Author Topic: Why the buddha wouldnt answer the question of is there a self...?  (Read 460 times)

Offline Arkena

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I am writing a book on spirituality and wanted to talk about the ego and it being an "illusory" self and why the Buddha wouldnt answer this question.
Wondering about people's reaction to what I have written???

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I believe it is called this(illusory self) because it produces illusions although it does in fact exist it can be dissolved. Thus to say it exists or doesn't exist is wrong, they are simply points along the continuum of awakening. To say something is the self is to identify with a concept and straight away step away from the being that self is. So it is a question that cannot be answered as it is like a hollow box called self that each time you look inside of it produces an illusion through identifying with a concept of what you think the self is.

To know the self is an experiential event not an intellectual one that is by necessity an abstraction of reality.
Thus this is why I believe the buddha refused to answer the question of is there or is there not a self. Because the answer would lead to self identification with a concept rather than the experiential reality.

Im wondering about people's interpretation of why the buddha wouldnt answer the question of is there a self?

peace

Offline Solodris

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Re: Why the buddha wouldnt answer the question of is there a self...?
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2017, 12:55:25 pm »
The Buddha encouraged people to explore these ideas on their own, and if the conclusion of exploring such an idea does not result in insight about unbinding and release from suffering, it is not connected to the goal of buddhist practice and ought to be abandoned.

Offline ground

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Re: Why the buddha wouldnt answer the question of is there a self...?
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2017, 08:56:37 pm »
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Then the wanderer Vacchagotta went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he asked the Blessed One: "Now then, Venerable Gotama, is there a self?"

When this was said, the Blessed One was silent.

"Then is there no self?"

A second time, the Blessed One was silent.

Then Vacchagotta the wanderer got up from his seat and left.

Then, not long after Vacchagotta the wanderer had left, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, "Why, lord, did the Blessed One not answer when asked a question by Vacchagotta the wanderer?"

"Ananda, if I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self — were to answer that there is a self, that would be conforming with those brahmans & contemplatives who are exponents of eternalism [the view that there is an eternal, unchanging soul]. If I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self — were to answer that there is no self, that would be conforming with those brahmans & contemplatives who are exponents of annihilationism [the view that death is the annihilation of consciousness]. If I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self — were to answer that there is a self, would that be in keeping with the arising of knowledge that all phenomena are not-self?"

"No, lord."

"And if I — being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self — were to answer that there is no self, the bewildered Vacchagotta would become even more bewildered: 'Does the self I used to have now not exist?'"

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn44/sn44.010.than.html


It is not that the question could not be answered but it is that the one who asked would not have understood the correct answer and may have drawn wrong conclusion from it. Therefore he did neither affirm existence of self nor negate existence of self.

Self nominally exists but only one who directly sees the emptiness of inherent existence of self understands nominal existence of self.

Offline Samana Johann

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Re: Why the buddha wouldnt answer the question of is there a self...?
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2017, 09:44:07 pm »


Useful collection of talks on this matter: Selves & Not-self: The Buddhist Teaching on Anatta

Quote
...Usually when we hear the teaching on not-self, we think that it's an answer to questions like these: "Do I have a self? What am I? Do I exist? Do I not exist?" However, the Buddha listed all of these as unskillful questions [§10]. Once, when he was asked point-blank, "Is there a self? Is there no self?" he refused to answer [see Talk 2]. He said that these questions would get in the way of finding true happiness. So obviously the teaching on not-self was not meant to answer these questions. To understand it, we have to find out which questions it was meant to answer...


(To mention: Dhamma is not given and meant to make business with it or use it for other wordily games.)
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Offline Rahul

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Re: Why the buddha wouldnt answer the question of is there a self...?
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2017, 09:48:09 pm »
?

I thought this was answered clearly. We have concept of non-self - anatta - in Buddhism. Buddha said clearly that there is no self. Anatta is well described in this sutta: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.059.nymo.html

Offline Samana Johann

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Re: Why the buddha wouldnt answer the question of is there a self...?
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2017, 09:55:52 pm »
Read it Nyom Rahul, there are more that certain thoughts and 5 suttas one preferes. And even in you quoted Sutta, where does it says there is No-Self (Self as well, of course)? Preoccupations? The 5 khandhas are clear, for one who is capable, not possible to be seen as "me, myself and I", aside this one would not find much that gives ground for any kind of self-doctrine.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2017, 10:00:29 pm by Samana Johann »
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Offline Pixie

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Re: Why the buddha wouldnt answer the question of is there a self...?
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2017, 10:45:26 pm »


I thought this was answered clearly. We have concept of non-self - anatta - in Buddhism. Buddha said clearly that there is no self.


In general, people can often find this concept very confusing and  so its better to say "not-self' or "non-self" rather than "no-self". It might be worth reading "No-self or Not-self?" by Bhikkhu Thanissaro.

Excerpt:
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One of the first stumbling blocks that Westerners often encounter when they learn about Buddhism is the teaching on anatta, often translated as no-self. This teaching is a stumbling block for two reasons. First, the idea of there being no self doesn't fit well with other Buddhist teachings, such as the doctrine of kamma and rebirth: If there's no self, what experiences the results of kamma and takes rebirth? Second, it doesn't fit well with our own Judeo-Christian background, which assumes the existence of an eternal soul or self as a basic presupposition: If there's no self, what's the purpose of a spiritual life? Many books try to answer these questions, but if you look at the Pali canon — the earliest extant record of the Buddha's teachings — you won't find them addressed at all. In fact, the one place where the Buddha was asked point-blank whether or not there was a self, he refused to answer. When later asked why, he said that to hold either that there is a self or that there is no self is to fall into extreme forms of wrong view that make the path of Buddhist practice impossible. Thus the question should be put aside.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/notself2.html



.....and from Ajahn Sumedho in the transcript of his talk "Self View, Personality and Awareness"

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the Buddha's teaching on anatta, was to point out the reality of non-self in very simple ways. It wasn't a practice where your personality totally disappears for ever, where you no longer have any emotional feelings whatsoever and where you're just a total blank forever. Anatta is a practice for ordinary everyday life in which you notice when personality arises and when it ceases.


http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books9/Ajahn_Sumedho_Personality.htm



_/|\_
« Last Edit: June 29, 2017, 11:56:31 pm by Pixie »
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

Offline Pixie

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Re: Why the buddha wouldnt answer the question of is there a self...?
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2017, 10:54:45 pm »
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« Last Edit: June 29, 2017, 10:58:34 pm by Pixie »
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering.
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

Offline francis

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Re: Why the buddha wouldnt answer the question of is there a self...?
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2017, 07:24:49 pm »
Im wondering about people's interpretation of why the buddha wouldnt answer the question of is there a self?


Hi Arkena,

Perhaps poor Vacchagotta was not ready to understand the truth. 

The Buddha taught anatta, the truth about our makeup as human beings. That is, we are empty of self (anatta) and what we call “self” is comprised of nothing more than the five aggregates (khandhas/skandhas). It’s the five aggregates, working seamlessly together that create the illusions of self.

This understanding is made pretty clear in the Vajira Sutta (SN 5.10).

"Why now do you assume 'a being'?
Mara, have you grasped a view?
This is a heap of sheer constructions:
Here no being is found.

Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
The word 'chariot' is used,
So, when the aggregates are present,
There's the convention 'a being.'

It's only suffering that comes to be,
Suffering that stands and falls away.
Nothing but suffering comes to be,
Nothing but suffering ceases."

It’s also no coincidence that the Anatta-lakkhana Sutta: The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic (SN 22.59), was the second discourse delivered by the Buddha. And anatta, along with anicca (impermanence) and dukkha (unsatisfactoriness) comprise the three marks of existence.

"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline Arkena

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Re: Why the buddha wouldnt answer the question of is there a self...?
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2017, 03:03:23 pm »
I shall think on this and revisit my writings....thankyou kindly :)

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Why the buddha wouldnt answer the question of is there a self...?
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2017, 06:29:11 pm »
The teaching to Vacchagotta is not about 'anatta'.

Based on the final discussion between the Buddha & Ananda, Vacchagotta probably asks the Buddha: "Does my self exist" (atthattā?)? "Does myself not exist (natthattā)"?

Therefore, both of the questions of the bewildered & confused Vacchagotta were about self.

Vacchagotta was not ready to understand the truth. 

...........

Offline Samana Johann

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Re: Why the buddha wouldnt answer the question of is there a self...?
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2017, 04:09:11 pm »
Althought right, Atma woul wonder what should be the different of "attha" and "atta". A disolving keyquestion and yes, food for endless theories.
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Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Why the buddha wouldnt answer the question of is there a self...?
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2017, 07:17:58 pm »
Thank you Samana Johann

I could be wrong, however, based on the translations:

atth = atthi = to be; to exist.

attā = self

natthi = it is not; there is not.

Regards  :namaste:

Offline Samana Johann

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Re: Why the buddha wouldnt answer the question of is there a self...?
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2017, 08:13:39 pm »
Thank you Samana Johann

I could be wrong, however, based on the translations:

atth = atthi = to be; to exist.

attā = self

natthi = it is not; there is not.

Regards  :namaste:

That is how dictionaries say, yes. So let Atma ask what is the different of "being" and "self", "real" and "self", aside of common use in it's meaning, Nyom? Or asked different, what is the different of "that makes no sense" or "this is not my self" or "that is of no substance"?
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Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Why the buddha wouldnt answer the question of is there a self...?
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2017, 08:37:14 pm »
So let Atma ask what is the different of "being" and "self", "real" and "self", aside of common use in it's meaning, Nyom?

Sorry. I don't know any "Nyom" and do not answer questions that use the word "Nyom".

Kind regards  :namaste:

 


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