seeking the path
Ye hi keci bhikkhave sama~å vå bråhma~å va anekavihitaµ attånam samanupassamånå samanupassanti, sabbe te pañcupådånakkhandhe samanupassanti, etesaµ vå aññataraµ. (Khandha Saµyutta, 47) Whatever ascetics or recluses, monks, there may be who consider self in various forms, they are all considering the five aggregates of clinging or one of them. All thoughts about self are necessarily, whether the thinker is aware of it or not, thoughts about the five aggregates of clinging; and to think of nibbåna as attå is to think of nibbåna as consisting of one or more of these five aggregates. The second mistake is to believe that there really is such a thing as self. The following text leaves no doubt about the matter. Ahañ c’Ånanda Vacchagottassa paribbåjakassa, Atthattå ti pu††ho samåno, Atthattå ti vyåkareyyaµ; api nu me taµ anulomaµ abhavissa ñå~assa upådåya, Sabbe dhammå anattåti. No hetaµ bhante. (Avyåkata Saµyutta, 10) ‘If, Ånanda, when asked, “Does self exist?”, I had answered the wanderer Vacchagotta, “Self does exist”; would that have been in accordance with the knowledge that I have, “All things are not-self”?’ ‘No indeed, Venerable Sir.’ Whatever the significance of sabbe dhammå anattå (a matter that will be discussed later), it is clear that an affirmative answer to the question ‘Does self exist?’ would not have been in accordance with the Buddha’s knowledge. It is quite evident that ‘nibbåna is attå’ cannot be said. Depending upon whether water is present or not, a piece of cloth may be either wet or dry; there is no third possibility: and it might seem that this alternative applies to all things. Whatever is not wet must be dry; whatever is not dry must be wet. Just so, it may be thought that whatever is not attå must be anattå, and whatever is not anattå must be attå. Since we cannot say ‘nibbåna is attå’, it follows that nibbåna must be anattå. But suppose a hole is made in the cloth by cutting a small piece of material from the middle: though the cloth itself must indeed be either wet or dry, the hole, as such, is neither. A hole is a negative, an absence of some material substance—in this case, of
Published on Jun 26, 2013
Part B includes two early essays (Nibbana and Anatta and Sketch for a Proof of Rebirth) as well as notes from a Commonplace Book and Margina...