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Sri Aurobindo

Letters of Sri Aurobindo


Fragment ID: 8672

(this fragment is largest or earliest found passage)

Sri Aurobindo — Unknown addressee


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Tibetan Yoga [3]

At the same time, despite Buddha’s idea that belief in soul fetters man, Buddhists are in some way compelled to believe something like it. Evans-Wentz writes: “But the impersonal consciousness-principle is not to be in any way identified with the personality represented by a name, a bodily form, or a sangsāric mind; these are but its illusory creations. It is in itself non-sangsāric, being uncreated, unborn, unshaped, beyond human concept or definition; and, therefore, transcending time and space, which have only relative and not absolute existence, it is beginningless and endless” [p. 5]. Whether by pressure of arguments against the non-acceptance of soul, or through modernisation, they have to accept some such principle. The last sentence quoted above hardly differs from the description of “soul”.

There is no difference between such a description and what is meant by soul, except that it is called “impersonal” – but evidently here impersonal is used as opposed to the thing dependent on name, body and form, which is called personality. Europeans especially, but also people without philosophic ideas would easily mistake this outward personality for the soul and then they would deny the name of soul to the unborn and endless entity. Do they then consider it as spirit or self – ātman? But the difficulty is that the old Buddhists rejected the conception of ātman also. So we are left entirely at sea. The Nihilistic Buddhistic teaching is plain and comprehensible that there is no soul, only a bundle of Sanskaras continuing or a stream of them renewing themselves without dissolution (Nirvana). But this Mahayanist affair seems a sort of loose and covert compromise with Vedanta.


1 SABCL, volume 22: what


2 SABCL, volume 22: curt