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The Buddhist Soul
The Vajra Yogini says,I am the goddess of sacrifice. The pathway to the heavens involves continual sacrifice, with each step of the ladder into the Void giving up some attachment or false belief. When there is an attachment, it must usually be consciously given up and left behind.
Many Buddhists today do not talk about souls. The concept of soul has been exaggerated into the barrier differentiating Hinduism and Buddhism. But most Buddhists in the past did believe in souls, whether the soul travels the wheel of life or enters into a bodhisattva's paradise. The philosophers have been dishonest in their rush to separate themselves from the Hinduism of their founder and forefathers. It is like the Christians rejecting Judaism, despite their common heritage.
Ultimately, the soul dissolves into the Void. But then, everything dissolves into the Void. That is no reason to dismiss the concept.
Modern Buddhists like to appear secular with the rejection of the soul, like the early modern philosophers and geneticists who view life as only an ovum. Rejecting the soul does not make one a philosopher or a biologist. Anatman is a philosophical creed, like the Nicene Creed- one must believe it to be saved in the Church. But Buddhism is a truth beyond lineage or authority.
What is the soul in Buddhism? It is pure awareness, like a lightning bug in the night sky. The soul can hold memory and develop individual skills and capacities. These can cling to the spark of awareness, and memories, pleasures, and pains as layers of identity and self-concept must all fall away. But it is no truer to say that there is no soul than to say that there is no body. Indeed, no-body makes much more sense, as there are many bodies to deny.
One must see the soul before one can reject it. One must see the bars before the prisoner can escape. Merely denying the prison does not make the prisoner free, no matter what philosophers say. The bars must be broken. This is why people who speak so much about enlightened beings can find so few. Souls are bounds by karma and subject to reincarnation.
The soul is the human part of awareness. Those who deny the soul are claiming enlightenment before it is there. They think that when they stop being attached to things that they will be Buddhas. They forget the intermediate worlds [or Sambhogakaya], they forget their own past lives, and they forget the massive amount of history that their souls possess. They are not Buddhas wearing a coat of skin. They are Buddhas wearing a million coats of skin, and each one must be slowly and laboriously removed.
Each past life has its desires, its hatreds, and its ignorance. You start to reverse the descent into matter when you realize its limitations, and reverse direction. Then each soul must confront its past.
The sign of an advanced soul is the recognition of its own mistakes, limitations, and the desire to make them right. The analysis of past lives is very important, as the foundation of the current life. Denying or ignoring the past obstructs Buddhist awareness.
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