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seeking the path

effort of the mind; and the identified entities, the elements of analysis, the dhammå, can only occur in the mental process of analysing experience, irrespective of whether the original entities are mental or material. That is why dhammå only last as long as attention (manasikåra) is being paid to them, and why ‘with the cessation of attention there is the passing away of dhammå’. This suggests a more specific meaning of dhammå, having particular reference to the fourth satipa††håna, namely, ‘elements of mental analysis’. From the discussion in the last paragraph, it is apparent that dhammå as ‘elements of mental analysis’ represents what is common to both dhammå as ‘objects of the mind’ and dhammå as ‘experiences’ (in its widest sense); for ‘elements of mental analysis’ are experiences that have become objects of the analysing mind. We can now formulate a general sense of dhammå that is valid at least within the range of meanings indicated by the Suttas that have been considered: dhammå are ‘objects of mental analysis’. This general sense has been derived, not as an exact definition of dhammå, but as a guide to the implication of sabbe dhammå anattå. When this result is applied, sabbe dhammå anattå becomes ‘all objects of mental analysis are not-self’. Since attå, or self, arises in the first place merely as a delusive figment of the mind, and is then attributed by the deluded mind to its objects—‘the five aggregates of clinging or one of them’—, a statement that mental analysis finds no attå in any of its objects is equivalent to an absolute denial of attå. Remembering this, and also the fact that the mind is the only means there is of investigating anything at all, the foregoing interpretation of sabbe dhammå anattå may not seem unreasonable.8* Cakkhuµ kho Ånanda suññaµ attena vå attaniyena vå: r¨på suññå attena vå attaniyena vå: cakkhuviññå~aµ suññam attena vå attaniyena vå: cakkhusamphasso suñño attena vå attaniyena vå: yampidaµ cakkhusamphassapaccayå uppajjati vedayitaµ sukhaµ vå dukkhaµ vå adukkhamasukhaµ vå, tam pi suññaµ attena vå attaniyena vå. Sotaµ suññaµ…: saddå suññå… Ghånaµ suññaµ…: gandhå suññå… Jivhå suññå…: raså suññå… 8.*  Perhaps the most satisfactory translation of dhamma in this sense is ‘phenomenon’—that of which a sense or the mind directly takes note, immediate object of perception (Concise Oxford Dictionary). ‘All formations are impermanent, all formations are suffering, all phenomena are not-self.’

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Early Writings (Seeking the Path - Ñāṇavīra Thera)  

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...

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