Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Explore the ancient language of the Tipitaka and Theravāda commentaries

Moderator: Mahavihara moderator

SarathW
Posts: 9991
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Post by SarathW » Mon Apr 08, 2013 5:35 am

Some interesting reading in world oldest printed book "Diamond- Sutra", in relation to Anatta.

http://www.diamond-sutra.com/diamond_su ... ation.html
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

Dinsdale
Posts: 5930
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Apr 08, 2013 12:37 pm

Alex123 wrote:A football team can through time have different players coming and going, but it IS the same football team.
I'm not sure that analogy works, because it's only the name of the team that stays the same ( as with a person ) - but the team is continually changing as players come and go - and the team is continually changing even with the same set of players.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

User avatar
Alex123
Posts: 3476
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Post by Alex123 » Mon Apr 08, 2013 4:58 pm

porpoise wrote:
Alex123 wrote:A football team can through time have different players coming and going, but it IS the same football team.
I'm not sure that analogy works, because it's only the name of the team that stays the same ( as with a person ) - but the team is continually changing as players come and go - and the team is continually changing even with the same set of players.
1) The origin of that team stays the same.
2) The team remains football team, it doesn't change to a soccer team for example.
3) It fulfills the same function, playing football.

So in that sense it is the same. Of course team players change. Team is higher hierarchy, its players are lower in hierarchy.

Similar we can say with the forest. Its trees can change but it is the same forest. IMHO.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

Dinsdale
Posts: 5930
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Post by Dinsdale » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:34 am

reflection wrote:That's not the only way anatta is used. It is also used as a noun, as in "body, feeling, etc. is anatta".
"And since form is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of form: 'Let my form be thus, let my form be not thus.'"
- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html
That's not a strategy, but a statement of how one can't control the aggregates.
Yes, although this also seems to be an implicit rather than an explicit statement about the non-existence of self. Is there a sutta where the Buddha makes a clear statement that the self doesn't exist?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

User avatar
reflection
Posts: 1116
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm

Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Post by reflection » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:34 am

I interpret "sabbe dhamma anatta" as such. Just like there probably is no sutta that says "permanence doesn't exist (in conditioned things)", saying ", "everything conditioned is impermanent" is saying just the same. By making a statement on one thing, you make a statement on the other. Saying it's all impermanent, is saying it's all not permanent. Saying it's all anatta, is saying it's all not atta.

Now what are the conditioned things? The Buddha would explain them in terms of the five khandas or the six senses. These he called anatta. The point is, there is nothing outside of these that you can experience. So that's another statement indirectly saying there to be no self. Like I were to say, there are no dragons in or on land, nowhere in or on water, air or space. I mention these locations, just to make clear to you I didn't forget to look anywhere. In the end, it comes down to dragons don't exist, because where else to look for them? Well, in the mind perhaps, as an idea. We can perceive a self in things that are not self, that is surely possible.

User avatar
kirk5a
Posts: 1959
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Post by kirk5a » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:57 pm

reflection wrote:Now what are the conditioned things? The Buddha would explain them in terms of the five khandas or the six senses. These he called anatta. The point is, there is nothing outside of these that you can experience.
That is all conditioned, but there is the unconditioned.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

User avatar
reflection
Posts: 1116
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm

Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Post by reflection » Tue Apr 09, 2013 4:42 pm

That's right. But the unconditioned is the cessation of the conditioned, not the arising of something. But if we speak about anatta, it doesn't matter, because the unconditioned is also anatta. "Sabbe sankhara anicca", means all the conditioned is impermanent, but "sabbe dhamma anatta", means everything is anatta, both conditioned and unconditioned.

It's stated like that, because anicca and dukkha speak about the presence of something, while anatta speaks about the absence of something. Suffering and impermanence are existing things here, but anatta means there is not a self here, so in that sense it is not an existing reality. I hope you understand it like this, because I have difficulty rephrasing. Since the unconditioned is the cessation of things, we can only speak of the absence of things. So, suffering and impermanence cease, but not anatta, because anatta was not an existing thing in the first place. So it's not like anatta is replaced by atta. That's impossible.

If you see it like this, you see why anatta, dukkha and anicca are three terms pointing to the same thing. Three dhamma doors, if you wish. Because of anatta, there is impermanence. Because of impermanence, there is suffering.

User avatar
Alex123
Posts: 3476
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Post by Alex123 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:39 pm

reflection wrote:I interpret "sabbe dhamma anatta"
I don't believe in Atman. However, in the above quote its meaning is very dependent on what "sabbe dhamma" includes. If it means 12 ayatanas, than the scope of the phrase is limited and not absolute. I know some people have argued that Atman is indescribable and exists outside of "sabbe dhamma". I don't believe that, but I am just pointing out other interpretations.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

User avatar
reflection
Posts: 1116
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm

Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Post by reflection » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:26 pm

Hi Alex. Why would it not be absolute if it was about the six senses? The Buddha called it 'the world' with a reason. Is there a seventh sense? I can't find it. To me the six senses are all-pervasive, they are everything.

User avatar
Alex123
Posts: 3476
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Post by Alex123 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:11 pm

reflection wrote:Hi Alex. Why would it not be absolute if it was about the six senses? The Buddha called it 'the world' with a reason. Is there a seventh sense? I can't find it. To me the six senses are all-pervasive, they are everything.
There is this wrong idea that Atman is beyond 6 senses (12 āyatana) and is indescribable so the Buddha employed a negative teaching which he used to describe what Atman is not rather than what it is. Of course I don't buy this.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

User avatar
reflection
Posts: 1116
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm

Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Post by reflection » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:50 pm

Ah, I see. Thanks for the clarification.

Virgo
Posts: 1424
Joined: Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:52 pm

Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Post by Virgo » Wed Apr 10, 2013 3:37 am


User avatar
Polar Bear
Posts: 1166
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:39 am
Location: Bear Republic

Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Post by Polar Bear » Wed Apr 10, 2013 4:56 am

Alex123 wrote:
reflection wrote:Hi Alex. Why would it not be absolute if it was about the six senses? The Buddha called it 'the world' with a reason. Is there a seventh sense? I can't find it. To me the six senses are all-pervasive, they are everything.
There is this wrong idea that Atman is beyond 6 senses (12 āyatana) and is indescribable so the Buddha employed a negative teaching which he used to describe what Atman is not rather than what it is. Of course I don't buy this.
"As for the person who says, 'Feeling is not the self: My self is oblivious [to feeling],' he should be addressed as follows: 'My friend, where nothing whatsoever is sensed (experienced) at all, would there be the thought, "I am"?'"

"No, lord."

"Thus in this manner, Ananda, one does not see fit to assume that 'Feeling is not my self: My self is oblivious [to feeling].'

"As for the person who says, 'Neither is feeling my self, nor is my self oblivious [to feeling], but rather my self feels, in that my self is subject to feeling,' he should be addressed as follows: 'My friend, should feelings altogether and every way stop without remainder, then with feeling completely not existing, owing to the cessation of feeling, would there be the thought, "I am"?'"

"No, lord."

"Thus in this manner, Ananda, one does not see fit to assume that 'Neither is feeling my self, nor is my self oblivious [to feeling], but rather my self feels, in that my self is subject to feeling.'

"Now, Ananda, in as far as a monk does not assume feeling to be the self, nor the self as oblivious, nor that 'My self feels, in that my self is subject to feeling,' then, not assuming in this way, he is not sustained by anything (does not cling to anything) in the world. Unsustained, he is not agitated. Unagitated, he is totally unbound right within. He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
The people who follow the true Atman interpretation should really read this whole sutta.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

Dinsdale
Posts: 5930
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Post by Dinsdale » Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:28 am

reflection wrote:Because of anatta, there is impermanence. Because of impermanence, there is suffering.
This analysis seems more straightforward and logical, though it seems odd that the Buddha didn't present it in this direct way. It might be worth exploring further the relationship between anatta and anicca - they appear to me like two sides of the same coin, because one could say that because of anicca there is anatta.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

User avatar
reflection
Posts: 1116
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm

Re: Anatta = not Atman or No-Self

Post by reflection » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:28 am

In a way he did even more directy. Every time he talked about the khandas, he was talking about anatta; those two are teaching the same thing. And he said, the khandas are impermanent and therefore suffering. He directly explains the link between those and what exactly is suffering. One only needs to make the step that there is nothing outside of the khandas and it all fits together beautifully. And to make sure we can't intellectually find a way out, the Buddha said "whatever form/../consciousness, near, far, subtle, gross etc is the aggregate of form/../consciousness".

Sure, some people still try to define some atman outside of the aggregates, either in a free will or in a sort of consciousness. But with my humble understanding, the Buddha included all their ideas by this statement as to be actually anatta & dukkha. And if we can let it all go, there'd be nothing to loose. This is how I understand the Buddha's teachings.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 11 guests