In Ananda Sutta, the Buddha seems to state that both "there is a self" and "there is no self" are Wrong Views.

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
SilaSamadhi
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:58 pm

In Ananda Sutta, the Buddha seems to state that both "there is a self" and "there is no self" are Wrong Views.

Post by SilaSamadhi » Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:29 pm

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?
Ananda Sutta - SN 44.10

Am I misreading this? The Buddha here seems to reject both "there is a self" and "there is no self" as wrong views, and adds it to the list of questions (such as "when did samsara begin") that are not to be answered.

In fact, instead of stating the typical Buddhist view - "there is no self" - his closing argument is subtly different: that all (conditioned) phenomena are not-self.

Are there any clear quotes of the Buddha actually arguing that "there is no self"? Because this one seems to reject this position, so for Buddhism as a whole to hold that view, there has to be some very clear Sutta citation that supports it.

User avatar
dylanj
Posts: 784
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:48 am
Location: San Francisco
Contact:

Re: In Ananda Sutta, the Buddha seems to state that both "there is a self" and "there is no self" are Wrong Views.

Post by dylanj » Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:33 pm

What makes you think "there is no self" is the typical Buddhist view?
susukhaṁ vata nibbānaṁ,
sammā­sambud­dha­desitaṁ;
asokaṁ virajaṁ khemaṁ,
yattha dukkhaṁ nirujjhatī


Oh! extinction is so very blissful,
As taught by the One Rightly Self-Awakened:
Sorrowless, stainless, secure;
Where suffering all ceases


etaṁ santaṁ etaṁ paṇītaṁ yadidaṁ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭi nissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānaṁ

This is peaceful, this is excellent, that is: the stilling of all preparations, the relinquishment of all attachments, the destruction of craving, detachment, cessation, extinction.

Circle5
Posts: 894
Joined: Wed May 31, 2017 2:14 am

Re: In Ananda Sutta, the Buddha seems to state that both "there is a self" and "there is no self" are Wrong Views.

Post by Circle5 » Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:35 pm

Have you read the end of the sutta to see why Buddha answered like that ? Why not read the sutta till the end ? :shrug:

User avatar
dylanj
Posts: 784
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:48 am
Location: San Francisco
Contact:

Re: In Ananda Sutta, the Buddha seems to state that both "there is a self" and "there is no self" are Wrong Views.

Post by dylanj » Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:37 pm

Anyway yes, I think there is not a problem with this sutta & the subtle difference is right. "All phenomena are not-self", "The world is empty of a self & anything pertaining to a self" are correct standpoints, if they can even be called that.
susukhaṁ vata nibbānaṁ,
sammā­sambud­dha­desitaṁ;
asokaṁ virajaṁ khemaṁ,
yattha dukkhaṁ nirujjhatī


Oh! extinction is so very blissful,
As taught by the One Rightly Self-Awakened:
Sorrowless, stainless, secure;
Where suffering all ceases


etaṁ santaṁ etaṁ paṇītaṁ yadidaṁ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭi nissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānaṁ

This is peaceful, this is excellent, that is: the stilling of all preparations, the relinquishment of all attachments, the destruction of craving, detachment, cessation, extinction.

Circle5
Posts: 894
Joined: Wed May 31, 2017 2:14 am

Re: In Ananda Sutta, the Buddha seems to state that both "there is a self" and "there is no self" are Wrong Views.

Post by Circle5 » Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:42 pm

I had this unique buddhist experiment happening on STC forum. Would anyone be interested in doing it here ? It is strange people speak so much about what Buddha had no say about no self but never ever do what people in the suttas did: Debate weather there is a self or not.

Weathere there is a self or not, that idea should stand it's ground in a debate. I am willing to debate anyone who claims that there is a self using the same argument from the suttas. IF someone claims there is a self, he needs to prove that it is so and it's not just an imaginary idea of his, like claiming there is a giant spaggete monster. You can't just say "there is a self" and leave it like that, you need to explain what makes you think that there is a self.

The topic is here: https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/an ... forum/7387

User avatar
dylanj
Posts: 784
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:48 am
Location: San Francisco
Contact:

Re: In Ananda Sutta, the Buddha seems to state that both "there is a self" and "there is no self" are Wrong Views.

Post by dylanj » Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:49 pm

Circle5 wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:42 pm
I had this unique buddhist experiment happening on STC forum. Would anyone be interested in doing it here ? It is strange people speak so much about what Buddha had no say about no self but never ever do what people in the suttas did: Debate weather there is a self or not.

Weathere there is a self or not, that idea should stand it's ground in a debate. I am willing to debate anyone who claims that there is a self using the same argument from the suttas. IF someone claims there is a self, he needs to prove that it is so and it's not just an imaginary idea of his, like claiming there is a giant spaggete monster. You can't just say "there is a self" and leave it like that, you need to explain what makes you think that there is a self.

The topic is here: https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/an ... forum/7387
go on dharmawheel & debate the true-self mahayanists
susukhaṁ vata nibbānaṁ,
sammā­sambud­dha­desitaṁ;
asokaṁ virajaṁ khemaṁ,
yattha dukkhaṁ nirujjhatī


Oh! extinction is so very blissful,
As taught by the One Rightly Self-Awakened:
Sorrowless, stainless, secure;
Where suffering all ceases


etaṁ santaṁ etaṁ paṇītaṁ yadidaṁ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭi nissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānaṁ

This is peaceful, this is excellent, that is: the stilling of all preparations, the relinquishment of all attachments, the destruction of craving, detachment, cessation, extinction.

User avatar
SilaSamadhi
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:58 pm

Re: In Ananda Sutta, the Buddha seems to state that both "there is a self" and "there is no self" are Wrong Views.

Post by SilaSamadhi » Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:53 pm

Circle5 wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:42 pm
You can't just say "there is a self" and leave it like that, you need to explain what makes you think that there is a self.
This is outside the scope of my question. I didn't ask for proofs or even arguments that the self does not exist. I asked what the Buddha has taught about it.

Moreover, can you really require "proof", in this case and others? What if the proof can't be stated conceptually at all? If we require "proof" that can be established via verbal argument, then clearly there is no way to establish the veracity of Nibbana.

Circle5
Posts: 894
Joined: Wed May 31, 2017 2:14 am

Re: In Ananda Sutta, the Buddha seems to state that both "there is a self" and "there is no self" are Wrong Views.

Post by Circle5 » Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:04 pm

SilaSamadhi wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:53 pm
Circle5 wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:42 pm
You can't just say "there is a self" and leave it like that, you need to explain what makes you think that there is a self.
Not sure what this has to do with the topic. I didn't ask for proofs or even arguments that the self does not exist. I asked what the Buddha has taught about it.
The only way to find out is to read the nikayas by yourself. If you don't do that, then you will only rely on random people to tell you what is written on them. You will then chose to agree with the ones that share the same ideas as you. By default, you believe there is a self since the no-self idea is the counter-intuitive one. There is really no way to find out what Buddha had to say about the problem without reading the nikayas. It is like taking a page out of the biology book and asking people if they teach evolutionism or creationism in there. Sure there will be people that claim they teach creationism in the biology book and there will be no way for you to tell which one is right.

As for the problem in question, a short answer is that Buddha pointed out that if he would have answered "there is no self", the brahnim would have understood that there was a self before that now is no more, while Buddha opinion was that there never was a self to begin with. This sutta is constantly brought up by true-selfers or "ajnanas" (eer-wrigglers), taken out of context and spinned to make a case for a self existing, completely ignoring the other 10.000 pages of the nikayas.
Moreover, can you really require "proof", in this case and others? What if the proof can't be stated conceptually at all? If we require "proof" that can be established via verbal argument, then clearly there is no way to establish the veracity of Nibbana.
I can say the same about the spaggete monster. Maybe there is a spaggete monster but we just can't state it conceptually and can't understand him. Or maybe there is a giant pink dolphin that we can never understand.

If one believes there is a self, on what is that opinion based ? A person might have the opinion that there is no self, another might have the opinion that there is a self. If you ask him "why do you have this opinion", he will answer that his opinion is based on the existence of a particular feeling.

User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 2992
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: In Ananda Sutta, the Buddha seems to state that both "there is a self" and "there is no self" are Wrong Views.

Post by DooDoot » Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:10 pm

SilaSamadhi wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:29 pm
Am I misreading this?
You seem to be taking a very obscure sutta (spoken to a very confused person) very seriously. It is one sutta from hundreds yet you seem to be taking the one sutta more seriously than the hundreds, even though it contradicts hundreds of other suttas. I am suggesting, in your studies, such a sutta should raise a huge red flag. Thus, you need to examine:

1. Who was the person in the discussion.

2. Who spoke the words or terminology in the suttas?

3. Did the person get enlightened?

Therefore, it was Vacchagotta, a non-Buddhist, who asked the questions using his terminology. Then, if you examine the Pali, you will find the terminology initiated & used by Vacchagotta did not include "anatta". In short, imo, the sutta is very badly translated.

User avatar
SilaSamadhi
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:58 pm

Re: In Ananda Sutta, the Buddha seems to state that both "there is a self" and "there is no self" are Wrong Views.

Post by SilaSamadhi » Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:16 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:10 pm
You seem to be taking a very obscure sutta (spoken to a very confused person) very seriously. It is one sutta from hundreds yet you seem to be taking the one sutta more seriously than the hundreds, even though it contradicts hundreds of other suttas.
Can you perhaps quote a couple of good examples from these hundreds of suttas that do clearly state that the self positively does not exist? That should help clear the matter up.

User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 2992
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: In Ananda Sutta, the Buddha seems to state that both "there is a self" and "there is no self" are Wrong Views.

Post by DooDoot » Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:25 pm

SilaSamadhi wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:16 pm
That should help clear the matter up.
The matter is cleared up by the sutta. Vacchagotta is the person talking in the sutta & you appear to be listening to the doctrine of Vacchagotta rather than to the doctrine of the Buddha. The Buddha was not interested in answering the questions of Vacchagotta, similar to if the Buddha was asked by a fundamentalist Xtian: "Does God exist? Does God not exist?" The Buddha ignored Vacchagotta but you seem to be taking Vacchagotta very seriously.
SilaSamadhi wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:16 pm
Can you perhaps quote a couple of good examples from these hundreds of suttas that do clearly state that the self positively does not exist?
What about this?
Then Ven. Ananda went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, "It is said that the world is empty, the world is empty, lord. In what respect is it said that the world is empty?"

"Insofar as it is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self: Thus it is said, Ananda, that the world is empty. And what is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self? The eye is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Forms... Eye-consciousness... Eye-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self.

"The ear is empty...

"The nose is empty...

"The tongue is empty...

"The body is empty...

"The intellect is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Ideas... Intellect-consciousness... Intellect-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Thus it is said that the world is empty."

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
Last edited by DooDoot on Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
SilaSamadhi
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:58 pm

Re: In Ananda Sutta, the Buddha seems to state that both "there is a self" and "there is no self" are Wrong Views.

Post by SilaSamadhi » Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:34 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:25 pm
The matter is cleared up by the sutta.
I submit that it is not. Nowhere in this sutta does the Buddha state that the self positively does not exist.
Vacchagotta is the person talking in the sutta & you appear to be listening to the doctrine of Vacchagotta rather than to the doctrine of the Buddha.
That is factually incorrect. Vacchagotta utters exactly two sentences in this sutta, and they are both short questions, and certainly not presentations of a "doctrine":
  1. "Now then, Venerable Gotama, is there a self?"
  2. "Then is there no self?"
The above is all that Vacchagotta says in this sutta. The person who speaks the most in this sutta is, in fact, the Buddha.

User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 2992
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: In Ananda Sutta, the Buddha seems to state that both "there is a self" and "there is no self" are Wrong Views.

Post by DooDoot » Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:36 pm

SilaSamadhi wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:34 pm
I submit that it is not. Nowhere in this sutta does the Buddha state that the self positively does not exist.
The Buddha kept silent. :roll: Yet you are claiming the Buddha "stated" something.

User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 2992
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: In Ananda Sutta, the Buddha seems to state that both "there is a self" and "there is no self" are Wrong Views.

Post by DooDoot » Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:40 pm

SilaSamadhi wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:34 pm
That is factually incorrect. Vacchagotta utters exactly two sentences in this sutta, and they are both short questions, and certainly not presentations of a "doctrine":
Vacchagotta spoke doctrine, namely, his 1st question was eternalist doctrine & is 2nd question was annihilationism doctrine. This is why the Buddha explained to Ananda:
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 . 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 .
Therefore, as I suggested, you should examine the Pali to examine which words Vacchagotta actually used (which have obviously been poorly translated in what you are reading). The sloppy translation is shown by the final sentence, which shows what Vacchagotta was actually asking:
And if I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self — were to answer that there is no self, the bewildered Vacchagotta would become even more bewildered: 'Does the self I used to have now not exist?'"

User avatar
SilaSamadhi
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:58 pm

Re: In Ananda Sutta, the Buddha seems to state that both "there is a self" and "there is no self" are Wrong Views.

Post by SilaSamadhi » Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:53 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:25 pm
Then Ven. Ananda went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, "It is said that the world is empty, the world is empty, lord. In what respect is it said that the world is empty?"

"Insofar as it is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self: Thus it is said, Ananda, that the world is empty. And what is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self? The eye is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Forms... Eye-consciousness... Eye-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self.

"The ear is empty...

"The nose is empty...

"The tongue is empty...

"The body is empty...

"The intellect is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Ideas... Intellect-consciousness... Intellect-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Thus it is said that the world is empty."

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
This sutta states the world is "empty of self". Also, various other conditioned phenomena, such as the eye, eye-consciousness, and the intellect - are all empty of self.

This supports the view that the self cannot and should not be identified with any of these conditioned phenomena. For example, considering your intellect as pertaining to your self is wrong view.

This position is consistent with the position in the sutta I have quoted in OP. As there so here, nowhere in this sutta does the Buddha positively state that the self does not exist.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Freddie, Yahoo [Bot] and 81 guests