Did the Buddha reject atman? Let's arrive at a conclusion

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samseva
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Re: Did the Buddha reject atman? Let's arrive at a conclusion

Post by samseva » Fri Jul 03, 2015 2:28 pm

dhammacoustic wrote:...lately I feel that I'm not going anywhere with my practice with the no-self approach, and I don't have the necessary lifestyle to work with a teacher either, so I'm all alone.
A better translation for anattā is not-self.

You are not corporeality, you are not feeling, you are not perception, you are not mental-formations and you are not consciousness.

From Nyanatiloka's Buddhist Dictionary:
anattā: ‘not-self’, non-ego, egolessness, impersonality, is the last of the three characteristics of existence (ti-lakkhaṇa, q.v.). The anattā doctrine teaches that neither within the bodily and mental phenomena of existence, nor outside of them, can be found anything that in the ultimate sense could be regarded as a self-existing real ego-entity, soul or any other abiding substance. This is the central doctrine of Buddhism, without understanding which a real knowledge of...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html
"Bhikkhus, feeling is not-self...
"Bhikkhus, perception is not-self...
"Bhikkhus, determinations are not-self...
"Bhikkhus, consciousness is not self...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"Ananda, if I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self — were to answer that there is a self, that would be conforming with those brahmans & contemplatives who are exponents of eternalism [the view that there is an eternal, unchanging soul]. If I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self — were to answer that there is no self, that would be conforming with those brahmans & contemplatives who are exponents of annihilationism [the view that death is the annihilation of consciousness]. If I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self — were to answer that there is a self, would that be in keeping with the arising of knowledge that all phenomena are not-self?"

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Polar Bear
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Re: Did the Buddha reject atman? Let's arrive at a conclusion

Post by Polar Bear » Sat Jul 04, 2015 4:28 am

Hello dhammacoustic,

I think these suttas should suffice beyond any doubt to show that the buddha did not teach an atta behind the khandas.
"What do you think, Anuradha: Do you regard the Tathagata as being in form?... Elsewhere than form?... In feeling?... Elsewhere than feeling?... In perception?... Elsewhere than perception?... In fabrications?... Elsewhere than fabrications?... In consciousness?... Elsewhere than consciousness?"

"No, lord."

"What do you think: Do you regard the Tathagata as form-feeling-perception-fabrications-consciousness?"

"No, lord."

"Do you regard the Tathagata as that which is without form, without feeling, without perception, without fabrications, without consciousness?"

"No, lord."

"And so, Anuradha — when you can't pin down the Tathagata as a truth or reality even in the present life — is it proper for you to declare, 'Friends, the Tathagata — the supreme man, the superlative man, attainer of the superlative attainment — being described, is described otherwise than with these four positions: The Tathagata exists after death, does not exist after death, both does & does not exist after death, neither exists nor does not exist after death'?"

"No, lord."

"Very good, Anuradha. Very good. Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Read this sutta as well:
"No, monk, there is no form... no feeling... no perception... there are no fabrications... there is no consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."
.... If there were even this much consciousness that was constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that would stay just as it is as long as eternity, then this living of the holy life for the right ending of suffering & stress would not be discerned. But because there isn't even this much consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity, this living of the holy life for the right ending of suffering & stress is discerned.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

And this one:
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" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

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srivijaya
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Re: Did the Buddha reject atman? Let's arrive at a conclusion

Post by srivijaya » Sat Jul 04, 2015 3:09 pm

dhammacoustic wrote: It's not about nihilism, I view the Buddha as a nihilist as well, and an absurdist, ie; sabbe dhammā anattā, sabbe saṅkhāra anicca etc. So, nothing means anything, and all is dukkha, except that unbinding is the peak of all. And I accept it, but how do we go about doing that?
What are you actually accepting? A bunch of philosophical ideas.
I don't know what is clinging to the khandhas. I don't know where to direct my attention to.
If you really want to find the answer, then you need to direct your attention to the breath. Everything else will follow, if you carefully observe what arises and passes.
What is it that is inward? If there is no soul, how do I experience suffering? Is rūpa itself suffering? How do I discern right from wrong, or skillful mental qualities from unskillful ones? What is the source of wisdom? I read what people post in here, but there really are philosophical gaps, which a Buddhist shouldn't be avoiding.
You won't resolve this problem with either philosophy or religion. Dhamma is a path, a training, a kind of "yoga" (for want of a better word). It's something 'done', something physical/mental.

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Jetavan
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Re: Did the Buddha reject atman? Let's arrive at a conclusion

Post by Jetavan » Sun Jan 29, 2017 4:03 pm

dhammacoustic wrote: The perfect contextual usage of anattā in sutta: “Whatever form, feelings, perceptions, experiences, or consciousness there are (the five aggregates), these he sees to be without permanence, as suffering, as ill, as a plague, a boil, a sting, a pain, an affliction, as foreign, as otherness, as empty (suññatō), as Selfless (anattatō). So he turns his mind (citta) away from these and gathers his mind/will within the realm of Immortality (amataya dhatuya). This is tranquility; this is that which is most excellent!” [MN 1.436]. The Buddha never considered the atman to be micchaditthi (wrong view). Had the Buddha rejected the atman (soul), why would he not deny it unambiguously? There is no such denial.
Can anyone confirm whether this quote indeed comes from MN 1.436?

santa100
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Re: Did the Buddha reject atman? Let's arrive at a conclusion

Post by santa100 » Sun Jan 29, 2017 4:51 pm

Jetavan wrote:Can anyone confirm whether this quote indeed comes from MN 1.436
MN i.436 (Vol/Page notation) points to MN 64

justindesilva
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Re: Did the Buddha reject atman? Let's arrive at a conclusion

Post by justindesilva » Sun Jan 29, 2017 5:00 pm

Siha wrote:
dhammacoustic wrote:For about a year, I've been lost in this anattā issue. It's easy to post theories and ideas online, but in real life, it's painful, at least in my experience.

Objections to this article (any part of it) will be vital for my development as a lay follower, so thanks in advance.
Hello Dhammacoustic,

May I suggest something?

It is that if you feel attracted to the “True Self” interpretation of anatta but are at the same time doubtful about its correctness, it might be a good idea to do the following: first of all, learn the interpretation from an honest scholar who can put up a reasonably strong argument for it (not a rascally pseudo-scholar like Ken Wheeler who mostly just uses dishonest translations to argue his case).

And secondly, read a comparably good refutation of it. Then decide which of the two is more compelling. If you can’t decide, then at least you will be in a position to post questions that people will be interested in answering. I think very few people are interested in engaging with Ken’s crappy materials for his lack of scruples in reading the Pali Canon is now notorious in online Buddhist
Why argue when anatta Lakkana sutta explains the odds and ends of self or no self.

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Re: Did the Buddha reject atman? Let's arrive at a conclusion

Post by justindesilva » Sun Jan 29, 2017 5:03 pm

Siha wrote:
dhammacoustic wrote:For about a year, I've been lost in this anattā issue. It's easy to post theories and ideas online, but in real life, it's painful, at least in my experience.

Objections to this article (any part of it) will be vital for my development as a lay follower, so thanks in advance.
Hello Dhammacoustic,

May I suggest something?

It is that if you feel attracted to the “True Self” interpretation of anatta but are at the same time doubtful about its correctness, it might be a good idea to do the following: first of all, learn the interpretation from an honest scholar who can put up a reasonably strong argument for it (not a rascally pseudo-scholar like Ken Wheeler who mostly just uses dishonest translations to argue his case).

Why argue when anatta Lakkana sutta explains the odds and ends of self or no self.

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cappuccino
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Re: Did the Buddha reject atman? Let's arrive at a conclusion

Post by cappuccino » Sun Jan 29, 2017 7:10 pm

dhammacoustic wrote:modern "buddhism" attracts only the mentally perverse, often spiritually suicidal, who wrongly see superficially something noble in a soulless annihilistic Humanistic idealism.
If saying there is no self, one is implying something doesn't exist. And to someone hearing this, they hear annihilation.

If saying all phenomena are not self, one is implying a new perspective. And this perspective is liberating.

Buddha avoids the former, and says the latter.

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Jojola
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Re: Did the Buddha reject atman? Let's arrive at a conclusion

Post by Jojola » Sun Jan 29, 2017 9:07 pm

I think I can conclude this:
Thing is Ken Wheelers argument is actually logically sound. He is absolutely right. If you bother to take the time to follow his reasoning you will see it is iron clad, but it's useless regarding actual practice towards the goal. I'll lay it down as simply and as short as I can...

Really this is about "The All", the five aggregates. When the Buddha called the five aggregates “The All”, he was not making a metaphysical point i.e. implying that "these are everything!" They can't be. Where is gravity? Where is electricity? Magnetism? Plasma? Radiation? Dark Matter? And I believe Kens personal favorite - Light? I believe we can all agree that those things hardly count as physical formations of earth, water, fire, and wind, nor are they feelings, thoughts, consciousness, or memories/perceptions.

So when Ken argues Theravadins are wrong when they (or we, I live in a monastery and ordaining as a novice soon) say “The All” encapsulates all phenomena metaphysically speaking, he is right, it doesn't- hence the examples I listed above.

So what did the Buddha mean by "The All"? As always, with compassionate- nothing held back –forthcoming wisdom, he explains himself: “Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range.” - SN 35.23
In other words it’s not “The All” because it is a sum of all there ‘is’ metaphysically, but because without we have nothing phenomenologically . The difference between is where Ken finds room for Atta/Atman/Self/Soul or, as he puts, "pure subject". And he is right there is room there, BUT:

Gravity, light, those other things, and everything in the universe for that matter (including Kens notion of a 'true self') we know of them through 'The All', we perceive them, feel them, conscious through them via contact with physical sense apparatus of body (made up of earth, wind, fire, and water) and can mentally fabricate about them.

"The All" is 'all' that is relevant to our subjective experience, which is where the work of surmounting dukkha takes place, because it's the only range where it can possibly take place. It doesn't matter what's outside of The All because in order for it to become relevant to us it has to arise through 'The All', which as we know have the 3 characteristics/qualities, and the most relevant of pertaining to this topic: anatta.

This is where his argument reveals to be irrelevant to practice and unsubstantiated in refuting the method of said practice prescribed to us by The Buddha: because he is delineating an idea of 'self', that although he did logically find room for, that is still ultimately a perception and sankhara (a view, a very impressive and refined one, but a merely view, part of the net we need to avoid being caught in).

Our job as practitioners is not to delineate self (as either existent, non-existent, both, or neither) but delineate the khandas till we recognize them as not-self. But remember they are all that can be said phenomenologically, so what's left? It doesn't apply because all means of ascertaining have been put to rest, made like a stump.

So carry out that practice till the notion of 'self' starts to become utterly meaningless to you outside of convention, because in the true nature of things it really doesn't mean anything, then you are close to breaking the 1st fetter, which is destruction of self-view - not realization of no-self. It is important to remember that the Buddha was silent when asked point blank whether self is or is not.

The pinnacle of what I'm trying to put forth here is that anatta is not just a quality of the khandas, but an instruction to follow from The Buddha pertaining to our view (ditthi). And I strongly recommend heeding that instruction.

Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammasambuddhasa

:anjali:
Last edited by Jojola on Sun Jan 29, 2017 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Regards,

- :heart:
__________________________________________________________________________________________________
"Only in a vertical view, straight down into the abyss of his own personal existence, is a man capable of apprehending the perilous insecurity of his situation; and only a man who does apprehend this is prepared to listen to the Buddha’s Teaching." - Nanavira Thera (1920-1965) :candle:

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aflatun
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Re: Did the Buddha reject atman? Let's arrive at a conclusion

Post by aflatun » Sun Jan 29, 2017 9:22 pm

Jojola wrote:I think I can conclude this:
Thing is Ken Wheelers argument is actually logically sound. He is absolutely right. If you bother to take the time to follow his reasoning you will see it is iron clad, but it's useless regarding actual practice towards the goal. I'll lay it down as simply and as short as I can...

Really this is about "The All", the five aggregates. When the Buddha called the five aggregates “The All”, he was not making a metaphysical point i.e. implying that "these are everything!" They can't be. Where is gravity? Where is electricity? Magnetism? Plasma? Radiation? Dark Matter? And I believe Kens personal favorite - Light? I believe we can all agree that those things hardly count as physical formations of earth, water, fire, and wind, nor are they feelings, thoughts, consciousness, or memories/perceptions.

So when Ken argues Theravadins are wrong when they (or we, I live in a monastery and ordaining as a novice soon) say “The All” encapsulates all phenomena metaphysically speaking, he is right, it doesn't- hence the examples I listed above.

So what did the Buddha mean by "The All"? As always, with compassionate- nothing held back –forthcoming wisdom, he explains himself: “Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range.” - SN 35.23
In other words it’s not “The All” because it is a sum of all there ‘is’ metaphysically, but because without we have nothing phenomenologically . The difference between is where Ken finds room for Atta/Atman/Self/Soul or, as he puts, "pure subject". And he is right there is room there, BUT:

Gravity, light, those other things, and everything in the universe for that matter (including Kens notion of a 'true self') we know of them through 'The All', we perceive them, feel them, conscious through them via contact with physical sense apparatus of body (made up of earth, wind, fire, and water) and can mentally fabricate about them.

"The All" is 'all' that is relevant to our subjective experience, which is where the work of surmounting dukkha takes place, because it's the only range where it can possibly take place. It doesn't matter what's outside of The All because in order for it to become relevant to us it has to arise through 'The All', which as we know have the 3 characteristics/qualities, and the most relevant of pertaining to this topic: anatta.

This is where his argument reveals to be irrelevant to practice and unsubstantiated in refuting the method of said practice prescribed to us by The Buddha: because he is delineating an idea of 'self', that although he did logically find room for, that is still ultimately a perception and sankhara (a view, a very refined one, but a merely view, part of the net we need to avoid being caught in).

Our job as practitioners is not to delineate self (as either existent, non-existent, both, or neither) but delineate the khandas till we recognize them as not-self. But remember they are all that can be said phenomenologically, so what's left? It doesn't apply because all means of ascertaining have been put to rest, made like a stump.

So carry out that practice till the notion of 'self' starts to become utterly meaningless to you outside of convention, because in the true nature of things it really doesn't mean anything, then you are close to breaking the 1st fetter, which is destruction of self-view - not realization of no-self. It is important to remember that the Buddha was silent when asked point blank whether self is or is not.

The pinnacle of what I'm trying to put forth here is that anatta is not just a quality of the khandas, but an instruction to follow from The Buddha pertaining to our view (ditthi). And I strongly recommend heeding that instruction.

Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammasambuddhasa

:anjali:
Wonderful post, and I wish you the ultimate success in your endeavors as a Monk to be!
"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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Jetavan
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Re: Did the Buddha reject atman? Let's arrive at a conclusion

Post by Jetavan » Mon Jan 30, 2017 1:01 am

Jojola wrote:
Really this is about "The All", the five aggregates. When the Buddha called the five aggregates “The All”, he was not making a metaphysical point i.e. implying that "these are everything!" They can't be. Where is gravity? Where is electricity? Magnetism? Plasma? Radiation? Dark Matter? And I believe Kens personal favorite - Light? I believe we can all agree that those things hardly count as physical formations of earth, water, fire, and wind, nor are they feelings, thoughts, consciousness, or memories/perceptions.
Greetings,

Gravity, electricity, magnetism, dark matter, and light are all different configurations of the atoms and forces (e.g., teja-dhatu) involved in the traditional conception of rupa: all are inconstant and changing.

Personally, I thought you were going to bring up "citta" ("mind/heart", mere "awareness", that which turns away from the five aggregates and is directed towards the deathless element) as something different from "The All"

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Jojola
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Re: Did the Buddha reject atman? Let's arrive at a conclusion

Post by Jojola » Mon Jan 30, 2017 2:48 am

Jetavan wrote:
Jojola wrote:
Really this is about "The All", the five aggregates. When the Buddha called the five aggregates “The All”, he was not making a metaphysical point i.e. implying that "these are everything!" They can't be. Where is gravity? Where is electricity? Magnetism? Plasma? Radiation? Dark Matter? And I believe Kens personal favorite - Light? I believe we can all agree that those things hardly count as physical formations of earth, water, fire, and wind, nor are they feelings, thoughts, consciousness, or memories/perceptions.
Greetings,

Gravity, electricity, magnetism, dark matter, and light are all different configurations of the atoms and forces (e.g., teja-dhatu) involved in the traditional conception of rupa: all are inconstant and changing.

Personally, I thought you were going to bring up "citta" ("mind/heart", mere "awareness", that which turns away from the five aggregates and is directed towards the deathless element) as something different from "The All"
Very enlightening about teja-dhatu thank you for that. I went through all of kens stuff back in 2014 and as i said i do admit to his logic, at least most of it. As for Citta...I guess I should just say I really don't know; and on that note I think I'm bowing out here, feel like I've heedlessly indulged in my whims enough on this site.

Blessings to you all.
Regards,

- :heart:
__________________________________________________________________________________________________
"Only in a vertical view, straight down into the abyss of his own personal existence, is a man capable of apprehending the perilous insecurity of his situation; and only a man who does apprehend this is prepared to listen to the Buddha’s Teaching." - Nanavira Thera (1920-1965) :candle:

form
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Re: Did the Buddha reject atman? Let's arrive at a conclusion

Post by form » Fri Feb 03, 2017 6:00 am

Maybe what he meant was there is no permanent soul in the supramundane view. But most of us r still iving in a mundane view.

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Jojola
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Re: Did the Buddha reject atman? Let's arrive at a conclusion

Post by Jojola » Wed Feb 22, 2017 12:22 pm

I'm returning after careful consideration...
Technically the answer to the question: "Did the Buddha reject atta/atman?"
Strictly speaking in regards to Sutta (I'm not familiar with abhidhamma nor commentary for I personally don't consider them authoritative): No.
Unless one can reference otherwise where it is denoted, but I currently don't know of such.
Regards,

- :heart:
__________________________________________________________________________________________________
"Only in a vertical view, straight down into the abyss of his own personal existence, is a man capable of apprehending the perilous insecurity of his situation; and only a man who does apprehend this is prepared to listen to the Buddha’s Teaching." - Nanavira Thera (1920-1965) :candle:

form
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Re: Did the Buddha reject atman? Let's arrive at a conclusion

Post by form » Wed Feb 22, 2017 1:04 pm

It depends on how you see it from which part of the nikaya. The way a specific part is expressed by the buddha or his disciples, the way it has been translated will sometimes give an impression that is a self that cannot be considered as a permanent self or there is no self or self is suffering.

There are some parts that where it shows under right concentration there is a type of consciousness that is pure and illuminated. This is not self as well, but a powerful tool to investigate.

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