Author Topic: Not-self vs No-self  (Read 5017 times)

Offline KarmaPolice

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Not-self vs No-self
« on: March 18, 2010, 10:41:02 am »
I've been listening to dharma talks by Thanissaro Bhikku lately. One aspect of his teachings that has interested me greatly is his view of the self. According to him, the Buddha never denied the existence of a self and refused to answer whenever he was questioned on that subject. Instead, the Buddha taught that our sense of self is an action, that we create in response to our experiences. (For example, when there is an experience of hunger, we create an experiencer, an "I" that is "hungry.") So, in this way, this sense of identity is not a concrete entity, but merely an impermanent creation, hence the term "not-self." That's my understanding of Thanissaro Bhikku's talks, anyway. That's quite different from what I usually have heard (i.e. that there is no self whatsoever), and he went as far as to say that a sense of self is not always unskillful. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
Breathing in, we are born
Breathing out, we die
Our life, lasting but the space between them
A mere moment, in an infinite history


Attachment is a choice. The choice to be free of attachment has existed from the moment we first made the choice to be attached. We just get so used to making choices based on attachment that we never realize that we're actually making choices at all.

Offline retrofuturist

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Re: Not-self vs No-self
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2010, 03:49:00 pm »
Greetings KarmaPolice,

I think Thanissaro Bhikku is spot on here.

"No self" is an unproveable speculative theory much like "No unicorn" or "No Flying Spaghetti Monster"... not only is it unproveable, it an is unneccessary inference to draw.

What is important is that we know that the five aggregates are all "not self, not I, not mine". That is what the Buddha actually taught and that is what matters.

I could say more but I'd simply be repeating what he says in his online essays on the topic that are available at Access To Insight.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Not-self vs No-self
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2010, 04:45:53 am »
"No self" is an unproveable speculative theory much like "No unicorn" or "No Flying Spaghetti Monster"... not only is it unproveable, it an is unneccessary inference to draw.
What is important is that we know that the five aggregates are all "not self, not I, not mine". That is what the Buddha actually taught and that is what matters.

Yes, the five aggregates are all "not self, not I, not mine".  But since there isn't anything but the five aggregates ( they're the totality of a person ), this leads to the conclusion that there isn't a self anywhere, doesn't it?  It seems to me that while the Buddha didn't specifically say there wasn't a self, this conclusion arises directly from the teaching that the five aggregates are all "not self, not I, not mine".  What do you think?

Spiny
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Not-self vs No-self
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2010, 08:45:19 am »
(I) personally like the not self, not I, not mine strategy, because it is something that (I) can touch, feel, and hold in my hand to play with until it feels right.

(I) also like "there is no self to be found", or "the universe is empty of any self".  But the latter is more difficult to communicate, and impossible to prove, because we cannot inspect and verify everywhere, and therefore cannot prove that self is nowhere to be found.  It may be that we missed a spot, much like my wife points out every time (I) wash the windows.  :wink1:
« Last Edit: March 19, 2010, 04:20:21 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Monkey Mind

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Re: Not-self vs No-self
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2010, 12:35:50 pm »
Adherence to a strict belief in "no self" could potentially produce sociopathic behavior. After all, what harm is there if (I) am violent to (you), when neither of (us) has a self? Especially when paired with development in equanimity. I think that is why metta practice, vicarious joy, and other prosocial qualities is so carefully emphasized. I also think that a strict belief in "no self" could potentially undermine the student/ teacher relationship, or laity/ Sangha relationship. Why follow the teaching disciplines of anyone?

Offline KarmaPolice

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Re: Not-self vs No-self
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2010, 11:51:09 pm »
Quote
What do you think?
That certainly makes sense. But, couldn't one posit that a "self" (such as a soul) exists within each individual but is not detectable through introspection? Of course, if we could not identify it, any "self" such as this truly means nothing in our daily lives. But it seems as though it would be impossible to deny completely this possibility.

Adherence to a strict belief in "no self" could potentially produce sociopathic behavior. After all, what harm is there if (I) am violent to (you), when neither of (us) has a self? Especially when paired with development in equanimity. I think that is why metta practice, vicarious joy, and other prosocial qualities is so carefully emphasized. I also think that a strict belief in "no self" could potentially undermine the student/ teacher relationship, or laity/ Sangha relationship. Why follow the teaching disciplines of anyone?
That's a good point. Would you say it's correct that the distinction between "you" and "I" largely is contrived, but can be skillful in some instances (e.g. with regards to the student/teacher relationship, as you said)?
Breathing in, we are born
Breathing out, we die
Our life, lasting but the space between them
A mere moment, in an infinite history


Attachment is a choice. The choice to be free of attachment has existed from the moment we first made the choice to be attached. We just get so used to making choices based on attachment that we never realize that we're actually making choices at all.

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Not-self vs No-self
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2010, 02:40:09 am »
But, couldn't one posit that a "self" (such as a soul) exists within each individual but is not detectable through introspection? Of course, if we could not identify it, any "self" such as this truly means nothing in our daily lives. But it seems as though it would be impossible to deny completely this possibility.

Yes, that's true.  We can't prove we haven't got a soul. :)

Spiny
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline ABC

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Re: Not-self vs No-self
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2010, 02:55:59 am »
...unproveable speculative theory much like "No Flying Spaghetti Monster"...
:anjali:
Therefore, Ananda, engage with me friends and not as opponents. That will be for your long-term well-being & happiness - MN 122

Offline ABC

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Re: Not-self vs No-self
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2010, 02:58:23 am »
Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
Try to think of 'self' as a mental function.

For example, the heart pumps blood, the legs walk, the eyes see, the mind thinks, consciousness is aware, etc.

'Self' also has a function but it is mere natural mental function.

That is all.

 :listen:
Therefore, Ananda, engage with me friends and not as opponents. That will be for your long-term well-being & happiness - MN 122

Offline Quiet Heart

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Re: Not-self vs No-self
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2010, 04:40:08 pm »
 :wink1:

If you say "No Self", and your bladder is full, then What p+sses?

 :dharma:


Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Not-self vs No-self
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2010, 07:29:22 pm »
"Me-off" pisses of course!

:wink1:

If you say "No Self", and your bladder is full, then What p+sses?

 :dharma:


What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline cooran

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Re: Not-self vs No-self
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2010, 12:44:27 am »
Hello all,

You may find this information of assistance in understanding Anatta. (maybe scary too).

No Inner Core - Anatta by Sayadaw U Silananda
http://www.mahindarama.com/e-library/anatta1.html
THE DOCTRINE OF NO-SOUL: ANATTA
http://quangduc.com/English/basic/68whatbuddhataught-06.html
The Buddha's Teachings on Selflessness (with extracts from the Samyutta Nikaya)
 - Nyanatiloka Mahathera
http://www.bps.lk/other_library/buddhas_teaching_of_selflessness.html

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

Offline ABC

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Re: Not-self vs No-self
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2010, 03:36:24 am »
If you say "No Self", and your bladder is full, then What p+sses?
The tube attached to the bladder.

 :bigtears:
Therefore, Ananda, engage with me friends and not as opponents. That will be for your long-term well-being & happiness - MN 122

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Not-self vs No-self
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2010, 03:39:37 am »
:wink1:

If you say "No Self", and your bladder is full, then What p+sses?

 :dharma:



Well an electrical signal is passed along from sensor near the bladder up through the spinal cord and into the brain and then something in there decides how long it would be safe to leave it. :lmfao:  And what is the "something" - therein lies the great mystery.

Spiny
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline ABC

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Re: Not-self vs No-self
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2010, 03:40:59 am »
You may find this information of assistance in understanding Anatta. (maybe scary too).

One may find a less scary explanation here.

 :listen:



Therefore, Ananda, engage with me friends and not as opponents. That will be for your long-term well-being & happiness - MN 122

 


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