January 26, 2018 at 12:44 pm #13880
This is not meant to bring down Lal’s explanations of anatta but i wanted to share my understanding of anatta with you and ask for your comment.
The sutta’s (for example SN22.89) talk about the desire, the conceit and the underlying tendency “I am”. In my opinion this refers to the wrong view of an atta. I think in daily life we call this our ego-desire(s), our ego-conceit and the underlying tendency to manifest that notion of an ego-entity inside us. It refers to the view that mind, as that which experiences ‘the world’, is some kind of entity, self or entity-I.
I agree with the sutta’s that this seems to be the strongest defilement of the mind. The biggest inner fire (thapa) is this ego-desire and ego-conceit. There is no greed and hate without this ego-desire and ego-conceit. It is this ego which has so much longings. It must be fed all the time. In the core it wants to be seen and heard, i belief. But are we this ego-identity?
I am quit sure that there will never be real peace of mind and safety or refuge for us, when mind keeps being obsessed with this ego-desire, and ego-conceit. And i am quit sure there is no bigger relief than the absence of this ego- desires and conceit.
There are sometimes moments that one can feel this relief. My experience is that this just happens unexpactedly, suddenly. There are such moments that one can experience an intense peaceful mind without any fire. The five hindrances are not present, not because of concentration, but it just happens, suddenly. It is not jhana.
At such moments one is very naturally connected with anything and anyone (love). In my youth i had many such experiences and later they were there sometimes, but never on command, never intended, never searched for, never planned. At such moments there is no fighting, no ambition, no intending, no struggling, no striving, no fire, not any mental suffering at all.
The Budddha does not teach that ego-desires and ego-conceit are always there and only absent for an arahant. No, also with ‘normal’ people, worldy people like me, the desire “I am”, the conceit “I am” can disappear, sometimes.
What causes this? I do not know. Maybe it is because one finally does not intent anything and finally comes to oneself? Mind seems to be almost any time in some kind of agitated state and that is completely gone at such moments.
I do know it happens and a lot of people know this experience too. A lot of people glimps this intense peace of mind. One can think this is very rare and only preserved for those who are Buddhist or those who strive hard, or have no lusts, no desires, no hate, but this is not true at all.
Anyone who studies Buddhism can see how the Buddha teaches the desire and conceit “I am”, is the heaviest burden and it’s disappearance is ultimate happiness. Burdened with ego-belief mind will never find peace or refuge.
This i have seen in a crisis i experienced, and i experience it on a daily basis. More then that, with ego-belief we are really helpless and without refuge. Ego-belief has to end due to wisdom. So not ego or self has to end, but the ego-desire and ego-conceit! Something completely different.
Ego is not who we really are, but the desire and the conceit “I am” is a defilement which comes with this impression. It is hard to understand: ego is not who i am, not mine, not myself when it manifest in the mind.
There is really no self in the sense of an ego-entity. In other words, identity is a view, it is formed.
I have seen most buddhist teachers explain it this way. In this context Anatta is almost always translated as no-self. In the sense of ‘there is no-real ego-identity’. I do not see what is wrong with this meaning of anatta.
But i am curious what you think.
January 26, 2018 at 3:33 pm #13881LalKeymaster
Siebe said: “I have seen most buddhist teachers explain it this way. In this context Anatta is almost always translated as no-self. In the sense of ‘there is no-real ego-identity’. I do not see what is wrong with this meaning of anatta.”
“Everything exists”: That is one extreme. “Everything doesn’t exist”: That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.”
“Everything doesn’t exist” in the above translates to “no-self” when applied to a “living being”. As far as a “person” is concerned, “self” is one extreme and “no-self” is the other extreme: it wrong to say either “a person exists” or “a person does not exist”.
So, even though most Theravada websites (including the above sites) translate “anatta” as “no-self”, it is clear from their own translation above that the Buddha rejected this “no-self” view.
I had decided not to answer any more questions from Siebe on this issue, but I can see that he is agonizing over it. And truly, it is not easy to grasp. That is why in the above sutta, it is stated that Ven. Channa meditated for years trying to get rid of the perception of “me” (“pancakkhandha are not mine”) and could not. That is impossible to do. One first needs to realize that it is not fruitful to take pancakkhandha as mine.
I and others have described the relationship between asmi mana and sakkaya ditthi, and also why they are different too. It may be a good idea to read all those exchanges under the following two topics. No point in repeating:
“Two unbroken streams of consciousness (DN28)”
and “Wrong English translations of Aniccha, Anatta, Sakkaya ditthi… etc“.
This is at the heart of understanding Tilakkhana, so I suggest to all who have questions about this to read them. There is a lot of information under those two topics.
Bottom line is that a Sotapanna is one who has seen (with wisdom; and has become dassanena sampanno). Thus a Sotapanna knows that “it is not fruitful to take pancakkhandha (including one’s body) to be mine”. That is removing sakkaya ditthi.
It is only an Arahant who has actually fully comprehended and experienced the full release from suffering and thus has removed the perception of “me”. That is removing “mana” or more specifically “asmi mana” (other components of “mana” are removed at lower stages of Nibbana.
To say it in yet another way: Removing sakkaya ditthi is done as first step in comprehending anatta. Comprehension of anatta becomes complete with the removal of “asmi mana” at the Arahant stage.
Finally, I have been getting requests to post a desana on Tilakkhana for a while. This may be the best time to do that since I need to take some time off to focus on another project soon. I hope to do that in a week or so.
January 27, 2018 at 4:20 pm #13888
I belief the real meaning and purpose of no-self is expressed in a tantra verse (uttara tantra shastra of asanga based on the teachings of the coming Budddha Maitreya).
In my own words: the awakened Sangha knows that the mind-poisons are without essence and understands that de real nature of any being is a state of ultimate peace. This is the ultimate non-existence of a self.
January 28, 2018 at 6:37 am #13891
I belief contemplating tilakkhana will help to see that grasping or attachment is of no use. Whatever. It is even contra-productive. It cannot provide any stabel happiness, refuge and does not lead to stability and peace of mind.
Instead it leads to increasing feelings of unsafety, worry, sorrow, fear. Whatever grasped that is inconstant, impermanent, will vanish, end. So it is clear this leads to suffering. It is like grasping a soap bubble and expacting it will not vanish.
If one translates anicca as impermanence or instability or inconsistancy or as ‘one cannot maintain anything to ones wish’, i belief the message is the same. Craving, which comes with clinging is not a good way to realise our legitimate longing for peace, freedom and happiness.
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