Non-return needed to truly know no-self

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coconut
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Non-return needed to truly know no-self

Post by coconut »

In SN 22.90, ven Channa says he understands that the 5 aggregates are no-self but his mind isn't eager to give up the 5 aggregates, so he visits ven Ananda. Ven Ananda tells him because Ven Channa has cut through "Emotional Barrenness" he is now capable of understanding the dhamma. After Ven Ananda relays the Kaccānagotta Sutta to Ven Channa, Ven Channa says he now understands the dhamma.

The pali word for "Emotional Barrenness" is Khila, and there is a sutta on how to overcome Khila.
A monk or nun who has given up five kinds of emotional barrenness and has cut off five emotional shackles can expect growth, not decline, in skillful qualities, whether by day or by night.

What are the five kinds of emotional barrenness they’ve given up? Firstly, a mendicant has no doubts about the Teacher. They’re not uncertain, undecided, or lacking confidence. This being so, their mind inclines toward keenness, commitment, persistence, and striving. This is the first kind of emotional barrenness they’ve given up.

Furthermore, a mendicant has no doubts about the teaching … the Saṅgha … the training … A mendicant is not angry and upset with their spiritual companions, not resentful or closed off. This being so, their mind inclines toward keenness, commitment, persistence, and striving. This is the fifth kind of emotional barrenness they’ve given up. These are the five kinds of emotional barrenness they’ve given up.

What are the five emotional shackles they’ve cut off? Firstly, a mendicant is rid of greed, desire, fondness, thirst, passion, and craving for sensual pleasures. This being so, their mind inclines toward keenness, commitment, persistence, and striving. This is the first emotional shackle they’ve cut off.

Furthermore, a mendicant is rid of greed for the body … They’re rid of greed for form … They don’t eat as much as they like until their belly is full, then indulge in the pleasures of sleeping, lying, and drowsing … They don’t live the spiritual life wishing to be reborn in one of the orders of gods: ‘By this precept or observance or mortification or spiritual life, may I become one of the gods!’ This being so, their mind inclines toward keenness, commitment, persistence, and striving. This is the fifth emotional shackle they’ve cut off. These are the five emotional shackles they’ve cut off.

A monk or nun who has given up these five kinds of emotional barrenness and has cut off these five emotional shackles can expect growth, not decline, in skillful qualities, whether by day or by night.
https://suttacentral.net/an10.14/en/sujato

A sotapanna only assumes that the 5 aggregates are not self, he doesn't KNOW that the 5 aggregates are not self.
"There is the case, householder, where a well-instructed disciple of the noble ones — who has regard for noble ones, is well-versed & disciplined in their Dhamma; who has regard for men of integrity, is well-versed & disciplined in their Dhamma — does not assume form to be the self, or the self as possessing form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form. He does not assume feeling to be the self... He does not assume perception to be the self... He does not assume fabrications to be the self... He does not assume consciousness to be the self, or the self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in the self, or the self as in consciousness. This is how self-identity view does not come into being."

Therefore Puthujannas cannot understand or know no-self, and probably sotapannas too.

Hence the Buddha says that one whos mind is overcome by craving cannot possibly know no-self.
“So it seems, good sir, that form, feeling, perception, choices, and consciousness are not-self. Then what self will the deeds done by not-self affect?”

Then the Buddha, knowing what that monk was thinking, addressed the mendicants:

“It’s possible that some foolish person here—unknowing and ignorant, their mind dominated by craving—thinks they can overstep the teacher’s instructions. They think: ‘So it seems, good sir, that form, feeling, perception, choices, and consciousness are not-self. Then what self will the deeds done by not-self affect?’ Now, mendicants, you have been educated by me in questioning with regards to all these things in all such cases.
https://suttacentral.net/sn22.82/en/sujato


One needs to overcome the 5 hindrances first in order to understand, know and see no-self. They probably require jhana mastery, and be a non-returner.
And what, Ānanda, is the path, the way to the abandoning of the five lower fetters? Here, with seclusion from the acquisitions, with the abandoning of unwholesome states, with the complete tranquillization of bodily inertia, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion.

“Whatever exists therein of material form, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness, he sees those states as impermanent, as suffering, as a disease, as a tumour, as a barb, as a calamity, as an affliction, as alien, as disintegrating, as void, as not self. He turns his mind away from those states and directs it towards the deathless element thus: ‘This is the peaceful, this is the sublime, that is, the stilling of all formations, the relinquishing of all attachments, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, Nibbāna.’ If he is steady in that, he attains the destruction of the taints. But if he does not attain the destruction of the taints because of that desire for the Dhamma, that delight in the Dhamma, then with the destruction of the five lower fetters he becomes one due to reappear spontaneously in the Pure Abodes and there attain final Nibbāna without ever returning from that world. This is the path, the way to the abandoning of the five lower fetters.
- MN 64

I would be careful about hearing definitions of no-self from puthujannas, and maybe even sotapannas, as they do not truly understand and know it.

Thoughts?
Last edited by coconut on Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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cappuccino
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Re: Non-return needed to truly know no-self

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On Self, No Self, and Not-self

"Then is there no self?"

A second time, the Blessed One was silent.
Art requires philosophy, just as philosophy requires art. Otherwise, what would become of beauty? ―Paul Gauguin
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cappuccino
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Re: Non-return needed to truly know no-self

Post by cappuccino »

Ananda Sutta wrote: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 brahmans & contemplatives who are exponents of annihilationism.



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?'
:shrug:
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Re: Non-return needed to truly know no-self

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coconut wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:16 pm
...
It would be good to start with the best translation of “samanupassati”.
"Because of attachment to doctrines one approaches and refutes,
For those unattached, how can they dispute?
Not because self or no-self are said to be true,
He has only shaken off all harmful views."


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coconut
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Re: Non-return needed to truly know no-self

Post by coconut »

Ceisiwr wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:26 pm
coconut wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:16 pm
...
It would be good to start with the best translation of “samanupassati”.
It's not really necessary if we look at the other suttas.

If we look at cetokhila sutta, it implies that one needs to be a non-returner, if emotional barrenness also includes the "emotional shackles", which I assume it does. This aligns with the Buddha's quote on one's mind dominated by craving oversteps the teachers instruction (because they don't understand it).

In the most lenient scenario, one needs to be a sotapanna to see no-self. In the most strict scenario, one needs to be a non-returner. Either way, a puthujanna cannot comprehend no-self.
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Re: Non-return needed to truly know no-self

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coconut wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:33 pm
It's not really necessary if we look at the other suttas.
I’m of the view that it’s good to have the best translation of the Pali words, at least the key ones, and to compare with other suttas. Also sometimes an English translation can be slightly misleading in my experience.
"Because of attachment to doctrines one approaches and refutes,
For those unattached, how can they dispute?
Not because self or no-self are said to be true,
He has only shaken off all harmful views."


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coconut
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Re: Non-return needed to truly know no-self

Post by coconut »

Ceisiwr wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:39 pm
coconut wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:33 pm
It's not really necessary if we look at the other suttas.
I’m of the view that it’s good to have the best translation of the Pali words, at least the key ones, and to compare with other suttas. Also sometimes an English translation can be slightly misleading in my experience.
Definitions of "samanupassati" doesn't change the implications of those 2 suttas that 1) Khila must be overcome to comprehend the dhamma 2) Overcoming khila seems to equate with non-return at best, and sotapanna at worst.
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Re: Non-return needed to truly know no-self

Post by coconut »

Another sutta that helps us narrow down if non-return vs sotapanna is required to know no-self, is the Dīghāvuupāsaka sutta, https://suttacentral.net/sn55.3/en/sujato

The Buddha first sees if Dighavu is a sotapanna by telling him to contemplate about virtue and the triple gem, and Dighavu confirms he is already a sotapanna, then the Buddha sees if Dighavu is a non-returner by contemplating the 3 characteristics of the 5 aggregates, which Dighavu already confirms he is a non-returner.

Then Dighavu dies, and the Buddha claims he died a non-returner.

So again, seeing no-self seems to be aligned with being a non-returner.

“So, Dīghāvu, you should train like this: ‘I will have experiential confidence in the Buddha … the teaching … the Saṅgha … And I will have the ethical conduct loved by the noble ones … leading to immersion.’ That’s how you should train.”

“Sir, these four factors of stream-entry that were taught by the Buddha are found in me, and I am seen in them. For I have experiential confidence in the Buddha … the teaching … the Saṅgha … And I have the ethical conduct loved by the noble ones … leading to immersion.”

“In that case, Dīghāvu, grounded on these four factors of stream-entry you should further develop these six things that play a part in realization. You should meditate observing the impermanence of all conditions, perceiving suffering in impermanence, perceiving not-self in suffering, perceiving giving up, perceiving fading away, and perceiving cessation. That’s how you should train.”

“These six things that play a part in realization that were taught by the Buddha are found in me, and I embody them. For I meditate observing the impermanence of all conditions, perceiving suffering in impermanence, perceiving not-self in suffering, perceiving giving up, perceiving fading away, and perceiving cessation.
“Mendicants, the lay follower Dīghāvu was astute. He practiced in line with the teachings, and did not trouble me about the teachings. With the ending of the five lower fetters, he’s been reborn spontaneously, and will become extinguished there, not liable to return from that world.”
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Re: Non-return needed to truly know no-self

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coconut wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:44 pm
Ceisiwr wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:39 pm
coconut wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:33 pm
It's not really necessary if we look at the other suttas.
I’m of the view that it’s good to have the best translation of the Pali words, at least the key ones, and to compare with other suttas. Also sometimes an English translation can be slightly misleading in my experience.
Definitions of "samanupassati" doesn't change the implications of those 2 suttas that 1) Khila must be overcome to comprehend the dhamma 2) Overcoming khila seems to equate with non-return at best, and sotapanna at worst.
I mentioned it because you underlined the word and focused in on it, which has been translated as “assumes” by the translator of your quote (Thanissaro I assume?). I would say the meaning changes depending on if “samanupassati” is best translated as “assumes” or “perceives” or “regards”. To “assume” implies no direct knowledge, whilst the other two do not.
Last edited by Ceisiwr on Sat Jan 16, 2021 11:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Because of attachment to doctrines one approaches and refutes,
For those unattached, how can they dispute?
Not because self or no-self are said to be true,
He has only shaken off all harmful views."


Duṭṭhaṭṭhaka Sutta
coconut
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Re: Non-return needed to truly know no-self

Post by coconut »

Ceisiwr wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 11:12 pm
coconut wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:44 pm
Ceisiwr wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:39 pm

I’m of the view that it’s good to have the best translation of the Pali words, at least the key ones, and to compare with other suttas. Also sometimes an English translation can be slightly misleading in my experience.
Definitions of "samanupassati" doesn't change the implications of those 2 suttas that 1) Khila must be overcome to comprehend the dhamma 2) Overcoming khila seems to equate with non-return at best, and sotapanna at worst.
I mentioned it because you underlined the word and focused in on it, which has been translated as “assumes”. I would say the meaning changes depending on if “samanupassati” is best translated as “assumes” or “perceives” or “regards”. To “assume” implies no direct knowledge, whilst the other two do not.
Hence my conclusion: Therefore Puthujannas cannot understand or know no-self, and probably sotapannas too. I said "probably".
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Re: Non-return needed to truly know no-self

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coconut wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 11:15 pm
Hence my conclusion: Therefore Puthujannas cannot understand or know no-self, and probably sotapannas too. I said "probably".
If the sotapanna “assumes” not-self then yes. If he “perceives” or “regards” them as anatta then he might have knowledge that they are thus.
"Because of attachment to doctrines one approaches and refutes,
For those unattached, how can they dispute?
Not because self or no-self are said to be true,
He has only shaken off all harmful views."


Duṭṭhaṭṭhaka Sutta
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Re: Non-return needed to truly know no-self

Post by coffeendonuts »

Where do water, earth, fire, & wind
have no footing?
Where are long & short,
coarse & fine,
fair & foul,
name & form
brought to an end?

"'And the answer to that is:

Consciousness without feature,[1]
without end,
luminous all around:
Here water, earth, fire, & wind
have no footing.
Here long & short
coarse & fine
fair & foul
name & form
are all brought to an end.
With the cessation of [the activity of] consciousness
each is here brought to an end.'"

Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta
:shrug:
coconut
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Re: Non-return needed to truly know no-self

Post by coconut »

Ceisiwr wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 11:16 pm
coconut wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 11:15 pm
Hence my conclusion: Therefore Puthujannas cannot understand or know no-self, and probably sotapannas too. I said "probably".
If the sotapanna “assumes” not-self then yes. If he “perceives” or “regards” them as anatta then he might have knowledge that they are thus.
And anyone who claims to know no-self is also claiming to be a sotapanna at minimum. If one claims they are not a sotapanna and claims to understand no-self, then they're lying.
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Re: Non-return needed to truly know no-self

Post by coffeendonuts »

coconut wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:16 pm Thoughts?
Logically speaking, to be conscious is to be conscious of something. Take away the contents and you no longer have consciousness.

It's a bit different in experience.

It's worth asking how the notion of a self ever came up in human history. If there is nothing transcendent in us, the notion of a self can never occur.
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Re: Non-return needed to truly know no-self

Post by SteRo »

coconut wrote: Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:16 pm I would be careful about hearing definitions of no-self from puthujannas, and maybe even sotapannas, as they do not truly understand and know it.

Thoughts?
I would be careful about making judgements like "they do not truly understand and know it" because such judgements are based on assuming self to truly understand and know what is true understanding and knowledge. Thus such judgements are based on assuming aggregates to be self.
Exhaling अ and inhaling धीः amounts to བྷྲཱུཾ་བི་ཤྭ་བི་ཤུད་དྷེ It's definitely not science but science may provide guidelines nevertheless.
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