliminated, Nirvana will be attained.’ Blessed One, since all phenomena are thus devoid of a Self, we repeatedly cultivate the idea that a Self does not exist. Moreover, just as a bird leaves no tracks in the sky, so we shall detach ourselves from all types of [false] views when we have cultivated the idea that there is no Self.” The Blessed One asked, “Do you know how to cultivate that kind of meditation?”
The monks replied, “Blessed One, if we were to cultivate anything contrary to the idea of suffering, impermanence and non-Self, we would be like a staggering drunk who sees the heavens, mountain peaks, the ground, the sun, the moon, trees and hills whirling around, though they are not moving; for those worldly beings who do not cultivate the idea of suffering, impermanence, and non-Self are just like drunks. [For this reason], Blessed One, we have cultivated it properly.” The Blessed One said, “Monks, I shall explain the meaning of this example. With regard to the meaning of this verse, you do not clearly understand, ‘this is the meaning, this is the letter’. Just as a staggering drunk sees the heavens, mountain peaks, the ground, the sun, the moon, trees and hills whirling around, though they are not moving, in the same way do those who are utterly confused, ensnared by numerous kinds of distorted notions, adopt the idea that they are a Self, eternal, happy and pure.
“Herein, ‘Self’ signifies the Buddha; ‘eternal’ signifies the Dharma-kaya [Body of Truth; quintessential being]; ‘happiness’ signifies Nirvana, and ‘pure’ is a synonym for the Dharma. Monks, you should not pride yourselves, arrogantly and haughtily saying, ‘We have cultivated the idea of suffering, impermanence, and non-Self’. When you engage thus in those three kinds of meditative cultivation, then for you to have cultivated that threefold meditative cultivation in the context of my Dharma is a worthless cultivation. These three types of meditative cultivation of suffering and so forth are contingent, most contingent [visista].
“To think of suffering as happiness is perverse, to think of happiness as suffering is perverse; to think of the impermanent as eternal [nitya] is perverse, to think of the eternal as impermanent is perverse; to think of the non-Self as the Self is perverse, to think of the Self as non-Self is perverse; to think of the impure as pure is perverse, to think of the pure as impure is perverse. “You repeatedly cultivate these objects of cultivation without properly knowing these four perversities. You engage in meditative cultivation [treating] the eternal as though it were impermanent, that which has Self as though it lacked Self, and the pure as though it were impure. [Pronouncements regarding] happiness, the Self, eternity, and purity are found both amongst mundane people and amongst supramundane people, but these are each different. The letters [ = words] are mundane designations, while the meaning is supramundane Knowing [lokottara-jnana]." Then the monks said this to the Blessed One, "Blessed One, since we have for a very long time repeatedly seen and repeatedly cultivated various cognitive distortions, such as these four ideas which the Tathagata has established in the correct manner, we now entreat you to tell us how we are to proceed ..."
"Monks, you ask me how you are to cultivate the ideas of suffering, impermanence, non-Self, and impurity? Monks, as an example: at the height of summer, some people dam a stream in the woods and, each bringing their bathing things, play in the water. One of them puts a genuine beryl gem [into the water] and then, because they all want to have that beryl, everybody puts aside their bathing things and climbs into the water. Thinking that a pebble or a piece of gravel is the gem, they grab it and cry out, 'I've got the gem! I've got the gem!', each holding it aloft. But when they get to the banks of the pool, they realise that it is not the gem after all. Then the very water of that pool gleams beautifully, as though with moonlight, by the glinting light of that gem. Seeing that beautiful gleaming, they say, 'Ah! There's the real gem!', and realise how magnificent it is. Then, somebody in their midst who is skilled in means and intelligent is actually able to get that gem. In the same way, monks, you have latched onto such extremes as 'everything is suffering', 'everything is without a Self', 'everything is impermanent', everything is impure' and repeatedly cultivate that. All of that is mistaken and worthless - just like the pebbles and gravel in the pond. Be like the person who is skilled in means! I declare that there is happiness, the Self, eternity, and purity in whatever you meditatively cultivate of all those extremes which you have latched onto; those four [extreme views] are perverse! Therefore, cultivate the idea that the reality [tattva] of the Dharma is eternal, like that gem. ...theTathagata Arhat Samyaksambuddha [utter and total Buddha] ... the Supreme, the Teacher of Gods and Men, the Blessed Buddha appears in the world ... and then takes himself to all the heterodox teachers [tirthika] ... He utterly quells them all, utterly destroys them, and delights many kings. In order to curb [nigraha] the heterodox teachers, he says that there is no Self, no sattva [being], no jiva [life-essence], and no pudgala [individual]. The teachings about the Self by the heterodox teachers are like the letters bored [by chance, without understanding] by worms, and therefore I made known the teachings that all beings are devoid of a Self. Having proclaimed that the absence of Self is the word of the Buddha ... I also teach that there is a Self, after I have taught that all dharmas [phenomena] are devoid of Self, taking the occasion into consideration with regard to those who need to be trained and in order to benefit beings.
"The Self of the worldly, which they say is the size of a thumb or a mustard seed, is not like that. The concept of the Self of the worldly is also not like that. In this instance, it is said that all dharmas [things, phenomena] are devoid of Self. [But actually] it is not true to say that all dharmas are devoid of the Self. The Self is Reality [tattva], the Self is unchanging [nitya], the Self is virtue [guna], the Self is eternal [sasvata], the Self is fixed [dhruva], the Self is peace [siva]; ... the Tathagata teaches what is true. Let the four divisions of the assembly strive meditatively to cultivate that."