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Patanjali, et al., on the Non-Self(anatman)


As mentioned, Buddha called for impersonalizing the personality, and rejecting any indi-

vidualized, immortal soul.  He nowhere denied the existence of a self/soul, but taught

that no permanent entity not subject to anica and dukkha can be found, or, that there

is no self/soul that is real, non-transitory, or possessed of a unique and eternally sepa-

ry separateness of things camouflages reality, and that ignorance/avidya is the price for illusorily enjoying the distinctness and joys of selfhood. 

 


Among the Buddha's teachings, that of non-soul (anatma) is of supreme importance.

When there is no longer a clinging to selfhood, and attachment to the world, then there

is a

state of absolute quiescence of mental activity - the natural state of the mind.  "When

the human consciousness of illusory appearances has been swallowed up in the supra-mundane consciousness of the Arhant then the Path leading to limitless understanding and divine wisdom, to transcendance over the limitations karmically imposed by existence in the sangsara, has been acheived.  On that path, the aspirant advances to the state beyond self; The purified drop reunites with the cosmic ocean of Being.  The illusory microcosmic mind dissolves ; there is final emancipation, perfect Buddhahood." ('Patanjali and Yoga' - Mircea Eliade)

 


However, the spirit/soul, as a transcendent, autonomous principle, is accepted by

all the other Indian philosophies that are based on the Vedas.  Indian tradition regards Samkhya as the most ancient of these spiritual philosophies, Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, and  Vedanta being others.  They have all attempted to prove the soul's existence in differing ways.  For example, Vedanta defines the atman (the supreme self, the divine element in man), as being satchitananda (blessed conscious being), and regards the spirit as a unique, universal, eternal reality.  Classical Yoga, whose physical and spiritual elements, and techniques of ascetisism and meditation, are also of great antiquity, and whose traditional practices were given their first systematic treatment by Patanjali, also regards the Buddhist position on the soul as unorthodox, bordering on heretical.  (Nevertheless, Buddha long practiced a non-'classical', non-Brahmanic yoga, and Buddhism is incomprehensible without the yogic methods of concentration and meditation.) From its begining, Samkhya was concerned with the 'immortal' parts of man, or, with what constitutes the veritable Self.

 


 


      

 


                               to be continued               

                              

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