The character of the self in ancient IndiaA Note on Attā in the Alagaddūpama Sutta
"since a self is, by definition, satisfactory unto itself,"
But who defined that?
In short: everyone else the Buddha had discourse with. The Buddha was responding to these views, as well as discussing the fetters of sakkayaditthi and asmimana, when speaking on the self; his main objective was to ensure that people knew about efficacious action, since in general the various self-theories entailed that some part of oneself was beyond being affected by action. The Buddhist training program displays idapaccayata, by contrast.
The conclusion of the second citation above;
E. J. Thomas states,27 in the Anattalakkhaṇa-sutta the Buddha does not
specifically deny the existence of the attā. The sutta is merely a denial that the khandhas
were ātman, whatever that term means. It may be true to say that the Buddha does not
specifically deny the existence of the attā anywhere in the Pāli canon, in the sense that he
does not state explicitly ‘The attā does not exist’. As stated above, however, in the AS he
does speak of the men who grieve over the loss of his attā as grieving about something
which does not exist internally. He also draws attention to the folly of someone who
holds the view that the world and the attā are the same if it can be shown that attā and
some thing belonging to attā are not to be found, and he then goes on to prove to the
satisfaction of his audience that they are not to be found.
now a thought popped into my head about the meaning to the Buddha of atta(self)
just for the sake of arguement, what if atta meant not self, but me, mine, then the whole discourse would not be a denial of self but rather that anything was mine, or truly belongs to me, that would make perfect sense to me, we do not own our bodies, we do not own our senses or what our senses perceive, we do not even own our thoughts or our mind.
I'm not saying this is the meaning of atta, but suppose it was, what if atta(self) has been mistranslated and had a completely dfferent meaning than we thought it did to the Buddha, while 100,000s of monks can actually read some pali, it is basically a dead language that hasn't really been spoken for almost 2000 years, maybe some meanings were lost along the way, who knows, that's why its important to work out these things in meditation and contemplation, and get them to make sense to you, not just accept them because such and such a translation(which may be incorrect) says so.
Buddhism was traditionally taught by enlightened or somewhat enlightened teachers to students, not from reading pali scriptures, because the lay people mostly couldn't read pali, nor could the novice monks, this internet idea of learning Buddhism from often completely unenlightened lay people who like to quote this or that translation of scripture, and belittle those that speak from there own learning and aren't able to quote sutra and verse, has gone a bit too far IMHO Do your best to sort out this whole non self business, but in the big picture, there are really basic teachings like the 4 noble truths, the Lay precepts, and the 8 fold Path, and most importantly practising love and compassion. these things are much much more important than which guru or Ajahn's version of the no self teaching you follow, its just not as important as the basic stuff, Once you excel at all the basic stuff, by all means turn your attention to non self, until then, you have no need to worry your"self" about it, IMHO
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John