Now you are simply confusing yourself!
One of the problems with discussion forums on a website is that from the secrecy of one's cubicle or room, one can act like an authority, expert, and person of the highest understanding when in reality one is a 20 year old kid who doesn't have enough education or experience to be very certain of anything yet.
But a problem for wannabe big shots is that every once in awhile someone genuinely knowledgeable of the subject under discussion participates in a forum, and/or someone who has personally practiced say, samadhi, for 35 years. A studied, experienced person will recognize baloney immediately.
Now, why should I care if you talk out of your backside about this? Because it is an important and beloved matter to many of us, which makes it very hard to watch someone use it merely to act like a genius. This is a subject already extraordinarily hard to grasp (especially for those of us raised on Western thought), so the last thing we need is someone confusing everyone with incompetent and incorrect interpretations.
I suggest you humble yourself and admit you know nothing about what the Buddha taught; that way you might be able to eventually learn something.
I was thinking more in terms of echoes, and a Tibetan sort of energy streams. Just as hearing an echo doesn't mean there's somebody shouting back at you, so too an echo of life doesn't require that there's an eternal, immutable echo-er, only that there was once an echo-er of some sort to make the echo in the first place. Thus what I said is entirely in keeping with anatman.
That is NOT what you said, but even if it were, it is still not "in keeping with anatman." You said:
. . . [if intelligent ghosts exist] doesn't that blow anatman (soullessness) completely out of the water?
It is clear you are misinterpreting anatman because anyone, from the simplest peasant to the most educated scholar, would immediately understand after experiencing
samadhi (i.e., not merely theorizing about it) that anatman does not mean soulless. It is the same sort of moronic interpretation that people make when they say the Buddha was an atheist; he wasn't an atheist, what he said was that to speculate about God is a waste of time. Practice samadhi and find out for oneself what there is to discover.
But without understanding what the Buddha was up to, people misinterpret incessantly, and so here you are following the inexperienced crowd who think anatman is a description of non-existence when actually it is a practice, the practice of denying that the changing aspects of us is the permanent, defining "self." What you seem ignorant of is that the Buddha did not only teach denying permanent status to "self," his highest priority was teaching students to turn to that which is
But not content with one foot stuck in your mouth, you decide to add the other:
And also recall Buddhism rails against precisely those sorts of distinctions conceptualization creates, thus there is no real distinction between anatman, dependent origination, and nirvana. Geez.
If it were possible to more misrepresent the Buddha's teaching, I don't see how to do it. Besides that, you aren't making a lick of sense, e.g., if there is no distinction between anatman, dependent origination and nirvana, then why have distinct terms for them, with each term describing wholly different aspects of reality?
1) That which is dependent on origination is not permanent, yet it is what we deluded human beings believe with all our might is the real, permanent self, 2) anatman is the recognition that the "self" dependent on origination is not permanent or original existence, and 3) nirvana is that which one turns to in samadhi to find permanence. This is just as the Buddha himself taught when he said "because the unborn [etc.] exists, an escape can be shown for what is born, has become, is made, is compounded."
And where do we find that permanent place? In our own hearts, through the breath, at the core of our being. We, like all that exists, are in essence the permanent thing, we just don't realize it, and never will until we turn to it and become one with it.
And, since you're so willingly confused, let me throw in a random quote from a Buddhist holy text just to confuse you further:
Now, with both feet in your mouth, you decide to be a smart ass, but only manage to thoroughly reveal just how little you understand, since anyone who would use the following quote to support a "soulless" hypothesis has to be clueless:
Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra wrote:
Therefore, in emptiness, there is neither form, nor feeling, nor perception, nor mental formations, or consciousness; there is no eye, or ear, or nose, or tongue, or body, or mind; no form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of mind; no realms of elements (from eyes to mind-consciousness); no interdependent origins and no extinction of them (from ignorance to old age and death); no suffering, no origination of suffering, no extinction of suffering, no path; no understanding, no attainment.
What do you think "emptiness" is? Have you experienced it? I say you haven't, and that is precisely why you have no idea this sutra is actually addressing what's permanent and never-changing about us.
"Emptiness" is the experience of samadhi. The term "samadhi" means union
. As we all know, union means the joining of something compound to become one