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Non-self - Dhamma Wheel

Non-self

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.
Cilla
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Non-self

Postby Cilla » Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:33 am

I would like to hear your explanations of what the buddhist concept of non-self is. I am assuming its a concept common to all traditions of buddhism so i am assuming more advanced buddhists here will know what i am talking about and be able to explain it fairly clearly.

If you feel it better to provide a link, would you also humour and provide your own definition since i often find links too long, too convoluted in their explanations or for some other reason, i can't get out of them what the poster wants me to get. If the link is really great that would be good but i am not so good with flowery language. I like things to be clear and precise. Thus i am probably not going to be a very good reader of sutras or suttas and original texts at this point in my learning. Thanks.

Also while i think of it, do the advanced members of this group regularly coming into the discovering buddhism forum to answer our questions or is mainly beginners answering other beginners questions. If so, perhaps i should ask this question in another branch of this forum.

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mikenz66
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Re: Non-self

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:48 am


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Ben
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Re: Non-self

Postby Ben » Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:13 am

Hi Cilla

This forum was established so that those new to the tradition could get authoritative responses that are pitched at the level of interest and knowledge of the OP. Hence, replies get cued and need to be approved by the mod/admin team. Those that do not comply with the guidelines for this forum are not approved.

Mike has given you an excellent response regarding your question regarding anatta, in which case I have nothing more to add.
kind regards,

Ben
“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: [email protected]..

nameless
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Re: Non-self

Postby nameless » Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:44 am

Expanding on "to examine experience and see that one cannot find a "self", not to assert by logic that "there is no self" (which would be a view). ", I think it is worthwhile looking at what one typically assumes to be 'self', and see the nature of it.

For example, how do you define yourself?
Maybe by your body, your name, your likes or dislikes, your personality, your relationships.

For myself, for example, I realize there's no 'me'-ness in my personality. I don't have this personality because I am me, I have this personality because of a combination of genetics and experiences, and it's entirely possible that if my parents made different decisions I would have ended up a different 'me'. There's no 'self' in me that would have made me end up the same way regardless.

This is one example. Each person I think, has to observe themselves and their sense of self and see what is there (or what is not). Giving you too many examples might just give you more concepts to hold on to. But I think a better way is to just observe. Not even with the intention of finding non-self, but just observing and seeing what things are like.

Cilla
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Re: Non-self

Postby Cilla » Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:20 am


Cilla
Posts: 91
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:10 am

Re: Non-self

Postby Cilla » Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:21 am


Cilla
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Re: Non-self

Postby Cilla » Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:32 am


befriend
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Re: Non-self

Postby befriend » Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:46 am

to me there are atleast three ways i can think of that describe non self. your are not in control of your body or a lot of things, you dont say hey i will grow old and get cancer now, the body does that automatically, that is an aspect of non self. impermanence is seeing non self, because how can anything be self if everything is impermanent. and also the nature of the mind is not self or personality the nature of the mind is empty. if the nature of the mind wasnt empty how could you think a thought? for example how could earth exist if there was not outer space, how could you put things in a bowl if the bowl was not hollow. it is emptiness which gives room for anything to happen, because it is wide open space. metta -Befriend
nothing can destroy a man who has lived a pure life

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daverupa
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Re: Non-self

Postby daverupa » Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:25 am


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Prasadachitta
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Re: Non-self

Postby Prasadachitta » Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:55 pm

Hello Cilla,

Im going to say something which is pretty much in line with what others have said. Not because its any more accurate but because it may shed a bit more light on the topic.

There is a sutta (Historical record of what the Buddha said) were the Buddha talks about identifying what is not self (annata). He directs the attention of his student towards five categories. These five categories divide up all the components of our unfolding experience. Here are the categories:

1)Form
This is the subjective texture of experience. It could be further divided into the types of sensation or elements of experience like hardness, Fluidity, motion, heat, etc etc.

2)Fealing
This is the preferential tones which accompany experience. They fall into three categories: Pleasant, Painful, and Neither Pleasant not Painful.

3)Perception
This is the identifying at every level which picks out particular details of and interprets experience.

4)Metal Fabrications
This is a hard one to get at but in this context I think its best understood as volitional predispositions in action.

5)Consiousness
This is the objectifying aspect of attention which is constantly projecting a subject in relation to an object.

The Buddha points out that if these components don't meet certain criteria they should not be regarded as a self. So he is asking us to systematically look into our experience using the categories above to see if they meet these criteria. That way we will begin to have a more appropriate understanding of how to regard our experience.

These criteria are:

1) It is not conducive to dis-ease.
2) We are able to will it to be as we wish it to be.
3) It is constant or without fluctuation.

So...

We look into these five aspects of experience and we find that they are not constant and that we cannot consistently will them to be as we like. In short they are conducive to dis-ease and it is not appropriate to regard any part or combination of them as a self. When we begin to see this clearly we will become ever more calm, patient, kind, and compassionate. We will become disenchanted with any goals other than those connected with releasing beings from suffering and stress.

This is all from the Anatta-lakkhana Sutta

I hope it helps

Take care

Prasadachitta
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

Cilla
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Re: Non-self

Postby Cilla » Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:17 am


nameless
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Re: Non-self

Postby nameless » Fri Sep 30, 2011 12:54 pm


Kenshou
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Re: Non-self

Postby Kenshou » Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:12 pm


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Prasadachitta
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Re: Non-self

Postby Prasadachitta » Fri Sep 30, 2011 8:11 pm

"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332


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