YOU CANNOT POST. OUR WEB HOSTING COMPANY DECIDED TO MOVE THE SERVER TO ANOTHER LOCATION. IN THE MEANTIME, YOU CAN VIEW THIS VERSION WHICH DOES NOT ALLOW POSTING AND WILL NOT SAVE ANYTHING YOU DO ONCE THE OTHER SERVER GOES ONLINE.

The self? - Dhamma Wheel

The self?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Curious Dog
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:26 am

The self?

Postby Curious Dog » Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:40 am

Hello all,

I am 22 and very much new to Buddhism in the sense of looking deep into its teachings and dilligently practiscing meditation. I am thoroughly enjoying the exploration but was yesterday hit with a feeling of confusion over the notion of the self. I have read recently that Buddhism teaches that in an emprical sense there is a 'self' but not in a metaphysical sense. My confusion comes from the fact that Buddhism seems to on the one hand promote an understanding of the idea of 'no-self' but on the other hand has some very introspective elements promoting improvement of oneself and showing compassion to other 'selves'. If we say outright that there is no self then this must also exist for other selves and so why show compassion or any particular feeling to anything? However if there is indeed a self then one of the fundamental beliefs of Buddhism seems difficult to maintain. I presume the key is in the metaphysical/empirical distinction and as with the philosophies of men such as Schopenhauer, it is dependent on one's perspective. Could someone please give me a little clarity on this issue?

I hope the dilemma is clear and any help is greatly appreciated. Furthermore apologies if this is posted in the wrong area,

Ben.

Freawaru
Posts: 489
Joined: Fri Nov 13, 2009 8:26 pm

Re: The self?

Postby Freawaru » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:22 am


User avatar
Dan74
Posts: 3012
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: The self?

Postby Dan74 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:44 pm

Good question, Ben, and one worthy of an ongoing exploration, in my opinion.

My (very provisional) answer is that although we are not separate selves in the sense it is usually seen, there is a delusion of a self and this delusion or misunderstanding causes much suffering. When this is seen to some extent at least, the one thing that comes naturally, the one thing that truly makes sense is to act with kindness and compassion. It's not that one thinks "oh I will be kind and compassionate - this makes sense", it's more like pulling your hand out of fire or reaching for the pillow at night - when it's not really "my" hand, or "my" head, then you naturally do the same for "others". Even though they (and you) are not separate selves or rather because we are not separate selves.

Not sure if this makes any sense. Many of us think too much about these things and logical thought is quite limited in this regard because it is also based on the prism we process our perceptions through, which is the prism of self. Best is to practice and see how your understanding of "I vs. They" changes.

Good luck!!!
_/|\_

chownah
Posts: 6161
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: The self?

Postby chownah » Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:46 pm

Curious Dog,
I don't think that anyone will be able to give you clarity on this issue. It is one of the BIG BIG BIG issues that people keep fighting with and disagreeing and seems that most people never get a grip on it....in fact alot of people are of the view that if you actually do get a grip on it then you are already guaranteed to be destined for enlightenment. Because of this view people spend alot of time trying to figure it out...try to come to grips with the issue of the self. The Buddha, though, taught that no matter how we try to concieve of the "self" we will only end up with delusion...so....the Buddha taught that we should have no doctrine of self whatever....and this is often taken to mean that we should not have a doctrine that the self exists nor should we have a docrine of self that the self does not exist. It seems that the Buddha taught that any way that you try to analyze the "self" will not be helpful in following the path. To illustrate one facet of how our views of "self" are mistaken the Buddha gave the teaching of the chariot......a chariot is made up of parts...is a pile of parts a chariot?....certainly not.......if one takes an axle and a wheel and connects them do you have a chariot?....certainly not.....so then when all of the parts are assembled the concept of chariot arises but really it is just a bunch of parts brought into close proximity to each other.....likewise our concept of "self" is just a collection of feelings and thoughts which when viewed in the regular way gives rise to the concept of "self"....the Buddha teaches that it is possible to view these feelings and thoughts and NOT give rise to the concept of "self"....and that's the way to go.....but its a difficult thing to accomplish taking a high degree of concentration and introspection....which is why people meditate...to develp the concentration to make the introspection.....I guess....

I think that the most imporant thing is to understand that whatever way you conceive of "self" it will not direct you toward ending suffering....it is by emptying the mind of all vestiges of a concept of self that will be helpful.

These are my views only and you should check to be sure that I have represented the Buddha's teachings properly......
chownah

User avatar
kirk5a
Posts: 1959
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: The self?

Postby kirk5a » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:40 pm

"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

Kenshou
Posts: 1030
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:03 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: The self?

Postby Kenshou » Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:26 pm

The things we identify as our "self" are there, your mind and your body. But these things are not, nor do they contain, some continuous constant autonomous agent. Instead they are a process in constant flux which operates by causes and conditioning. But these beings as fluxional processes are still there, that is not denied, and they still experience suffering and respond to conditioning, for better or worse.

So this isn't incompatible with self development (in this context, the 8 fold path) and compassion for others. We can still use the word "self" for the sake of convenience in the context of Buddhist practice without getting caught up in the erroneous assumptions that it usually entails.

I don't think that a metaphysical/empirical distinction is a problem that even exists in this context, but there are probably folk better qualified to tackle that.

pulga
Posts: 1189
Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2010 3:02 pm

Re: The self?

Postby pulga » Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:37 pm

His views on experience are rigorously phenomenological, but if you're up for the challenge, Ven. Ñanavira's Shorter Note on Attá might be of benefit to you.

http://nanavira.xtreemhost.com/index.ph ... &Itemid=66

User avatar
Nibbida
Posts: 466
Joined: Sat May 02, 2009 3:44 am

Re: The self?

Postby Nibbida » Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:45 pm

Here's some useful points:

It's not that we don't exist, more a matter of how we exist. We don't exist in the way that we seem to. We appear to be separate, but we are actually interdependent with everything around us. The apparent boundaries are more conceptual than actual. We are not static entities, but rather a changing set of processes, streams of mind & body activity (i.e. khandas). In this light, it does make sense to develop certain characteristics like wisdom, concentration, equanimity, loving-kindness, etc. But at the same time, that doesn't mean we exist as the separate entities that we appear to be.

User avatar
ancientbuddhism
Posts: 882
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:53 pm
Location: Cyberia

Re: The self?

Postby ancientbuddhism » Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:55 pm

MN.1.3.2 (MN.22)

244. “attani vā, bhikkhave, sati attaniyaṃ me ti assā”ti?

“Monks, surly, there being a ‘self’, would I know of things pertaining to this ‘self’?”

“evaṃ, bhante”.

“Yes, venerable sir.”

“attaniye vā, bhikkhave, sati attā me ti assā”ti?

“And surly, Monks, because of these things pertaining to this ‘self’, would I know of this self?”

“evaṃ, bhante”.

“Yes, venerable sir.”

“attani ca, bhikkhave, attaniye ca saccato thetato anupalabbhamāne, yampi taṃ diṭṭhiṭṭhānaṃ -- ‘so loko so attā, so pecca bhavissāmi nicco dhuvo sassato avipariṇāmadhammo, sassatisamaṃ tatheva ṭhassāmī’ti -- nanāyaṃ, bhikkhave, kevalo paripūro bāladhammo’”ti?

“Monks, because this ‘self’ and things pertaining to a ‘self’ are not true and reliable, this position on views: “Of this ‘self’ and conditions, this will be after death – everlasting, constant, permanent, eternal, remaining unchanged for eternity”, monks, is this not a totally and absolutely childish theory?”
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)


User avatar
ancientbuddhism
Posts: 882
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:53 pm
Location: Cyberia

Re: The self?

Postby ancientbuddhism » Thu Apr 28, 2011 3:06 pm

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)


User avatar
Ben
Posts: 18442
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: The self?

Postby Ben » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:21 pm

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23012
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: The self?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Apr 29, 2011 2:45 am


User avatar
cooran
Posts: 8502
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: The self?

Postby cooran » Fri Apr 29, 2011 6:36 am

Hello curious dog, all,

I would strongly recommend reading this chapter in ''What the Buddha Taught'' by Venerable Dr. W. Rahula
And then I would strongly recommend reading the rest of the book.

The Doctrine of No-Soul
http://www.quangduc.com/English/basic/6 ... ht-06.html

with metta
Chrs
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

Curious Dog
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:26 am

Re: The self?

Postby Curious Dog » Fri Apr 29, 2011 11:01 am

Hello all,

I just wanted to say thank you very much for all your replies. I of course cannot expect the issue to be made suddenly clear through brief discussion and I look forward to going deeper into the rabbit-hole. However, the directions, translations and thoughts you have posted are greatfully received and have certainly sharpened my thoughts on the subject.

Cheers everybody,

Ben. X

LastLegend
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun May 08, 2011 7:17 am

Re: The self?

Postby LastLegend » Sun May 08, 2011 8:45 am

The attachment to the body that we wear and acting upon it is what self is.


Return to “Connections to Other Paths”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 32 guests

Google Saffron, Theravada Search Engine