Describe the relationship between soul and identity within buddhism

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describe the relationship between soul and identity within buddhism

In particular, this paper asks (1) what is the relationship between popular .. and beliefs in local deities, souls, spirits, and the active role of gods in personal . Popular Religious Practice and Belief by Buddhist Identity and. I felt I was in the presence of a noble soul a true disciple of Lord Buddha and a true The seventh section will discuss the relationship between morality and . eliminates the separate identity that it rightly deserves: "It can be said that, in. Buddhism has been considered to be the core of Thai identity since the Thus, as used in Buddhism, the relation between cause and effect is only that of the earlier to clinging to the fallacy that there is a permanent, abiding substance of Soul in . The standard definition of death in Buddhist texts describes death as " the.

On the other hand, a Buddhist, because of a nonsubstantial view of the self, would recognize that a spiritual self free from matter is an illusion; and she would be more concerned about the karmic effects of suicide as the ultimate violence to the self. Gandhi actually allowed many exceptions to ahimsa, based on very realistic and pragmatic considerations, exceptions that scandalized many Hindus and Jains.

His view is summed up in the surprising qualification that "all killing is not himsa," 10 and his equally provocative imperative that it is better to fight an aggressor than to be a coward. In contrast to the Jain position, Gandhi's ahimsa is reactive and flexible, not passive and absolute. Throughout OctoberGandhi carried on a lively debate with various respondents in Young India. Gandhi defended his decision to euthanize an incurable calf, and even went on to list the conditions for human euthanasia that do not violate ahimsa.

He also thought that tigers, snakes, and rabid dogs might have to be killed if they threaten human life. This comment is strong evidence that the ethics of nonviolence cannot be rule based; rather, it must be based on the development of virtues that are formed within the context of the person, his spiritual stature, his vocation, and the various situations in which he finds himself.

Gandhi proposed that a dying man must euthanize his handicapped child if he thought that no one would care for her. If his own son were suffering from rabies and there was no cure, then he should be euthanized. This means that in many cases passive ahimsa is actually himsa.

He first read the Bhagavad-gita in Sir Edwin Arnold's translation, and he read with "even greater interest" Arnold's verse rendition of the Buddha's life and thought. It also reveals Gandhi's mistaken belief that Buddhism, along with Jainism, are simply reform movements within Hinduism.

During November,Gandhi was on tour in Sri Lanka, and he naturally had occasion to present his views on Buddhism. Using the time-honored practice of tapasya, the Buddha, according to Gandhi, had only one principal goal: With remarkable candor Gandhi told his Buddhist audience that he was shocked that they could justify eating the flesh of animals that they themselves had not killed.

He claimed that vegetarian Hindus were more consistent in their adherence to ahimsa and were thereby the true heirs of the Buddha's gospel of nonviolence.

Anatta - Wikipedia

Reminding them of the Buddha's principle of dependent origination, Gandhi told his audience that any meat eater is causally linked to the violence of the one who butchers the animal. His judgment against Burmese Buddhists in was equally harsh, and there he speculated that their meat eating was the reason why Burma had a higher crime rate than India. In his first speech in Sri Lanka Gandhi said that the Buddha only meant to reform Hinduism and not start a new religion of his own.

It was his disciples, not the Buddha, who established a religion separate from Hinduism. According to Gandhi, the Buddha never rejected Hinduism; rather, he "broadened its base. He gave it new life and a new interpretation. There is no question that Siddhartha Gautama envisioned a clean break with the Hindu tradition.

He also broke with orthodox Hindus on other major issues, such as the nature of reality and the self and its relationship to the gods. In addition, the Buddha totally rejected the caste system, which Gandhi wanted to preserve in a revised form.

My view is that Gandhi should have broken with his Hindu tradition on all of these points except perhaps for his views on the deity. Most importantly, we will find that Gandhi often speaks of both the self, God, and reality in dynamic and relational ways that are Buddhist in their implication. God is continuously in action without resting for a single moment.

Gandhi's argument that "the Law dharma was God Himself" 22 is true only in Mahayana Buddhism, where the cosmic Buddha is called the dharmakya, literally, the Body of the Law. Furthermore, Gandhi's insistence on the Buddha's theism is ironic given the fact that he constantly wavered between personal theism and an impersonal pantheism, or even an impersonal "truthism. In any case, the Buddha adopted the Jain-Sankhya-Yoga view of the relationship between humans and gods.

This view is neither theistic nor atheistic: To his credit Gandhi did have the correct view of Nirvana, and he is to be commended for his clear understanding of it.

He said that "Nirvana is utter extinction of all that is base in us, all that is vicious in us, all that is corrupt and corruptible in us. Nirvana is not like the black, dead peace of the grave, but the living peace, the living happiness of [the] soul. Nirvana is, in a word, freedom--freedom not only from hate and greed, but freedom from craving, the unquenchable desire for those things that we can never attain.

One significant assumption of the Buddha's position is that ordinary desires, even for the Enlightened One, are acceptable. This is the clearest mode of understanding the Buddha's Middle Way between extreme asceticism on the one hand and sensualism on the other.

It is also a good way to see Buddhism as a religious humanism accessible to all people. A Hungarian convert to Buddhism once asked Gandhi whether God could change because of human prayer.

Sensing that his questioner was not sympathetic to the idea of petitionary prayer, Gandhi answered that God was of course immutable, so "I beg it of myself, of my Higher Self, the Real Self with which I have not yet achieved complete identification.

describe the relationship between soul and identity within buddhism

The latter has a belief closer to the Buddha's own: It is clear that Gandhi is much more in line with the Mahayanists with regard to his concept of self. This issue aside, it was never reported that the Buddha petitioned either a god except in legends or a higher self for any favor. So Gandhi was wrong when he insisted that the Buddha "found illumination through prayer and could not [have] possibly live[d] without it. There is among us a Japanese monk who works like a horse and lives like a hermit, doing all the hard chores of the ashram and going about merrily beating his drum early every morning and evening, filling the air with his chanting of Om Namyo Hom Renge Kyom.

describe the relationship between soul and identity within buddhism

I do not believe there is one iota of truth in the charge some people have leveled at him of being a. If he is a spy, spies must be the most amiable specimens of humanity and I should like to be one. To my mind he lives up to the gospel of ahimsa better than any one of us not excluding Gandhiji.

This proved to be very effective not only against the British but with his own family and followers as well. It is most intriguing to see how Gandhi has imposed his own principle of self-suffering on the life of the Buddha.

Although not used by the Buddha or his immediate disciples, civil protest through acts of self-immolation has been common in ancient as well as modern Asia. Buddhist monks burning themselves to death during the Vietnam War and Falun Gong suicides in China are the most recent examples. Gandhi was of course aware of this tradition of self-immolation, 30 but he still believed that his own particular adaptation of yogic tapas was new with him and that his practice of it had not yet been perfected.

The Vietnamese monks, as far as I can remember, were not actively engaged in dialogue with the American officials. Some commentators contend that there are instructive parallels between Gandhi's self-suffering and the suffering of the Bodhisattva, and we shall assess this claim in the next section. If Gandhi does conceive of self-suffering as doing penance for others, then he has gone far beyond the traditional view of tapas.

Indeed, it may even be at odds with the law of karma, which holds that karma is always individual not collective. This means that only the individual person can work off her karmic debt. Gandhi, however, appears to believe in collective guilt: Margaret Chatterjee finds Gandhi's position very implausible, for, in the two cases she mentions, it is very difficult to see any "strict causal line[s]" between the actions of others and any implication of guilt on Gandhi's part.

In this light Gandhi would have said that he could not demand perfection in others as long as he found imperfection in himself. During his fast against the violence at Chauri Chaura inGandhi announced that "I must undergo personal cleansing. I must become a fitter instrument able to register the slightest variation in the moral atmosphere about me. This interpretation is most consistent with his expanded concept of brahmacharya as self-control in all actions and his commitment to spiritual purity for himself and his followers.

The following passage sums up this view very nicely: Outwardly it would be hard to conceive of two individuals more different. On the one hand is the tranquil Buddha who walks serenely and calmly across the pages of history, or traditionally sits peacefully on a lotus with a gentle smile of infinitive compassion. On the other hand is the Mahatma, speed and energy in every movement, laughing and sorrowing in his ceaseless endeavour to help mankind with the problems of human life.

The truth as usual lies somewhere in between. Although he did frequently confront brahmin priests the scriptures report that they were almost always convertedit can hardly be said that the Buddha destroyed the Vedic priesthood. It continues to have great power even today.

Furthermore, although Buddhism and Jainism can take much credit for the reduction of animal sacrifice, it still continues today as an integral part of Goddess worship in Northeast India and Nepal. And even Gandhi admits that because of India's own weaknesses, the Buddha's, as well as the Jains', message of universal tolerance and nonviolence failed miserably. Much blame, according to Gandhi, must be laid at the feet of Shankara for his "unspeakable cruelty in banishing Buddhism [from] India.

Gandhi should take sole credit for his own brilliant synthesis of religion and political action. As one commentator has said: For example, as opposed to most Indian philosophy, the Buddha recognized the body as a necessary constituent of human identity, rather than something to be negated in the spiritual life.

It was his disciples who kept asking for more behavioral restrictions, and this difference is summed aptly in the Buddha's observation that sometimes he ate a full bowl of food while his monks only ate only a half bowl.

The influence of Chinese naturalism especially on Zen Buddhism and the Buddhist-Christian dialogue have turned contemporary Buddhism much more in this direction. The spiritual transformation of the entire world is the goal of most schools of Mahayana Buddhism.

Buddhism at a glance

As opposed to the ascetic ideal of early Buddhism, where the emphasis was on personal liberation, the focus in Mahayana schools is on universal salvation. The vow of the Bodhisattva should be well known to those who know Buddhism: The Bodhisattva's extra sacrifice caused some perceptive Buddhists to ask whether that made Bodhisattvas superior to the Buddha himself, who of course did not wait for the others. The Bodhisattva ideal and the comprehensive range of universal salvation makes it relevant to contemporary debates about animal rights and the protection of the environment.

Gandhi constantly emphasized that his focus was universal this-worldly salvation and not individual spiritual liberation: Using the innovative idea of Nichiren Buddhism that all of us become Bodhisattvas by virtue of our service to humanity, then Singh's claim is closer to the mark. On the face of it Gandhi's self-suffering does appear to be similar to Shantideva's view of the Passion of the Bodhisattva: By my own self all the mass of others' pain has been assumed: I have the courage in all misfortunes belonging to all worlds to experience every abode of pain.

I resolve to abide in each single state of misfortune through numberless future ages. I for the good of all creatures would experience all the mass of pain and unhappiness in. Gandhi obviously did not claim to have taken away the sins of the world as Buddhist and Christians claim their saviors do. Following the idea of penance as self-purification, Gandhi may be more like the Bodhisattva, who, although sinless, nonetheless "think[s] of [him]self as a sinner [and] of others as oceans of virtue"?

Not even his most ardent followers have claimed that Gandhi had the redemptive powers of a savior. Revealing his strong Vaishnava background, Gandhi once declared that he wanted to tear open his heart for the poor just as the monkey god Hanuman did to show his devotion to Rama, but he said that he did not have the power to perfect such absolute loyalty.

Gandhi realized the danger in making his self-suffering conditional on the actions of others: The more appropriate comparison would be Gandhi and Emperor Ashoka, who through political means attempted to establish a nonviolent society in 3rd Century BCE India.

Gandhi called his fasting a "fiery weapon" and that we must fight the "fire" of violence with the "fire" of our own self-sacrifice. Joan Bondurant describes it as the "willingness to suffer in oneself to win the respect of an opponent. For those close to him--especially his wife and his sons--it was a test of love--"tough love" as it is now called.

It is impermanent because no state, good or bad, lasts forever.


Our mistaken belief that things can last is a chief cause of suffering. The history of Buddhism is the story of one man's spiritual journey to enlightenment, and of the teachings and ways of living that developed from it.

The Buddha Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, was born into a royal family in present-day Nepal over years ago. He lived a life of privilege and luxury until one day he left the royal enclosure and encountered for the first time, an old man, a sick man, and a corpse. Disturbed by this he became a monk before adopting the harsh poverty of Indian asceticism.

Buddhists believe that one day, seated beneath the Bodhi tree the tree of awakeningSiddhartha became deeply absorbed in meditation and reflected on his experience of life until he became enlightened. The Tibetan terms such as bdag med refer to "without a self, insubstantial, anatman". According to the anatta doctrine of Buddhism, at the core of all human beings and living creatures, there is no "eternal, essential and absolute something called a soul, self or atman".

In its soteriological themes, Buddhism has defined nirvana as that blissful state when a person, amongst other things, realizes that he or she has "no self, no soul". The pre-Buddhist Upanishads of Hinduism assert that there is a permanent Atman, and is an ultimate metaphysical reality. However, despite their internal differences, one shared foundational premise of Hinduism is that "soul, self exists", and that there is bliss in seeking this self, knowing self, and self-realization.

They held that when it was found, and known to be identical to Brahman, the basis of everything, this would bring liberation. In the Buddhist Suttasthough, literally everything is seen is non-Self, even Nirvana. When this is known, then liberation — Nirvana — is attained by total non-attachment. Thus both the Upanishads and the Buddhist Suttas see many things as not-Self, but the Suttas apply it, indeed non-Self, to everything.