...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

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...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby hgg » Sun Jul 28, 2013 10:26 am

Hello to all,

"Material form monks, is impermanent. Whatever is impermanent, that is unsatisfactory.
What is unsatisfactory, that is not self. What is not self, should be regarded, 'This is not
mine, I am not this, this is not my self.' One should discern it as it really is through perfect
wisdom." - S.iii.21


ok,
- "Material form monks, is impermanent"
I understand that.
- "Whatever is impermanent, that is unsatisfactory"
This also.
- "What is not self, should be regarded, 'This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self"
I think I understand that as well,

but the statement "What is unsatisfactory, that is not self", that I cannot understand.

Does it mean that if there was a self, then that would be satisfactory, or,
if there was something satisfactory, then that could be self ?
How can he go from a to b, meaning that anything that is unsatisfactory, that is not self?
Is there any logical or empirical explanation to reach that conclusion ?

I cannot really understand that statement. I hope somebody can shed some light.
Thank you.
George.
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby reflection » Sun Jul 28, 2013 11:04 am

Hi,

If there was a self, there would be self control. With self control there would be the creation of something satisfying. Who would with self control choose to suffer? For an example, who would choose for his or her body to get sick? Who chooses to become sad or depressed? Nobody would. But it still happens because it is not under our control. We can't choose our body (form), our perceptions, thoughts, etc.

"Bhikkhus, form is not-self. Were form self, then this form would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.' And since form is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.'

(same for the other aggregates)
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html


It does not mean that if there is something satisfactory that would be a self. Because if there were a self, that satisfactory thing would always be there and unsatisfying things would not arise. Obvious from our experience, this is not the case. That's also why it speaks of impermanence.

Hope this helps,

:anjali:
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby hgg » Sun Jul 28, 2013 11:46 am

Hello reflection,

At a first glance what you say makes sense, but now you have introduced another assumption.
If there was a self, there would be self control


This assumption needs a definition for the term self and for what is satisfactory.
What is satisfactory? Everything permanent or whatever does not cause aversion?
Does a permanent self imply full self control?
Can't we have a self with partial self control?

Then again we can fall into another trap, because the word control implies motion and
whatever contains motion cannot be permanent.
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby reflection » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:16 pm

Here I 'defined' self as something that has control over itself. But then this doesn't exist, that's important to note. Another way of defining self (aka soul or ego) is something that is permanent in our experience or a center everything revolves around. But 'self' is not just an intellectual or philosophical idea. It is mainly a construct or feeling most people experience, around which they live their lives. This is the mind tricking itself and it can be very subtle in this, it can construct a 'self-image' in various ways: "I have freedom to choose", "I am aware", "This body is mine", things like that and also more subtle. So there is not a very fixed definition I would say.

Therefore, when the Buddha taught about 'self' you always have to see it in the context of no-self, that there is no permanence/center of control in us, in the five aggregates. And when he defined the self in a certain way, he was addressing one of the grounds on which this 'self-image' arises in people, not implying to make a fixed definition of self.
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby lyndon taylor » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:32 pm

I think if the buddha actually believed there was absolutely no self of any kind, he would have said so quite plainly, If there really was absolutely no self, why didn't he just say straight up, there is absolutely no self of any kind, instead he went to all this trouble to show us what all the fake counterfit selves were, by saying what you see is not your self, what you hear is not your self, what you feel, smell, taste is not your self, your senses are not your self, your physical body is not your self, your random everyday thoughts are not your self, but he never said there is nothing that is your self, and obviously if he really believed there was no kind of self he would have said so, instead of going to so much trouble to point out what we might think are fake or counterfit selves, there are plenty of scriptural references to what the self is, it is permanent, it is the "buddha nature", it is the good inside us, but they are mostly mahayana in transmission, but even in Therevada, there is no complete denial of any kind of self being real.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby daverupa » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:37 pm

It's a matter of definitions: since a self is, by definition, satisfactory unto itself, then that which is unsatisfactory cannot be a self. Yellow cannot be purple.

It's holding the ancient Indian ideations about self in mind, and not necessarily Western ideas about it, which helps things to fall into place.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby hgg » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:38 pm

So reflection, by your definition,

if self is something that has control over itself (which also contains a circular reference: "itself")
then by having control, you have motion/change. Having change you have impermanence, having
impermanence you have unsatisfactoriness and the statement:

"What is unsatisfactory, that is not self" becomes --> What is unsatisfactory, that is not unsatisfactory.
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby reflection » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:48 pm

hgg wrote:So reflection, by your definition,

if self is something that has control over itself (which also contains a circular reference: "itself")
then by having control, you have motion/change. Having change you have impermanence, having
impermanence you have unsatisfactoriness and the statement:

"What is unsatisfactory, that is not self" becomes --> What is unsatisfactory, that is not unsatisfactory.


My argument was that 'self' is not really a definition or to be defined. In its defining you sort of assume its existence, which makes for loops like this. Instead 'self' is a view, a way of looking at things, based on wrong perceptions. I think you are getting too far into an intellectual exercise here that misses this point.

That aside, having control doesn't imply change. You would choose to always be happy, for example, and not change it to unhappiness. You would be healthy and not sick. You would stay alive and not die.
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby hgg » Sun Jul 28, 2013 1:13 pm

Your argument was that
"if there was a self", then "there would be the creation of something satisfying" (because of self control)

That is not necessarily true for two reasons.
1st. There could also be the creation of something neutral.
2nd. Having self control does not imply satisfactoriness because control implies impermanence.
"You would choose to always be happy".
By the time you chose, you have already accepted a change which means impermanence.

So I think that my initial question remains: "What is unsatisfactory, that is not self". Why ?
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby reflection » Sun Jul 28, 2013 1:21 pm

You really have to use the teachings as a layover to your own experiences and assumptions to understand them. And then with a mind free from the hindrances, free from distracting thoughts. From an intellectual point of view you will not get what they are saying; that no self, impermanence and suffering/unsatisfactoriness are the same thing effectively.
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby mal4mac » Sun Jul 28, 2013 1:37 pm

reflection wrote:Hi,

If there was a self, there would be self control.



How does that follow? The self might be trapped in a mind that controls the self, like a bad king might totally control a good princes, whose path (say) is to help the poor, by keeping her permanently under lock & key.
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby reflection » Sun Jul 28, 2013 1:52 pm

Self as having self control is just one way of constructing a self view. A quite common one that is, seeing how many people think they have freedom of choice or are in charge of their body. But it is not the only way of self view. What you propose would be another type of self view, like the self in consciousness for example.
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby hgg » Sun Jul 28, 2013 2:00 pm

It seems to me that the statement "what is unsatisfactory, that is not self" might make sense
if we assume that Buddha actually believed that there is some kind of a self but definitely not
what we experience and think in our everyday life.

I would have to agree with what lyndon taylor said.

If that is true, then the above statement might make sense because the real self is in no way
something unsatisfactory. (or it should be... We will have to take Buddha's words for granted,
on that, because who knows if the real self is really something satisfactory?)

I think that the self in samsara is something like a spiral, that is never ever the same with itself,
it does not have an identity but is something that is continuously changing keeping track of the
changes, like a stream or a river in which while the water is never the same, it has boundaries
and follows a path. If that is not true then how can anybody recall previous births of the same
"spiral"? There should be some kind of connection.

After Nibbana maybe this "spiral" self dissolves into something beyond words.
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby mal4mac » Sun Jul 28, 2013 2:03 pm

daverupa wrote:It's a matter of definitions: since a self is, by definition, satisfactory unto itself, then that which is unsatisfactory cannot be a self. Yellow cannot be purple.


Thanks, that's a good explanation.
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby hgg » Sun Jul 28, 2013 2:15 pm

"since a self is, by definition, satisfactory unto itself,"


But who defined that?
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby reflection » Sun Jul 28, 2013 2:18 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:I think if the buddha actually believed there was absolutely no self of any kind, he would have said so quite plainly, If there really was absolutely no self, why didn't he just say straight up, there is absolutely no self of any kind, instead he went to all this trouble to show us what all the fake counterfit selves were, by saying what you see is not your self, what you hear is not your self, what you feel, smell, taste is not your self, your senses are not your self, your physical body is not your self, your random everyday thoughts are not your self, but he never said there is nothing that is your self, and obviously if he really believed there was no kind of self he would have said so, instead of going to so much trouble to point out what we might think are fake or counterfit selves, there are plenty of scriptural references to what the self is, it is permanent, it is the "buddha nature", it is the good inside us, but they are mostly mahayana in transmission, but even in Therevada, there is no complete denial of any kind of self being real.

You can just as easily (even more easily I'd say) turn this argument around. Nowhere in the suttas does the Buddha say there is a self. So in your argumenation; if there was, he would have said so. But he didn't; not in the oldest texts at least. The newer texts usually are not considered the word of the Buddha in Theravada Buddhism.

But, the Buddha did on various occasions say there is no self at all. "Sabbe dhamma anatta", 'everything is not a self' being the most famous example of this. But it all lies in recognizing that there is nothing outside of the five aggregates, so nothing can be self. In fact the suttas do explicitly say that whoever constructs a self (has a self view), does it in terms of one or more of the aggregates.

The aggregates are used because self view in general is not a definition, it is ingrained in wrong view with respect to the aggregates. Just saying 'everything is not a self' is not really leading people to investigate what they base their self view on. Therefore the aggregates as a teaching tool, but one must not mistake this to mean there is something outside of the aggregates.

This discussion has been done here many times before, but it keeps surprising me how people keep trying to defend a self view while it should be quite obvious that this is not what the Buddha was on about.


But again, we have to use this to look at our own experience. What do you take to be parmanent? What do you take to be "you" or "yours"? What do you think you are in control off? Seeing that all these things are just a process without core is going towards understanding no self. An intellectual challenge or reading suttas just won't.
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby lyndon taylor » Sun Jul 28, 2013 2:26 pm

Reflection we'e had these arguements 1000 times, the buddha clearly stated there are two extremes that are wrong; there is no self, and there is a permanent abiding self, he said neither is true, the truth is somewhere in the middle. By the way you state the Buddha says; "Sabbe dhamma anatta", 'everything is not a self' how in the world do you translate the word Dhamma into your english "everything is not a self' are you translating Dhamma as everything, in which case that's a ridiculous translation, or what?? explanation????


The big problem with the more mahayana idea of a good self, like the buddha nature, that goes beyond death, is if we are so controlled by this good self, why do we keep doing bad things, perhaps its the non self, the fake counterfeit self that's doing the bad things and once we completely eliminate the non self from our mind, we become enlightened and only do good things, in fact there are some teachings that say a truly enlightened person cannot do bad things like break the precepts.

Does the Buddha ever state that the non self does or does not exist for the unenlightened person that hasn't gotten rid of it, can we be controlled by our non self, or does our non self completely not exist so it has absolutely no hold on us(unlikely)
Last edited by lyndon taylor on Sun Jul 28, 2013 2:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby reflection » Sun Jul 28, 2013 2:27 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:Reflection we'e had these arguements 1000 times, the buddha clearly stated there are two extremes that are wrong; there is no self


Please provide this quote for me as I've never seen it.

Then I will provide you with this quote:
At Savatthi. There the Blessed One said, "Monks, whatever contemplatives or brahmans who assume in various ways when assuming a self, all assume the five clinging-aggregates, or a certain one of them.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Last edited by reflection on Sun Jul 28, 2013 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby lyndon taylor » Sun Jul 28, 2013 2:32 pm

reflection Just read the sutras, I've seen it quoted 100 times on these forums, and I don't for a minute think its very likely you don't know exactly what I am talking about, and no It was not an exact quote, but a paraphrase from memory. Could you please explain you're seeming mistranslation of sabbe dhamma anatta, i edited my previous post with a question for you,
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Re: ...what is unsatisfactory, that is not self...

Postby lyndon taylor » Sun Jul 28, 2013 2:46 pm

Here's one of our resident Bhikkus explaining that sabbe dhamma anatta, means all dhammas are not self, not everything is not self, who would in their right mind expect dhammas to be self;;

Re: What is meant by “Sabbe Dhamma Anatta”
Unread postby Dhammanando » Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:51 pm

SarathW wrote:
All compounds are devoid of self.

Some translate the phrase sabbe dhamma literally as "all phenomena"
(both compound and non-compound). This is not true. According to Lord
Buddha's Teaching in the Dhammapada Pali text, as interpreted by the
original arahant commentators and by the most recent translators
(Carter and Palihawadana 1987) 2, the words sabbe dhamma , in this
context, refer only to the Five Aggregates . These are sankhara or
compounds. Thus, the reference excludes pure, non-compound aspects of
nature such as nibbana.


The writer you quote seems to be treating the Dhammapada Commentary's interpretation (which he approves of) as if it were the sole and normative definition of dhammā in this context. But in fact it's unique and exceptional. Everywhere else the commentaries support the view that the writer rejects, the usual gloss being:

'Sabbe saṅkhārā aniccā' ti sabbe tebhūmakasaṅkhārā aniccā.
'Sabbe dhammā anattā' ti sabbe catubhūmakadhammā anattā.

'All saṅkhāras are impermanent' means that all saṅkhāras belonging to the three planes are impermanent.
'All dhammas are not self' means that all dhammas belonging to the four planes are not self.
(SA.ii.318; )

The three planes are those of sense-desires, refined-form and formlessness. The four planes are the same with the addition of the supramundane.
...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
“Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
— Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
— William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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