There is neither atta nor anatta?

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There is neither atta nor anatta?

Postby Hage » Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:09 pm

I would like to know your opinions about the way that some famous monks talked about Anatta, not-self. I was reading about this for a long time, and it would be good to hear the opinion of others now.
But it is clear that it is speculation, because we must see it in our practices, but I think we must think a little about it too lol

Particularly, I don't feel very certain with the view of Ajahn Thanissaro. He says that Anatta could be just a strategy and because of it, many people say that Thanissaro believes in a soul or in a unconditioned consciousness.
I feel more 'certain' with the arguments of Ajahn Brahmavamso... the way he talks seems to me that he really investigated the process of Dependent Origination in profound meditations, because he seems to have very experience with Jhanas.
So, while Thanissaro Bhikkhu talks about Anatta as just a strategy, Ajahn Brahm is more determined in talking that there is nothing:

Ajahn Thanissaro:
Books on Buddhism often state that the Buddha's most basic metaphysical tenet is that there is no soul or self. However, a survey of the discourses in the Pali canon — the earliest extant record of the Buddha's teachings — suggests that the Buddha taught the anatta or not-self doctrine, not as a metaphysical assertion, but as a strategy for gaining release from suffering
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/notself.html

Ajahn Brahmavamso:
When you read the Buddha's teachings, there's no way around coming to the conclusion that there is no-one in here. There is no controller. There is no knower. There is no doer. There is no self, no soul, no being. And this uncompromising conclusion which you get from looking at the teachings causes you to actually investigate because so much other teachings of the Buddha seem to be so powerful, so deep, so true, so effective, and this one, seems to be the hard one. It is the hard one because on the realisation of anatta, of uncovering the illusion of self that, the whole path towards enlightenment revolves.
http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Ajahn_Brahm_Using_NonSelf_to_Let_Go.htm

And Ajahn Brahm says more in another text:
Even deeper than 'the doer' is 'the knower'. The two actually go together. One can stop 'the doer' for a little while in the jhanas, but later it comes back again. One even can stop 'the doer' for aeons by going to the jhana realms after one dies. However, it will still come back again. Once there is a 'knower' it will react to what it knows, and it will create 'doing'.

'The knower' is usually called consciousness or citta (mind), which is what knows. That knowing is often seen to be the ultimate 'self'. Very often people can get the perception, or the paradigm, in their minds of perceiving something in here, which can just know and not be touched by what it knows. It just knows heat and cold, pleasure and pain. It just knows beauty and ugliness. However, at the same time (somehow or other), it can just stand back and not be known, and not be touched by what's actually happening. It is important to understand that the nature of consciousness is so fast, so quick, that it gives the illusion of continuity. Owing to this illusion, one misses the point that whatever one sees with your eyes, or feels with the body, the mind then takes that up as it's own object, and it knows that it saw. It knows that it felt. It's that knowing that it saw, knowing that it felt, that gives the illusion of objectivity. It can even know that it knew.

When philosophy books talk about 'self reflection' or 'self knowledge', the fact that not only do "I know", but that "I know that I know", or that "I know that I know that I know", is given as a proof of the existence of a self. I have looked into that experience, in order to see what actually was going on with this 'knowing' business. Using the depth of my meditation, with the precision that that gave to mindfulness, to awareness, I could see the way this mind was actually working. What one actually sees is this procession of events, that which we call 'knowing'. It's like a procession, just one thing arising after the other in time. When I saw something, then a fraction of a moment afterwards I knew that I saw, and then a fraction of a moment afterwards I knew that I knew that I saw. There is no such thing as, "I know that I know that I know". The truth of the matter is, "I know that I knew that I knew". When one adds the perspective of time, one can see the causal sequence of moments of consciousness. Not seeing that causal sequence can very easily give rise to the illusion of a continuous 'knower'. This illusion of a continuous 'knower' is most often where people assume that their 'self' resides.
http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books3/Ajahn_Brahm_ANATTA.htm

So I started to observe my mind, and to start understanding, of course, in a poor level, what they mean that there are just phenomenas arising and ceasing without a self controlling it. I became interested about Anatta, so I went to look for talks of Ajahn Chah, because many people looked at him as an Arahant, and I enjoy his talks a lot besides he is the máster of Ajahn Brahm, whose meditation method I follow. I found that Ajahn Brahm talked in the same text that I passed above:
Ajahn Brahmavamso:
[...]I had a very nice meditation, a very deep meditation. When I came out afterwards I had a lot of happiness and clarity in my mind.

Of course, the first thing that came to my mind after that meditation was to see if I could assist my teacher, Ajahn Chah. So I got up and started walking towards the sauna. Half way between the Dhamma hall and the sauna, I met Ajahn Chah coming in the opposite direction with two or three Thai laymen. He had completed his sauna and he was on his way back to Wat Pa Pong. When he saw me, he obviously perceived that I'd had a very deep meditation and that my mind was clear, so it was one of those occasions when he tried, out of compassion, to enlighten me. He looked me in the eye, as Ajahn Chah could do, and said, "Brahmavamso, tam mai?" which means, "Brahmavamso, why?" I said, "I don't know". He laughed and said, "If anyone ever asks you that question again the right answer is, 'Mai me arai' (there is nothing)". He asked me if I understood, and I said, "Yes", and he said, "No you don't".

I'll always remember his reply. As he walked off it was like a profound teaching that he had just shared with me. What he was actually saying here by his teaching, 'Mai me arai' was, there is nothing, just emptiness, anatta. This is a powerful teaching because in our world we always want to have something. We always want to grab on to something, and to say "there is something". But actually, there is nothing.


Then, Reading the book "The Teachings of Ajahn Chah", I read the final of an answer of Ajahn Chah to a question of his disciple that intrigued me on the page 95:

The Teachings of Ajahn Chah
Question: Are defilements such as greed or anger merely illusory or are they real?
Answer of Ajahn Chah: They are both. The defilements we call lust or greed, or anger or delusion, these are just outward names, appearances. Just as we call a bowl large, small, pretty, or whatever. This is not reality. It is the concept we create from craving. If we want a big bowl, we call this one small. Craving causes us to discriminate. The truth, though, is merely what is. Look at it this way. Are you a man? You can say “yes”. This is the appearance of things. But really you are only a combination of elements or a group of changing aggregates. If the mind is free, it does not discriminate. No big and small, no you and me. There is nothing: anatta ¯, we say, or non-self. Really, in the end there is neither atta nor anatta


I thought a little about that, but I would like to hear your opinions. What do you think? :bow:
If you really see uncertainty clearly, you will see that which is certain. The certainty is that things must inevitably be uncertain and that they cannot be otherwise. [...] If you know that all things are impermanent, all your thinking will gradually unwind and you won’t need to think too much. Whenever anything arises, all you need to say is "Oh, another one!" Just that! - Ajahn Chah
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Re: There is neither atta nor anatta?

Postby Kingdubrock » Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:59 pm

Ugh. Poor Thanissaro. This kind of thing will probably follow him and overshadow his many contributions now.
I havent read that quote in context but if I understand him correctly (from that oft-quoted passage) something similar is pretty much, but in a more generalized fashion suggested by Rupert Gethin in The Buddhist Path to Awakening. I dont have the book handy and cant quote directly but I think it might have been in one of the introductory chapters.
His main point as I understood it was that in Western philosophy various subjects are usually discussed or treated and debated in isolation from other subjects, such as metaphysics, phenomenology, ontology, ethics, aesthetics, politics and so on. We have a general and traditional tendency to read other philosophies and world views that way because of it. So, for example, to take something like Sila or Anatta or Dependent Origination etc on their own, as self contained doctrines or philosophical positions, without reference to the rest of the overall, deeply interconnected Buddhist framework and purpose, will more often than not be fraught with problems of context, distortion, over or under-emphasis, translation and much more.
So, at least in Gethin's case, he felt that the scholarly literature suffered quite a bit from this and with support for his reasoning explains that he felt offering a truer more holistic picture of Buddhist thought overall, entails situating categorizing, contextualizing and organizing the bewildering number of, and confusingly organized, collections of suttas into a framework of a path of practice rather than reified, self contained philosophical and metaphysical stances. In other words, like Thanissaro seems to me to be saying, things are taught, and often repeated in a huge variety of differnt circumstances or in different variations of lists and whatnot, specifically as a peagogical strategy aimed at liberation, avoiding views that could impede liberation, promoting views that aid liberation, at a very practical level. And, fwiw, I believe this makes a great deal of sense to relate to Buddhist concepts in this way.
I have seen many people develop real hot buttons, quirks, obsessions, crusades, even learn Pali, over this and a few other issues (like Emptiness - yikes). It consumes them, they argue, debate, harrass others. All to "prove" what the Buddha really meant.
Call me crazy but I dont think thats helpful for practice, understanding or comparative philosophy/religious studies.
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Re: There is neither atta nor anatta?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:23 pm

Greetings,

Kingdubrock wrote:Ugh. Poor Thanissaro. This kind of thing will probably follow him and overshadow his many contributions now.

Why? It's quite possibly it's his greatest contribution.... more specifically, disentangling the "no self" from "not self" positions which had (mistakenly, imo) become more or less synonymous in Theravada Buddhism.

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


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


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Re: There is neither atta nor anatta?

Postby Kingdubrock » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:37 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Kingdubrock wrote:Ugh. Poor Thanissaro. This kind of thing will probably follow him and overshadow his many contributions now.

Why? It's quite possibly it's his greatest contribution.... more specifically, disentangling the "no self" from "not self" positions which had (mistakenly, imo) become more or less synonymous in Theravada Buddhism.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Heh. :smile:

I didn't know that was his actual distinction/position. (kind of has shades of the ol' Shentong debates ;) ). I have read his translations far more than his teachings and commentary. So I dont know what he believes. The interview with him in Shankmans book was very refreshing, clarifying and interesting. He seems to be quite flexible and yet certain in his thinking and teaching which to me is a sign of intelligence and deep practice.
But from that quote alone it seemed to me to echo what Gethin was driving at more than making a positive assertion (or even a non-denial) about a soul or whatever. From my online experiences alone, it seems someone getting labeled as asserting any kind of self or thingy in any shape or form tends to stigmatize them, generate controversy and overshadow anythng else they have done or said. Thread after thread pops up on highprofile forums. It sometimes even Becomes an obligatory interview question in the Buddhist press/media like asking if Brangelina are getting a divorce or something.
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Re: There is neither atta nor anatta?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:45 pm

Greetings Kingdubrock,

Generally, those who object to the "not-self strategy" tend to be those who are suspicious of anything short of "denial of self"... as if not denying self is somehow an affirmation of self.

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


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


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Re: There is neither atta nor anatta?

Postby Kingdubrock » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:50 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Kingdubrock,

Generally, those who object to the "not-self strategy" tend to be those who are suspicious of anything short of "denial of self"... as if not denying self is somehow an affirmation of self.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hey there.
Fascinating. I wasnt even aware there was such a strategy. Is there anyone who is well known (including him if that is so) for articulating it I can look up?
Personally I can see it being a healthy or useful distinction or strategy for getting people out of the mire and focused in practice.
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Re: There is neither atta nor anatta?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:31 am

Greetings,

:reading:

No-self or Not-self? (Thanissaro Bhikkhu)
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... self2.html

The Not-Self Strategy (Thanissaro Bhikkhu)
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tself.html

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


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


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Re: There is neither atta nor anatta?

Postby Kingdubrock » Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:47 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

:reading:

No-self or Not-self? (Thanissaro Bhikkhu)
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... self2.html

The Not-Self Strategy (Thanissaro Bhikkhu)
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tself.html

Metta,
Retro. :)


Huh! Will read. Thanks for the links Retro.
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Re: There is neither atta nor anatta?

Postby SarathW » Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:49 am

Hi Hage
Anatta is not a thing. It is a common name given to describe an object which is made of several parts.
For example Buddha said the so called person is an aggregate of five things (Nama Rupa).
It is similar to a scientist saying water is Anatta ie. H2O.
I have read many writings of Ven. T. I have no problems with what he says.
What he saying is when “I” thirsty "I" can drink water and it can satisfy “my” thrust.
Buddha said that there is no “I” but the thrust (one of the elements of the five aggregate) is there.
The thrust is not I, me or myself.
:)
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Re: There is neither atta nor anatta?

Postby chownah » Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:43 am

Hage,
I think that Ajan Chah's statement that you provided is nicely to the point so I'll post it again:


Question: Are defilements such as greed or anger merely illusory or are they real?
Answer of Ajahn Chah: They are both. The defilements we call lust or greed, or anger or delusion, these are just outward names, appearances. Just as we call a bowl large, small, pretty, or whatever. This is not reality. It is the concept we create from craving. If we want a big bowl, we call this one small. Craving causes us to discriminate. The truth, though, is merely what is. Look at it this way. Are you a man? You can say “yes”. This is the appearance of things. But really you are only a combination of elements or a group of changing aggregates. If the mind is free, it does not discriminate. No big and small, no you and me. There is nothing: anatta ¯, we say, or non-self. Really, in the end there is neither atta nor anatta

I think this clearly describes how it is that atta and anatta are real and illusory.....and it also applies this discernment to lust, greed, anger, and delusion. My view is that this same concept applies to every word and idea that we have.....
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Re: There is neither atta nor anatta?

Postby pegembara » Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:46 am

Kingdubrock wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Kingdubrock,

Generally, those who object to the "not-self strategy" tend to be those who are suspicious of anything short of "denial of self"... as if not denying self is somehow an affirmation of self.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hey there.
Fascinating. I wasnt even aware there was such a strategy. Is there anyone who is well known (including him if that is so) for articulating it I can look up?
Personally I can see it being a healthy or useful distinction or strategy for getting people out of the mire and focused in practice.



On the Not-Self Strategy

The heart of Buddhism, as this expression is understood in Dhamma language, as the Buddha has put it, is the realization that nothing whatsoever should be grasped at and clung to.

"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya."

Nothing whatever should be grasped at and clung to as "me" or "mine" This is the heart of Buddhism as understood in Dhamma language, the language of the Buddha. So anyone who is after the heart of Buddhism should be very careful not to get just the "heart" of everyday language, the language of people ignorant of Dhamma. That sort of "heart" is likely to be something ridiculous, laughable, and childish.
http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books2/Bhikk ... _Truth.htm


"What do you think, monks: If a person were to gather or burn or do as he likes with the grass, twigs, branches & leaves here in Jeta's Grove, would the thought occur to you, 'It's us that this person is gathering, burning, or doing with as he likes'?"

"No, lord. Why is that? Because those things are not our self, nor do they belong to our self."

"Even so, monks, whatever isn't yours: Let go of it. Your letting go of it will be for your long-term welfare & happiness. And what isn't yours? Form isn't yours... Feeling isn't yours... Perception... Thought fabrications... Consciousness isn't yours: Let go of it. Your letting go of it will be for your long-term welfare & happiness.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: There is neither atta nor anatta?

Postby pegembara » Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:05 am

There is neither atta nor anatta? To deny the self is to affirm its existence.

Take for example the statement - "Life has no meaning".
To assert the above is actually affirming the futile search for meaning.

The more accurate descriptor imho is emptiness or sunyata.

Form is like a glob of foam;
feeling, a bubble;
perception, a mirage;
fabrications, a banana tree;
consciousness, a magic trick —
this has been taught
by the Kinsman of the Sun.
However you observe them,
appropriately examine them,
they're empty, void
to whoever sees them
appropriately.

Phena Sutta


"`Everything exists', Kaccāyana, is one extreme. `Nothing ex­ists' is the other extreme. Not approaching either of those ex­tremes, Kac­cāyana, the Tathāgata teaches the Dhamma by the middle way:
Kaccāyanagottasutta
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: There is neither atta nor anatta?

Postby Hage » Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:56 am

Thanks for your comments, now I can see the arguments of Ajahn Thanissaro better...

After all, I think that all they said is the same thing in different words, what shows how Dhamma must be completely understood in practice.
It seems to me that "self" as a soul is invention of ours, so, it is a little strange to say that there is no self. It's how I am saying that there is not-"judi", and that there is not judi, it don't exist in our language - does judi means something? it is just four letters without meaning for us... So, how to say there is not-something there is not? Why? What the purpose? lol
It is unnecessary. how Buddha said, it is just a tangle of ideas. So, to ask "There is not a self?" is a little strange. I think was because of it that Ajahn Chah said that... We must see just empty phenomenas.

There are just phenomenas and, as Ajahn Brahm said, we must not ask "Do I exist?", but "What do I think that am I? What do I think that is my self?". After all, Thanissaro was talking about it, but I was seeing it in the wrong way. I was putting what Ajahn Brahm said on one extreme and what Ajahn Thanissaro said in another extreme, but, as a matter of fact, I see now that they were saying the same thing, on the middle way.

But it is better to see it in practice. I hope we can understand the Dhamma Language :anjali:
If you really see uncertainty clearly, you will see that which is certain. The certainty is that things must inevitably be uncertain and that they cannot be otherwise. [...] If you know that all things are impermanent, all your thinking will gradually unwind and you won’t need to think too much. Whenever anything arises, all you need to say is "Oh, another one!" Just that! - Ajahn Chah
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Re: There is neither atta nor anatta?

Postby Samma » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:03 am

For more on Thanissaro might read skill in questions:
the anatta teaching does not deny the existence of the self. It is a mode of perception, a strategy using the label “not-self” to help abandon attachment to whatever is clung to as self, so as to reach liberation. ... The anatta teaching is meant to function in the context of questions shaped by that viewpoint: When is the perception of self a skillful mental action and when is it not? When is the perception of not-self a skillful mental action and when is it not?

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
When Buddha asked if there is atta he was silent. When asked is there no atta he was silent. That is, middle way between eternal and annihilation views. After all the Buddha did teach anatta doctrine, so it seems odd to say "nor anatta". So neither atta nor annihilation (no self)? I think this is why we see Thanissaro walk a very fine line....at what point does talk of "no self, no soul, no being" "there is nothing" seem too much like annihilation?

I think the key line of Ajahn Chah was ""If the mind is free, it does not discriminate." and I'm not sure how the "nor anatta" line as adding anything beyond that, and maybe causing confusion?
As Ajahn Chah was getting at:
1. 'The Tathagata exists after death'
2. 'The Tathagata does not exist after death'
3.The Tathagata both exists and does not exist after death'
4. 'The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death' doesn't occur.
As the Buddha explained on another occasion, only those who take any of the six senses to be mine or 'I' or 'myself' will take up any of these four propositions (Analayo)
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Re: There is neither atta nor anatta?

Postby Kingdubrock » Fri Aug 23, 2013 5:46 pm

Samma wrote:For more on Thanissaro might read skill in questions:
the anatta teaching does not deny the existence of the self. It is a mode of perception, a strategy using the label “not-self” to help abandon attachment to whatever is clung to as self, so as to reach liberation. ... The anatta teaching is meant to function in the context of questions shaped by that viewpoint: When is the perception of self a skillful mental action and when is it not? When is the perception of not-self a skillful mental action and when is it not?

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
When Buddha asked if there is atta he was silent. When asked is there no atta he was silent. That is, middle way between eternal and annihilation views. After all the Buddha did teach anatta doctrine, so it seems odd to say "nor anatta". So neither atta nor annihilation (no self)? I think this is why we see Thanissaro walk a very fine line....at what point does talk of "no self, no soul, no being" "there is nothing" seem too much like annihilation?

I think the key line of Ajahn Chah was ""If the mind is free, it does not discriminate." and I'm not sure how the "nor anatta" line as adding anything beyond that, and maybe causing confusion?
As Ajahn Chah was getting at:
1. 'The Tathagata exists after death'
2. 'The Tathagata does not exist after death'
3.The Tathagata both exists and does not exist after death'
4. 'The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death' doesn't occur.
As the Buddha explained on another occasion, only those who take any of the six senses to be mine or 'I' or 'myself' will take up any of these four propositions (Analayo)


See, this is the kind of thing I'm trying to figure out (without getting preoccupied intellectually) - in terms of its origin.
You have basically outlined Nagarjuna's fourfold negation. And as I understand so far, the not-self strategy is pretty much along these lines and I would say, also the same as the Vendantin "neti-neti".
I have no quarrel with either. But sometimes when some Theravadin teachers address issues like this one or emptiness, I detect a bit of appropriating or allowing Mahayanist formulations, primarily because they are not contradictory per se, or more positively, are implicit or latent in the Canonical sources, rather than explicitly taken up within the texts or commentaries prior to the Mahayana. Personally I dont worry about it from a practice or practical standpoint. But for research I like to be able to identify historical/orthodox origins.
Having said that, the Buddhas silence in this case is very similar if not identical to the story in the "Mu" koan. According to their tradition, the Buddha taught that all beings without exception have Buddha Nature. When asked if a dog has Buddha nature the teacher answers Mu or no (sometimes the precise translation of Mu is fussed over but it was a negation nonetheless). In any case, to get at the heart, to pass through the "gateless gate", such clinging to assertions and negations in themselves as being reality itself would be a hinderance. So that non-answer from the Buddha makes perfect sense to me. "Neither-nor" seems ok to me when talking about it, but the point as I sense it, is to just drop it and practice and look.
A self is un-findable when looked for. That to my mind is the teaching and can easily be experienced. To go from that to a logical assertion or negation is less helpful. Imo, of course.
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Re: There is neither atta nor anatta?

Postby daverupa » Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:25 pm

Kingdubrock wrote:...Nagarjuna's fourfold negation... But sometimes when some Theravadin teachers address issues like this one or emptiness, I detect a bit of appropriating or allowing Mahayanist formulations, primarily because they are not contradictory per se, or more positively, are implicit or latent in the Canonical sources, rather than explicitly taken up within the texts or commentaries prior to the Mahayana.


The fourfold negation isn't Nagarjuna's, but contained within the Nikayas. It's sometimes called the tetralemma; Nagarjuna used it, but it isn't a Mahayanist formulation per se.

The idea that all beings have Buddha Nature, however, is definitely a Mahayana formulation not found in the Nikayas.
    "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: There is neither atta nor anatta?

Postby Samma » Fri Aug 23, 2013 7:19 pm

The last bit of Thanissaro selves and not selves is of note where he talks of what is beyond self and not self. So for grades of practice, an advanced one is to apply not-self across the board. Maybe saying "a self is un-findable" seems a bit too much seeing things in terms of self, as no-self. Its more about dropping categories of identification and obsession. And Ajahn Chah "nor anatta" is about talk as nibbana as beyond even not-self (?), as an ultimately dropping of categorization, as beyond discrimination.

Many of the forest ajaans have emphasized this point in their teachings: that in the attainment of awakening, you put aside both self and not-self. Several years back, there was a controversy in Thailand as to whether nibbana was self or not-self. The issue was even argued in the newspapers. So one day someone went to ask Ajaan MahaBoowa, “Is nibbana self or not-self?” And his answer was, “Nibbana is nibbana.” That was it. He then went on to explain how self and not-self are tools on the path, how both are put down when the path has done its work, and how neither applies to the experience of nibbana. Ajaan Suwat, one of my teachers, also said that when you’ve experienced deathless happiness, you don’t really care if there’s something experiencing it or not. The experience is sufficient in and of itself. What we’ve been describing here is a special kind of consciousness that lies beyond the aggregates: The texts call it “consciousness without surface.” Once it’s been attained, then freedom is never lost. The mind no longer tries to define itself, and because it’s not defined, it can’t be described.
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Re: There is neither atta nor anatta?

Postby Kingdubrock » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:25 pm

daverupa wrote:
Kingdubrock wrote:...Nagarjuna's fourfold negation... But sometimes when some Theravadin teachers address issues like this one or emptiness, I detect a bit of appropriating or allowing Mahayanist formulations, primarily because they are not contradictory per se, or more positively, are implicit or latent in the Canonical sources, rather than explicitly taken up within the texts or commentaries prior to the Mahayana.


The fourfold negation isn't Nagarjuna's, but contained within the Nikayas. It's sometimes called the tetralemma; Nagarjuna used it, but it isn't a Mahayanist formulation per se.


Ah! thank you very informative. I looked around and indeed it is contained in the Brahmajala Sutta

The idea that all beings have Buddha Nature, however, is definitely a Mahayana formulation not found in the Nikayas.

Of course. I was talking about the negating "logic" and its purpose, not buddhanature as such.

Thanks :anjali:
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Re: There is neither atta nor anatta?

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:22 pm

Hi all,


I am very taken with the Achaan Cha quote which was posted twice in this thread. What I would like to contribute is that I think the "not self" teaching clearly puts our experience and our views into an appropriate perspective so that we can develop the conditions which bring an end to suffering. Its where we start again and again. I do not think of it as where we end up. I particularly like the Five spiritual faculties as a teaching.....

Faith Balancing Wisdom ( Not self being wisdom)
Energy Balancing Concentration

Mindfulness of Purpose taking care of the Job of Balancing all these Faculties.

The Faculties are not real and that is why they can be balanced with each other.

If they were separate distinctive faculties they would not interact but they do.

Be well all.

Prasadachitta
"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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