What do you all think of the notion to render anattā as “selfless” and anattātā as “selflessness”?
Without getting into the debate about whether or not the Buddha did or did not believe in any sort of mundane or transcendent self (or both or neither), and assuming that anattā is not etymologically related to “futility”, what do people think of this?
I am not a translator, and am unlikely to ever be one, so no one has to worry about me publishing Dhamma books with “selfless” in them, but that rendition really appeals to me.
Why? Because the cultivation of selfless behaviour has the literal meaning of “without self” and includes, in English specifically connotations of compassion and mercy. I come from a Mahāyāna background, and that might inform the focus on compassion in my own “internal Buddhology” (how I make sense of the Buddhadharma), but nevertheless, what do you all think of this idea?
I would make this a poll, but I don’t know how to!
Selflessness is an ethical idea and I don’t think that it’s what the Buddha had in mind when he taught anattā. When we speak of selflessness we have in mind actions that have great concern of others and little or none for ourselves. How this idea would apply to Buddha’s analysis of the khandhas or the āyatanas? More over, I don’t believe that the Buddha taught that selflessness is the best way to live your life. But I guess that’s not the topic of this thread…
[quote=“Piotr, post:2, topic:5345”]
Selflessness is an ethical idea and I don’t think that it’s what the Buddha had in mind when he taught anattā.
[/quote]This is what I was referring to as, perhaps, the influence of Mahāyāna Buddhism on my general interpretation of “Buddhadharma fundamentals”, like the 3 marks, etc.
That being said I completely respect and understand your position in arguing that “selflessness” has too “ethical” a term, specifically in tone, and as a translation it certainly has issues of tone.
And by pointing out Mahāyāna influence, IMO, is not synonymous with “bad influences”, it is synonymous with “influneces based on questionable Buddhavacana”, but that is just my own personal stance, for the sake of clarification, since I realize that could be interpreted as a sectarian microaggression, which was not my intent.