January 4, 2010 at 6:03 pm #32912
Note: this site, linked below, is very interesting in the light it casts on contradictions within Buddhism, the most glaring being their waffling over the nature of the Self (and if there is no self, why is either suffering or compassion such a big deal?). There are five sections, I’ve posted the first one. -Michael
The Pudgalavādsta was a group of five of the Early Schools of Buddhism. The name arises from their adherents distinctive doctrine (vāda) concerning the self or person (pudgala). The doctrine holds that the person, in a certain sense, is real. To other Buddhists, their view seemed to contradict a fundamental tenet of Buddhism, the doctrine of non-self. However, the Pudgalavādins were convinced that they had had preserved the true interpretation of the Buddhas teaching.
Although now all but forgotten, the Pudgalavāda was one of the dominant traditions of Buddhism in India during the time that Buddhism survived there. It was never strong in other parts of Asia, however, and with the eventual disappearance of Buddhism in India, almost all of the literature of the Pudgalavāda was lost. It is difficult to reconstruct their understanding of the self from the few Chinese translations that have come down to us, and from the summaries of their doctrines and the critiques of their position that have been preserved by other Buddhist schools. But there is no doubt that they affirmed the reality of the self or person, and that with scriptural authority they held that the self of an enlightened one cannot be described as non-existent after death, in complete Nirvana (Parinirvana), even though the five aggregates which are the basis of its identity have then passed away without any possibility of recurrence in a further life. These five are material form, feeling, ideation, mental forces, and consciousness.
It seems, then, that they thought of some aspect or dimension of the self as transcending the aggregates and may have identified that aspect with Nirvana, which like most early Buddhists they regarded as an eternal reality. In its involvement with the aggregates through successive lives, the self could be seen as characterized by incessant change; but in its eternal aspect, it could be seen as having an identity that remains constant through all its lives until it fulfils itself in the impersonal happiness of Parinirvana. Although their account of the self seemed unorthodox and irrational to their Buddhist opponents, the Pudgalavādins evidently believed that only such an account could do justice to the Buddhas moral teaching, to the accepted facts of karma, rebirth and liberation, and to our actual experience of selves and persons.January 5, 2010 at 8:31 pm #32913
Great article and a wonderful website. I heard the Dalai Lama say he suspected there is some sort of self, “not unchanging, but some sort of self that goes from incarnation to incarnation”.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.