Problems with no-self

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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby barcsimalsi » Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:34 am

From my superficial understanding, not-self in Buddhism refers to things that we don't have complete control of, things that are conditioned.
Although we can move our body according to our will but we can't stop it from aging so the body is not self. So as feeling and consciousness which arises and ceases due to conditions.

Maybe the talk from this noble guy can give you a deeper meaning of self:

part2
He looks like and an arahant but i've no clue on most parts of his talks. :tongue:
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby pegembara » Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:19 am

Alex123 wrote:
Dan74 wrote:I don't think it is a matter of belief but of examination. When we try to look for the essence within, what do we find?


This happened with my examination of my and others pro-anatta arguments. There is this center of experience that does feel and cognize things. Even though feelings, perceptions, intentions, thoughts, etc, change, this SAME center of experience remains. A child, youth, adult, old man can still have the same center of experience, same first person perspective. Of course when aggregates cease, self ceases as well. I don't see why self can't have impermanent duration, example: 80 years. I don't see why self can't be subject to external conditions.


This feelings, perceptions, intentions, thoughts come and go, right. It feels like their are yours right but their are not. You are merely experiencing them.
Where do thoughts come from? Could it be that thoughts come up first and only then do you take ownership of them? You can't cling to things which are impermanent?

The last bit is this knower (consciousness).

The last place, which is hard for a person to see, is the consciousness itself, the mind. This mind which a lot of people talk about, which I talk about a lot, to actually see it in its purity is very, very difficult. You see it in jhanas. What’s important after having a jhana is having known what the citta is, the mind. What the Buddha talked so much about in the suttas, having seen that then to apply the satipatthana. Reflect on the mind and ask yourself “is this me?” That which knows, that which is hearing this, which feels all the aches and pains in the body, which sees the sights around, which sees the flowers and the sunsets, that which sees and experiences. “Is that what I take to be me?” And look at this whole process of consciousness, the screen on which experience is played out.
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:06 am

barcsimalsi wrote:From my superficial understanding, not-self in Buddhism refers to things that we don't have complete control of, things that are conditioned.

Although we can move our body according to our will but we can't stop it from aging so the body is not self. So as feeling and consciousness which arises and ceases due to conditions.

Not-self refers to all conditioned things, and even the unconditioned (nibbāna) is not-self ("Sabbe dhammā anattā'ti").

The conception of self is an illusion, which arises through not seeing things as they really are. If we pay really careful attention by developing deep concentration, then the truth of the matter will become clear — not otherwise.

In his "Discourse on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta" the Venerable Mahāsi Sayādaw says:
Here, seeing phenomena as, “This is not mine,” is the same as perceiving that they incessantly arise and pass away, that there is nothing delightful, nothing dependable, just suffering. Seeing, “I am not this,” is the same as perceiving that it is not permanent. Conceit arises believing in permanence. When truth is known about its impermanent nature, there is nothing to take pride in. Seeing “This is not my self,” is exactly the same as seeing that it is not-self. Failing to note every mental and physical phenomenon as it arises at the six sense-doors and then believing it to be permanent, conceit makes its appearance, and assumes, “I am this.” However, when it is perceived that phenomena do not last even for the blink of an eye, that everything is impermanent, then conceit cannot arise. When not-self is unknown, clinging to phenomena as belonging to a self arises. This is obvious and needs no elaboration.

Whether someone is an Arahant or not, is something that cannot be known just by looking at them. Someone who is talking about a Higher Self, clearly has not understood the Buddha's teaching on not-self.
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby Ben » Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:10 am

Sadhu, Bhante!
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby binocular » Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:42 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.


Arguments for and against are not meant to convince people one way or another, but to stimulate thought on a matter.


Alex123 wrote:
polarbuddha101 wrote:but the Buddha says that anything that is impermanent is not fit to be taken as self, because then what is your self will change and thus it won't be yourself anymore cause it isn't the same self as the one before.


Why can't we say that Self has the body, feelings, etc which change? Even though these change, it is still the same person. Jack doesn't become John the next moment, Jane the third moment and Andrew the fourth moment. There is continuity of person from cradle to grave even though body and specific mental states do change.


If you want someone to flat out tell you that the self exists, that the body, the feelings, the mind etc. change, but the self is the same - talk to a Hare Krishna monk and have him provide you with scriptural references. In roundabout, they believe that what an ordinary person usually considers to be their self, is actually comprised of the body, the feelings, the mind, the intelligence, the false ego, and the soul; of which the soul is the actual self, while the others are not the self.

You can then compare some Buddhist teachings on the matter, and those of some other religions.

(Oddly enough, I find that there isn't much contradiction between what the Pali Canon teaches and what some Hindu school teach in matters of "self"; just that where the Pali Canon is silent, the Hindus have things to say.)


Alex123 wrote:This happened with my examination of my and others pro-anatta arguments. There is this center of experience that does feel and cognize things. Even though feelings, perceptions, intentions, thoughts, etc, change, this SAME center of experience remains. A child, youth, adult, old man can still have the same center of experience, same first person perspective.


By this "center of experience" here, you probably mean consciousness.


I don't see why self can't have impermanent duration, example: 80 years. I don't see why self can't be subject to external conditions.


A casual observation suggests that it hurts to think of oneself as such - "I will sooner or later cease to exist."
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby equilibrium » Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:20 am

Alex123 wrote:.....

In this sense, the anatta teaching is not a doctrine of no-self, but a not-self strategy for shedding suffering by letting go of its cause, leading to the highest, undying happiness. At that point, questions of self, no-self, and not-self fall aside. Once there's the experience of such total freedom, where would there be any concern about what's experiencing it, or whether or not it's a self?
(source: No-self or Not-self?, Thanissaro Bhikkhu)
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby reflection » Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:24 am

Very honest of you to recognize your feelings about no-self despite the usual arguments, and share that with fellow Buddhists. But if arguments are not enough (which I think they won't be for most of us), I suggest to stop thinking about it and take the way of samadhi. Whatever disappears in meditation, that surely was not self. See if this idea you have of the self can also disappear.

:namaste:
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby mogg » Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:34 am

Good post Bhante :twothumbsup:

Referencing the video posted above, that was meant as a joke right? Surely nobody could believe that someone who devotes that much attention to their hair could be an Arahant!
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby Alex123 » Thu Apr 25, 2013 11:36 am

ground 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:

So you believed that it is a matter of arguments?


When some extraordinary thing is postulated, it better be well justified.

ground wrote:
Alex123 wrote: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?

Why shouldn't someone postulate all this?

See I am postulating the horn of a hare. Yes, I can. :sage:


To put it differently: Why can't one refute anatta as presented in the suttas and commentaries with above 3 arguments?


I feel almost ready to sit in the corner and cry me a river. :(
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby Alex123 » Thu Apr 25, 2013 11:47 am

binocular wrote:By this "center of experience" here, you probably mean consciousness.


Yes. But, it is something constant of consciousness. "Binocular" has one "I am", Alex has another. Two different "streams" of consciousness. I cannot cognize what you cognize, and you cannot cognize what I cognize.

binocular wrote:
I don't see why self can't have impermanent duration, example: 80 years. I don't see why self can't be subject to external conditions.

A casual observation suggests that it hurts to think of oneself as such - "I will sooner or later cease to exist."


If my death means death of suffering, then good riddance! Just like Alex didn't care for countless of billions of years prior to Alex's birth, neither will Alex care for countless of billions of years after death.

Reflecting on my experience, the best time of my life is when I am totally asleep and don't cognize anything at all.
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby daverupa » Thu Apr 25, 2013 11:51 am

Alex123 wrote:To put it differently: Why can't one refute anatta as presented in the suttas and commentaries with above 3 arguments?


Anatta isn't a philosophical argument to be upheld or refuted... reasoned acceptance always turns out one of two ways, so anatta isn't something to be accepted or rejected in this way.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby barcsimalsi » Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:34 pm

mogg wrote::goodpost:

Referencing the video posted above, that was meant as a joke right?

Actually i was quite convinced by that unblinking higherself speech that he had obtained some serious attainment. Good thing Bhante arrived in time.
Please stop laughing at him, it makes me feel bad. :toilet:
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby ground » Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:56 pm

Alex123 wrote:
ground 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:

So you believed that it is a matter of arguments?


When some extraordinary thing is postulated, it better be well justified.

But it is not about ideas but experiences. If you postulate self you should know what it is you are talking about. If you postulate no-self you should know what you are talking about. You should know your experience and how can you know by means of arguments instead of observation?

Alex123 wrote:
ground wrote:
Alex123 wrote: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?

Why shouldn't someone postulate all this?

See I am postulating the horn of a hare. Yes, I can. :sage:


To put it differently: Why can't one refute anatta as presented in the suttas and commentaries with above 3 arguments?

You can and you can refute atta as well. But how does this relate to your experience?

Alex123 wrote:I feel almost ready to sit in the corner and cry me a river. :(

Can you recognize the sense of self being the basis of this sadness? This sense of "I" and "mine"? it is not always there and not always full-flegded but the moment it makes itself felt it feels like permanent, doesn't it? But there is no permanent entity, it comes and goes depending on conditions. :sage:
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby pegembara » Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:34 pm

Self that is impermanent (born 1950, died at 2030 for example)?


You mean that the 80 year old was really born in 1950? Or was it the newborn that came through the birth canal (birth by convention) in 1950? The 80 year old was never born in this sense.

Did the newborn die in 2030? If by death you mean the heart and breathing stopping, a casual observer can see that the newborn never died. It is the old man who died!

In impermanence, there is no self to be found.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby alan » Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:13 pm

Very pleased to see your thoughts are evolving, Alex123.
The idea of "no-self" has become dogma in some Buddhist circles. But it does not correspond with our experience, offers no help in understanding, and usually results in illogical, convoluted nonsense passing off as wisdom.

There is a use for this concept, of course, and it should be in understanding the aggregates from the point of meditation. Think of it as an avenue of approach, or a framework for understanding the basics of experience.

As a practice, however, it is beyond useless. It's downright dangerous--guaranteed to create confusion.
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby kirk5a » Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:43 pm

Alex123 wrote:
To put it differently: Why can't one refute anatta as presented in the suttas and commentaries with above 3 arguments?


I feel almost ready to sit in the corner and cry me a river. :(

:console:
Most of us are very committed to ourselves as personalities. The habit of viewing ourselves as a person is deeply ingrained in us. In Pali, that is called sakkaya-ditthi, which can be translated as “personality-view” or “the ego.” It means that we regard the five khandhas (groups)—body, feelings, perceptions, conceptions, and consciousness—as belonging to this person, as making up our identity. In investigating the personality-view, we do not grasp on to the perception of “no person” either. It is possible to take the concept of anatta (no self) and grasp that, and say, “There’s no self because the Buddha said there’s anatta!” But in that case we’re still grasping a perception. Grasping a perception of yourself as a nonself gets to be a bit ridiculous.

It is so easy for us to conceive the conditions we attach to. Yet with satipañña (discriminating alertness) and sati-sampajañña (awareness), we begin to awaken ourselves to the way it is, rather than being committed to the conventional realities. I want to emphasize that this awareness is there before you become something. This point cannot be repeated often enough, because even though cultivating awareness might appear very simple on the face of it, our mindset is definitely geared to believing in the personality-view as our fundamental reality. If you grasp on to the conditions you create, you will end up in the same place every time—suffering. But don’t simply believe me; explore it for yourself.

Instead of starting with a perception or a conception of anything, the Buddha established a way based on awareness, or awakened attention. This is an immanent act in the present. It is sati-sampajañña, an intuitive awareness that allows the consciousness to be with the present moment. With this attention, you begin to explore sakkaya-ditthi (personality-view) in terms of the perceptions you attach to as yourself.

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"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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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby Alex123 » Thu Apr 25, 2013 7:28 pm

pegembara wrote:
Self that is impermanent (born 1950, died at 2030 for example)?

You mean that the 80 year old was really born in 1950?


Person was few seconds old when s/he was born.

Or was it the newborn that came through the birth canal (birth by convention) in 1950? The 80 year old was never born in this sense.

Did the newborn die in 2030? If by death you mean the heart and breathing stopping, a casual observer can see that the newborn never died. It is the old man who died!

In impermanence, there is no self to be found.


That same person was 80 year old when s/he died. I understand what you are saying, I used to think like that as well. But river can be the same river even if it has different instances of water flowing through it.

Another thing:
That person in 1950 had John and Jane as parents and on birth certificate. And in 2030 his parents (though deceased) are still the same on birth certificate - John and Jane. So origin remains the same.

One has the same increasing "memory bank" and an outside observer could in principle observe physical continuity of the person.

Maybe MN#2 is right. One should reflect in the framework of 4NT, and don't think using philosophical categories such as:"there is...there is no self for me" . Maybe not having a self view means that one doesn't even think "there is no self for me".
I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care."
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby manas » Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:47 pm

Alex123 wrote: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?


You.are.free.to.postulate.anything.you.like
but.will.this.postulation.lead.to.ease.or.to.stress?

I.know.you.have.probably.read.it.before
but.it.might.be.worth.rereading:

"Questions.of.Skill"by.Thanissaro.Bhikkhu
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tions.html

metta :anjali:
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby Buckwheat » Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:18 pm

Alex123 wrote:That same person was 80 year old when s/he died. I understand what you are saying, I used to think like that as well. But river can be the same river even if it has different instances of water flowing through it.

Just because one perceives continuity does not make it a reality. Just because one perceives difference does not make it a reality. Perceptions are just perceptions... anatta.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: Problems with no-self

Postby SarathW » Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:42 am

reflection wrote:Very honest of you to recognize your feelings about no-self despite the usual arguments, and share that with fellow Buddhists. But if arguments are not enough (which I think they won't be for most of us), I suggest to stop thinking about it and take the way of samadhi. Whatever disappears in meditation, that surely was not self. See if this idea you have of the self can also disappear.

:namaste:


I have similar understanding to Reflection.
Arhants are free from mental fabrications. Anatta is a mental fabrication (conditioning) .
If we consider Anatta as a fact, fiction, strategy or whatever, it becomes a mental fabrication.

See if this idea you have of the self can also disappear. (let it go)
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