Book about Anattā - No Inner Core

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Re: Book about Anattā - No Inner Core

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Dec 22, 2016 2:42 pm

srivijaya wrote:The linked suttas do not appear to contain speculative doctrinal expositions on the existence/non-existence of atta. If they do, then please make it more explicit. I would like to see why you consider they do.
:anjali:
I think you are confusing metaphysical existence, ontological existence, and phenomenological existence. A particular dominant trend in English-language Dhamma is that the teaching of the Buddha is completely phenomenological, and does not address metaphysics or ontology. Setting aside the issue of if that is correct or not, from a phenomenological angle, the Buddha does thoroughly dismiss selfhood, notions and realizations thereof, etc.

If something does not exist phenomenologically, such as the self, it does not exist for me, for you, for anyone, other that someone who can see reality "as it is", with no phenomenological filter. Only people like that have access to non-phenomenological space. So with that in mind, if one wants to/needs to interpret Buddhadharma phenomenologically, for right or wrong, you will find refutations of selfhood all the same. To the best of my knowledge you wont find the exact words "And then the Blessed One said: 'There is no self'" because, like I said before, that would be a highly clumsy and ambiguous statement that would be more likely to cause confusion and misunderstanding than actually illuminate anything.

From the phenomenological-Buddhist perspective, the Buddha is silent on issue of selfhood, but only because from this perspective, he is silent on the existence or non-existence of anything, selfhoods included. Look into the lists of all of the things that are called "not the self".
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.

吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

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Re: Book about Anattā - No Inner Core

Post by ancientbuddhism » Thu Dec 22, 2016 2:53 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:If something does not exist phenomenologically, such as the self, it does not exist for me, for you, for anyone, other that someone who can see reality "as it is", with no phenomenological filter. Only people like that have access to non-phenomenological space.
Just to be sure I understand what you mean. Are you saying that there is a 'Self' to be known for someone with "no phenomenological filter"?
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Re: Book about Anattā - No Inner Core

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Dec 22, 2016 3:19 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:If something does not exist phenomenologically, such as the self, it does not exist for me, for you, for anyone, other that someone who can see reality "as it is", with no phenomenological filter. Only people like that have access to non-phenomenological space.
Just to be sure I understand what you mean. Are you saying that there is a 'Self' to be known for someone with "no phenomenological filter"?
In order for me to feel justified saying that at all there would have to be a handy piece of Buddhavacana saying something along the lines of "there is a true self beyond the aggregates" or "there is a true self but it is utterly incomprehensible", given that the Buddha is the only one really qualified to touch on such matters. It wouldn't have been too hard for the Buddha to have simply explained that "true selfhood is uncommunicable" if he felt we couldn't 'get it', so it seems unlikely that he thought that.

I'll quote an argument I had a while back with a self-described "selfer" on DhammaWheel a while ago:
Coëmgenu wrote:Let me play selfer's-advocate here, and let me, just for the sake of this discussion, or non-discussion, or whatever it is, say: "Ok. I believe Buddha believed in a self, particularly a "true/higher self" that is none of the things that Buddha says are not the self."

I next have to look at a list of various things considered to be not-the-self, and I cross them off, and I say "the true self is above/beyond all these things".

When I compare this assertion, that there is an abhi-self, with the rest of the Dhamma, particularly as that relates to the futility of self-grasping, we get this series of statements, which, in my opinion, logically follow each other in a Dhammic setting.

1) There is a true-self.
2) Self-conceptions are not-self, and rise from grasping, from delusion, from suffering (see dependant origination).
3) Therefore "true self" cannot be a self-conception.
4) "There is a self", as a statement, is self-clinging, because the "self" in "there is a self" is a self-conception, a false one by Buddha's own admittance.
5) If there is a true-self it cannot arise from clinging, delusion, or suffering.
6) If the true-self exists it must be grasped to be understood in order to even begin to formulate any statement even vaguely similar to "there is a true self".
7) Grasping arises from delusion, ignorance, suffering.
8) The true-self is ungraspable.

[...]

And what is the use of advocating for the existence of something that is fundamentally ungraspable, uncognizable, unrecognizable? How could that endeavour possibly be of any use at all, let alone be relevant to Buddhist practice. The Buddha does not ask us to do impossible things. He asks us to do hard things for sure, but not impossible. That is the essence of the story with Mahābrahmā demanding the Buddha teach. The Dhamma is not impossible to follow.

You would literally have to become a Buddha to know if such a thing were to exist, and the last one didn't say one existed, so its a pointless conversation. The best solution is for all of us to practice the Buddhadharma as it is, follow the path, achieve the path, then we can all have a conversation about whether or not we discovered a selfhood that the Buddha "hid" despite knowing about. Then, if such a thing exists, we can all marvel at the impossibility of how we all followed a deceptive teacher down an incomplete path and arrived at a conclusion that the path never claimed to lead to.

We are in this condition now. After further becomings we will be in different conditions. We have to work within our conditions. And positing the existence of this supra-being-ness, this "higher self", is like saying "God exists". You reject "God exists" as a baseless claim, yet not this "higher self". The baselessness of these two claims is the same.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.

吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

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Re: Book about Anattā - No Inner Core

Post by ancientbuddhism » Thu Dec 22, 2016 3:43 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:In order for me to feel justified saying that at all there would have to be a handy piece of Buddhavacana saying something along the lines of "there is a true self beyond the aggregates" or "there is a true self but it is utterly incomprehensible", given that the Buddha is the only one really qualified to touch on such matters. It wouldn't have been too hard for the Buddha to have simply explained that "true selfhood is uncommunicable" if he felt we couldn't 'get it', so it seems unlikely that he thought that.
And yet it is all right there, the Tathāgata telling us throughout suttanta that there is only one ‘all’ (sabba), one range viz form, sensations, sense-perception, intentions and consciousness = the corporeal/cognitive sentient experience of the individual. That nowhere is there a ‘self’ to be found relevant to that. And specifically to your statement above, that there is no other ‘all’ or range to access.

The All’ (Sabba Sutta, SN. 35.23):

At Savatthi. “Bhikkhus, I will teach you the all. Listen to that….

“And what, bhikkhus, is the all? The eye and forms, the ear and sounds, the nose and odours, the tongue and tastes, the body and tactile objects, the mind and mental phenomena. This is called the all.

“If anyone, bhikkhus, should speak thus: ‘Having rejected this all, I shall make known another all’—that would be a mere empty boast on his part. If he were questioned he would not be able to reply and, further, he would meet with vexation. For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, that would not be within his domain.”
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Re: Book about Anattā - No Inner Core

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Dec 22, 2016 4:07 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:In order for me to feel justified saying that at all there would have to be a handy piece of Buddhavacana saying something along the lines of "there is a true self beyond the aggregates" or "there is a true self but it is utterly incomprehensible", given that the Buddha is the only one really qualified to touch on such matters. It wouldn't have been too hard for the Buddha to have simply explained that "true selfhood is uncommunicable" if he felt we couldn't 'get it', so it seems unlikely that he thought that.
And yet it is all right there, the Tathāgata telling us throughout suttanta that there is only one ‘all’ (sabba), one range viz form, sensations, sense-perception, intentions and consciousness = the corporeal/cognitive sentient experience of the individual. That nowhere is there a ‘self’ to be found relevant to that. And specifically to your statement above, that there is no other ‘all’ or range to access.

The All’ (Sabba Sutta, SN. 35.23):

At Savatthi. “Bhikkhus, I will teach you the all. Listen to that….

“And what, bhikkhus, is the all? The eye and forms, the ear and sounds, the nose and odours, the tongue and tastes, the body and tactile objects, the mind and mental phenomena. This is called the all.

“If anyone, bhikkhus, should speak thus: ‘Having rejected this all, I shall make known another all’—that would be a mere empty boast on his part. If he were questioned he would not be able to reply and, further, he would meet with vexation. For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, that would not be within his domain.”
I don't reject the ramifications that the Sabbasutta has when paired with the anattā-teaching at all. People who believe that the Buddha only teaches about phenomenological reality however, for them, the contents of the Buddha's "all" in the Sabbasutta is only functionally related to the human mind. Therein lies the problem. In phenomenological Buddhism, the only coherent position towards notions of "true self", "God", "upper reality", and/or any other metaphysical & ontological claims, is pure and complete agnosticism.

I do not personally believe that there is sufficient reason to think that the Buddha's teaching is purely phenomenological, but nevertheless, the phenomenological position of Buddhavacana-interpretation has come to inform the ideological foundations of how many modern Buddhists interact with the Dhamma, I have seen this myself in action. This happens whether or not these modern Buddhists are even aware that they are arguing from an only-phenomenological-viewpoint that leaves itself open to essentially any wandering metaphysic a practitioner already believes in. The fact that we have people who outrightly call themselves Buddhist-materialists, and form what they believe to be coherent interpretations of Buddhavacana that support scientific materialism, attests to some of what I think are dangers inherent in the phenomenology-only approach to Buddhavacana-interpretation. Still, its out there, and the quote I included from my past exchange with a "true-selfer" was me following the implications of phenomenology-only Buddhism to its only conclusions, which are not affirmations of "true-self", but fundamentally agnostic in nature. Even phenomenological Buddhist does not affirm any selves, true or mundane.

This exchange started with the basic argument that "the Buddha does not teach about the existence/non-existence of any thing, including of a self" which is the same as saying "the Buddha did not teach metaphysics/ontology", this is de facto an example of an approach to Buddhism that is phenomenologically oriented, I do not necessarily agree with it, but that is it, and that is what I think motivated the initial exchange. One of the problems of dealing with phenomenological Buddhism is that a phenomenological Buddhist can have an orthodox conception of "there is no self", phenomenologically, while simultaneously believing in metaphysics that imply a true and constant self-nature, whether they are self-aware about that or not.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.

吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

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Re: Book about Anattā - No Inner Core

Post by srivijaya » Fri Dec 23, 2016 10:03 am

Coëmgenu wrote:I think you are confusing metaphysical existence, ontological existence, and phenomenological existence.
Hi Coëmgenu, Interesting observation. Not something I think I'm doing but I'll defer to your judgement on that.
from a phenomenological angle, the Buddha does thoroughly dismiss selfhood, notions and realizations thereof, etc.
Absolutely agree.
If something does not exist phenomenologically, such as the self, it does not exist for me, for you, for anyone, other that someone who can see reality "as it is",
Yep. The only issue I have sometimes encountered (not implying that this is anything you have stated or done) is that this can be conflated with opinion. What I mean is that it's relatively easy to acquire a doctrinal (intellectual) belief in the existence or non-existence of a self. A fine example is the snippet from the sutta ancientbuddhism linked
‘That which is the self is the world; after death I shall be permanent, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change; I shall endure as long as eternity’—this too he regards thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self.’
etc.

Although most people don't push their "self" belief to such a detailed doctrinal extent, I happen to think that belief in self (however it's defined) is a useful starting point for anyone, as we all have a default "self" modus. I think the onus is thus on a person to seek, identify and establish this "self".

The key issue is how this investigation is conducted. If it's done using logic and analysis, then a conclusion is reached. If it is done using right concentration, a direct discovery is made. The nature of these is completely different; the former being an inferior antidote to self-grasping (if an antidote at all). My point being that if Buddha states "This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’ it's born of direct realization, rather than a conceptually constructed doctrine. Not saying that you shouldn't have such a doctrine, just that there's a fundamental difference.
From the phenomenological-Buddhist perspective, the Buddha is silent on issue of selfhood, but only because from this perspective, he is silent on the existence or non-existence of anything, selfhoods included. Look into the lists of all of the things that are called "not the self".
:anjali:

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Re: Book about Anattā - No Inner Core

Post by srivijaya » Fri Dec 23, 2016 10:06 am

ancientbuddhism wrote:
srivijaya wrote:The linked suttas do not appear to contain speculative doctrinal expositions on the existence/non-existence of atta. If they do, then please make it more explicit. I would like to see why you consider they do.
You may be forgetting what you were claiming as speculation. This is your post I responded to above:
srivijaya wrote:"He proclaimed that He teaches anattà, that is, when He denied the existence of atta."
Buddha never affirmed or denied the existence of such...
Indeed, the linked sutta contains nothing speculative at all, is there? Rather it is a definite, sweeping refutation of an attā that is “…permanent, stable; of the nature to endure for eternity.” ( nicco dhuvo sassato avipariṇāmadhammo). A realisation of which the noble adherent of the Tathāgata knows such an attā as ‘non-existent’ (asat).

“... of the perspective ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’

netaṃ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati

“Since he is of this perspective he is not vexed by what is non-existent.”

So evaṃ samanupassanto asati na paritassatī”ti. (MN. 22)

The metaphysical speculations you keep alluding to are the caution to the puthujjana, given in the Sabbāsava Sutta (MN.2), which are those views on self of the puthujjana, who wrongly considers a personal existence ‘for me’ – ‘Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? (ahosiṃ nu kho ahaṃ atītamaddhānaṃ, na nu kho ahosiṃ atītamaddhānaṃ) … ‘I have a self’ … I do not have a self’ (atthi me attā’tinatthi me attā’ti).
Thanks, that's made your position clearer.
:anjali:

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Re: Book about Anattā - No Inner Core

Post by devaloka » Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:38 am

srivijaya wrote:The intro states:

"He proclaimed that He teaches anattà, that is, when He denied the existence of atta."

Buddha never affirmed or denied the existence of such. He wasn't into affirmation or denial of metaphysical speculation.

It goes on to state:

"In the absolute sense, the anattà doctrine denies any and all psychological entities or agents inside the person."

Doctrines are all about affirmation and denial. Anatta is an uncovered truth, rather than a "doctrine".

I would have to spend some time on the contents to appraise it properly but the intro seems a bit off the mark.
Anatta is the central doctrine of Buddhism, without understanding which a real knowledge of Buddhism is altogether impossible. It is the only really specific Buddhist doctrine, with which the entire Structure of the Buddhist teaching stands or falls. All the remaining Buddhist doctrines may, more or less, be found in other philosophic systems and religions, but the anattā-doctrine has been clearly and unreservedly taught only by the Buddha, wherefore the Buddha is known as the anattā-vādi, or 'Teacher of Impersonality'.

Source: http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/a/anatta.htm

Wikipedia also lists it as doctrine

Mere suffering exists, no sufferer is found;
The deed is, but no doer of the deed is there;
Nibbàna is, but not the man who enters it;
The path is, but no traveler on it is seen

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Re: Book about Anattā - No Inner Core

Post by paul » Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:22 pm

The argument that the Buddha uses to explain anatta in SN 22:59 the Anatta-lakkhana Sutta is that it is derived from anicca, impermanence:
"Bhikkhus, how do you conceive it: is form permanent or impermanent?" — "Impermanent, venerable Sir." — "Now is what is impermanent painful or pleasant?" — "Painful, venerable Sir." — "Now is what is impermanent, what is painful since subject to change, fit to be regarded thus: 'This is mine, this is I, this is my self'"? — "No, venerable sir."
So the essential teaching is impermanence.

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Re: Book about Anattā - No Inner Core

Post by cappuccino » Sat May 06, 2017 9:44 pm

Have you ever felt like someone was in the room…
you turn around and no one is there?
neither eternal identity, nor annihilation

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