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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 suspect the two words should be read as meaning the same things or as referring to two aspects of the same thing, but in any particular case whether they do will depend on who is using the words.
    – user14119
    Dec 29 '19 at 13:03
  • My understanding is atman means transcendental self, the part of us which relates to the ultimate reality or unified cosmic self: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C4%80tman_(Hinduism) Whereas, anatta in Buddhism is one of the en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_marks_of_existence - it is the perspective that permanent, transcendental, or ultimate unified selves separate from causes and conditions, are not possible. Buddha reacted to Vedic thought, and went beyond it in this way. Non-dual schools of Hinduism then reacted to Buddhism.
    – CriglCragl
    Apr 10 at 14:31
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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'.

1
  • 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
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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.

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  • Anatta isnt the teaching that there is no surviving soul. Common misconception. Anatta is a characteristic of conditioned reality. Obviously someone who taught about reincarnation thought we survive death. As did someone who taught about The Deathless (someone = Buddha)
    – Al Brown
    Aug 14 at 5:08
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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.

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  • 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. 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. Nov 26 '17 at 12:27
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Hinduism's Atman is the imperishable and indestructible immortal soul or self that pervades the entire body.

That which pervades the entire body, know it to be indestructible. No one can cause the destruction of the imperishable soul. Only the material body is perishable; the embodied soul within is indestructible, immeasurable, and eternal. ... Neither of them is in knowledge—the one who thinks the soul can slay and the one who thinks the soul can be slain. For truly, the soul neither kills nor can it be killed. The soul is neither born, nor does it ever die; nor having once existed, does it ever cease to be. The soul is without birth, eternal, immortal, and ageless. It is not destroyed when the body is destroyed.

Hindu text Bhagavad Gita 2.17-20

Buddhism's Anatta is from the statement "sabbe dhamma anatta" (Dhp 279) which means that "all phenomena is not self".

So, Atman and Anatta are opposite.

Then the Venerable Ānanda approached the Blessed One … and said to him: “Venerable sir, it is said, ‘Empty is the world, empty is the world.’ In what way, venerable sir, is it said, ‘Empty is the world’?”

“It is, Ānanda, because it is empty of self and of what belongs to self that it is said, ‘Empty is the world.’ And what is empty of self and of what belongs to self? The eye, Ānanda, is empty of self and of what belongs to self. Forms are empty of self and of what belongs to self. Eye-consciousness is empty of self and of what belongs to self. Eye-contact is empty of self and of what belongs to self…. Whatever feeling arises with mind-contact as condition—whether pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant—that too is empty of self and of what belongs to self.

“It is, Ānanda, because it is empty of self and of what belongs to self that it is said, ‘Empty is the world.’”
SN 35.85


According to the Hindu school of Advaita Vedanta, Atman is Consciousness:

Atman is all consciousness and holy, the body is all flesh and impure; and yet, etc., - verse 19

Thus all the three states are unreal inasmuch as they are the creation of the three Gunas; but their witness (the reality behind them) is, beyond all Gunas, eternal, one, and is Consciousness itself. - verse 58

The wise should always think with great care of the invisible, the visible, and everything else, as his own Self which is consciousness itself. - verse 141

Adi Shankaracharya's Aparokshanubhuti

According to the Buddha, Consciousness is dependently originated and is impermanent. It's not the same Consciousness that roams throughout one's life and continues to another life:

The Buddha said to him, “Is it really true, Sāti, that you have such a harmful misconception: ‘As I understand the Buddha’s teachings, it is this very same consciousness that roams and transmigrates, not another’?”

Sati: “Absolutely, sir. As I understand the Buddha’s teachings, it is this very same consciousness that roams and transmigrates, not another.”

Buddha: “Sāti, what is that consciousness?”

Sati: “Sir, it is he who speaks and feels and experiences the results of good and bad deeds in all the different realms.”

Buddha: “Silly man, who on earth have you ever known me to teach in that way? Haven’t I said in many ways that consciousness is dependently originated, since consciousness does not arise without a cause? But still you misrepresent me by your wrong grasp, harm yourself, and make much bad karma. This will be for your lasting harm and suffering.”
MN 38

The same sutta explains that consciousness arises dependent on the six sense media and their sense objects.

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  • Key word “phenomena”. All phenomena is not self. Agree. Technically that is not the opposite of saying a soul that survives death and reincarnates exists, which Buddha did. In other words, one can know all of phenomenal reality is impersonal and empty of selfhood, and then can either believe or not believe that the transcendent is empty of selfhood. Thats the way in which they are not opposite views.
    – Al Brown
    Aug 14 at 5:11
  • @AlBrown Pls see MN 38: <Sati: “As I understand the Buddha’s teachings, it is this very same consciousness that roams and transmigrates, not another. It is he who speaks and feels and experiences the results of good and bad deeds in all the different realms.” Buddha: “Silly man, who on earth have you ever known me to teach in that way? Haven’t I said in many ways that consciousness is dependently originated, since consciousness does not arise without a cause? But still you misrepresent me by your wrong grasp, harm yourself, and make much bad karma.”>
    – ruben2020
    Aug 14 at 5:38
  • Consciousness is not Atman. In fact, consciousness is a skanda, its own skanda. And something that can be meditated on btw
    – Al Brown
    Aug 14 at 5:53
  • youtu.be/FEnb2cFWKBs That ones shorter. That said i watch most on 2x
    – Al Brown
    Aug 14 at 6:03
  • @AlBrown In Hinduism, consciousness is Atman. See Aparokshanubhuti 19 : "Atman is all consciousness and holy, the body is all flesh and impure; and yet, etc." (written by Adi Shankaracharya, the teacher of Advaita). And Aparokshanubhuti 141: "The wise should always think with great care of the invisible, the visible, and everything else, as his own Self which is consciousness itself."
    – ruben2020
    Aug 14 at 9:29
0

Atman is 'self', Annata is 'no self'. It's apparent that they are complete opposites. But could they be the same? Ask a classical Zen master and you might get a good bonk on the head with his staff. Which is another way of saying, that's a pretty good question! You can try to answer, but why spoil it? Maybe the best questions should be left unanswered. Just keep asking the question... The Hindu "I am that" and the Buddhist "I am not that" The same?

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  • Sure saying the word self is the opposite the word no-self. But the doctrines they refer to are not opposite. Anatta refers to conditioned reality being empty of self. Atman is the unconditional transcendant soul. One can believe both Anatta and in Atman, as did Buddha. In other words, one can know all of phenomenal reality is impersonal and empty of selfhood, and then can either believe or not believe that the transcendent is empty of selfhood. Thats the way in which they are not opposite views.
    – Al Brown
    Aug 14 at 5:15
  • The Buddha didn't teach Atman. "Sabbe dhamma anatta" means Nibbana is also empty of self. So Nibbana isn't an Atman. Nirvana isn't an Atman either, since its the realisation of shunyata (emptiness).
    – WillyWonka
    Aug 14 at 17:18
-1

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

Yes I think so.

Part of Buddhist doctrine is, more-less, that self-views are a cause of suffering.

I get the (not very well-informed) impression that the Hindu tradition includes teaching something like, neti neti -- "the self is not this".

A corollary of that search might be that the "self" or Self is something other -- is Atman or Brahman.

Perhaps a Hindu would expect a Buddhist to somehow identify with Nibbana (or the Tathagata), see that as some refuge for a sense of self (or of being, or of action, etc.).

So if selfishness and identifying with the body and the shandhas is an extreme (worldly) position, maybe Atman and so on is logically opposed to that -- and a different extreme!

Whereas Buddhism being a middle way, neither extreme, might say, "not the other extreme either -- i.e. also nibbana isn't self, is anatta".


Wikipedia's Paramatman suggests that the (or some) Hindu doctrine might be similar somehow ...

Selflessness is the attribute of Paramatman, where all personality/individuality vanishes.

... but that article's comparison with Buddhist doctrine says only ...

Buddhism rejects a metaphysics of "ground" such as the paramatman.

I think that there is some Buddhist "metaphysics", and sometimes some doctrine about "ground" (but those are a couple of words I don't know enough of at the moment to explain).

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It is vey possible that anatta and atman are the same thing.

In Buddhism, Anatta means "non-self." However if the self doesn't exist, what travels from birth-to-birth? According to Lord Buddha the "stream of consciousness" which is essentially karmic energy, travels to different life forms.

In Hinduism the Atman is energy. It is considered the soul. The "karmic energy" in Buddhism is identical to the concept of energy as the Atman.

The difference is that Hindus attribute Atman to the self, whereas Buddhists say that the stream of consciousness is everchanging because of the 5 aggregates therefore it cannot be attributed to the self. So Buddhists do not cling to the stream of consciousness because of this.

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    Could the down voters leave constructive feedback please...
    – Max
    Apr 20 at 19:59
  • Good answer 👍🏻. Check mine too.
    – Al Brown
    Aug 14 at 4:56
-1

Atman

Atman is the only refuge (DN 2. 100). The uncreated. (“The soul” Ive heard as one translation several times)

Anatta

Anatta is a method (Labeling as ‘not self’), and a characteristic of this reality (it is all empty of any selfhood).

Atman is attained by seeing* that all of phenomenal reality is Anatta (empty of agency and selfhood, conditioned and caused, impersonal)

Realizing the true Atman (soul imo) can be helped by noting ‘This is not self’ about everything ever perceived or conceived or imagined (which is the practice of Anatta).

Summary

So yes, they are highly related.


*Note And by seeing that phenomenal reality is anicca and dukkha too. Anicca meaning ever changeful, and dukkha meaning cannot satisfy, will cause suffering if clung to.

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  • No. In Buddhism neti-neti doesn't stop at consciousness. Consciousness is also anatta, along with the other aggregates. "Sabbe dhamma anatta" means there is no Atman in Nibbana either. So Buddhism doesn't teach Atman.
    – WillyWonka
    Aug 15 at 6:28
  • I agree that neti neti includes consciousness. Consciousness (vijnana) is a skanda (referring to what is usually translated as consciousness in Buddhism.., but most Advaitans have the unfortunate habit of calling Chit “consciousness” and vijnana “awareness”). See 5 min video. youtu.be/FEnb2cFWKBs . In addition to that, I interviewed the founder of suttayana buddhism (buddhism founded entirely on the suttas) who said the same.
    – Al Brown
    Aug 15 at 21:03
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    Advaitans refer to Turiya as pure consciousness, and that is Brahman. There is no equivalent in Buddhism.
    – WillyWonka
    Aug 17 at 20:25
  • I agree with both statements so far. Hey im curious.. please let me know if you get a notification of this
    – Al Brown
    Aug 17 at 23:01
-1

In the Suttas:

Buddha said Atman is the only refuge (DN 2. 100).

Buddha taught centrally that we reincarnate

Buddha said the Atman is the “charioteer of the person”

Buddha said because there is the transcendent Unconditioned, there is hope in the conditioned.

“The eightfold path is the best of paths

For it leads safely to the Deathless."

-- MN 75:

————

Buddha said that in all of conditioned, phenomenal existence, there is anatta (no selfhood); no permanence; and no satisfaction. We must let go and attain the transcendent unconditioned Atman

https://youtu.be/FEnb2cFWKBs

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    You have mistaken Hindu teachings for Buddhism. The Buddha meant rely on your own effort. Take refuge in your own effort for liberation. He did not say take refuge in Atman. And deathless does not mean becoming immortal in Buddhism. Becoming deathless means becoming free from the terror of death. You are completely misrepresenting Buddhism. The view of an Eternal Atman is called the wrong view of Eternalism (Sassatavada in Pali or śāśvata-dṛṣṭi in Sanskrit). You can read about it in DN 1.
    – ruben2020
    Aug 14 at 5:44
  • @ruben2020 youtu.be/52QOc7De0GU
    – Al Brown
    Aug 14 at 5:51
  • @ruben2020 and how exactly to you reconcile reincarnation with your view?
    – Al Brown
    Aug 14 at 5:56
  • I have explained rebirth/ reincarnation in this answer.
    – ruben2020
    Aug 14 at 6:00
  • @ruben2020 “simply the continuation of suffering and the continuation of the chain of conditioned processes. It's not about the rebirth of a specific person or being or self or consciousness.” Thats an interesting view. Certainly nothing the Buddha ever wrote about or implied or even left open as possibly being his view. He talked at length to specific people about their incarnation paths and past lives. You dont have to agree with Buddha. Dont have to pretend he said something if you wanna believe that something. Again, consciousness is not Atman
    – Al Brown
    Aug 14 at 6:10

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