No-self – Buddhist and advaitist perspectives

anatta: no permanent self. The advaita position is initially similar, or the same, as the Buddhist one; it is the way of negation (neti, neti – not this, not this): all concepts are empty, because all phenomena are interdependent; no one of them is self-sustaining. Accordingly, the concept ‘self’, as a referent to an individual, can also be dispensed with as a concept. Ultimately what counts is experiential, a direct experience, and it is not that of emptiness or void (or silence), even for Buddhists. What is it? Equanimity, serenity? Compassion for all beings? No difference here with advaita.

But there is something positive and fundamental – and unique – in advaita Vedanta, and we could say of it that it is a non-conceptual concept: Consciousness, which is universal, undefinable, and changeless, not dependent on any ‘object’ or any other existing thing, thus being reality itself. In itself Consciousness or awareness is conscious of itself alone. It is unsublatable pure experience, pure being. ‘That Thou art’ – an apperception or epiphany called prajna or anubhava in Sanscrit. It is thus the substratum of every experience, the ultímate witness.


About amartingarcia

General surgeon (retired). Studied Western philosophy at U of Toronto. Afterwards interest turned to advaita vedanta and non-duality for past 20 yrs, plus a long interlude in Sufism coinciding with that period. Now contributing in ’Advaita Vision’ with regular posts and discussions.
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