nibbåna and anattå
paridevati, urattå¬iµ kandati, sammohaµ åpajjati. Evaµ kho bhikkhu ajjhattaµ asati paritassanå hot⁄ti. (Majjhima, 22) ‘Might there be anxiety about internal non-being, venerable sir?’— ‘There might be, monk’, the August One said. ‘Here, monk, someone holds this view, “that is the world, that is the self; when I have departed I shall be permanent, enduring, eternal, not subject to change; and like this shall I remain, for ever and ever”. He listens to the Tathågata or his disciple teaching the doctrine (dhamma) for the uprooting of all views, prejudices, obsessions, inclinations, and tendencies, for the calming of all formations, for the relinquishing of all foundations, for the destruction of craving, for dispassion, for cessation, for extinction. It occurs to him, “I shall surely be cut off! I shall surely perish! I shall surely be no more!” He sorrows, is distressed, and laments, and beating his breast and bewailing, he falls into confusion. Thus indeed, monk, there is anxiety about internal non-being.’ Only when the world of the five aggregates is no longer thought of as permanent and unchanging self (and we shall see that the idea of self is merely a mistaken view of the five aggregates), only then will extinction of becoming cease to appear as annihilation of self. The second discourse of the Buddha to the first five monks, the Anatta lakkha~a Sutta (Khandha Saµyutta, 59), is one of the better-known Suttas, and no-one now disputes that the Buddha categorically denied the existence of attå, self or soul, in the five aggregates. But belief in self is strong, and hard to abandon; and many people, forbidden to look for self inside the five aggregates, hope to find it outside;4* and they sometimes come to think that nibbåna must contain, or be, attå. In thinking that nibbåna is attå, two mistakes are made. The first may be seen from this text:
4.* The practice of supposing that the Buddha, in his condemnation of attavåda, only denied the existence of an illusory personal self and approved belief in a real universal Self is sometimes to be met with. This distinction—presumably derived from the j⁄våtman and paramåtman of the Vedanta—is quite gratuitous, since no distinction can be detected in the Pali of the Suttas between a false and a true attå: the Buddha’s Teaching is perfectly consistent without this borrowed interpretation, and its introduction violates the principle of Occam’s razor, or the law of parsimony.
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...