There is ...... No-Self, No-Soul, No-Ego, No-Spirit, No-Attā, No-Atman, No "I"
Life where there is no ego, no desires growing out of the sense contacts, no egoistic beliefs, no attachments growing out of the desires, then there is no ego, no ‘self,’ and no ‘soul’ to burden life. The mind doesn’t have this heavy weight and the mind is free, peaceful, light, and very skillful. The mind can act much more skillfully when it doesn’t have this burden – this is new life. Old life is burden and heavy with the self and attachment. New life is free, light, skillful, and wise.
This distinction right here points out very clearly that in reality there is no self or soul and that the ego is only an illusion. All the ego is this reaction of the mind to desire. Desire arises and then this illusion of ego arises. There is nothing at all real about the ego.
Something which most of you probably misunderstand
This is the highest thing. Voidness is beyond good and beyond evil – it is beyond the best. Thus, emptiness is freedom from the spinning around – the going round and round in circles chasing after things that will satisfy hunger. In emptiness, both the hunger and the one who hungers disappear. There is no self to hunger, there is no one, no thing, no anything that is hungry – not even God. And so hunger disappears too. In emptiness, all these illusions of ‘me’ & ‘mine’ disappear. Hunger disappears because there is no one or nothing, no ‘self,’ no ‘I,’ no ‘me,’ no ‘mine’ to hunger. This is the highest thing – this is what the goal of the practice of Dhamma is about.
Problem of every one of us
This is a misunderstanding of what is really happening. Yes, maybe there is thinking now, or perceiving or feeling or knowing or body. At each moment there is one of these khandhas. But that’s all. There is just this aspect of life but that aspect is pure. It’s either pure mind or pure body. There is no self or soul. So don’t allow this confusion, this illusion, this foolishness to arise in the mind. Cut it off, like the cross. Don’t let it happen and then the mind will be pure. Life will be pure and light and free of all of these burdens and dukkha.
When things are difficult to bear, impossible to stand up to, that means that there is no self, there is no real self that can stand up and stop that change. There is no self that can prevent that change, that can stand that dukkha. This is the third characteristic, the characteristic of not-self. There is no self in any way, shape, or form. So these are the three characteristics of the five khandha, or of life, that we all must know. Everything is changing, is impermanent. That change is very difficult to bear, and there is nothing which can stop it or control it. These are the three characteristics of life – impermanence (anicca), unsatisfactoriness (dukkha), and not-self (anattā). The first thing to observe, to realize, is that there is merely a process of cause and effect, a process of conditioning and in that process, there is no self. All that is taking place is a series, a process of causes conditioning effects, causes leading to effects, various things cooking up conditioning, compounding other things. This is a process, a flow that is taking place, and if we observe it carefully, we just see it as a natural process, happening under the law of idappaccayatā (the law of nature). And in all that, there is no self. There are merely these conditioned things, these phenomenon, arising and passing away, and in this process, further conditioning in cooking up other phenomenon, and this process just goes on and on, but there is no self anywhere to be found. This is the first thing to realize, and then it is possible to realize the end of selfishness.
New life is most certainly possible
There’s just body and mind, and with the body and mind there are these senses and through the senses all the different kinds of activities arise and then because of the misunderstanding of this sense activity and sense experience, we become deceived and we think that all this thing that is happening is happening because of some ‘self’ or ‘soul’ – but that’s a misunderstanding. And so in the new life we realize that what is taking place is merely body and mind with the senses and there’s nothing else, no attā, no ‘self,’ no ātman, no ‘soul,’ involved.
The belief that there is a ‘self,’ a ‘soul,’ an ātman, or whatever leads to another kind of thinking or feeling which is the feelings of selfishness. The belief in a ‘self,’ of an ‘ego,’ leads to selfishness and out of selfishness comes all kinds of problems and crises and disasters and suffering for ourselves and others. In the new life when we realize that we no longer have this belief in a ‘self’ or ‘soul,’ then selfishness doesn’t arise and without selfishness, none of those problems arise also and then life is very peaceful and free.
Using anapanasati-bhavana for daily life
There’s no such thing as a self or whatever outside the mind. And then if we look even further and see the mind on the deepest, most profound level then we see that even the mind itself is not a soul, an atman, or whatever, that there’s just the mind and the body. The body is just a container, a vessel that supports or holds the mind but everything happens through the mind and when the mind is highly developed as we’ve described, then this most profound truth is realized – that there’s no ‘self’ or ‘soul’ outside the mind and that the mind itself is not a self or soul and in the mind there is no self, no soul, no atman or anything like this. This knowledge, this is the highest knowledge of Buddhism, this is the pinnacle of Buddhism to see that there is no self, soul, atman or whatever anywhere, whether inside or outside the mind. And this is the highest wisdom of Buddhism. Once this knowledge was discovered, there has not been anything higher or more advanced then discovered soon. This is the highest knowledge of the human species. This is the deepest wisdom of our race, of our species, that the wisdom, the knowledge of not-self, that there’s just body and mind and besides the body and mind there is no third thing, there is no self, soul or whatever you want to call it. There’s merely the body and mind functioning according to the law of nature. This is the highest knowledge of the human species.
Genuine fruits of studying buddhism
We need to understand that within the body and the internal āyatanas, there is a system of nerves known as the nervous system. When some external stimulus such as a form or a sound makes contact with this nervous system, there is a reaction – a response that occurs automatically. This happens naturally by itself. It doesn’t depend on the existence of a self, an ego, or a soul. This too is the beginning of our understanding of anattā – the truth of not-self. There is no self or soul involved, it’s just a natural function of our bodies and nervous systems. To stress this further, when the internal and external āyatanas come into contact, there arises viññāṇa (sense consciousness). Once this consciousness arises the ‘I’ and a shape come into contact or into a relationship which happens naturally. [24.00 ??] This consciousness itself is no self or soul, attā or ātman, ego or whatever you want to call it. So if you understand the inner āyatanas, the outer āyatanas, and the sense consciousness as being anattā, if you truly understand this through your own experience, then you have understood these three things correctly. It is also then that you begin to understand or practice Buddhism as a science. If you still think that these things are occurring because of some self, soul, or ego, if you have some self view on these things, then it isn’t Buddhism at all. Your understanding wouldn’t be Buddhist at all, it would be animism. Once we see that the sense organs, the sense objects, and the sense consciousness have nothing to do with selves, souls, or egos, then we begin to practice science. It is then that we can progress along the correct path and move in the right direction.
Buddhism teaches anattā, the truth or fact of not-self, not as a doctrine but rather as a truth that we can realize for ourselves. Anattā means that there is no such thing as a self, soul, ego, spirit, or ātman.
Benefits of new life
And so in order to control the vedanā we must know ourselves, we have to study ourselves. It’s kind of funny – you need to study ‘yourself’ but there’s no ‘self.’ You have to figure out this one too. You yourself must study and practice the Dhamma. But that ‘self’ that has to study and practice is not a ‘self.’ Can you understand the meaning of this? The ‘self’ that is not a ‘self’ must study and practice the Dhamma.
What does new life have to do with anapanaasati
If we know voidness, we know that things are void of self and of soul. This is called ‘suññatā.’ This is what Buddhism is about. Realizing the voidness of things. Buddhism is a religion that teaches ‘not-self’ or ‘not-soul.’ In Pāli, this single word anattā means not-self, no soul. ‘Self’ and ‘soul’ in English might have different meanings but the Pāli word ‘attā’ includes both their meanings. So Buddhism teaches not-self, no soul. In realizing this, that there is no self or soul anywhere and that realizing that what there is, what we have right here, this life is not-self, it’s not-soul. There’s no self or soul to be found and what we do have is not-self or not-soul. To see this is to see anattā. To see anattā means there’s nothing to attach to. We’re incapable of attaching and then we are free. The mind, the heart is perfectly free and that is the new life
Self which is not-self
All of Buddhism is just teaching that there is no self; that there is nothing that we can cling to as a self and that we should get rid of, should clean up this illusion and confusion that we have about selfhood.
Religion which is a way of life
Instead Buddhism went further, took the truth further and deeper and taught that there is ultimately no self, that everything is void of self and that there is universal voidness. This is what Buddhism has taught. If we’re going to understand Buddhism at all we must recognize this central teaching. Buddhism didn’t merely carry on with the same old Indian teaching but went deeper and has proclaimed the universal voidness that everything is without self.
We should not confuse the belief in a self or soul with Buddhism. The fact that there isn’t any real self, this is what Buddhism teaches. This fact that there’s no self, the fact of selflessness, is a permanent lasting truth. There is no permanent truth to the idea of self. If we observe, we can see that the self is just a concept or a feeling that arises from time to time temporarily. It has no lasting substance. You can’t find any real truth in it. This is what is understood in Buddhism.
The path for realizing new life
Attā is ‘self,’ attena vā is ‘categories of self,’ attaniya means ‘concerning self,’ and attaniyena vā is ‘categories concerning self.’ The universe is completely void of self and things concerned with self, of categories about self & the things concerned with self, attā & attaniya.
So obviously if there’s no ‘self,’ then there’s nothing that ‘belongs to self.’
If there’s no ‘I,’ well there can’t be any ‘mine’ either. But because we’re rather stupid there’s ‘I’ and ego and ‘self’ and ‘soul’ all
over the place, and so then we scoop in everything as ‘mine, mine, mine.’ No ‘I,’ no ‘mine’ – that’s short and simple.
The doer doesn’t really exist, but when there is attachment to desire we create the illusion, or the belief, the image of the ‘doer,’ the ‘ego,’ the ‘self.’ To see this point will show very clearly the fact of anattā (not-self). That there is no self, no soul, no doer, no ‘I’ involved here, it’s just a natural process unfolding according to natural law. And so it’s not a matter of whether it is logical or not, it is just the facts which need to be observed directly from experience.
The heart of buddhism anatta
Then Buddhism came along and said ‘don’t worry about all that – there is in fact no self, no soul.’
In fact there are other traditions, schools, and approaches which discuss anattā, although they use different terms. Some of them come rather close to anattā (notself) as it is taught in Buddhism. But none of them are quite the same.
One of the other approaches is to speak of ‘not-self,’ saying that there is absolutely nothing that is self, that there is no self. And to push this to the extremist position that there is no self – there is nothing – which is to differ from the Buddhist approach. Which is to say that there is something which we feel to be our self – this life here – but it is in fact not-self. But there is something that one can call oneself, but in fact it is not-self.
The buddha farangs don t know about
If we have the true Buddha who we were talking about earlier, then life won’t bite its owner because there won’t be an owner. If we’ve got the real Buddha, then we realize that there is no self or owner of life, and then there’s nobody to be bit and life can’t bite its owner any more.
Everything is anatta
The center where you are staying has only one primary purpose, which has two aspects. At this center we aim to help everyone to understand on the deepest level possible that there is no self, that self is an illusion. All of us are living but our lives are not-self. And so we will study in particular the law of dependent origination (paṭiccasamuppāda) which you will be hearing more about, because this – if we study it properly – reveals very clearly and profoundly that life is not-self.
But selfishness depends on a self, on the illusion or belief in a self. If we practice correctly we have the understanding about not-self and we have trained our minds to the point where they can master all situations. Then we can live life without allowing the self to arise, we have no need of it. We aren’t tricked into letting this illusion take over our minds. When there is no self, there is no selfishness. And when there is no selfishness then all the problems disappear. So this is the purpose of the center where you are staying, and may this be the purpose, your purpose, in staying there for this ten-day-retreat.
Way to buddhist art
And then mindfulness will keep the mind or keep life on the right track and there will be... and then through this practice you will develop samādhi (the stable focused concentrated mind) which provides the strength and energy to do this, to keep the mind on the right track. So through practicing correctly there is mindfulness, wisdom, and concentration. When we have these, when these are sufficient and strong enough, then there is no attachment to the positive & the negative. When there is no attachment, there is nothing heavy. There is no ego, no self and so there is no suffering, no dukkha.
The buddhist way of life
Now let’s ask then, what is the cause? What is the source of this spiritual disease? The fundamental source of spiritual disease is our own stupidity. The ignorance, the misunderstanding that there is self. All of us think, believe, understand that there is self and there are things of self. And this fundamental stupidity is the source of all of our spiritual illness. Because of this ignorance, there arises self, ego, ‘me.’ And because of this ‘me,’ there is selfishness, and as soon as there is selfishness, it bites. All that biting is just the selfishness of ‘me,’ which comes from our ignorance. We don’t recognize that there’s no self, so we go grabbing onto things as self. We get selfish, and this selfishness bites us. This is where the spiritual disease comes from.
Dependent origination medicine for spiritual disease
Now the last point to observe, to check out is, if there’s no self, there’s no intrinsic, inherent, real self, whether you call this ‘soul’ or an ‘ego,’ if all of that is merely a ghost, an hallucination, then how can there be anything that belongs to this self, anything that is of-self or ‘mine?’ This is the important question – if there’s no ‘me,’ how could there be any ‘mine?’ if there’s no self, how can anything belong to self or be of-self? So if self doesn’t actually exist, then where is ‘my husband,’ ‘my wife,’ ‘my children,’ ‘my job,’ ‘my car,’ ‘my possessions,’ ‘my money.’ If there isn’t a ‘me’ to start with, where do you find all these ‘my husband,’ ‘my wife,’ ‘my lover,’ ‘my friends,’ ‘my mother,’ ‘my father,’ ‘my children,’ ‘my car,’ and all that? Where do you find all these things?
Dhamma overview of buddhism realization
If we go into this a bit more deeply, it’s the life where there is ‘ego,’ the life of ‘self,’ the life where there is the egoistic concepts of ‘me’ and ‘mine’ – this is the life of hunger. The life when there is ‘ego,’ ‘self,’ ‘me,’ ‘mine,’ then there will be constant hunger, all the searching and struggling and fighting of that life of hunger. But when there’s no self, when there’s no egoistic concepts in the mind, when the mind is free of the illusions of ‘self,’ ‘I,’ ‘mine,’ then things are much different. There’s just the natural life, where there’s the body and mind, functioning naturally, responding to circumstances, without any ego. This is a totally different life, a life where there isn’t any hunger. When there’s ego there’s constant hunger and constantly we act according to the power of that hunger. But when there’s the life without ego, then there’s no hunger and one just acts in terms of one’s duty, the responsibilities of life – one sees what needs to be done and does it. There’s just the doing without a doer, in the way that we’ve asked you to practice walking here as walking without a walker. Let it be a natural function of the body and mind without adding any of the egoistic concepts to it. All of life can be that way – doing without a doer. That then is the life of non-hunger.
Dhamma questions and responses
As we’ve said before, there’s just body and mind. There’s no third thing.
There’s no self.
Teaching of no person only dhatus
To see that there is nothing but these dhātus (natural elements) is to see that there is no attā, no self or no atman, but rather there are merely these natural elements which are anattā (not-self).
Dhamma questions and responses II
In Buddhism, there is just idappaccayatā, everything happens according to causes and conditions. There is no self or soul that goes and gets reborn. Buddhism teaches that everything, absolutely, is not-self. Body and mind are not-self. There is no self or soul that will be reborn after death.
In the third stage develops the illumination aspect which is the clear awareness of things as they are. This stage is marked by perfect stillness, motionlessness yet clear comprehension of the multitude of things surrounding. This unperturbed and still mental state in Silent Illumination practice is likened to a mirror that is utterly still while images and shadows appear freely before it. At this stage, the principles that guide one’s practice are similar to the fourth tetrad is dhammānupassanā (contemplation of Dhamma) as taught by Buddhadāsa, i.e. the contemplation of impermanence, emptiness and no-self.
All quotes are verbatim excerpts from respective documents on the website BIA, http://www.bia.or.th/en/