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Buddhism - Essay Example

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Buddhism The doctrine of the five “aggregates” (skandha) and the Buddhist notion of personhood: With reference to Buddhist phenomenology, one of the core teachings of the religion is 'no-self' or anatman which claims that "the personhood of a person is nothing but a unity of five aggregates" i.e…
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Download file to see previous pages The religious philosophy propagates that the widely popular belief in eternal soul, is a case of 'mistaken identity' where one or more of the skandhas are mistaken to be representative of an eternal soul. These five skandhas include: Form (rupa); feelings (vedana); perception (sajna); volitional factors (samskaras); and consciousness (vij-nana) ((Keown, 2003). Form or 'rupa' refers to the external features or characteristics of a human body such as form or color. Feelings or 'vedana' refers to sensations; Perception or 'sajna' refers to perceptions or mental images; volitional factors or ‘samskaras' refers to the power of mental formations and perception; and consciousness or 'vij-nana' refers to recognition and judgment (Hirakawa and Groner, 1993: 44). This doctrine further suggests that these five elements or aggregates are impermanent in nature i.e. 'anitya', and hence subject to change. It is on account of this very reason, that association with the notion of a permanent or unchanging 'self' is rendered false and any individual who associates with this false notion of a permanent self, is likely to suffer since impermanent things often result in suffering i.e. 'dukha'. For a Buddhist, an individual is comprised of these five aggregates which are subject to change, and hence and anything that is unchanging or permanent in nature cannot be associated with the concept of selfhood or personhood. Buddhism argues that this doctrine of "no independent self" is associated with the Buddhist doctrine of dependent/ conditioning origination i.e. 'pratiyasumtpada' (Palmquist, 2010). In Buddhism, there is no certain pre-defined concept of self. But the same is defined and explained by way of a series of impermanent and interdependent moments of consciousness (). For instance, according to the doctrine of conditioning origination i.e. 'ratiyasumtpada' the concept of self does not exist independently on its own, since the notion of self is empty / void. The emptiness of self in Buddhism does not imply non-existence of self, but instead refers to lack of autonomous self-nature i.e. 'nishvabhava'. Buddhism posits that the notion of personhood does not have an autonomous self existence, but instead is a consequence of certain conditions or 'pratyayas'. Thus the existence of personhood or self in Buddhism is dependent on several other factors, which are interconnected with each other and are mostly found in experiences which an individual goes through (Palmquist, 2010). The doctrine of personhood in Buddhism refers to the heretical view that human beings are gifted with a real 'self'. Buddhism essentially rejects the notion of an eternal self or 'atman'. Various religious groups within the religion, such as the 'Vatsiputriyas' had put forward the notion of an eternal self, in a bid to describe and explain the complex phenomenon of life after death, rebirth and karma. However according to the Buddhist religious theories, the concept of personhood which is enshrined within the five aggregates, is derived from and dependent on them (Keown, 2003). Another more modern theory on the doctrine of Persoonhood was developed by a group known as the "Pudgalavadins" or the Personalists. This group was strongly opposed to the conventional and/or orthodox concept of anatta or no-self-ness, since it was difficult to comprehend and interpret. Contrary to the orthodox concept ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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