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Anattā - Dhamma Wheel

Anattā

A forum for members who wish to develop a deeper understanding of the Pali Canon and associated Commentaries, which for discussion purposes are both treated as authoritative.

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cooran
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Anattā

Postby cooran » Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:13 am

Hello all,

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.

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: Anattā

Postby Jechbi » Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:50 am


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Re: Anattā

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:00 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Anattā

Postby Jechbi » Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:15 am


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Re: Anattā

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:29 am

Greetings Jechbi,

All Theravadins accept that the five aggregates, six senses (whichever framework you wish to use etc.) are not-self...

Some may infer that because there is no self to be found within, or without those frameworks that there is 'no self'. I don't think people should infer this because it is an unprovable speculative view. Contrast with the Puggalavadins who accepted anatta, but believed there was still some kind of self, though they couldn't tell you anything about it. Their view was an unprovable speculative view as well.

I look forward to someone being able to give clear guidance on what the Classical Theravadin perspective is with regards to "no self".

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

Element

Re: Anattā

Postby Element » Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:38 am

Last edited by Element on Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:41 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Anattā

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:39 am

Well said Mahadhatu.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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cooran
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Re: Anattā

Postby cooran » Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:40 am

---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: Anattā

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:42 am


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Re: Anattā

Postby Dhammanando » Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:50 am


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Re: Anattā

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:50 am

Greetings Tilt,

I guess the Puggalavadins came after the Buddha then... :D

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Anattā

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:58 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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cooran
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Re: Anattā

Postby cooran » Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:19 am

---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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piotr
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Re: Anattā

Postby piotr » Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:37 am

Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

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Re: Anattā

Postby Dhammanando » Sat Jan 31, 2009 12:26 pm


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kc2dpt
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Re: Anattā

Postby kc2dpt » Sat Jan 31, 2009 4:04 pm

- Peter


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Re: Anattā

Postby Prasadachitta » Sat Jan 31, 2009 4:34 pm

Well said Peter...

If we are of the mind that there is no self let this be the support for further honest investigation.

If we are of the mind that there is a self let this be support for further honest investigation.

If we are confused let this be the support for further honest investigation.

Win Win Win and Transcend!

:thumbsup:

Metta

Gabriel
"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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Re: Anattā

Postby Will » Sat Jan 31, 2009 4:57 pm

A bodhisattva does not become weary of evil beings nor does he commit the error of bringing forth thoughts inclined to reject them and cast them aside. Avatamsaka Sutra, ch. 25

Element

Re: Anattā

Postby Element » Sat Jan 31, 2009 11:56 pm


elaine
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Re: Anattā

Postby elaine » Sun Feb 01, 2009 12:49 am

Hello all,

Imho, it is difficult to understand what anatta is when 'atta' has not been explained thoroughly. What was the understanding or explanation of 'atta' during the Buddha's time? Is there any sutta that mentions anything about 'atta'?

My understanding of 'atta' is, it is a solid permanent soul that travels from one life to another :alien:. Anatta mean that there is No permanent 'soul' that does this. I think, anatta does not mean that we are all pre-programmed action-and-reaction robot thingies that are 'beyond control' or totally out of control (but yea, some people are almost always out-of-control, e.g. me, sometimes). But I honestly believe that we can control ourselves, we just need a LOT of will-power! (But some people believe in no freewill/no control, they believe in some mysterious conditions that comes and goes naturally, but maybe that's the truth of the universe?).

But, I think the Buddha said something like this, "feelings (and consciousness, etc) are not-self, abandon it" (sorry I don't have the exact quote). My understanding is, it means that we have the ability to "abandon it" although it does not belong to "our self". There is a paradox there if you really think about it, if something does "Not belong" to us, how can we do anything or Not do anything to it? How do we "abandon" something that does NOT belong to us? If it does not belong to us, then it should come and go as it pleases, right? ((You mean, life is actually like that? I'm still suffering because I have not realized that yet??? :'( But... if we have absolute No control over ourselves, then the Buddha would be saying something like this, "feeling is not self, it will come and go when the conditions are right, so YOU don't have to do anything or Not do anything about it, just let things be". But of course, the Buddha didn't say that, he said "abandon it", which to me, means that we have the ability to choose to abandon it (or we can choose to carry it like a burden). Yes? I think the Buddha is trying to say something like this, "anger is not permanent (i.e. it is notself), so let it go. Why hang on to something that will pass on eventually"? Is my understanding correct?

Thank you.


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