Help with sutta MN 35 - Regarding viewing the five aggregates as self

I read there were those contemporary teachers:

  • Makkhali Gosala
  • Ajita Kesakambali
  • Purana Kassapa
  • Pudhaka Kaccayana
  • Sanjaya Belatthiputta
  • Nigantha Nataputta

Their teachings are summorized and critized in the Pali texts. Those teaching i find interessting to compare because they show how other teachers reason and came to other world-views. It can be nice to see how the Buddha’s teachings differ.

I belief none of them taught an eternalist view. Their views were not so specific about a self, i remember, but more about, for example, that samsara is limited for everybody or there is no cause for the purification and defilement of beings, everyone has from the start a certain measure of pleasure and pain to be experienced, all being are without power, without any control, there is no fruit of doing bad or wrong, wise and fools have to same destiny, death and are destroyed at death, there is no cause for a lack of vision, if you stabb someone, you do not really kill a person, you just stabb into 7 eternal ‘elements’, there is no lenghtening or shortening of samsara, just some of them.

Do you know who was in the time of the Buddha a teacher with an eternalist view? Were this (only) the Brahmins? Do they have an eternalist view?

Good question. I’m not really familiar with those teachings but DN1 Brahmajāla Sutta gives a good overview of all beliefs. Many are still upheld to this present day.

Wikipedia also has a summary of it.

In addition, in my opinion, all of those beliefs carries an agent, an existence, a Self presently that would either persist or vanish in the furure. Through the insights from dependent origination, one sees how existence comes to be and ceases presently. This makes the eternalistic and annihilistic views of the future invalid.

pleasure and pain are allotted. Transmigration lasts only for a limited period, so there’s no increase or decrease, no getting better or worse. It’s like how, when you toss a ball of string, it rolls away unraveling. In the same way, after transmigrating the foolish and the astute will make an end of suffering.’

DN 2 is an even better source, the above describes Makkhali Gosāla’s eternalist view, that is that there is a transmigrating soul.

‘Great king, these seven substances are not made, not derived, not created, without a creator, barren, steady as a mountain peak, standing firm like a pillar. They don’t move or deteriorate or obstruct each other. They’re unable to cause pleasure, pain, or neutral feeling to each other. What seven? The substances of earth, water, fire, air; pleasure, pain, and the soul is the seventh.

Pakudha Kaccāyana’s view above is also eternalist.

Thanks. Yes, i did not see he also taught the soul is an eternal ‘element’.

In DN2 it says: "And here there is no-one who kills or who makes others kill; no-one who learns or who educates others; no-one who understands or who helps others understand. If you chop off someone’s head with a sharp sword, you don’t take anyone’s life. The sword simply passes through the gap between the seven substances.’

Maybe he meant that one cannot kill a person because the soul is eternal.
Hmmm…that you do not take anyones life when you kill that person, i do not agree with.

In what way did Gosala teach an eternalist view?

Oke, but how do you know for sure that there is no eternal soul?

I ma no expert but I think that Gosala argued that there is an eternal soul that is reborn in a variety of forms a fixed number of times before eventually escaping samsara and living in eternal bliss.

i have not really seen he taught an eternal soul but maybe he did.

SN35.23 Sabba Sutta

The Blessed One said, “What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, ‘Repudiating this All, I will describe another,’ if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range.”

The All is defined as the six sense spheres which are impermanent. Buddha categorically rejected anything apart from the All in this Sutta.

Is the unborn, the unbecome, the unconditioned also part of the All? Is it also impermanent?

I just explain what I understand through a simile.

Imagine a strange planet whereby everybody inject their bodies with nutriments 1,2,3,4,5 & 6 made by Mara Inc. They all assume that those nutriments are essential to their life, welfare and happiness. Unknowingly, they only brought old age, sickness and death. A wise person, through his own effort, has seen through the deception and freed himself from the six nutriments. He taught others to do likewise and those who took the leap of faith experienced the same freedom.

The six nutriments are the All, the whole world as we know it, the basis we all clung onto to sustain our existence. A Sotapanna is one who has seen through the false assumption that those nutriments could brings happiness. An Arahant, the unborn, the unbecome, the unconditioned or whatever other terms you wish to name it, is one who stop relying on those nutriments altogether.

Nice simile.

At this moment i find it hard to see that those nutriments are not essential to my life. I still understand my life as something which relates to this body and mind. My life seems to be centered around this unique body, this unique mind. There is no one which i know who does not identify Green as this body and mind. My parent think about me, their son, as this body and mind combination. My friends do. Also i do.

I understand that this combination of mind and body comes with suffering, unavoidable, but i still feel that this body and mind it is of great worth. That is still my understanding because i understand it as essential for my life. I cannot really not value body and mind, even when it comes with suffering.

I still think the unborn, unbecome refers to a shared common ground. A unity. Like the sea and thhe waves. The waves are the five khandhas and the sea is the unborn.
Unless one sees the sea, one has not the eye to see one is not the waves. Something like this.

Yes, it is very difficult to let go but our intellect knows it is the truth. The tussle is where Dukkha comes from.

Another sutta SN 22.79 for contemplation.

"Thus an instructed disciple of the noble ones reflects in this way: ‘I am now being chewed up by form. But in the past I was also chewed up by form in the same way I am now being chewed up by present form. And if I delight in future form, then in the future I will be chewed up by form in the same way I am now being chewed up by present form.’ Having reflected in this way, he becomes indifferent to past form, does not delight in future form, and is practicing for the sake of disenchantment, dispassion, and cessation with regard to present form.

"[He reflects:] '‘I am now being chewed up by feeling… perception… fabrications… consciousness. But in the past I was also chewed up by consciousness in the same way I am now being chewed up by present consciousness. And if I delight in future consciousness, then in the future I will be chewed up by consciousness in the same way I am now being chewed up by present consciousness.’ Having reflected in this way, he becomes indifferent to past consciousness, does not delight in future consciousness, and is practicing for the sake of disenchantment, dispassion, and cessation with regard to present consciousness.

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I do not really experience i am chewed up by form, feeling, etc. I feel more like i am chewed up by the defilements: the rage, the anger, hate, greed, irritation, pride etc. For example, it is not really the body who chews me up, but all my longings with this body, to be healthy, such an such like. I feel that is the real chewing up. It is in the craving and all this longings. It is like fearing a person. That person does not chew you up, but your own fear does.

But i still agree with the Path set out, a Path leading to disenchanment, dispassion.

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