Buddhists In One Self Essay, Research Paper
Buddhism denies that there is anything corresponding to the common idea of a soul or self. Instead, the Buddha taught that the soul is a false notion imputed to a collection of constantly changing parts. These are referred to as the five “aggregates” (skandha): form, feelings, discriminations, consciousness, and compositional factors. Form refers to one’s physical form, and feelings are our emotional responses to the things we experience. Discriminations are classifications of these experiences into pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral. Consciousness refers to the functioning of the mind, and compositional factors are other aspects connected with the false sense of self, such as one’s karmas.
[Buddha:] `Monks, form is selflessness. Monks, if form were the self, then form would not be involved with sickness, and one could say of the body: “Let my form be thus; let my form not be thus.” Monks, because form is selfless, it is involved with sickness, and one cannot say of form: “Let my form be thus; let my form not be thus.”
`Feeling is selfless…discrimination is selfless…the aggregates are selfless…compositional factors are selfless…consciousness is selfless. Monks, if consciousness were the self, then consciousness would not be involved with sickness, and one could say of consciousness: “Let my consciousness be thus; let my consciousness not be thus….”
Ordination of Women
When Buddha began his teaching career, his first disciples were monks, but eventually some women became Buddhists and began to desire ordination as nuns. The woman who put the request to Buddha was Mahaprajapati Gautami, who had raised him after his mother died. Buddha first refused her request, but after she obtained the support of Ananda, Buddha’s personal assistant, he eventually agreed, but added that the decision to admit nuns into the order would shorten the period of “true dharma” by 500 years. It seems clear from the passage, however, that this is not due to any inherent inferiority on the part of women, since Buddha asserts that women are capable of following the spiritual path and attaining the fruits of meditative training. Some commentators speculate that the reason for his refusal may have been that his early followers were homeless wanderers, and so there were no adequate facilities for separating men and women. Because of the pervasiveness and strength of sexual desire, groups of men and women in close proximity inevitably develop attractions and tensions, which lead to conflict. Whatever the reasons for his initial reluctance, Buddha did eventually ordain women, but he added the condition that nuns must observe eight additional rules.