I am currently editing "A Discourse on the Anattalakkhana Sutta" by Venerable Mahāsi Sayādaw. In Part Two, he digresses to explain the teaching in the Dīghanakha Sutta
The wanderer Dīghanakha approached the Blessed One and after exchanging greetings said; “My theory and view is this, Venerable Gotama, “No view is acceptable to me.” What he meant by this statement was that he did not like any belief; in other words, the belief that a new existence arises after passing away from the present one. However, since he said he had no liking for any belief, it amounted to declaring that he did not like his own belief (annihilationism) either. Therefore the Blessed One asked him, “Have you no liking for this view of yours: ‘No view is acceptable to me!’” To this, the wanderer Dīghanakha gave an ambiguous reply, ‘Even if I had a liking for this view of mine, it would be all the same.’ This is in keeping with the practice of those who, holding on to wrong views, equivocate when they realise that what they believe in or what they have said, is wrong.
In order to bring out the view held by the wanderer the Blessed One said, “The belief in eternalism (sassatadiṭṭhi)
is close to craving close to being fettered, to relishing, to accepting, to holding tight and clinging. The belief in annihilationism is close to non-craving, to being unfettered, to non-relishing, non-accepting to not holding tight, and not clinging.” Upon this the wanderer Dīghanakha remarked, “Venerable Gotama praises my view; Venerable Gotama commends my view.’ The Blessed One, of course, was merely explaining the true virtues and faults of the views of the eternalists and annihilationists.
The eternalists abhor and avoid demeritorious acts so that they do not have to face the evil consequences in coming existences. They engage themselves in wholesome deeds, but they relish and take delight in pleasures that would promote further rounds of existence. The Commentary says that it is very hard to abandon the eternalistic view that “Self, the living entity is indestructible, and remains stable eternally.” Therefore, even those who profess to have embraced Buddhism find it difficult to accept that there is no self, no living entity, there is only a continuous process of mental and physical phenomena.
For Arahants, having completely eradicated clinging, there is no fresh arising of mind and matter in a new existence after their parinibbāna. The continuous process of mind and matter comes to a complete cessation. Eternalists would like to believe that after their parinibbāna, the Arahants continue to exist in special forms.
The Commentary has this to say on the subject: “The eternalists know that there is a present life and an after-life. They know there are pleasant and unpleasant effects of wholesome and unwholesome deeds. They engage themselves in meritorious actions. They recoil from doing evil deeds. However, they relish and take delight in pleasures which could give rise to fresh existences. Even when they get to the presence of the Blessed One or his disciples, they find it hard to abandon their belief immediately. So it may be said of the eternalist belief that although its faults are not grave, it is hard to discard.”
On the other hand, annihilationists do not know that there is passage to the human world from other existences and there is an after-life. They do not know there are pleasant and unpleasant effects of wholesome and unwholesome deeds. They do not engage in meritorious actions, and have no fear of unwholesome deeds. They do not relish and take delight in wholesome deeds, which could give rise to fresh existences, because they do not believe in an after-life. However, when they get to the presence of the Blessed One or his disciples they can abandon their belief immediately. Thus with regard to the annihilationists belief, it may be said, that its faults are grave but it is easy to be discarded.