I heard many talks about whether Nibbana is anatta, atta, or neither both.
I like to express my understandings and post my questions. But, first, I like to say that English is not my primary language. Second, I am just a Dhamma learner; not a Buddhist scholar.
In SN 12.20, the Buddha said:
“And what, bhikkhus, is dependent origination (paṭiccasamuppādo)? ‘With birth as condition, aging-and-death comes to be’: whether there is an arising of Tathagatas or no arising of Tathagatas, that element still persists, the stableness of the Dhamma (dhammaṭṭhitatā), the fixed course of the Dhamma (dhammaniyāmatā): specific conditionality (idappaccayatā).” SN12.20
In AN3.136, the Buddha stated the same thing as SN12.20 above but substituted idappaccayatā with Sabbe saṅkhārā aniccā, Sabbe saṅkhārā dukkhā, and Sabbe dhammā anattā.
Could this be that aniccā, dukkhā, and anattā are dependently arisen since they seem to be interchangeable with idappaccayatā?
“…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:
All processes are inconstant (Sabbe saṅkhārā aniccā).”
“…Whether…All processes are stressful (Sabbe saṅkhārā dukkhā).”
“…Whether…All phenomena are not-self (Sabbe dhammā anattā).” AN3.136
Does sabbe dhammā anattā here covers both Sankhata and Asankhata? If so, does it mean that Nibbana is also anatta?
If Nibbana is anatta, would it contradict with the Buddha teaching since what is suffering is anatta according to SN22.46 and per the definitions of “nonself” in SN 23.17-18 below?
“Bhikkhus, form is impermanent…. Feeling is impermanent…. Perception is impermanent…. Volitional formations are impermanent…. Consciousness is impermanent.
What is impermanent is suffering.
What is suffering is nonself.
What is nonself should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus:
‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’” SN22.46
“Venerable sir, it is said, ‘nonself, nonself.’ What now, venerable sir, is nonself (anattā)?” “Form, Rādha, is nonself, feeling is nonself, perception is nonself, volitional formations are nonself, consciousness is nonself.” SN23.17
“Venerable sir, it is said, ‘of a selfless nature, of a selfless nature (anattadhammo).’ What now, venerable sir, is of a selfless nature?”
“Form, Rādha, is of a selfless nature. Feeling …Perception … Volitional formations … Consciousness is of a selfless nature. SN23.18
If Nibbana is NOT anatta, then is Nibbana Atta?
But, the Buddha mentioned in MN1 that one should know “Nibbana as Nibbana” and “should not conceive Nibbana as to be ‘mine’ and should not delight in Nibbana”. The Buddha also did not answer the questions whether there is “a self” or whether there is “no self” when Vacchagotta asked. SN44.10
“He directly knows Nibbāna as Nibbāna. Having directly known Nibbāna as Nibbāna, he should not conceive himself as Nibbāna, he should not conceive himself in Nibbāna, he should not conceive himself apart from Nibbāna, he should not conceive Nibbāna to be ‘mine,’ he should not delight in Nibbāna…” MN1
“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. SN44.10
In DN 15, the Buddha further talked about how one describe self describe it, and how one consider self consider it:
“In what ways, Ānanda, does one describing self describe it?
Describing self as having material form and as limited, one describes it thus: ‘My self has material form and is limited.’
Or describing self as having material form and as infinite, one describes it thus: ‘My self has material form and is infinite.’
Or describing self as immaterial and limited, one describes it thus: ‘My self is immaterial and limited.’
Or describing self as immaterial and infinite, one describes it thus: ‘My self is immaterial and infinite.’
“…It is in these ways, Ānanda, that one describing self describes it.” DN15
“In what ways, Ānanda, does one considering self consider it?
One considering self either considers feeling as self, saying: ‘Feeling is my self.’
Or he considers: ‘Feeling is not my self; my self is without experience of feeling.’
Or he considers: ‘Feeling is not my self, but my self is not without experience of feeling.
My self feels; for myself is subject to feeling.’” DN15
Furthermore, the Buddha stated in DN1 that anyone who describes “atta’ or feel “atta” has to be conditioned by contact, “without contact is impossible.”
“…With feeling as condition, there arises in them craving; with craving as condition, clinging arises; with clinging as condition, existence; with existence as condition, birth; and with birth as condition, ageing and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair arise.”
“…Having understood as they really are the origin and the passing away of feelings, their satisfaction, their unsatisfactoriness, and the escape from them, the Tathāgata, bhikkhus, is emancipated through non-clinging.” DN1
From MN1, SN44.10, DN15, and DN1 above, it’s very obvious to me that Nibbana is not Atta.
Please quote from suttas to support your view if you have different input.
I summarize by understanding as below:
Is Nibbana anatta? I would say “YES” and “NO”. Why YES? The reason is because the Buddha said: “All phenomena are not-self (Sabbe dhammā anattā)” as per SN22.46 and SN44.10. Why NO? Because the Buddha also said “what is suffering is nonself?” per SN22.46.
So, what really is anatta?
My understanding is that Anatta is a kind of knowledge or wisdom that will lead to “the way leading to the cessation of identity” or “sakkāyanirodhagāminī paṭipadā” MN148.
“What is nonself should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self (sakkāyanirodhagāminī paṭipadā).’” SN22.46
Please keep commentaries minimal and use quotes from suttas to support your views if you wish to express your input.