Any Westerners Looking to Learn About Buddhism
At Wat Dallas we have a Buddhist Discussion Group for Western Students in English Every Wednesday at 7:00 PM in the Main Building after Chanting and Meditation. If you are interested in Buddhism or are a practicing Buddhist.Please join us on for an open discussion on Dhamma. Please question everything and come with all your questions. If you are needing assistance in becoming a monk and wish to learn more please contact Jack Boling. Kent and Jack Boling will be leading the discussion on Buddhism. If you need personal instruction you can contact Jack Boling at 940-594-7794 or Kent at 214-690-7797
An Introduction to Buddhism
Ven. Dr. H. Saddhatissa
Buddhism is a way of life and living which is as relevant to the world of today as it was more than 2,500 years ago when it was first promulgated by Siddhatta Gotama: it is the way of self-reliance. Buddhism does not rest on blind faith but on scientific investigation, on logic and on reason. It encourages the questioning mind and it encourages seekers after ultimate truth.
The Buddha asked his followers to test its validity in the light of their own experience and judgment. When he spoke to some skeptics in N.E. India, he advised them not to accept anything on the strength of rumor, mere agreement with one's own tradition, preconceived notions, personal appeal, rational deduction, nor upon the consideration, "The monks is our teacher." On the contrary, he said, "Whatever things are good, whatever things are true, whatever things are conducive to your own good, these things should you accept, these things should you do.
Buddhism is not strictly speaking a religion at all, as it is not a system of faith and worship owing allegiance to any supernatural being. It is a course that guides a seeker through 'right' (in the sense of 'complete', 'skilful', wholesome') living and thinking to the goal of supreme understanding and deliverance from all 'suffering'.
Through flowers, incense and candles may be offered before pictures or statues of Buddha he is not worshipped as a god. He was a exceptional human being who once said: "he honors me best who practices my teaching best." Great emphasis is laid on the importance of meditation, which leads to self-discipline, self-control and enlightenment. Man follows the way of Buddhism by his own effort alone and does not rely on any external agency at all. The true Buddhist it full of joy and hope. He follows a teaching which leads to his spiritual freedom and he recognizes that through his own effort alone he can reach his goal.
A prince of the warrior class in Arayan society named Siddhattha Gotama who had renounced family life came down from the foothills of the Himalayas to north-central India. After studying and rejecting the philosophical systems that were then being taught, he attained Enlightenment on his own account: he became the Buddha, the 'Enlightened One.' Modern historians agree that this occurred in or about 525 B.C. at Bodha-Gaya in Bihar. From there, Gotama journeyed to Varanasi where, at the time of the full moon of July, he gave his famous first discourse and thus "Set in motion the Wheel of the Law." He worked incessantly for the good and happiness of the many and passed away at the age of 80 leaving no successor but exhorting his disciples to regard the Dhamma as their teacher.
The teaching (Dhamma) of the Buddha have com to be known as Buddhism and at one time in prevailed through Asia. During 25 centuries it has mingled with the traditional beliefs and religions of many lands, enhancing them with the purity of its philosophy. Thus in modern times there are about 300 million Buddhist in the world, found mainly in India, China, Taiwan, Siberia, Japan, Tibet, Korea, Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore with large minorities in Western countries, notably England, France, West Germany and U.S.A., and also in Indo-China.
Opening his first discourse, the Buddha asked his disciples to avoid extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification, "Sensual indulgence is low, coarse, vulgar, ignoble, and unprofitable; and self-mortification is painful, ignoble, and unprofitable", he said, because the former retards one's spiritual progress and the latter weakens one's intellect.
The Buddha himself put into practice both these extremes before his enlightenment; the first when he was a prince in his father's palace before he renounced the world; the second as an ascetic in the forest prior to his enlightenment. Hence he realized their futility and discovered that only self-conquest in moderation leads to the ultimate goal for nibbana or niravana.
Avoiding the two extremes, the Buddha therefore asked his followers to take the Middle Way which "Opens the eyes and bestows understanding, which leads to peace of mind, to the higher wisdom, to full enlightenment." In fact, according to the First Noble Truth, life is subject to 'suffering'. This is the relevant passage: "Now this is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, decay is suffering, disease is suffering, death is suffering, association with things one dislikes is suffering, separation from things one likes is suffering. In short the five aggregates of clinging are suffering."
When these conditions are analyzed one by one we can see how painful they are. Every one of us has to face these conditions in our journey through life, Impermanence is a universal fact. There is nothing born or condition which is not subject to this universal law. Hence the logic of the Buddha's saying that whatever is impermanent is also painful. So even the so-called pleasures end in pain, This proves the truth of the statement that all conditions of life based on attachment are painful.
The Second Noble Truth is that this suffering is caused by ignorance which results in desire. All things and events are related as causes and effects.
There is nothing in the phenomenal world which falls outside the cause-effect relation. So, like everything else, suffering has its cause and that cause is to be found not outside us, but within us. Now what is that cause? It is self -centered desire. Selfish desires are based on egoism and manifest in different forms-quarreling, fighting etc.
The Third Noble Truth is that this suffering can be eliminated by the removal of desire. We now, know that selfish desire is the cause of suffering. When the cause is removed, the effect will naturally cease. When desire is destroyed, suffering will also come to an end. Cessation of suffering is the negative result and the attainment of the bliss of nibbana is the positive result. In other words, with the attainment of nibbana there will be an end to all suffering.
The Fourth Noble Truth is the path to eliminate desire. One can, therefore, put an end to suffering by adopting and following the path-the Middle Way which to the Buddhist is the philosophy of life itself. The Middle Way of self-conquest which leads to ultimate goal is eightfold, namely:
1) Right Understanding,
2) Right Thought,
3) Right Speech,
4) Right Action,
5) Right Livelihood,
6) Right Effort,
7) Right Mindfulness,
8) Right Concentration.
(1) Right Understanding
To begin treading the Path we must see life as it is in accordance with its three characteristics of impermanence, suffering and selflessness; we must possess a clear understanding of the nature of existence, of the moral law, of the factors and component elements which go to make up the continuing round of birth and death.
(2) Right Thought
This means that our mind should be pure, free from sensual desire, ill-will, cruelty and the like. At the same time, we should be willing to relinquish anything that obstructs our mental and psychological progress.
(3) Right Speech
By refraining from lying, back-biting, harsh talk and also from idle gossip, we create a connection link between thought and action, one moreover that is characterized by wisdom and kindness. Correct speech should not be unduly loud or excitable, not prompted by prejudices, ill-will or selfish interests. It should not be such as to inflame passions or arouse the emotions.
(4) Right Action
This generally consists in observing the Five Precepts, which can be shown in both their positive and negative aspects: (i) Not to kill, but to practice love and harmlessness to all. (ii) Not to take that which is not given, but to practice charity and generosity. (iii) Not to misuse the senses, but to practice purity and self-control. (iv) Not to indulge in wrong speech, but to practice sincerity and honesty. (v) Not to partake of intoxicating drinks or drugs which cause heedlessness, but to practice restraint and mindfulness. For the ordinary disciple, moreover, it is essential for him to practice all these injunctions if he wishes to aspire to the higher life.(4) Right Action. This generally consists in observing the Five Precepts, which can be shown in both their positive and negative aspects: (i) Not to kill, but to practice love and harmlessness to all. (ii) Not to take that which is not given, but to practice charity and generosity. (iii) Not to misuse the senses, but to practice purity and self-control. (iv)Not to indulge in wrong speech, but to practice sincerity and honesty. (v) Not to partake of intoxicating drinks or drugs which cause heedlessness, but to practice restraint and mindfulness. For the ordinary disciple, moreover, it is essential for him to practice all these injunctions if he wishes to aspire to the higher life.
(5) Right Livelihood or Vocation
The layman should only pursue an occupation that does not cause harm or injustice to other beings. To practice deceit, treachery, fortune-telling, for example, are regarded as wrong livelihood. The traditional trades from which the layman is debarred are (i) dealing in arms, (ii) living beings, (iii) flesh, (iv)intoxicating drinks and (v) poison. The professions or a soldier, fisherman, hunter, etc., are also included. He should be free from greed in financial dealings, he should be honest and upright. He should have nothing to do with prostitution of any kind. He should have a sense of service and duty in life.
(6) Right Effort
Selft-perfection can be achieved by avoiding and rejecting unhealthy qualities while acquiring and fostering skilful qualities. This stage is subdivided into 4 parts: (i) the effort to prevent the arising of unskilled thoughts, words and deeds which have not yet arisen, (ii) the effort to expel that unskilled which has already arisen, (iii) the effort to arouse healthy thoughts, words, and actions, (iv) the effort to cultivate all the good words, thoughts and action which are already present.
(7) Right Mindfulness
This implies a state of constant awareness with regards to (i) the body, (ii) feeling, (iii) mind, and (iv)mental objects. Mind, according to Buddhism, is the sixth sense and nothing more. The development of mindfulness is necessary to prevent the practitioner being led astray by erroneous views. Thus, it is the culmination of the intellectual process which links up the intuitive process of direct insight into things as they really are. This step marks a further advance from the stage when things were known only by the different features each displayed, since here all such discrimination is discarded. Although things seem 'good' or 'bad', 'right' or 'wrong', such attitudes as these only go to prove how the mind views things on an incomplete basis. The process of thoughts is only food for the intellect to enable the mind to diagnose the truth more clearly as such discrimination makes oneself aware. Here, we should transcend the intellectual mind if we are to progress further and realize the true significance and relationship of all component things.
8) Right Concentration
At the final stage, we should aim one pointedness of mind directed towards a wholesome object. Through desire and craving, the root of most unhealthy volitional actions is accumulated, making rebirth unavoidable. To overcome this process, we must first understand that everything is impermanent, unsatisfactory or suffering, and unsubstantial. True knowledge of this nature is acquired through the practice of meditation, of which there are two aspects: the active aspect of practice, and the passive aspect of realization.
To do this, we should sit quietly, with tranquil mind, and, if vagrant thoughts arise, patiently regulate the mind anew stopping and expelling them. Breath naturally, the breaths must not be controlled or interfered with in any way; otherwise it is impossible to understand the important message they have to tell.
Devices like counting are usually necessary at first to ensure concentration and absorption but can be discarded once we have got a firm grip of our minds and can prevent them from wandering away from the task in hand. In this connection, there are five mental hindrances to be eliminated or at least weakened, in order to progress in the practice. They are (i) sensuality, (ii) ill-will, (iii) lethargy, (iv)restlessness and remorse, (v) skeptical doubt.
Once their baneful influence is removed, we will be able to concentrate more easily, enabling our goal to become clearer. We have to undergo a long training to achieve this stage but when it is achieved, concentration is attained, which is the way to the realization of nibbana.
The Path leading to nibbana out of unhappiness is threefold: morality, concentration and wisdom.
Morality (Sila), the first stage, includes all the virtues of an honest and considerate person. It has been identified with virtues in general and many admirable qualities have been interpreted in relation to the ideals of purification and restraint as they are realized with the body, speech and mind-deed, word and thought. It is usually understood as referring specially to have five moral precepts which constitute the layman's definite code of practical ethics.
When we take the precepts, we should understand the meaning and the practical application which would lead to the experience of purifying the mind and establishing a harmless way of life- a different attitude towards life, seen intelligently and compassionately. Having acquired this attitude, these simple precepts when applied daily will diminish the suffering for us and for others. The significance of the precepts is wide in a social context. We should try to keep them at all times. We should reflect that the first precept, that of abstaining from violence, including taking life, any and all life, will awaken and increase the sentiment of loving-kindness. It will certainly establish friendliness between man and man, man and woman, and man and animals. In this precept is embodied intelligent, all-embracing compassion and good-will. It alone could save humanity from destruction.
Then, again, the second precept affirms the necessary for fair play. It renounces greed and grasping, unfair competition that at any cost lead one to acquire and accumulate riches by ruining others, as well as by flagrant thieving. One should not appropriate even a blade of grass. One should not commit any sort of dishonesty: one should, in fact, respect others' right of property.
The third precept is also of great social importance. It implies self-control and would avoid misusing the senses in any way. It also establishes fidelity in married life and it curbs physical excesses. Health and family life which is the basic unity of human society are safeguarded and in the second place it exercises control within reasonable limits over the libido.
The fourth precept affirms the necessity of care in speech. Who will deny that telling lies leads to corruption of one's own mind and causes hurt to others. Lying and slandering are forms of cheating. Stealing a man's good character may be more harmful than stealing his wallet. When nations fail to keep, treaties made with other nations we can understand the social catastrophe of dissimulation. One's actions should be in harmony with one's words.
The fifth precept is of the utmost importance, as when this precept is not kept, it becomes easier to break the others. The habit of taking drugs or alcoholic drinks weakens the moral fire of a man, whereby society at large suffers. Just as the repetition of good actions develops a wholesome character, so the repetition of indulgence in poisons is a social evil.
Not one of the precepts can be broken persistently without causing social as well as mental harm. Nor should the devotee rest satisfied with the observance of only these five precepts. From time to time, especially on full-moon day and new-moon days, he should also observe the eight precepts or ten precepts, thereby taking another step forward on the Path.
It is essential to practice meditation called bhavana (mental culture) which leads to a fixed or tranquil state of mind. The undisciplined mind is in the habit of wandering hither and thither: then it cannot be kept under control, It may follow any harmful idea, thought or imagination. In order to prevent this unhealthy wandering, the mind should be concentrated on a selected object of concentration. In the course of practice, the mind gradually lessens its traits and remains fixed on the object to which it is directed. For example, by meditation on loving-kindness, we can lessen or weaken the trait of enmity and hatred. By meditating on the transistorizes of worldly pleasures, we can weaken our temptation to run after them. By the repeated practice and development of compassion, one overcomes cruelty and all desire to harm others. Seeing all the misery in the world, one should not brood over but rather one should make a resolved not to add to it in any way by thought, word or deed. By the practice of sympathetic-joy one rejoices over the prosperity of others and melts into joyous sympathy with their success, so overcoming envy, and jealousy. Equanimity is attained by having brought these four mental states to perfection. Because it is rooted in insight it is unshakeable: this is its culmination.
What is the main purpose of meditation? For all schools of Buddhism, the ultimate goal of the practice is nibbana or niravana. Nibbana is the extinction of desire, hate and delusion.
There are, however, other advantages to be gained from secluded meditation: long-life, good repute, replacement of fear by confidence, removal of sloth, greed, delusion and pride, generation of gladness. Through meditation we can see the three characteristics of transistorizes, unsatisfactoriness and non-self. Meditation bridges the gap between intellectual conviction of truth and actual experience of truth. Meditation is not only a remedy for mental sickness but also for physical sickness.
Wisdom is the third and last stage of the Path. After undertaking the observance of morality, the aspirant practices meditation. When the mind is concentrated, the applies it to the understanding of the true nature of things. Wisdom is the right understanding of the true nature of the world in the light of this transiency, unsatisfactoriness and non-self. Knowledge is of three kinds: (i) that acquired by learning, i.e. hearing, etc., (ii) that acquired by thinking, and (iii) that acquired by meditation. This wisdom is the apex of the threefold training which leads to nibbana.
Kamma or karma in its more general sense means all skilful and unskillful actions. Kamma is neither fatalism nor doctrine of predetermination. The past influences the present, for kamma is past as well as present. The past and the present influence the future-in this life, or in the life to come. It has a cause first and an effect afterwards. We therefore speak of kamma as the law of cause and effect. We ourselves are responsible for our own happiness or misery. We build our own heavens or hells. We are the architects of our own fate. We ourselves, in short, are our own kamma, there being just the act and the result of the act. Hence, the Buddha said: "Every living beings has kamma as its own, its inheritance, its cause, kinsman, its refuge. Kamma is that which differentiates all beings into low and high states. "The literal meaning of kamma is action. Buddhism briefly defines meritorious or meritorious volition as kamma. The Buddha said, "It is mental volition that I call kamma. Having willed, one acts through body, speech or mind.
The Buddha said: "If a man must reap everything according to his deeds, no righteous life would be possible nor any escape from sorrow." In Buddhism, there is ample room to could one's own kamma. One is not bound to pay all the arrears and one is not the slave of kamma. It is possible for anyone to obliterate most of his kamma through meditation. If it were not so, nibbana could not be attained and there would be endless rebirth. There is no one who rewards or punishes since Buddhism does not recognize a Creator God but rather states that we are the architects of our own destinies.
To explain the Buddhist belief about being reborn, I must first explain our ideas about consciousness. Consciousness is, in fact, the continuing thing. Each moment of consciousness flows on and rolls up in itself all the impressions that come its way. The mind and body are continually changing so we are all being, as it were, reborn every moment. Now, each moment of consciousness begets the next moment-there is no gap between them. And each moment passes on the next all that it has inherited from the preceding moments.
When did this process start? Buddhism says that it started, not in each individual's childhood but from eternity. From eternity we are continually being reborn and continually dying, and all the time, we are gathering what we call kamma, that is we are accumulating the 'good' and 'bad' actions and thoughts that inevitably shape our lives and our future. Does this process end at death? Not if we are still in bondage to our desires-our loves and hates, our cravings and anxieties, our fears and pride. If we can annihilate all these and have no accumulation of kamma, then we can be released. But if not, we will continue to be born again and again. I said there is no gap between each moment of consciousness. So, there is no gap between the last moment of consciousness in one individual life and the first moment in another. The two moments come together in one process because the moment of dying begets the moment of consciousness in the womb and passes on its heritage of kamma there.
Now this is different from the idea transmigration-that is, the idea of a soul which travels from body to body. In Buddhism, there is no transmigration of soul, since the belief that an unchanging soul migrates from body to body leaves no room for the possibility of our being defiled or purified by our thoughts and actions. The Buddhist explanation of being reborn makes and thoughts, we contribute to our improvement or degeneration.
But if there is no individual soul which passes from one body to another, what is it that is reborn? This is course a puzzle to many people. Buddhism holds that a man dying in London may be reborn, let us say, as a child in Paris, with the kamma that he has collected. What is it that leaves the man in London and travels to the newborn child in Paris? How is the death of the one connected to the birth of the other? Buddhists do not believe that anything comes out of one body and enters another. But we believe that everything arises from something before it and again gives rise to something after it. Now desire, the wanting of things, gives rise to clinging to what life brings, and that clinging gives rise to birth. So, the last moment of the dying man gives rise to the life of the newborn child who inherits his kamma.
Changing in the body cannot stop the flow of consciousness. After death, the body is burnt, but not the desire, so dependent upon conditions, a new being will arise; be it egg-born, born in a womb, moisture-born or of spontaneous birth according to its kamma.
The Three CharacteristicsThe nature of existence comprises the following overriding characteristics:
1) Impermanence (anicca),
2) Suffering (dukkha),
3) Egolessness (anatta).
(1) Impermanence (anicca) means that nothing in this world is permanent. Everything that we see around us seems the same but is actually in a state of constant flux. The flowers that bloom today will wither tomorrow. Impermanence is a law of the universe which nothing can escape, from the mightiest astronomical systems to the most microscopic forms of life.
(2) The word dukkha is rendered into English as suffering, sorrow or unsatisfactoriness. The first noble truth can be summed up in this one word. The cause of dukkha, as seen in the second noble truth is desire; the craving for sensual pleasures, for existence or for self-annihilation. By the complete eradication of desire by man's own conscious efforts, the Buddha taught that man can attain the realm of absolute peace and bliss, nibbana. The Buddha taught the existence of suffering but he also taught the way of deliverance from suffering. He not only diagnosed the disease but he described a practical cure-the practice of the Eightfold Noble Path. "This above all do I teach," he said, "suffering and the deliverance from suffering."
(3) According to the doctrine of anatta, there is no permanent entity in man which can be called a self or soul. The so-called 'self' or 'I' is made up of five groups of attachment-body, sensations, perceptions, intentional activities, and consciousness. Just as the word 'house' is but a mode of expression for bricks, wood and other constituents of a house, surrounding space in a certain way, but in the absolute sense there is no house...in exactly the same way, the words 'living being' and 'ego' are but modes of expression for the five groups of attachment.
The value of understanding the foregoing lies in progress made towards lessening one's attachment to material objects, mental concepts, and sentient existence in general-thus transcending avoidable suffering and unhappiness.
The central point in this Buddhists doctrine is: there is nothing that is not dependent on something else. Nothing can arise on its own accord, independently. For example, the lamp remains burning because of the wick and this in turn is dependent upon oxygen, temperature etc. Likewise, the wick is the result of twining stands of cotton together and the flame is the combination of the elements of oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon.
'Dependent Origination' means, dependent on that, this becomes. Simple example are: there being clouds, rain falls; there being rain, the road becomes slippery; there being a slippery road, a man falls; due his falling, he is injured. Conversely, if there were no clouds, there would be no rain; if there were no rain there would be no slippery road; if there were no slippery road, there would be no accident arising from someone falling on it. All the known sciences are concerned with this process of thought; they only trace chain. In botany for instance, a growing plant depends upon suitable manure, etc.. In physics, an engine depends on fuel, e.g. oxygen and coal.
There can be no first cause, because each cause becomes an effect and each effect a cause. Hence a first cause is quite inconceivable. As Bertrand Russell said, "There is no need to suppose a first cause at all which is due to the poverty of our imagination." The life stream flows on ad infinitum so long as it is fed by the muddy waters of craving, hatred and delusion. It is therefore difficult to see a beginning of things, but it is even more difficult to see an end to all things and eternity is a concept which virtually defies human imagination. Knowledge grows in proportion to our understanding correctly such causal processes.
The great Buddhist Commentator, Buddhaghosa, wrote, "Dependent Origination is so deep it is as if I had fallen into the middle of the ocean when I am trying to explain it."
It explains the cycle of lives and how man accumulates kamma and is reborn through the round of existence as depicted in the 'Wheel of Beoming' - a wheel of twelve spokes denoting the twelve links of causal process.
1-2) Dependent on ignorance, intentional activities arise.
3) Dependent on intentional activities, consciousness arises.
4) Dependent on consciousness, mental and physical phenomena arise.
5) Dependent on mental and physical phenomena, the six senses arise.
6) Dependent on the six senses, contact arises.
7) Dependent on contact, feeling arises.
8) Dependent on feeling, craving arises.
9) Dependent on craving, clinging arises.
10) Dependent on clinging, the process of becoming arises.
11) Dependent on becoming, birth arises.
12) Dependent on birth; decay, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair arise.
Thus arise this whole mass of suffering.
Thus is explained the phenomena of past, present and future lives. Every kind of mixed action performed in a previous life may be termed an 'active life.' Due to this a 'relinking' takes place between the past life and the present one resulting in consciousness, mental and physical phenomena, the six senses and contact, which, with its relevant objects results in pleasant, unpleasant or neutral feelings. After birth, subsequent feelings lead to attachment which in turn pave the way of future birth. This sequence may be divided into three sections; past action and present effect, present action and present effect, and present action and future effect.
Again, traveling is not the cause of the road, nor is any part a cause of the next part. With regard to dependent origination, therefore, with one link present, the remaining eleven links must also be present, the 'Chain of Causation' being just a convenient expression. But just as a real wheel touches the ground at one point, so too this Wheel with its twelve spokes impinges on our life-stream at just one stage. Each link is necessary for ensuring the life-stream's continuity and breaking one like will break the whole structure, just as a broken or missing spoke in a real wheel would tend to weaken and eventually cause its collapse.
And this is just what we should try to do as the purpose of meditation is to cause the collapse of this Wheel of Becoming. This can be done by severing any of its links, the easiest links where this can be achieved are either the first one, that of ignorance, or the seventh, that of feeling.
The goal to the Buddhist life is Nibbana, a word better known in its Sanskrit form of niravana. The Buddha said. "Nibbana is the highest happiness." Hence the highest aim of the Buddhist is the attainment of it. Attempts have been made in many hooks to define this exalted state. It has to be appreciated that nibbana is something that has to he realized within oneself, rather than described, explained or talked about, as it is not within the scope of logic, being a supramundane state.
Nibbana means literally 'blowing out' as of a flame by the wind: the cessation of that process which characterizes a being subject to continuity. It is beyond 'time'. Its attainment gives peace of mind here and now, in one's present lifetime and thereafter no further rebirth. It is liberation, release the cessation of suffering. When asked to define nibbana the Buddha declared, "No measure measures him who has reached the goal! By what measure is the immeasurable measured? No words describe the indescribable."
What happens to a person who realizes nibbana on his death? It cannot be stressed strongly enough that he is not annihilated, which opponents put forward as the only logical answer. The argument revolves around the Buddhist view of the self: no part of the individual can be identified with a self or soul. Hence one cannot speak of the annihilation of the latter. In the West, however, many follow the theories of Plato and maintain that the soul is synonymous with consciousness and that it is this that is immutable and immortal. This view which is denied by Buddhism is very much akin to the Hindu Atman theory.
Nibbana, the goal of Buddhism, corresponds to salvation, except that the former is attained not through the agency of another or supernatural being, but solely through one's own efforts. If it is attained during one's lifetime, it is termed, "Nibbana with aggregates"; if after death, then "Nibbana without aggregates." It must be realized in oneself and by oneself.