If there is no self, who is the one who is becoming an Arahant

I have been watching the workshop on Dependent Origination by Ajahn Brahmali and Venerable Sunyo and doing some reading as well. I understand the concept of Annata so the question is who or what is becoming an Arahant?

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[quote=“Maheshk, post:1, topic:23955”]
I understand the concept of Annata so the question is who or what is becoming an Arahant?
[/quote] …

Hi Mahesk

The Body of an Arahant belong to the physical part which goes under the control of nature. Therefore not belong to ‘I’.

The Arahant belong to mental part of the body who able:

  1. to realize the stream of Dukkha that he undergo,

  2. as well as realizing the truth that everthing are just Anicca &

  3. to realize that there are nothing belong to the body either in physical & mental dimension.

And that is how a man understand the concept of Anatta

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No one is becoming an Arahant.
Dukkha/Self, being not real, arises by conditions. Having arisen it ceases completely by conditions. It is a result of previous action, but there is no doer (not-self ‘anatta’).


Does this mean the Arahant has no personality?

The Arahant does have individual ‘dhatu’ (personal characteristic or nature):
Pages 142-3 from The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism Choong Mun-keat 2000.pdf (144.7 KB)

The person practicing Buddhism becomes the arahant. whatever their name is is their name. they are just as tall or short as they where before. they have the same color eyes. their voice sounds the same. sometimes they write poetry.

The people who don’t practice Buddhism are also Annata, they are also called by their names and look like their photographs. sometimes they write poetry too.

Annata is true of everything and everyone, not just Arahants, despite this we all still feel like we know which one of us we are when we wake up in bed next to one another.



Thanks HSS, but to what benefit? If this body/being understands Anatta or even Dukkha. What will be the result? Dukkha was what I was most concerned about and made me read and watch the talks.

But going back to my question. Even though I feel Dukkha is ephemeral, or there is no self. What is the end result? I feel good or attain nirvana. It does not make one iota of difference to anybody else :frowning: Don’t get me wrong, I feel I really turned a corner today in my understanding of my true nature. At least I think I do :slight_smile: But what difference does it make?

BTW, I really want to thank Ajahn Brahmali and Venerable Sunyo for the workshop. I also attended online retreats by Bhante Vimalramsi so I am thankful to him as well.


The benefit is to the whole world @Maheshk the Arahant has not just intellectually understood a concept, they have completely uprooted all lust, all hatred and all delusion with regards to this world and the next. they, or if you like the bodies that they no longer identify with, speak truth when asked questions, which is a rare thing, they give good advice, which is rare too, they help the whole world by being a site of total freedom, like a lotus that has risen from the mud.

understanding things intellectually won’t help you at all in this world, but uprooting lust, hatred and delusion, eradicating anxiety, securing total peace of mind and unshakeable security from fear, that would help you a great deal.

Good luck!



Great point. As Ajahn Brahm says, Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu!


I find it hard to see and understand there would be totally no sense of self of any kind for an arahant and Buddha. How can one claim a total awakening, no rebirth for me, no stress for me, without any sense of self or any sense of ‘i have attained this or that’? Can one makes such claims without any sense of self? I do not see how.

It might be that we do not really understand what it is when there is no more Me and mine-making.
Does that really mean that any sense of self is gone? Is it possible?

The Buddha had backpains. Sometimes he lied down to relax these pains. But why would one do this when pains are no burden, not Me and mine? Why would one eat and drink when hunger and thirst are not me and mine and one would be without any sense of self? Why would one even support this body and mind when there is totally no sense of self?

I suppose there is still some sense of self for a Buddha and arahant too. But I cannot understand and see how they perceive themselves and the world.

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I can’t understand this either, but I don’t expect to because I am not an arahant. :wink:
But the idea of an arahant feeling pain doesn’t surprise me, — as long as the arahant’s body is alive I would suppose that the normal neurological processes would continue.


We got it all backwards. We try to fathom how the arahant can be self-less, while we have no clue what the self is that we have.


There is no who or self, just phenomena arising from causes and conditions. A conventional sense of self, like a Lego structure. Looks whole, permanent. But ultimately it is impermanant. But thinking this as “me” is why understanding Anatta is so hard. It’s so ingrained in us.

From Ajahn Brahm’'s essay

Even Arahants, Enlightened monks and nuns, experience suffering. They are not released from suffering, they are still in the world, in jail. The main difference between an ordinary ‘prisoner’ and an Arahant is that the latter is certain to leave soon. Using the simile from the Theragatha (Th 1003, 606), an Arahant is like a workman having completed the job and now calmly waiting for his wages. In the sutta called ‘The Dart’ (SN 36, 6) suffering is compared to being stabbed with two darts. An Arahant is only stabbed with one dart. The two ‘darts’ refer to bodily suffering and mental suffering. The Arahant, alone of this world, only experiences bodily suffering. But it is still enough to say that an Arahant in this life still experiences suffering. As the Enlightened nun Vajira explained (SN 5, 10), what it feels like to be an Arahant is just experiencing suffering arising and suffering passing away, and this was confirmed by The Buddha in the Kaccnagotta Sutta (SN 12, 15), already mentioned above. Arahants experience suffering because all existence (bhava) or birth (jati) is suffering. Only when they pass away, or `parinibbna’, when existence ceases, does suffering end once and for all.

“Bhava-nirodho nibbnam” - “Nibbana is the cessation of existence.” (SN 12, 68)


I think suffering can only be something mental. I do not think things like birth, pain, sickness or old age, death are in itself suffering. I doubt this. (Yes i know they are mentioned in as suffering).

But probably the perspective of a Buddha is different because he knows that just only the functioning of the six senses is a burden. Also when it senses nice feelings.

I’m surprised Ajahn Brahm didn’t use this quote:

If they feel a pleasant feeling, they feel it detached. If they feel a painful feeling, they feel it detached. If they feel a neutral feeling, they feel it detached. Feeling the end of the body approaching, they understand: ‘I feel the end of the body approaching.’ Feeling the end of life approaching, they understand: ‘I feel the end of life approaching.’ They understand: ‘When my body breaks up and my life has come to an end, everything that’s felt, since I no longer take pleasure in it, will become cool right here.’
MN140: SuttaCentral


If you really understand the concept of Anattā , then you will also understand the following verse from bhikkhuni Vajira:

Then Mara the Evil One, desiring to arouse fear, trepidation, and terror in the bhikkhuni Vajira, desiring to make her fall away from concentration, approached her and addressed her in verse:

“By whom has this being been created?
Where is the maker of the being?
Where has the being arisen?
Where does the being cease?”

Then it occurred to the bhikkhuni Vajira: “Now who is this that recited the verse—a human being or a nonhuman being?” Then it occurred to her: “This is Mara the Evil One, who has recited the verse desiring to arouse fear, trepidation, and terror in me, desiring to make me fall away from concentration.”

Then the bhikkhuni Vajira, having understood, “This is Mara the Evil One,” replied to him in verses:

“Why now do you assume ‘a being’?
Mara, is that your speculative view?
This is a heap of sheer formations:
Here no being is found.

“Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
The word ‘chariot’ is used,
So, when the aggregates exist,
There is the convention ‘a being.’

“It’s only suffering that comes to be,
Suffering that stands and falls away.
Nothing but suffering comes to be,
Nothing but suffering ceases.”

Then Mara the Evil One, realizing, “The bhikkhuni Vajira knows me,” sad and disappointed, disappeared right there.


Autonomous cars sense and perceive their environment, make decisions and take actions which have effects in the real world. In that sense such a car ‘knows’. But which part of the car is ‘that which knows’?

An autonomous car is not sentient. Why is that? Because it does not ‘know’ that it ‘knows’ nor does it have any concept of ‘that which does the knowing’. If it was to know that it knows, there would be ‘that which is known’ on the one side and ‘that which knows’ on the other. With further extrapolation, there would once again be the ‘knowing’ of ‘that which is known’ and ‘that which knows’… and then the knowing of the knowing of that knowing… such is the action of Consciousness which brings about the Object/ Subject delusion. Perhaps, such an AI might conceivably develop a sense of Self? And if it had the algorithmic impulse to constantly control its ever changing experience to its complete satisfaction, might it even suffer? And what to say of the ‘knowing’ of that impulse and knowing of the final letting go of that very impulse of ‘Me making’ and ‘mine’ and of ‘controlling forever in such a way as to be utterly satisfied’ ?

But which part of the AI would be the one that knows that it knows that it knows? And what would happen to that part if the AI was disassembled? Would it be annihilated? Or would it carry on existing forever in some way? Did it ever truly even exist?

Just some stuff to think about… perhaps someday I’ll figure it out!! :joy:


The self is due to the self-conceit. Those with self-conceit with vipassana eliminate it. Conceit is due to the illustrations of the Nama-Rupa in consciousness.
You eradicate the illustrations and consciousness is then non-illustrated and that is Arahath. You cannot see Buddha or Arahaths from the somatic body.

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The statement about this being a heap of formations says it all I think. Thanks for the post. I had not come across this before.

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But even an autonomous car has to have a control system. Something that monitors all the sensors, parts etc. But if you look at it from a single CPU point of view, different processes/threads will get scheduled and run on the same CPU. So that could be viewed as a single stream of consciousness even though the Object and Subject are indeed different.