A Checksum For The Buddhist Spiritual End Game


To me, the example of the Buddha can give a better indication of what the end result of the practice looks like. While his example is present in every sutta, i find the following to be quite indicative:

Relieving Cunda’s Remorse

  1. Then the Blessed One spoke to the Venerable Ananda, saying: “It may come to pass, Ananda, that someone will cause remorse to Cunda the metalworker, saying: ‘It is no gain to you, friend Cunda, but a loss, that it was from you the Tathagata took his last alms meal, and then came to his end.’ Then, Ananda, the remorse of Cunda should be dispelled after this manner: ‘It is a gain to you, friend Cunda, a blessing that the Tathagata took his last alms meal from you, and then came to his end. For, friend, face to face with the Blessed One I have heard and learned: “There are two offerings of food which are of equal fruition, of equal outcome, exceeding in grandeur the fruition and result of any other offerings of food. Which two? The one partaken of by the Tathagata before becoming fully enlightened in unsurpassed, supreme Enlightenment; and the one partaken of by the Tathagata before passing into the state of Nibbana in which no element of clinging remains. By his deed the worthy Cunda has accumulated merit which makes for long life, beauty, well being, glory, heavenly rebirth, and sovereignty.”’ Thus, Ananda, the remorse of Cunda the metalworker should be dispelled.”

  2. Then the Blessed One, understanding that matter, breathed forth the solemn utterance:

Who gives, his virtues shall increase; Who is self-curbed, no hatred bears; Whoso is skilled in virtue, evil shuns, And by the rooting out of lust and hate And all delusion, comes to be at peace.


To me the checksum is zero. That is emptiness.
Please read Chula Sunnata Sutta and Maha Sunnata Sutta.l


Settling into stillness means non-striving, but not striving isn’t proof of not having a self if that makes sense. Striving is possible without a self.


Confidence, motivation, mindfulness, concentration, and insight starts as faculties, and develop into powers. All the factors build-up on each other.


I didn’t say this - you said it in the quote cited above.

I think it’s important Mat, to actually look carefully at what I am sharing and not read things into it that have not been stated or, implied.


The above three quotes have not striving connected to not having a self which is the cause for my response above. Maybe you didn’t intend it?


It might be helpful to go step-by-step so as not to get confused about what is being said?

The extracts - from me - you posted above, are about the sense of self and, it’s absence. As far as I know, there’s a sense of being someone - this is commonplace?

The sense of self seems to be connected with the notion of being a ‘doer’. It’s not the case that striving just takes place without attributing it to someone?

There’s the sense - or notion - that somebody, the doer, is doing the striving. This happens - correct?

It’s a misunderstanding, the somebody who is the ‘doer’ - is that clear?

I can’t tell the difference between what you are saying about this and, what I have said or, tried to say.

You seem to insist that there’s a difference?

The only difference seems to be: I am talking about personality-belief and, you don’t seem to have mentioned it or, how it manifests in the process of striving and, how it’s attenuated when we let go, when we are very calm and clear - why?

You don’t seem to be interested in making these connections - is that correct?

The sense of self - personality belief - is attenuated as we get calmer and clearer. It goes into abeyance in deep natural stillness. It is completely subverted at stream entry.

I can’t see what’s controversial about this?


If there’s mindfulness in/out of meditation an awareness of these kinds of happenings may take place. If there’s investigation of what happens this should be clear and apparent - here and now?


:rofl: :tada::cloud_with_lightning::sparkler:


Yes it’s common, but there was never a self before or after stream entry. Striving can happen. The self didn’t do the striving and stream entry doesn’t change it.


And, the absence of striving doesn’t change this fact - either. It’s possible that you have missed the point but, that’s OK - all good.

We can do a P.M. chat if you want to understand what the point is with regard to my comments. We’re nearly there! :heart_eyes:


We can put your observation aside now as we both agree with regard to that fun-fact.

The point of difference is this: I am drawing attention to the role of ‘sakaya-ditthi’ in misconceiving Dhamma-inquiry.

What is the misconception?

It’s the belief’ that the path unfolds as a consequence of the actions of a ‘doer’ - a somebody. We agree about this?

Now, what are the implications that flow from this? That’s what I am exploring!

When this misconception is not questioned it can reduce practice to some kind of self-help exercise. We may then, wonder if we have the right instructions, are we doing it right, how can I make improvements on my performance in order to get the results I want.

We don’t get anything as a consequence of waking up. We aren’t even interested in getting anything. Why? Because awakening is not a ‘thing’ that we get! We are nobody’s going nowhere. The Arahant sees this clearly and, we don’t. That’s the difference - I hope this is clear?


Seeing that the self isn’t real, is part of the insights required for stream entry. The other two fetters or samyajana requires further deepening of the spiritual faculties: verified confidence, determination, mindfulness, hindrance free samadhi, and insight into origination and cessation.


Stream entry involves seeing through personality-belief. In order to have a chance of arriving at such a profound shift in knowledge and vision it’s important that we start with a coherent and consistent view of practice that correlates with the goal.

If, someone was to conceive of the path as a self-help exercise. If they were seeing their practice as something that they were doing - as a doer - to make improvements on their personal performance. There’s a fundamental mismatch between their self-view and where the Dhamma takes us.

It’s helpful to ask questions about personality-belief from the beginning.

Would you point this out or, would you ignore this? Would you reflect on how Dhamma-inquiry involves another approach. Something subtle and profound.

It’s not a self-help exercise - plain and simple.

To think of the Dhamma in this way is rather shallow and superficial. We need to get a proper understanding of what the Dhamma is really about or, waste a lot of valuable time and energy.


This is a reminder to keep the focus on ideas, using the EBTs as substantiation.

Please keep it non-personal, it is not about convincing anyone of anything, winning arguments, or making judgements about others understanding.



Yes, but it seems rather than questioning the existence of the self the Buddha approached it via the aggregates. This is an easygoing approach and the Buddha in this has already done some of the thinking around it for us by naming the things that we are most likely to identify as the Self. Note that contact is an exception. We might think we sense contact but not many would think we are contact.

No it isn’t. It’s a vipassana process with great depth-

Mindfulness of working of the senses
Identifying the aggregates in sense stimuli
Seeing the impermanence of each of the aggregates + seeing how they arise from causes,
Impermanence means dukkha
Both those means no self [causation also means no self]
Cessation [Nibbana] - the fruit of stream entry. See the Anatta lakkhana sutta AN22.59


I don’t see this as mutually exclusive - either/or. They go together like :raised_hand: in glove. In fact, it’s two ways of saying the same thing.

If we investigate experience, that which we take to be ‘I’, me and, mine, we will discover the fact that it’s merely a passing show that belongs to nobody, that is nobody.

This helps us to understand what personality-belief is about - it’s a case of mistaken identity.

When this kind of apprension/recognition* takes place we are definitely practicing in a way that accords with the Dhamma.

I really don’t understand what you seem to think and feel is problematic in this but, it happens over and over again.

(See below) the Anatta lakkhana sutta:

"Bhikkhus, feeling is not-self…

"Bhikkhus, perception is not-self…

"Bhikkhus, determinations are not-self…

“Bhikkhus, consciousness is not self. Were consciousness self, then this consciousness would not lead to affliction, and one could have it of consciousness: ‘Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.’ And since consciousness is not-self, so it leads to affliction, and none can have it of consciousness: ‘Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.’”

The preceding sutta-extract seems to subvert the notion that there’s a ‘doer’ - my-self - that is in control of experience, calling the shots.

In the light of the teachings, notions like: ‘I’ am practicing something, I am ‘doing’ this, I am ‘doing’ that, I am doing well, I am doing poorly is, complete nonsense.

After seeing this clearly, how could there be a reversion to a way of thinking about Dhamma-inquiry, as if, it had something to do with a pet-project that somebody undertakes, they are ‘pulling the strings’ and, making things happen? It’s a made-up world, a ‘story’ that people live by and, nothing more.

It makes no sense at all - IMO - but don’t pay much attention to this ‘unless’ you want to wake up?

There’s always the danger that this may actually happen i.e. awakening, if we correct our erroneous views of self and other. It’s worth investigating and, care-ful reflection. It’s safe - not a problem.

understanding, grasp, comprehension, realization, recognition, appreciation, discernment, perception, awareness, cognizance, consciousness, penetration.


I haven’t heard this story before - do you have the sutta reference please?

I got this funny image of someone trying to following the IKEA instructions and getting really frustrated. They throw the instruction leaflet and all the bits and pieces up in the air and collapse onto the carpet in the ultimate act of letting go of the project. When they sit up: Wow! The bookcase has assembled itself. … Sorry, not a helpful contribution, just thought I’d lighten the tone. … Sometimes we simply have to accept that the way we see things and the way other people see those things aren’t the same.

So who is striving? :rofl:


I found this on the net, will also post the site (below).

“Apart from what we can glean from the poems themselves and the suttas of the Va"ngiisa-sa.myutta, we know very little about the Venerable Va"ngiisa himself. The commentary (ThagA III 180-81) says he was a brahmin by birth and that, prior to meeting the Buddha, he made a living by tapping the skulls of deceased people and telling thereby where the owners had been reborn. The Buddha tested him by presenting him with several skulls, including that of an arahant. He was successful with his first few guesses, but when he came to the arahant’s skull he was mystified, for an arahant is not reborn anywhere. He decided to enter the Order to discover the secret. He was ordained by the Elder Nigrodhakappa and later became an arahant. The commentary adds that after composing some verses in praise of the Buddha he gained a reputation as a poet.” - John D. Ireland

With the pace of technological change self-assembling bookcases are just around the corner.


Hi @Jhana4

The final destination for a person who follows the Awakened One is total unbinding (extinguishment). This is the purpose for a mendicant (bhikkhu) who has gone forth.

MN 44 (Thanissaro): “For the holy life gains a footing in unbinding, culminates in unbinding, has unbinding as its final end.”

And unbinding requires release, release requires awakening.

MN 44 (Thanissaro): “And unbinding (extinguishment) comes

Release lies on the other side of clear knowing.”

“What lies on the other side of release?”

“Unbinding lies on the other side of release.”

“What lies on the other side of unbinding?””

SN 45.5 (Bodhi): “For, bhikkhus, it is for the full understanding of suffering that the holy life is lived under me.”

And awakened to what? The four noble truths!

MN 63 (Bodhi): “And what have I declared? ‘This is suffering’—I have declared. ‘This is the origin of suffering’—I have declared. ‘This is the cessation of suffering’—I have declared. ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering’—I have declared.

“Why have I declared that? Because it is beneficial, it belongs to the fundamentals of the holy life, it leads to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna. That is why I have declared it.”

A consistently repeated map of the path to awakening and release is found throughout the pali nikaya. It’s the noble eightfold path.

SN 45.5 (Bodhi): “And what, bhikkhus, is that path, what is that way for the full understanding of this suffering? It is this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view … right concentration. This is the path, this is the way for the full understanding of this suffering.”

SN 56.11 (Bodhi): “And what, bhikkhus, is that middle way awakened to by the Tathagata, which gives rise to vision … which leads to Nibbāna? It is this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.”

In detail how to practice the noble eightfold path:

DN 2 (Thanissaro): “There is the case, great king, where a Tathāgata appears in the world, worthy & rightly self-awakened… And as for another visible fruit of the contemplative life, higher and more sublime than this, there is none.””


About how to know if there are still hindrances (covetousness, ill will & anger, sloth & drowsiness, restlessness & anxiety, and uncertainty), it’s part of the practice of right mindfulness (especially: alert) which equals the four establishings of mindfulness (body, feelings, mind, phenomena) that include discerning and cleansing the hindrances (DN 22, section of the mind and phenomena).


How to end underlying tendencies: It’s through the four jhanas of right concentration.

MN 44 (Thanissaro): “There is the case where a monk—quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities—enters & remains in the first jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With that he abandons passion. No passion-obsession gets obsessed there.4

There is the case where a monk considers, ‘O when will I enter & remain in the dimension that those who are noble now enter & remain in?’ And as he thus nurses this yearning for the unexcelled liberations, there arises within him sorrow based on that yearning. With that he abandons resistance. No resistance-obsession gets obsessed there.5

There is the case where a monk, with the abandoning of pleasure & pain—as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress—enters & remains in the fourth jhāna: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. With that he abandons ignorance. No ignorance-obsession gets obsessed there.”


How to know if the mendicant will be reborn or not: it’s through the knowledge of the destruction of cankers after the fourth jhana. This knowledge is about the four noble truths. And due to this knowledge, he is released from all sufferings and cankers, then he knows that he is released, the goal of living the holy life is achieved, all tasks are done, nothing more to do.

DN 2 (Bodhi): “When his mind is thus concentrated, pure and bright, unblemished, free from defects, malleable, wieldy, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs and inclines it to the knowledge of the destruction of the cankers.

He understands as it really is: ‘This is suffering.’ He understands as it really is: ‘This is the origin of suffering.’ He understands as it really is: ‘This is the cessation of suffering.’ He understands as it really is: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.’

He understands as it really is: ‘These are the cankers.’ He understands as it really is: ‘This is the origin of the cankers.’ He understands as it really is: ‘This is the cessation of the cankers.’ He understands as it really is: ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of the cankers.’

“Knowing and seeing thus, his mind is liberated from the canker of sensual desire, from the canker of existence, and from the canker of ignorance. When it is liberated, the knowledge arises: ‘It is liberated.’ He understands: ‘Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is nothing further beyond this.’”


The Awakend One had never said “there is no self”.

SN 44.10 (Bodhi): “Then the wanderer Vacchagotta approached the Blessed One … and said to him:

“How is it now, Master Gotama, is there a self?”

When this was said, the Blessed One was silent.

“Then, Master Gotama, is there no self?”

A second time the Blessed One was silent.

Then the wanderer Vacchagotta rose from his seat and departed.

Then, not long after the wanderer Vacchagotta had left, the Venerable Ānanda said to the Blessed One: “Why is it, venerable sir, that when the Blessed One was questioned by the wanderer Vacchagotta, he did not answer?”

“If, Ānanda, when I was asked by the wanderer Vacchagotta, ‘Is there a self?’ I had answered, ‘There is a self,’ this would have been siding with those ascetics and brahmins who are eternalists. And if, when I was asked by him, ‘Is there no self?’ I had answered, ‘There is no self,’ this would have been siding with those ascetics and brahmins who are annihilationists.

“If, Ānanda, when I was asked by the wanderer Vacchagotta, ‘Is there a self?’ I had answered, ‘There is a self,’ would this have been consistent on my part with the arising of the knowledge that ‘all phenomena are nonself’?”

“No, venerable sir.”

“And if, when I was asked by him, ‘Is there no self?’ I had answered, ‘There is no self,’ the wanderer Vacchagotta, already confused, would have fallen into even greater confusion, thinking, ‘It seems that the self I formerly had does not exist now.’””

I think you meant “not self”? For example, each of the five clinging-aggregates is not self, as stated in SN 22.59 (Thanissaro):

“Form, monks, is not self. If form were the self, this form would not lend itself to dis-ease. It would be possible (to say) with regard to form, ‘Let my form be thus. Let my form not be thus.’ But precisely because form is not self, this form lends itself to dis-ease. And it is not possible (to say) with regard to form, ‘Let my form be thus. Let my form not be thus.’

“Feeling is not self.…

“Perception is not self.…

“Fabrications are not self.…

“Consciousness is not self. If consciousness were the self, this consciousness would not lend itself to dis-ease. It would be possible (to say) with regard to consciousness, ‘Let my consciousness be thus. Let my consciousness not be thus.’ But precisely because consciousness is not self, consciousness lends itself to dis-ease. And it is not possible (to say) with regard to consciousness, ‘Let my consciousness be thus. Let my consciousness not be thus.’”


It’s simply “unbinding” (extinguishment) which is the cessation of dissatisfaction (stress, sufferings, discontentment) as in the third noble truth:

SN 56.11 (Bodhi): “Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering: it is the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, nonreliance on it”

Unbinding after released from dissatisfaction (stress, sufferings, discontentment, fetters) is the state of the mendicant who has fully awakened (arahant). He doesn’t have any sufferings though he still experiences pain in the body as he is touched by sickness, injury,…

Total unbinding is the death of that fully awakened mendicant (the arahant), where without the body, he doesn’t experience even pain in the body.


They aim to reduce sufferings in this life and after, not ending sufferings completely. They aim for better happiness that is wholesome, sustainable. That includes in this life time and better rebirth. The way to achieve is practicing part of the noble eightfold path (part of right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood), “affected by taints, partaking of merit, ripening in the acquisitions” (MN 117 - Bodhi)

For the causes and corresponding results, please refer to MN 135; AN 8.40

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