ancientbuddhism wrote:The profundity of the anatta doctrine sweeps past any theistic claims. It is a denial of both creator god and soul.
Thanissaro Bhikkhu argues very convincingly, imo, that anatta isn't a doctrine
as such, it's a useful strategy
for gaining liberation. For example:
'The Not-self Strategy' by
Books on Buddhism often state that the Buddha's most basic metaphysical tenet is that there is no soul or self. However, a survey of the discourses in the Pali canon — the earliest extant record of the Buddha's teachings — suggests that the Buddha taught the anatta or not-self doctrine, not as a metaphysical assertion, but as a strategy for gaining release from suffering: If one uses the concept of not-self to dis-identify oneself from all phenomena, one goes beyond the reach of all suffering & stress. As for what lies beyond suffering & stress, the Canon states that although it may be experienced, it lies beyond the range of description, and thus such descriptions as "self" or "not-self" would not apply.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tself.html
As I understand the teachings, to cling to the view "I have no self" is also not free from self-view. It is described as a wrong view, just as "I have a self" is a wrong view; it is very clearly stated in a certain sutta, which I cannot locate at present. I can, however, recall this:
"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one.
"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is in bondage to attachments, clingings (sustenances), & biases. But one such as this does not get involved with or cling to these attachments, clingings, fixations of awareness, biases, or obsessions; nor is he resolved on 'my self.' He has no uncertainty or doubt that just stress, when arising, is arising; stress, when passing away, is passing away. In this, his knowledge is independent of others. It's to this extent, Kaccayana, that there is right view.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
I think the idea here is that, what is really important is where to place our attention and energy,
ie, on gaining release from stress. Existence vs non-existence both miss the point. We are supposed to see how stress arises, and how it can cease, by the forward and reverse applications of Dependent Origination. Not to cling to the idea of whether we exist or not.
I'm not sure if I'm able to convey what I'm trying to get at clearly enough, but Thanissaro Bhikkhu explains it at length in many places.