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The Connection Between Atta and Dukkha
Buddhist Analysis of Human Experience and the Ways to Transcend Unsatisfactoriness

Bhikkhuni Dhammanandā
(Ven. Pham. T. Minh Hoa)

Colombo, Sri Lanka 2007

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 Chapter V. On ANATTA 

Buddhism stands unique in the history of human thought in denying the existence of such a reparative soul, self or ātman. According to the teaching of the Buddha, the idea of self is an imaginary false belief which has no corresponding reality and produces harmful thoughts of “me” and “mine”, selfish desire, craving, attachment, hatred, ill will, conceit, pride, egoism, and other defilements, impurities and problems. It is the source of all troubles in the world from personal conflicts to wars between nations. In short this false view can be traced all the evil in the world.

[What the Buddha taught, Walpola Rahula 1959, p. 51; William Gilbert 1966: Soul and Substance]

I. The Etymology of the Term Anatta

The word Anattā (adj. or n) is a combination of a negative prefix ‘na’ and ‘attā’ which means self or soul (ātman in Sanskrit). Grammatically, when the negative prefix ‘a’ precedes a vowel, it changes to ‘an’ for the euphonic sake. Thus the word ‘anatta’ conveys the meaning of negation of self or soul. The most popular renderings of the word in English are ‘non-self’, ‘not-self’, ‘egoless’, or impersonality, or insubstantiality.

There are two main Pāḷi forms of the word: (1) attā, attanā as its instrumental case; (2) atta, attena (instr.). According to Venerable Ñāṇamoli, neither form is used in the plural in The Tipitaka.[1] But we can see the word ‘attānaṃ’ used as an accusative, singular or dative and genitive plural quite frequently. There is a rare derivative form ‘atumo’ (S. 782; Nd. 1, 60; A.III, 99/1, 249) and ‘tumo’ (S. IV, 890). The confusion about the meaning of ‘atta’ in Pali literatures is perhaps because of its different usages. We see the word ‘attā’ quite frequently in the Tipitaka, and although many scholars[2] translated it all as ‘the self’ with a metaphysical notion, this is not a truly rendering of what the word attā means in all cases. The venerable Ñāṇamoli pointed out that there are five ways the word is used: (1) as a reflective pronoun ‘oneself’ (eg, Dhp 157, 158, 159, 160, S. I, 78; M. 17, etc.); (2) as one’s own person (attabhāva- personality) which denotes the complex psycho-physical body (nāma-rūpa) that distinguishes one from the other; (3) ‘self’ with a metaphysical notion as in ‘atthi me attā”, “rūpaṃ attano samanupassati”, “attānudiṭṭhi’, “attavādupādāna”; (4) enclitic-atta in the sense of –ness, e.g, socitattam (D. 22, or D.II, 306); (5) confusion with atta as the past particle of ādādati and niratta as past particle of nirassati.

The first and second usage of ‘atta’ is merely common expression (vohāra), and the Buddha was not against it. What is repeatedly denied as an illusory notion is the ‘atta’ in the third sense. The traditional negation of ‘atta’ is expressed in four ways as follows: (1) Avassavattana- not following one’s desires; (2) Asāmika- absence of the owner; (3) Suññatā-void/emptiness of self-existence; (4) Atta patikkhepa- refutation/negation of self.

 In the famous Anattalakkhaṇasutta (S. III, 22; Vin) and Cūḷasaccakasutta (MN) The Buddha in many ways demonstrated that the personal components (khandhas) have never followed one’s desire. At this point, perhaps most sane people have to admit that they cannot make their body taller or shorter nor keep them ever young, and always free from sickness. The same thing happens to our feelings. Most of us want to achieve and retain the pleasant feelings and when they are gone we tend to relive the pleasant memories. As I have pointed it out in the preceding chapter, this tendency only give us disappointment due to the changing nature of all saṅkhārā, especially in the case of the fleeting nature of feelings. Although we shun painful feelings, however, they still arise from time to time. When we try to escape from them, our reactions only multiply the actual painful feelings, making them all the more unbearable. Perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness share the same nature: they follow their own courses disregard for our emotional wishes. Therefore we are not the owner of these personality components. If we were their owner, we would have the right to command or order them to be like this (the way we want them to be), not like that (the unwanted way to us)[3]. Thus the second point is, of necessity, a corollary of the first point.


Suññatā is void-ness, coreless-ness, non-substance in personality components or anything pertaining to them. Suññatā is a synonym of anatta. In M.106, contemplating on suññatā is described: “This is void of a self or of what belongs to a self.” And: “I am not anything belonging to any one, nor is there anything belonging to me in anyone, anywhere.”[4] The commentary on the passage exaggerates this idea into four points of voidness: (1) he does not see his self anywhere; (2) he does not see a self of his own that can be treated as something belonging to another, e.g. as parents, a brother, friends, etc; (3) he does not see the self of another; (4) he does not see the self of another that can be treated as something belonging to himself[5]. The fourth point in the traditional explanation of anatta is that the personality components always reject or negate the false value we put on them as ‘the self’. This is a corollary of the third point on suññatā, and perhaps, the idea is extracted from a passage in Samyutta Nikāya where the five khandhas are compared with ‘the five murderous enemies’, and the six internal sense bases with an empty village.[6]Suññato lokaṃ avekkhassu...attānudiṭṭhiṃ ūhacca”- looking at the world as void...uproot the false view of self. (SN. 1191).

The world (loka) in early Buddhism is usually refers to the microcosmic, i.e. six senses and their corresponding objects as well as consciousness and feelings arising dependent on the senses. Perhaps that is all an ordinary human being can experience; the world of sensory experiences. And the void or emptiness (suññāto) is often specially referred to the self (atta) and what belongs to the self (attaniya) only. The following passage in SN affirmes this qualification.

Because the world is void of the self, Ānanda, or of what belongs to the self, therefore it is said: ‘void is the world’. And what, Ānanda, is void of the self or anything that belongs to the self? Eye, visual objects... eye-consciousness...eye contact...and whatever feeling (born of these contacts), pleasant, painful or neutral that arises on account of mind contact, that too, is void of the self or of what belongs to the self.[7]

Thus in the Nikāya tradition, the concept of suññāta is strictly applied to the Anatta doctrine, especially in sensory experiences as the above passage conveys. Latter, the developed Buddhist thought had expanded this concept to a greater extent: the whole samsāric experiences are empty, illusory[8]. When Mahāyana thought emerged, the concept of emptiness or non-substantiality was expounded in twofold: non-substantiality of person (puggala anattā), and non-substantiality of the dhammā (dharma nairātman). And the great Mahayana writers like Nāgārjuna and Subhuti especially emphasized on the dependent nature of all phenomena, that nothing arises by ‘itself’, and nothing possesses the self-nature (svabhāva). This is not a new idea, as we will see later in the Nikāya documents which will reveal the crucial link of the two: we cannot isolate the anattā doctrine from the doctrine of Dependent Origination. The Mahayana critique on svābhavavādā and the so called Hīnayana systems of philosophy on the identity of svabhāva and dhamma (attano sabhāvaṃ dhārentī’ti dhammā)[9] is not justified if we put the Anattā doctrine in the contexts of the Nikāyas. The analysis of human into the khandhas serves the sheer purpose of preventing and destroying the (false) notion of ‘the self’ or of a person who presides over the personal components. The same aim is assigned to the analysis of āyātana as we have seen in the above quoted text. But regarding the analysis into elements (dhātus) in which each element is also called dhamma, and the Master recommended on seeing all phenomena as suddhadhammā- pure phenomena that later gave rise to the exegetical works on the term is perhaps the main motivation of Abhidhamma systems[10]. But this definition of the term dhamma is only found in post-canonical works.

Dhamma and Dhammā

The word dhamma (Sanskrit dharma, m or neut.) has many meanings and it becomes a notoriously difficult word in the Buddhist canons, both in Pāli and in Sanskrit, for many Buddhist scholars. In the singular form, Dhamma often refers to the body of the Buddha’s teaching, which is one of the three cardinal objects for refuge (Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha). In the early discourses, the Buddha often refers to his system of teaching and training as Dhamma and Vinaya. In the Vedic tradition, dharma or dharman comes from the root dhṛ meaning to uphold or to support and hence dharma is the foundation, institution, which in The Upaniṣads it comes to means duties, principles, laws, etc. It is often goes together with artha which means gain, benefit, kāma means enjoyment and mokkha, liberation. In Buddhist canons, occasionally the word dhamma also retains the meaning given in the Vedas and Upaniṣads. In The Aggaññāsutta (DN), the Discourse on the Knowledge of Beginning, it is states: “dhamma is the best thing for people in this life and the life to come”[11], and in the context of the same discourse, Dhamma is not in uniform for different groups of people, but rather a common law accepted and followed by a particular group of society. It is reported that the Buddha, after his enlightenment exclaimed that it is the Dhamma that he is due to reverence, not any person, deity or god or Brahma, for he is the highest evolutionary being in the cosmic order. What he has realized is the Dhamma. This dhamma is the causal law, or the principles that governs the world: its formation, its existence, its decaying and dissolving as an endless circle in the cosmos. In M.28 (M. I, 191) and S. 12: 20 (S. II, 12: 25-26) the Buddha said that “one who sees Dependent Origination, sees the Dhamma, and one who sees the Dhamma, sees the dependent origination”. Thus dhamma is identical with the law of specific conditionality (idappaccayatā).

Dhammā in plural form means phenomena, things (e.g., sabbe dhammā anattā), as means (e.g., bodhipakkhiyā dhammā), and states (e.g., kusalādhammā), or merely mental phenomena like as in dhammānupassanā, contemplation on dhammā. We will return to the meaning of the word dhamma in dhammānupassanā in the next chapter. A fourfold definition of the word dhamma given by Ven. Buddhaghosa is as follows: (1) guṇe (saddo) is applied to good conduct; (2) desanīyaṃ, to preach and moral instruction; (3) pariyattiyaṃ, to the nine modes which the Buddha used to teach or the nine-fold collections of the teaching; (4) nissatte-nijjīve, to the cosmic impersonal phenomena.[12] Elsewhere, also Ven Buddaghosa gave a similar fourfold meanings of the dhamma with a slight difference as follows: (1) pariyatti, the theory or doctrine as it is recorded and explained in the scriptures; (2) hetu, condition or causal relation, here, it specially refers to the analytical knowledge[13] of the doctrine; (3) guṇa, quality; and (4) nissatta-nijjīva as in the above. Thus the definition is very faithful to the anatta doctrine.

Returning to the post-canonical works concerning the interpretation of the anatta doctrine and the ontological validity of the term dhamma, in the commentaries rewritten by Ven. Buddhaghosa, and his momentous work Visuddhimagga, a dhamma said to be perceived by its specific characteristics and is viewed in its common characteristics. For instance, earth element (paṭhavi dhātu) has specific characters of hardness and softness. This idea (dhamma) is formed by a direct experience through the sense of touch (paṭigha samphassa). Whether this mental representation (i.e., the concept of earth) has a reciprocal substance that exists ‘out there’, it is not found in the Visuddhimagga. However, The Abhidhammas have listed rūpa, citta, cetasikas and nibbāna as ‘paramatthadhammā’, which is the ultimate reality. Perhaps the criticisms of some Mahāyana texts are focused on the classification that would turn into a dogma of plurality that might uncritically affirm the validity of our perceptions. This criticism offers a re-evaluation of many standards in Buddhist practices. It is an open-ended issue. My contention is only to see the common ground on which the anatta doctrine, as a basic tenet of all Buddhist sects, is formed as formerly presented.

The links between phenomena are also termed the ‘connecting Teaching’ in contract to a so called the ‘Perfect Teaching’ as depicted in Prajñāparamitā literatures. We will return to this theme in the last chapter. In this chapter my discussion is restricted to the theme according to different approaches, under four head-lines: ontological and epistemological; psychological; ethical and social application of the Anatta doctrine.

II. Ontological Argument on Atta

In this changing world, there are only things which are subject to constant changing and decay. Perceiving their real nature, I declare that the world is compounded of things, subject to decay and decomposition, namely, the aggregates of matter, sensation, perception, mental formations and consciousness which are incessantly arising and passing away. There is nothing else besides these perishing aggregates. Bhikkhus, I teach this Dhamma in a brief manner. I also teach this Dhamma more comprehensively and completely...[14]

Perhaps the most controversial issue surrounding the notion of atta or self inheres in its ontological aspect. In the second chapter, we have presented some views on self or soul in different systems of philosophy, now we will see how Buddhism denies the existence of such an entity that is identified with a real and solid personality. Steven Collins in his highly scholastic book named “Selfless Persons” has systematically pointed out how linguistic and psychological belief has misled people to the view that in certain ways the Buddha did not deny the ontology of the self. One of these typical views are found in Hajime Nakamura’s work “A comparative History of Ideas”, in which he calls ‘the true self’ (p.269) when he picks up many examples such as “attaññū”(A IV, P.113; D.III, p.252), Attanā’va kataṃ pāpaṃ; attajaṃ attasambhavaṃ-“By oneself alone is evil done; (it is) self-born self-generated” (Dhp.161); and Attānaṃ ce piyaṃ jaññā- “If one holds oneself dear” (Dhp.157); and translates the word ‘attā’ as ‘the self’ which appears to be very misleading. In another example, he writes: “The second type of self, a latent self, was called “the Lord of self” (op. cit; p. 270). This is from the Dhammapāda 160 “Attā hi attano nātho. Ko hi nātho paro siyā. Attanā’va sudantena, nātham labhati dullabhaṃ” which should be understood as: “Oneself is one’s own refuge, for who else would be (his) refuge? With oneself well tamed, one gets a savior difficult to gain”. This appears on the same line as Dhp.161, 165, 166 in which the word ‘atta’ should be understood as a reflective pronoun, not ‘the self’.

Yet, Buddhist philosophy does not deny the empirical notion of differentiations among individuals which is called ‘puggalapaññatti’ and sammutti sacca- the conventional truth; what is denied is a metaphysical entity and what is to be eliminated is an egoistic attitude as a sequel of ‘personal view-sakkāyadiṭṭhi’, caused by craving (taṇhā) and attachment (upādāna) in general, especially attachment to the components of personality- pañcuppādānakkhandha. As observed by Steven Collins, it is fruitless for scholars to argue about the nature of Anattā in technical terms of what is meant and what such a salvation can be[15]. We have also suggested earlier that a mere intellectual approach to the Anattā means nothing because it cannot exempt one from being involved in the process and suffer its consequences. We will return to this contention in the following sections. Returning to the previous work, in another place, Collins writes:

It is (the doctrine of anatta) a form of denial of self which in the Theravāda tradition has been of most importance in the ethical and psychological dynamic of spiritual education, while in other traditions, especially Mahāyana schools, it has been much developed as a topic of epistemology and ontology under the general name of “emptiness (śūnyatā)[16].

As a practitioner from both traditions, I must add to his comment that even in Mahāyana tradition, the education on Anatta, especially to practice in an unselfish way is much emphasized. In the following pages I will present more quotations pertaining to the notion of self or soul and the way early Buddhist texts denounce its ontological validity.

II.1 Attabhāva- Personality Is Not an Independent Agent

It is very clear that the Buddha had on many occasions denounced the belief in ‘the self’. Nikāya texts record that even in the second sermon (Anattalakkhaṇasutta), the Buddha did frankly dealt with this topic in that he divided personality into five components (khandha) and declared that none of them could identify with the self. Rūpa- the material component is not self, vedanā- the sensation component is not self, saññā- the perception is not self, saṅkhārā- the mental constructions are not self, and viññāṇa- the consciousness is not self. The reasons are that they are all share the nature of impermanence, and what is impermanent is also suffering; what is impermanent and suffering is reasonably not self, for they disobey one’s commands (M.I, 237). This may lead to the conclusion that the self must be something apart from these components. At this point, Dr Malalasekera, echoed the commentator Kumaralabha, who exclaimed: if there is such a thing as self (atta) what on earth prevented the Buddha to speak out about it? [Ref. Encyclopedia of Buddhism Vol.I, an article on Anatta].

Samyutta Nikāya records a very important dialogue between the Buddha and the wanderer named Vacchagotta that concerns this topic.

“Now, master Gotama, is there a self?” –at these words the Exalted One was silent.

“How, then, master Gotama, is there not a self?” – For a second time did the Exalted One keep silent.

Then the wanderer Vacchagotta rose from his seat and went away. Not long after the departure of Vacchagotta, the wanderer, the venerable Ānanda said to the Exalted One: “How is it, lord, that the Exalted One gave no answer to the question of the wanderer Vacchagotta?”

“If, Ānanda, when asked by the Wanderer: ‘Is there a self?’. I had replied to him: ‘there is a self’, then, Ānanda, that would be siding with the recluses and Brahmins who are Eternalists”

“But, if, Ānanda, when asked: ‘Is there not a self?’ I had replied it does not exist, that, Ānanda, would be siding with the recluses and Brahmins who are Annihilationists.”

“Again, Ānanda, when asked by the Wanderer: ‘Is there a self?’ had I replied that there is, would my answer be in accordance with the knowledge that all things are impermanent?”

“Surely not, lord.”

“Again, Ānanda, when asked by Vacchagotta: ‘Is there a self?’ had I replied that there were not, it would have been more bewilderment for the already bewildered Vacchagotta.

He would have said: ‘Formerly indeed I had a self, but now I have not any more.’[17]

This dialogue still continues to give rise to many controversies up to date. The reason for his silence to Wanderer Vacchagotta was explained by the Buddha to the venerable Ānanda quite clearly. First, Vacchagotta was not in a position of understanding his profound teaching yet, for the person who is obsessive about the idea of a real and permanent self would not catch what is ‘selfless’; second, the Buddha avoided discussing the metaphysics of the concept of self as the prevailing ideas of the time. The speculation about the ‘self’- atta, and the ‘world’- loka was a big topic of discussions at the time (and even today!). Quoting the same message, Brahmchari Sital Prashad wrote:

The above conversation requires a careful and deep thinking. The reason why Gotama Buddha did not reply to the question of Vacchagottra and remained silent, appears to be that he avoided a discussion on these topics, and further his mode of silence showed to Vacchagottra that the soul can not be known by talking, but by realizing.

Gotama Buddha’s first reply to his near disciple Ananda shows that he did not take one-side view, did not maintain that the soul was absolutely indestructible or destructible. As stated in Jain Philosophy, the soul according to him has both the attributes of permanent existence, and changeability.[18]

It appears that B.T.Prashad cannot relinquish the position of a “pure soul”, as he calls it, which is admitted in Buddhism, and it is identical with Nirvana.[19] Quoting many messages from Samyutta Nikāya and Majjhima Nikāya, he tried to prove that the “pure soul” is something indestructible, and not included in five khandhas which are destructible. Again, in S.IV, Anicca sutta, he commented: “The above statement also clearly declares that ‘I’ am something else; ‘I’ am not the five senses and the mind.”[20] He also referred to F.L.Woodward, Some saying of the Buddha, and concluded: “Some quotations from the above book which show the existence of the soul”. These are D. II, 198; Dhp. verse 236, 378.[21] In the following further reading, I also quote nearly the same sources with which he had quoted, but with different interpretations.

Dīgha Nikāya, Poṭṭhapāda sutta is a long discourse in which the Buddha patiently explained to the wandering ascetic Poṭṭhapāda and his friends who were discussing on the nature of ‘the self’, whether it is identified with the consciousness or not. It seems the understanding of what is a human being consisted of among ascetics and thinkers of the day consisted of a clear cut dichotomy of body and mind. Saññā, the term used here denotes the conscious, non-material part of being in contrast to kāya, a solid shape, or material build. I choose to translate the term saññā in this context as ‘consciousness’, not in its usual meaning of ‘perception’ because the term is used by the Poṭṭhapāda to refer to a more complex sense implicating the self or soul in his way of thinking.

Some ones said: “One’s consciousness arises and ceases without cause and conditions. When it arises, one is conscious, when it ceases, then one is unconscious.” But the others argued: “No, that is not how it is. Consciousness is the person’s self, which comes and goes. When it comes, the person is conscious; when it goes the person is unconscious.[22]

Someone poses as a third party or agent outside the person acting as one who injects the soul into a man’s body, or withdraws it from him, appears to be similar to the Christian concept of Creation. But the Poṭṭhapāda was interested in the ‘higher extinction of consciousness’(abhisaññānirodho) only, and therefore the Buddha revealed the way consciousness arises and ceases owing to a cause and conditions, and that consciousness can be trained in a successive steps. In subduing of formations in jhānas, and finally, in the highest attainment of this kind, the practitioner can reach the summit: the cessation of consciousness, i.e. ceasing all mental activities. But still then Poṭṭhapāda was not quite satisfied, causing him to wonder: “-Is then, Sir, the consciousness identical with a man’s soul, or is consciousness one thing and the soul another?” -“What, then, Poṭṭhapāda? Do you again postulate the soul?” asked the Buddha. (saññā nu kho bhante purisassa atta udāhu aññā añño attā’ti? Kiṃ pana tvaṃ, Poṭṭhapāda, attānaṃ paccesī’ti?) At this point, the wandering ascetic had to admit that he takes for granted the existence of a self or soul in some form or another, and in dismay, he asked whether it is material or mind-created (oḷārikaṃ kho ahaṃ attānaṃ...manomayaṃ kho ahaṃ bhante attānaṃ)? All of which were refuted by the Buddha as not ‘the self’. In this context, the Buddha also avoided giving a categorical answer to this kind of inquiry, saying:

It is difficult for one of different views, a different faith, under different influences, with different pursuits and a different training to know whether consciousness is the man’s soul or it is a different thing. [Dujjānaṃ kho etaṃ poṭṭhapāda tayā aññadiṭṭhikena aññakhantikena aññarucikena aññatrayogena aññatrācariyakena saññā purisassa attā'ti vā, aññā saññā, añño attā'ti vā].[23]

Thus the Buddha appeared very consistent in his way of dealing with the followers of other sects. He knew the measure of their intellectual (this knowledge is termed attaññū) and did not make a forceful attack on the prevalent Brahmanical point of view. It is noteworthy that in due course, both Vacchagotta and Poṭṭhapāda followed the Buddha’s teaching and realized the ultimate goal: anattā, the nature of all phenomena and thereby attained Nibbāna. I will return to this discourse later in the psychological approach to the doctrine of non-self. It is in this context, when Poṭṭhapāda proceeds to put questions on the metaphysical issues, the Buddha said such a query does not concern his Dhamma, for they are not practical and beneficial the enquirers. As to what he was actually concerned about, the Bhuddha said:

I have expounded what dukkha is; I have expounded what is its cause; I have expounded what is the cessation of dukkha, and the method that leads to the cessation of dukkha. [Katame ca te poṭṭhapāda mayā ekaṃsikā dhammā desitā paññattā? 'Idaṃ dukkha'nti kho poṭṭhapāda mayā ekaṃsiko dhammo desito paññatto. 'Ayaṃ dukkhasamudayo'ti kho poṭṭhapāda mayā ekaṃsiko dhammo desito paññatto. 'Ayaṃ dukkhanirodho'ti kho poṭṭhapāda mayā ekaṃsiko dhammo desito paññatto. 'Ayaṃ dukkhanirodhagāminīpaṭipadā'ti kho poṭṭhapāda mayā ekaṃsiko dhammo desito paññatto.] [24]

II.2 Pañca Khandha- The Personality’s Components Are Not Self

In the preceding chapter I have attempted to present the Khandha doctrine as an empirical way to understand personality (attabhāva) as a psycho-physical process and how to identify with that process involving suffering. We see, in numerous suttas that the Buddha and his great disciples have made the same attempt to persuade people from taking a stand (diṭṭhigataṃ, literally meaning wrong view) in the process. To sum up this kind of attitude toward the khandhas, the Buddha said:

Monks, whatever contemplatives or priests who assume in various ways when assuming a self, all assume the five clinging-aggregates, or a certain one of them. Which five? There is the case where an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person -- who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for men of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma -- assumes form (the body) to be the self, or the self as possessing form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form.

He assumes feeling to be the self... He assumes perception to be the self... He assumes (mental) fabrications to be the self...He assumes consciousness to be the self, or the self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in the self, or the self as in consciousness.

Thus, both this assumption & the understanding, 'I am,' occur to him. And so it is with reference to the understanding 'I am' that there is the appearance of the five faculties -- eye, ear, nose, tongue, & body (the senses of vision, hearing, smell, taste, & touch).[25]

The above passage is a typical account of assuming attā with khandhas, each in four ways reflecting the dogmatic speculation of thinkers at the time. These fourfold assumptions plus with the five khandhas that makes up twenty types of wrong views are elaborated in Brahmajalasutta (DN). It is said due to ignorant element that prevents the ordinary folks from seeing rapid successive changes in the process of sense-impressions. It is the nature of a deluded mind to perceive the phenomena in a personal way, asserting his ego into each experience as ‘this I am’, ‘I shall be this or that”.

If cognitive errors lead to wrong views as we have discussed in the preceding chapter, in the saññākkhandha section, in terms of vipallāso, therefore a correct vision or insight into the sensory experiences will prevent the beholder from identifying with phenomena. Upon this injunction, the Buddha stated:

The five faculties, monks, continue as they were. And with regard to them the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones abandons ignorance and gives rise to clear knowing. Owing to the fading of ignorance and the arising of clear knowing, (the thoughts) -- 'I am,' 'I am this,' 'I shall be,' 'I shall not be,' 'I shall be possessed of form,' 'I shall be formless,' 'I shall be percipient (conscious),' 'I shall be non-percipient,' and 'I shall be neither percipient nor non-percipient' -- do not occur to him.[26]

A more common approach, and also more specific in dealing with sakkāya diṭṭhi is found in Cūḷa Saccaka sutta (M.I, suta No 35). This records a debate between the Buddha and the famous wandering ascetic Saccaka on the subject of atta; in which Saccaka maintained that rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa were one’s atta-self and that it was the self which enjoyed the fruits of good deeds and suffered the consequences of bad deeds. The Buddha refuted this view by pointing out that none of the aforementioned aggregates was ‘self’; each being subjected to the same law of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and non-substance, without being amenable to any one’s will. Here the argument emphasized on the empirical point of view and practical observations reveal that holding a view or theory of the existence of a solid, permanent and identical soul or self is a grave error. The following points demonstrate for this position:

1. There is no such a soul or self which can be identified with each of khandha or all the khandhas;

2. For each khandha has the nature of changing and becomes otherwise beyond the will to control of the person who identifies it with himself.

3. The five khandhas arise and vanish according to conditions, not by ‘itself’ which is implied an identical entity.

In another Sutta (SN) the Buddha made a striking comparison of the five khandhas:

Rūpakkhandha as a lump of foam;
Vedanākkhandha as in a bubble;
Saññākkhandha as a mirage;
Saṅkkhārakkhandha as a plantain trunk; and
Viññāṇakkhandha as an illusion.

The fact that they lack an essence is due to their ephemeral nature of them. Regarding this point we can conclude that Buddhism does not under any circumstance accept a metaphysical self as a lasting and unchanging substance within or without this psycho-physical complex. Further, we find a message in Dīghanikāya, Mahānidānasutta in which the Buddha eloquently denounced the assumption of self in feeling as regards to the epistemological approach. The text reads:

To what extent, Ananda, does one assume when assuming a self? Assuming feeling to be the self, one assumes that 'Feeling is my self' [or] 'Feeling is not my self: My self is without feeling' [or] 'Neither is feeling my self, nor is my self without feeling, but rather my self feels, in that my self is subject to feeling.[27][28]

Herein, the self is identified with the most sensitive aggregate, feeling, in three points: (1) totally identifing the self with feeling, (2) avoiding an identification of self with feeling, (3) asserting that the self is subject to feeling. Regarding the first position, the Buddha asked us: there are three kinds of feelings: pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral one, that they are not only different but also mutually exclusive; to which of them should one regard it as ‘my-self’? Commenting on this, Bhikkhu Bodhi writes: “Calling attention to this diversity in feeling already deals a blow to the notion of self.”[29] Further, feelings are constantly changing, one alternating with another; when one particular kind of feeling ceases, it gives a chance for a different experience, so it is questionable as to whether one should assert that his self has changed or ceased to exist (byagā me attā)? In the case of fleeting feelings, how could a person seek to establish a (permanent) self? The Jain’s theory of soul (or self) is that the soul has the attribution of change as well as eternality (as I had quoted in the previous page & chapter), but empirical experiences show that none of these feelings are endowed with a permanent quality, so self (or soul) cannot be an identical thing with feeling. This leads to the second position “feeling is not myself, myself is without experience of feeling”, about which it should be asked: “where there is nothing at all that is felt, could the idea ‘I am’ occur then?” The commentary on the passage said that this position refers to the view that self is purely materiality. The meaning is “can the ego-conception ‘I am’ (asmi) arise in that which is devoid of feeling, (in a bare material object) such as a palm-leaf fan or a window panel?”(DA). According to Bhikkhu Bodhi, this argument is based on the theorist’s presupposition that selfhood requires some degree of self-consciousness. Whether the subject denies feeling as his self or not, the dichotomy between the subject (one who feels) and the object (feeling) is there; for “without the experience of feeling” is an absent of object, could self (as a subject) asserts its existence? This quandary seem to be avoided in the third position “feeling is not my self, but my self is not without experience of feeling. My self feels; for my self is subject to feeling”. It should be asked: “If feeling were to cease absolutely and utterly without a remainder, then, in the complete absence of feeling, with the cessation of feeling, could (the idea) “I am this” occurs there?”. Yet, it seems to be safe to detach feeling which is evanescent with self which is supposed to be indestructible, and the participation of self in what is experiencing is a consistent witnesser to the vicissitudes of experiences. This resembles the Saṅkhya philosophy of the dualism of changeless self (puruṣa) and changeable nature (prakṛti). [See Chapter II, p. 43]

Though more promising at first than the other two positions, this position too turn out to be flawed. Fundamental to the notion of selfhood is an inherent capacity for self-affirmation..., self should be able to affirm its own being and identity to it self without need for external referents. Yet the theorist is forced to admit that, with the cessation of feeling, in the complete absence of feeling, the idea “I am this” could not be conceived.” (Bhikkhu Bodhi, Introduction to the Mahānidāna sutta. P.36).

The value and benefit of not identifying and assuming there is a self was revealed by the Buddha in next paragraph:

Now, Ananda, in as far as a monk does not assume feeling to be the self, nor the self as oblivious, nor that 'My self feels, in that my self is subject to feeling,' then, not assuming in this way, he does not cling to anything in the world. Not clinging, he is not agitated. Unagitated, he is totally unbound right within. He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.' [30]

As we have seen from the earlier quoted texts, the reason for the Buddha to be silence on these issues is the futile nature of these metaphysic questions. Let us take a glimpse at some other materials connected to this theme.

In the Cūḷamālukya sutta (M 63), a bhikkhu named Mālukya asked the Buddha some well-known classical questions such as is the universe eternal or not etc; is the soul the same as the body, is the soul one thing and the body another etc; does life exist after death. The Buddha explained to him that the practice of the holy life does not depend upon these views. Whatever view one may hold about them, there would still be birth, aging decay, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, distress and despair. The Buddha said that he taught only about dukkha, its cause, its end, and the way leading to its cessation.[31]

Thus the reasons for the Master dismissed the queries on metaphysic issues are very clear and practical. He led his listeners to some observable experiences as feeling, craving, clinging, and common problems of life inhering in the pain of birth, aging, sickness, and the fear of death and separation. How can one understand whether life is attā or anatā without understanding life process and have an authentic attitude towards what is happening? Inquiring on the self and its nature is not fit to answer as reference to the modes of answers to questions, this is called the question should be put aside. Once, two wandering ascetics named Mundiya and Jāliya approached the Buddha and asked whether the self was the physical body, or that the physical body was the self; or the self was one thing and the body another. Here we see the speculation about and the identification with an entity (self, soul) as regards to the physical body (kāya or rūpakkhandha) in its classical three or four ways. The Buddha explained how a person who had finally realized liberation would not even need to refliect upon these things.[32]        

Perhaps one of the most interesting and comprehensible books that discusses on the notion of atta/anatta is a text named Milindapañhā- The Question of King Milinda [33]that when the Greek king Mendros (Milinda in Pāḷi) asked Ven. Nagasena, a renounced Buddhist monk about whom he is talking with. The monk answered:

As Nagasena I am known, O Great King, and as Nagasena do my fellow religious habitually address me. But although parents give name such as Nagasena, or Surasena, or Virasena, or Sihasena, nevertheless, this word "Nagasena" is just a denomination, a designation, a conceptual term, a current appellation, a mere name. For no real person can here be apprehended."

As the Greek king was not an ordinary one, he vociferously asked his large company to bear witness to what the monk had just stated. The monk calmly asked him: your majesty, by what means did you come here? – I came here by chariot; answered the king. The monk continued:-What is that you call a chariot, your majesty? Is it the wheels? No. Is it the axle? No. Or is it the pole, or the framework etc that you call a chariot? To all, these questions, the king denied that these individual components are not the chariot, but the combination of these in a certain way makes up the chariot. The monk said: in the same way, what is called Nagasena is the combination of many individual parts such as body, feeling, perception, volitions, and consciousness that people call Venerable Nagasena. [34] This echoing a verse in Samyutta Nikāya in which the nun Vajirā answered the Mara, the evil one as follows:

When certain things we find combined,
We speak of ‘chariot’, speak of ‘car’.
Just so when all five aggregates appear,
We use the designation of ‘man’.”

(Hoti sattoti sammuti.”
Yathā hi aṅgasambhārā,
Hoti saddo ratho iti;
Evaṃ khandhesu santesu.) [S.V.10]

II. 3 Did the Buddha Teach Phenomenanism or Nihilism?

The Buddha refuted to answer the questions concerning the existence of an entity or identity of atta or Tathāgata or the existence or non-existence of such an identity after the death of an Arahant.

"How do you construe this: Do you regard the Tathāgata as form-feeling-perception-fabrications-consciousness?" "No, lord."

"Do you regard the Tathāgata as that which is without form, without feeling, without perception, without fabrications, without consciousness?" "No, lord."

"And so, Anurādha -- when you can't pin down the Tathāgata as a truth or reality even in the present life -- is it proper for you to declare, 'Friends, the Tathāgata -- the supreme man, the superlative man, attainer of the superlative attainment -- being described, is described otherwise than with these four positions: The Tathāgata exists after death, does not exist after death, both does and does not exist after death, neither exists nor does not exist after death'?" "No, lord."

"Very good, Anurādha. Very good. Both formerly and now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress." [35]

Noted that an Arahant is the person who has destroyed all defilements (kilesa), rooted up all the roots of anger (dosa), craving (lobha) and ignorance (moha or avijjā) which are the roots of rebirth and becoming. This very subtle point brings the accusation that the Buddha teaches annihilation (“There is also a way in which one can rightly say that I am an annihilationist. For I teach the annihilation of greed, hatred and delusion; I teach the annihilation of the multitude of evil and unwholesome qualities” (A viii, 12)). At his time, the Buddha was accused of upholding an annihilationist view (“there are some recluses and brahmas who misrepresent me untruly, vainly, falsely, not in accordance with the fact, saying: “The recluse Gotama is an annihilationist, he lays down the cutting off, the destruction, the disappearance of the existent entity.”(M. 22. 180); modern scholars like R.C. Childers and Mr. James D’Alvis[36]....also misunderstood that Nibbāna is annihilation, and even Mahāyana Buddhism accuses the Theravada Buddhism that the latter has wrongly grasped an annihilationistic view.[37]

Here a certain teacher sets out soul as something real and permanent in the present life as well as in the future life. Again, another teacher sets out soul as something real and permanent as far as this world is concerned but does not say so with regard to any future existence. Lastly, a certain teacher does not set out the soul as a real and permanent entity either in regard to the present or to the future life.” The first type is identified with teacher who upholds the doctrine of eternalism; the second type is identified with annihilationist; and the third type is said belong to the teaching of the fully enlightened one (the Buddhas)[38].

Here we should emphasize that the concept of self or soul is held as ‘real’, a valid ontology of the soul, and ‘permanent’ which means a lasting and unchanging personality. And the denial of the Buddhists is mainly focused on these two points, not on the empirical features that distinguished one from another that in Buddhist terms are called puggala paññatti, the concept of person or individual. This topic had been brought in from time to time whenever the controversy around the notion of a real and independent agent that abides in living things, and imperishable with the destruction of the body (as depicted in Upaniṣad; Gītā, ch2, 22) was being raised. The Buddhist denial of this self of the Upaniṣads:

“The inner being of all things,
the one, the controller
who renders his own form many,
the wise who perceive him in their self...” ( Maṇḍūkya Upaniṣad, 1,2,3).

But those terms atta, puggala, purisa, etc when employed in the Buddhist scriptures are still the subject of misinterpretation in that the word is thought to denotes some valid and distinctive substance. To counteract this tendency, the book called “Points of controversy”- Kathavatthu pakaraṇaṃ, one of the Abhidhamma books of the Theravada tradition gives a lengthy repudiation of the Theravādin to the so called ‘Puggalavādin’ who uphold the view that there is a ‘real person’ existing. The other Abhidhamma books which was compiled by Vasubandhu, a great Buddhist philosopher of 5th AD also devotes a book discusses on this presumption. As quoted:

(Vasubandhu)“-When we are applying to an idea the name of ‘an individual’, what is the corresponding object? Is it the elements of a personal life, or is it a (real) individual?” And the argument continued:” In the first case we are applying the name to the elements only, since there is no ‘real’ object so called. In the second, why should this name be conditioned by the elements, since it is conditioned by the real individual itself?”

(Vatsiputtriya)” We maintain that in the presence of all the elements of a personal life we perceive the object called ‘individual’. Therefore we use this name as conditioned by the elements.”

(Vasubandhu)-“But colors too is perceived under the condition that the sense of vision, aroused attention and light be present. Hence you must maintain that it is ‘conditioned’ by them therefore monind. (There will be no unconditioned existence altogether).

In another approach, Nāgārjuna refutes the notion of ‘svabhāva’- the essential characteristic that is inherent in every existence that makes ‘itself’ or ‘its own nature’ (of the Sarvāstivāda). According to this great Buddhist philosopher, everything is interdependent, inter-relative, and in relativity there is nothing called ‘its own identity’ (svabhāva), for a thing that depends on the cause(s) for its emergence what is there to be called ‘its own’? And “that which is relative to others is justifiably not the essence (ātman)”. (Madhyamaka-sāstra, I, 5; XII, 3).     

I do not teach that there is one thing called old age and death, and that there is someone to whom they belong. Verily, if one holds the view that life (jīva = life principle, soul) is identical with the body (taṃ jīvaṃ taṃ sarīraṃ), in that case there can be no holy life. And if one holds the view that life is one thing but body another thing (aññaṃ jīvaṃ aññaṃ sarīraṃ), also in that case holy life is impossible. Avoiding both of these extremes (i.e. complete identity and complete otherness) the Perfect One has taught the doctrine that lies in the middle, namely: Through rebirth conditioned are old age and death;...through the process of becoming, rebirth;... through clinging, the process of becoming;...etc.[39] (S XII, 35).

This passage is a weighty statement of the Buddha to denounce the ontological existence of self or soul. It also conveys a clear and straightforward manner of his discourses on this issue. Herein, the conditioned arising of phenomena is offered to avoid two prevalent trends of the contemporary philosophy: nihilism and eternalism that insist on ontological argument. However, it is not an act of shutting down the issue; rather, it opens a new dimension in understanding the life process without succumbing to ontological inquiry.

III. Psychological Approach

Returning to the Poṭṭhapāda sutta (DN) in which the Buddha pointed out to the ascetics that consciousness arises via cause and conditions, and therefore by the alternation of cause(s) and conditions the whole course of consciousness would be changed: “By training some states of consciousness arise. By training others pass away”. This art of alternating consciousness (from a negative course to a positive course) is called Bhāvanā in Buddhist terms. This will be discussed in chapter seven, for now we will further trace into the psychological aspects of the anatta doctrine.

III.1 Thought Processes

Elsewhere the Buddha rebuked Sati, a monk believing that an unchanging self (atta) transmigrates from this life (or body) to the next. The Buddha then explained that it is dependent on conditions that the consciousness arises, and by what door that consciousness arises, it is named after that door (Yaṃ yadeva bhikkhave paccayaṃ paṭicca uppajjati viññāṇaṃ, tena teneva viññāṇaṃtveva saṅkhyaṃ gacchati. Cakkhuṃ ca paṭicca rūpe uppajjati viññāṇaṃ, cakkhuviññāṇaṃtveva saṅkhyaṃ...M 48, para.400). This is further explained by Ven.Sariputta that, for example eye-consciousness arises when there are three necessary conditions such as:

1) An impaired eye

2) A visible object comes into contact

3) Attention (tajjosamannāhāra)[40]

The Abhidhamma lists one more condition that is light.

As according to this analysis, along the internal sense organ and its corresponding object (cakkhu-rūpa, sota-sada, Ghana-gandha...), there is a factor called attention (tajjassamanāhāra), a question would arise: who directs the mind toward the object? This is considered a wrongly-put question. There is nobody whether an internal (atta- the controller) or external agent (God, Brahma) who interferes in the process. It is merely the reaction of the sense organ to its corresponding object, and this reaction takes place due to the functional of the sense organs (indriyā) and the power of the object (ārammana) that comes into the field of a conscious mind.

In the Abhidhammtthasangaha where the mind, its properties and matters are explored as impersonal dhammā, the thought process is elaborated as follows:

Ārammaṇa- the stimulating object comes into the felt senses---bhavanga sota- the stream of consciousness vibrates-> five doors adverted-> if it is the visible form, eye-consciousness arises-> recognizing-> investigating-> determining->experience (feels it with subjective appreciation as pleasant or unpleasant or neutral)-> registration (tadālambana- this is some kind of registration of the object that one has experienced), then the stream of consciousness sinks back into the passive state called bhavangasota. During this process, while the active consciousness recognizes the object, the mind as a unit of perception, feeling, volition, and attention unitary hanging on to the object. It is possible as Abhidhammikas explain that the duration of matter is seventeen times longer than that of consciousness (in the light of momentary existence). By this way of analysis, we see that the process is spontaneous, and none of the participants is identified as ‘I’ or ‘me’. Also from this we can see how five aggregates participate, and manifest themselves as functional only. That is why the Buddha said in the sutta:

Therefore, monks, what is not yours, put it away. Putting it away will be for a long time for your welfare and happiness. And what, monks, is not yours? Material forms, monks, is not yours...feeling is not your...perception is not yours...volition is not yours...consciousness is not yours; put it away, putting it away will be for a long time for your welfare and happiness. (Alagaddūpamasutta, MN).

III. 2 The House’s Builder and His Materials

The first words Buddha said is to have exclaimed after his enlightenment was that he had searched for the builder of the house (gahakārako ditthesi). The builder of the house is identified with craving (Taṇhā, to be of three kinds kāmataṇhā-craving for sense pleasures, bhāvataṇhā- craving for (continuing in a better) existence and vibhava taṇhā- craving for non-existence).This craving is just a mental factor, not a person, and the “house” is but a combination of Khandhas-aggregates. Remembering that in Buddhist traditional analysis ‘being” is divided into parts or elements such as Five Khandhas, twelve āyātana, eighteen dhātu, etc in order to dispel the belief in an entity, a solid, and unchanging or lasting being or self, soul (atta).

In M.43, Anāthapiṇdikovādasutta, Ven. Sariputta exhorted the householder Anāthapiṇdika not to grasp at the six internal sense-bases (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind), nor the six external objects (form, sound, smell, taste, touch, and ideas), nor to the feelings that arise in relation to them, nor at the six elements (earth, water, air, fire, space, and consciousness), nor at the five aggregates (body, feeling, perception, mental formation, and consciousness), nor the realms of infinite space,...The same analysis is found in A.III, 61 as follows:

Now on account of what was it said that the eighteen mental examinations (Dhātu) are the dhammā taught by me? ...Seeing a form with the eye, one conceives it a form may give rise either to joy, sadness or indifference. Hearing a sound with the ear... Smelling an odor with the nose... Tasting a flavor with the tongue...Touching a tactile object with the body...Cognizing an idea with the mind, one conceive it that give rise either to joy, sadness or indifference. There are the eighteen dhātu.” [...] Bases on six elements there is descend into the mother’s womb. Such descend taking place, there is name and form (nāma-rūpa). With the name and form as condition, there are the six sense bases (āyātana); with the six sense bases as condition, there is contact (phasa); with contact as condition, there is feeling (vedanā)...”

From the above passage, we see that eighteen dhātu are merely sensory experiences. Each sense base recognizes its corresponding object with an affected feeling. Thus is the way of analysis in order to destroy the tendency of grasping at, and distorting the perception of a unitary entity called a permanent and unchanging self or soul by way of ‘personal view-sakkāyadiṭṭhi’ or by way of attachment (taṇhā).

III. 3 Who Takes Rebirth?

It is an assumption among ascetics and yogis that with a purified vision (dassanā-samāpatti) obtained via jhānas, the practitioner can see an unbroken stream of consciousness (viññāṇaṃ sota...abbocchinnaṃ) joining life after life.[41] Because of this vision, they think that there is something which migrates from this body to the next body in the course of samsāra. One should be cautious when using the Buddhist term viññāṇa sota as the term suggests a continuity of consciousness, not an identity. Abhidhamma works speak about a “Paṭisandhi citta” which links life to life. Why can we not call this is a substances, or a self (atta) that takes rebirth? But Paṭisandhi Citta is but a consciousness, a thought moment that arises and cease depending on conditions. Preceding the rebirth consciousness is death consciousness (cuti citta); this thought arises and ceases giving way to another thought moment arising that is rebirth consciousness. It is not the same thing transmigrating from this body to another. This is explained as natthipaccaya-absence condition and vigatapaccaya the disappearance of a condition in the Paṭṭhāna method. The relation between cuticitta and paṭisandhicitta is also called anantarapaccaya, the proximity of a condition and samanantarapaccaya, the contiguity of a condition. When the first thought moments cease they give their energy (that was not used up) to the arising of the next thought moments.

The relationship between kamma, citta, and taṇhā as three conditions for a person to take rebirth is revealed in A.III, 76, 77 thus: “Kammaṃ khettaṃ, viññāṇaṃ bījaṃ taṇhā sineho”. kamma here is kammavipāka, the results of one’s actions serving as the field; viññāṇa here refers to paṭisandhicitta, the rebirth-linking consciousness is the seed; and taṇhā is craving that has bound one to existence. (The commentary on the passage explains that taṇhā is like the water that moistened the seed.) Consciousness which does not arise by itself as an entity which is self-sufficient by the fact that dependent on certain conditions, a consciousness arises was emphasized by the Buddha many times. Consciousness being one of the five Khandhas, is not a “being” or “atta”, it even not the mind – nāma or a complex mental phenomena. nāma or citta consist of four khandhas, to wit: vedanākkhandha, saññānakkhandha, saṅkhārakkhandha and viññaṇakkhanda. A citta or a state of mind is said to arise together with varied mental-factors which determine its quality. These mental factors include vedanā, saññā and saṅkhāra – volition. But this “bundle” what is called “mind”, even then is not fit to be called a being (satta). A being is ultimately consists of two constituents: nāma- mind and rūpa- body.

Rūpa or kāya or the material part of a being is but another way of combination of different elements such as the element of extension (paṭhavi dhātu), the element of cohesion (āpodhātu), the element of motion (vāyodhātu), the element of heat or consumption (tejo dhātu), and the materiality derived from the four great elements. This has beenelaborated in details in the preceding chapter, the rūpakkhandha section. Thus the compounded mind and matter (nāma-rūpa) come into being under some certain conditions formulated as avijjā-ignorance and saṅkhāra- the formative force in the past, is not fit to hold together as an entity (atta). From an empirical approach, every body with a sound mind paying due attention would notice that our mind and body are not same things fixed, but they change from time to time, and they are relatively effecting each other (i.e. they mutually depends upon each other). In one Sutta the Buddha stated:

Better it would be consider the body as the ego rather than the mind. And why? Because this body may last for ten, twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years, even for hundred years and more. But that which is called mind, consciousness, thinking (citta = mana = viññāṇa), arises continuously during day and night as one thing, and then as something else it vanishes. Here the learned and noble disciple considers thoroughly the Dependent Origination: when this arises then that arises. Through the arising of this, that comes to arise; through the extinction of this, that becomes extinguished, namely: Through ignorance arise the kamma-formations; through kamma-formations, consciousness (in next life); through consciousness, corporeality and mind ... etc”[42]

IV. Ethical Value of the Anatta Doctrine

The Buddha did not see himself as a philosopher constructing an ethic of argumentation but as a healer concerned to cure the suffering of mankind from which he himself had recovered. The tumor of desire and attachment was diagnosed as causing the sickness, and it was to be excised by all the possible means.[43]

IV.1 Non-Self and Moral Responsibility

Buddhism accepts the theory of rebirth and retribution of Kamma in countless chains of life in samsāra. So the question arises thus: if there is no soul then who takes rebirth? This question disturbs many students who seriously wish to comprehend the Buddha’s teaching properly. When the Buddha was expounding his non-self doctrine, a certain monk pondered: "So -- form is not-self, feeling is not-self, perception is not-self, volitional activities are not-self, consciousness is not-self. Then what self will be touched by the actions done by what is not-self?" (M. I, 109). Reading his thoughts, the Enlightened One sternly asked: Does this monk think he can outsmart the Teacher?[44] Then there and again, the Buddha draws his listeners to the fact of impermanence and suffering in saṅkhārā dhammā that constitute personality. As regard to the moral responsibilities or the law of retribution (kamma), the Greek king asked:

“If, revered Nāgasena, there is no one transmigrating from this body to another body, is not one freed from evil deeds?”

“Yes, sire, if one did not take rebirth one would be freed from evil deeds. But, as ,sire, one does take rebirth one does therefore not utterly freed from evil deeds.”

“make a simile”.

“support, sire, some man were to steal another’s man mangoes, would he deserve punishment?”- the king say “yes”.

“But how, if the mangoes he stole were not those that has been planted, why would he be punished?”

“Those mangoes, revered sir, exist because of those others, therefore he would deserve punishment.”

“In the same way, sire, it is through the deed one does with this mind and matter, be it good or bad, that one takes rebirth in another mind and matter, and therefore, one is not utterly freed from the sequels of one’s actions.”[45]

The explanation of the enlightened monk Nagasena gives a glimpse of contiguity in the operation of cause and effect. Though it is impersonal, it does not fail to carry the effect into some way or other.

If the moral responsibility can be counted only when the subject of one’s actions (the self) reaps the consequence(s) of one’s acts, then the law of kamma would be understood as an existing for moral education only. But it is not the case. Kamma niyāma is an impersonal and impartial law as the same as cittaniyāma- the psychological principle, and utuniyāma- the natural order. Therefore, whether the subject of action is personalized/ identified or not, the consequence(s) of that action remain the same. But it is difficult to explain to a common man, to remind him of a sense of responsibility without a promise of reward for his good deeds and punishment for his immoral ways. Impersonal phenomena operate according to the law of cause and effect (kammaniyāma): “by the arising of this, this is; by the disappearance of this, this ceases” (M. 63).

IV.2 Moral Criteria from an Enlightened Point of View

According to Buddhist ideals, a person who tries to be ‘good’ (behave in an approved way) in order to gain a reward or a favor is not good enough! Why? Because he is just acting towards fulfilling the aims of mundane pursuits, not beyond a self- interest- principle. If he lives a virtuous and respectable life in order to gain respect, fame and a high position in society, that man may only be considered as prudent or wise, but not a saint. A noble person is the one that has given up the belief in personality (sakkāyadiṭṭhi) and abandoned the tendency of selfishness. He is no longer acts with the grandiose impulses, although the tendency of identification and conceit may not be entirely abandoned in the learners (sekkhā). [M.I,1; S.III, 89-7]

In some discourses, when the Buddha teaches Dhamma to the unbelievers in the afterlife, the annihilationist, he applied a different approach. The Buddha asked: do you see that the virtuous ones are respected, approved of and are less likely to get into trouble with the authorities? Do they often have a happy family life and harmony with their neighborhoods? Are these the desirable results of being good? To all, the reasonable answer is positive. The doctrine of nihilism leads to not to belief in morality and the advantage of leading a moral life. From this point of view they live unrestrained in bodily conduct, unrestrained in verbal conduct, and unrestrained in mental conduct. To these people, the Buddha said:

About this a wise man considers this: “If there is no other world, then on the dissolution of the body, this good person will have made himself safe enough. But if there is another world, then on the dissolution of the body, after death, he will reappear in a state of deprivation, in unhappy destination, in perdition, even in hell...Let me assume that there is no other world; still this person is here and now censured by the wise as an immoral person, one of wrong view, who holds the doctrine of nihilism”. If there is other world, thus to this good man there will be two disadvantages of being censured here and now by the wise, and at the breaking of the body he will reappear in misery realm...” [46]

Thus from an empirical approach it is not necessary that there must be a permanent soul bearing the results of one’s actions, and a supreme God with the power of reward and punishment for mankind’s right or wrong conduct for morality to have some value. However, we must keep in mind that morality is not an end in itself, and the criteria of what and how being moral is, in any event, not the same in different cultures and societies. Moralists who desperately seek to protect their beliefs and ideals might be considered as being cruel (to themselves and to others) in another time or in another society. And the narrow-minded persons who are arrogantly convinced that only their beliefs and moral codes are right, and anything else is wrong (idaṃ saccaṃ aññaṃ moghaṃ) is not accepted according to the Buddha’s teaching.

The dogmatic belief that the soul is imprisoned in the body and it becomes impure because of the soiled body, being limited by the body’s size, etc generates the idea of torturing body in order to free the soul. This idea is considered an extreme as it generates pain, and is thus ignoble and unbeneficial (attakilamathanuyogo, dukkho, anariyo, anatthasaṃhito)[47]. It should be avoided in Buddhist practice. Another extreme is identifying the soul with the body which leads one to seek to satisfy all primitive as well as fantastic desires by any means, including those which are immoral. This hedonistic attitude is considered as debased, common, low-minded, ignoble, and unbeneficial (kāmasukhallikanuyogo, hino, gammo, pothujjaniko, anariyo, anatthasaṃhito).

The ethical value of the anatta doctrine lies in the Middle Way (majjhima Paṭipadā) or the Noble Eightfold Path (ariya atthaṅgika magga) in that the main characteristic of this path is adhering to the right view (sammā diṭṭhi). This right view ranges from a conviction in the law of kamma to the knowledge of seeing things as they really are (yathābhūtaṃ- ñāṇa-dassanaṃ), i.e., perceiving them as impermanent (anicca) causing distress (dukkha), and without substantiality (anatta). Thus Buddhist ethics are based not on the dogmatic beliefs, but rather on the ability of discernment between right (kusala) and wrong (akusala), the psychological forces behind right action (kusala mūla) and that of wrong action (akusala mūla). This discernment leads one to realizing the Four Noble Truths, and further, the right knowledge (sammā ñāṇa) and right liberation (sammā vimutti). Right view leads to right thought (sammā saṅkappo) which is free from unwholesome motives (greed, ill-will and cruelty) and negative emotions (obsessive longing- kāmarāga, hatred- byāpāda, fear -bhaya, depression-domanassa, etc..)

Right view is a pre-condition for right thought (sammā saṅkappo); right thought gives rise to right speech (sammā vācā), right action (sammā kammanta), and right livelihood (sammā ājivo) which are the three constitutions of higher morality (Sīla sikkhā). To be virtuous (sīlavā) and skillful needs another three attributes: right effort (sammā vāyamo), right thoughtfulness (sammā sati), and right concentration (sammā samādhi). The Buddha on many occasions spoke about the threefold trainings (sīla, samādhi, and paññā) as fundamental and pre-requisites for each other[48]. The Noble Eightfold Path or the Threefold Training (Tisso-sikkhā) is the path of self-reliance, it is to be gradually developed. And here the point of anatta -egoless is high lighted as a conditional and supplementary aspect of existence in the course of self-evolution. There is nothing such as a (permanent) soul that has been implanted into a sentient being by a supreme God; and there is no such thing as purity occured by chance as advocated by the immoralists.

IV.3 “I do not dispute with the world”...

As it is stated by Professor Karunadasa : “According to Buddhism, the object of higher knowledge is not a higher reality, but the phenomenal world.” This statement is very meaningful, especially in the context of Pāli Nikāya whose many passages I have quoted. But how can the khandhas, the phenomenal world, which is always stressed as impermanence, insecurity, and non-self in Buddhism, be the object which man seeks refuge? Where would his refuge be after all? Since the world of sense-experiences is regarded as “on fire”[49], is the Buddha’s intention to throw men into totally confusion and depression?

Bhikkhus, I do not dispute with the world; rather, it is the world that disputes with me. A proponent of the Dhamma does not dispute with anyone in the world. Of that which the wise on the world agree upon as not existing, I too say that it does not exist. And of that which the wise in the world agree upon as existing, I too say that it exists (nāhaṃ, bhikkhave, lokena vivadāmi, lokova mayā vivadati - Na, bhikhave dhammavādī keraci lokasmiṃ vivadati. Yaṃ, bhikkhave natthisammataṃ loke paṇditanaṃ, ahaṃpi taṃ ‘natthi’ti vadāmi. Yaṃ bhikkhave, atthisammataṃ loke paṇditānaṃ, ahaṃpi taṃ atthi’ti vadāmi”)[50]

Here, once again, the approach is the middle way. The Buddha did not break with the conventional expression, but he just pointed out the fact that universal laws which ‘the world of phenomena’ (lokadhammā) have to undergo. The Buddha did not deny the existence of the individual as totally non-existing, but in terms of five aggregates as follows:

Form that is permanent, stable, eternal, not subject to change: this is the wise on the world agree upon as not existing...Perception...volitional formations...consciousness that is permanent, stable, not subject to change...”: this is the wise on the world agree upon as not existing, and I too say that it does not exist.

“And...form that is impermanent, suffering, subject to change: this the wise in the world agree upon as existing, and I too say that it exists. Feeling...perception... volitional formations... consciousness.....”: this the wise in the world agree upon as existing, and I too say that it exists. [51]

In this light, the doctrine of anatta is understood in connection with ‘impermanence, distress, and subject to change’. It does not “exist or not exist” nor is it thought of as “to be or not to be”, but it is more important to contemplate how it actually exists and what it should really be. For arguing on the existence and non-existence of the ‘self’ or soul, or Tathāgata, an enlightened being is considered as futile, not conducive to one’s spiritual upliftment.[52] Perhaps, in the same context the Buddha told a group of nobles (Bhadrakumārā, Mhv. Vin III, P.) that they should search for themselves rather than searching for a woman. (Taṃ kiṃ maññatha vo, kumārā, katamaṃ nu kho tumhākaṃ varaṃ- yaṃ vā tumhe itthiṃ gavesayyātha, yaṃ vā attānaṃ gavesayyāthā’ti.)

Many scholars argued that there is a ‘self’ (attā) that the Buddha directed these young people (kumārā) to search for as their ‘true selves’ in order to attain true happiness. In my opinion, the Buddha’s intention is to get these nobles to ‘look inside’, to be introspective and realize the truth through their knowledge of discernment within their own framework of mind and body, not to be turn outwardly to the objective world (for example, by searching for a woman). For the path of self-realization is to be realized on the basis of one’s own personal components (khandhas) that they are impermanent in order to eliminate the tendency of conceit (mānānusaya), that they are imperfection in order to quench the thirst of craving after them (taṇhā), that they are empty of a controller in order to relinquish personal view (sakkāyadiṭṭhi).

To him, O Meghiya, who comprehends impermanence, the comprehension of no soul manifests itself. And to him who comprehends no soul, the fantasy of an ‘I’ presiding over the five aggregates is brought to destruction, and even in this present life he attains Nibbāna. (Anicca saññino meghiya anatta saññā santhāti; anatta saññino samugghātaṃ pāpunāti dittheva dhammā nibbānaṃ.)[53]

In M.18, Madhupiṇḍika sutta, when being asked what sort of doctrine that he is advocating, the Buddha answered:

The sort of doctrine, friend, where one does not keep quarreling with anyone in the cosmos (na kenaci loke viggayha tiṭṭhati) with its devas, Maras, and Brahmas, with its contemplatives and priests, its royalty and common folk; the sort [of doctrine] where perceptions no longer obsess the brahman who remains dissociated from sensual pleasures, free from perplexity, his uncertainty cut away, devoid of craving for becoming and non-existence. Such is my doctrine, such is what I proclaim.

If, monk, with regard to the cause whereby the perceptions and categories of complication assail a person, there is nothing there to relish, welcome, or remain fastened to, then that is the end of the obsessions of passion, the obsessions of resistance, the obsessions of views, the obsessions of uncertainty, the obsessions of conceit, the obsessions of passion for becoming, and the obsessions of ignorance. That is the end of taking up rods and bladed weapons, of arguments, quarrels, disputes, accusations, divisive tale-bearing, and false speech. That is where these evil, unskillful things cease without remainder. [54]

What is experienced by the enlightened practitioners as non-self (partially by the learners (sekkhā) and completely by the Arahant (asekkhā)) is not a matter of intellectual discussion or consideration. The Buddha did in many cases, threw his listeners into confusion[55]. A modern observation by Sue Hamilton is as follows:

Several scholarly studies have draw together extensive textual evidences suggesting that early Buddhist texts do in fact allow for a conventional every day self, and it was at this conventional level that the teaching applied (Collins 1982; Harvey 1995). But they did not satisfactorily explain what to me was the more fundamental problem: how can one experience that one is or has no self? With the best will on the world, I could not but think that in any context out side of a madhouse the very idea of it is incoherent. In offering alternative interpretations, some scholars went so far as to suggest that the point of anatta teaching was that one should not confuse any conventional notion of self with one’s eternal & real transcendental self (Prez- Remon 1980). But eternalists are coupled with annihilationists in the texts and get equally short shift.[56]

We will return to this subject in the following sections in which the doctrinal points are examined from a psychological perspective.

IV.4 Is Suffering a Subjective Experience?

Why does impermanence of saṅkhāra dhammā give rise to suffering? The nature of attachment and clinging is identical to self-identity and self-assertion. This tendency is to hold on to the object as permanent, solid and reliable, but the nature of compounded things is ever changing which proves completely contrary to the self-perception of an ordinary man. Therefore, suffering and insecurity is a subjective experience in one who holds on to an (wrong) attitude that things are ‘I’, ‘me’, and ‘mine’. If there were no self-identity, and no self-consciousness, then the fact of impermanence would not affect anybody. A paragraph in The Parable of the Water-snake discourse illustrates this point very well.

What do you think about this, monks? If a person were to gather or burn, or does as he pleases with the grass, twigs, branches and foliage in this Jeta grove, would it occurs to you: the person is gathering us, he is burning us, he is doing as he pleases with us?”- No, Lord. What is the reason for this? It is that, Lord, this is not our self nor what belong to self [57]

This is a very clear illustration of how craving and clinging affect us in dealing with things and events. If there is no identification, there is no affection or rejection, and therefore no suffering at whatever happens ‘out there’. This is not indifference, but impartiality and equanimity. It is rather easy for a man not to identify himself with the inanimate objects outside which do not belonging to him, and his attitude to these things is indifference, but for the personality-components (khandhas) which he mistakenly hold on to as his self (attā), it is not so easy to give them up, and whatever is dear or desirable to a man (attaniya) is also not so easy to give up. At this point we should recall a sutta from SN. IV, 42: 11, in which the Buddha asked a layman named Bhadraka whether there is there any person in his village that on account of whose executed, fined, imprisoned or censored, had not made him suffer, worry, distressed, etc? The lay man answered: Yes, there are people who are not dear to him; if they were fined, executed, imprisoned or afflicted will not affect him; but if the same bad things happened to his son, or his wife, it would be a great suffering for him. At this point, the Buddha said:

This, headman, is a principle by seeing, understanding immediately here and now, (and) this also true in the past and future that: whatever suffering arose in the past, all that arose rooted in desire, with desire as its source, for desire is the root of suffering. Whatever suffering will arise in the future, all that will arise rooted in desire [...]

Even so, the Buddha reminded his listeners not to view any personal component (khandha) as ‘self’ (atta) or what belongs to self (attaniya) for doing so would bring themselves unnecessary disturbance (dukkha). In this interpretation, we can say that inerent in the anatta doctrine is a kind of pragmatism.

The above quoted texts prove that the experience of suffering is subjective and the cause of suffering is a subjective view and emotional reactions. The world taṇhā covers two aspects: craving for desirable objects and aversion to undesirable objects. Because there is a notion of an ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘mine’ so there is like and delight in what is agreeable or desirable to the “I”; the ‘I’ takes delight and thinks: “it pleases me”. When there is a time when“thing(s) went wrong”, it is disagreeable or undesirable to the ‘I’, so one’s subjective reaction is: “why I! why me!” In other words, the ego inclines to what affirms its preconception, and rejects whatever threatens to injure its image. Sure enough, an egoistic attitude always takes things personally. This is a real disease and a great disaster that personal belief (sakkāyadiṭṭhi) would bring one. Beside that, the tendency of an ‘I’ is expended from ‘I’ to ‘my family’, to ‘my class’, ‘my nation’, ‘my race’, ‘my religion’, etc. If any thing happens that is agreeable to this ‘mine’, one is happy and contented; but when there is a threat of harming or loosing what is ‘mine’, one gets upset and grieves.

Happiness and suffering are not merely bodily sensations but deep-rooted under these sensations is a notion of a subject (attā) who enjoys in or bears them out. This underlying notion gives rise to attachment (rāgānusaya) to whatever pleases the self, and aversion (paṭighānusaya) to what is displeased (by itself). Thoughts such as “I am happy”, a feeling of elation, conceit and superiority is also aroused; or alternatively, a feeling of “I’m unhappy” generates a feeling of depression, rejection, inferiority, etc which is incited by mānānusaya and dependent on circumstances.

If we view that everything is dependent arising, we would neither be upset or elated in what is happening ‘in’ and ‘out there’. As Hamilton suggested: “If all things are dependently originated, then it follows that nothing has independent selfhood”[58] If we view that things exist relatively, interdependently, we would come to accept whatever situation with a right attitude that we are not the owner, nor the controller, and therefore, from where does self-blame or self-conceit arise? This view also rules out the possibility of a Lord or a Creator who supervises over the world, who is responsible for the good and evil in the world. Therefore who is there to please or to be pleased, who is there to be annoying or to be annoyed? Nobody! That is why all enlightened persons (Arahants) are not affected by the ups and downs of feelings and circumstances as in the verse in “The Discourse on Blessing”:

Phuṭṭhassa lokadhammehi - cittaṃ yassa na kampati
Asokaṃ virajaṃ khemaṃ - etaṃ mangalamuttamaṃ

“He whose mind does not flutter by worldly contingencies,
Sorrowless, unstained, (and) tranquil – This is the highest Blessing.”

The world remains as it is but the enlightened one changes his attitude and his outlook on the world. If confusion, aversion, and attachment get man involved in the world and suffered its consequences, the knowledge ‘seeing things as they are’ [yathābhūtaṃ ñāṇa dassanaṃ] will exempts the enlightened one from the delusion of a separate dumped soul who helplessly behold the up and down of the world. When illusory perception is expelled, he is no more confused by the way the world is, he is neither taking delight in successes, nor is he repelled by failures, he does not expecting things to be the way he wished; without expectation he is not agitated; non-agitated, he accepts things as they are with calm and balance mind. With a detached attitude, he is no more involved, and not subjected to the causal process. This is called ‘the deliverance from samsāra’ [vimokkha].

 V. Social Application of Anattā Doctrine

As we have seen earlier, self-assertion and self-assumption often give us unnecessary disturbances. Ambition (chanda) and other defilements (kilesa) which associate with ego-consciousness not only cause inner conflicts, they also extend to social level. Wars and social disruptions are often caused by different views and ideologies. View and taking side spring from the notion of attā, ego and its corollary, attānīyā “mine”. Because of there is the notion of a self, it naturally extends to things that belong to the self, and view is established:

Is it, monks, self’s property (when) there is self? Yes, Lord. Is it self’ when there is self’s properties? Yes, (it is). Monks, self and self’ properties are not to be found in reality, this is the established view.” [Attani vā bhikkhave sati' attaniyaṃ me'ti assāti? 'Evaṃ bhante.' Attaniye vā bhikkhave sati 'attā me'ti assāti? Evaṃ bhante. Attani ca bhikkhave attaniye ca saccato thetato anupalabbhamāne yampidaṃ diṭṭhiṭṭhānaṃ][60]

The egoistic attitude first conflict within itself when desires and ambitions meet with ‘reality principle’ (Freudian), but the desire to feed that very ego and the ambition to expand it naturally lead to conflict with others. The nature of ego is expansive, therefore when there are two egos, they tend to crush down each other!

In association, the more selfless each party is, the more harmonious and satisfactory the relationship give. The first schism in the Sangha happened during the Buddha time at Kosambi. There was a learned monk (bahusutta) who has many followers lived in the same monastery with some other monks who were severe and somewhat over strict in Vinaya. One day the learned monk committed a small offence, not knowing that it is an offence, he did not confess to other monks. The over strict monks criticized his behavior, but the former did not make any apology (due to his pride of being learned), the latter made a campaign for a legal procedure to put the learned monk in probation. Not withstanding it, the followers of the learned monk also made another campaign to outrage the over strict monks. Thus both parties tried as best as they could to insult and denounce each other. In this incidence, those monks who are very strict in Vinaya did so because of their ego, thinking that they are very good at discipline and expecting other monks respect and follow them suit. The learned monk and his followers also thought that they are the followers of Dhamma, wise and learned therefore they are to be exempted from the censure of others. Herein, even the followers of the same teaching under the same Master (the Buddha himself) but have a different view in practice, one party stuck to Vinaya- the discipline code, and the other stuck to the Dhamma- the philosophical aspect of Teaching that enough to cause schism and conflict.

Another community lived not so far from the Kosambiya monks, consist of venerable Anuruddha, venerable Kimbila, and venerable Nandiya was in a very different atmosphere. They all abided by the Dhamma, meditating, loving and respecting each other. Their concord and harmony are described as “blending like milk and water, viewing each other by loving eyes” [samagga sammodamānā avivadamānā khīrodakībhūtā aññamaññaṃ piyacakkhūhi sampassantā].[61] This pleasant atmosphere was achieved because each member of the community surrenders his own ego, and lived for the sake of his own and the other’s well being and for the happiness of the all.

Why should I not give up my own mind (idea) and live by the mind (ideas) of these venerable ones- thinking thus, I surrender my mind to and live for the sake of these venerable ones. Lord, though we are different in body but we have the same mind.” [yaṃnūnāhaṃ sakaṃ cittaṃ nikkhipitvā imesaṃ yeva ayasmantānaṃ cittassa vasena vatteyya’nti. So ko ahaṃ bhante sakaṃ cittaṃ nikkhipitvā imesaṃ yeva ayasmantānaṃ cittassa vasena vattāmi. Nānā hi kho no bhante kāyā, ekaṃ ca pana maññe cittanti.]

This is, perhaps the most beautiful illustration of egoless attitude and behavior which is the most essential for healthy relationships and social non-conflict. The sutta describes how these venerable ones lived in concord and their practice though individuality (they go for alms separately, meditating, and not talking much to each other.) but conduce to the harmony of community as well as making the environment where they live more beautiful, more pleasing. All the monks in the context achieved their ideal of religious life of the renunciants (pabbajjas). With regards to this characteristic of ‘living alone’ (ekaṃ viharati) and ‘living together in harmony’ (sangha samaggi), we see the anatta ideal or non-egoistic practice is the perfect way for the growth of personality, and the best method of forming a harmony society.

Anatta idea is not an ideology or a mere theory, but it is a healthy attitude and wholesome behaviors within each individual and to be applied in society. If the egoistic attitude lead to haughty and aggressive behaviors which is always harmful to relationships and disrupt the peaceful atmosphere, the selfless thinking and practice give chance to grow in healthy relationship(s) and create peaceful society. This is not a utopian strategy; it is a way of living in Buddhist communities. A passage in AN affirms this as follows:

Again, the brāhmin says thus: “I have no part in anything any where, and herein for me there is no attachment to anything; so saying the brāhma speaking the truth, not falsehood. Therein he has no conceit of (being) a “recluse”, or a “brāhmin”, or “better am I”, or “equal am I”, or “inferior am I”. Morever, by fully comprehending the truth contained in that saying, he is bent on the practice of having nothing at all. [Puna ca paraṃ...brahmano evaṃ āha: nāhaṃ kvaci kassaci kiñcanaṃ tasmiṃ na ca mama kvaci katthaci kiñcanaṃ natthī’ti; iti vadaṃ brahmano saccaṃ āha no musā. So tena na samaṇo ti maññati na brahmaṇo ti maññati na, na seyyo’haṃ asmī’ti maññati na sadiso’haṃ asmīti maññati na hīno’haṃ asmīti maññati].[62]

Commenting on this passage, Johanson wrote: “this is a description of a man basing his life on a null hypothesis: there is no individual unity, only impersonal processes, there is no self-assertion, not even a comparison with others, no social role to play, no function to fill...”[63]

This description is to a recluse, or a contemplative man in seclusion, and it is true, not false to state that he does not find any self or soul as an abiding entity to be identified with in any form, any where, nor is there any property of that “I” to call ‘mine’. He does not think himself as a recluse, not as a priest, or comparing himself with others in term of superior, equal or inferior. In other words, this man has realized the non-self nature of phenomena, and he has destroyed the tendency to conceit (mānānusaya). Johanson was right when he stated that ‘only impersonal processes, there is no self-assertion’, but he had over reached when stated that ‘no social role to play, no function to fill...’ Actually the contemplation on the non-self nature of phenomena is for the purpose of destroying ego-centered attitude which, as I has stated earlier, is very harmful and gross (as in the first incidence cited). Seeing the non-self nature in phenomena does not imply that the person feels empty and meaningless as concern to social role or his position in the community. We have seen in the second instance cited, these venerable Anuruddha, Kimbila, etc. still live a very meaningful life. There are many examples of the Arahants who have realized the Anatta, rooted out the tendency of conceit, they still lived and served the community at their best ability. In such a community of the noble ones there are no conflict, dissension, or fighting, but peace and harmony prevail among them and around them.

The way to live in peace and harmony with oneself as well as with others starting with dāna- giving or generosity, is a first noble practice in Buddhism. By giving one over comes selfishness and stinginess. Dāna is sharing with and helping others what one has with a loving and generous mind; this is a practice to counteract with selfish and protective tendency. But dāna as a means of business, i.e hoping something in return, or investing for one’s own fame and gain, is not an act of reducing the ego. Next to dāna is sīla- moral practice (not killing, not stealing, not to be unfaithful, not telling lie, not taking alcohol or drug). The sīla should be practiced with a sense of respecting others and social norms; it is not something taken on to make the ego bigger. If one wrongly practices sīla and associates it with one personality, this does very litter, if not at all, for the progress on the Path. Like suta, learning, acquiring knowledge, if wrongly grasp at, it only proves harmful to one’s self as well as to others. In the Alagaddupamasutta(MN) he Buddha warned his disciples that there are some foolish persons (ekacca moghapurisā) who learn the Dhamma, master the Dhamma for the sake of argument, and make his learning an ego, not examining the profound meaning of the suttas, their knowledge only harmful to themselves, and it conduce to long term suffering. [tesaṃ te dhammā duggahitā dīgharattaṃ ahitāya dukkhāya samvattanti]. This wrong attitude of acquiring knowledge is compared with some one wrongly catching a snake by its tail; the snake will coin up and bit him sooner or later.

The same right attitude should be practiced in mental development (Bhāvanā). Bhāvanā is a general word to denote the practice of meditation, either insight (vipassanā) or concentration (samatha). Insight meditation is the contemplation on the rise and fall (anicca) of phenomena which induces the beholder to see it as unsatisfactoriness (dukkha), and finally comes to the conclusion that what is impermanence and suffering is not-self (anatta). I will discuss on this topic in details in next chapter, here something deserve our attention is that bhāvanā, especially concentration (samatha or jhānas) is a kind of saṅkhārā called āneñj’ābhisaṅkhāra we have mentioned in the preceding chapter, is a training to enforce mental ability. The practitioner might, in the course of practice, have a very strong tendency to identify with his mental ability, and thus, the ego, though refined but became even bigger! To be reborn in the Brahma world one has to acquire the imperturbable mental training called jhānā. Because of their great ability and priority in the Brahma world, some Brahma thinks that he is the Creator, the Highest Self. This is considered as a wrong perception, an illusion in the Buddhist right view. Perhaps referring to this attitude of accumulating merits [puṇṇābhisaṅkhārā and āneñj’ābhisaṅkhārā] for a better existence in the human world or in the heavenly world, and to strike for the realization of Anatta or for the final deliverance of Nibbāna, A.E. Johansons states that it is a ‘double standard’ in Buddhism[64].

How to explain this ‘double standard’, as Johansons puts it, we have discussed in the previous section on ethical significance of Anatta doctrine, it need not to repeat here. In the Buddhist Path, the Noble Eightfold Path, the accumulation of merits which is still under the spell of āsavas- the intoxications of the self-preservation (bhavataṇhā) [quoted text in MN, Mahācattālīsasutta], should be led by right view (sammādiṭṭhi pubbaṅgama). The accumulation of merit (puññā kiriyā patha) is a gradual path to cultivate a healthier and nobler personality. The highest level of right view is seeing things as they are (yathābhūtaṃ dassanaṃ), i.e. see things as impermanence, suffering, and non-self. Thus there is no conflict or problematic as some scholars[65] worrying about in Buddhist doctrine and moral standard as well as its social practice.

Another way to view anatta in social relationships which give one the advantage of maintaining balance, impartiality, and non-prejudice attitude is through seeing the causality. Personality and events that we meet are not to be praise or blame for its sheer ‘thing that happen to me’ (if we personalized it and attributed to it solid and unchanging quality). A rational out look with a profound reflection will reveal that personality and events are, but conditioned phenomena as we have discussed in khandha sections. Here, the impersonality and non-substance should apply not only to the components of personality (khandhas), but also to things (dhammā) and events (saṅkhārā). This was emphasized by the Buddha many times as the Middle Way that he had discovered. The Middle Way is to avoid two extremes of eternalism (attributed to the soul-attā and the Creator- God or Brahma), and annihilism (materialists and individualism). In a wider connotation of the law of causality, personalities, things and events are all viewed as interrelated, interconnected, and interacted. Thus nothing comes into existence by itself, nothing exists independently, but, yet, nothing ceases without significance. In this light should the Dependent Origination (paṭiccasamuppāda) be viewed. In this way we do not see a person or event to be blame or praise, but trace back to its cause(s), seeing it as impersonal dhammā, conditioned phenomena, thus freed ourselves from partiality and prejudices.

In association, when something unsatisfactory happen, we should command on the act or event itself, not the person involved or making a personal attack. This is a prudent strategy for the maintenance of relationship. It bases on the understanding of ‘self-interest principle’, not on the selfless principle which is based on wisdom [yathābhūtaṃ ñāṇadassanaṃ] that advocated in higher standard of Buddhism. [And this is the big difference between prudence and wisdom].


[1] Gnanamoli Thera, Anatta according to Theravada. The Wheel No 204, (BPS 1986).

[2] I.B. Horner 1936. P. 236, 238. Translated “attā va attānaṃ atimaññesi” as ‘declare the Self by the self’, and she did the same with many other passages (S.II, 68; A. IV, 405; V.182) where these two forms of ‘attā’ occur with the connotation of ‘the highest Self’ in capital letter, and the lesser being by a normal letter.

[3] S.III, 22: Evaṃ me rūpaṃ hontu, evaṃ me rūpaṃ mā ahosi. The same statement is applied for vedanā, saññā, saṅkhārā, and viññāṇa.

[4] M.II. 263 (M 106): suññamidaṃ attena vā attaniyena vā'ti. Tassa evaṃ ; nāhaṃ kvacani kassacī kiñcanattasmiṃ, na ca mama kvacani kismici kiñcanatatthi'ti1 tassa evaṃ paṭipannassa tabbahulavihārino āyatane cittaṃ pasīdati [PTS P. 264]

[5] Bhikkhu Bodhi 2000. P. 873.

[6] S.IV, 35: 238, The simile of vipers.

[7] S.IV. 54: Yasmā ca kho Ānanda suññaṃ attena vā attaniyena vā tasmā suñño loko vuccati. Kiñca...suññaṃ attena vā attaniyena vā? Cakkhuṃ kho Ananda suññaṃ attena vā attaniyena vā rūpa...cakkhuviññānaṃ, cukkhusamphasso suñño attena vā attaniyena vā ..pe...Yaṃpidaṃ mano samphassapaccayā uppajjati vedayitaṃ sukhaṃ vā dukkhaṃ vā adukkhamasukhaṃ vā tampi suññaṃ attena vā attaniyena vā.

[8] Lankavatara Sutra, a well-known Mahāyana text discusses of seven kinds of emptiness: “What is the emptiness of individual marks? It is that all things have no [such distinguished] marks of individuality and generality. In consideration of mutuality and accumulation [things are thought to be realities], but when they are further investigated and analysed, they are non-existence, and not predictable with individuality and generality; and because thus no such idea as self, other or both, hold good, the individual marks no longer abstain. [...]

What is meant by the emptiness of self-nature? ... it is that all things in their self-nature are unborn, hence the emptiness of self-nature,...

What is meant by the emptiness of no- works? It is that ht skandhas are nirvaṇa itself, and there is no work doing in them from the beginning. Therefore one speaks of emptiness of no-work.

What is meant by the emptiness of work? It is that the skandhas are devoid of an ego and its belongings, and go on functioning when there is a mutual conjunction of cause and action....

What is meant by the emptiness of all things in the sense that they are unpredictable? It is the nature of the false imagination is not expressible, hence the emptiness of all things in the sense of their unpredictability...

What is meant by the emptiness in its highest sense of ultimate reality reliable by noble wisdom? It is that in the attainment of an inner realization by means of noble wisdom there is no trace of habit energy generated by all the erroneous conceptions [...]

What is meant by the emptiness of mutual [non-existence]? It is this, when a thing is missing here, one speaks of its being empty (absent) there. For instance, in the lecture hall there are no elephants , no bulls, ... There are seven kinds of emptiness of which mutuality ranks the lowest of all and to be put away by you.

(Verse 76) ... not that things are not born, but that they are not born of themselves, except when seen in the state of Samādhi – this is what is meant by ‘all things are unborn”. To have no self-nature is, according to the deeper sense, to be unborn. That all things are devoid of self-nature means that there is a constant and uninterrupted becoming, a momentary change from one state of existence to another; seeing this, Mahāmati, all things are destitute of self-nature. ..

(verse 137)... I always preach the emptiness which is beyond eternalism and nihilism; samsāra is like a dream and a vision, and karma vanishes not.”; T.D. Suzuki’s translation. P. 67-68, Indian Publication 2006.

[9] MhNdA 261; DhsA 126; Vism; S. V, 6

[10] I conceived this idea when studying the Abhidhamma and Visuddhimagga some time ago. Later when I read The Dhamma Theory of Prof. Y.Karunadasa, the idea appeared clearer to me.

[11] D.34: Dhammo hi, ..., seṭṭho janetasmiṃ diṭṭhe ceva dhamme abhisamparāyañca

[12] DA.I, 22

[13] DhsA. 38: Hetumhi ñāṇaṃ dhammapañisambhidā

[14] S. IV, Khandhasamyutta, puppha sutta.

[15] Steven Collins 1978: Selfless Persons, P.78: “The intellectual position of specialist Buddhism is quite specific; despite its being a system which emphasizes to an almost exaggerated degree individual responsibility in ethics (through the strict application of karma) and which offer a way to complete salvation (in nirvāna), there is a radical refusal to speak of a self or permanent person in any theoretical contexts. It is, I think, fruitless for a scholar to try to explain, in his own more or less technical terms, what is “mean” and what such a salvation can be. Rather he should see Buddhism’s ideological stance as a social, intellectual, and soteriological strategy. Among those Buddhists who are concerned with and pay explicit allegiance to the doctrine of anattā, it provides orientation to social attitude and behavior (particularly vis-ā-vis Brahmanical thought and the ritual prists who purveyed it), to conceptual activity in the intellectual life of Buddhist scholastics, and to soteriological activity in the life of virtuoso meditators.”

[16] Steven Collins 1978, p.116

[17] SN. IV, 44: 10: kinnu kho bho gotama, atthattāti. Evaṃ vutte bhagavā tuṇhi ahosi. Kiṃ pana bho gotama, natthattāti. Dutiyampi kho bhagavā tuṇhi ahosi. Atha kho vacchagotto paribbājako uṭṭhāyāsanā pakkāmi. Atha kho āyasmā ānando acirapakkante vacchagotte paribbājake bhagavantaṃ etadavoca: kinnu kho bhante bhagavā vacchagottassa paribbājakassa pañhaṃ puṭṭho na vyākāsīti. Ahañca ānanda vacchagottassa paribbājakassa atthattāti puṭṭho samāno atthattāti vyākareyyaṃ, ye te ānanda samaṇabrāhmaṇā sassatavādā, tesametaṃ laddhi abhavissa. Ahañca ānanda vacchagottassa paribbājakassa natthattāti puṭṭho samāno natthattāti vyākareyyaṃ. Ye te ānanda [PTS P. 401] samaṇabrāhmaṇā ucchedavādā, tesametaṃ laddhi abhavissa. Ahañca ānanda, vacchagottassa paribbājakassa atthattāti puṭṭho samāno atthattāti vyākareyyaṃ, apinu me taṃ ānanda, anulomaṃ abhavissa ñāṇassa uppādāya. Sabbe dhammā. Anattāti no hetaṃ bhante. Ahañca ānanda. Vacchagottassa paribbājakassa natthattāti puṭṭho samāno natthattāti vyākareyyaṃ, sammohassa ānanda, vacchagottassa paribbājakassa bhiyyo sammohāya abhavissa: ahu vā me nuna pubbe attā, so etarahi natthīti.

[18] Sital Pradad, A Comparative Study of Jainism and Buddhism (Sri Satguru Publication, India) P. 47; 1982.

[19] Op.cit. p. 15: “This clearly shows that Nirvana itself is such, or there is something in “Nirvana” condition which is uncreated. And it cannot be anything else than a pure soul”.

[20] Op.cit .p. 61.

[21] Dhp. 236: So karohi dīpaṃ attano; khippaṃ vāyama paṇḍito bhava. Niddhantamalo anaṅgaṇo; dibbaṃ ariyabhumiṃ ahisi.

It is Dhammapāda 379, not 378 as B.T. Prashad sai, the original Pāḷi: Attanā coday’attānaṃ; patimāse attaṃ attanā. So attagutto satimā, sukhaṃ bhikkhu vihāhisi.

[22] DN 9, Poṭṭhapādasutta: (1) Tatrekacce evamāhaṃsu: "ahetu appaccayā purisassa saññā uppajjanti'pi nirujjhanti'pi. Yasmiṃ samaye uppajjanti, saññi tasmiṃ samaye hoti. Yasmiṃ samaye nirujjhanti, asaññi tasmiṃ samaye hotī"ti ittheke abhisaññānirodhaṃ paññāpenti. (2) Tamañño evamāha: "na kho pana me'taṃ bho evaṃ bhavissati. Saññā hi bho purisassa attā. Sā ca kho upeti'pi apeti'pi. Yasmiṃ samaye upeti, saññī tasmiṃ samaye hoti. Yasmiṃ samaye apeti, asaññī tasmiṃ samaye hotī"ti ittheke abhisaññānirodhaṃ paññāpenti

[23] D. I, 189 [PTS]

[24] DN. Poṭṭhappādasutta. [PTS Page 192] .

[25] S. III, 47: 5: Ye hi keci bhikkhave, samaṇāvā brahmaṇā vā anekavihitaṃ attānaṃ samanupassamānā samanupassanti, sabbe te pañcupādānakkhandhe samanupassanti, etesaṃ vā aññataraṃ. Katame pañca: Idha bhikkhave, assutavā puthujjano ariyānaṃ adassāvī ariyadhammassa akovido ariyadhamme avinīto, sappurisānaṃ adassāvī sappurisadhammassa akovido sappurisadhamme avinīto, rūpaṃ attato samanupassati rūpavantaṃ vā attānaṃ attati vā rūpaṃ, rūpasmiṃ vā attānaṃ, vedanā...saññā...saṅkhārā...viññāṇaṃ...Iti ayañceva samanupassanā asmīti cassa avigataṃ hoti. Asmīti kho pana bhikkhave avigate, pañcannaṃ indriyānaṃ avakkanti hoti: cakkhunadriyassa sotindriyassa ghānindriyassa jivhindriyassa kāyindriyassa. Atthi bhikkhave mano atthi dhammā, atthi avijjādhātu avijjāsamphassajena bhikkhave, vedayitena phuṭṭhassa assutavato puthujjanassa asmīti'pissa hoti, ...

A translation of Thanissara Bhikkhu, Access to Insight source.

[26] S. III, 22: 47: tiṭṭhanti kho pana bhikkhave, tattheva pañcindriyāni, athettha sutavato ariyasāvakassa avijjā pahīyati, vijjā uppajjati, tassa avijjāvirāgā vijjuppādā asmīti'pissa na hoti. Ayamahamasmiti'pissa na hoti, bhavissanti'pissa na hoti, na bhavissanti'pissa na hoti, saññī bhavissanti'pissa na hoti, asaññī bhavissanti'pissa na hoti, nevasaññīnāsaññi bhavissanti' pissa na hotī’ti.

A translation of Thanissara Bhikkhu; see also in Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation: The Connected Discourses of the Buddha. Widom 2000. P 886.

[27] D. II, Mahānidāna sutta: Kittā vatā ca, Ananda, attānaṃ samanupassamāno samanupassati? Vedaṇaṃ vā hi, ānanda, attānaṃ samanupassamāno samanupassti.’Vedanā me attā’ti. Na heva kho me vedanā attā, appaṭisaṃvedano me attā’ti; iti vā hi, ānanda, attānaṃ samanupassamāno samanupassati. Na heva kho me vedanā attā, no pi appaṭisaṃvedano me attā, attā me vedayati, vedanadhammo hi me attā’ti.

[28] D. II, Mahānidāna sutta. Para. 121

[29] Bhikkhu Bodhi. The Great Discourse on Causation (BPS 1995), p. 34, 35.

[30] DN. 15: Yato kho panānanda, bhikkhu neva vedanaṃ attānaṃ samanupassati, no pi appaṭisaṃvedanaṃ attānaṃ samanupassati, no pi 'attā me vedayati vedanādhammo hi me attā'ti samanupassati, so evaṃ asamanupassanto na ca kiñci loke upādiyati, anupādiyaṃ na paritassati, aparitassaṃ paccattaṃ yeva parinibbāyissati. Khīṇā jāti, vusitaṃ brahmacariyaṃ, kataṃ karaṇīyaṃ, nāparaṃ itthattāyā'ti pajānāti

A translation of Thanissara Bhikkhu, www.accesstoinsight.com

[31] The compendium of Buddhism. P.63. Burmese Ṭipitaka committee, Penang 2000.

[32] Ref. op. cit. p.30

[33] This book is compiled around 1st BC.

[34] The Question of King Milinda, an Abrid. Translation by N.K.G.Mendis, BPS 1993.

[35] S.22: 86: Taṃ kiṃ maññasi anurādha, rūpaṃ tathāgato'ti samanupassasīti? No hetaṃ bhante. Vedanā tathāgato'ti samanupassasīti no hetaṃ bhante. Saññā tathāgato'ti samanupassasīti no hetaṃ bhante. Saṅkhārā tathāgato'ti samanupassasīti no hetaṃ bhante. Viññāṇaṃ tathāgato'ti samanupassasīti no hetaṃ bhante. Taṃ kimmaññasi anurādha, ayaṃ so arūpī avedano asaññī asaṅkhāro aviññāṇo tathāgato'ti samanupassasiti? No hetaṃ bhante. Ettha ca te anurādha, diṭṭheva dhamme saccato thetato tathāgate anupalabbhiyamāne kallannu te taṃ vyākaraṇaṃ "yo so āvuso, tathāgato uttamapuriso paramapuriso paramapattipatto taṃ tathāgato aññatiramehi [PTS. 119] catuhi ṭhānehi paññāpayamāno paññāpeyya "hoti tathāgato parammaraṇāti vā na hoti tathāgato parammaraṇāti vā hoti ca na ca hoti tathāgato parammaraṇā'ti vā neva hoti na na hoti tathāgato parammaraṇāti vā"ti? No hetaṃ bhante. Sādhu sādhu anurādha, pubbe cāhaṃ anurādha, etarahi ca dukkhañce va paññāpemi dukkhassa ca nirodhanti.

[36] R.C. Childers: Dictionary of the Pāḷi language, P.265, 267.

[37] Ch’an and Zen teaching, P 10. Charles Luk.

[38] Human types, P. 53, PTS,- puggala paññatti

[39] S XII, 35

[40] MN, Mahāhatthipadopamasutta, para.306: Ajjhattikañceva ...cakkhuṃ aparibinnaṃ hoti, bāhirā ca rūpā āpāthaṃ āgacchanti, tajjo ca samannāhāro hoti. Evaṃ tajjassa viññāṇabhāgassa pātubhavo hoti.

[41] D. I. 105

[42] S. II, 12: 61: Varaṃ bhikkhave, assutavā puthujjano imaṃ cātummahābhūtikaṃ kāyaṃ attato upagaccheyya, natveva cittaṃ. Taṃ kissa hetu: dissatāyaṃ bhikkhave, cātummahābhūtiko kāyo ekampi vassaṃ tiṭṭhamāno, dve'pi vassāni tiṭṭhamāno, tīṇi'pi vassāni tiṭṭhamāno, cattārī'pi vassāni tiṭṭhamāno, pañca'pi vassāni tiṭṭhamāno, dasa'pi vassāni tiṭṭhamāno, vīsati'pi vassāni tiṭṭhamāno, tiṃsampi vassāni tiṭṭhamāno, cattārīsampi vassāni tiṭṭhamāno, paññāsampi vassāni tiṭṭhamāno, vassasatampi tiṭṭhamāno [PTS. 095]bhuyyo'pi tiṭṭhamāno. Yañca kho etaṃ bhikkhave vuccati cittaṃ itipi mano itipi viññāṇaṃ itipi. Taṃ rattiyā ca divasassa ca aññadeva uppajjati aññaṃ nirujjhati.

Tatra bhikkhave sutavā ariyasāvako paṭiccasamuppādaṃ yeva sādhukaṃ yoniso manasikaroti: iti imasmiṃ sati idaṃ hoti. Imassuppādā idaṃ uppajjati. Imasmiṃ asati idaṃ na hoti. Imassa nirodhā idaṃ nirujjhati: yadidaṃ avijjāpaccayā saṅkhārā saṅkhārapaccayā viññāṇaṃ. Viññāṇapaccayā nāmarūpaṃ. Nāmarūpapaccayā saḷāyatanaṃ. Saḷāyatanapaccayā phasso. Phassapaccayā vedanā. Vedanāpaccayā taṇhā. Taṇhāpaccayā upādānaṃ. Upādānapaccayā bhavo...

[43] Buddhist Dictionary, p.157,-8; 197,-8; Steven Collins 1978: Selfless persons. P. 177.

[44] M. III, Mahapaṇnamasutta: Atha kho, aññatarassa bhikkhuno evaṃ cetaso parivitakko udapādi: 'iti kira bho, rūpaṃ anattā, vedanā anattā, saññā anattā, saṅkhārā anattā, viññāṇaṃ anattā anattakatāni kammāni kamattānaṃ phusissantīti. Atha kho bhagavā tassa bhikkhuno cetasā ceto parivitakkamaññāya bhikkhū āmantesi: ṭhānaṃ kho panetaṃ bhikkhave, vijjati yaṃ idhekacco moghapuriso avidvā avijjāgato taṇhādhipateyyena cetasā satthusāsanaṃ atidhāvitabbaṃ maññeyya:...

[45] The Question of King Milinda, an Abrid. Translation by N.K.G.Mendis, BPS 1993. p. 59

[46] M. 60, Apaṇṇaka sutta, para. 95: “sace kho natthi paro loko, evamayaṃ bhavaṃ purisapuggalo kāyassa bhedā sotthimattānaṃ karissati. Sace kho atthi paro loko, evamayaṃ bhavaṃ purisapuggalo kāyassa bhedā paraṃ maraṇā apāyaṃ duggatiṃ vinipātaṃ nirayaṃ upapajjissati. Kāmaṃ kho pana māhu paro loko... atha ca panāyaṃ bhavaṃ purisapuggalo dittheva dhamme viññnaṃ gāreyho: “dussīlo purisapuggalo micchādiṭṭhi natthikavādo”ti. Sace kho attheva paro loko, evaṃ imassa bhoto purisapuggalassa ubhayattha kaliggaho”.

[47] Dhammacakka pavattana sutta, S. III; Vin. Mahāvagga.

[48] DN, Mahāparinibbāna sutta.

[49] Aditta sutta, S. IV, Sabba vagga.

[50] S III, 2, phuppha sutta, khandha vagga. Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation. P. 949.

[51] Ibid. Bhikkhu Bodhi translation The connected Discourse of The Buddha. P. 949. Wisdom Publication. 2000.

[52] . See Poṭṭhapāda sutta, DN; Culamālunkya sutta, MN ii. “kasmā cetaṃ...mayā abyākataṃ. Na hetaṃ...atthasamhitaṃ, na ādibrahmacariyakaṃ, na nibbindāya na virāgāya na nirodhāya na upasamāya na abhiññāya na sambodhāya na nibbānāya samvattanti.”

[53] AN.IX, 3, Meghiyasutta.

[54] M.18: Yatonidānaṃ bhikkhu purisaṃ papañcasaññāsankhā samudācaranti, ettha ce natthi abhinanditabbaṃ abhivaditabbaṃ ajjhositabbaṃ, esevanto bhavarāgānusayānaṃ, esevanto paṭighānusayānaṃ, esevanto diṭṭhānusayānaṃ, esevanto vicikicchānusayānaṃ, esevanto mānānusayānaṃ, esevanto bhavārāgānusayānaṃ, esevanto avijjānusayānaṃ, esevanto daṇḍādāna satthādāna kalaha viggaha vivāda tuvamtuvaṃ pesuñña musāvādānaṃ. Etthee pāpakā akusala dhammā aparisesā nirujjhantīti.

[55] M. I. 1, Mūlapariyāya sutta; M. I, 35, Cūlasaccaka sutta; DN, Dighanakka sutta.

[56] Sue Hamilton: Early Buddhism: a New Approach...P. 22. Black stone 2002. London.

[57] M.I,140-141; S.III, 34: Taṃ kiṃ maññatha bhikkhave, yaṃ imasmiṃ jetavane tiṇakaṭṭhasākhāpalāsaṃ, taṃ jano hareyya vā daheyya vā yathāpaccayaṃ vā kareyya, api nu tumhākaṃ evamassa: amhe jano harati vā dahati vā yathāpaccayaṃ karotīti? 'No hetaṃ bhante.' Taṃ kissa hetu? 'Na hi no etaṃ bhante attā attaniyaṃ vā'tī. Evameva kho bhikkhave yaṃ na tumhākaṃ taṃ pajahatha. Taṃ vo pahīnaṃ dīgharattaṃ hitāya sukhāya bhavissati

[58] Sue Hamilton: Early Buddhism: a New Approach... P. 22. (London 2002).

[59] Mangala sutta, Khuddaka Nikaya.

[60] M.22, Alagaddupamasutta.

[61] M.I, Cūlagosingasutta.

[62] A. II (PTS), 177; adapted translation from A.II, 206 by F.L. Woodward; (Indian Edition 2006).

[63] E.A. Johansons 1978. p. 166.

[64] E.A. Johansons 1978. p.

[65] Sue Hamilton 2002. P. 69; Steven Collins 1982. P.


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Sincere thanks to Venerable Nguyen Huong Dhammananda for giving the digital files (Binh Anson, 01-2009).

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