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April 19, 2016

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The problem is people are forgetting the Upanisadic doctrine of the Atman is that God is the only self there is and it is shared by everyone. Buddha does deny this, because he believes everyone has their own distinct self. Passages in the Suttas that say like "to be enlightened you must let go of the conceit 'I am'" are referring to letting go on a false notion of being an incarnation of God (engendered by Hinduism) not to letting go of a belief in your existence. The self is not the body, nor God, it is distinct from both. This is all Buddha is saying, and yet this is exactly what modern teachers of Buddhism just cannot grasp for some reason. Buddhism is distinct from atheism in that it denies the self is the body; Buddhism is distinct from Hinduism in that it denies that we all just share God as our self. We have a unique individual self that is immaterial mind, cita, which in English we call a soul. It is persistent, but not necessarily "eternal," because Buddha refuses to answer the question of even if the world is eternal or not. The soul exists from the point that it began existing and persists through a cycle of reincarnation until at least the point of death after enlightenment, where it may (or may not) be extinguished by Nirvana (depending on your interpretation of Nirvana as to whether the Tagatha continues to exist in Nirvana or ceases to exist by having reached Nirvana).

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