Dhammapada self

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Dhammapada self

Post by greenjuice » Thu Nov 28, 2013 8:16 pm

In the Dhammapada there is a chapter called Self, Atta-vaggo. One would expect that it would contain stuff like teaching how aggregates are not the self, or explaining how there is no self. But instead there are verses like these:

attana hi kataj papaj attajaj attasambhavaj

Indeed, evil is done by oneself, it is born from oneself, it has origin in oneself.

attana hi kataj papaj attana savkilissati
attana akataj papaj attana va visujjhati

Indeed, evil is done by oneself; by oneself one becomes impure.
Evil is undone by oneself; only by oneself one becomes pure.

atta hi attano natho ko hi natho paro siya

Indeed, one is one's own lord. What other lord would there be?

Notice atta (atman) used. Basically, if one goes with annata (anatman) translation (which I've seen used) written as "no-Self", and called a doctrine, then the beginning of the verse 160 can be translated "Indeed, the Self is the master of the Self", and these Dhammapada verses can be called the Atta doctrine.

What are Theravada explanations of these verses, what do the commentaries say?

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Re: Dhammapada self

Post by bodom » Thu Nov 28, 2013 8:38 pm

See this article by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:

Selves & Not-self: The Buddhist Teaching on Anatta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... html#talk4

A short excerpt...
We know that the Buddha often talked about not-self, but he also talked positively about self. He said that the self should be its own mainstay, that it should observe itself and reprimand itself when it's gone astray, and that there's a need to learn not to harm oneself. Here are some passages from the Dhammapada that speak positively of the role of self on the path.

"Your own self is your own mainstay,
for who else could your mainstay be?
With you yourself well-trained,
you obtain a mainstay hard to obtain."
— Dhp 160

"Evil is done by oneself.
By oneself is one defiled.
Evil is left undone by oneself.
By oneself is one cleansed.

Purity and impurity are one's own doing.
No one purifies another.
No other purifies one."
— Dhp 165

"You yourself should reprove yourself,
should examine yourself.
As a self-guarded monk with guarded self,
mindful you dwell at ease."
— Dhp 379

These passages show that a sense of self is an important part of the practice — especially a sense of self that encourages responsibility, heedfulness, and care. The question is: Why would it be necessary to create this skillful sense of self? If ultimately you're going to develop the perception of not-self, why spend time developing a perception of self?

The short answer is that the path is a skill, and, as with many other skills, there are many different stages in mastering it. Sometimes you have to do one thing at one stage, and turn around and erase it at another. It's like making a chair. At one stage you have to mark the wood with a pencil so that you can cut it properly, but when you're ready to apply the final finish, you have to sand the pencil marks away....
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo

With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5

"Dont send the mind outside. Watch the mind right at the mind."

- Ajahn Dune Atulo

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Re: Dhammapada self

Post by Mkoll » Thu Nov 28, 2013 10:49 pm

"This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'

"As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self... or the view It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self arises in him as true & established, or else he has a view like this: This very self of mine — the knower that is sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & bad actions — is the self of mine that is constant, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and will stay just as it is for eternity. This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.
-MN 2
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Re: Dhammapada self

Post by SarathW » Thu Nov 28, 2013 11:32 pm

Hi Bodem
Interesting post.
I am the result of my previous ignorance of not understanding Anatta.
Until such time, this aggregate (ignorance =I) will continue some form or another.
Anatta could be such a conundrum.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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