I read that atman is pure bliss

I read that anatta is pure bliss

-Is it possible that these deep concepts are pointing to the same thing at the end of the day?

-Is atman the same as anatta in anyway? If yes/no then why?

-Is anatman the same as atta in anyway? If yes/no then why?

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    Note that the idea of self is absent in Atman. Many Buddhists often think that Atman is contradictory to Anatta. But this is not true when Atman is referred to Paramatma which is devoid of self. – user5633 Nov 20 '17 at 11:58
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    @OnkarKarambe Can you make that into an answer (instead of only a comment)? Explain why they're the same, and/or why they're different? – ChrisW Nov 20 '17 at 15:46
  • Interesting. It's the Same with anatta. I wonder how they are related. Could you please elaborate? – Lowbrow Nov 20 '17 at 21:18

I have never read 'anatta' is 'pure bliss'. 'Bliss' is a feeling where as 'anatta' is a characteristic of things that is realised by wisdom.

As for 'Atman', this appears to be a concept that changed & evolved throughout the history of Brahmanism & Hinduism. At the time of the Buddha, it appears 'Atman' did not mean bliss or a transcendent state.

The earliest use of word "Ātman" in Indian texts is found in the Rig Veda (RV X.97.11). Yāska, the ancient Indian grammarian, commenting on this Rigvedic verse, accepts the following meanings of Ātman: the pervading principle, the organism in which other elements are united and the ultimate sentient principle.

This is probably why the word 'anatta' does not mean 'not-bliss'.

  • Sounds right to me but Instead of bliss, they might have meant like wellbeing? I think these were beginning teachings so perhaps they were stretching words beyond precision. I never heard many beginning teachings start out talking about the joys of dispassion. – Lowbrow Nov 19 '17 at 4:36

The two are opposites. One is Pali (anatta) and the other is Sanskrit (atman).

Anatta translates to the Sanskrit as anatman, often translated into English as 'no-self', or 'no-soul', and represents the teachings against there being an ontological or surviving soul (atman) as taught by many religions. The 'an' portion indicates 'no', which indicates why the two are opposite in meaning.


What is atman? If you refer to atman as a soul which transmigrates after death then you are wrong. There is no soul which transmigrates after death. Rebirth is just an echo of what was the last consciousness at the time of death. Rebirth is like a stanza learned by student from a teacher.

If you refer to atman which is the listener of the ears, seer of the eyes, smeller of the nose, comprehender of the mind then again I am afraid Buddha says there is no such atman.

Buddha goes on to say there is no Atman... Atman is like a illusion. In other words there is no self worth identifying as my or your soul. Like all illusions, the illusion of atman must collapse. Once that happens gates of Nirvana opens for you. As you see the concept of Atman and Anatta are opposite of each other.

Hindus live in the world of Brahman... Understanding of Brahman is the ultimate goal. Buddhists do not live in any such world. Therefore I am afraid Buddhist philosophy leads to a different state of mind. Should we describe that state as blissful ? That I can not answer for sure but it seems blissful is the right answer. Is that blissfulness permanent ? Yes in both the cases it is said to be so. Is that blissfulness me ? Hindus says Yes that blessedness is your self. Buddhists say there is no self.

  • I wonder if I can ever really know what is meant by specific Hindu concepts like "Blessedness is yourself" if I don't understand the entire Hindu context that this view is among. Nevertheless, for what it's worth, I try to ask questions. So, is "Blessedness is yourself" taken as an irreducible ultimate reality? Does it mean "personality view" or Sakkaya-ditthi is a blessing? How is this idea supported or corroborated? Thank you for your time - Metta – Lowbrow Nov 22 '17 at 17:09
  • If Blessedness is yourself then why aren't you feeling blessed? "Blessedness is yourself" can not be taken as irreducible ultimate reality. Irreducible ultimate reality is a story. Story which is an error,illusion or like a dream. It is the story of you. – Dheeraj Verma Nov 24 '17 at 14:48
  • ..concepts are all ultimate in a way, even if we forget but what is reality untouched by human mind, moment by moment in Hindu philosophy? – Lowbrow Nov 24 '17 at 15:07
  • @Lowbrow Hindu philosophy is open to all kinds of interpretations. I answered from Advaita point of view. – Dheeraj Verma Nov 26 '17 at 12:27

Can I try a very brief (and not well-informed) attempt at an answer?

Before Buddhism there were the vedas. Atman is mentioned in the vedas but not well-defined.

After the vedas (and maybe still before Buddhism) are the upanishads. These sort of define Atman, by explaining that it means "soul" rather than "mind" or "body", and associate it with Brahman.

Then the Buddha comes along, and says, "Don't try to define what 'the self' means (that just leads to a thicket of views)", and let's have a "without-self" doctrine instead of doctrine about "self".

After the Buddha, Hinduism continues -- to some extent it's influenced by Buddhist doctrine -- see e.g. the Advaita Vedanta school's doctrine. I think it teaches non-duality (e.g. "Self and Brahman are One") but with some doctrine similar to Buddhism's (e.g. "the 'Self' is not the skandhas").

I think that's at least a little similar to Buddhism, in that one of its doctrines is "not this" (neti neti), i.e. "the 'Self' is not this" -- that seems to me similar to Buddhism's saying, "this is not Self".

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