Evidence for a type of Buddhism ‘pre-existing’ the birth of the historical Buddha, however, might exist in the Brahmanic teachings of the Upanishads. In the Kathakopanisad, a doctrine is critically described that does not accept the concept of a central and eternal ‘atma’, but which instead advocates a theory of ‘separate elements’ (prthag-dharman pasyati).
‘..the recluse Gotama is a Materialist, who teaches a doctrine of Materialism and trains his disciples in it.’
The Buddha defined the tiniest specks of matter (paramanu) [synonymous with ‘atoms’] to be occupying (and moving about within) time and space, whilst flickering in and out of existence. This is how the Buddha redefines matter (rupa) as being both ‘existant’, and ‘insubstantial’ (or non-existant).
Moreover, the Buddha clearly states that conscious awareness cannot exist without the conditions associated with a physical body and its functioning biological processes. Within the Buddha’s interpretation of reality, there does not exist any notion of a ‘dis-embodied’ conscious awareness.
Dear N Thank you for your very interesting Plotinus quotation and Nagarjuna-related question. The tetralemma of the Indian Buddhist monk Nagarjuna states: 1) All exists.
Given that the Buddha’s theory of mind is purely materialistic (with conscious awareness being a special arrangement of matter due to the evolutionary process as described by the Buddha in the Agganna Sutta), why is Buddhism still often misrepresented as a ‘religion’?