Let’s take SN 22.47 as a start.
Where it is question of self.
The uninstructed worldling sees the khandhas as following - like consciousness for instance:
consciousness as self (viññāṇaṃ attato samanupassati), self as possessing consciousness (viññāṇavantaṃ vā attānaṃ), or consciousness as in self (attani vā viññāṇaṃ), or self as in consciousness (viññāṇasmiṃ vā attānaṃ).
So regarding form…,…consciousness as self, they are not rid of the conceit “I am” (asmi).
Note that, as Olivelle says in his “The early Upanishads”, "atman/atta, is a term liable to misunderstanding and mistranslating because it can also mean the spiritual self or the inmost core of a human being, besides functioning as a mere reflexive pronoun."
Here, we are in the situation where the self as mere reflexive pronoun, believes that he has something to do with the khandhas.
Which (the latter), is what the late Vedic and Upanishadic folks used to believe (making it a spiritual self - a continuous self (owning the khandhas), ultimately reaching and merging with Brahma, in an eternal blissful state).
The process is in two phases.
First, there is the above - where atta (the mere reflexive pronoun,) thinks like an Upanishadic brahmin, who believes that the khandhas are (spiritually) “his”. Which triggers the conceit “I am”.
Secondly, IF this conceit “I am” does not vanish, then there is the descent of the ayatanani (the fields/grounds of sensory experience).
There is contact (transfer of property/phasso).
And ‘I am this’ [particular dhamma,] (‘ayamahamasmī’tipissa hoti) occurs to him.
This is the relationship between anicca(1) as anatta (not self/impermanent) & anicca(2), as na tumhākaṃ (not yours- aka anicca as “not one’s own”).
When one believes wrongly in a continuous and permanent spiritual self (in paticcasamuppada), he experiences things as “mine”.
But the Buddha says that there is no continuous and permanent atta, and that the things we experience are not “ours”.
And He proves it in different ways:
- the khandhas (leading to dhammas and dhatus) cannot be controled (permanently changed).
- khandhas (leading to dhammas and dhatus), have an inherent changing nature.
- khandhas (leading to dhammas and dhatus), and atta’s internal ayatanani ( that actualize sensualy these dhammas and dhatus) are “not yours”.
Therefore the atta (as reflexive pronoun) cannot see himself as the spiritual atta, that is continuous, eternal and blissful. Nor can atta sees himself as having anything to do with the khandhas (leading to dhammas and dhatus).
And the well-learned noble disciple regards these khandhas, contemplate and examine them as they are: not self and not belonging to self.
SN 22.59 shows this very clearly.
The anicca of atta and the anicca of khandhas.
No control, as you put it rightly. Because, primarily, it is not ours. It is “not yours” (na tumhākaṃ), says the Buddha.
So, for instance, is dhammavicaya (the vipassana process of a purified insight, after the citta has been transcended and liberated, ) primarily concerned by the “not ownership” of the khandhas (SN 22.33) and internal ayatanas (SN 35.138) - or by their impermanence?
Or if by both, in which order - and when?
SN 22.89 tells us that we must first get rid of the “not ownership” (na tumhākaṃ/anicca) - the “I am this”.
Then of the “I am”.
As for the Pheṇapiṇḍūpama sutta, see the Pali and Chinese versions side by side here.
What is important is the following:
The Pali says:
“However one may ponder it
And carefully investigate it,
It appears but hollow and void
When one views it carefully.
Yathā yathā nijjhāyati,
Rittakaṃ tucchakaṃ hoti,
yo naṃ passati yoniso.
Note: rittaka combined with tucchaka as a standing phrase denotes voidness (रिक्त rikta - AV. ) & vainness (तुच्छ्य tucchya: empty , vain - RV. / later tuccha).
While the Chinese says:
“Carefully attending to it from all sides,
with right mindfulness examining it well,
it is found to be insubstantial and without solidity, there is no a self or what belongs to a self in this bodily aggregate, which is dukkha.
What is meant here, is that one cannot find any substance and solidity in a body that falls apart at death.
You should also read the following to see that this is not emptiness (as suññatā). But the mere ineptitude and hollowness of vanity.
For if everything was empty with suññatā, there would not be the imperishable state.
It is the continuity (santāno,) which is the problem. There is no solid substance, nor even essence (sāro) into that.
The illusion is in the continuity, says the Pali.
When vitality, heat, and consciousness
Depart from this physical body,
Then it lies there cast away:
Food for others, without volition.
Āyu usmā ca viññāṇaṃ,
yadā kāyaṃ jahantimaṃ;
Apaviddho tadā seti,
Such is this continuum,
This illusion, beguiler of fools.
It is taught to be a murderer;
Here no substance can be found.
Vadhako esa akkhāto,
sāro ettha na vijjati.
Make a refuge for yourself;
Yearning for the imperishable state.
patthayaṃ accutaṃ padan”ti.