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Thread: Conditioned Existence is devoid of any unchanging, inherent self-nature?

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    Forums Member Aasha's Avatar
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    Conditioned Existence is devoid of any unchanging, inherent self-nature?

    Hi,

    Does this basically just mean that everything in existence, including ourselves, are constantly in the process of change and therefore nothing remains fixed from one moment to the next? Is this what the term 'non-self' means?

    I've always struggled to understand the meaning of this word. Is it that we don't have a 'fixed', permanent self or identity?

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    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aasha
    Is it that we don't have a 'fixed', permanent self or identity?
    Yes, goes around that. Try to contemplate how things are impermanent by nature... and of those "things" ours is too. So to get attached, to cling to an identity or to crave for it... sooner or later will lead to Dukkha. Things are at the end, all, unsatisfactory. Discerning about that will prevent us from painful and useless attachments.

    At least this is my actual understanding...

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    Forums Member Aasha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaarine Alejandra View Post
    Things are at the end, all, unsatisfactory.
    Thanks, you're cheery!!

    Yes, that is much as I thought Kaarine...thank you.

    Saw this paragraph on page 26 of the 'Handbook for Mankind' by Buddhadasa Bhikku and liked it:

    ‘Things are more dangerous than fire because we can at least see a fire blazing away and so don’t go too close to it, whereas all 'things' are a fire we can’t see. Consequently we go about voluntarily picking up handfuls of fire which is invariably painful‘.


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    Hi Aasha this might be helpful:

    "Three Universal Characteristics"

    http://www.buddhanet.net/budasa6.htm


    and this :

    "Anatta and Rebirth"

    http://das-buddhistische-haus.de/pag...nd_Rebirth.pdf

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    Forums Member Aasha's Avatar
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    Thanks Aloka-D for the links...

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    Forums Member Element's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aasha View Post
    Does this basically just mean that everything in [conditioned] existence, including ourselves, are constantly in the process of change and therefore nothing remains fixed from one moment to the next? Is this what the term 'non-self' means?

    I've always struggled to understand the meaning of this word. Is it that we don't have a 'fixed', permanent self or identity?
    Yes and yes.

    "Non-self" means no (permanent) self can be found because all conditioned things, including any "self" thoughts & identity, are constantly in the process of change.

    "Non-self" also means, because conditioned things are constantly in the process of change, we can never claim them to be "ours" because the process of change will inevitably take those things away from us; dispossess us.

    We can ask the questions: "Do I have a permanent identity?" "Is my identity today the same as my identity when I was five years old?"

    But permanent peace can be found, namely, Nirvana (the end of greed, hatred and delusion).

    Kind regards

    Element
    Last edited by Element; 28 Jun 11 at 16:51.

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    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aasha
    Thanks, you're cheery!!
    I am enthusiastic about having found the teachings of Buddha... sometimes, I know, over enthusiastic...

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    Forums Member Aasha's Avatar
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    Thanks Element...

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    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aasha View Post
    Hi,

    Does this basically just mean that everything in existence, including ourselves, are constantly in the process of change and therefore nothing remains fixed from one moment to the next? Is this what the term 'non-self' means?
    Hi Aasha,
    Good question. Essentially you are asking about two different things, hence the confusion perhaps.

    If we investigate phenomena in order to establish whether they exist in a particular way, then this will result in an opinion, as any conclusions we reach are intellectually generated - even if we think that we are 100% correct in our conclusions. I don't take issue with this, as we need to make assumptions of all kinds to make sense of our lives and function.

    Anatta, or not-self is (in truth) not a statement of 'ultimate reality' in an intellectual way. It is a direct realisation and there is a vast difference between the two, even if it seems that they are pointing at exactly the same thing. Thinking "all is not-self" won't have any real effect on the defilements. 'Seeing' it however helps eradicate them, as we no longer take ownership of them or nurture them as 'ours'.

    Within the Mahayana system we can run into the same problem. When people claim that everything is "empty of inherent existence", it is mainly seen as an ontological statement of how things "in reality" exist. Then we can conclude that everything is empty and feel good about it. Same problem though, it won't lessen greed, anger or ignorance.

    If you look with more care at what some teachers are trying to convey, you will also see that it describes a process, not an ontology. Self-grasping mind habitually imputes self or other onto raw sense data. It's an innate process, as even animals do this. It's clear that this process is a function of our mind and nothing else.

    This is the real meaning of this "emptiness". Not a statement of "being", rather a discovery that the attributes we impute are all from our own side, not from the object itself. Thus, self and other are empty of possessing the attributes we impute onto them. They are not empty in an ontological sense, as to claim such is paradoxically to impute another attribute! Understanding this lessens the habitual function of the self-grasping mind.

    I hope this helps clear some confusion. Perhaps it's just made it worse

    Namaste
    Kris

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    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    Following Kris post...

    I can't hold a hard intellectual demonstration of this because it goes much more about personal experience, also, personal realization and I do not have still the skills needed to transmit this experiences.

    Before coming to BWB I really was stagnant with the popular books that are at hand in bookstores and where the "empty of inherent existence" is a kind of Christian "creed" that can lead to mental amusement and endless elaborations about things, which has never been the purpose, at least, of the teachings of the historical Buddha.

    Later on, when I started Zazen and, after that, being encouraged to give a sincere look at the teachings of the historical Buddha, aided with the comments of the Thai Forest Teachers where Not Self is the cornerstone of contemplation, something started to become a little bit clear.

    Lets say that doing philosophies, having views and meshing with ontologies is not my best strength. Maybe I have a kind of brain deficiency in that cognitive area. Not Self has been a very revealing experience because, IMO, of its directedness to explore this in our person. Contrary to what one may assume this experience gives the real taste of what the Buddha is really asking about cessation of Dukkha: understanding that there is no real ownership. That at the end we can not own anything because of its impermanent nature and thus its final unsatisfactoriness.

    I think that "empty of inherent existence" is a more sided, gentle, kind and too chatted way to the experience not self and not self is the direct way once and for all.

    Just a few ideas that come to mind...
    Last edited by Esho; 29 Jun 11 at 15:10.

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