On the ferry from Rameshwaram to Talaimannar, an ex-secretary of president Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike approached me to say that his wife was impressed to see a white woman breastfeeding her child. She had never seen this before. The child was Tara; the mother Judith.
The couple returned from a pilgrimage after reaching the retirement age of 60. He invited me to visit the Buddhist Center in Kandy. So I did. Thanks to his mediation, I could visit Maha Thera Nyanaponika (1901-1994), a Buddhist monk, born in Germany.
I think, it is only enlarging the problem
During the visit, one is supposed to ask questions. My question was about identity, saying: ‘Thera, let’s not talk about individual identity so well known in the West. But what do you think about Atman, the greater Self’?
His answer: ‘I think, it is only enlarging the problem’.
I was astonished, not knowing whether he was joking, playing a trick on me or that he was serious. After three days, I realized that his answer referred to Atman as Brahma or World Soul. His Theravada Buddhism approaches Illumination or Enlightenment as the negation and absence of any form or substance.