Self, Non-Self and Not Self

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Self, Non-Self and Not Self

Postby ihrjordan » Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:47 am

Hello everyone! This is my first post and I would like to discuss the concept of "Self, Non-Self and Not Self". The general understanding in Buddhism is that there is no "Self". No object or entity that you can point to and say "That's me". While examining this concept i do understand it to be mostly true but I'm somewhat confused. The Buddha taught that the mind precedes all things, basically we are what we think. So couldn't one make the argument and say that our mind could be considered "self"? Seeing as how in rebirth we take our kamma with us which has been created through the mind? and another thing to consider is this passage here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html :buddha2:
"Ko imaṃ pathaviṃ vicessati, yamalokañca imaṃ sadevakaṃ.
ko dhammapadaṃ sudesitaṃ, kusalo pupphamiva pacessati"
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Re: Self, Non-Self and Not Self

Postby SamKR » Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:00 pm

Mind arises dependently, not independently. Whatever arises dependently must pass away - that is, it is impermanent. Whatever is not-independent and is impermanent, is empty of any essence. How can it be Self?
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Re: Self, Non-Self and Not Self

Postby Jetavan » Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:34 pm

ihrjordan wrote:Hello everyone! This is my first post and I would like to discuss the concept of "Self, Non-Self and Not Self". The general understanding in Buddhism is that there is no "Self". No object or entity that you can point to and say "That's me".


Is there a non-object or non-entity that you can point to and say 'That's me'?
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Re: Self, Non-Self and Not Self

Postby manas » Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:57 pm

ihrjordan wrote: The general understanding in Buddhism is that there is no "Self".


Hi jordan,

That might be the general understanding nowadays, but the Buddha didn't put it quite that way. In fact the notion "I have no self" is considered as wrong view just as "I have a self" is wrong view. Because both arise from asking the wrong kinds of questions, such as 'who am I?", or "what am I?", both of which are questions that ought to be put aside and not bothered with.

And yet, the perception of not-self is a very important one, because of our habitual identification with the five clinging khandhas as 'me' or as 'mine' - which, being impermanent and thus prone to end up causing stress, are not fitting to be regarded as 'me' or as 'mine'.

As I understand it, that's what anatta is: a (useful) perception, not a 'thing' as such. Just as the idea of 'self' is also a perception.

kind regards
:anjali:
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Re: Self, Non-Self and Not Self

Postby ihrjordan » Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:27 pm

SamKR wrote:Mind arises dependently, not independently. Whatever arises dependently must pass away - that is, it is impermanent. Whatever is not-independent and is impermanent, is empty of any essence. How can it be Self?

If the mind rises dependently of other phenomena couldn't you argue then that we actually have no free will? ( :offtopic: I know)
"Ko imaṃ pathaviṃ vicessati, yamalokañca imaṃ sadevakaṃ.
ko dhammapadaṃ sudesitaṃ, kusalo pupphamiva pacessati"
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Re: Self, Non-Self and Not Self

Postby ihrjordan » Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:34 pm

manas wrote:
ihrjordan wrote: The general understanding in Buddhism is that there is no "Self".


Hi jordan,

That might be the general understanding nowadays, but the Buddha didn't put it quite that way. In fact the notion "I have no self" is considered as wrong view just as "I have a self" is wrong view. Because both arise from asking the wrong kinds of questions, such as 'who am I?", or "what am I?", both of which are questions that ought to be put aside and not bothered with.

And yet, the perception of not-self is a very important one, because of our habitual identification with the five clinging khandhas as 'me' or as 'mine' - which, being impermanent and thus prone to end up causing stress, are not fitting to be regarded as 'me' or as 'mine'.

As I understand it, that's what anatta is: a (useful) perception, not a 'thing' as such. Just as the idea of 'self' is also a perception.

kind regards
:anjali:


Wow very good explanation. So it's basically a way of explaining Conceptual reality? Kind of like a tool the buddha used similar to the use of a Sign in math. Because you can't even begin to do the equation without bringing up the multiplication, division, addition signs etc. (self). But in that they don't ACTUALLY exist.
"Ko imaṃ pathaviṃ vicessati, yamalokañca imaṃ sadevakaṃ.
ko dhammapadaṃ sudesitaṃ, kusalo pupphamiva pacessati"
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Re: Self, Non-Self and Not Self

Postby Sam Vara » Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:56 pm

manas wrote:
ihrjordan wrote: The general understanding in Buddhism is that there is no "Self".


Hi jordan,

That might be the general understanding nowadays, but the Buddha didn't put it quite that way. In fact the notion "I have no self" is considered as wrong view just as "I have a self" is wrong view. Because both arise from asking the wrong kinds of questions, such as 'who am I?", or "what am I?", both of which are questions that ought to be put aside and not bothered with.

And yet, the perception of not-self is a very important one, because of our habitual identification with the five clinging khandhas as 'me' or as 'mine' - which, being impermanent and thus prone to end up causing stress, are not fitting to be regarded as 'me' or as 'mine'.

As I understand it, that's what anatta is: a (useful) perception, not a 'thing' as such. Just as the idea of 'self' is also a perception.

kind regards
:anjali:

Very nicely put, manas.
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Re: Self, Non-Self and Not Self

Postby pegembara » Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:19 am

ihrjordan wrote:Hello everyone! This is my first post and I would like to discuss the concept of "Self, Non-Self and Not Self". The general understanding in Buddhism is that there is no "Self". No object or entity that you can point to and say "That's me". While examining this concept i do understand it to be mostly true but I'm somewhat confused. The Buddha taught that the mind precedes all things, basically we are what we think. So couldn't one make the argument and say that our mind could be considered "self"? Seeing as how in rebirth we take our kamma with us which has been created through the mind? and another thing to consider is this passage here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html :buddha2:


But the mind is constantly changing moment to moment. It then follows that this "self" is also constantly changing. Therefore which is the "real self"?
So, we are not what we think.

"And if I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self — were to answer that there is no self, the bewildered Vacchagotta would become even more bewildered: 'Does the self I used to have now not exist?'"


This self never existed in the first place but to Vaccha who held to the idea of an existing self would then think the Buddha taught annihilation.
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: Self, Non-Self and Not Self

Postby SamKR » Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:14 am

ihrjordan wrote:
SamKR wrote:Mind arises dependently, not independently. Whatever arises dependently must pass away - that is, it is impermanent. Whatever is not-independent and is impermanent, is empty of any essence. How can it be Self?

If the mind rises dependently of other phenomena couldn't you argue then that we actually have no free will? ( :offtopic: I know)

Ultimately there is no "free will", in my understanding. The intentions and wills do arise, but they are neither themselves free or independent nor there is a free or independent agent generating such free wills. The idea of "free will" presupposes that there is a free-willer (Self).

But of course, there is free will, and a Self with free will ... as long as there is ignorance. Therefore, free will is to be used in order to end ignorance (and finally to directly see that the sense of "free will" was due to ignorance).

(It is not off topic because "free will" is related to Self).
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Re: Self, Non-Self and Not Self

Postby Ananda26 » Sat Apr 05, 2014 3:28 pm

ihrjordan wrote:Hello everyone! This is my first post and I would like to discuss the concept of "Self, Non-Self and Not Self". The general understanding in Buddhism is that there is no "Self". No object or entity that you can point to and say "That's me". While examining this concept i do understand it to be mostly true but I'm somewhat confused. The Buddha taught that the mind precedes all things, basically we are what we think. So couldn't one make the argument and say that our mind could be considered "self"? Seeing as how in rebirth we take our kamma with us which has been created through the mind? and another thing to consider is this passage here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html :buddha2:


Form is impermanent, feeling is impermanent, perception is impermanent, formations are impermanent, consciousness is impermanent.

What is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change not fit to be reguarded as self. Understanding thus with wisdom one is freed from the obsession with the 5 aggregates affected by clinging.
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