"Is there a Self?"

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Sam Vara
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"Is there a Self?"

Post by Sam Vara » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:18 pm

Those interested in Western philosophy might be interested in this discussion by philosopher Bill Vallicella of a formulation of anatta apparently put forward by Sam Harris.

http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/ ... rance.html

Bill V. is a Roman Catholic who meditates regularly, and who is extremely appreciative of Buddhism. He has often written on the topic of "no self", and finds his inability to accept this particular formulation and rationale of anatta a sufficient reason for not abandoning the religion of his birth. The ideas here have been expressed by him before, including in academic papers, but this is a very compressed and clear summary of his position.

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aflatun
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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by aflatun » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:37 pm

:popcorn:

:reading:
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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bodom
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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by bodom » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:37 pm

There is a huge difference between no-self, what the Buddha did not teach and not-self, what he did.
I think this discrepancy would clear up a large amount of misundersanding of his teaching on anatta.

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

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cappuccino
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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by cappuccino » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:56 pm

Body isn't self, that's the teaching. Mind isn't self. etc.

Rather than saying there is no self.
Last edited by cappuccino on Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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aflatun
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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by aflatun » Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:07 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:18 pm
Those interested in Western philosophy might be interested in this discussion by philosopher Bill Vallicella of a formulation of anatta apparently put forward by Sam Harris.

http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/ ... rance.html

Bill V. is a Roman Catholic who meditates regularly, and who is extremely appreciative of Buddhism. He has often written on the topic of "no self", and finds his inability to accept this particular formulation and rationale of anatta a sufficient reason for not abandoning the religion of his birth. The ideas here have been expressed by him before, including in academic papers, but this is a very compressed and clear summary of his position.
I think we may have chatted about this one before Sam, great article and thanks for posting it. I agree with this:
The unitary self is phenomenologically given, but not as a separate object. Herein, perhaps, resides the error of Hume and some Buddhists: they think that if there is a self, it must exist as a separate object of experience.
And so I think the Humean and Harris approach to anatta is bunk.

But, if this phenomenologically given self depends on the particular phenomena that it subtends and unifies, and cannot be found without them, can it be self? :!:

Anyway I'm not sure why a Roman Catholic would find no self intimidating per se, because its not as if anyone in that universe has the right to say "I Am" outside of God... :stirthepot:
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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mikenz66
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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:19 pm

bodom wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:37 pm
There is a huge difference between no-self, what the Buddha did not teach and not-self, what he did.
I think this discrepancy would clear up a large amount of misundersanding of his teaching on anatta.

:namaste:
I sort of agree, but since this "no" vs "not" is a purely an English language distinction it needs to be explained in detail to be of any help.

Mike

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Sam Vara
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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by Sam Vara » Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:47 pm

aflatun wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:07 pm
And so I think the Humean and Harris approach to anatta is bunk.
Yes, you, Bill and me alike!
But, if this phenomenologically given self depends on the particular phenomena that it subtends and unifies, and cannot be found without them, can it be self? :!:
Excellent question. My initial thought is to ask why you think that this type of self depends on anything; that (i.e. the attribution of dependence) seems to be as much an inference from the undisputed fact that we cannot find it without those other phenomena, as the thing that BV is attacking (i.e. the view that it therefore does not exist.)
Anyway I'm not sure why a Roman Catholic would find no self intimidating per se, because its not as if anyone in that universe has the right to say "I Am" outside of God... :stirthepot:
I don't think BV is intimidated by the idea; just disappointed by its lack of credibility. I guess he would say that claiming existence for the self is rational, in that such knowledge is God-given, and not too different from claiming knowledge of any empirical fact. He would only jib at claiming aseity for anything other than God.

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bodom
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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by bodom » Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:54 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:19 pm
bodom wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:37 pm
There is a huge difference between no-self, what the Buddha did not teach and not-self, what he did.
I think this discrepancy would clear up a large amount of misundersanding of his teaching on anatta.

:namaste:
I sort of agree, but since this "no" vs "not" is a purely an English language distinction it needs to be explained in detail to be of any help.

Mike
Sure. It may be a simple distinction but has major ramifications if misunderstood. Anatta, emptiness of self is pretty straight forward as found in the Pali Canon but is radically different as is found in the Mahayana and retains no semblance to what the Buddha intended it to mean. I think it's vitally important in the beginning to properly understand this simple distinction to avoid "emptiness sickness" as its called.

:namaste:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

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cappuccino
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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by cappuccino » Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:56 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:19 pm
this "no" vs "not" is an English language distinction

Ananda Sutta: To Ananda
(On Self, No Self, and Not-self)
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

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mikenz66
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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 11:31 pm

cappuccino wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:56 pm
mikenz66 wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:19 pm
this "no" vs "not" is an English language distinction

Ananda Sutta: To Ananda
(On Self, No Self, and Not-self)
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
As I said, this is a subtle English-language distiction that is not very clear without further explanation.

It would be interesting to have some comments on the Pali from an expert.

Mike

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equilibrium
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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by equilibrium » Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:27 am

mikenz66 wrote: this "no" vs "not" is an English language distinction
"no" is based on extreme.
"not" is based on the middle-way.....which leads to knowledge & vision with right release.

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mikenz66
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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:40 am

equilibrium wrote:
Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:27 am
mikenz66 wrote: this "no" vs "not" is an English language distinction
"no" is based on extreme.
"not" is based on the middle-way.....which leads to knowledge & vision with right release.
Well, as I said, above, I have no problem with that, having read copious background explainging it...

My point is merely that you can't rely on the implications of a couple of English words to get the meaning across.

:heart:
Mike

SamKR
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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by SamKR » Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:38 am

This is how I understand:

The statement "There is no self" is a philosophical or conceptual statement detached from alive happening present at this moment here (the seen, heard, sensed, cognized). This is non-mindfulness.

But the statement "This is not self" is an understanding directly in relation to this direct alive happening here and now. This is the meditation, mindfulness

The latter is almost the same as saying "There is no self in this" or "This has nothing to do with any concept of self".

So, based on how we understand both could have same meaning or different meanings.

(Here, "this" means this alive happening: seen, heard, sensed, cognized - or the alive referents of the concepts of five skandhas)

chownah
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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by chownah » Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:59 am

This is my view of the difference between "no" and "not" inre self:

The buddha taught that to hold the view that there is a self or there is no self is/are wrong view....

To say that there is no self is therefore wrong view.

The buddha taught that to hold to any view about the nature of a self leads to stress.

To say that this or that or the other thing is not self is not wrong view but is simply a statement of fact.

From the above I take that if one practices to avoid any thoughts of self when observing the phenomena which make up our existence then one is on the path to the ending of stress.
chownah

binocular
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Re: "Is there a Self?"

Post by binocular » Mon Feb 05, 2018 8:07 am

aflatun wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:07 pm
Anyway I'm not sure why a Roman Catholic would find no self intimidating per se, because its not as if anyone in that universe has the right to say "I Am" outside of God...
Catholicism stands and falls with the idea of the soul (a permanent self). Without the idea of such a soul, reward and punishment, proselytizing, admitting one's sins and begging forgiveness for them, mercy, heaven and eternal damnation become moot, and a Catholic would have nothing to live for and nothing by which to direct their life. So it's no wonder that no-self seems intimidating to a Catholic.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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