I've just been reading a booklet of Anattā
- Collected Articles of the Most Prominent Scholars compiled and printed by Deparmtent of Research & Compilation, Sitagu International Buddhist Academy, Sagaing Hills, Sagaing, Myanmar.Some Chapter Titles are:
No-soul by Dr. Silanandabhivamsa (Sayadaw U Silananda)
Soulessness by Bhikkhu Narada
No-Soul by Dr. W.P. Rahula
Impermanence, Suffering and No-Soul by by Sayadaw U Silananda
I note that in his writings Thanissaro Bhikkhu only refers to Not-self. This often gives readers the impression that though 'this' is not Self, somewhere out there, or in here, is 'something' or 'some experience' that continues onward even if ever-changing. But 'Hush, we never say that out loud - just hint, hint, wink, wink'.
Nyanatiloka, in his Dictionary of Pali Buddhist Terms, gives this definition of Anatta:anattā
- 'not-self', non-ego, egolessness, impersonality, is the last of the three characteristics of existence (ti-lakkhana, q.v.) The anattā doctrine teaches that neither within the bodily and mental phenomena of existence, nor outside of them, can be found anything that in the ultimate sense could be regarded as a self-existing real ego-entity, soul or any other abiding substance.
This is the central doctrine of Buddhism, without understanding which a real knowledge of Buddhism is altogether impossible. It is the only really specific Buddhist doctrine, with which the entire Structure of the Buddhist teaching stands or falls. All the remaining Buddhist doctrines may, more or less, be found in other philosophic systems and religions, but the anattā-doctrine has been clearly and unreservedly taught only by the Buddha, wherefore the Buddha is known as the anattā-vādi, or 'Teacher of Impersonality'.
Whosoever has not penetrated this impersonality of all existence, and does not comprehend that in reality there exists only this continually self-consuming process of arising and passing bodily and mental phenomena, and that there is no separate ego-entity within or without this process, he will not be able to understand Buddhism, i.e. the teaching of the 4 Noble Truths (sacca, q.v.), in the right light. He will think that it is his ego, his personality, that experiences suffering, his personality that performs good and evil actions and will be reborn according to these actions, his personality that will enter into Nibbāna, his personality that walks on the Eightfold Path. http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/a/anatta.htm
I've heard people talk of Anatta, No Soul, No Self, Soullessness, Non-self, Not-Self, Self-lessness, egolessness, impersonality.
What did the Buddha actually mean?
Unlike Vacchagotta, I'm not going to faint if 'I' am just something like a sensor automatic door which opens and closes reacting to stimuli but has no personality or soul of its own, and doesn't go on to 'door-heaven' once it is impervious to further stimuli .... that is, if I am just a conglomeration of habits and fruits of kamma which, upon reaching 'nibanna', ceases completely.
Any clarity provided would be gladly welcomed.