The Linked Discourses: the blueprint for Buddhist philosophy

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Many years ago Maurice Walshe made an insightful observation about this. He pointed out that the descriptions of the highest transcendent truth in most religions have a lot in common. They are free of death, free of suffering, and so on. The difference, he suggested, is that those other philosophies also add more things to their concept of the transcendent; and it is those things that the Buddha would not accept.

In the case of the brahmanical non-dual philosophy, yes, they repudiated ahaṁkara, but they also embraced ātman; ahaṁkara is the false, egoistic self, whereas the ātman is the true, immanent, and eternal self that is identical with the cosmos; in Pali, so attā so loko. And that is something that the Buddha would reject as a metaphysical view.


Yes, eternal as in timeless - not everlasting - not subject to arising and ceasing as, in the EBT quote above. Timeless beyond space, no :waxing_crescent_moon:/:partly_sunny:, day and night, no duration in time etc. The so-called Atman is also described as ‘without qualities’ (nirguna) by adi-shankara. It seems like a sign without a signified, it has no ‘positive’ content. This can be established by readings in advaita-vedanta - as far as I can tell. :slightly_smiling_face:


Yet as @Sujato says the Brahmins who developed the concept of Brahma merged the ‘small self’ with the ‘Big self’ - atman and brahma. Also Brahma is the cause of atman. See here:

“He directly knows Nibbāna as Nibbāna. Having directly known Nibbāna as Nibbāna, he should not conceive himself as Nibbāna, he should not conceive himself in Nibbāna, he should not conceive himself apart from Nibbāna, he should not conceive Nibbāna to be ‘mine,’ he should not delight in Nibbāna. SuttaCentral


Mind that Adi Shankara probably wrote what he wrote many centuries after the Buddha in response to what he found in the scriptures studied by his rivals (i.e. Buddhists) and not the way around. :wink:

This is why so many people spend so much time trying to place ancient texts in both space and time. It allows us to understand who said what and where first, and who reacted where and to what was said first…


Exactly! It’s a conversation, not a series of absolutes.