The Poṭṭhapādasutta is a direct response to Yājñavalkya

You’re arguing against a straw man. No one is saying Advaita is “juvenile”. What I am saying is that it is not the same as what the Buddha taught.

We grasp that perfectly well, thanks. That has been the case ever since Yajnavalkya said neti neti. We also grasp that “somewhat similar” does not mean “the same”. The Buddha critiqued the non-dualist view, and everything you have said simply restates what non-dualists have said for the past millenia.

This is virtually a quote from Yajnavalkya, and it is specifically this view that the Buddha opposed when speaking of not-self.


There are a couple of places in the canon where the Buddha seems to be interested in the dissolution of the ego rather than consciousness.

The ‘you’ here does appear to be the ego and its dissolution is the end of suffering. This sounds a lot like the salt analogy.

Likewise, In the Atthakavagga, Snp 4.2 one must completely understand sanna. The requires the cessation of sanna. Vinanna remains. This too is like the salt analogy.

It is not until the Parayanavagga that the cessation of vinanna is required and the Buddha appears to be more interested in dispelling the Atman.

You literally just made that bit up.

Did we not do this already? It is the end of rebirth that is “the end of suffering” here. But also, I thought you were an Atthakavaggist? So quick to cite a late sutta!

There are hundreds of places in the canon where he is quite clearly interested in the cessation of consciousness, so. It is the separating out the cessation of consciousness from the cessation of the ego that is the quintessential Upanishadic move. The Buddha never fell for that.


For reference, I’ve replied on another thread concerning this same topic.


Not sure what the Buddha actually fell for or not.

What I see are the same platitudes repeated over and over. I’ll grant you that the two perspectives are different. However, the point is Ramana’s take is different from that of classic Advaita.

It is the separating out the cessation of consciousness from the cessation of the ego that is the quintessential Upanishadic move.

Please explain what this move is, exactly.

I’ve mentionned a few times in this post that Ramana’s perspective on the ego is rather different from the classical texts (in several regards). But I’ll let you respond before going further.

Moreover, I would appreciate it if someone would have enough interest in this discussion to listen to Bernardo Kastrup’s 25 minute video (referenced above). It seems this discussion concerns perception. So what if what we think we are perceiving is totally mischaracterized/misunderstood from the get go?

First off, the fact that there are more of one than the other does not take away from the fact that there is a contradiction here. The fact that the Atthakavagga never mentions the cessation of vinnana, or vinnana in any other context, but does mention the need to fully understand sanna is important. This is especially so when it is the Atthakavagga that is said to have been recited when the Buddha asked to have the Dharma recited while he was alive and he found that praise worthy. He didn’t say “you left out the cessation of consciousness thing.”

This is said in the salt analogy. See page 163 in Kosalan Philosophy in the Kāṇva Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa and the Suttanipāta.

Samjna is awareness with ego. Vijnana is pure awareness without ego. We are not talking about the vinnana of the five aggregates here. The salt analogy is not Buddhist. Experientially, Vijnana is sense data without augmentation by samjna. It is direct knowledge of sense data.

Vijnana in this sense appears to be neither sanna/perception or non-perception(unconsciousness or perception of void) from Snp 4.11. It also does seem to be in the seen is just the seen(vijnana, not samjna) and there is no you/ego in that. Ud 1.10 may be later than the Atthakavagga, but appears to be from the same strain of Buddhism.

I think the Atthakavagga and the Parayanavagga make more sense when you interpret sanna/samjna and vinnana/vijnanna as they are used in the salt analogy. Neither collection seems aware of the five aggregates.

Maybe this short video (4 minutes) sums up best for Buddhists where a similarity lies with Ramana Maharshi. Bhikkhu Bodhi’s stance on the second interpretation presented in this video demonstrates how the conclusive position taken by someone like Bhikkhu Sujato is far from being ‘conclusive.’

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For folks reading the thread who don’t want to listen to the talk, nothing Ven Bodhi says here has anything to do with anything I talked about in this thread. What I am saying is that in the suttas, the idea that the final liberation has anything to do with “consciousness” is directly contradicted by the Buddha on countless occasions. This is historically a direct response to teachers such as Yajnavalkya, who founded the “Advaita” philosophy, which with variations persists today in various modern teachers.

Ven Bodhi is speaking about the question of whether Nibbana is sheer annihilation or whether it is an ontologically positive existent state albeit undefined and unconditioned. He says he leans to the latter view, a position that he has consistently, and with characteristic caution, stated for many decades. In the interview, he steadfastly avoids calling that state a “mind” or “consciousness” or anything similar, instead referring to terms used in the suttas such as dhamma, dhātu, āyatana, etc. He asserts a “realist” interpretation of these terms that is in line with the Pali Abhidhamma interpretation.

It is the interviewer who says, “So the lights are still on. What’s the content of the mind?” BB doesn’t directly answer that question, instead referring to the “state” of Nibbana after death as indefinable and immeasurable. Nothing in what he says supports any connection between the suttas and Yajnavalkya or other forms of non-dualism.


That this is your conclusion is to be expected. But the question remains open. What is it that “remains”?

In the end, there is always talk, inevitably, of a “state.” Why using the term “consciousness” is so verboten under certain interpretations (like yours) is hard to fathom. It is just a word; it points to the “undefined and unconditioned.” In fact these terms have often been used as descriptions of the final goal of Advaita.

I suspect that the contention raised by the Buddha was more to do about Brahmanism and their questionnable practices, rites and rituals than anything else. Of course, I can’t know that for sure because I wasn’t there. But neither was anyone else pondering over these things today. Sure the EBTs give us some guidelines along with text critical studies. But what, among other examples I could allude to, did the Buddha say that wasn’t recorded? What about many things I can say as an English speaking North American that mean something quite different in Europe or Australia… just because of say, my intention, intonation, body language, etc.? These details cannot be recorded accurately – either through oral transmission or written – to convey what a person originally meant. To compound these many problems, there are so many things that we think we know for sure on Monday…to be contradicted by more or unknown data coming in by Friday. So we are in a constant mode of defining and reconfiguring our so-called knowledge today. Does anyone really consider how complicated this gets when trying to repiece the past?

This is not a criticism of Buddhism per se. It equally applies to any religion, philosophy or perspective that has its origins in the millenia of time. (The same can be said of what Christ originally said and really meant, compared to the thousands of interpretations and their interpreters out there who continue debating the particulars to this very day. Those making present day interpretations weren’t there either).

So to the point of what the Buddha really meant about many things, I’ll pass my turn. In the end, belief seems to be the name of the game. We often have a tendency to think and believe either one way …or another. Some stick to their guns until the day they die. In many cases, these people are later found to have erred, either through miscalculation, misinterpretaion or misinformation. Finally it seems inevitable that, whether right or wrong, our belief in something or someone is what really calls the shots … and far less what our so-called unbiased analysis is really about.

Part of the problem is that the word “consciousness” has so many different usages. It is also a word that carries a lot of baggage for many people. I know people who cannot fathom consciousness without discursive thought or self consciousness or an intellect of some kind. I think this may be @sujato 's concern. It is a technical term in Buddhism and we may, myself certainly, are using the term in a different sense.

I can’t speak for @Jacques , but for myself I am using it to denote something experienced or awareness of something. That something would be a dhamma. Consciousness would not be annihilation.

I believe that the Buddha did not declare whether there is annihilation or not when he said he would not declare what happens to a Buddha after death. He made it clear in the Atthakavagga that he did not cling to formulated views or make statements about other realms. This is why the consolations given to the Kalamas are conditional and why he would not declare certain things.

Clearly, later Buddhists could not leave well enough alone. Views about what happens to the Buddha after death eventually crept in. The issue I have with the belief held by some here that you can resolve contradictions by simply counting the number of times each side of an argument appears in the canon and the one with the most mentions wins is that all that having the most mentions proves is that one side or faction was more prolific than another.

I think a better understanding is achieved by seeing the canon as being mostly a product of tradition after the Buddha died and by examining its evolution.

Added later: as for non-duality, I think that nibanna certainly is not the experience of subject-object dualism. Loka, being in the world, is suffering.

Excellent point, Raftafarian:

The issue I have with the belief held by some here that you can resolve contradictions by simply counting the number of times each side of an argument appears in the canon and the one with the most mentions wins is that all that having the most mentions proves is that one side or faction was more prolific than another.

In the same vein of thought that I was alluding to, it is one of the many sticky and probelmatic factors to take into account when dealing with any ancient text and its interpretation(s).