Talk:Anatta

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Bronkhorst[edit]

@Ms Sarah Welch: Bronkhorst (1993), The Two Traditions, p.99, note 12: "It is possible that original Buddhism did not deny the existence of the soul (Frauwallner 1953: 217-53; Schmithausen 1969: 160-61; Bhattacharya, 1973)". See also Pre-sectarian Buddhism#Schayer - Precanonical Buddhism. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 06:57, 16 May 2016 (UTC)

See also Bronkhorst (2009), Buddhist Teaching in India, p.22 ff. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 08:10, 16 May 2016 (UTC)
Not wanting to necessarily cause trouble here, but Bronkhorst's (2009) evidence for this appears to be sparse, and is based on Oskar von Hinüber's Dhammapada (pp6-7) which argues the case from the 'texts' (actually carefully curated oral lineages) of Buddhism and Jainism as evidence - probably the most significant one being the Samaññaphala Sutta which mentions six Sramana traditions, one of which is Jainism. My understanding is that all the Sramana traditions recognised Avidyā as the cause of Samsara, and also the term Avidyā is always strongly associated with Ātman. So, my understanding of what distinguished Buddha's position was specifically Anatta - for which he was accused by the other Sramana traditions of being Nāstika, something which he strongly denied – not because he accepted the Vedas (which he did not), or because he accepted Ātman (which he did not) but because he accepted Karma and Rebirth, which the Cārvāka and the Ājīvika did not also cf. The Kaccayanagotta Sutta. (20040302 (talk) 11:06, 16 May 2016 (UTC))

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @Joshua Jonathan:, @20040302: Agreed. Bronkhorst is speculative, with "it is possible", and after checking all the references @JJ mentions, Bronkhorst evidence is indeed sparse (not just on soul, but also on karma/rebirth doctrines). Yet, the Bronkhorst hypothesis is interesting, notable and I will add it to the article for NPOV. The article already states that "[Early Buddhist] texts do not admit the premise "Self does not exist" either because ...", which parallels Bronkhorst:2009's conclusion in the last lines of page 24. Avidya indeed is associated with Atman in Buddhist texts, an idea that is quite different than the non-Buddhist Indian traditions ( Bronkhorst:2009's page 25). One significant unknown for all ancient Buddhist, Hindu, Jaina texts is the date when they were written down, and how well they preserved or modified the original ideas; for that reason, Bronkhorst hypothesis is worth a mention in this article. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 12:33, 16 May 2016 (UTC)

yes - though I'm still not really sure that it is worth mentioning. The evidence given to advance the idea comes from the same sources as the evidence that pretty strongly suggests otherwise. Likewise, the notion of 'soul' is very distinct from Atman, and the notion of soul as we understand it was unknown to Indian thought at the time. The fact that Buddha did not deny the existence of a soul is a bit like saying that Buddha did not deny the existence of Valhalla. Cf. especially how the author shows scholars wish to tie atman to Buddhism (20040302 (talk) 07:53, 17 May 2016 (UTC))
@20040302: I welcome adding a note from an RS that says what you feel about Bronkhorst. You write, "the notion of soul as we understand it was unknown to Indian thought at the time". This is not mainstream scholarly view. The evidence in the manuscripts, and interpretation/ commentaries/ comparative analysis by scholarly reliable sources on this since the 19th-century, particularly the recent 40 years, is overwhelming that they did innovate the concept of "soul/ unchanging self/ essence", know the concept and discuss it. Read the Vedic, post-Vedic or Sramana literature, or the scholarly literature on it. Some of this evidence, from Buddhism-related scholarship, is already cited in the current version of this article. If you have scholarly sources that have not been summarized on this, please share or feel free to add a summary from them into the article for NPOV. We just need to stick to summarizing the reliable scholarly sources. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 12:39, 17 May 2016 (UTC)
@Ms Sarah Welch:, I have a very busy schedule so it is not easy for me to be able to contribute every day. Re. the topic in hand, I think I may have not explained myself clearly. I am not disputing that the notion of Atman (which has many different interpretations, based upon just which sramanic tradition one follows) was extant in Indian thought. Merely that the notion of the Soul as found in the Abrahamic religions is not to be conflated with the notion of Atman as found in the Sramanic religions. There are scholars who have made such a mistake, but it is completely mainstream to consider that the notion of `Atman` and the Abrahamic `Soul` are distinguishable. For instance, some Abrahamic traditions distinguish between the 'Spirit' and the 'Soul', whereas I am not familiar with such a distinguishing feature in the Dharma traditions. It is for these reasons that I suggested that, while Buddhism remarked upon 'Atman', it had nothing to say about the Abrahamic Soul. Even though it is possible that the first group of Cochin Jews were contemporaneous with Lord Gautama Buddha, they would not have featured (due to location, size of the community, and lack of missionary work) in the early sutras.
As referenced above, Glasenapp (1950) disputes some of his contemporaries: Again and again scholars have tried to prove a closer connection between the early Buddhism of the Pali texts, and the Vedanta of the Upanishads; they have even tried to interpret Buddhism as a further development of the Atman doctrine. There are, e.g., two books which show that tendency: The Vedantic Buddhism of the Buddha, by J.G. Jennings (Oxford University Press, 1947), and in German language, The Soul Problem of Early Buddhism, by Herbert Guenther (Konstanz 1949) [...] Where Guenther has translated anattan or anatta as "not the self," one should use "a self" instead of "the self," because in the Pali canon the word atman does not occur in the sense of "universal soul." , and so on. (20040302 (talk) 10:46, 23 May 2016 (UTC))
@20040302: The 1947 and 1949 publications are a bit old, and there has been a lot of scholarship in the last 65 years. The article does not discuss Abrahamic religions, and your comment on "is not to be conflated" is a strawman argument, reflecting your personal opinions/ wisdom / prejudice on this, rather than what the article is stating. The term Atman is translated as "soul, Self, essence", in mainstream scholarship related to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. For example by Harvey, Williams, Gombrich, King, Keown etc. Your assertions about "Atman in Sramanic religions" is strange and difficult to parse, as it is presented without a source, and we should not confuse Sramanic religions such as Buddhism and Jainism. You are free to hold opinions/ wisdom/ prejudice such as "scholars who made such a mistake" etc, but allow me to ignore such personal opinions/OR. We also need to avoid WP:Forum-y discussion on this talk page, such as "Abrahamic Soul" (whatever that means), because current version of this article does not use that phrase. FWIW, it does not state "in the Pali canon the word atman occurs in the sense of universal soul" etc. But I will take a look at Jennings, Guenther and meditate on this a bit. Thanks. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 12:08, 23 May 2016 (UTC)

Proposed merger[edit]

I propose to merge this page with the page Atman (Buddhism). Though both pages obviously deal with opposites, the information on the two pages is similar, and the quality of the two pages could be improved if they would be integrated. After all, atta and anatta are antonyms and cannot be explained separately.S Khemadhammo (talk) 11:08, 20 August 2016 (UTC)

Opposites or contrasting concepts may be better explained as individual articles, just like Atheism, Theism, God, Satan, Demon, etc. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 22:57, 1 September 2016 (UTC)
I agree with Ms Sarah Welch. JimRenge (talk) 23:49, 1 September 2016 (UTC)