Yes. As you wrote, “So, the initial sensory processing is automatic, but somehow at the khandā level a “person” is conjured up.”
1. What takes place in the mind is a PROCESS.
-The hadaya vatthu only gets very short “snapshots” of any sensory experiences.
– For example, while watching a movie, bits of sound and visual inputs come in at a very fast rate. The mind can connect the appropriate bits of sound and visuals and put together a coherent sound and a visual.
– I have tried to explain this in several posts using the “movie analogy.” See, for example the following two posts in the current series: “Vision Is a Series of “Snapshots” – Movie Analogy” and “Aggregate of Forms – Collection of “Mental Impressions” of Forms”
– It may be a good idea to scan through that subsection, the last post of which I posted today:
“Paṭicca Samuppāda During a Lifetime”
2. The key point that one grasps when getting rid of sakkaya ditthi is that there is no permanent “soul-type entity.”
– Of course, the perception of a “me” and “I” will be there until the Arahant stage.
– At the Sotapanna stage, one only SEES (OR REALIZES) that there is no “unchanging person.”
– Getting rid of the “sense of me” (asmi māna) happens only at the Arahant stage.
3. Lang wrote: “I recall that in another post you wrote that the Buddha said that viññāṇa is like a magician. Is this an example of that? That viññāṇa produces the notion of a “person” out of an automatic process.”
– That is correct.
4. Lang wrote: “Is this also related to atta/anatta? The notion of a “person” implies that somebody is in control or in charge (atta) when the true nature of sensory processing is such that nobody is “in charge” (anatta)?”
– They are related, but anatta (in anicca, dukka, anatta) means “unfruitful nature.” See, “Anatta is a Characteristic of the World, not About a ‘Self’”
– Atta and anatta have several different meanings and need to be understood in the context where the words are used. Also attā is different from “atta.” For example, in “Attā Hi Attanō Nāthō” “attā” (with a long “ā”) indicates a :person” in the mundane sense.