By Johnathon Lee
Let’s see, where did I put myself? I know I’m around here somewhere. I just saw me!
Amusingly, Buddha was afraid that people might think lhat after hearing about anatta. That’d be like a Christian thinking they lost their soul. That’s not what anatta leads to. You’re not going to lose yourself. Well, I hope not.
It doesn’t make sense to talk about what anatta is. It isn’t anything. It’s a useful idea that penetrates ignorance and ends suffering. That’s what it’s always been.
Anatta is always used to refer to things that aren’t the self or soul.
It doesn’t point to the self, uh, itself at all. It’s like when a baby calls every fruits an apple because all apples are fruits. “Apple!”
“No, sweety, that’s an orange.”
“That’s a peach.”
“That’s a booger.”
Buddha said the body isn’t the self, and neither is the mind. These senses aren’t self, thoughts and feelings aren’t self, ideas and impulses, even consciousness isn’t self.
Why? Because they’re all changing. Are you the wind? Are you the river? Are you melting snow? No! You’re you!
Are you forever or for now? Are you here or everywhere? Or maybe never and nowhere? “For now,” and, “here,” feel like the right answers to me, but they’re not.
Look at how you view yourself. Not as you want to view yourself, but as you are. Now, if there was just this moment, would you be like you are now, inside and out? Nope because you believe that you have a past and future, and that belief influences everything we do. If you were something that only exist right now, then you’d be nothing. Are you nothing? You’re something to me.
If you were only here, then how could you think about anywhere else? How could you go somewhere else?
So, we instinctively think the self is something that’s here and there, now and then. It persists through time and space.
With anatta, Buddha is saying that, if that’s what we think, then the mind and body ain’t it. Nothing we see, hear, smell, think, etc. can be it either. So, we wind up with nothing. Fun.
No! Silly gooses. If the self persists and perseveres, then it isn’t nothingness either!
This is all very important because Buddhists range from, “Self is all,” to. “No self at all.” There isn’t one shred of teaching to back that up, and your own experience existing as yourself contradicts it. And ya know what? I’ve made the all-self/no-self mistake too. There’s even evidence of it somewhere on TTB I’m sure.
Buddha doesn’t talk about self at all. You’re not the five skandhas, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t exist.
Buddha talked about what isn’t self, and he talked about the Deathless and the Unborn. Since the body-mind isn’t the self, the self doesn’t die with them. It wasn’t born with them. So, Buddha would’ve disagreed with most atheists.
We’ve now reached the end of my knowledge. If I start talking about the Deathless, then I’m just gonna be bullshitting. Take care!
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