Problems with no-self

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: Problems with no-self

Postby binocular » Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:05 pm

ground wrote:But that is not the point here in this context. Having not experienced dependent origination of what is called "self" you still may think about or discuss about "self" endlessly. But all you are thinking and discussing about are just abstractions of wavering thoughts. That is why it has been said that one should know what one is talking about and "You should know your experience and how can you know by means of arguments instead of observation?"


What level of advancement would you say you have attained?
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby binocular » Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:08 pm

Alex123 wrote:How it stands up to current empiric observation.


In that case, you are still depending on someone else to tell you what to think.


Science operates by facts and evidence. Religious faith says "believe us" and provides no solid logic and evidence.


I guess philosophy of science isn't your forte ...
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby Alex123 » Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:11 pm

5heaps wrote:if the person is equivalent to the parts then since those parts are momentary (ie. they cannot magically endure into a second moment) the person too must end at that time


You are right about equivalency to the parts. But what if some posit a self that is NOT equivalent to momentary parts, but has them?

Some can speculate that: Self can experience pleasant and unpleasant feelings, but self is not specific momentary pleasant/unpleasant feeling, thus with cessation of the feeling, self does not cease.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby ground » Sat Apr 27, 2013 1:21 pm

binocular wrote:
ground wrote:But that is not the point here in this context. Having not experienced dependent origination of what is called "self" you still may think about or discuss about "self" endlessly. But all you are thinking and discussing about are just abstractions of wavering thoughts. That is why it has been said that one should know what one is talking about and "You should know your experience and how can you know by means of arguments instead of observation?"


What level of advancement would you say you have attained?

Question not applicable. :sage:
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby chownah » Sun Apr 28, 2013 2:44 pm

Alex123,
What is the advantage of developing this doctrine of self which you propose as opposed to having no doctrine of self as proposed by the Buddha?
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby whynotme » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:17 pm

The only meaning of the self is experiences and only experiences is worth for the seeking of self.

Is self permanent or changing moment by moment? Not worth it

Here is what self is: Do you know pain? Do you know pleasure? That is where you can talk about self. Without pain and pleasure, what is the point of yourself and finding it? A self in vague space just for the sake of knowledge?

What if self continues to exist without any feeling? What? There is no point in discussing a self like that.

If there is a thing that exists outside of universe and there is no way to contact and measure it, then how to prove its existence/ non existence and what is the point of doing that?

What is the point of finding yourself without any feelings?

Sometimes problem can only be solved in the big picture. For instance, a man needs a house, so he collects material and tool to build it. But he keeps focus too much on his current purpose so that he forgot that he needs a house, he only goal is to find and collect material to build a house. But doing that is very hard, material is rare so he keeps trying and trying without success. If he remember the big picture, he only needs them for the house, he can bypass the collecting material, but choose to buy a house which is far easier than build new one.

Similar to that, people seek happiness. Then they discuss about everything and seek every manner. Some try to seek a self for some reason, but it is too hard. If they remember that finding a self is only a step in seeking happiness, then they can bypass that part and finding happiness directly.

These are undeniable facts:
There are feelings: pain and pleasure
There will be feelings in the future: pain or pleasure

If one knows pain and pleasure and their value, then one should ask, how can I have more pleasure and less pain, with or without self, this is a better manner. Happiness is the only thing worth it.
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby binocular » Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:56 pm

chownah wrote:What is the advantage of developing this doctrine of self which you propose as opposed to having no doctrine of self as proposed by the Buddha?


Given that the Buddhist schools (and individuals) tend to have less or more different stances in matters of self, while all claim that the stance they promote was proposed by the Buddha, it is hard to tell what the Buddha actually proposed.
Discussions on this topic can also get quite fierce.

Already considering this, it's not surprising that people want to find their own doctrine about the self that would make sense.
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby binocular » Sun Apr 28, 2013 7:07 pm

whynotme wrote:/.../
Similar to that, people seek happiness. Then they discuss about everything and seek every manner. Some try to seek a self for some reason, but it is too hard. If they remember that finding a self is only a step in seeking happiness, then they can bypass that part and finding happiness directly.

These are undeniable facts:
There are feelings: pain and pleasure
There will be feelings in the future: pain or pleasure

If one knows pain and pleasure and their value, then one should ask, how can I have more pleasure and less pain, with or without self, this is a better manner. Happiness is the only thing worth it.


This is all fine and well in the abstract, but not in practice, at least as long as this "in practice" means functioning in the Western world and earning enough money to support oneself. Because our Western culture is deeply intertwined with notions of self, and if one doesn't play along, one will become an outcast.

Sure, one can pretend to play along, and speak of oneself the way other people speak of themselves and so on; but after a while, this duplicity can become unbearable, or one can't do it right anymore and becomes awkward ...
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby 5heaps » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:47 am

Alex123 wrote:
5heaps wrote:if the person is equivalent to the parts then since those parts are momentary (ie. they cannot magically endure into a second moment) the person too must end at that time


You are right about equivalency to the parts. But what if some posit a self that is NOT equivalent to momentary parts, but has them?

Some can speculate that: Self can experience pleasant and unpleasant feelings, but self is not specific momentary pleasant/unpleasant feeling, thus with cessation of the feeling, self does not cease.

theres no problem with saying that the self ie. the person experiences momentary feelings. the problem is the innate tendency which then sees the self/person as independent of those parts, possesses those parts, *has* those parts. thats what the nonbuddhists call an atman, and its what buddhists uniquely negate without turning to nihilism ie. person dont exist.

The Atman Asserted by the Samkhya and Nyaya Schools That Buddhism Refutes
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby acinteyyo » Thu May 02, 2013 10:44 am

Alex123 wrote:But river can be the same river even if it has different instances of water flowing through it.

Hi Alex123,

and exactly here my friend a mistake is being made. A river is never the same river. What persists as being considered the same river is just an idea about a river made up from various conditions. That idea is believed to be more or less permanent as long as one fails to see that those conditions which constitute the idea are actually changing. One can certainly talk about one and the same river conventionally, accepting to ignore reality as it happens in favor of conversational reasons or others but the more one wants to talk about reality as it is one has to pay attention even to the slightest changes. It's a matter of mindfulness (sati) and 'thorough attention' or wise consideration' (yoniso manasikāra) to not neglect impermanence.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby Dan74 » Thu May 02, 2013 11:00 am

acinteyyo wrote:
Alex123 wrote:But river can be the same river even if it has different instances of water flowing through it.

Hi Alex123,

and exactly here my friend a mistake is being made. A river is never the same river. What persists as being considered the same river is just an idea about a river made up from various conditions. That idea is believed to be more or less permanent as long as one fails to see that those conditions which constitute the idea are actually changing. One can certainly talk about one and the same river conventionally, accepting to ignore reality as it happens in favor of conversational reasons or others but the more one wants to talk about reality as it is one has to pay attention even to the slightest changes. It's a matter of mindfulness (sati) and 'thorough attention' or wise consideration' (yoniso manasikāra) to not neglect impermanence.

best wishes, acinteyyo


Some things are relatively more stable than others. My chair persists longer in a very similar form that the water flowing down the drain, hence the chair is considered an object that the water flowing down the drain, not. The real aspect is the fact that the assembly of molecules held together by various forces, supported by the floor, that is my chair, degrades and decomposes relatively slowly and is able to support me as a chair for some time to come.

The self is similar. Held together by memories including the memory of the experiencer present in ever event, it is ever-changing but there is a relative stability and a continuity that is temporary and not fixed, but not just imagined.

If the sense of the experiencer is relinquished, what is the self then? There is still a continuity of experience, a stream distinct to another, but it is no more that a bunch of conditions that tie these experiences to a particular mind/brain, itself constantly changing. Just like a chair, but even more changeable.
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby Alex123 » Thu May 02, 2013 11:14 am

Hello Acinteyyo, (and all),

acinteyyo wrote:and exactly here my friend a mistake is being made


You are probably right. In any case, I should focus on seeing arising and ceasing of dukkha.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby acinteyyo » Thu May 02, 2013 11:24 am

:thumbsup:
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby SamKR » Fri May 03, 2013 12:57 am

Alex123 wrote:Science operates by facts and evidence. Religious faith says "believe us" and provides no solid logic and evidence.

Yes, but these facts and evidences sustain upon conditions: the consensus among scientists or observers about consistency of data and results. Such consensus is not fundamentally different from the consensus among two people about some other experiential phenomena.
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby tinhtan » Fri May 10, 2013 8:27 am

Hi Alex123
Alex123 wrote:... I should focus on seeing arising and ceasing of dukkha.


:thumbsup:

yes, as you know that after awakening, the Buddha teached first the 4 Noble Truths (Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta) which concerned dukkha, its arising, its ceasing, and the way of ceasing dukkha.

At the end of this first teaching, only the Venerable Kodanna attained stream-entry sotapanna. It was the day of the full moon in July. The four other companions still needed practice. Finally, thanks to the direct instructions of the Buddha, the 4 Venerable Vappa, Bhaddhiya, Mahanama and Assaji obtained sotapanna respectively the first, second, third and fourth day of the waning moon.

Only from the fifth day that the Buddha gave the Anattalakkhana Sutta and at the end of the speech, the five became Arahant.

So the Buddha delivered the Anatta teaching only after the five Venerable had uprooted the first false view of the self in a body and had no doubt in the Buddha teaching.

best wishes
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri May 10, 2013 8:49 am

Alex123 wrote:Wow. :shock: I can't believe it. I used to believe in no-self, but suddenly arguments for it lost their convincing power. :cry:
For example:


I've always struggled with anatta experientially, my strategy is to focus instead on anicca, which seems more accessible.
Well, oi dunno...
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby tiltbillings » Fri May 10, 2013 8:54 am

porpoise wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Wow. :shock: I can't believe it. I used to believe in no-self, but suddenly arguments for it lost their convincing power. :cry:
For example:


I've always struggled with anatta experientially, my strategy is to focus instead on anicca, which seems more accessible.



    "A bhikkhu, Meghiya, who is established in these five things should also cultivate four additional things: foulness should be cultivated for overcoming lust; loving-kindness should be cultivated for overcoming malevolence; respiration-mindfulness should be cultivated for cutting off (discursive) thinking; the perception of impermanence should be cultivated for the removal of the conceit 'I am.' For when one perceives impermanence, Meghiya, the perception of not-self is established. When one perceives not-self one reaches the removal of the conceit 'I am,' which is called Nibbana here and now." Ud 4.1 PTS: Ud 34 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby binocular » Fri May 10, 2013 3:48 pm

Dan74 wrote:Some things are relatively more stable than others. My chair persists longer in a very similar form that the water flowing down the drain, hence the chair is considered an object that the water flowing down the drain, not. The real aspect is the fact that the assembly of molecules held together by various forces, supported by the floor, that is my chair, degrades and decomposes relatively slowly and is able to support me as a chair for some time to come.

The self is similar. Held together by memories including the memory of the experiencer present in ever event, it is ever-changing but there is a relative stability and a continuity that is temporary and not fixed, but not just imagined.

If the sense of the experiencer is relinquished, what is the self then? There is still a continuity of experience, a stream distinct to another, but it is no more that a bunch of conditions that tie these experiences to a particular mind/brain, itself constantly changing. Just like a chair, but even more changeable.


"Self," "selfhood," "nature," true nature" or "essence" mean, simply as concepts, something unchangeable, permanent. And with terms like that, one either knows what they refer to, or one doesn't, there is no middle way. One either has the conviction "I know who I am" or one doesn't. It's in the nature of the concept of "self" that if someone else comes along and tells one "You are so and so, you are such and such", one can have no meaningful attitude toward such a claim, unless one already holds it as true, and so the claimer hasn't claimed anything that would be new to oneself.
This is why speculations about the self are useless: one either already is sure about who one is; or one isn't. If one already is sure, speculation does not apply - for one is already sure. But if one isn't sure, it's simply in the nature of the concept of "self" that no amount of philosophical or empirical investigation can convince one one way or another - such attempts are like placing one mirror in front of another, so that they mirror eachother into infinity.

However, something else are things we consider to be the self, but do so inconsistently - which reveals that those things are not our true self. Sometimes we stub our toe and say "I am hurt," other times, we stub our toe and say "I stubbed my toe."
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby Bakmoon » Tue May 14, 2013 3:33 am

Alex123 wrote:Wow. :shock: I can't believe it. I used to believe in no-self, but suddenly arguments for it lost their convincing power. :cry:
For example:

Why can't someone postulate:
1) Self that is impermanent (born 1950, died at 2030 for example)?
2) Self that is not a certain momentary dhamma, but possesses dhammas?
3) Self that is subject to external conditions?

Wow. How much my beliefs change...


I think the best way to understand this point is by understanding how the perception of self ties in with the Buddha's teaching on Mañana (Conceiving). It is discussed in the Mulapariyaya Sutta:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
MN1 wrote:The Blessed One said: "There is the case, monks, where an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person — who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for men of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma — perceives earth as earth. Perceiving earth as earth, he conceives [things] about earth, he conceives [things] in earth, he conceives [things] coming out of earth, he conceives earth as 'mine,' he delights in earth. Why is that? Because he has not comprehended it, I tell you.


The Pali word translated as 'Conceives' is the word Mañati, which is the verb form of Mañana. From our direct experience of reality, the mind extrapolates and creates concepts on the basis of this direct experience and there is an identification between this concept and the experience of it. This mental tendency is called Mañana, and it is the psychological basis for the idea of self. From the experiences of the physical body, and the experience of the various mental phenomena, the mind extrapolates the concept of self, and identifies it with the experiences it is based on. This concept is not part of experience, and so it is not part of ultimate reality. It is a mind made concept, and nothing more.

This concept is useful, and in terms of conventional reality, it is a coherent one, but it is still arbitrary. You ask:

Why can't someone postulate:
1) Self that is impermanent (born 1950, died at 2030 for example)?
2) Self that is not a certain momentary dhamma, but possesses dhammas?
3) Self that is subject to external conditions?


And I would say that you can postulate all those things. However, you could also postulate the self in numerous other equally coherent ways. You could say that the body and the mind together make the self, and that would work. You could say that only the mind is self, and the body is just a container, and that would also work. You could even say the body is self and that the mind is just a byproduct. All of these are equally valid interpretations of experience.

The answer to the riddle comes when you see that all three of these positions are examples of Mañana; all are examples of the mind making conceptual extrapolations from reality, and that these extrapolations are arbitrary, and at the level of ultimate reality on which these extrapolations are made, there is no self. Self is just a concept.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby kirk5a » Tue May 14, 2013 3:20 pm

Bakmoon wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Wow. :shock: I can't believe it. I used to believe in no-self, but suddenly arguments for it lost their convincing power. :cry:
For example:

Why can't someone postulate:
1) Self that is impermanent (born 1950, died at 2030 for example)?
2) Self that is not a certain momentary dhamma, but possesses dhammas?
3) Self that is subject to external conditions?

Wow. How much my beliefs change...


I think the best way to understand this point is by understanding how the perception of self ties in with the Buddha's teaching on Mañana (Conceiving). It is discussed in the Mulapariyaya Sutta:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
MN1 wrote:The Blessed One said: "There is the case, monks, where an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person — who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for men of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma — perceives earth as earth. Perceiving earth as earth, he conceives [things] about earth, he conceives [things] in earth, he conceives [things] coming out of earth, he conceives earth as 'mine,' he delights in earth. Why is that? Because he has not comprehended it, I tell you.


The Pali word translated as 'Conceives' is the word Mañati, which is the verb form of Mañana. From our direct experience of reality, the mind extrapolates and creates concepts on the basis of this direct experience and there is an identification between this concept and the experience of it. This mental tendency is called Mañana, and it is the psychological basis for the idea of self. From the experiences of the physical body, and the experience of the various mental phenomena, the mind extrapolates the concept of self, and identifies it with the experiences it is based on. This concept is not part of experience, and so it is not part of ultimate reality. It is a mind made concept, and nothing more.

This concept is useful, and in terms of conventional reality, it is a coherent one, but it is still arbitrary. You ask:

Why can't someone postulate:
1) Self that is impermanent (born 1950, died at 2030 for example)?
2) Self that is not a certain momentary dhamma, but possesses dhammas?
3) Self that is subject to external conditions?


And I would say that you can postulate all those things. However, you could also postulate the self in numerous other equally coherent ways. You could say that the body and the mind together make the self, and that would work. You could say that only the mind is self, and the body is just a container, and that would also work. You could even say the body is self and that the mind is just a byproduct. All of these are equally valid interpretations of experience.

The answer to the riddle comes when you see that all three of these positions are examples of Mañana; all are examples of the mind making conceptual extrapolations from reality, and that these extrapolations are arbitrary, and at the level of ultimate reality on which these extrapolations are made, there is no self. Self is just a concept.

"there is no self" is also mere conceiving.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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