Anatta thread

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Anatta thread

Post by tiltbillings »

Anatta thread. This thread is being set up with reference material concerning anatta. At this time it is not open for posting other than the texts posted by ancientbuddhism.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

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Re: Anatta thread

Post by ancientbuddhism »

There is no more of a direct denial of the existence of anything substantial and enduring, both for and of the individual, than the doctrine of ‘no self’ an-attā taught by the Tathāgata of the Pāḷi Nikāyas. Even so, over the last century, there have been numerous conflicting theories in academia over the philosophical context and contemplative aims of the anatta doctrine.

One claim is that the early Buddhists knew little or nothing of the philosophy of the Brāhmaṇa culture of their time, specifically of the early Upaniṣads, therefore the doctrine taught by the Tathāgata was not refuting the Upaniṣadic ontology of Ātman.

◦ A.K. Coomaraswamy – Buddha and the Gospel of Buddhism, 1916:
  • ”…it is at least certain that at this period there existed no fundamental doctrinal opposition of Brāhmanism and Buddhism; but Gautama, and some other Kahattriyas, and some Brāhmans were alike engaged in one and the same task.

    At first sight nothing can appear more definite than the opposition of the Buddhist An-attā, ‘no-Ātman,’ and the Brāhman Ātman, the sole reality. But in using the same term, Attā or Ātman, Buddhist and Brāhman are talking of different things, and when this is realized, it will be seen that the Buddhist disputations on this point lose nearly all their value. It is frankly admitted by Professor Rhys Davids that “The neuter Brahman is, so far as I am aware, entirely unknown in the Nikāyas, and of course the Buddha’s idea of Brahmā, in the masculine, really differs widely from that of the Upanishads.”

    There is nothing, then, to show that the Buddhists ever really understood the pure doctrine of the Ātman, which is ‘not so, not so.’ The attack which they led upon the idea of the soul or self is directed against the conception of eternity in time of an unchanging individuality; of the timless spirit they do not speak, and yet they claim to have disposed of the theory of Ātman!

    In reality both sides were in agreement that the soul or ego (manas, ahamkāra, vijñāna, etc.) is complex and phenomenal, while of that which is ‘not so’ we know nothing.” (p. 199)

    “Either Gautama was only acquainted with popular Brāhmanism, or he chose to ignore its higher aspects.”

    “… those whome he defeats in controversy so easily are mere puppets who never put forward the doctrine of the unconditioned Self at all. Gautama meets no foeman worthy of his steel, and for this reason the greater part of Buddhist polemic is unavoidably occupied in beating the air.” (p. 200)
◦ A. Guruge – The Place of Buddhism in Indian Thought, 1967:
  • ”…the Atta which is denied in Buddhism is more a psychological illusion of Ahamkāra (I-ness) and Mamatva (My-ness). Hence the formulation of the Buddha’s refutation of Atta runs as “Na etam mama. No eso aham asmi. Na me eso attā.” The Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta emphatically states that there is no Atta or room for Atta for one cannot determine for one’s self how one’s rūpa, vedanā, saññā, etc., should be. (cf. Avasavattatthena anattā, Anatta because of the impossibility to control – Netti 6.21). Physical change from growth to decay in the bodily existence is a natural law beyond human control. This teaching of Anatta as far as the Suttas go, does not seem to repudiate the Upaniṣadic Ātman. (p.86)

    “With this survey we may arrive at the conclusion that the Buddha and his disciples, whose speeches and discourses are recorded in the Canon, knew for certain the Vedas and the Brahmans; they were quite conversant with Brahmanic ritual. But their knowledge of the Upaniṣads was not complete in so far as they did not take into consideration the climax of Upaniṣadic teachings; the cosmic doctrines of Brahman and Ātman, which are united in a primary and final, pre- and post-empirical, stage. And a characteristic of vagueness pervades all that is akin to the Upaniṣadic teachings in the Tripiṭaka. (p.88)
◦ J. Bronkhorst – Buddhism in the Shadow of Brahmanism, 2010:
  • ”Buddhism, we are often told, was a reaction against vedic Brahmanism. Vedic Brahmanism is the religion that finds expression in the Veda, an immense corpus of texts. Vedic Brahmanism, we are made to understand, is much older than Buddhism and was indeed the dominant religion in northern India, including the area in which Buddhism arose. I do not share this opinion. I do not deny that many vedic texts existed already, in oral form, at the time when the Buddha was born. However, the bearers of this tradition, the Brahmins, did not occupy a dominant position in the area in which the Buddha preached his message, and this message was not, therefore, a reaction against brahmanical thought and culture. (§1 p.3)

Another claim is that the Tathāgata was actually preaching the Upaniṣadic teachings on Ātman, using what amounts to the same negation as neti neti (na iti = ‘not this’), briefly mentioned in the early Upaniṣads and developed further in later Advaita Vedanta. Such that ‘the All’ (sabbaṃ) of the five bases (pañcakkhandha) viz. 1. form (rūpa), 2. sensation (vedanā), 3. sense-perception (saññā), 4. volitional-formations (saṅkhārā), 5. consciousness (viññāṇaṃ); and the cognitive range of the six sense-gates (saḷāyatana) viz. 1. eye (cakkhu) and objects (rūpa), 2. ear (sota) and sound (sadda), 3. nose (ghāna) and smell (gandha), 4. tongue (jivhā) and taste (rasa), 5. body (kāya) and tangible sense (phoṭṭhabba), 6. mind (mano) and cognisable objects (dhammā), are not-self (anattā), but leaving an implicit of union with a “Self” by default (Horner, 1936, 1971):

◦ I.B. Horner – Early Buddhist Theory of the Man Perfected: A Study of the Arahan, 1936, 1975:
  • “All that I wish to show is that primitive Buddhism was an attempt to expand the tat tvaṃ asi of the Upaniṣads into tat tvaṃ bhavasi. Man was not to be regarded as being That Self Which was the Highest, but as potentially capable of becoming even as That Self.” (p. 103)

    “In 550 B.C., superhuman guidance was held to be within: “Live as they who have the self for a lamp, the self for a refuge, dhamma for a lamp, dhamma for a refuge, with none other.” (1) There was thus no question of prayer or sacrifice to a power outside oneself. Dhamma was for Early Buddhism the supreme guide, the tribunal by which each action was to be judged, the absolute to which all actions, all motives are relative. But at the same time it was “the moral law within the beast” (2) of each human being as inalienably his heritage as Self. In the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad it has been said (3) that “This shining immortal, Person who is in this dharma exists, with reference to oneself, as virtuousness – he is just this Soul, this Immortal, this Brahma, this All.” Thus the cosmic and the personal are brought into relation with one another. This identification of Self (attā) and dhamma is strikingly made in the Aṅguttāra: (4)

    “The self (in thee (5)), man, knows what is true or false.
    Surely the noble Witness, sir, the Self,
    You do misjudge, in that when sin is there,
    You do conceal the Self within the self. …
    Thus he who has the Self
    As master, let him walk with heed, for whom
    The world is master – shrewdly walk, for whom
    Dhamma is master (as a) muser (let him walk).
    Who lives as Dhamma bids him never fails.” (p. 145)

    1. D. II. 100
    3. Bṛhad. 2.5.11
    4. A. I. 149
    5. Translator’s note, G.S. I. 132 n. 4 “as Dhamma, ‘conscience’. Cf. Buddh. Psych. 28.”
◦ A.K. Coomaraswamy – Gotama the Buddha, 1948 (w/ translations by I.B. Horner):
  • ”What has Buddhism to say of the Self? “That’s not my Self” (na me so attā); this, and the term “non-Self-isness” (anattā) predicated of the world and all “things” (sabbe dhammā anattā) [n. 2 Identical with the Brahmanical “of those who are mortal, there is no Self”, (anātmā hi martyah, ŚB. ii. 2.2.3).] have formed the basis of the mistaken view that Buddhism “denies [not merely the self but also] the Self.” But a moments consideration of the logic of the words will show that they assume the reality of a Self that is not any one or all of the “things” that are denied of it.” (p. 21)
Here Coomaraswamy appears to have changed his view on the subject from when he wrote in Buddha and the Gospel of Buddhism in 1916, that …
  • ”…There is nothing, then, to show that the Buddhists ever really understood the pure doctrine of the Ātman, which is ‘not so, not so.’”
◦ C.A.F. Rhys Davids:

Her early scholarly contributions to the Pali Text Society were straight-forward at first, however, sometime after her son was killed in action in WWI (1917) she turned to spiritualism in an effort to communicate with him, pivotal to a change of academic viewpoint when she not only began to deny that the doctrine of anatta is polemical to the doctrine of Ātman in the early Upaniṣads, but that the Dhamma of the Nikāyas was aimed at that very notion of Ātman.

Nowhere in her writing is this more explicit than in Sakya or Buddhist Origins (1928) where she claims that the Buddha taught the way to a ‘More’ in man, an equivalent to the Upaniṣadic of not seeking a ‘self’ in the body or mind, but rather in the great ‘Self’
  • ”Another unexpected thing we meet – unexpected from the usual standpoint imputed to “Buddhism” – is that, in certain compounds occurring in Sayings, which there is some reason for considering as “early”, we find the word attan (self) used to describe what is evidently not the man as complex of body and mind only, but the very “man-in-man” – the “soul” or “spirit” to use Western diction.” (p.188 – 89)
Mrs Davids insists that the pāḷi attan is “both a very integral thing meaning the essential man, and also as a thing which is “to be made to become” the more!”. This would explain why she renders atta in almost every compound and textual context as the “Self”.
  • ”This is a point usually passed over and even misrepresented both by commentator and by translator. Here are such terms: ajjhatta, paccatta, attabhāva, pahittata, bhāvitatta. They mean respectively, belonging to the self, only of the self, state (or encasement) of the self, having been self stabilized, having the self made-to-become. We find all of them in the four Nikāyas, and in the (probably) early portions of the Sutta-Nipāta and Dhammapada (as well as in other books).” (ibid)
Mrs. Davids also claimed that it was ‘monasticism’ (“Southern Buddhism” = Theravāda) that began interpreting the doctrine of anatta as ‘pure nihilism’. (Rhys Davids, C.A.F (1938) pp. 33-5, 53; (1934) pp. 66–67.
  • ”The reader should bear in mind when meeting with terms for ‘release’ (vimutti) in translations from Pali, namely, that in this much-saying word more than one kind of emancipation is merged. In as far as it is meant a spiritual More in man’s Becoming we may see in it a term for the first men. But the same word served to justify that divergent gospel in the Less-in-man on to which Buddhism declined. It was when the reality of the very man was coming to be doubted; it was when the notion of Godhead as static being was assailed by the growing conviction, that nothing was permanent, that the Divine man was, not so much becoming, but merely an ever-changing congeries – it was then, that monasticism in India became a very doctrine of man-in-the-less.” (Davids C.A.F. Outlines of Buddhism: A Historical Sketch, pp. 66–67)
◦ George Grimm was another author who translated every atta and attan as ‘Self’ or ‘my Self’. In his The Doctrine of the Buddha (1958) he presents in his chapter on Nibbāna a theory that the Tathāgata’s anatta doctrine is indicating a transcendent ‘I’ “beyond the world”.
  • ”Everything is Anattā, not the ‘I’, and does not belong to my innermost essence, the whole external world as little as my corporeal organism together with consciousness. I am beyond all this, beyond the world. (p. 229)
That the Tathāgata was a teacher of Vedanta:
  • ”Rather has the Buddha brought the Vedanta to its utmost perfection. He also has sought for the Ātman, as all great minds have sought it. “Know thyself!” ran the inscription on the temple of the Pythia. And Herakleitos, in search for his I, had come so far that he was able to assert that the boundaries of the soul could not be found, even if all roads were run through. Further, like all India, the Buddha had also saught for the Attā in the indirect way, by taking away from the Attā everything that is not the Attā. But he followed this way so radically and with so much success, that everything cognizable, especially also the mental, especially also thinking, revealed itself to him as Anattā and thereby as something that had to be overcome by us. (p.370)
Grimm’s surmise of how the Tathāgata compared his doctrine to that of the Brahmans:
  • ”And therefore he says: You teach the Attā, but I teach what the Attā is not. You know the Attā, but I only know what the Attā is not. Therefore you are always talking about the Attā, but I only speak of Anattā. In short, you have the Attā-method, the attā-vāda, whereas I have the Anattā-method, the anattā-vada. And this I have because only thus is the Attā, that is, myself, able to become free from suffering and happy.” (ibid.)
These misguided interpretations of a ‘Self’ or ‘I’ (attaasmi) as a support of or transcended beyond the All of the corporeal and cognitive being, is rooted in a false comparison of the Tathāgata’s analysis of ‘no-self’ (anatta) of the five physical and cognitive bases (pañcakkhandhā) and their six sense-extensions (saḷāyatana), with the Vedic contemplative device of ‘not this, not that’ (neti neti) of later Advaita Vedanta; which is designed to bring the aspirant to know Brahman through eliminating what is not Brahman, e.g. the temporal body and cognitive processes. The earliest form of this doctrine, and most likely the only one contemporary to the Tathāgata, is in the Bṛhadāranyaka Upaniṣad, which states that the ephemeral form of the person is to be considered “not this not that” (neti neti), whereupon one awakens to the Truth of Ātman as the ‘vital breath’ (prāṇā):
  • ”6. The form of this person is like a saffron-coloured robe, like white wool, like the Indragopa insect, like a flame of fire, like a white lotus, like a sudden flash of lightening. He who knows it thus attains splendour like a sudden flash of lightening. Now therefore there is the teaching, not this, not this for there is nothing higher than this, that he is not this. Now the designation for him is the truth of truth. Verily, the vital breath is truth, and He is the truth of that. [S. Radhakrishnan]

    tasya haitasya puruṣasya rūpam |
    yathā māhārajanaṃ vāso yathā pāṇḍvāvikaṃ yathendragopo yathāgnyarcir yathā puṇḍarīkaṃ yathā sakṛdvidyuttam |
    sakṛdvidyutteva ha vā asya śrīr bhavati ya evaṃ veda |
    athāta ādeśo neti neti |
    na hy etasmād iti nety anyat param asti |
    atha nāmadheyaṃ satyasya satyam iti |
    prāṇā vai satyam |
    teṣām eṣa satyam || BṛhUp_2,3.6 ||
Which provides only the vaguest correlation to the ‘no-self’ (anatta) analysis of corporeal/cognitive sentience of pañcakkhandhā given in the Nikāyas.

The most glaring error of the above assertions is that they overlook the obvious correction that the anatta analysis of the pañcakkhandhā was making to the assertion of an Ātman as agent and sustainer of corporeal, sentient experience given in the early Upaniṣads.

In the Nikāyas, the Tathāgata established that any assumption of a ‘self’ (atta) and resultant notion of ‘I am’ (asmi) is based in the ‘five aggregates of identity’ (pañcupādānakkhandha).
  • ”Bhikkhus, there are ascetics and Brahmins who hold to a viewpoint of a ‘Self’, in various and particular ways, all of which pertain to the five-bases of conditionality subject to be identified with.”

    Ye hi keci bhikkhave, samaṇāvā brahmaṇā vā anekavihitaṃ attānaṃ samanupassamānā samanupassanti, sabbe te pañcupādānakkhandhe samanupassanti, etesaṃ vā aññataraṃ.

    “…He is of the viewpoint that material form is ‘Self’, or ‘Self’ possesses material form, or material form is in ‘Self’, or ‘Self’ is in material form. … sensations of feeling are ‘Self’, … sense-awareness is ‘Self’, … volitional-cognition is ‘Self’, … He is of the viewpoint that consciousness is ‘Self’, or ‘Self’ possesses consciousness, or consciousness is in ‘Self’, or ‘Self’ is in consciousness.

    rūpaṃ attato samanupassati rūpavantaṃ vā attānaṃ attati vā rūpaṃ, rūpasmiṃ vā attānaṃ, …vedanaṃ attato samanupassati … saññaṃ attato samanupassati … saṅkhāre attato samanupassati … viññāṇaṃ attato samanupassati viññāṇavantaṃ vā attānaṃ attati vā viññāṇaṃ viññāṇasmiṃ vā attānaṃ.

    “Therefore because of these viewpoints this ‘I am’ has not vanished.

    Iti ayañceva samanupassanā asmīti cassa avigataṃ hoti. – (SN. 22.47)
As ‘identity view’
  • ”How does identity-view come to be?

    The untaught commoner is of the viewpoint that material-form (the body) is ‘Self’, or ‘Self’ possesses material-form, or material-form is in ‘Self’, or ‘Self’ is in material-form. He is of the viewpoint that sensations of feeling are ‘Self’… He is of the viewpoint that sense-awareness is ‘Self’… He is of the viewpoint that volitional-cognition is ‘Self’… He is of the viewpoint that consciousness is ‘Self’, or ‘Self’ possesses consciousness, or consciousness is in ‘Self’, or ‘Self’ is in consciousness.

    Kathaṃ … sakkāyadiṭṭhi hotī’’ti? …assutavā puthujjano, … rūpaṃ attato samanupassati, rūpavantaṃ vā attānaṃ, attani vā rūpaṃ, rūpasmiṃ vā attānaṃ. Vedanaṃ…pe… saññaṃ… saṅkhāre… viññāṇaṃ attato samanupassati, viññāṇavantaṃ vā attānaṃ, attani vā viññāṇaṃ, viññāṇasmiṃ vā attānaṃ. Evaṃ kho, āvuso visākha, sakkāyadiṭṭhi hotī’’ti. – MN. 44
And the result is clinging or ‘taking up’ (upādāya) these as substantial, personal, as ‘I am’ (asmī).
  • ”It is by [taking-up] (upādāya) that there is ‘I am”, not without [taking-up]. It is by [taking-up] with material-form that there is ‘I am’, not without [taking-up]. It is by [taking-up] with sensations of feeling…; It is by [taking-up] with sense-perception …; It is by [taking-up] with volitional-cognition …; It is by [taking-up] with consciousness that there is ‘I am’, not without [taking-up].

    Upādāya … asmī ti hoti no anupādāya. … Rūpaṃ upādāya asmī ti no anupādāya; vedanaṃ …; saññaṃ …; saṅkhāra …; viññāṇaṃ upādāya asmī ti no anupādāya. – SN. 3.105[PTS] Ānanda Sutta (22.83)
Thus, the pañcakkhandhā taken as ‘Self’ or ‘I am’, is the reification of a substantial entity, whether as sustainer of, annihilated with or transcended from them. ‘Self’ (atta), in the context of the pañcakkhandhā analysis as ‘All’ (sabbaṃ), is a refutation at the very least by contradiction to the doctrine of Ātman as ‘All’ (sarvaṃ) in the Upaniṣads, where the ‘self is the foot-trace’ (padanīyam) of name and form (nāmarūpa).
  • ”At that time this (universe) was undifferentiated. It became differentiated by name and form (so that it is said) he has such a name, such a shape. Therefore even today this (universe) is differentiated by name and shape (so that it is said) he has such a name, such a shape. He (the self) entered in here even to the tips of the nails, as a razor is (hidden) in the razor-case, or as fire is the fire-source. Him they see not for (as seen) he is incomplete, when breathing he is called the vital force, when speaking voice, when seeing the eye, when hearing the ear, when thinking the mind. These are merely the names of his acts. He who meditates on one or another of them (aspects) he does not know for he is incomplete, with one or another of these (characteristics). The self is to be meditated upon for in it all become one. The self is the foot-trace of all this, for by it one knows all this, just as one can find again by foot-prints (what is lost). He who knows this finds fame and praise.” [S. Radhakrishnan]

    tad dhedaṃ tarhy avyākṛtam āsīt |
    tan nāmarūpābhyām eva vyākriyatāsau nāmāyam idaṃrūpa iti |
    tad idam apy etarhi nāmarūpābhyām eva vyākriyata asau nāmāyam idaṃrūpa iti |
    sa eṣa iha praviṣṭa ānakhāgrebhyo yathā kṣuraḥ kṣuradhāne ‘vahitaḥ syād viśvambharo vā viśvambharakulāye |
    taṃ na paśyanti |
    akṛtsno hi saḥ prāṇann eva prāṇo nāma bhavati |
    vadan vāk paśyaṃś cakṣuḥ śṛṇvañ chrotraṃ manvāno manaḥ |
    tāny asyaitāni karmanāmāny eva |
    sa yo ‘ta ekaikam upāste na sa veda |
    akṛtsno hy eṣo ‘ta ekaikena bhavati |
    ātmety evopāsīta |
    atra hy ete sarva ekaṃ bhavanti |
    tad etat padanīyam asya sarvasya yad ayam ātmā |
    anena hy etat sarvaṃ veda |
    yathā ha vai padenānuvinded evaṃ kīrtiṃ ślokaṃ vindate ya evaṃ veda || BṛhUp_1,4.7 ||
  • ”Now this self, verily, is the world of all beings.”

    “atho ayaṃ vā ātmā sarveṣāṃ lokaḥ…” || BṛhUp_1,4.16 ||
  • I. “This earth [this water … this fire … this air … this sun … these quarters … this moon … this lightning … this cloud … this space … this law … this truth … this mankind … || BṛhUp_2,5.2-13 ||] is (like) honey for all creatures, and all creatures are (like) honey for this earth […]. This shining, immortal person who is in this earth [ … ] and with reference to oneself, this shining, immortal person who is in the body, he, indeed, is just this self. This is immortal, this is Brahman, this is all.” [S. Radhakrishnan]

    I. iyaṃ pṛthivī [imā āpaḥ … ayaṃ agniḥ … ayaṃ vāyuḥ … ayam ādityaḥ … imā diśaḥ … ayaṃ candraḥ … iyaṃ vidyut … ayaṃ stanayinuḥ … ayam ākāśaḥ … ayaṃ dharmaḥ … idaṃ satyam … idaṃ mānuṣaṃ ||BṛhUp_2,5.2-13 ||] sarveṣāṃ bhūtānāṃ madhu |
    asyai pṛthivyai sarvāṇi bhūtāni madhu |
    yaś cāyam asyāṃ pṛthivyāṃ tejomayo ‘mṛtamayaḥ puruṣo yas cāyam adhyātmaṃ śārīras tejomayo ‘mṛtamayaḥ puruṣo ‘yam eva sa yo ‘yam ātmā |
    idam amṛtam idaṃ brahmedaṃ sarvam || BrhUp_2,5.1 ||
In the Chāndogya Upaniṣad the self is the perceiver through the sense-organs:
  • ”Now when the eye is thus turned to space, that is the seeing person, the eye is for seeing. Now he knows ‘let me smell,’ that is the self, the nose is for smelling. Now he who knows ‘let me utter this,’ that is the self, the voice is for uttering. Now he who knows ‘let me hear this,’ that is the self, the ear is for hearing.” [S. Radhakrishnan]

    atha yatraitad ākāśam anu-viṣaṇṇam cakṣuḥ, sa cākṣuṣaḥ puruṣaḥ darśanāya cakṣuḥ; atha yo veda, idaṃ jighrāṇīti, sa ātmā, gandhāya ghrāṇam; atha yo veda, idaṃ abhivyāharāṇīti, sa ātmā, abhivyāhārāya vāk; atha yo veda, idaṃ śṛṇavānīti, sa ātmā, śravaṇāya śrotram.
    – Chāndogya Upaniṣad 8.12.4.
Just as the ‘viewpoint of self’ (attato samanupassati – SN. 22.47) intrinsic to the pañcakkhandhā reflect the claim of an Ātman in the Upaniṣads as the generative and sustaining support of the person, the presumption of ‘I am’ reflects its earliest epithet.
  • I. In the beginning this (world) was only the Self, in the shape of a person. Looking around he saw nothing else than the Self. He first said, ‘I am.’ Therefore arose the name of I. Therefore, even to this day when one is addressed he says first ‘This is I’ and then speaks whatever other name he may have. Because before all this, he burnt all evils, therefore he is a person. He who knows this, verily, burns up him who wishes to be before him. [S. Radhakrishnan]

    ātmaivedam agra āsīt puruṣavidhaḥ |
    so ‘nuvīkṣya nānyad ātmano ‘paśyat |
    so ‘ham asmīty agre vyāharat |
    tato ‘haṃnāmābhavat |
    tasmād apy etarhy āmantrito ‘ham ayam ity evāgra uktvāthānyan nāma prabrūte yad asya bhavati |
    sa yat pūrvo ‘smāt sarvasmāt sarvān pāpmana auṣat tasmāt puruṣaḥ |
    oṣati ha vai sa taṃ yo ‘smāt pūrvo bubhūṣati ya evaṃ veda || BṛhUp_1,4.1 ||
The noble contemplative of the Tathāgata knows that there is ‘no-self’ (anatta) to be found within the range of the pañcakkhandhā and saḷāyatana because these factors are impermanent (anicca), and dissatisfying (dukkha) (SN.22.59). Whereas the common person (puthujjana) assumes these as ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self.’ (etaṃ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā) (MN. 22). This point of view of the puthujjhana was identified by K.R. Norman as having ‘verbal echoes of the Upaniṣads’ (Norman, A Note on Attā in the Alagaddūpama-Sutta, 1981, p.20). “The phrase eso ‘ham asmi ‘I am that’ is the tat tvam asi ‘Thou art that’ of the Upaniṣads looked at from the point of view of the first person instead of the second.” (ibid. p.23) Additionally, eso me attā finds comparison with “that is my self” “eṣa ma ātmā (Chānd. Up. III.14.1–4)…” (ibid. p. 20); an alternative reading in the second person is “That is your self…” (eṣa ta ātmā…) || BṛhUp_3,4.1 ||. Whereas the noble adherent of the Tathāgata has dismissed these as non-existent (asat) because he is...
  • ”... of the perspective ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’

    netaṃ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati

    “Since he is of this perspective he is not vexed by what is non-existent.”

    So evaṃ samanupassanto asati na paritassatī”ti. (MN. 22)
But even these evidences will not convince some. To explore this further we shall take another look at the paper by Norman cited above, and another on topic by his student Richard Gombrich, that give specific comparisons of the Pāḷi Nikāyas to the early Upaniṣads.
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Re: Anatta thread

Post by ancientbuddhism »

With reference to the Tathāgata’s refutation of the Ātman of the Upaniṣads, K.R. Norman (A note on Attā in the Alagaddūpama Sutta – 1981) and R.F. Gombrich (Recovering the Buddha’s Message – 1988), made reference to ‘verbal’ or ‘linguistic echoes’, connecting pāḷi idiom and phrases to particular counterparts in the Vedic of the Upaniṣads. Specific mention was made in Normans paper to this parallel between the Alagaddūpama Sutta (MN.22), punning on Yājñavalkya’s view in Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad, IV, 5.6.. MN.22 is significant as an example that the Tathāgata took a definite position against the ontology of Ātman current at his time, leveling a sweeping refutation.

In Gombrich’s paper a concise summary of Norman’s note is given (pp. 14–15):
  • I am by no means the first to have pointed out the importance of the Alagaddūpama-sutta. It was Mr Norman, my teacher and fellow-contributor to the panel, who first demonstrated that it contains a deliberate refutation of Yājñavalkya’s teaching in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad. Since experience has shown me that this demonstration is still not widely known, I shall take the liberty of summarizing the argument in my own words.

    The sutta has two relevant passages, which I translate as follows:

    A. “There are six wrong views: An unwise, untrained person may think of the body, ‘This is mine, this is me, this is my self’; he may think that of feelings; of perceptions; of volitions; or of what has been seen, heard, thought, cognized, reached, sought or considered by the mind. The sixth is to identify the world and self, to believe: ‘At death I shall become permanent, eternal, unchanging, and so remain forever the same; and that is mine, that is me, that is my self.’ A wise and well-trained person sees that all these positions are wrong, and so he is not worried about something that does not exist.”

    B. “So give up what is not yours, and you will find that that makes you happy. What is not yours? The body, feelings, perceptions, volitions and consciousness. What do you think of this, monks? If someone were to gather the grass, sticks, branches and foliage here in Jeta’s wood or burn it or use it in some other way, would you think he was gathering, burning or using you? ‘No, sir.’ And why not? Because it is not your self and has nothing to do with your self.”

    Norman has shown that passage B, in the light of passage A, must be understood as a satirical allusion to the identification of the world and the self—the identification which constitutes the most famous doctrine propounded in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka and Chāndogya Upaniṣads. That identification was the culmination of a theory of the equivalence between macrocosm and microcosm; the need for multiple, partial equivalences was short-circuited by identifying the soul/essence of the individual and of the world. The Buddha in a sense kept the equivalence, or at least parallelism, for he argued against a single essence at either level and so made macrocosm and microcosm equally devoid of soul/essence.

    There seem to be verbal echoes of Yājñavalkya. The sixth wrong view in passage A is that after death I shall be nicco, dhuvo etc. Compare Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 4,4,23: eṣa nityo mahimā brāhmaṇasya (the brāhmaṇa here being one who has realized his identity with Brahman); 4,4,20: aja ātmā mahān dhruvaḥ. The third point of the tilakkhaṇas, dukkha, is not mentioned here, but is of course opposed to ānanda, as at Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 3,9,28: vijñānam ānandaṃ brahma and 4,3,33: athaiṣa eva parama ānandaḥ, eṣa brahmalokaḥ. It remains only to remind readers of the most important and closest parallel of all. The fifth wrong view is to identify with what has been diṭṭhaṃ sutaṃ mataṃ viññātaṃ. What exactly is that? The answer is at Bṛhadāraṇyaka 4,5,6: ātmani khalv are dṛṣṭe śrute mate vijñāte idaṃ sarvaṃ viditam. So here is the form of the microcosm-macrocosm equivalence to which the Buddha is alluding; and we can further see that his fifth wrong view is Yājñavalkya’s realization of that identity in life, and his sixth the making real that identity at death. But, says the Buddha, this is something that does not exist (asat).
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Re: Anatta thread

Post by ancientbuddhism »

We will now look again at the fifth wrong-view of MN. 22, where the puthujjana holds the “…seen, heard, thought, cognized, reached, sought out, considered…” (diṭṭhaṃ sutaṃ mutaṃ, viññātaṃ, pattaṃ pariyesitaṃ anuvicaritaṃ manasā) with “…the perspective: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my Self’’ (‘etaṃ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassati…’). Although glossed by Norman, this phrase was linked by Gombrich to Yāñavalka’s viewpoints on Ātman in Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad IV. 5,6: “When the Self is seen, heard, thought and cognized, then all this is known.” (ātmani khalv are dṛṣṭe śrute mate vijñāte idaṃ sarvaṃ viditam). One significance is that in MN.22 diṭṭhaṃ sutaṃ mataṃ viññātaṃ replaces ‘consciousness’ (viññāṇa) in what is otherwise a standard analysis of the pañcakkhandhā throughout the Nikāyas. Gombrich mentioned that in Bṛh.U. this “is Yājñavalkya’s realization of that identity in life”. The text in Bṛh. U. Gombrich is referring to reads “It is not out of endearment (kāmāya) for the husband that the husband is dear (priya), but of the endearment of the Self that the husband is dear.” (‘na vā are patyuḥ kāmāya patiḥ priyo bhavaty ātmanas tu kāmāya patiḥ priyo bhavati.’); and the same for wife, sons, cattle and other things and stations of life, viewed that “When the Self is seen, heard, thought and cognized, then all this is known.” (ātmani khalv are dṛṣṭe, śrute, mate, vijñāte, idaṃ sarvaṃ viditaṃ). Considering the place of viññāṇā in the schedule of pañcakkhandhā analysis in the Nikāyas, diṭṭhaṃ sutaṃ mataṃ viññātaṃ stands to represent the same range of cognitions stimulated at contact (phassa), including ‘name and form’ (nāma-rūpa), much like what Yājñavalkya appears to assume as “identity in life” of the ‘Self’.

The phrase diṭṭhaṃ sutaṃ mataṃ viññātaṃ occurs in other discourses in the Nikāyas. The Soattā Sutta (SN. 24.3), is one of eleven suttas in the Diṭṭhisaṃyutta where this phrase is used in contexts such as permanence, Self, eternalism, annihilationism and nihilistic views.

The Soattā Sutta discusses the six wrong views we read in MN. 22, with a different arrangement. Here the pañcakkhandhā are misapprehended: “…intent upon material-form, taking-up material-form, inclined to material-form…” (sati, rūpaṃ upādāya, rūpaṃ abhinivissa…), resulting in the arising of the view ‘This Self is the world, after departing I shall be permanent, stable; of the nature to endure for eternity.’ (‘so attā, so loko, so pecca bhavissāmi nicco dhuvo sassato avipariṇāmadhammo’ti.) a phrase which in MN. 22 is the 6th view. Here the phrase ’diṭṭhaṃ sutaṃ mataṃ viññātaṃ…’ is placed as the 6th view instead. Each is given the standard ‘three marks’ (tilakkhaṇa) analysis of deconstructing a ‘Self’ intrinsic to the khandhā and the cognitions of ’diṭṭhaṃ sutaṃ mataṃ viññātaṃ…’ viz. rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, viññāṇa and diṭṭhaṃ sutaṃ mutaṃ, viññātaṃ, pattaṃ pariyesitaṃ anuvicaritaṃ manasā is impermanent, displeasing, and not fitting to be considered as ‘This Self is the world, after departing I shall be permanent, stable; of the nature to endure for eternity.’ Because this pattern follows the pattern of the tilakkhaṇa analysis, and the phrase so attā, so loko… being placed where etaṃ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā would usually be read, gives emphasis to the theory mentioned by Gombrich (1988, pp. 14 – 15) of the microcosm/macrocosm of so attā, so loko … represented as the universal Ātman of the Upaniṣads. Thus giving an evidence through this sutta that the anatta doctrine in the Nikāyas is with reference to a ‘No-Self’ to be found, rather than simply a ‘non-self’ of things.
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Re: Anatta thread

Post by ancientbuddhism »

Another comparison with the phrase diṭṭhaṃ, sutaṃ, mutaṃ, viññātaṃ in the Nikāyas, to the dṛṣṭe, śrute, mate, vijñāte in the Upaniṣads, is in the Kāḷakārāma Sutta of Aṅguttara Nikāya (4.24), with reference to Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad III.8.11.

In this Upaniṣad the epithet for the Ātman is ‘Imperishable’ (akṣaram), of which…
  • ”…is unseen but is the seer, is unheard but is the hearer, unthought but is the thinker, unknown but is the knower. There is no other seer but this, there is no other hearer but this, there is no other thinker but this, there is no other knower but this.” [S. Radhakrishnan]

    tad vā etad akṣaraṃ gārgy adṛṣṭaṃ draṣṭṛ, aśrutaṃ śrotṛ, amataṃ mantṛ, avijñātaṃ vijñātṛ, nānyad ato ‘sti draṣṭṛ, nānyad ato ‘sti śrotṛ, nānyad ato ‘sti mantṛ,nānyad ato ‘sti vijñātṛ
We find this echoed in the Kāḷakārāma Sutta where we read that for a Tathāgata, there are no imaginings (maññati) of a possessor of these, because a Tathāgata abides in the quality of ‘suchness’ (tādī); a distillate quality of direct contemplative knowing:
  • ”Thus it is, bhikkhus, when the Tathāgata sees what is to be seen; he does not imagine the seen, does not imagine the not-seen, does not imagine what is to be seen, and does not imagine a seer. When hearing what is to be heard; does not imagine the heard, does not imagine the not-heard, does not imagine what is to be heard, and does not imagine a hearer. When thinking what is to be thought; does not imagine the thought, does not imagine the not-thought, does not imagine what is to be thought, and does not imagine a thinker. When cognizing what is to be cognized; does not imagine the cognized, does not imagine the not-cognized, does not imagine what is to be cognized, and does not imagine a cognizer.

    ti kho, bhikkhave, tathāgato daṭṭhā daṭṭhabbaṃ, diṭṭhaṃ na maññati, adiṭṭhaṃ na maññati, daṭṭhabbaṃ na maññati, daṭṭhāraṃ na maññati; sutvā sotabbaṃ, sutaṃ na maññati, asutaṃ na maññati, sotabbaṃ na maññati, sotāraṃ na maññati; mutvā motabbaṃ, mutaṃ na maññati, amutaṃ na maññati, motabbaṃ na maññati, motāraṃ na maññati; viññatvā viññātabbaṃ, viññātaṃ na maññati, aviññātaṃ na maññati, viññātabbaṃ na maññati, viññātāraṃ na maññati.

    “Thus it is, bhikkhus, being just such with the nature of what is to be seen, heard, thought, and cognized; the Tathāgata is such. And I say that of this such, not another such can be brought forth that surpasses it.

    Iti kho, bhikkhave, tathāgato diṭṭhasutamutaviññātabbesu dhammesu tādīyeva tādī. Tamhā ca pana tādimhā añño tādī uttaritaro vā paṇītataro vā natthīti vadāmī’ti.

We should also make a comparison of this with the Bāhiya Sutta of Udāna 1.10, with reference to the state of being ‘merely’ (mattaṃ) present with these, also with no possessor to be found.
  • ”When, Bāhiya, the seen shall be merely the seen, the heard shall be merely the heard, the thought shall be merely the thought, and the cognized shall be merely the cognized; just so, Bāhiya, you will not be there. When, Bāhiya, you are not there; just so, Bāhiya, you will not be in that condition. When, Bāhiya, you are not in that condition; just so, Bāhiya, you will not be of that condition, nor in another, nor between the two. Just this is the release of dissatisfaction.”

    Yato kho te Bāhiya, diṭṭhe diṭṭhamattaṃ bhavissati, sute sutamattaṃ bhavissati, mute mutamattaṃ bhavissati, viññāte viññātamattaṃ bhavissati; tato tvaṃ Bāhiya na tena, yato tvaṃ Bāhiya na tena, tato tvaṃ Bāhiya na tattha, yato tvaṃ Bāhiya na tattha, tato tvaṃ Bāhiya nevidha, na huraṃ, na ubhayam-antare, esevanto dukkhassā.’ – Udāna 1.10
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Re: Anatta thread

Post by ancientbuddhism »

A note on maññati and an answer to claims of Nibbāna as ‘True Self’:

In the Kāḷakārāma Sutta (AN. 2.24), we read that a Tathāgata (One Gone to Thus) is without ‘imaginings’ (maññati), and so does not find a possessor of the ‘seen, heard, thought, cognised’ (diṭṭhaṃ sutaṃ mataṃ viññātaṃ); a phrase established in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad – dṛṣṭe, śrute, mate, vijñāte – as an epithet for the sentient dynamic of Ātman.

In the Nikāyas the Ātman was also referred to as maññati at Sn. 3.12 – Dvayatānupassanā Sutta, that further likens the Ātman to a falsehood and delusion (musā/mosa), and lends support to the contextual aims of ‘no-self’ (anatta) in AN. 2.24.
  • “See this world with its gods,
    considering self in what is not-self.
    Immersed in this recognition of objects (nāmarūpa),
    they imagine this as real.

    Anattani attamāniṃ, passa lokaṃ sadevakaṃ;
    Niviṭṭhaṃ nāmarūpasmiṃ, idaṃ saccanti maññati
    . (Sn. 3.12)
Compare this to Chāndogya Upaniṣad VIII.14:
  • “Verily, what is called space is the determined of name and form.
    That within which they are is the Brahman, that is the immortal, that is the Self.” [S. Radhakrishnan]

    Ākāśo vai nāma nāmarūpayor nirvahitā;
    Te yad antarā, tad brahma, tad amṛtam, sa ātmā
The Suttanipāta continues:
  • “Whatever they can imagine,
    only becomes something else.
    Therefore such is falsehood,
    its ever changing nature.

    Yena yena hi maññanti, tato taṃ hoti aññathā;
    Tañhi tassa musā hoti, mosadhammañhi ittaraṃ
However, Nibbāna is by its nature without falsehood (amosadhamma) and true (sacca).
  • “Undeceptive is the nature of Nibbāna,
    that the noble ones know is true;
    those having come into this truth,
    without craving are completely cooled.

    Amosadhammaṃ nibbānaṃ, tadariyā saccato vidū;
    Te ve saccābhisamayā, nicchātā parinibbutā’ti
This clearly separates Nibbāna from Ātman, but an alternative reading from a contemplative perspective from the Meghiya Sutta of Aṅguttara Nikāya (9.3) may be helpful:
  • “Perception of impermanence should be developed for the removal of the notion ‘I am’. Because of perception of impermanence, Meghiya, one is established in perception of no-self, with perception of no-self one comes to the removal of the notion ‘I am’ and knows the state of Nibbāna.”

    aniccasaññā bhāvetabbā asmimānasamugghātāya. aniccasaññino hi, meghiya, anattasaññā saṇṭhāti, anattasaññī asmimānasamugghātaṃ pāpuṇāti diṭṭheva dhamme nibbāna”nti.
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Re: Anatta thread

Post by ancientbuddhism »

The Ānanda Sutta (SN. 44.10), has been the basis for a number of specious claims (Grimm - 1958, Harvey - 1995, Ṭhānissaro – 1996) that the Tathāgata never denied the ‘Self’ because when directly asked “…is there a Self?” (kiṃ … atthattā), “…is there no Self?” (kiṃ … natthattā), he was silent.
  • “Vacchagotta the wanderer said to the Bhagava: “Friend Gotama, is there a Self?” Thus said, the Bhagava was silent. “Friend Gotama, is there no Self?” For the second time, the Bhagava was silent. Then Vacchagotta the wander arose from his seat and left.”

    ‘…vacchagotto paribbājako bhagavantaṃ etadavoca: “kiṃ nu kho, bho gotama, atthattā”ti? Evaṃ vutte, bhagavā tuṇhī ahosi. “Kiṃ pana, bho gotama, natthattā”ti? Dutiyampi kho bhagavā tuṇhī ahosi. Atha kho vacchagotto paribbājako uṭṭhāyāsanā pakkāmi’.
Whatever one tries to extrapolate from this, the Tathāgata’s silence does not represent a position. However, the exchange between Ānanda and the Tathāgata after Vacchagotta departed does tell us that his silence was provisional to Vacchagotta’s own confusion and misapprehension over a ‘self’ as understood by eternalist (sassatavādā) or annihilationist (ucchedavādā) doctrines that were current at the time. Vacchagotta’s state of mind would also be a factor as he had come to the Tathāgata and his disciples several times on these topics that can be read in the Vacchagottasaṃyutta. And these preoccupations of Vacchagotta would reflect on the ‘improper attention’ (ayoniso manasi karoto) of the untaught commoner (assutavā puthujjano), as mentioned in the Sabbāsava Sutta. The ‘thicket of views’ in the Sabbāsava Sutta (MN.2), are those views on self of the puthujjana, who wrongly considers a personal existence ‘for me’ – ‘Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? (ahosiṃ nu kho ahaṃ atītamaddhānaṃ, na nu kho ahosiṃ atītamaddhānaṃ) … ‘I have a self’ … I do not have a self’ (atthi me attā’tinatthi me attā’ti).

However, the noble disciple is not on the same footing. When the Tathāgata did give instruction on views of self as held by the world, it was to a suitable audience informed with a contemplative understanding of dependent origination and of the habits of volitional processes which cause false reification of sentient experience. In other words, they, the noble disciples, understood what props-up the illusion of substantiality. Thus they appreciated entirely the falsity of an enduring attā, both in contexts of doctrinal claim and contemplative knowledge. Otherwise, there would be no utility in simply denying the ‘Self’ to someone who is ignorant of causal processes, devoid of contemplative understanding, and who’s awareness is only informed with either the dogma of a ‘Self’ (Ātman) or at least with an infatuation over sentient experience born of this ignorance – as this would only lead to vexation.

A helpful reference on this topic is Bhikkhu Bodhi’s footnote to the Ānanda Sutta:
  • 384 “Probably this means that Vacchagotta would have interpreted the Buddha’s denial as a rejection of his empirical personality, which (on account of his inclination towards views of self) he would have been identifying as a self. We should carefully heed the two reasons the Buddha does not declare, “There is no self”: not because he recognizes a transcendent self of some kind (as some interpreters allege), or because he is concerned only with delineating “a strategy of perception” devoid of ontological implications (as others hold), but (i) because such a mode of expression was used by the annihilationists, and the Buddha wanted to avoid aligning his teaching with theirs; and (ii) because he wished to avoid causing confusion in those already attached to the idea of self. The Buddha declares that “all phenomena are nonself” (sabbe dhammā anattā), which means that if one seeks a self anywhere one will not find one. Since “all phenomena” includes both the conditioned and the unconditioned, this precludes an utterly transcendent, ineffable self.” (B. Bodhi p. 1457)
Last edited by ancientbuddhism on Mon Nov 09, 2015 3:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Anatta thread

Post by ancientbuddhism »

Viññāṇa as Self: the heresy of bhikkhu Sāti.

Mahātaṇhāsaṅkhaya Sutta (MN 38):


Bhikkhu Sāti had been heard by his peers stating:
  • “I understand the Sublime One to have taught the Truth in this way – ‘It is just this consciousness (viññāṇaṃ) that moves through this cycle of existence (sandhāvati saṃsarati) and not another (anañña).’”

    ththāhaṃ bhagavatā dhammaṃ desitaṃ ājānāmi yathā tadevidaṃ viññāṇaṃ sandhāvati saṃsarati anaññan’ti.
The Tathāgata later confronted Sāti:
  • “And what is this ‘consciousness’, Sāti?”

    “Venerable Sir, it is that which speaks and feels and here and there experiences the result of good and bad action.

    katamaṃ taṃ sāti, viññāṇan’ti ... Yvāyaṃ, bhante, vado vedeyyo tatra tatra kalyāṇapāpakānaṃ kammānaṃ vipākaṃ paṭisaṃvedetī’ti.
To which the Tathāgata responded:
  • “Foolish man, to whom have you known me to teach the Dhamma in this way? Foolish man, haven’t I said in many and various ways, that consciousness arises dependant upon a cause; that other than by means of a foundation, the arising of consciousness cannot exist?”

    Kassa nu kho nāma tvaṃ moghapurisa, mayā evaṃ dhammaṃ desitaṃ ājānāsi? Nanu mayā, moghapurisa, anekapariyāyena paṭiccasamuppannaṃ viññāṇaṃ vuttaṃ, aññatara paccayā natthi viññāṇassa sambhavoti
In other words, Sāti’s view of viññāṇa was a basic misunderstanding of the truth of Dependant Arising (paṭiccasamuppāda), that there is no ‘who’, but rather a ‘how’ of the accretion of cognitive processes experienced as sentience.

With comparison of this to the early Upaniṣads, Sāti’s view was very close to one found in Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad II.4.12:
  • “This great being, endless, unlimited, consisting of nothing but intelligence (vijñāna)”.

    idam mahad bhūtam anantam apāraṃ vijñāna-ghana eva
And at BṛhU. 4, 3.7:
  • 7. ‘Which is the self?’ ‘The person here who consists of knowledge (vijñāna) among the senses (also at BṛhU. 4, 4.22), the light within the heart. He remaining the same, wanders along the two worlds seeming to think, seeming to move about. He on becoming asleep (getting into dream condition), transcends this world and the forms of death. [S. Radhakrishnan]

    katama ātmeti – yo vijñānamayaḥ prāṇeṣu hṛdy antarjyotiḥ puruṣaḥ |
    sa samānaḥ sann ubhau lokāv anusaṃcarati dhyāyatīva lelāyatīva |
    sa hi svapno bhūtvemaṃ lokam atikrāmati add. mṛtyo rūpāṇi
    || BṛhUp_4,3.7 ||
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

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The Thinker
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Re: Anatta thread

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A likable description from Gil Fronsdal - ... le-truths/" onclick=";return false;
"Watch your heart, observe. Be the observer, be the knower, not the condition" Ajahn Sumedho volume5 - The Wheel Of Truth
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Re: Anatta thread

Post by ancientbuddhism »

The Thinker wrote:A likable description from Gil Fronsdal - ... le-truths/" onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false;
Fronsdale is a teacher of modern vipassanā or ‘mindfulness’ practices which may explain his emphasis of anatta as soteriological strategy rather than ontological position. There are a couple of things I would flag. One is his treatment of anatta through the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta (SN.22.59) as simply a not-self of parts (pañcakkhandhā), which fits with an anatta as strategy interpretation. And the claim “Contrary to popular conception, we have no record of the Buddha ever saying, “There is no self.”” with reference to the Ānanda Sutta (SN.44.10), again summarising anatta as simply a not-self of parts.

Anatta is indeed a soteriological strategy as a contemplative perception (anattasañña [AN.9.1, 9.3]) of the absence of an atta as substantial support of the individual. But when there is the claim that there is “no record of the Buddha ever saying, “There is no self.”” based on a provisional encounter where the question was simply left unanswered, I have to wonder what point is being made.

An article that gives a proper analysis of the anatta doctrine within the framework of the pañcakkhandhā and paṭiccasamuppāda, which is the basis of the 4-NT, is The Buddhist Tantric Deconstruction and Reconstruction: Their Sūtra Origin, by David J. Kalupahana.
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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