Focus on Anatta


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    • #14603

      Hi all

      “They are both wrong by talking about a “no-soul”. What I ask them is, “If there is no “me”,would it be OK if someone hits you hard with a stick or worse?”. Then of course they realize that there is a “me”. That is the “me” who learns Dhamma or who could be reborn an animal.”

      My interpretation of the above:
      – The “me” who learns Dhamma “uses” the body that feels the pain (because of being beaten with a stick) yet is but temporarily such body… in other words, Anatta might also be envisaged as an impersonal bio-psy energy dynamics…?

      Thanks in advance for your contributions

    • #14605

      Imagine there is a place where the lake and the earth there are red in colour. Mainly because the soil there has a distinct red colour that gave the landscape a distinct reddish hue. This place became so popular and the government decided to develop it into a tourist attraction. They build houses that have a distinct red colour to it, and a ferry terminal to cater for boat rides. They named the place Red River Park. The ferry terminal, the red houses, the red hill, and the red river are all conditions to create a single entity called Red River Park. People who are familiar with this place would describe these distinct features when asked whether they have been there before. Now, if one day the government decides to revamp the place and make it even more commercialised, for example, by demolishing the red houses and build restaurants and pubs there, I am sure people would still recognise that place as Red River Park. The underlying conditions are still there. Mainly the red earthly colour of the terrain and lake. The same water that runs downstream to another village located hundreds of kilometres from the Red River Park would not have the same reddish hue to it. And if you were to ask the villagers there have they heard of the Red River Park and describe the colour of the water to them, you would most probably get a puzzled look. The same water that passes through natural filtration has become another colour. Obviously, we cannot say they are the same colour anymore. One is greenish, the other is reddish. But neither can we say that they are different either. Because it is the same water that flows continuously from the upstream to the downstream. What happened then? Causes and conditions at work. At a different location, the same object is subjected to a different set of conditions, thereby altering the characteristic of its original form.

      Nothing is enduring enough to survive for infinitely long period without change and destruction. But we also cannot deny the existence of the Red River Park and our bodies too. They truly exist, but they exist for as long as the causes and conditions permit. We can see them as a process-self or impermanent-self. We are never a substance-self. There is no core essence in anything that can appear and operate on its own indefinitely without any cause and condition.

      • #14618


        Enjoyed alot your last paragraph.

        You said :”…thereby altering the characteristic of its original form.”
        Original or previous? Because “original” suggests core essence.


        I hope you don’t mind if i insist on the following : when i started formal practice some years ago it didn’t take long to notice by myself that something was wrong (or at least incomplete) with the way of practising Insight Meditation, Vipassana, whatever. Call it intuition, i don’t know. Then a bit later in my practice when i discovered Satipattana Sutta i glimpsed the possibility of practising what i called at that moment something like “guided contemplation on vital buddhist themes” – as we are doing here but less structured…
        AS for the 5 discourses yes i read them all and because i read them all i question again :
        – What’s exactly the difference…if any… between Anicca and Anatta ?

        Thank you

        • #14625

          Hi Embodied,

          Original or previous doesn’t matter. They are merely convention of words. At the end of the day, all things will change and get destroyed.

    • #14608

      Embodied said: ” in other words, Anatta might also be envisaged as an impersonal bio-psy energy dynamics…?”

      No need to make it complicated. The perception of a “me” is going to be there until one feels that there are fruitful and worthy things to be had in this world.

      As one makes progress, and understands not only the futility — but also the dangers — in cravings for worldly things, one will gradually realize that there is nothing in this world to be possessed, to take as mine.

      To give an example, suppose one has been keeping in a safe a necklace that one believed to be worth millions of dollars. The one day, he gets it evaluated by a professional and it turns out to be worthless. Would he still keep it in the safe? Would he still crave for it?

      Craving for things in this world can be even worse (dangerous), because one could do immoral things to get them, and then be subjected to bad kamma vipaka.

      To give another analogy, if that necklace somehow had a built-in miniature explosive device, and he found out about it, he would not only lose craving for it, but would be scared and quickly get rid of it.

      In short: The sense of “me” is going to be there until one perceives that there things in this world that are worthwhile to be taken as mine.

      But of course, it is not easy to get rid of these cravings (cannot be done by force). It comes with cultivating wisdom (panna), by learning Dhamma (and contemplating), the real nature of things in this world.

      Of course, one could feel the relief as one gets rid of the worse of those cravings (which could lead to immoral actions), and thus one would know the benefits of lose cravings. That is how one makes gradual progress.

      When I start describing this, I probably repeat what I said in the “Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta” section. When one has gone through those posts, then if one could spend a day going through the five discourses (in sequence) in “Three Marks of Existence – English Discourses“, then one may be able to get a good idea of what I am trying to say.

      The sense of ‘me” is the last one to lose (at the Arahant stage). So, one should not start there. One should start with avoiding the worse of dasa akusala that one is engaged in. Keep in mind that micca ditthi can be the worst: 10 types of micca ditthi first, and then the deeper level that is removed by grasping Tilakkhana.

    • #14639

      HI…Reshaping my previous question.

      When reading on Tilakkhana in Pure Dhamma PDF book i get the impression that Anicca and Anatta meanings share alot of commonalities which is fine and to be expected.
      But if one had to circumscribe separately Anicca and Anatta with no more than say 3 to 5 key-words for each one what would these words be ?

      Because it might be quite useful for Bhavana purposes.


    • #14643

      @Embodied: Yes. While words like anicca and anatta cannot be described in a few words, it could be good to have a “brief phrase” for bhavana purposes.

      One should use a phrase that one considers to be most impactful; a phrase that gives the “sanna” about that word. Here are some examples:

      Anicca – that nothing in this world can bring a permanent happiness in the long run.

      Dukkha – despite our struggles, we will be subjected to much more suffering than pleasures if we remain in the rebirth process.

      Anatta – therefore, one is truly helpless in this struggle to attain “something of essence in this world”. That is just an illusion.

      These may not exactly right for you. Each person may “get it” a bit differently. However, all possible meanings are inter-related.

      By the way, you need to think a bit more carefully before posting a question. This particular question was not formulated correctly when you first asked it, so I did not answer. Others can get confused if a question is not asked the right way.

      Same is true for the question that you asked a little while ago, on a different topic on asura devas. Please read the previous comments and replies carefully again.

    • #14648
      y not

      Perhaps it would help Embodied to consider it in this way:

      1 Anicca – that nothing in this world can bring a permanent happiness in the long run.
      2. Dukkha – despite our struggles, we will be subjected to much more suffering than pleasures if we remain in the rebirth process
      3)Anatta – therefore, one is truly helpless in this struggle to attain “something of essence in this world”. That is just an illusion.

      1. DELUSION leads to
      2. SUFFERING which
      ..or, reversing the order and the terms into their positives:
      PERFECTION is where there is ETERNAL HAPPINESS because there is
      I struggled here not to apply the same English word for more than one lakkhana, and I did not do so in order to keep to the tradition of defining the three with different words. Otherwise, anicca is in fact suffering in our experience of it,and both it and dukkha taken singly or both together as one experience, cannot be Atta, cannot be (the essence of) the PERFECT STATE OF BEING. In the final analyss all is Anatta.

      So, as Lal has pointed out here and in other posts,more than one word or phrase can be found for any of the three lakkhana; they will be the ones that best embody one’s experiences of and reflections on life, they will vary according to the individual, so seeing into life itself as deep as one can go is the start without bothering about Pali words at all. The Pali terms will later be the guidance to see better -and correctly- into the Message of the Self-Perfected One; i.e. how to attain that Perfect State.

    • #14655


      @Y Not : “So, as Lal has pointed out here and in other posts……..etc til : without bothering about Pali words at all”.

      Despite de obvious pertinence of the key-sentences that Lal and you are proposing,the kind of definition that, as you said, “embodies my experience and reflections on life” , would be :
      – ANICCA : continuous change of condition, realising the evanescence in the 5 aggregates of attachment.

      As for Anatta and Dukkha i’m still working on it.
      I had already reasonably (i think…i hope) posted here my insight on Tilakhanna through a “long” text but right now, i’m looking for condensed “stuff” for bhavana purposes.

    • #14658
      y not

      In response to Embodied’s:

      ‘– ANICCA : continuous change of condition, realising the evanescence in the 5 aggregates of attachment.’- yes.

      And: ‘As for Anatta and Dukkha i’m still working on it’. Regard Dukkha and Anatta as two words to keep the mind OFF. Concentrate of Anicca alone, as deep and as constantly as you can. Life is all around, and Anicca is there. Dukkha and Anatta will follow as a matter of course, you won’t have to struggle with them. The three will in time be seen not only as connected, but as one.

      y not

      • #14689


        Indeed y not.

        “Life is all around, and Anicca is there” – yes which includes “me”.

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