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Buddhism. “What are you?” “I am awake.”. Buddha (-563 - -483). Four Passing Sights. Old age Disease Death Monk. Quest for fulfillment. Self-indulgence (path of desire) Asceticism (path of renunciation). No Self. There is no self to fulfill

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Buddhism

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Buddhism

“What are you?”

“I am awake.”


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Buddha (-563 - -483)


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Four Passing Sights

  • Old age

  • Disease

  • Death

  • Monk


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Quest for fulfillment

  • Self-indulgence (path of desire)

  • Asceticism (path of renunciation)


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No Self

  • There is no self to fulfill

  • No-self (anatman, anatta): there is no self

  • Idea of self —> desire —> suffering


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Absent self

  • Introspect: what do you see?

  • Thoughts, feelings, perceptions. . . .

  • You don’t find anything else

  • You don’t find yourself

  • There is no self or soul

  • A person is just a bundle of thoughts. . . .


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Absent Self

  • Self-knowledge?

  • Knowledge of others?

  • No self: no essence within me to know

  • The best I can do is understand patterns in bundle of thoughts


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Buddhaghosa (-400)

  • There are 89 kinds of consciousness

  • Nothing unifies them

  • There are only streams of consciousness

  • Nothing unites past, present, and future


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Buddhaghosa

  • A living being lasts only as long as one thought

  • People, minds, objects are only ways of speaking


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People and passengers

  • Jane flies from Austin to Houston and back <———————————>

  • She is one person

  • She is two passengers

  • ‘Passenger’ is just a way of counting

  • Buddhaghosa: every noun is like ‘passenger’


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Questions to King Milinda

  • “there is no ego here to be found”

  • “there is no chariot here to be found”

  • No one element is the whole

  • The combination isn’t the whole; parts could change while object remains the same


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Reincarnation?

  • There is no soul to occupy a different mind or body

  • But there is a cycle of birth and death


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Reincarnation?

  • There are connections between lives through cause and effect, similarity, etc.

  • We construct people (like “passengers”)— we can do so across bounds of death


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Buddhist self


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Consciousness-only

  • Vasubandhu’s idealism —> Dharmapala —> Xuanzong (596-664)

  • Idealism: Everything depends on mind

  • No-self: There is no mind


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Xuanzong’s mind

  • Five senses

    • Sight

    • Hearing

    • Touch

    • Taste

    • Smell

  • Sense-center consciousness

  • Thought-center consciousness

  • Storehouse consciousness


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Arguments vs. unified self

  • Universal, “extensive as empty space”

    • Perception: How can it be happy or suffer?

    • Mentalcausation: How can it cause the body to act?

    • Individuation: How can you and I differ?


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Arguments vs. unified self

  • Coextensive with the body

    • If I gain weight, does my soul expand?

    • If I cut my hair, do I lose part of my self?

  • Inside the body

    • Then the self is neither one nor eternal


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Arguments vs. aggregate self

  • The self is neither one nor eternal

  • An aggregate of what?

    • Thoughts, feelings, etc.? But these can change while I remain myself

    • Matter?

      • But thoughts are intentional: they are about things.

      • Matter isn’t about anything.

      • So, thoughts aren’t matter.


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David Hume (1711-1776)


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Hume’s Argument vs. Self

  • Source of idea of self?

  • We do not find it in experience

  • All identity through change is imposed by us, not there in the world


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Heraclitus

  • Example: Heraclitus: can’t step in same river twice

  • Example: ship of Theseus


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Imposed identity

  • Mental states link to other mental states: memory, intention, desire, similarities

  • We construct the idea of self


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Self as Commonwealth

  • Self is not a unified thing— best compared to a commonwealth

  • Questions about identity aren’t about the world, but about language


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Buddhist ethics


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Four noble truths: 1

  • Life is painful (dukkha)

    • “Now this, O monks, is the noble truth of pain: birth is painful, old age is painful, sickness is painful, death is painful, sorrow, lamentation, dejection, and despair are painful. Contact with unpleasant things is painful, not getting what one wishes is painful. In short the five khandhas of grasping are painful.”


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Four Noble Truths: 2

  • Desire (tanha) causes pain

    • “Now this, O monks, is the noble truth of the cause of pain: that craving which leads to rebirth, combined with pleasure and lust, finding pleasure here and there, namely, the craving for passion, the craving for existence, the craving for non-existence.”


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Four Noble Truths: 3

  • Eliminating desire can eliminate pain

    • “Now this, O monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of pain: the cessation without a remainder of that craving, abandonment, forsaking, release, nonattachment.”


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Four Noble Truths: 4

  • The Eightfold Noble Path (the Middle Way) eliminates desire: Right

    • Thought

    • Intention

    • Speech

    • Conduct

    • Livelihood

    • Effort

    • Concentration

    • Meditation


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Right Thought, Intention

  • Right Thought:

    • Dhammapada: “Everything you are is the result of what you have thought.”

    • You must know the Four Noble Truths

    • You must avoid harmful thoughts

  • Right Intention:

    • You must try to eliminate selfish desire


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Right Speech, Conduct

  • Right Speech

    • Avoid saying harmful things

  • Right Conduct

    • Avoid harming others

    • Obey the five restraints


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Ethical restraints

  • Do not kill

  • Do not steal

  • Do not lie

  • Do not be unchaste

  • Do not ingest intoxicants


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Right Livelihood, Effort

  • Right Livelihood

    • You must enter the right career

    • Avoid what requires you, or even tempts you, to harm others

  • Right Effort

    • You must work constantly to avoid selfish desire


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Right Concentration, Meditation

  • Right Concentration

    • You must develop mental powers to avoid desire

    • “binding mind to a single spot”, as in Hindu meditation

  • Right Meditation

    • Like Hindu meditation

    • cessation of fluctuations

    • illumination of object as object, empty of what it is


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Two kinds of Buddhism

  • Theravada Buddhism

    • Southern Canon, early writings

    • Southeast Asia

    • Ideal: arhat


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Mahayana Buddhism

  • Northern Canon, later writings

  • China, Korea, Japan

  • Ideal: bodhisattva


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Two ideals

  • Arhat: saint who attains enlightenment, experiences nirvana. Chief virtue: wisdom


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Mahayana Ideal

  • Bodhisattva: one who postpones his/her own enlightenment to promote the enlightenment of others. Chief virtue: compassion


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Six perfections of the bodhisattva

  • Charity

  • Good moral character (concern for others)

  • Patience

  • Energy

  • Deep concentration

  • Wisdom


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Arguments for the arhat ideal

  • The goal is to eliminate suffering; the means, enlightenment

  • If bodhisattvas help others to enlightenment, they help them become arhats

  • If it is good to help others to enlightenment, it is because enlightenment is the goal


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Theravada Temple, Laos


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Theravada temple, Burma


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Theravada temple, Mandalay


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Temples, Bagan, Burma


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Theravada temple, Thailand


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Arguments for the bodhisattva ideal

  • If your ideal is the arhat, you seek your own enlightenment

  • That is a selfish desire; it leads to suffering

  • Concern for self presupposes that you have a separate self

  • Only bodhisattva ideal leads you beyond yourself


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Mahayana temples


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Mahayana Temples


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