Tathāgatagarbha and Ātman: Self Where There Is No-Self

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Tathāgatagarbha and Ātman: Self Where There Is No-Self
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Citation: Laughlin, Aaron Alexander. "Tathāgatagarbha and Ātman: Self Where There Is No-Self." IdeaFest: Interdisciplinary Journal of Creative Works and Research from Humboldt State University 3 (2019): 57–61. https://digitalcommons.humboldt.edu/ideafest/vol3/iss1/11

Abstract

No abstract given. Here are the first relevant paragraphs:

Humans have long grappled with the question of the nature of our Self, defined here as the ultimate reality inherent to our individual being. Religious traditions can be a great place to look when attempting to understand this aspect of our humanity. Broadly speaking, when contemplating ideas of Self in Buddhism and Hinduism, the relationship between the Buddhist notion of Buddha-nature (tathāgatagarbha) and the Hindu notion of Self (ātman), is an intriguing one: How can we understand them to be similar or different? How do the Buddhist concepts of emptiness (śūnyatā) and mind-only (cittamātra) relate to the concepts of tathāgatagarbha and ātman? Is emptiness contrary to these ideas? Are tathāgatagarbha and the Hindu teaching that ātman is equal to brahman (ultimate reality), both expressions of a non-dualistic state of mind? Although it is commonly taught that Hinduism and Buddhism differ in their understanding of Self, one thing that becomes apparent is that these are not simple questions, perhaps mainly because their answers are contextual. There are many answers that come from many different types of Hindus and Buddhists in various places. For this paper, I will be looking at commentary on the Buddhist text the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa sūtra and its use of the concept of a permanent Self and how this relates to emptiness (śūnyatā) and skillful means (upāya). This paper seeks to support my claim that, through skillful means, ātman and anātman (no-Self) are both saying something quite similar—despite the apparent paradoxical nature of this statement—and will look at Buddha-nature in the Mahāparinirvāṇa sūtra as a way to understand and help articulate this thought. (Laughlin, "Tathāgatagarbha and Ātman," 57)