Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby cooran » Thu Dec 03, 2009 7:29 am

Hello DorjePhurba, all,

Please read this chapter by Ven. Walpola Rahula called THE DOCTRINE OF NO-SOUL: ANATTA in his esteemed book What the Buddha Taught:
http://www.quangduc.com/English/basic/6 ... ht-06.html

metta
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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby Paññāsikhara » Thu Dec 03, 2009 8:52 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:Their basic argument is that "anatta" denies atta in the five aggregates, but not elsewhere.

I suggest that they investigate the various statements in the suttas that indicate that it is a denial of not only "the aggregates = atta", but also that "aggregates are in atta", "atta is in aggregates", or that "outside of the aggregates there is a soul". These four forms, for each of the five aggregates, is known as the "twenty peaked mountain of identify-view". The Buddha rejected them all.

And yes, it does sound like some certain 'net trolls out there, one or two specific ones, in fact.

It would be really very nice of you if you would in the very least provide a few textual citations.


<<reaches over to dissertation, search "twenty" ... flip ... flip ... copy, paste >>

viṃśatiśikhara-samudgataḥ satkāyadṛṣṭi-śailaḥ

<<copy past>>

For example, at 22:117 iii 164: “… sappurisadhamme avinīto rūpaṃ attato samanupassati, rūpavantaṃ vā attānaṃ; attani vā rūpaṃ, rūpasmiṃ vā attānaṃ …”; SN 35:90; MN 44; see Lamotte (2001: 1640) for a more extensive list.

<<reaches over to find Snr Lamotte's magnum opus...copy past>>

The emptiness of beings (sattvaśūnyatā) serves as antidote to the fatal satkāyadṛṣṭi or belief in an individual. This is a wrong view (dṛṣṭi) mistakenly attributing a self to the five aggregates of attachment (upādānaskandha). Indeed, Śāriputra said that the five upādānaskandha are called satkāya by the Buddha (S. IV, p. 259): Pañcime upādānakkhandā sakkāyo vutto Bhagavatā), and the Teacher himself stated that the five skandhas, rūpa, etc., must be present in order that satkāyadṛṣṭi be produced (S. III, p. 185).

Led astray by this wrong view, the ignorant worldly person considers the rūpa as the ātman (rūpaṃ attato samanupassati), or the ātman as possessing the rūpa (rūpavantaṃ vā attānaṃ), or the rūpa as present in the ātman (attani vā rūpaṃ), or the ātman as present in the rūpa (rūpasmiṃ vā attānaṃ). And it is the same for the other skandhas: vedanā, saṃjñā, saṃskāra and vijñāna (M. I, p. 300; III, p. 17; S. III, p. 3-4, 15-17, 42-43, 46, 56, 102, 113-14, 138, 150, 164-165; S. IV, p. 287, 395; A. II, p. 214-215; Mahāvyut., no 4685-4704). The worldly person thus nourishing four prejudices (abhiniveśa) in regard to each of the four skandhas, we speak of the vimśatiśikharasamudgataḥ satkāyadṛṣṭiśailaḥ: the twenty-peaked mountain of the satkāyadṛṣṭi (Gilgit Manuscripts.III, 1, p. 21, 7-8; Divyāvadāna, p. 46, 25; 52, 24-25; 549, 16; 554, 20; Avadānaśataka, I, p. 385, 12).

<< aah! good old Snr Lamotte, where would I be without him... relying on my own brain?! heaven forbid!! >>

I'll leave out the other ones from non-Theravadin sources, just to be a good boy. :P
Last edited by Paññāsikhara on Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:31 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:12 am

Greetings Chris,

Chris wrote:Please read this chapter by Ven. Walpola Rahula called THE DOCTRINE OF NO-SOUL: ANATTA in his esteemed book What the Buddha Taught:
http://www.quangduc.com/English/basic/6 ... ht-06.html


With due respect to Walpola Rahula, I think by establishing it as a debate between Soul and No-Soul (or Existence and Non-Existence if you will) he has missed the middle way pronounced by the Buddha.

SN 12.15: Kaccayanagotta Sutta

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one.


The Buddha had ample opportunity to say "there is no soul" if that's what he intended to teach, but he didn't... he repeatedly said that (insert long lists of dhammas mentioned earlier in the topic) are anatta, not self.

That teaching is accurate, sufficient, and entails no speculative views.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby Paññāsikhara » Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:14 am

With due respect to Retro, I think one has to appreciate the distorted views that Rahula was refuting.
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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:18 am

Greetings bhante,

At least he later went on the explain it as per the Buddha in the...

SN 44.10: Ananda Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Then the wanderer Vacchagotta went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he asked the Blessed One: "Now then, Venerable Gotama, is there a self?"

When this was said, the Blessed One was silent.

"Then is there no self?"

A second time, the Blessed One was silent.

Then Vacchagotta the wanderer got up from his seat and left.

Then, not long after Vacchagotta the wanderer had left, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, "Why, lord, did the Blessed One not answer when asked a question by Vacchagotta the wanderer?"

"Ananda, if I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self — were to answer that there is a self, that would be conforming with those priests & contemplatives who are exponents of eternalism [the view that there is an eternal, unchanging soul]. If I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self — were to answer that there is no self, that would be conforming with those priests & contemplatives who are exponents of annihilationism [the view that death is the annihilation of consciousness]. If I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self — were to answer that there is a self, would that be in keeping with the arising of knowledge that all phenomena are not-self?"

"No, lord."

"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?'"


He later goes on to correctly say...

According to the Buddha’s teaching, it is as wrong to hold the opinion ‘I have no self’ (which is the annihilationist theory) as to hold the opinion ‘I have self’ (which is the eternalist theory), because both are fetters, both arising out of the false idea ‘I AM’. The correct position with regard to the question of Anatta is not to take hold of any opinions or views, but to see things objectively as they are without mental projections, to see that what we call ‘I’, or ‘being’, is only a combination of physical and mental aggregates, which are working together interdependently in a flux of momentary change within the law of cause and effect, and that there is nothing permanent, everlasting, unchanging and eternal in the whole of existence.


The Buddha did not teach "no self", because if he had, people would have interpreted it as ‘I have no self’ and transformed the Buddha's Dhamma into a speculative soul theory, rooted in the conceit of asmi (I am). Better to remain silent than establish others in wrong view.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:43 am

It seems to me, and I am no Buddhist scholar just a would-be Buddhist student, that that the No Soul v No Self discussion goes right to the very heart of the difference between the Theravada and the Mahayana.
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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby enkidu » Thu Dec 03, 2009 2:38 pm

retrofuturist wrote:That said, it's not worth arguing with these Vacchagottas. I'd rather take the Buddha's lead.

SN 44.10: Ananda Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Thank you for this.

Sanghamitta wrote:It seems to me, and I am no Buddhist scholar just a would-be Buddhist student, that that the No Soul v No Self discussion goes right to the very heart of the difference between the Theravada and the Mahayana.


Could you elaborate?
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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Dec 03, 2009 4:09 pm

Probably best left there enkidu. I am sure we can all reach our own views on the issue.
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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby cooran » Thu Dec 03, 2009 7:15 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Chris,

Chris wrote:Please read this chapter by Ven. Walpola Rahula called THE DOCTRINE OF NO-SOUL: ANATTA in his esteemed book What the Buddha Taught:
http://www.quangduc.com/English/basic/6 ... ht-06.html


With due respect to Walpola Rahula, I think by establishing it as a debate between Soul and No-Soul (or Existence and Non-Existence if you will) he has missed the middle way pronounced by the Buddha.

SN 12.15: Kaccayanagotta Sutta

"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one.


The Buddha had ample opportunity to say "there is no soul" if that's what he intended to teach, but he didn't... he repeatedly said that (insert long lists of dhammas mentioned earlier in the topic) are anatta, not self.

That teaching is accurate, sufficient, and entails no speculative views.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Hello Retro,

Did you actually carefully read the chapter? Can you point to anything in the actual chapter where you find a clear error in the Mahathera's understanding (with quotes please)? I am sure it would be of great interest to Theravadins everywhere.

metta
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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:02 pm

Greetings Chris,

Chris wrote:Did you actually carefully read the chapter?


Yes, though not in full at the time I posted my reply which you quoted... though I had previously read the chapter a few years ago when I first came across this fine text.

Chris wrote:Can you point to anything in the actual chapter where you find a clear error in the Mahathera's understanding (with quotes please)? I am sure it would be of great interest to Theravadins everywhere.


I'll take your question at face value to save from making allegations of wrong speech.

Walpola Rahula wrote:THE DOCTRINE OF NO-SOUL: ANATTA (plus all subsequent references to "No Soul" or "No Self")


I believe anatta does not mean 'no soul'... it means 'not soul'... there's a big difference there, as I have explained in previous posts. The Ananda Sutta quoted above shows they are not synonymous expressions. If despite that, you believe they are synonymous and interchangeable, then there is no purpose here in me explaining my position any further.

Walpola Rahula wrote:Buddhism stands unique in the history of human thought in denying the existence of such a Soul, Self, or Ātman.


Well, this clearly isn't true. The Buddha didn't explicitly deny the existence of the soul for the reasons given above about how that would be widely misinterpreted by worldlings experiencing the conceit (mana) of "I am" (asmi). On the other hand, many others have explicitly denied the existence of a soul. David Hume comes to mind as one obvious example. In fact, I even explicitly denied the existence of the soul when I was a child. Thus, hardly "unique in the history of human thought".

That is all.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:01 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
I believe anatta does not mean 'no soul'... it means 'not soul'... The

"No self" (soul) is an appropriate translation of anatta.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby pink_trike » Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:05 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:
I believe anatta does not mean 'no soul'... it means 'not soul'... The

"No self" (soul) is an appropriate translation of anatta.

It would be really very nice of you if you would in the very least provide a few textual citations.
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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby poto » Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:32 pm

Spend more time meditating. That way you will have direct experience of Anatta and will not have to speculate as to it's meaning.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C. S. Lewis
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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:51 pm

Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:
I believe anatta does not mean 'no soul'... it means 'not soul'... The

"No self" (soul) is an appropriate translation of anatta.


Anatta is an observable reality.

No soul is a speculative theory, unproveable, and "takes as its object a polarity, that of existence & non-existence" (SN 12.15). The Buddha said that "talk of whether things exist or not" (AN 10.69) is not a proper topic of Dhamma conversation. The Buddha did not endorse tiracchāna-kathā (animal-talk) let alone make it one of his most repeated teachings.

The Buddha is cool. 8-)

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Dec 04, 2009 2:30 am

Greetings,

Some words of wisdom from Thanissaro Bhikkhu... with some bolding emphasis by me.

No Self or Not Self?
http://www.canonpali.org/lib/modern/tha ... self2.html

One of the first stumbling blocks that Westerners often encounter when they learn about Buddhism is the teaching on anatta, often translated as no-self. This teaching is a stumbling block for two reasons. First, the idea of there being no self doesn't fit well with other Buddhist teachings, such as the doctrine of kamma and rebirth: If there's no self, what experiences the results of kamma and takes rebirth? Second, it doesn't fit well with our own Judeo-Christian background, which assumes the existence of an eternal soul or self as a basic presupposition: If there's no self, what's the purpose of a spiritual life? Many books try to answer these questions, but if you look at the Pali canon — the earliest extant record of the Buddha's teachings — you won't find them addressed at all. In fact, the one place where the Buddha was asked point-blank whether or not there was a self, he refused to answer. When later asked why, he said that to hold either that there is a self or that there is no self is to fall into extreme forms of wrong view that make the path of Buddhist practice impossible. Thus the question should be put aside. To understand what his silence on this question says about the meaning of anatta, we first have to look at his teachings on how questions should be asked and answered, and how to interpret his answers.

The Buddha divided all questions into four classes: those that deserve a categorical (straight yes or no) answer; those that deserve an analytical answer, defining and qualifying the terms of the question; those that deserve a counter-question, putting the ball back in the questioner's court; and those that deserve to be put aside. The last class of question consists of those that don't lead to the end of suffering and stress. The first duty of a teacher, when asked a question, is to figure out which class the question belongs to, and then to respond in the appropriate way. You don't, for example, say yes or no to a question that should be put aside. If you are the person asking the question and you get an answer, you should then determine how far the answer should be interpreted. The Buddha said that there are two types of people who misrepresent him: those who draw inferences from statements that shouldn't have inferences drawn from them, and those who don't draw inferences from those that should.

These are the basic ground rules for interpreting the Buddha's teachings, but if we look at the way most writers treat the anatta doctrine, we find these ground rules ignored. Some writers try to qualify the no-self interpretation by saying that the Buddha denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self, but this is to give an analytical answer to a question that the Buddha showed should be put aside. Others try to draw inferences from the few statements in the discourse that seem to imply that there is no self, but it seems safe to assume that if one forces those statements to give an answer to a question that should be put aside, one is drawing inferences where they shouldn't be drawn.

So, instead of answering "no" to the question of whether or not there is a self — interconnected or separate, eternal or not — the Buddha felt that the question was misguided to begin with.
Why? No matter how you define the line between "self" and "other," the notion of self involves an element of self-identification and clinging, and thus suffering and stress. This holds as much for an interconnected self, which recognizes no "other," as it does for a separate self. If one identifies with all of nature, one is pained by every felled tree. It also holds for an entirely "other" universe, in which the sense of alienation and futility would become so debilitating as to make the quest for happiness — one's own or that of others — impossible. For these reasons, the Buddha advised paying no attention to such questions as "Do I exist?" or "Don't I exist?" for however you answer them, they lead to suffering and stress.

To avoid the suffering implicit in questions of "self" and "other," he offered an alternative way of dividing up experience: the four Noble Truths of stress, its cause, its cessation, and the path to its cessation. Rather than viewing these truths as pertaining to self or other, he said, one should recognize them simply for what they are, in and of themselves, as they are directly experienced, and then perform the duty appropriate to each. Stress should be comprehended, its cause abandoned, its cessation realized, and the path to its cessation developed. These duties form the context in which the anatta doctrine is best understood. If you develop the path of virtue, concentration, and discernment to a state of calm well-being and use that calm state to look at experience in terms of the Noble Truths, the questions that occur to the mind are not "Is there a self? What is my self?" but rather "Am I suffering stress because I'm holding onto this particular phenomenon? Is it really me, myself, or mine? If it's stressful but not really me or mine, why hold on?" These last questions merit straightforward answers, as they then help you to comprehend stress and to chip away at the attachment and clinging — the residual sense of self-identification — that cause it, until ultimately all traces of self-identification are gone and all that's left is limitless freedom.

In this sense, the anatta teaching is not a doctrine of no-self, but a not-self strategy for shedding suffering by letting go of its cause, leading to the highest, undying happiness. At that point, questions of self, no-self, and not-self fall aside. Once there's the experience of such total freedom, where would there be any concern about what's experiencing it, or whether or not it's a self?


Further related reading, from Thanissaro Bhikkhu, complete with analysis of relevant sutta material...

The Not-self Strategy
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tself.html

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 04, 2009 5:48 am

I don’t find Ven Thanissaro’s argument all that convincing. It is not totally wrong, but it is hardly totally correct. Anatta can certainly be translated as “no self.” There is nothing in the structure and grammar of the word that says otherwise. One might appeal to context, but that is not always clear cut either.

“sabbe dhamma anatta” This is to say within the full range of whatever can be experienced by a worldling or by a Buddha there is no self to be found. Anatta can tell us that this or that is not a self, but it also tells us that there is no self in terms of an unchanging, self identical agent to be found anywhere in any way.

Monks, whatever contemplatives or priests who assume in various ways when assuming a self, all assume the five clinging-aggregates, or a certain one of them. - SN III 46.

This is simply saying that there is no self that is not a conditioned process.

Not self or no self, it depends upon context.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby jcsuperstar » Fri Dec 04, 2009 6:04 am

if there is no self to be found which seems to be pretty much accepted then "how then is there a soul" is a good question to ask here. i mean without a self to hold, have, be whatever it is one does with a soul, what point is there in even believing in a soul?
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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Dec 04, 2009 6:07 am

DorjePhurba wrote:Hello All,

Today I was browsing through Amazon.com and I was reading reviews for one of Bhikku Bodi's books and I encountered a very harsh review of his book that argued that the traditional view of Anatta is incorrect. I will post the review here and I'd like to know if what this person says is at all reasonable and makes sense.

The review: . . . This doctrine is also called by the Greeks Apophasis.

So, there it is. What do you all think?
Holding one's nose, it is eminently flushable. It rests upon a twisting of the language by individuals to get the texts to say what it they want the texts to say.

Simply:

Monks, whatever contemplatives or priests who assume in various ways when assuming a self [soul], all assume the five clinging-aggregates, or a certain one of them. - SN III 46.

If there were a permanent, unchanging self/soul that is an agent and that we ultimately are, how would it relate to that which changes without changing? If it acts, it changes. If it feels it changes. If it goes from ignorance to knowledge it changes. It goes from delusion to awakening it changes. In other words, this supposed truly true unchanging self/soul that we supposedly truly are begins looking like the khandhas - it changes.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby BlackBird » Fri Dec 04, 2009 7:21 am

Is annihilationism wrong view in so far as it too has to presume a self to be annihilated?
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

Nanavira Thera's teachings - An existential approach to the Dhamma | Ven. Bodhesako's essay on anicca
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Re: Challenging the traditional view of Anatta

Postby cooran » Fri Dec 04, 2009 7:29 am

Tilt said: Simply: Monks, whatever contemplatives or priests who assume in various ways when assuming a self [soul], all assume the five clinging-aggregates, or a certain one of them. - SN III 46.

If there were a permanent, unchanging self/soul that is an agent and that we ultimately are, how would it relate to that which changes without changing? If it acts, it changes. If it feels it changes. If it goes from ignorance to knowledge it changes. It goes from delusion to awakening it changes. In other words, this supposed truly true unchanging self/soul that we supposedly truly are begins looking like the khandhas - it changes.


Thank you Tilt. Well said! :bow:

Ven. Dr. W. Rahula said: People become nervous at the idea that through the Buddha’s teaching of Anatta, the self they imagine they have is going to be destroyed. The Buddha was not unaware of this.

A bhikkhu once asked him: ‘Sir, is there a case where one is tormented when something permanent within oneself is not found?’

‘Yes, bhikkhu, there is,’ answered the Buddha. ‘A man has the following view: “The universe is that Ātman, I shall be that after death, permanent, abiding, ever-lasting, unchanging, and I shall exists as such for eternity”. He hears the Tathāgata or a disciple of his, preaching the doctrine aiming at the complete destruction of all speculative views… aiming at the extinction of “thirst”, aiming at detachment, cessation, Nirvāna. Then than man thinks: “I will be annihilated, I will be destroyed, I will be no more.” So he mourns, worries himself, laments, weeps, beating his breast, and becomes bewildered. Thus, O bhikkhu, there is a case where one is tormented when something permanent within oneself is not found.’[11]

Elsewhere the Buddha says: ‘O bhikkhus, this idea that I may not be, I may not have, is frightening to the uninstructed world-ling.’[12]

Those who want to find a ‘Self’ in Buddhism argue as follows: It is true that the Buddha analyses being into matter, sensation, perception, mental formations, and consciousness, and says that none of these things it self. But he does not say that there is no self at all in man or anywhere else, apart from these aggregates.

This position is untenable for two reasons:

One is that, according to the Buddha’s teaching, a being is composed only of these Five Aggregates, and nothing more. Nowhere has he said that there was anything more than these Five Aggregates in a being.

The second reasons is that the Buddha denied categorically, in unequivocal terms, in more than one place, the existence of Ātman, Soul, Self, or Ego within man or without, or anywhere else in the universe. Let us take some examples.

In the Dhammapada there are three verses extremely important and essential in the Buddha’s teaching. They are nos. 5, 6 and 7 of chapter XX (or verses 277, 278, 279).

The first two verses say:

‘All conditioned things are impermanent’ (Sabbe SAMKHĀRĀ aniccā), and ‘All conditioned things are dukkha’ (Sabbe SAMKHĀRĀ dukkhā).

The third verse says:

‘All dhammas are without self’ (Sabbe SAMKHĀRĀ anattā).[13]

Here it should be carefully observed that in the first two verses the word samkhārā ‘conditioned things’ is used. But in its place in the third verse the word dhammā is used. Why didn’t the third verse use the word samkhārā ‘conditioned things’ as the previous two verses, and why did it use the term dhammā instead? Here lies the crux of the whole matter.

The term samkhāra[14] denotes the Five Aggregates, all conditioned, interdependent, relative things and states, both physical and mental. If the third verse said: ‘All samkhārā (conditioned things) are without self’, then one might think that, although conditioned things are without self, yet there may be a Self outside conditioned things, outside the Five Aggregates. It is in order to avoid misunderstanding that the term dhammā is used in the third verse.

The term dhamma is much wider than samkhārā. There is no term in Buddhist terminology wider than dhamma. It includes not only the conditioned things and states, but also the non-conditioned, the Absolute, Nirvāna. There is nothing in the universe or outside, good or bad, conditioned or non-conditioned, relative or absolute, which is not included in this term. Therefore, it is quite clear that, according to this statement: ‘All dhammas are without Self’, there is no Self, no Ātman, not only in the Five Aggregates, but nowhere else too outside them or apart from them.[15]

This means, according to the Theravāda teaching, that there is no self either in the individual (puggala) or in dhammas. The Mahāyāna Buddhist philosophy maintains exactly the same position, without the slightest difference, on this point, putting emphasis on dharma-nairātmya.



with metta
Chris
Last edited by cooran on Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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