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:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/notself.htmlBooks 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.dhammatalks.net/Books/Ajahn_Brahm_Using_NonSelf_to_Let_Go.htmWhen 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.
And Ajahn Brahm says more in another text:
http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books3/Ajahn_Brahm_ANATTA.htmEven 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.
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:
[...]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?