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No Soul?


Isn’t Buddhism atheistic or agnostic at the very best? Why practice and aim for Enlightenment if there is no soul?

Good Question and one that was found on the internet this week. Buddha never affirms or denies the existence of a soul. Neither does he affirm or deny the existence of an afterlife.

The question as to whether there is or is not a soul; the question as to whether there is or is not an afterlife; the question as to whether there is or is not a Creator: all are unanswerable. Buddha declined to answer the questions because it was not relevant to his mission. He was more concerned with the dis-ease, the unhappiness, the misery, the poverty, the suffering of the people around him. (Dukkha). He says “I teach suffering, the causes of suffering and the solution to suffering”. This is the teaching of the Buddha.

By following the solution - the Eightfold path we can reach Enlightenment: the realisation that we are One with each other, all living creatures of land and air and sea and One with the very fabric of the Cosmos. At Enlightenment our suffering is no more.

So what about the soul? Buddha talks about consciousness: the universal life force that determines existence. So could our consciousness be another way of describing the soul?

Consciousness which is life cannot die. When we are born we have already been in existence for nine months in a physical form and we existed in our parents and their parents before even then. This form will end but life won’t.

Here are the words of a Buddhist song:

Life never dies although we live

In midst of change and death

Only the forms shall pass away

And not the spirit's breath

The consciousness can never die

Although it seems to fade

It doth but pass to other forms

Which thoughts and acts have made

"There is no death" all nature cries

The rose will reappear

Its petal will more perfect be

After the winter drear

The tiny bird that lifeless falls

A victim to its prey

Returns again in higher forms

Upon its upward way

From life to life more high and free

The myriads forms evolve

O may we learn to know the truth

This mighty riddle solved

Consciousness can never die: if you prefer to use the world ‘soul’ that is your choice.

The journey involves spiritual, ethical and behavioural discipline.

Courses in Buddhism

Courses in Buddhism are now being offered and details of forthcoming courses are on the website:

There has been an enormous interest in Buddhism over the last decade or two: its

growth in western countries indicates that people are looking for a spiritual life rather than a religious one. We practice a form of Zen partly based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh but also influenced by the Dalai Lama and Lama Surya Das amongst others. Buddhism doesn’t make reference to a Deity but a Celestial Budhha can be found in some of the ancient traditions.

To find out more you need to attend the course and there will be a FREE taster evening coming up in late August so watch out for announcements on the website.

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