Are Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta pre-Budhha's teaching?

The question is whether Brahmins knew about the Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta.
If yes, how is Buddha’s teaching different?
The way I understand Brhmins already knew about the Anicca and Dukkha. That is why they seek liberation. The highest they can attain was neither perception nor non perception state. Buddha taught them the Anatta (not-self) nature of the existence so they could realise Nibbana.

Those things are referred to, I believe, as existing regardless of whether or not a Buddha arises in the world to teach of them. In the Paccayasutta and it’s Chinese parallels, their relation, namely dependent origination, is the Buddha’s contribution.

What is distinctive, IMO, is the novel way in which the three are woven into an omnicentric whole, sumsara, which is then related to the cessation of it all, that I do not think predates the Buddha.

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I understand it.
Gravity was always there before Newton discovered it.
The question is whether gravity was known to others before Newton’s discovery.
The question is what is Buddha’s big discovery?
To me his biggest discovery is the Anatta. (not self)

My understanding is that the concepts of dukkha and liberation from it (moksha) arose within Vedic thought at the time of the Upanishads, but were not traditional to it. The traditional Barahminical doctrine emphasized the importance of the sacrifice in preserving the fundamental order of nature, and thus viewed the recurring patterns of nature as, on the whole, good. Although there were seen to be impermanent things in the world, there were also some things in the world that were seen to be changeable but immortal - some of the gods -and something that was seen to be absolutely changeless and eternal - Brahman. Release from mortality, however it occurred, involved some sort of reabsorption or return of the individual soul into Brahman.

The Buddha seems to have held that there is nothing permanent, immortal or eternal in the world, and that unsatisfactoriness pervades every aspect of the world we experience, sometimes in crude ways and sometimes in subtle ways. Our very selves are not impermanent, and contain no impermanent core, and so cannot achieve union with he eternal upon release. There is no eternal brahman underlying all things. Nor is the process of samsara necessarily everlasting, although it’s end cannot be discerned. Since there is no eternity with which the liberated saint can be united, release must be understood in some other way.

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Impossible. If Brahmins knew about the Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta then the whole concept of a ‘Buddha’ is a lie. There would be no true Buddhism.

They obviously did not comprehend dukkha nor were liberated when experiencing impermanence. The Buddha discovered the Four Noble Truths, in which he discovered & summarised all suffering as attachment (upadana).

The Brahmans like most people obviously understood child birth, aging, illness , death, separation from the loved, etc. were dukkha but they did not comprehend all of the suffering that occurs in relation to these aforementioned life experiences is attachment (upadana).

Do you have any references from the Vedas to show the Brahmans sought liberation?

Yes, they exist but remain unknown. A Buddha discovers & reveals them, as stated in AN 3.136

[quote=“Coemgenu, post:2, topic:4990”]
In the Paccayasutta and it’s Chinese parallels, their relation, namely dependent origination, is the Buddha’s contribution.[/quote]

Dependent origination is said to be exactly the same as the Three Characteristics in regards to always operating but unknown to humanity until discovered & revealed by a Buddha, as stated in SN 12.20.

Whether there is an arising of Tathagatas or no arising of Tathagatas, that element still persists, the stableness of the Dhamma, the fixed course of the Dhamma, specific conditionality. A Tathagata awakens to this and breaks through to it. Having done so, he explains it, teaches it, proclaims it, establishes it, discloses it, analyses it, elucidates it. SN 12.20

Whether or not there is the arising of Tathagatas, this property stands—this steadfastness of the Dhamma, this orderliness of the Dhamma: All phenomena are not-self. The Tathagata directly awakens to that, breaks through to that. Directly awakening & breaking through to that, he declares it, teaches it, describes it, sets it forth. He reveals it, explains it & makes it plain: All phenomena are not-self.” AN 3.136

:seedling:

I thought Nither perception nor nonperception is a higher Jhana. Why did they practice these Jhanas? Because they were looking something permanent and they want to eliminate Dukkha.

Do you have any references from the Vedas to show the Brahmans practised jhana? Were Alara Kalama & Uddaka Ramaputta Brahmans who followed the Vedas? Or were Alara Kalama & Uddaka Ramaputta from the broad Samana movement of wandering ascetics?

People who take drugs also want to eliminate dukkha. As I posted, if the reality of dukkha is not comprehended, the wrong method is used to (unsuccessfully) try to eliminate it, such as taking drugs & using mundane jhana. The Brahmans obviously felt they were suffering but they did not actually know what suffering really was; similar to how people visit psychologists or doctors knowing they are suffering but not knowing what they are suffering from.

Regards :deciduous_tree:

Any person can reflect on life and realize to some extent that it is anicca, the most obvious manifestation being death. And knowing dukkha to an extent is obvious even without reflection. Don’t have to be a Brahmin for that.

But the Buddha taught about these characteristics comprehensively, to their fullest extent: sabbe sankhara anicca/dukkha. No one else I know of has done this. And anatta is not something I know of anyone else teaching to even a minor extent.

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Very important point here. Rather than just use a superficial and temporary solution, which breeds addiction, he sought the cause for the dukkha. He then got rid of the cause -of ignorance and craving.

Having removed the cause means it is an absence. That can be ‘permanent’, unlike a solution which is in existence which would be impermanent.

Being mindful, meditation etc can never on their own be the solution to Dukkha, but form the path to removing ignorance.

Ignorance/insight was never part of Brahmanism as I understand it.

A good source that looks into those matters is Alexander Wynne’s "The Origin of Buddhist Meditation."
Check out the table of contents.

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All schools of thought existed in the time of the Buddha from eternalism to annihilationism and everything in between, including materialism. [see here]

The Charvaka school denied the existence of the self (atman) and they were full on empirical materialist. So they also denied kamma and rebirth. They rejected all forms of metaphysical inference believing sensory perception to be the only source of real knowledge.

As for the words Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta. well, I’m sure the varied Śramaṇa views understood those words and used them in reference to some things. They are after all simply negations of the positive terms. But as a unified doctrine abut the nature of all conditioned phenomena, that was indeed the Blessed One’s unique contribution as expressed though DO.

'All exists’, Kaccana, this is one extreme. ‘All does not exist’ this is the second extreme. Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma by the middle ‘With ignorance as condition, volitional formations come to be; with volitional formations as condition, consciousness….

He also says

The world in general, Kaccaayana, grasps after systems and is imprisoned by dogmas. But he does not go along with that system-grasping, that mental obstinacy and dogmatic bias, does not grasp at it. He knows without doubt or hesitation that whatever arises is merely dukkha, that what passes away is merely dukkha and such knowledge is his own, not depending on anyone else. This, Kaccaayana, is what constitutes right view.

The full realisation of anicca results in full acceptance & thus peace. The suttas state the genuine perception of impermanence results in the abandonment of self-conceit.

Aniccasaññaṁ Rāhula bhāvanaṁ bhāvehi,
Develop the meditation, Rāhula, that is the perception of impermanence,

aniccasaññaṁ hi te Rāhula bhāvanaṁ bhāvayato
for, Rāhula, from developing the meditation that is the perception of impermanence

yo asmimāno so pahīyissati.
whatever (kind of) ‘I am’ conceit there is will be given up.

MN 62

But, ordinarily, any person can reflect on life, have some perception of impermanence but then generate fear & worry as a result. They develop religious beliefs about permanence, such as permanent life after death, permanent reincarnation, permanent eternal life and other views that mitigate the perception of impermanence.

As soon as most people perceive impermanence, they often do everything they can to avoid that impermanence by creating views of permanence.

I trust if this book provided an easy answer, as you seem to suggest, you would have simply posted the answer.

:seedling:

Could you kindly provide some detailed quotes for this (apart from Wikipedia generalisations), particularly from the EBTs, if possible.

Thank you

The sutta itself says ‘All does not exist’ is a view. So obviously that entails non-existence of self.

I doubt that. Otherwise anatta & sunnata would be wrong views.

SN 12.15 sets the view of ‘non-existence’ apart from the view of anatta.

The anihilist views in the suttas all include the belief that a ‘self’ (‘atta’) will cease.

For example:

The self, good sir, has material form; it is composed of the four primary elements and originates from father and mother. Since this self, good sir, is annihilated and destroyed with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death, at this point the self is completely annihilated.’

DN 1

How, bhikkhus, do some overreach? Now some are troubled, ashamed, and disgusted by this very same being and they rejoice in (the idea of) non-being, asserting: ‘In as much as this self, good sirs, when the body perishes at death, is annihilated and destroyed and does not exist after death—this is peaceful, this is excellent, this is reality!’ Thus, bhikkhus, do some overreach.

Iti 49

Regards :seedling:

ok let me find the pali :slight_smile:

This is the actual text :
“‘All exists’: Kaccana, this is one extreme. ‘All does not exist’: this is the second extreme.

Taken from here: sn12.15

Seems to be clear. All does not exist is a view , so it must entail atman does not exist.

It seems ‘atthitañceva’ & ‘natthitañca’ are both forms of grasping.

The world in general, Kaccaayana, inclines to two views, to existence (atthitañceva) or to non-existence (natthitañca). But he does not go along with that system-grasping, that mental obstinacy and dogmatic bias, does not grasp at it, does not affirm: ‘This is my self.’ He knows without doubt or hesitation that whatever [self-view that] arises is merely dukkha that whatever [self-view that] passes away is merely dukkha and such knowledge is his own, not depending on anyone else. This, Kaccaayana, is what constitutes right view.

Kaccaayanagotto Sutta

‘All does not exist’ means aggregates don’t exist either.
Anatta is aggregates aren’t Self.

With metta

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It is in this way, Kaccana, that there is right view. “‘All exists’: Kaccana, this is one extreme. ‘All does not exist’: this is the second extreme. Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma by the middle… sn12.15

Sounds reasonable. Thanks

Personally, I have always struggled with the language in this sutta.

I might start a thread about it. :seedling:

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