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ātman (P. attan; T. bdag བདག་; C. wo 我) is translated as "self" or "I," and the Sanskrit term has a similar range of meanings as the English translations.[1] In Buddhist philosophy:

[The term ātman is] used especially to refer to a perduring substratum of being that is the agent of actions, the possessor of mind and body (nāmarūpa), and that passes from lifetime to lifetime. The misconception that there is an “I” (ātman), a perduring soul that exists in reality (satkāyadṛṣṭi), and a “mine” (ātmīya), viz., things that belong to me, injects a “point of view” into all of one’s perception (saṃjñā), which inevitably leads to clinging (toward things we like, viz., lobha) and hatred (toward things we dislike, viz., dveṣa). This mistaken belief that there is such a permanent self is regarded as fundamental ignorance (avidyā) and the root cause of all suffering (duḥkha). The Buddha therefore taught “nonself” (anātman) as a palliative to this misconception of permanence.[1]

The concept of the ātman is discussed in great detail in Buddhist philosophical texts.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. ātman.