June 23, 2020
The View of “Me and Mine”- Only For About a Hundred Years
1. An average human has the wrong view that it is beneficial to consider mind-pleasing things in this world as “me” or “mine”. As we discussed in the previous few posts, the most valuable rūpa in the world is one’s physical body. Then there are parents, spouses, children, friends, etc that are considered to be “mine.” See, “Five Aggregates – Connection to Tilakkhaṇa.”
- It is critical to realize that all those things last only about 100 years.
- Upon death, even if one is reborn human, it will be a different body and a different set of humans that will become “me” and “mine.” We would not even know who we were in our previous life. We would not know what happened to all those “loved ones” we had in the previous life.
- That is the “big picture” that we need to focus on. That big picture can be discovered only by a Buddha.
- It would be impossible for any other human to discover the “real nature of the wider world of 31 realms” where a given living-being goes through the birth/death process.
- But once explained by a Buddha or a true disciple of the Buddha, one can see the truth in his teachings.
“Me and Mine” View Can Lead to Immoral Actions
2. Based on that wrong view of “me” and “mine” we are sometimes forced to do immoral actions. Think about it carefully. If we lie, steal, or hurt others, such actions can always be traced back to “taking care of me or mine.”
- It is critical to understand that this wrong view of “me and mine” (sakkāya diṭṭhi) is different from the perception of “me and mine.” Diṭṭhi means “view.”
- Even after getting rid of the wrong view of “me and mine” that wrong-perception will still be there. That perception of “me” or the innate feeling of “me” will go away only at the Arahant stage.
- However, just “seeing” that it is is not fruitful to act on the basis of “me and mine” is enough for the mind to stay away from doing highly-immoral deeds. That “seeing” happens when one becomes a Sotapanna.
- Of course, it may not be easy to comprehend. That is why the Buddha said, “this Dhamma has not been known to the world.”
“Me and Mine” View Cannot Be Removed by Will Power – It Is Lost via Understanding the “True Nature”
3. The logic of Buddha Dhamma cannot be understood without the underlying principles. Those underlying principles are the rebirth process, laws of kamma, how Paṭicca Samuppāda to give rise to new births, etc. For that, one first needs to get rid of the ten wrong views and learn basic concepts like gati, anusaya, etc. See, “Micchā Diṭṭhi, Gandhabba, and Sōtapanna Stage.”
- It is not easy to put all that together and see the truth of the “wider world-view.” Yet, without that foundation, it is not possible to see that big picture and realize the truth of it.
- It may be hard to believe, but just that “understanding of the big picture” will lead to the removal of 99% of the “gunk” that has been accumulated in our minds in a rebirth process that has no discernible beginning.
- I recommend reading the recently compiled English text of discourse on this subject by the late Waharaka Thero: “The Way to Nibbāna“
That “Big Picture” Must be Learnt From a Buddha
4. If one has not heard the above from a Buddha or a true disciple of the Buddha, that person — no matter how intelligent — would not be able to figure that out by him/herself.
- The Buddha called such a person “assutavā puthujjano.” That means “an ignorant person who had not heard this Dhamma.”
- Of course, many people cannot and will not agree with that “new Dhamma”. They do not have the capability to grasp it. They may not be willing to discard the wrong views that they have. There is nothing we can do about that.
- I have come this far in the rebirth process because I also had been incapable of grasping that in my previous lives.
- So, all we can do is try our best to understand. Even if one cannot understand, one needs to live a moral life and engage in meritorious deeds, so that the understanding can come in future life.
Who Is an Assutavā Puthujjano?
5. There are many suttā where the Buddha described an “assutavā puthujjano.”
For example, the “Paṭipadā Sutta (SN 22.44)” states, “Katamā ca, bhikkhave, sakkāya samudayagāminī paṭipadā? Idha, bhikkhave, assutavā puthujjano ariyānaṃ adassāvī ariyadhammassa akovido ariyadhamme avinīto, sappurisānaṃ adassāvī sappurisadhammassa akovido sappurisadhamme avinīto, rūpaṃ attato samanupassati, rūpavantaṃ vā attānaṃ; attani vā rūpaṃ, rūpasmiṃ vā attānaṃ. Vedanaṃ …saññaṃ …saṅkhāre …viññāṇaṃ attato samanupassati“
Translated: “And what, bhikkhus, is the path leading to the origination of identity view? Here, bhikkhus, an ignorant person who has not heard Dhamma … regards form as self … vedana as self … sañña as self … saṅkhāra as self … viññāṇa as self“
- “Rūpaṃ attato samanupassati” means, “regards form (meaning one’s body) as “me” in one of four ways. In the same way, that person may consider each of the other four aggregates as “me” in one of four ways.
- Thus, considering each of the five aggregates in four ways “to be mine”, leads to the “self-view” or ‘identity view”. That is “twenty-types of sakkāya diṭṭhi” or “vīsativatthukā sakkāya diṭṭhi.” See, “Nayasamuṭṭhāna” of Nettipakaraṇa.
- Anyone who has not heard the correct explanation of sakkāya diṭṭhi is an “uninformed/ignorant” human or assutavā puthujjano. That is why most people today belong to this category. Even when explained, some people have a hard time grasping this “previously unheard Dhamma.”
Sutavā Ariyasāvako – One Who Has Heard and Comprehended Dhamma
6. The opposite of an assutavā puthujjano is a sutavā ariyasāvako, who has heard and comprehended the correct teachings of the Buddha. Such a person knows the dangers in attaching to worldly things.
- There are many suttā in SN 35 (especially SN 35. 1 through SN 35. 12) that discuss a sutavā ariyasāvako. For example, “Ajjhattāniccātītānāgata Sutta (SN 35.7)” says: “Cakkhuṃ, bhikkhave, aniccaṃ atītānāgataṃ; ko pana vādo paccuppannassa. Evaṃ passaṃ, bhikkhave, sutavā ariyasāvako atītasmiṃ cakkhusmiṃ anapekkho hoti; anāgataṃ cakkhuṃ nābhinandati; paccuppannassa cakkhussa nibbidāya virāgāya nirodhāya paṭipanno hoti. Sotaṃ aniccaṃ … ghānaṃ aniccaṃ …”
Translated: “Bhikkhus, the eye of the past and future (let alone the present) is of anicca nature, . Seeing this, a learned noble disciple doesn’t attach to the eye of the past, he doesn’t look forward to enjoying the eye in the future, and he practices for non-attachment, dispassion, and cessation regarding the eye of the present. The ear … nose …”
- Note that translating “anicca” as “impermanent” does not make any sense. The “eye of the past” has already been destroyed. There is no need to talk about the impermanence of it. What the verse says is that it is not beneficial to recall one’s past and think fondly about it, hoping to enjoy such an eye in the future.
An Assutavā Puthujjano Has Sakkāya Diṭṭhi
7. Thus sakkāya diṭṭhi (identity or self-view) arises because one takes one’s body as “me.” Of course, one may take one’s vedana, sañña, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa as self too. In other words, anyone who views one or more of the five aggregates as “mine” has sakkāya diṭṭhi.
“Sakkāyadiṭṭhi Sutta (SN 22.155)” the Buddha says, “rūpe kho, bhikkhave, sati, rūpaṃ upādāya, rūpaṃ abhinivissa sakkāya diṭṭhi uppajjati. Vedanāya sati … saññāya sati … saṅkhāresu sati … viññāṇe sati, viññāṇaṃ upādāya, viññāṇaṃ abhinivissa sakkāya diṭṭhi uppajjati.
- OR, “When one focuses on rūpa when one is “immersed” in rūpa and keep them close (in one’s mind), identity view arises. The same can happen with vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa.
Then the Buddha asks, “Taṃ kiṃ maññatha, bhikkhave, rūpaṃ niccaṃ vā aniccaṃ vā”ti?
- OR, “bhikkhus, are those rupā of nicca or anicca nature?”
- Anicca and nicca are complex Pāli words with multiple (but related) meanings. See, See, “Anicca – True Meaning.”
- Those two words are related to “icca” or “icchā” meaning liking or desire. See, “Icca, Nicca, Anicca – Important Connections.”
- We will discuss the correct meaning of “Taṃ kiṃ maññatha, bhikkhave, rūpaṃ niccaṃ vā aniccaṃ vā”ti? in #7 below. First, let us look at the common INCORRECT meaning of it.
Critical Error in Equating “Nicca and Anicca” in Pāli as “Nitya and Anitya” in Sanskrit
8. The INCORRECT translation of “Taṃ kiṃ maññatha, bhikkhave, rūpaṃ niccaṃ vā aniccaṃ vā”ti? is, “bhikkhus, are those rupā permanent or impermanent?”
- That is the English translation that appears in most current English texts. It is WRONG!
- The Pāli word “nicca” DOES NOT mean “permanent” and “anicca” DOES NOT mean “impermanent”.
- However, the Sanskrit words “nitya” and “anitya” DO MEAN “permanent” and “impermanent”.
- That grave mistake of confusing Pāli words with wrong Sanskrit words has kept so many people from grasping the correct Buddha Dhamma.
- Pāli words for “permanent” is niyata AND dhuva. Impermanence expressed as “aniyata” or “addhuva“.
- For the life of me, I do not understand why all these “learned bhikkhus and scholars” refuse to take a bit of time to go through the Tipiṭaka and figure this out. They should keep in mind that teaching wrong Dhamma is an offense. The Buddha admonished that dealing with Dhamma is like handling a snake. If you get hold of the wrong end, you will be in danger.
Correct Translation of “Taṃ kiṃ maññatha, bhikkhave, rūpaṃ niccaṃ vā aniccaṃ vā”ti?
9. In fact, there are more suttā in this series that probe deeper into how the root causes of suffering are tied up to the view of “me” and “mine” based on the high-value for world objects.
For example, Ānanda Sutta (SN 22.159) further clarifies what we discussed in #6 above. In that sutta, the Buddha explains to Ven. Ānanda how attachment to rūpa with VIEW of “me and mine” leads to suffering and, thus, is the wrong view. The conversation goes as follows.
- “Taṃ kiṃ maññasi, ānanda, rūpaṃ niccaṃ vā aniccaṃ vā”ti?
- “Aniccaṃ, bhante”.
- “Yaṃ panāniccaṃ dukkhaṃ vā taṃ sukhaṃ vā”ti?
- “Dukkhaṃ, bhante”.
- “Yaṃ panāniccaṃ dukkhaṃ vipariṇāmadhammaṃ, kallaṃ nu taṃ samanupassituṃ: ‘etaṃ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’”ti?
- “No hetaṃ, bhante”.
- “What do you think, Ānanda? Can anyone maintain rūpa to one’s liking?”
- “One cannot (aniccam), Bhante.”
- “If one cannot maintain something to one’s liking, does the lead to suffering or happiness?”
- “Suffering, Bhante.”
- “If something cannot be maintained to one’s liking, leads to suffering, and is subject to unexpected changes, is it wise to regard that as: ‘This is mine, I am this, this is my self or identity’?”
- “No, Bhante.”
Then the Buddha asks about the other four aggregates (the mental aggregates) of vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa.
- Venerable Ānanda agrees that those are also unfit to be “taken as mine or my identity.”
Is It Wise to Take the Five Aggregates As “Me and Mine”?
10. The key point is that these suttā only talk about whether it is SUITABLE or WISE to take any of the five aggregates as me or mine.
- That pertains only to one’s view of a “me.” Getting rid of that VIEW is getting rid of sakkāya diṭṭhi.
- One may still have the feeling/perception of a “me.” That goes away only at the Arahant stage.
- Yet many people today try to start with “I do not exist” (with the incorrect translation of anatta as “no-self”). It is ridiculous to say, “I do not exist.” It is obvious that we all exist.
- We will discuss the concept of anatta in the next post. That basically says one will be helpless in the rebirth process with the wrong view and wrong perception of a “me.” That “me” will go through uncountable “bad births” with that wrong view/perception of a “me.”
One Could Be Reborn a Human, Deva, Brahma, Animal, Hell-Being – Which One Is “Me”?
11. Think about that. Is “me” a human, animal, a Brahma, (or any of the many births possible)? This is why one cannot comprehend Buddha Dhamma without understanding the “big picture” of the Buddha about this world.
- That “big picture” is the non-stop rebirth process within the 31 realms of this world.
- It also includes the laws of kamma and Paṭicca Samuppāda. Here, Paṭicca Samuppāda explains how different existences (bhava) arise due to abhisaṅkhāra (strong kamma.)
- It is those abhisaṅkhāra (done with avijjā) that lead to different existences as a human, Deva, Brahma, animal, hell-being, etc.
- Any living-being will be “preparing one’s own future births” via generating corresponding abhisaṅkhāra (or good bad kamma) due to ignorance (avijjā.) That was the conclusion of the series of posts on “Origin of Life.” See, “Origin of Life – One Creates One’s Own Future Lives.”
- That avijjā will reduce by a huge fraction when one gets rid of sakkāya diṭṭhi. It will completely go away at the Arahant stage with the removal of “asmi māna.”