Anatta, Self?

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tamlinugent
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Anatta, Self?

Post by tamlinugent » Sun Aug 23, 2015 2:28 pm

I'm sure many of you may be tired of this discussion but I find interesting so I'll go ahead, I have been pondering the reason why the buddha was silent when asked if there s a self or if there is no self, I came to the conclusion that it would be problematic to take either side, there is no basis to assert that the self is one or all of the five aggregates as they all work independently and are all equally impermanent, to assert an immortal soul (self) is just a mental construct with no basis in experience. The reason for not taking the stance there is no self seems less obvious bearing in mind the characteristic of anatta (not-self?) can anyone think of any reasons why he didn't take the stance there is no self?
Last edited by tamlinugent on Sun Aug 23, 2015 2:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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daverupa
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Re: Anatta, Self, Ego?

Post by daverupa » Sun Aug 23, 2015 2:35 pm

He only refused to answer that question once in the whole of the Canon, and that was because Vacchagotta would have thought that it was siding with the annihilationists. But in fact, that very Sutta also has the Buddha explaining that to Ananda; the Buddha then says
If, Ānanda, when I was asked by the wanderer Vacchagotta, ‘Is there a self?’ I had answered, ‘There is a self,’ would this have been consistent on my part with the arising of the knowledge that ‘all phenomena are nonself’?”

“No, venerable sir.”
Notice: this is in fact a declaration of anatta; the Buddha did this very often. It was only this once the Buddha didn't answer, and you don't have to guess at why: the Buddha says why, right there in the text.
  • "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]

tamlinugent
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Re: Anatta, Self?

Post by tamlinugent » Sun Aug 23, 2015 2:43 pm

Nice reply :), Is there not a reference to "there is no self" as being one of the net of wrong views?

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daverupa
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Re: Anatta, Self?

Post by daverupa » Sun Aug 23, 2015 2:45 pm

tamlinugent wrote:Nice reply :), Is there not a reference to "there is no self" as being one of the net of wrong views?
Rather than seeing this as a view, it's best to see this as an example of "clinging to the Dhamma"; even the raft is to be let go of, neh? But not before getting over the river...

Otherwise, you'll be thinking of the annihilationism section of DN 1.
  • "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]

mal4mac
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Re: Anatta, Self, Ego?

Post by mal4mac » Sun Aug 23, 2015 2:47 pm

http://www.tricycle.com/what-buddha-nev ... re-no-self" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;"

Summary:

Vacchagotta the wanderer asked the Buddha, ""Do I have a self?" The Buddha remained silent, meaning the question should not have been asked, for the sake of peace of mind. In debates, attempted answers like “I have no self” become part of a “thicket of views, a writhing of views, a contortion of views” that hinder awakening (Majjhima Nikaya 2). The Buddha warned his followers not to enter into these debates (Sutta Nipata 4.8).

“There is no self” is a fake Buddhist quote, this statement is never made, or implied, in the suttas. The anatta (not-self) teaching is a strategy. Whenever you see yourself identifying with anything stressful and inconstant, you remind yourself that it’s not-self, i.e., not worth considering it to be a part of yourself. (SN 22.59). This helps you let go of it. Do this thoroughly enough, it can lead to awakening. (MN 135).

Some ways of selfing are useful along the path, as when you develop a sense of self that’s heedful and responsible, confident that you can manage the practice (Anguttara Nikaya 4.159). On the path, apply the perception of not-self to anything that would pull you astray. At the end, apply that perception to the path itself. On the path, regard even the deathless as not-self (AN 9.36).
- Mal

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daverupa
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Re: Anatta, Self, Ego?

Post by daverupa » Sun Aug 23, 2015 2:50 pm

Summary:

Vacchagotta the wanderer asked the Buddha, ""Do I have a self?" The Buddha remained silent, meaning the question should not have been asked, for the sake of peace of mind.
False. We have the Buddha's reason in the text, and it is not this reason.
  • "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]

tamlinugent
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Re: Anatta, Self?

Post by tamlinugent » Sun Aug 23, 2015 2:58 pm

I would strongly disagree with the argument that its a strategy, as it comes under the three characteristics of existence, all it is clearly a mode of perception or a form of insight, I think he didn't take the view there is no self because there would be confusion with other views

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daverupa
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Re: Anatta, Self?

Post by daverupa » Sun Aug 23, 2015 2:58 pm

tamlinugent wrote:I would strongly disagree with the argument that its a strategy, as it comes under the three characteristics of existence, all it is clearly a mode of perception or a form of insight, I think he didn't take the view there is no self because there would be confusion with other views
Ah-ha! Agreed.

I would add that, when people were established in saddha, and such silliness was no longer an issue, anatta was discussed quite clearly; this is all over the Suttas.
  • "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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bodom
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Re: Anatta, Self?

Post by bodom » Sun Aug 23, 2015 3:00 pm

“This is how he attends unwisely: ‘Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what did I become in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I become in the future?’ Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the present thus: ‘Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where will it go?’

“When he attends unwisely in this way, one of six views arises in him. The view ‘self exists for me’ arises in him as true and established; or the view ‘no self exists for me’ arises in him as true and established; or the view ‘I perceive self with self’ arises in him as true and established; or the view ‘I perceive not-self with self’ arises in him as true and established; or the view ‘I perceive self with not-self’ arises in him as true and established; or else he has some such view as this: ‘It is this self of mine that speaks and feels and experiences here and there the result of good and bad actions; but this self of mine is permanent, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and it will endure as long as eternity.’ This speculative view, bhikkhus, is called the thicket of views, the wilderness of views, the contortion of views, the vacillation of views, the fetter of views. Fettered by the fetter of views, the untaught ordinary person is not freed from birth, ageing, and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair; he is not freed from suffering, I say.

“He attends wisely: ‘This is suffering’; he attends wisely: ‘This is the origin of suffering’; he attends wisely: ‘This is the cessation of suffering’; he attends wisely: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’ When he attends wisely in this way, three fetters are abandoned in him: personality view, doubt, and adherence to rules and observances. These are called the taints that should be abandoned by seeing.
https://suttacentral.net/en/mn2" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

: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.

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mal4mac
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Re: Anatta, Self?

Post by mal4mac » Sun Aug 23, 2015 3:07 pm

"All phenomena are non self" is not obviously equivalent to the blunt and unambiguous, "There is no self". It might mean "all phenomena are not part of the self." or "phenomena don't have a self-nature."

To directly quote Thanissaro:

When asked if there is a self, "Some have argued that the Buddha didn’t answer with “no” because Vacchagotta wouldn’t have understood the answer. But there’s another passage where the Buddha advises all the monks to avoid getting involved in questions such as “What am I?” “Do I exist?” “Do I not exist?” because they lead to answers like “I have a self” and “I have no self,” both of which are a “thicket of views, a writhing of views, a contortion of views” that get in the way of awakening (Majjhima Nikaya 2)."
- Mal

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daverupa
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Re: Anatta, Self?

Post by daverupa » Sun Aug 23, 2015 3:09 pm

Additionally:
SN 22.59 wrote:“Bhikkhus, form is nonself. For if, bhikkhus, form were self, this form would not lead to affliction, and it would be possible to have it of form: ‘Let my form be thus; let my form not be thus.’ But because form is nonself, form leads to affliction, and it is not possible to have it of form: ‘Let my form be thus; let my form not be thus.’

“Feeling is nonself…. … Perception is nonself…. Volitional formations are nonself…. Consciousness is nonself.
  • "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]

tamlinugent
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Re: Anatta, Self?

Post by tamlinugent » Sun Aug 23, 2015 3:13 pm

I think there is definitely a danger in people thinking "I no longer have a self" as if there was a self in the first place and they got rid of it :tongue: I find it funny how people talk about there egos as if its their substantial personality, its like people only think there is an ego. I think the paradigm of dissolving the ego is false, there was no substantial ego in the first place

tamlinugent
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Re: Anatta, Self?

Post by tamlinugent » Sun Aug 23, 2015 3:17 pm

When asked if there is a self, "Some have argued that the Buddha didn’t answer with “no” because Vacchagotta wouldn’t have understood the answer. But there’s another passage where the Buddha advises all the monks to avoid getting involved in questions such as “What am I?” “Do I exist?” “Do I not exist?” because they lead to answers like “I have a self” and “I have no self,” both of which are a “thicket of views, a writhing of views, a contortion of views” that get in the way of awakening (Majjhima Nikaya 2)."
We're not discussing “What am I?” “Do I exist?” “Do I not exist?” those are obviously stupid questions. I'm trying to work out the reason why the buddha didn't take the stance there is no self

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daverupa
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Re: Anatta, Self?

Post by daverupa » Sun Aug 23, 2015 3:19 pm

tamlinugent wrote:I'm trying to work out the reason why the buddha didn't take the stance there is no self
He didn't take an annihilationist stance, but as I just cited, "no self" was declared.

---

Notice that there's a gap between the cessation of sakkaya-ditthi & the cessation of asmi-mana. So, even for a stream-entrant, they're not all the way on top of realizing this for themselves, but they aren't misled by personality issues such as "do I exist? do I not exist?" They are still misled by conceit, however, and this is addressed by noticing non-self directly. In the interim, greed and hate are attenuated & eliminated, and in fact this has to happen before asmi-mana is finally eradicated.

So engaging with the fact of anatta is an ongoing process for the whole of the Path, but once annihilationism-view is no longer a danger, it is to be contemplated & eventually seen directly for oneself, as a fact of the way things are.
  • "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]

mal4mac
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Re: Anatta, Self?

Post by mal4mac » Sun Aug 23, 2015 4:17 pm

tamlinugent wrote:I think the paradigm of dissolving the ego is false, there was no substantial ego in the first place
But isn't there an insubstantial ego that seems substantial? isn't it an important task to dissolve this ?
- Mal

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