[SN 44.10]Is “attā” self or essence?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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Stillness
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[SN 44.10]Is “attā” self or essence?

Post by Stillness » Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:31 am

This is an answer to someone’s inquiry (see subject) regarding this post.

Atthi: Exist.
Natthi [na + atthi]: Non-exist, no, not, not present.
Attā: Self, soul (Sanskrit: Ātman)

Hence, the SN 44.10’s two questions by the wanderer Vacchagotta (Pāli):
Q1) “Atthattā?” [Atthi + attā]: Exist + self?
Q2) “Natthattā?” [Natthi + attā]: Non-exist + self?

Chinese Āgama parallel at SA-2 195 agrees with the Pāli:
Q1) “一切眾生為有不?”: “All beings have self?”
Q2) “為無耶?”: “Not have self?”

Later, in the sutta, Buddha explains, he didn’t say “yes” to Q1, because it would be inconsistent with his claim of arising of the knowledge that “all phenomena are non-self (sabbe dhammā anattā).”

And, if the Buddha said “yes” to Q2, the wanderer Vacchagotta, already confused, would have fallen into even greater confusion, thinking: “It seems that the self I formerly had does not exist now (ahuvā me nūna pubbe attā).”

It appears the Buddha thought the idea of the non-existence of a self is incomprehensible for the wanderer Vacchagotta.

It's clear that by the time of the Three Qin (三秦) period (352–431 CE) when the sutta was translated, the Chinese translator/s also understood the attā as self (). :smile:

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DooDoot
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Re: [SN 44.10]Is “attā” self or essence?

Post by DooDoot » Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:47 am

Stillness wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:31 am
Atthi: Exist.
Natthi [na + atthi]: Non-exist, no, not, not present.
Attā: Self, soul (Sanskrit: Ātman)

Hence, the SN 44.10’s two questions by the wanderer Vacchagotta (Pāli):
Q1) “Atthattā?” [Atthi + attā]: Exist + self?
Q2) “Natthattā?” [Natthi + attā]: Non-exist + self?

It appears the Buddha thought the idea of the non-existence of a self is incomprehensible for the wanderer Vacchagotta.
Good post. However, I think we should also consider that when the wanderer Vacchagotta used the words "atta" his understanding of the word may have also differed from the Buddha. In other words, I think we should avoid imputing any Buddhist definitions upon words spoke by Vacchagotta given Vacchagotta had no understanding of Buddhism and was merely asking questions from his own doctrinal base.

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Re: [SN 44.10]Is “attā” self or essence?

Post by WorldTraveller » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:01 am

DooDoot wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:47 am
Good post.
+1
DooDoot wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:47 am
However, I think we should also consider that when the wanderer Vacchagotta used the words "atta" his understanding of the word may have also differed from the Buddha. In other words, I think we should avoid imputing any Buddhist definitions upon words spoke by Vacchagotta given Vacchagotta had no understanding of Buddhism and was merely asking questions from his own doctrinal base.
Having read the Wiki article mentioned in the OP, my money is on "Ātman" (an everlasting soul kind of thing). Isn't "an everlasting soul" is very common in Hinduism since ages?
DooDoot wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:47 am
In other words, I think we should avoid imputing any Buddhist definitions upon words spoke by Vacchagotta given Vacchagotta had no understanding of Buddhism and was merely asking questions from his own doctrinal base.
Yes, but the Buddha must have understood what Vacchagotta meant by "atta". Otherwise, he would have question back the Vacchagotta. Do you think Buddha would blabber just for the sake of his own satisfaction like some modern gurus without regarding the audience? :tongue:
“Do not go by oral tradition, by lineage of teaching, by hearsay, by a canonical tradition, by logical reasoning, by inferential reasoning, by reasoned cogitation, by the acceptance of a view after pondering it, by the seeming competence of a speaker, or because you think: ‘The ascetic is our guru.’”
- Kālāma-sutta

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Re: [SN 44.10]Is “attā” self or essence?

Post by Zom » Fri Oct 19, 2018 12:15 pm

It appears the Buddha thought the idea of the non-existence of a self is incomprehensible for the wanderer Vacchagotta.
Yes. The sutta is crystal clear, though still dim for eternalists 8-)

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Re: [SN 44.10]Is “attā” self or essence?

Post by auto » Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:52 pm

https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/AN/AN3_34.html
“Any action performed with greed—born of greed, caused by greed, originating from greed: Wherever one’s selfhood [atta-bhāva] turns up, there that action will ripen. Where that action ripens, there one will experience its fruit, either in this very life that has arisen or further along in the sequence.
“Any action performed with non-greed—born of non-greed, caused by non-greed, originating from non-greed: When greed is gone, that action is thus abandoned, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising.
in both cases there is a doer, someone who makes these actions while in one case atta-bhava rises. Looks like 'nutriment' and 'becoming' can be used to form another word.
A person unknowing:
the actions performed by him,
born of greed, born of aversion,
& born of delusion,
whether many or few,
are experienced right here:
No other ground is found.1

So a monk, knowing,
sheds
greed, aversion, & delusion;
giving rise to clear knowledge, he
sheds
all bad destinations.2


bad destinations cut.., so even if actions doesn't bear fruit there still will be good destinations(tho translator commentator note doesn't agree). I think Arhant(according to translator its Arhant) whos actions doesn't cause rebirth will still born or have that capability.

by reason someone without greed.. don't have atta-bhava because it won't 'turn up'(turn up? what's that exactly, any other suitable words?).
also it seem both variants doesn't have atta-bhava, it requires actions.

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cappuccino
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Re: [SN 44.10]Is “attā” self or essence?

Post by cappuccino » Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:33 pm

no self is still a self doctrine

regard everything as not self, that's OK

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Re: [SN 44.10]Is “attā” self or essence?

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Oct 20, 2018 8:15 am

cappuccino wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:33 pm
Mo self is still a self doctrine
Yes.
cappuccino wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:33 pm
regard everything as not self, that's OK
Regarding everything as not self is also a self-doctrine.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Re: [SN 44.10]Is “attā” self or essence?

Post by cappuccino » Sat Oct 20, 2018 4:32 pm

Dinsdale wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 8:15 am
Regarding everything as not self is also a self-doctrine.
Actually it's not.

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Re: [SN 44.10]Is “attā” self or essence?

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:21 am

cappuccino wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 4:32 pm
Dinsdale wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 8:15 am
Regarding everything as not self is also a self-doctrine.
Actually it's not.
Oh yes it is. :tongue:

Seriously though, I can't see any practical difference between the view of "no-self" and the view of "everything is not-self".
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Re: [SN 44.10]Is “attā” self or essence?

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:23 am

WorldTraveller wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:01 am
Having read the Wiki article mentioned in the OP, my money is on "Ātman" (an everlasting soul kind of thing). Isn't "an everlasting soul" is very common in Hinduism since ages?
I think that's correct, though the suttas seem mostly concerned with challenging self-view, the sense of "me", the sense of ownership.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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DooDoot
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Re: [SN 44.10]Is “attā” self or essence?

Post by DooDoot » Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:31 am

Dinsdale wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:21 am
Seriously though, I can't see any practical difference between the view of "no-self" and the view of "everything is not-self".
The sutta appears quite clear about Vacchagotta's wrong view. Vacchagotta might have taken on blind faith he was not a self in the present but would have held he was a self in the past; which would not have been the view that "everything" is not-self.
Vacchagotta wrote:“It seems that the self I formerly had does not exist now (ahuvā me nūna pubbe attā).”
SN 22.79 appears to explain the right view; where past ignorant mistaken "self-making" or "birthing" is correctly viewed as not-self.
At Savatthi. “Bhikkhus, those ascetics and brahmins who recollect their manifold past abodes all recollect the five aggregates subject to clinging or a certain one among them. What five?

“When recollecting thus, bhikkhus: ‘I had such form in the past,’ it is just form that one recollects. When recollecting: ‘I had such a feeling in the past,’ it is just feeling that one recollects. When recollecting: ‘I had such a perception in the past,’ it is just perception that one recollects. When recollecting: ‘I had such volitional formations in the past,’ it is just volitional formations that one recollects. When recollecting: ‘I had such consciousness in the past,’ it is just consciousness that one recollects.

“Therefore, bhikkhus, any kind of form whatsoever … Any kind of feeling whatsoever … Any kind of perception whatsoever … Any kind of volitional formations whatsoever … Any kind of consciousness whatsoever, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near, all consciousness should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’

“This is called, bhikkhus, a noble disciple who dismantles and does not build up; who abandons and does not cling; who scatters and does not amass; who extinguishes and does not kindle.

https://suttacentral.net/sn22.79/en/bodhi
In summary, it appears in the view of enlightenment, there was never ever any self; that any "self" ideas in the past were mistaken.

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Re: [SN 44.10]Is “attā” self or essence?

Post by auto » Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:09 am

DooDoot wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:31 am
Dinsdale wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:21 am
Seriously though, I can't see any practical difference between the view of "no-self" and the view of "everything is not-self".
The sutta appears quite clear about Vacchagotta's wrong view. Vacchagotta might have taken on blind faith he was not a self in the present but would have held he was a self in the past; which would not have been the view that "everything" is not-self.
Vacchagotta wrote:“It seems that the self I formerly had does not exist now (ahuvā me nūna pubbe attā).”
SN 22.79 appears to explain the right view; where past ignorant mistaken "self-making" or "birthing" is correctly viewed as not-self.
At Savatthi. “Bhikkhus, those ascetics and brahmins who recollect their manifold past abodes all recollect the five aggregates subject to clinging or a certain one among them. What five?

“When recollecting thus, bhikkhus: ‘I had such form in the past,’ it is just form that one recollects. When recollecting: ‘I had such a feeling in the past,’ it is just feeling that one recollects. When recollecting: ‘I had such a perception in the past,’ it is just perception that one recollects. When recollecting: ‘I had such volitional formations in the past,’ it is just volitional formations that one recollects. When recollecting: ‘I had such consciousness in the past,’ it is just consciousness that one recollects.

“Therefore, bhikkhus, any kind of form whatsoever … Any kind of feeling whatsoever … Any kind of perception whatsoever … Any kind of volitional formations whatsoever … Any kind of consciousness whatsoever, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near, all consciousness should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’

“This is called, bhikkhus, a noble disciple who dismantles and does not build up; who abandons and does not cling; who scatters and does not amass; who extinguishes and does not kindle.

https://suttacentral.net/sn22.79/en/bodhi
In summary, it appears in the view of enlightenment, there was never ever any self; that any "self" ideas in the past were mistaken.
Also, it seem that sense bases are not self; objects what we see are not self. While its actually clinging aggregates what are not self while they are considered as self(there is no discernment at first) in past, present and future, but the nibbana is not in a category of past, present, future near or far i think that's why they will be found(through path) to be not self.
-
Thats prolly why its when you see certain way you are called X, there is no further things to do.

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Benjamin
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Re: [SN 44.10]Is “attā” self or essence?

Post by Benjamin » Thu Jan 03, 2019 12:50 am

Dinsdale wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:21 am
cappuccino wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 4:32 pm
Dinsdale wrote:
Sat Oct 20, 2018 8:15 am
Regarding everything as not self is also a self-doctrine.
Actually it's not.
Oh yes it is. :tongue:

Seriously though, I can't see any practical difference between the view of "no-self" and the view of "everything is not-self".
I'd agree that they are both self-doctrines, or at least perceptions regarding self.

That being said, I can see a huge difference between these two:

A) Treating phenomena as they arise as not self, while holding onto other skillful things like jhana practice and the other aspects of the path.
(this is slightly different from your statement as we are not saying "everything is not-self". Some things we hold onto as "self", to cultivate them.)

B) Simply saying that all things are without self, which is more of an ontological statement.

All things very well may be selfless at an ultimate level, but it does appear that the Buddha was more interested in our perceptions of the world than the absolute state of things, as we can't get there until we cultivate more skillful perceptions that allow us to let go.
:candle: :buddha1: :candle:

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cappuccino
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Re: [SN 44.10]Is “attā” self or essence?

Post by cappuccino » Thu Jan 03, 2019 1:01 am

For it is possible that a virtuous monk, attending in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant... not-self, would realize the fruit of stream-entry.
Silavant Sutta: Virtuous

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