Recommended Posts

The Importance of Anatman/Anatta in Buddhism

 

Many people question whether the Buddha secretly taught a self. Although the vast majority of Buddhists suttas and sutras deny the existence of a self, some people believe that this is a provisional teaching and not to be taken as an ultimate teaching. I offer some conceptual thoughts on the matter, understanding that concepts cannot really capture the teaching. After many years of study with great masters, I have come to realize that not only is no self important to Buddhism, it is at the very heart of the teachings. I encourage people who are really interested to find a proper teacher and practice to fruition.

 

1. From a Mahayana point of view, the self is empty. People often mistake “emptiness” and think “nothingness.” In English, when we say the glass is empty, we mean nothing is in the glass. But this is not what the Buddhists mean. Buddhist usually explain emptiness in one of two ways:

 

      a.     Emptiness means the lack of an independent, unitary, permanent self.

 

      b.     Emptiness means that what appears is not graspable.

 

These two are not opposed. If something is graspable, then it would have an independent, unitary, permanent self. Likewise, if something has an independent, unitary, permanent self, it should be graspable. If we can grasp something, it should be fixed and findable.

 

2. The first consequence of emptiness is change or impermanence. Because nothing is fixed, everything changes. If things has fixed, permanent selves, they would not change (i.e. they would be permanent). In other words, ice would always be ice. Atoms couldn’t change position or move. Our bodies would never age, grow sick, or die. From a spiritual point of view, this is good news. If a person is ignorant, such a person would always be ignorant. If a person is bound, such a person would always be bound. But because these things are empty, this is not the case. Freedom is possible.

 

Even more important, creation is possible. From a Buddhist point of view, because there is nothing fixed, anything can arise. In this case, the universe has arisen.

 

3. The second consequence of emptiness is dependent origination. Dependent origination means that everything is interdependent. Remember, emptiness means there is no independent self. If things were independent, they could not have any effect on one another. An ice cube in a glass would never melt, or cool the ice because the ice would always be ice and the water would always be water at a certain temperature. Consider all the causes and conditions that led me to write this and you to read it: first we need a universe, a sun, the earth, a body, parents, civilization, etc. Everything has come together to produce this moment.

 

Emptiness allows for relationship. Without emptiness, two things would never relate to one another. Things would either be permanently the same, or permanently different. There could be no interaction.

 

4. The third consequence of emptiness is karma. Actions have consequences. If people had fixed, permanent, immutable selves, then there would be no point in spiritual practice. One would be as one is, and there is nothing that can be done about. There would be no problem with murder, theft, and lying.

 

5. The fourth consequence of emptiness is dissatisfaction, or dukkha. Because nothing is permanent, nothing can give us permanent satisfaction.

 

6. The fifth consequence of emptiness are the Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble truths state that there is suffering, there is a cause for suffering, there is a cessation to suffering, and there is a way to end suffering. From a Buddhist point of view, the problem is clinging and grasping. However, because things are empty, we cannot cling or grasp onto them. This fundamental ignorance is the cause of suffering. Accordingly, we try to cling and grasp onto what cannot be clung to or grasped. The solution in this case is to see things are they are (empty) and cease clinging and grasping (cessation). 

 

7. As stated, emptiness is also not nothingness--- this would be nihilism. So how to things appear? The typical Buddhist examples are to compare the mind to space and phenomenon to a dream.

 

     a.     The mind is compared to space. It has no fixed characteristics. Because it has no fixed characteristics, anything can appear. Unlike space, the mind has an ability to know the objects that arise within it. Some people are unable to understand this, because they think that one prevents the others. If the mind knows, it must have a self. Or if it is empty of characteristics, it must know. However, experience shows that this is not the case: the mind is empty, and yet it knows. Consider the electron that can appear sometimes as a wave and sometimes as a photon. Things don’t always fit into tidy boxes.

 

     b.     Objects are compared to dreams. When we dream at night, we may have bodies, eat, swim, run and play like we would normally do. The substance of dreams and the substance of the waking state are the same: we experience colors, sounds, sensations and so on. However, it is easy to see that a dream is completely unreal.

 

Accordingly, the doctrine of emptiness is woven very deeply into Buddhist teachings. If we eliminate emptiness and no self, then the entire teaching is incoherent. There is a lot of resistance to some of these Buddhist teachings. One of my teachers has said that when we find resistance to a teaching, we often find the ego trying to steer us away from teachings that threaten it. And there is no more threatening teaching to the ego than no self.  

 

I know other paths take other approaches. I am not putting forth the Buddhist path as the supreme or only path, but only as one possibility.

  • Like 4
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

This is incorrect.

You use the words mind, emptiness, Buddhism, self quite casually, what exactly do you mean?
"mind" ... do you mean dreaming garbage words in your head, or do you mean active problem solving thinking?
"emptiness" ... of what ?   And is it empty, or just different from your normal mad state?
"Buddhism" the many religions, or the path and teachings of a particular man 2000 years ago?
"self" ... which self ?   Do you mean a human being or the entire universe?

You do not attempt even to clarify these things.
This is very bad, it means you are not using any intelligence, yet you want to talk about important things.

 

His Path

Buddha had tried a step by step path of the 8 jhanas with his two teachers.   But this failed. 

If he had taught after that point, his teaching could be codified in a step by step teaching, but he decided that after this step by step instruction he still was not in the final place.

So he continued his journey, having a few adventures, and then finally upon exhaustion he just sat under a tree for 5 weeks in meditation, and something happened.

What happened ?

Nobody knows and he did not know.   If he knew he would have just said, oh that was the 9th jhana, and he would have codified it.

But he did not know, yes he fought some demons and touched the earth and remembered innocense, but could not codify what happened to him.

 

His Teaching

His two foremost students Sariputta/Mogalana were taught by him and they entered enlightenment after 7 and 13 days.

This is not possible today.

Which means that today teachers cannot do what Buddha did.

Most probably he simply transmitted the state to them directly, and they meditated to remain absorbed inside it.

Today most dharma teacher fools can do not 1/1000th a percent of this.

They can do nothing.   

Apart from a very small number that are not advertising openly.

 

On No Self

How can there be a teaching if there is no self?
Who is going to be taught?
Who will be saved?
Nobody.
This is just bloody stupid, are you a monkey or human being?
You can't walk around this planet repeating idiotic things.

"We are going to teach and study and practice because we don't exist !!!"
ffs enough with this already !

This is not Buddhism.

 

The Transformation

Buddha from his story existed in several states;

State 1. as a young man

State 2. after he saw the 4 sights

State 3. after the 8th jhana

State 4. after enlightenment

 

Who's state is changing?  

How can the state change?
The only conclusion is that it must be the state of an individual.

 

Specifically

Emptiness simply refers to the silence a human being experiences after his unconscious mind becomes conscious and no longer speaks on its own.   It sure feels "empty" and a relief, but it is not empty, it is just present.
It was because you were not present and not owning your mind that it was talking on its own.

Dependent Origination: is simply a mistake.   The internal structures of centres of the mind are very subtle.  Most people when doing any form of self-enquiry do so with the expectation they will find no-self.   They are taught and conditioned with the answer, and so when they go to investigate they are too stupid to do it properly.

Any proper investigation will show you that what is inside you ... is you.   You beyond the mind.

In other words when your thinking is absent, you are still there.

 

Remedies

Firstly going to stupid "dharma talks" with donkeys sitting on the throne repeating garbage is not a teaching.

You must find an enlightened teacher and be taught from him or her.

This involves transmission as well as direction.

There are still many in India of various types in you hunt around.

And there is nothing spiritual in repeating garbage, for a good cause.

Garbage is just garbage.

Also there is really no need to know any of these spiritual definitions.

Who really cares if there is self or emptiness or buddhism or what ever.

Who cares, it doesn't mean sh**.

What counts is if you are in the right place.

 

Anyway, sorry if this offends everyone.

 

 

Edited by rideforever
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 2
  • Haha 1
  • Confused 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, dwai said:

 

The problem with Buddhist/Advaita comparisons are that the fruits are ultimately non-conceptual. How to compare non-conceptually?  

 

1 hour ago, rideforever said:

This is incorrect.

You use the words mind, emptiness, Buddhism, self quite casually, what exactly do you mean?
"mind" ... do you mean dreaming garbage words in your head, or do you mean active problem solving thinking?
"emptiness" ... of what ?   And is it empty, or just different from your normal mad state?
"Buddhism" the many religions, or the path and teachings of a particular man 2000 years ago?
"self" ... which self ?   Do you mean a human being or the entire universe?

You do not attempt even to clarify these things.
This is very bad, it means you are not using any intelligence, yet you want to talk about important things.

 

As the Zen master said "YOU HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING!!!!" 

 

By mind, I mean that which is clear and knowing. Clear means objects such as perceptions, thoughts, emotions, etc. can arise. Knowing is just that--- knowing the objects that arise. 

 

Emptiness--- as stated, it is empty of a permanent, unitary, independent self.

 

Self--- all of them!

 

If you wish to continue to push the words until they lose all meaning, go ahead--- it will lead to a nice experience of the emptiness of words. 

 

If you want to freshen up the post and ask some relevant questions, feel free to do so. Or not. Your choice, because well--- emptiness!

 

1 hour ago, rideforever said:

 

Anyway, sorry if this offends everyone.

 

 

 

:lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, forestofemptiness said:

 

The problem with Buddhist/Advaita comparisons are that the fruits are ultimately non-conceptual. How to compare non-conceptually?  

 

If you read the article, it's not really a comparison. It is aimed to dispel misconceptions and strawman positioning of "atman" :)

As you know there are many approaches to pointing to the non-conceptual. 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Non-conceptualisation ? How do you describe or compare it ?   Easily, that's how.

 

India is a real place, but you buy a guidebook say the Lonely Planet India.   And you read this guidebook and then you get on the fing plane and go to India.

It's that simple.

 

All this spiritual masturbation people talking about concepts and non-duality and emptiness, it is masturbation of the brain for unintelligent people.

This is not spirituality, it's a stupid game.

The answers are obvious.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, rideforever said:

This is incorrect.

|

|

|

Anyway, sorry if this offends everyone.

 

 

 

Quote

All this spiritual masturbation people talking about concepts and non-duality and emptiness, it is masturbation of the brain for unintelligent people.

 

:rolleyes:

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, rideforever said:

What happened ?

Nobody knows and he did not know.   If he knew he would have just said, oh that was the 9th jhana, and he would have codified it.

But he did not know, yes he fought some demons and touched the earth and remembered innocense, but could not codify what happened to him.

 

The tradition says that he was enlightened to interdependent origination and inherent emptiness. 

 

In my opinion, the fact that many people today take the cause for the effect, meaning they try to understand interdependent origination and inherent emptiness in order to get enlightenment is indicative of the fact that we don't really know how it's done. 

 

But the "myth of enlightenment " is still there: he did not experience the atman. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

6 minutes ago, Cheshire Cat said:

But the "myth of enlightenment " is still there: he did not experience the atman

How could he? He IS the Atman :) 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, dwai said:

 

How could he? He IS the Atman :) 

 

The idea of Buddhist cultivation is that enlightenment is an actual word-less experience of a transcendental state beyond the realms of both thinking and not-thinking, while the perception of an Atman is mostly deductive reasoning and rational analysis. 

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, Cheshire Cat said:

 

The idea of Buddhist cultivation is that enlightenment is an actual word-less experience of a transcendental state beyond the realms of both thinking and not-thinking, while the perception of an Atman is mostly deductive reasoning and rational analysis. 

 

 

Atman cannot be perceived. The one who perceives is Atman :) 

In any case, I didn't want to troll the Buddhist forum with Atman posts. I just thought I'd post that article of mine, because most buddhists seem to misunderstand what Atman means...

Edited by dwai
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, dwai said:

Atman cannot be perceived. The one who perceives is Atman :) 

In any case, I didn't want to troll the Buddhist forum with Atman posts. I just thought I'd post that article of mine, because most buddhists seem to misunderstand what Atman means...

Perhaps a new thread? 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, rideforever said:

All this spiritual masturbation people talking about concepts and non-duality and emptiness, it is masturbation of the brain for unintelligent people.

This is not spirituality, it's a stupid game.

The answers are obvious.

 

 

I don't know the causes behind the way you are posting here, but rest assured that the peace and happiness we seek is not found in using harsh speech with strangers on the internet. It is not wise, skillful, funny, or socially decent. It seems that you have a strong connection with Buddhism --- a negative connection is still a connection. If you want to uncover its treasures, you would need to find the right teacher (for you) who can guide you to the proper realization. If it doesn't suit you, then there is no use in trying to sow doubt among others--- I would suggest simply moving on to a tradition or a teacher who can give you teachings you can use and apply. 

 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Cheshire Cat said:

The tradition says that he was enlightened to interdependent origination and inherent emptiness. 

 

In my opinion, the fact that many people today take the cause for the effect, meaning they try to understand interdependent origination and inherent emptiness in order to get enlightenment is indicative of the fact that we don't really know how it's done. 

 

But the "myth of enlightenment " is still there: he did not experience the atman. 

 

Yes ... "the tradition" says this and that.

This is complete BS.

There is no "the tradition".

There is one man who reach enlightenment and then he pulled several people with him into enlightenment in 1 or 2 weeks.

This is only possible through transmission.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
Quote

 

India is a real place, but you buy a guidebook say the Lonely Planet India.   And you read this guidebook and then you get on the fing plane and go to India.

It's that simple.

 

 

This means that you successful describe things every day ... which are non-conceptual.

Because everything in reality is non-conceptual, and that does not stop us describing them 24/7.

 

Edited by rideforever

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, rideforever said:

 

This means that you successful describe things every day ... which are non-conceptual.

Because everything in reality is non-conceptual, and that does not stop us describing them 24/7.

 

 

Have you ever had a moment when the words and paradigms fell away?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Quote

If you wish to continue to push the words until they lose all meaning, go ahead--- it will lead to a nice experience of the emptiness of words. 

 

:)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

A very well written OP. 

 

Anattman is very important.  The Buddha was enlightened to the doctrine of dependent origination which is an understanding that has many levels,  one of them being that all things are interdependent. 

 

This interdependence is also within the things that the Buddha taught;  because all 5hings are interdependent,  if you remove the teaching of no self from the doctrine the other truths fall apart. 

 

The doctrine of conditioned arising/dependent origination is all a student of Buddhism needs to concern themselves with,  and when it is understood one will understand impermanence,  no-self,  and emptiness.  When a person does not understand no-self they do not understand the rest because an understanding is dependent on interdependent parts. 

 

 

Edited by ion
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites