Not Gaudapada, but Buddha!

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at CCO.CALTECH.EDU
Tue Feb 10 16:49:56 CST 1998

>  > As long as it's the truth, does it matter whether it's Advaitam or
>  > Buddhism?
> I agree wholeheartedly.
> For those who give a great importance to lineage, orthodoxy, scriptures,
> and tradition, what I am going to say will sound like rubbish (and to the
> others too, perhaps). So I apologize if I hurt any feelings.

I have no argument with the rest of what you say, but my point is that the
attempt to find an underlying, unifying truth behind all traditions should
not be based on uninformed thinking, and it should not misrepresent any
of them. Especially with respect to Buddhism, it should be noted that they
repeatedly deny that they affirm an Absolute Atman. Given that later
Buddhists freely use the word "advaya", they should be taken seriously
when they differentiate their position from what is normally known as

Granted, each school may be a different way of looking at the same central
truth, but it is surely misleading to label the underlying foundation of
all traditions as advaita, however attractive it may be to do so. Also, it
shoule be appreciated that though the central truth may be the same, the
approaches to it are indeed different. The other associated features of
each tradition, which may be considered as non-essential, have their uses
in their own contexts. Moreover, there is the rather unwarranted
assumption that the followers of each tradition somehow misunderstood and
modified the basic teachings, although the "original" teachers of every
tradition taught the same things. It is intellectually very arrogant, to
assume that those who transmit the various traditions do not understand it
well themselves.

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