Is there a "Soul" in EBT Buddhism?

Do EBT supporters advocate that there is a “Soul” in Buddhism?

What is the opinion of EBT students about the existence of “Soul”?

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There is no soul, but the results of kamma come to fruition both now and in future lifetimes. To be a functioning Buddhist it is necessary to have right view, as the action of kamma is the basic dynamic. Buddhism is ultimately not only beliefs, but experience:

“Mundane right view involves a correct grasp of the law of kamma, the moral efficacy of action. Its literal name is “right view of the ownership of action” (kammassakata sammaditthi), and it finds its standard formulation in the statement: “Beings are the owners of their actions, the heirs of their actions; they spring from their actions, are bound to their actions, and are supported by their actions. Whatever deeds they do, good or bad, of those they shall be heirs.”[5] More specific formulations have also come down in the texts. One stock passage, for example, affirms that virtuous actions such as giving and offering alms have moral significance, that good and bad deeds produce corresponding fruits, that one has a duty to serve mother and father, that there is rebirth and a world beyond the visible one, and that religious teachers of high attainment can be found who expound the truth about the world on the basis of their own superior realization.[6]”—Bikkhu Bodhi

A further dynamic is sila>samadhi>panna, but to understand that requires a belief in the action of kamma.


Appreciate your input, Paul1.

I saw Ven. Khemarato directed me to other threads. I read a few of them…it seems there is a consensus agreement of certain EBT supporters that said: Though"not self", yet it doesn’t mean “no self”.

Your post mentioned “There is no Soul”. So, which one is correct according to EBT community?

A soul is connected with the passage of one life to the next and this is not a necessary belief for Buddhist dynamics to function. But to progress on the conditioned path, a self is necessary but at the same time the practitioner understands there is ultimately no self. The conditioned world of samsara requires a self to mechanically engage with it, so the practitioner does that skillfully with the knowledge of its impermanence:

“An arahant monk,
one who is done,
effluent-free, bearing his last body:
Would he say, ‘I speak’?
Would he say, ‘They speak to me’?”

“An arahant monk,
one who is done,
effluent-free, bearing his last body:
He would say, ‘I speak’;
would say, ‘They speak to me.’

knowing harmonious gnosis
with regard to the world,
he uses expressions
just as expressions.” —SN 1.25

Thanks for the info. I am aware of the Sammuti and Paramattha concepts.

So, in your opinion, Anatta signifies there is no Self to be recognized in the first place.

A being, a being - so it was said, is merely a notion of expression.

Am I understand your point correctly?

There’s lots and lots of different definitions of the word “Soul”. Perhaps you could offer your definition? That would help with the question.


I come here to learn how EBT community dealing with “Atta” or “Self” or “Soul” or whatever it calls .

I’m just wonder what would be the opinion of EBT community on Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s Not-Self or No Self?

It seems there are two different opinions right here?

Ah, I see. Does this thread help? Bodhi vs Ṭhānissaro debate

This is one of the perennially arising topics on Buddhist boards (so as someone else suggested earlier, there would be lots of long past threads here on this topic)! :slight_smile:

Anatta = an+atta is some kind of denial or negation of the atta. The question then is what exactly is meant by the atta in the EBTs and what is the nature of the denial or negation.

In terms of the EBTs, it would seem that any atta worthy of the term would be both sukkha (satisfactory) and nicca (permanent/unchanging). I think that aligns fairly well with the usual Christian concept of “soul”. IMO a certain independence or control is also implied elsewhere: an atta should be able to order the aggregates as it wishes – that it should not be at the mercy of the whims of fate or its surroundings.

The five aggregates are a kind of classification scheme for what can be experienced. The suttas would imply that an atta cannot be found there (and also these aggregates are not me or mine).

Some people have jumped to the conclusion that the above doesn’t rule out some kind of overself beyond the aggregates. IMO such a notion would seem rather alien to the suttas.

Of course, there is dependent origination (DO). That again implies there isn’t some kind of independent self. DO is implying that existence is interdependent.

DO seems to imply some kind of multi-life process, a DO chain of cause-and-effect. Not nothing, but not an eternal satisfactory entity either (not something that would meet the bar of what’s usually understood by the term “soul” or the atta of the EBTs).


As far as I studied about Paticcasamuppada, there’s no ‘soul’ that represents a self. What you called as ‘soul’ just a assemble of nama and rupa.

A very short reply:

It depends how you define a soul. If you define soul as some immortal, eternal entity, like “atta”, then no - buddhism negates existence of such with central doctrine of anatta.

But if you treat a soul like a stream of consciousness, just a synonym for mind or heart, I think of course EBT support the temporal (anicca) existence of such a thing.

So soul as eternal atta - no. Soul as citta - yes, but it is not eternal.

Even tho citta is not the ultimate goal, it is very important because it relates to samma samadhi. So I understand some people defend existence of “soul” (as more spiritual aspect of citta), because this view supports developing samadhi. But we just must remember that this is different understanding than taking it to be eternal and ultimate goal. I recommend reading DN1 and DN2 to expand view on the issue. DN2 among many things deals deeply with all samadhi states etc., and DN1 with how nothing in the universe is permanent, negating notions of eternalism.


Thanks for the replies.

What if someone insists that there is a Soul, yet it is changing, but there is always this soul?

I read some posts that people argued that the Buddha did not say “There is no Soul” and this proved that there is indeed a Soul yet we just choose to say “Not Self” for it. Does it accords to EBTs’ view?

Thank you for the link.

I would say to don’t participate in such papanca, don’t try to convince anyone. I would just focus on developing the path and samadhi and eventually you will see the truth for yourself, as Buddha instructed us to do. :wink:


I tend to agree with what you said.

But I just interested in this topic after reading certain posts on Suttacentral and Dhammawheel. It seems there are different ways to interpret this Anatta teaching (so is Paṭiccasamuppāda). Did Buddha really taught different interpretations for those core Dhamma ideas?

This is why I come to here to learn what EBTs tried to say about it.

So far I got an answer from Paul1, you and Jhindra: soulessness.

I’ve never understood the idea of a changing “Soul”. Isn’t that just using the same word for a series of different ‘things’?

Microsoft Windows has the same name in 2011 as it had in 1985, and yet it is a radically different proposition. For example, we couldn’t be doing what we are doing now if we were using Windows in 1985.

How much does something have to change before we think of it as a different ‘thing’ to it’s previous incarnation?

This is a nice sutta on the subject:

But an uneducated ordinary person would be better off taking this body made up of the four primary elements to be their self, rather than the mind. Why is that? This body made up of the four primary elements is seen to last for a year, or for two, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, or a hundred years, or even longer.

But that which is called ‘mind’ or ‘sentience’ or ‘consciousness’ arises as one thing and ceases as another all day and all night. It’s like a monkey moving through the forest. It grabs hold of one branch, lets it go, and grabs another; then it lets that go and grabs yet another. In the same way, that which is called ‘mind’ or ‘sentience’ or ‘consciousness’ arises as one thing and ceases as another all day and all night.


Thank you for the answer.
Thank you for the sutta quote too.

So now it seems this idea of “ever-changing Self” isn’t in line with what EBT community learned too.

Now I have this conclusion about this topic:-

We know that the so-called “being” is made up of five aggregates affected by Clinging. And since this five aggregates are Anicca, Dukkha and Anattā, the notion of “Attā” is never to be found at the first place here and there. It is merely an illusion we created due to Ignorance and Craving.

By this reason, both tenets: (1) Atthattā & (2) Natthattā are not relevant since both of them assumed there is a Self to begin with (as in Ānandasutta SN44.10). What Buddha taught is Anattā, in which all five aggregates are without the notion of “Attā”. Rejecting both tenets, one should see Paṭiccasamuppāda and know that all things come and go according to conditionality.

Is my conclusion here in line with the way of EBT community learned?

In the second discourse of not-self characteristic (SN 22.59), the Buddha’s first argument for not-self is that if X is self then it wouldn’t lead to affliction and it would be possible to have it of X: ‘Let my X be thus; let my X not be thus.’ (X is whatever part of your physical body and mental function, i.e the kandhas). Because there is nothing which wouldn’t lead to affliction and which we can wish according to our will, there is no self both inside and outside the kandhas.

The second argument is that whatever is impermanent (anicca) is suffering (dukkha) and whatever is suffering is not fit to be regarded as “This is mine, this I am, this is my self”. The kandhas are also impermant and thus they are sufferig and not-self.

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Thank you for the explanation. So it is clear to me now, there isn’t an Atta within or related to Khandhas. For all five aggregates are Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta.