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No-self revisited

techietechie India Veteran

I've been meditating on anatta or no-self.

Some people say it's not no-self but only no permanent self. But let's leave that aside for a moment and take it literally to mean no self at all.

Is it possible that no-self is a goal rather than a current reality?

Let me explain. My memories/experiences make me distinct from you, and your memories/experiences make you distinct from your neighbor, and so on. This creates a self in me (and in you and everyone else) that thinks and feels it's different from the rest.

So when the buddha spoke of no-self, is it possible that he meant the following: we have developed a 'self' through years and years of experience, and therefore nibanna means getting rid of this self (or attaining no-self).

In short, self is our current reality. No-self is the goal.

Make sense?

Something to consider?

Let me know your thoughts.

Shoshin

Comments

  • @techie

    Yes that is precisely what realising/residing from no-self means.
    There is no independent self. Self is dependent on arisings from experience, memory, body etc.

    Whilst you have a physical manifestation, you will have self. To what degree is down to practice and attention.
    http://buddhism.about.com/od/basicbuddhistteachings/a/genesis.htm

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @techie said:
    I've been meditating on anatta or no-self.

    Some people say it's not no-self but only no permanent self. But let's leave that aside for a moment and take it literally to mean no self at all.

    Is it possible that no-self is a goal rather than a current reality?

    Let me explain. My memories/experiences make me distinct from you, and your memories/experiences make you distinct from your neighbor, and so on. This creates a self in me (and in you and everyone else) that thinks and feels it's different from the rest.

    So when the buddha spoke of no-self, is it possible that he meant the following: we have developed a 'self' through years and years of experience, and therefore nibanna means getting rid of this self (or attaining no-self).

    In short, self is our current reality. No-self is the goal.

    Make sense?

    Something to consider?

    Let me know your thoughts.

    Perhaps it is about seeing through ( rising above? ) our mental conditioning and habitual assumptions?

    lobster
  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran
    edited January 27

    Your body isn't your self. After all, you call your body "my body". Not "my self".

    Your mind is not your self. After all, you call your mind "my mind". Not "my self".

    Your consciousness is not your self. After all, you call your consciousness "my consciousness". Not "my self".

    Therefore there is nothing you can point out that is your self.

    You have only a conceptual self.

    Therefore there is no basis for anger or ownership and so forth.

    personKannon
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @techie said: ... So when the buddha spoke of no-self, is it possible that he meant the following: we have developed a 'self' through years and years of experience, and therefore nibanna means getting rid of this self (or attaining no-self).

    The Buddha didn't speak of no-self (or even not-self) in those terms at all. Could you please provide reference/link, to where he did?
    As far as I have been aware, he actually stated that thinking it and attempting to determine it, was "misguided", and barking up the wrong tree.

    So, instead of answering "no" to the question of whether or not there is a self — interconnected or separate, eternal or not — the Buddha felt that the question was misguided to begin with. Why? No matter how you define the line between "self" and "other," the notion of self involves an element of self-identification and clinging, and thus suffering and stress...

    ...To avoid the suffering implicit in questions of "self" and "other," he offered an alternative way of dividing up experience: the four Noble Truths of stress, its cause, its cessation, and the path to its cessation. Rather than viewing these truths as pertaining to self or other, he said, one should recognize them simply for what they are, in and of themselves, as they are directly experienced, and then perform the duty appropriate to each.

    ...the anatta teaching is not a doctrine of no-self, but a not-self strategy for shedding suffering by letting go of its cause, leading to the highest, undying happiness. At that point, questions of self, no-self, and not-self fall aside.

    From here.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    The fact that you can, and do, act in the world suggests that if you trace a sequence of events starting with "I acted" back far enough, you will eventually arrive at an answer to the question "who is it who acted?"

    That whole process of enquiry is analogous to taking a wide circle - i with a body acted upon the world - into smaller and smaller circles - my mind caused my body to act, my attention directed me to focus upon the object to act on - until you eventually arrive at a point of origin, the place where the actor instigated a change in your being. And perhaps one such point of origin has reverberations that last for weeks or months, all of it being in essence one action.

    I couldn't say for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was true...

  • We can think of no-self as an ideal. A practice goal. Some of us certainly can and do reach no-self in meditation but once moving through the form, the emptiness is gone ... The enlightened are aware of and use no-self (so to speak) as the source of their ...

    Gate, Gate, Paragate, Para Sam gate Bodhi svaha
    Gone, Gone, Gone beyond Gone utterly beyond

    The Theravada tradition has long considered the understanding and application of the Anatta doctrine to be something possible for the practicing monk, and not for the lay Buddhists because it is a psychologically difficult doctrine and requires the destruction of "I am" tendencies. The Suttas present the doctrine in three forms. First, they apply the "no-self, no-identity" doctrine to all phenomena as well as any and all objects, yielding the idea that "all things are not-self" (sabbe dhamma anatta). Second, states Collins, the Suttas apply the doctrine to deny self of any person, treating conceit to be evident in any assertion of "this is mine, this I am, this is myself" (etam mamam eso 'ham asmi, eso me atta ti). Third, the Theravada texts apply the doctrine as a nominal reference, to identify examples of "self" and "not-self", respectively the Wrong view and the Right view; this third case of nominative usage is properly translated as "self" (as an identity) and is unrelated to "soul", states Collins. The first two usages incorporate the idea of soul. The Theravada doctrine of Anatta, or not-self not-soul, inspire meditative practices for monks, states Donald Swearer, but for the lay Theravada Buddhists in Southeast Asia, the doctrines of kamma, rebirth and punna (merit) inspire a wide range of ritual practices and ethical behavior.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatta

  • Just when I thought I had no-self, soul (sold it to a nice lady with a pitchfork) or mind of my own ...

    "The origin of consciousness reflects our place in the universe, the nature of our existence. Did consciousness evolve from complex computations among brain neurons, as most scientists assert? Or has consciousness, in some sense, been here all along, as spiritual approaches maintain?" ask Hameroff and Penrose in the current review. "This opens a potential Pandora's Box, but our theory accommodates both these views, suggesting consciousness derives from quantum vibrations in microtubules, protein polymers inside brain neurons, which both govern neuronal and synaptic function, and connect brain processes to self-organizing processes in the fine scale, 'proto-conscious' quantum structure of reality."
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140116085105.htm

    Ay Caramba. Where is that contract I signed?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    never mind the contract you signed, who co-signed it - ?!

    lobster
  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran
    edited February 6

    @techie said:
    So when the buddha spoke of no-self, is it possible that he meant the following: we have developed a 'self' through years and years of experience, and therefore nibanna means getting rid of this self (or attaining no-self).

    I believe Buddha classified that question (self or not self) as a question that should not be asked or has no real purpose (meaning, asking the question has no purpose). "no self" means that nothing is "myself" or "I" so to cling to or attach to it would be incorrect and cause suffering. This means that your interpretation would be correct because it is our conditioning which is created throughout our lives that created this self. If we get rid of it, we will be free from suffering.

    I can really see how this makes sense.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    To reach "Nirvana" is to blow out the original flame that's used to continually light the candles of cyclic existence...Thus have "I" heard...

  • The self is like a rainbow. It's a phenomenon that does exist, but chasing after it is pointless.

    Shoshin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    The self is just an illusion, like a distant rainbow to behold-and when up close finding 'nothing' the trail runs cold ! :)

    namarupa
  • Gonna repeat @federica link about unself, no self, non-self or anatta as the principle is important.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/notself2.html

    In meditation (remember her) or even contemplative appraisal and search for the self, there is nothing independent, no being without processing, no eternal rainbow, pot of soul gold to be found.

    Sorry. :3

    If you find your self, tell us what it is - free leprechaun for the best laugh emptiness form. o:)

    namarupa
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited February 7

    @Tigger said:

    @techie said:
    So when the buddha spoke of no-self, is it possible that he meant the following: we have developed a 'self' through years and years of experience, and therefore nibanna means getting rid of this self (or attaining no-self).

    I believe Buddha classified that question (self or not self) as a question that should not be asked or has no real purpose (meaning, asking the question has no purpose). "no self" means that nothing is "myself" or "I" so to cling to or attach to it would be incorrect and cause suffering. This means that your interpretation would be correct because it is our conditioning which is created throughout our lives that created this self. If we get rid of it, we will be free from suffering.

    I can really see how this makes sense.

    I suspect it is about going beyond views, and seeing what is really there. Looking closely, inwards as well as outwards. It's also the case that fully absorbing into present experience dissipates self-view, as explained in the Bahiya Sutta: "In the seen, just the seen.."

    lobsterTiggerShoshin
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