The answers so far are correct with regards to the most widely studied part of the Theravada canon which is contained in the Nikayas. These are the "Suttas" you will come across.
But if you study abhidhamma or talk to people who studied a lot of it you will most likely get a definitive "no" to the answer of whether a self exists. Not denying the conventional self (I am typing. I went to the store. I bought a loaf of bread) but in terms of ultimate dhammas or ultimate reality, no, there is no underlying essense or anything that can actually be called a "self" in any of it. There is just the arising and passing of dhammas (phenomenah) trillions of times per second in any given moment, all of which are anatta.
I, personally, do not believe that the Abhidhamma is the word of the Buddha's; I tend to stick to the first two pitakas. By your last statement, are you talking about our sense data from our six senses (i.e what we see, hear, feel, touch, etc), which, because we cannot see the world/ourselves without this data, we do not know if there is a self. And because of this - because of our senses - everything is anatta? Just a thought I've had (probably due to the topic I'm studying in Philosophy right now - Knowledge of the External World)
meindzai wrote:That's fine, though I tend to agree with Thanissaro the perspective of the Suttas it is kind of considered to just be a pointless question. "Ontology" in general was considered a kind of useless topic with regards to liberation - right along with politics and fashion.
So basically, it doesn't matter about whether or not there is a 'self'? I read somewhere on this forum that the Buddha says there are four ways he answered questions, the last of which being that he did not answer at all, due to the question being unrelated to the path to enlightenment. I guess this is one of them?
meindzai wrote:I feel for Jasmine, coming back to this thread and seeing the flurry of replies for such a seemingly simple question.
No, it was great! I thought I'd get no replies whatsoever! Thank you all
tiltbillings wrote:Depends upon what is meant "self."
I'm not too sure, to be honest
I guess I meant a consciousness, but that is one of the Five Aggregates, so I guess me asking about my thoughts of Anatta means that I am clinging to one of the Skandha, thus I will continue suffering!
Thank you! Sorry I didn't look for answers on this forum more thoroughly! One of the key parts which stuck out in my mind was the Matrix analogy - we do not know if this "world/self" is an illusion until we 'wake up from the dream,' so to speak. And I guess in order to 'wake up from the dream,' we have to get out of this vicious cycle of life, death and rebirth!
That's my take on it, anyway...
Thanks for everything everybody, I genuinely do appreciate it
you've all helped me reach the conclusion that it really doesn't matter if there is a self or not
Good day to you all!