No, Buddha did not preach True Self (atta, atman) in disguise as anatta.

I often come across people who claim that Buddha was just rehashing Hindu teachings in a weird way. But this is due to a flawed mode of inquiry.

Buddha actually preached (as in MN 38) the opposite of Advaita/True Self/Universal Mind/Ground of Being/Divine Source, but if you have not gone beyond the Advaita realization yet, then there is no way for you to understand it. Most practitioners, including even some Buddhist "masters" (mostly Mahayana ones) have fallen into the Advaita trap of True Self (Atman) and think that is what Buddha meant by anatta.

I originally also was in that trap, but thankfully after studying Thusness Six Stages of Awakening and the Bahiya Sutta, and speaking with Soh Wei Yu of, I managed to get past the Universal Mind stage and dissolve into actual nibbana (as it is described in Bahiya Sutta). Nibbana is infinitely disjoint--total opposite of One Mind/Cosmic Consciousness. Imagine if you will every single atom/flow of energy (all part of a web of dependent origination) being self-known without any knower of it all. Infinite awarenesses instead of Infinite Awareness. This is hard for most people to even imagine, because our natural ignorant state is to bind up the various sensations (hearing, seeing, touching, thinking, etc) into one coherent experience. But I've made a video to help you experience this for yourself.

Basically Advaita is a much more glorified version of ignorant "binding up."
Nibbana is synonymous in the suttas with "unbinding" -- for a reason. 

The author of this article, Shanmugam P (whom I have a lot of respect for), points to the Anatta-lakkhana Sutta as if that sutta somehow implies that anatta = atta, but it does not imply such a thing at all. The reason that Buddha used negation is indeed, for the obvious reason that there is no self. Not for the "secret" reason that there is a Self so grand that only by negation can it be realized. 

It's true that Buddha spoke of a dimension in which consciousness is radiant all around with nothing to land on, but also keep in mind that the 6th jhana is the absorption into the Infinity of Consciousness. Jhanas are not nibbana (and in fact jhanas come from Hindu meditative absorption practices --dhyanas-- that Buddha learned before his awakening). Buddha did not equate this dimension with nibbana.

Finally, let me leave you with the following very clear elucidation of 6 grounds for wrong views from the Simile of the Snake, MN 22, and pay attention the final one: 

"Mendicants, there are these six grounds for views. What six? Take an uneducated ordinary person who has not seen the noble ones, and is neither skilled nor trained in the teaching of the noble ones. They’ve not seen good persons, and are neither skilled nor trained in the teaching of the good persons. They regard form like this: ‘This is mine, I am this, this is my self.’ They also regard feeling … perception … choices … whatever is seen, heard, thought, known, sought, and explored by the mind like this: ‘This is mine, I am this, this is my self.’ And the same for this ground for views: ‘The self and the cosmos are one and the same. After death I will be permanent, everlasting, eternal, imperishable, and will last forever and ever.’ They also regard this: ‘This is mine, I am this, this is my self.’"

Buddha repeats over and over in this sutta (second half) about why there is no self, no self, no self.

Buddha had to chastise some monks who continued to preach their Hindu notions of Anatta=Atta as if it were his dhamma. If in fact the Hindu belief did lead to liberation from samsara, Buddha would never have claimed to be teaching something radically new and truly liberatory unlike the Hindu teachings.

I have some more exposition on this topic on another blog post.


  1. it's seems you only know the Coca-Cola or western version of Advaita Vedanta. The Self is deep sleep. Is there a Self in deep sleep?


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