Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby Samma » Sun Apr 07, 2013 1:08 am

if we become attached and try to hold on to things that will inevitably change and disappear, then we are bound to suffer. This argument also seems to be aimed directly at the early Upanisadic notion of the self as an unchaning, eternal absolute that is free from all suffering; in the phrase 'this is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self' there appears to be a deliberate echo and rebuttal of the Chandogya Upanisad's 'this is the self, this is what you are'.10 (Gethin, Foundations of Buddhism, p. 137)


Here seem to be two good books on topic of atta/anatta.
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=15393
Where Joaquín Pérez Remón argues that we have made too much of the anatta teaching at expense of atta, and a true self lurks behind: "This transcendent self was the one asserted whenever one was made to say of the empirical factors, 'This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self', a formula that equivalently says, 'I am beyond all this, my self transcends all this'."

Peter Harvey's book argues against the above it seems. Look on amazon book reviews to see a little war where proponents of true-self sort of teaching are giving 1star reviews to Peter Harvey's book, and Steve Collins book selfless persons. Also 1 1star criticism of Joaquín Pérez Remón book. :tongue:
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby SamKR » Sun Apr 07, 2013 3:03 am

Alex123 wrote:
SamKR wrote:
Alex wrote:I wonder If someone would ask the Buddha, "why can't self be anicca, and dukkha? what is wrong with that?"

Even without any reference to Hinduism or Buddha's teachings, we can say that it is not possible for self (if there is any) to be anicca. Anicca means origination and destruction, and if anything originates and instantly vanishes then it is not self.


Why can't a person (most likely a atheist, physicalist) believe in a self that is born, ages, and dies?

They can, and actually I think many people in the world (atheist or not, rationalist or not) do believe so: "self is born, ages and dies." But then that is not the right view.

A view of impermanent self is self-contradictory. I may not be good at explaining in English but let me try anyways:

An atta (self) remains atta as long as it remains nicca (constant). If it changes, it changes to something else, and therefore cannot be considered to be the same previous atta.
(It cannot be said to have changed to itself. If it changed to itself, then it actually didn't change; it is still the same atta.)

Now, as it changes to something else it is now not the previous atta but a new atta.
Consider such changes many times, and such newer and newer atta forming each time. Then the set of all these attas so far is not a single atta.
Now, make the time duration of existence of each new atta infinitesimally small, and think if you can see any real atta that lasts.
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby Nyana » Sun Apr 07, 2013 9:26 am

Alex123 wrote:How many people believe that I cannot be cut, burned, etc? Not every person believes in a soul.

Those who believe some version of this hold an eternalist view.

Alex123 wrote:Why can't a person (most likely a atheist, physicalist) believe in a self that is born, ages, and dies?

Those who believe this hold an annihilationist view.
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:50 am

reflection wrote:Yes, anatta can be used like a strategy, but it's not just a strategy. Just like suffering and impermanence are not mere strategies, but realities of existence, so is anatta the Buddha's answer to the big questions in life. Dukkha, anicca and anatta are the same thing. As far as I've seen the discourses, they are treated identically.


But is this identity of the 3 characteristics made explicit in the suttas? The usual formula in the suttas is that the aggregates are impermanent, therefore unsatisfactory, therefore not fit to be regarded as self.
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:59 am

Alex123 wrote: It is questionable what Atman precisely means.


My assumption is that atta implies a permanent essence or "core" - which we could talk about as a soul, or as a fixed personality.
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby Alex123 » Sun Apr 07, 2013 12:34 pm

SamKR wrote:They can, and actually I think many people in the world (atheist or not, rationalist or not) do believe so: "self is born, ages and dies." But then that is not the right view.


I agree.


SamKR wrote:A view of impermanent self is self-contradictory. I may not be good at explaining in English but let me try anyways:


IF one believes that The Self has to be permanent, then impermanence would contradict it.



SamKR wrote:Now, as it changes to something else it is now not the previous atta but a new atta.
Consider such changes many times, and such newer and newer atta forming each time. Then the set of all these attas so far is not a single atta.
Now, make the time duration of existence of each new atta infinitesimally small, and think if you can see any real atta that lasts.



A football team can through time have different players coming and going, but it IS the same football team. Same with what some can believe in self.
5 Aggregates change, but self remains the same during some time.
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby kirk5a » Sun Apr 07, 2013 3:05 pm

There are a variety of possibilities for clinging to self.
"Potthapada, there are these three acquisitions of a self: the gross acquisition of a self, the mind-made acquisition of a self, and the formless acquisition of a self. [9] And what is the gross acquisition of a self? Possessed of form, made up of the four great existents, feeding on physical food: this is the gross acquisition of a self. And what is the mind-made acquisition of a self? Possessed of form, mind-made, complete in all its parts, not inferior in its faculties: this is the mind-made acquisition of a self. And what is the formless acquisition of a self? Formless and made of perception: this is the formless acquisition of a self.
...
I teach the Dhamma for the abandoning of the [gross, mind-made & formless] acquisition of a self, such that, when you practice it, defiling mental qualities will be abandoned, bright mental qualities will grow, and you will enter & remain in the culmination & abundance of discernment, having known & realized it for yourself in the here & now.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
So that's what the teachings are all about. Abandoning whatever type of "acquisition of a self" that one happens to be clinging to.
If the thought should occur to you that, when defiling mental qualities are abandoned and bright mental qualities have grown, and one enters & remains in the culmination & abundance of discernment, having known & realized it for oneself in the here & now, one's abiding is stressful/painful, you should not see it in that way. When defiling mental qualities are abandoned and bright mental qualities have grown, and one enters & remains in the culmination & abundance of discernment, having known & realized it for oneself in the here & now, there is joy, rapture, serenity, mindfulness, alertness, and a pleasant/happy abiding.

So those are the marks of being on target with one's understanding re: anatta.
"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: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby reflection » Sun Apr 07, 2013 3:47 pm

porpoise wrote:
reflection wrote:Yes, anatta can be used like a strategy, but it's not just a strategy. Just like suffering and impermanence are not mere strategies, but realities of existence, so is anatta the Buddha's answer to the big questions in life. Dukkha, anicca and anatta are the same thing. As far as I've seen the discourses, they are treated identically.


But is this identity of the 3 characteristics made explicit in the suttas? The usual formula in the suttas is that the aggregates are impermanent, therefore unsatisfactory, therefore not fit to be regarded as self.

That's not the only way anatta is used. It is also used as a noun, as in "body, feeling, etc. is anatta".
"And since form is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.'"
- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html
That's not a strategy, but a statement of how one can't control the aggregates.

Or like this, where it is not with "to be regarded as":
"Monks, matter is impermanent. That which is impermanent is unpleasant. That which is unpleasant is not self.
- http://www.metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pit ... ggo-e.html


Also, there is the quote:
"Thus, monks, any form whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every form is to be seen as it actually is with right discernment as: 'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.'"

If it was just a strategy, it wouldn't really make sense that it has to be seen with discernment, with right view. The suttas also say one should see the four noble truths with right discernment, and many other things, like impermanence. Are they all strategies? No. Neither is anatta. Mostly, anatta is a statement about how existence is. It is the explanation how "being" and "non-being" are both incorrect views.
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby SamKR » Sun Apr 07, 2013 7:20 pm

Alex123 wrote:IF one believes that The Self has to be permanent, then impermanence would contradict it.

It is not a matter of belief. True self (Atman), if there is any, by definition must be permanent.
If you consider a self that changes and still see it as the same self, then that is not a true self. That is a concept of self.
True self, if there is any, is not a concept.

But the fact is that we cannot see any true self in the Dhammas.
We perceive a concept of self when there is ignorance, and we are deluded to think that this self is born, ages and dies.
We do not perceive any concept of self when there is no ignorance.


Alex123 wrote:A football team can through time have different players coming and going, but it IS the same football team. Same with what some can believe in self.
5 Aggregates change, but self remains the same during some time.


Again, the football team is a concept. The aggregates of phenomena, which this concept of football team is referring to, is changing when players are coming and going. But out of ignorance the concept of football team leads to the illusion that it is the same football team.
Similarly, 5 aggregates change, and the concept of self remains the same for some time out of ignorance: the inability to distinguish between the changing ultimate Dhammas vs. the concepts. But if there were any true self in 5 aggregates it could not have changed.
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby Nyorai » Mon Apr 08, 2013 5:23 am

Anatta = not Atman or No-Self


Anatta is just like that, a tranquil state. The essence of tranquil state in arahat and Buddha is difference. Atman in hindu is a suppressing state of mind to an extremely degree of no eruption of emotions, and in this state of peace, it was presumed as Almighty state which was personally experienced by Buddha who practiced together with those Hindu most ascetic achievers then. It is not soul as there is no hell and heaven either :pig:
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby SarathW » Mon Apr 08, 2013 5:35 am

Some interesting reading in world oldest printed book "Diamond- Sutra", in relation to Anatta.

http://www.diamond-sutra.com/diamond_su ... ation.html
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Apr 08, 2013 12:37 pm

Alex123 wrote:A football team can through time have different players coming and going, but it IS the same football team.


I'm not sure that analogy works, because it's only the name of the team that stays the same ( as with a person ) - but the team is continually changing as players come and go - and the team is continually changing even with the same set of players.
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby Alex123 » Mon Apr 08, 2013 4:58 pm

porpoise wrote:
Alex123 wrote:A football team can through time have different players coming and going, but it IS the same football team.


I'm not sure that analogy works, because it's only the name of the team that stays the same ( as with a person ) - but the team is continually changing as players come and go - and the team is continually changing even with the same set of players.


1) The origin of that team stays the same.
2) The team remains football team, it doesn't change to a soccer team for example.
3) It fulfills the same function, playing football.

So in that sense it is the same. Of course team players change. Team is higher hierarchy, its players are lower in hierarchy.

Similar we can say with the forest. Its trees can change but it is the same forest. IMHO.
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:34 am

reflection wrote:That's not the only way anatta is used. It is also used as a noun, as in "body, feeling, etc. is anatta".
"And since form is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.'"
- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html
That's not a strategy, but a statement of how one can't control the aggregates.


Yes, although this also seems to be an implicit rather than an explicit statement about the non-existence of self. Is there a sutta where the Buddha makes a clear statement that the self doesn't exist?
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby reflection » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:34 am

I interpret "sabbe dhamma anatta" as such. Just like there probably is no sutta that says "permanence doesn't exist (in conditioned things)", saying ", "everything conditioned is impermanent" is saying just the same. By making a statement on one thing, you make a statement on the other. Saying it's all impermanent, is saying it's all not permanent. Saying it's all anatta, is saying it's all not atta.

Now what are the conditioned things? The Buddha would explain them in terms of the five khandas or the six senses. These he called anatta. The point is, there is nothing outside of these that you can experience. So that's another statement indirectly saying there to be no self. Like I were to say, there are no dragons in or on land, nowhere in or on water, air or space. I mention these locations, just to make clear to you I didn't forget to look anywhere. In the end, it comes down to dragons don't exist, because where else to look for them? Well, in the mind perhaps, as an idea. We can perceive a self in things that are not self, that is surely possible.
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby kirk5a » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:57 pm

reflection wrote:Now what are the conditioned things? The Buddha would explain them in terms of the five khandas or the six senses. These he called anatta. The point is, there is nothing outside of these that you can experience.

That is all conditioned, but there is the unconditioned.
"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: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby reflection » Tue Apr 09, 2013 4:42 pm

That's right. But the unconditioned is the cessation of the conditioned, not the arising of something. But if we speak about anatta, it doesn't matter, because the unconditioned is also anatta. "Sabbe sankhara anicca", means all the conditioned is impermanent, but "sabbe dhamma anatta", means everything is anatta, both conditioned and unconditioned.

It's stated like that, because anicca and dukkha speak about the presence of something, while anatta speaks about the absence of something. Suffering and impermanence are existing things here, but anatta means there is not a self here, so in that sense it is not an existing reality. I hope you understand it like this, because I have difficulty rephrasing. Since the unconditioned is the cessation of things, we can only speak of the absence of things. So, suffering and impermanence cease, but not anatta, because anatta was not an existing thing in the first place. So it's not like anatta is replaced by atta. That's impossible.

If you see it like this, you see why anatta, dukkha and anicca are three terms pointing to the same thing. Three dhamma doors, if you wish. Because of anatta, there is impermanence. Because of impermanence, there is suffering.
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby Alex123 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:39 pm

reflection wrote:I interpret "sabbe dhamma anatta"


I don't believe in Atman. However, in the above quote its meaning is very dependent on what "sabbe dhamma" includes. If it means 12 ayatanas, than the scope of the phrase is limited and not absolute. I know some people have argued that Atman is indescribable and exists outside of "sabbe dhamma". I don't believe that, but I am just pointing out other interpretations.
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby reflection » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:26 pm

Hi Alex. Why would it not be absolute if it was about the six senses? The Buddha called it 'the world' with a reason. Is there a seventh sense? I can't find it. To me the six senses are all-pervasive, they are everything.
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Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Postby Alex123 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:11 pm

reflection wrote:Hi Alex. Why would it not be absolute if it was about the six senses? The Buddha called it 'the world' with a reason. Is there a seventh sense? I can't find it. To me the six senses are all-pervasive, they are everything.


There is this wrong idea that Atman is beyond 6 senses (12 āyatana) and is indescribable so the Buddha employed a negative teaching which he used to describe what Atman is not rather than what it is. Of course I don't buy this.
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