Hi dxm x2
I take the Buddha as my guide. So I’m not really interested in putting him aside.
I’m not really interested in how Buddhists see it, or what they do. ‘Being Buddhist’ is suffering to me, as is any type of ‘being’. To me, it is an example of saññūpadānakkhandā, clinging to one’s ideas/beliefs as the essence/soul (of oneself), via the identification view (sakkāya-diṭṭhi) ‘I am Buddhist’.
I don’t believe there are ‘no-self’ teachings in authentic suttas. That depends on me translating ‘an-attā’ as ‘not soul’ , just as your belief there are those teaching would be based on translating it as ‘not-self’. As I understand it, the PTS says it is mostly used as ‘not-soul’, rather than ‘not-self’ (see: http://dsalsrv02.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.0:1:533.pali). Thus they say: ‘anattā (n. and predicative adj.) not a soul, without a soul. Most freq. in combn. with dukkha & anicca.’
To me, doubt about ‘self’ (ahaṃ), is clearly taught to be unwise attention here: https://suttacentral.net/en/mn2#5 especially paragraphs: sc7.
’…Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the present thus: ‘Am I? Am I not?.. (also translatable as ‘do I exist’ and ‘do I not exist’)
…Etarahi vā paccuppannamaddhānaṃ ajjhattaṃ kathaṃkathī hoti: ‘ahaṃ nu khosmi? No nu khosmi?..’
khosmi = kho-asmi, therefore we have: ahaṃ nu kho asmi and (ahaṃ) no nu kho asmi
So the unwise attentions (ayoniso-manasikāra) involve ahaṃ=self.
“When he attends unwisely in this way, one of six views arises in him. The view ‘soul exists for me’ arises in him as true and established; or the view ‘no soul exists for me’ arises in him as true and established; …
Tassa evaṃ ayoniso manasikaroto channaṃ diṭṭhīnaṃ aññatarā diṭṭhi uppajjati. ‘Atthi me attā’ti vā assa saccato thetato diṭṭhi uppajjati; ‘natthi me attā’ti vā assa saccato thetato diṭṭhi uppajjati;"
So the wrong view arising is about soul (attā).
“This speculative view, bhikkhus, is called the thicket of views, the wilderness of views, the contortion of views, the vacillation of views, the fetter of views. Fettered by the fetter of views, the untaught ordinary person is not freed from birth, ageing, and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair; he is not freed from suffering, I say.”
So attending unwisely one would mix up, or miss the difference use of ahaṃ and attā.
I think the PTS Dictionary clearly identifies that it is the permanent aspect that is rejected and many people, like me, believe in an impermanent ‘self’. An impermanent ‘soul’ is a contradiction in terms for me.
So when something is taken as permanent, it cannot be soul. Thus all saṅkhārūpādānakkhandā are (impermanent, suffering and not-soul) along with the other four clung-to aggregates.
Thus, for me, the Buddha would not reproach someone who believed in an impermanent self, along with acceptance of multiple births, as I believed he clearly taught both.
I have not found anywhere the Buddha promoted both:
- I do not exist/there is no self: n’atthi ahaṃ/ahaṃ no-asmi and
- the soul does not exist/there is no soul: n’atthi attā
Yes, the Third Characteristic (as in Pāli):
sabbe dhammā anattā
is often misrepresented as ‘there is no soul’ when it actually says:
all dhammas are not soul.
To me, this is just like saying:
‘all oranges are not apples’ means
’oranges do not exist’.
(I think that should have been ‘all apples do not exist’)