It is impossible to make any claim of attainment or realization without a sense of me and mine

Continuing the discussion from Parinibbāyati achieved during life and not at the end of life and break up of the body:

@Green “it is impossible to do any claim of attainment or realisation without a sense of me and mine.”

  • How can the Buddha remember his former lifes without any sense of me and mine?

  • How can one be worried to become tired or burdened to start teachings, and imaging " no one understands me and that will be troublesome for me"…without any sense of me and mine?

  • How can one even talk about the discomfort of an old body without any sense of me and mine?

  • What does it even mean when someones says…this or that insight, knowledge arose in me…without any sense of me?

  • Can one have preferences and obey them, such as a preference for quit places, quit Sangha’s, without any sense of me and mine in regard to those preferences?

  • how can mere impersonal processes ever claim being awakened?

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You ask “Who does the judging?” This question takes for granted that judging is done “by somebody.” But this is by no means a foregone conclusion: we are quite able to give an account of judgement (or knowing) without find­ing ourselves obliged to set it up as “a relation be­tween subject and object.” Knowledge is essentially an act of reflexion , in which the “thing” to be known presents itself (is presented) explicitly as standing out against a background (or in a context) that was already there implicitly. In reflexion, a (limited) totality is given, consisting of a centre and a peri­phery—a particular cow appears surrounded by a number of cattle, and there is the judgement, “The cow is in the herd.” Certainly, there is an intention to judge, and this consists in the deliberate withdrawal of at­tention from the immediate level of experience to the reflexive; but the question is not whether judgement is an intentional action (which it is), but whether there can be intention (even reflexive intention) without a subject (“I”, “myself”) who intends. This, however, is not so much a matter of argument as something that has to be seen for oneself.

Nanavira Thera

—A monk who is a worthy one, his task done,
His cankers destroyed, wearing his last body,—
Is it because this monk has arrived at conceit
That he might say ‘I say’,
And that he might say 'They say to me '?
—For one who is rid of conceit there are no ties,
All his ties of conceit (mānaganthā’ssa ) are dissolved;
This wise man, having got beyond conceiving (yam matam ),
Might say ‘I say’,
And he might say 'They say to me ':
Skilled in worldly expressions, knowing about them,
He might use them within the limits of usage.

Devatā Samy. iii,5

The sense of self, the mental formations ‘I, me and mine’ is born of the aggregate feeling of being alive (consciousness) in relationship to perception and form.

Because one is aware, the ideological sense of self is born of being aware that one is aware or alive. Seeing from the middle doesn’t deny a sense of self or ‘that which knows’ but neither does it cling to a fixed idea of an unchanging self.

One sees what is originating these formations and rests as just that, knowing the difference between mind in itself and mental formation instead of living in a world of mental formations & chasing them.

Ones mind is endowed with the capacity of ‘knowing’. In the same way the word, born of mind, ‘hand’ isn’t this :raised_hand:is the same way the word ‘I’ isn’t the entirety of the mind-body. The act of observing the breath isn’t the mental formation or the idea of doing such.

This is the Zen adage: the finger that points to the moon isn’t the moon itself. The name isn’t the thing in itself.

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A memory arises and he would know that “that is not mine”.

When a memory arises within you, it absolutely isn’t yours, even if it represents an event that actually happened in your past kamma, so it’s just some arising phenomenon.

“My projected teachings which aren’t mine are hard to understand to the minds of others.”

“Discomfort has arose. It is not mine.”

“and it is not truly mine. In fact, that is part of such knowledge: that my knowledge is not mine.”

Yes. Because you simply react to something positively or negatively, that doesn’t mean you’re holding on to them or think you truly own them. Liking the taste of ghee doesn’t mean that there’s some inherent permanent thing in you deciding that you like it, it was just a conditioned phenomenon by previous training of the sensation of taste.

The “claim” is just a projected reaction to their environment. Someone asks them a question, this is the cause, they respond with honesty because they have understood the value of honesty before in the most clearest language that the listener will understand.

Actually, it’s not just possible that an enlightened person could do this, but they would be better at it than others. Here’s what I mean: in all of these situations, the enlightened person would understand social interactions, the usage of the words “I”, and all of these arisings in a much deeper and more accurate level than others, and it would be easier for them to communicate and understand others. You absolutely don’t need any sense of self at all to be able to do any of that. When you interact with others in a convo using personal pronouns, there is not necessarily anything like that, as these interactions are just conditioned phenomena and reactions to each other based on your understanding of language and relationships. Maybe you think this is impossible because you don’t understand things in this way, which isn’t your fault, but your disagreement doesn’t mean it’s not at least hypothetically possible from your point of view.

In this way, there isn’t really such a thing as opinions. There is only the arising answer to questions or situations, but no sort of database of true-false personal opinions stored in you, like complex shapes of consciousness. This may explain the preferences question a little more.

I just do not see it. I feel it is all mere theory. In practice people, also buddhist, are driven by a sense of me and mine. Those are my intentions, my goals, my inclinations, my plans, my likes and dislikes, my wishes, my desires, my life, my needs, endless. Without all this we would live a totally chaotic life.

If in a Buddha the plan arises to go to some city, and he acts upon it, why would i even assume he is without me and mine making? Why must i see it like this that the Buddha saw this arising plan (a formation) as empty, suffering, anatta, anicca, not worth holding on to while he still acts upon it?

When children do this, “mine, mine, mine, mine” parents often tell them to quit with the “MINE!”

When adults do this, “mine, mine, mine, mine” often other adults tell them to knock it off and that usually aids in social engagement.

I’m quite sure you’ve experienced moments in life where there were less selfish thoughts, yes? And other moments where all you could seem to do was think about yourself? All the Teacher is saying is to check for yourself and see: do those selfish thoughts lead to your lasting peace and happiness? If not, then why not reduce them?

Do you experience chaos in your life when you practice to reduce those selfish thoughts? Or do you find that reducing selfish thoughts actually aids in understanding others and understanding the situation more clearly?

Surely you can attest that some amount of practicing to have less selfish thoughts is good for people? Wouldn’t you so attest?

Assuming you would so attest, then the only question that remains is how much can you reduce those selfish thoughts by before you start encountering harm to yourself and others? All we’re doing at this point is bargaining as to what amount of selfish thoughts are necessary.

This reminds me a bit of my own efforts of trying to reduce anger by not identifying with it and contemplating the harm it has caused me and others. In the end, I’ve yet to find a single redeeming quality to anger. Others like to argue with me about this and insist that righteous anger is sometimes necessary and even virtuous. But this presupposes that whatever action they insist is necessary or virtuous must be rooted in righteous anger. That the action cannot be accomplished without righteous anger. So far I’ve yet to find any such beneficial action that can’t be accomplished in the absence of righteous anger.

That seems reminiscent to what you’re describing here. Is it possible to reduce “mine” making? By how much? Is it always beneficial to reduce “mine” making further or are there some beneficial actions that can only be accomplished in the presence of “mine” making?

These are good questions and deserve answers! It seems only actual practice can answer these questions.


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I do not want to turn this into a discussion on moral living. I believe it just impossible to live without any me and mine making at all.

You are also going in very different direction with the example of the Bodhisttva who gave his blood to the tiger and her cubs That is more going into a direction that the pure mind sees everyting and everyone naturally, in a non conceived manner, as me and mine in stead of nothing as me and mine. That direction i like. In fact is always comes down to non-duality.

Look @Green: Nobody is asking you to lose your empirical sense of self. Doing so is opposite to Theravada doctrine. Look for this in videos of Bhikkhu Bodhi. He keeps repeating it - and he is the Thervada scholar and true scholastic (for more than 40 years).

Problem solved ! :wink::wave:

Oke :heart_eyes:
You bring a smile on my face

You lament that others are relying upon theory so I tried to engage in a non-theoretical understanding, but this also seems not what you are after. At this point I am confused as to how to answer so I’ll bow out. May you find the answers you seek. :pray:

The completely pure and holy life of the Buddha fully relies on the fact that basic needs are fulfilled by others. But if this is not the case one cannot live this pure life. This also means, i feel, one cannot just project the morals, the advices, the wisdom of the Buddha upon people who have a very different life.

Those are the source of a chaotic life. Without this, there is pure stillness and indifference to the storm of your senses. You can’t control those things, and when you stop trying to control it and accept it, it won’t feel chaotic.

You shouldn’t assume that. This is just what I think would be true given he understands the world as not-self.

So you’re implying that acting upon something means that you believe in self? I don’t see how that’s necessary. You would, for example, see that there is some body which can change to help others but it isn’t truly you or yours. It reacts upon your intention, and your intention is also utterly conditioned, how could there truly be some doer within this process of decision making. How is reacting to something and making an action necessarily selfish, especially when he clearly only acted out of the well being of all the people he interacted with. The question of karma and self though is interesting since dependent origination includes it, but that’s a topic for another thread.

That is extremely important, hence Right Intention, but having good virtue is like a big step towards being able to avoid all intention and doings in deeper meditation.

impossible to live

like the ending of birth and death? :grin: Of course you mean a very busy and chaotic life, but if you do let go of everything through understanding not-self, one will find that there was no reason to be afraid of letting go, as it has no downsides to it, and letting go really was the answer. It is like when someone who is afraid of drowning is trying to enter a pool of water with fear, but when they actually step in, it ends up being 1 inch deep, so letting go really was not dangerous.

I think he may have been unintentionally using language that asks for a practical answer like “how can this be true, why would I assume this, why should I see it like this”, but he actually meant philosophical rhetorical questions :thinking:

I see what you did there you sneaky extinguisher you :joy: I approve of this pun. :pray:

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I would like to discuss this more.

suppose in you arises the plan to buy food. You go to the shop. Is this possible when there is no me and mine making at all?

Is behaviour possible without any me and mine making?

Lets not forget that all solely relies on a healthy brain. What if you get Alzheimer disease or some disease like MS or ALS or a stroke?

It is really some kind of blind spot that all can change drastically in one moment. A heart attack, a blood clot, some issues. Why would one even make one claim knowing this?

Sometimes i think we only tell ourselves stories about wisdom, control, freedom only to forget how vulnerable our lives really are. Escapism. Not finding truth but escaping it. Not accepting how things really are, but denying. Making up all kinds of ideas that at least give us some sense of control, some idea we are wise, some meaning, some ideas about our freedom.

What is real and what is only pretentious escapism? Even if the cure works, is it not only a mental placebo? Who cares?

Sure, but only in this sense that out of respect towards Dhamma, one who thinks himself wiser than the Lord Buddha should not be instructed.

Unfortunately our empirical sense of self is synonymous with dukkha, no self no problem so to speak, and this is precisely the aim of Dhamma.

‘Do I myself exist? Is my self in fact eternal, or is it something that perishes with the body?’ And it is here that the difficulties begin. The Buddha says that the world is divided, for the most part, between the Yeas and the Nays, between the eternalists and the annihilationists, and that they are forever at each other’s throats. But these are two extremes, and the Buddha’s Teaching goes in between.

So long as we have experience of our selves, the question ‘Does my self exist?’ will thrust itself upon us: if we answer in the affirmative we shall tend to affirm the existence of God, and if we answer in the negative we shall deny the existence of God. But what if we have ceased to have experience of ourselves? (I do not mean reflexive experience as such, but experience of our selves as an ego or a person. This is a hard distinction to see, but I must refer you to the Notes for further discussion.) If this were to happen—and it is the specific aim of the Buddha’s Teaching (and of no other teaching) to arrange for it to happen—

Nanavira Thera

But since Dhamma contradicts direct experience of puthujjana, not-Buddhists puthujjana usually are sceptical and doubtful about it. And Buddhist puthujjana misconceive doctrine of anatta, since while they have respect for the Lord Buddha, they also are dead certain that their empirical selves do exist.

I don’t think this is relevant. Most beings can’t practice, such as animals. So we are extremely lucky. This is an aspect of mudita. There was no guarantee that you could easily practice the Buddha’s path, it can actually be very tricky.

Not at all. Understanding this is a big part of Buddhism I’d say. I personally reflect on that every day as do others I’ve seen.

That’s very ironic, because that very wisdom is about the liability to change, become sick, and die at any moment, anywhere. This wisdom into the inevitability of death (such as a stroke) and disease (such as Alzheimer’s) is not an escape, it’s directly facing the reality of your own nature. When you truly see that this body and all your experience and history isn’t yours (not-self), you would not hold on to it, you would radically accept it, and you would not fear your death. And looking deeply into your own nature (about death) without fear and with honesty can result in very deep meditation and deep joy. I’m not saying this just because the texts or other people said it’s true, I’m saying it because I have derived deep joy from reflecting on death. Such an integral point of Buddhism is cultivating wisdom into your ACTUAL nature, and if you really do want wisdom and truth, then you should face death. Death is an extremely important idea overall in Buddhism. It’s deeply connected with dukkha. maraṇaṃ dukkhaṃ. 12th link of dependent origination. Enlightenment is going beyond death through a perfected understanding of your nature, but I wouldn’t be offended if you haven’t come across this idea; everyone has their own understandings from their own conditioned exposure. And everything about us is utterly conditioned.

That’s an assumption and I’ve never seen anyone do that in the parts of Buddhism I’ve seen. I’m tempted to speculate as to why you would assume that, but I’ll move on. You asked questions, I believe I adequately know the answer, and so I gave the best opinion I could, which came from my own experience. It’s not any more complicated than that.

It’s hard to tell if you’re experiencing heavy doubt, one of the five hindrances, or if you are just trying to find some answer to some specific philosophical problem.

Doubt can happen for anyone who comes into contact with the Buddha’s words (or any teacher’s words). He gave advice on how to deal with this hindrance. If someone wishes, this advice could help them: you don’t need to find the answer to these things immediately. You shouldn’t assume the answer either way. The answer to these doubtful and distracting questions is silence for now. Later on you may find the answer to them in your own practice and experience, and it’ll be clear when you’re able to, but trying to force an answer with impatience will work yourself backwards. Not-self can be very confusing for people who aren’t familiar with the rest of it, and it’s a concept that may have to come later for some. What the Buddha taught isn’t something you will necessarily understand quickly, it may take many many hours and lifetimes of careful study, and you don’t have to suffer over not having all the answers at any point of that path of understanding. Just because you believe one part is wrong does not mean it is wrong. If everyone already agreed with the Buddha, then he wouldn’t have said anything. Just because you misunderstand something doesn’t mean that it isn’t true. Just because you disagree with one part doesn’t mean the rest of the teachings become wrong. Seeking for mini philosophical “contradictions” or technicalities about not-self does not disprove the whole theory, importance, potency, or reality of it, nor would it disprove the possibility of suffering’s end or the reality that suffering is optional.

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So, you really think that a child that does not develop a sense of self regarding the body, feelings, will, perceptions etc. is without any problem? It just is not true and also not for an adult.

Ofcourse. Why would i denie that? Must i also denie that thoughts exist, emotions, the body?
Dhamma is not about exist or not-exist but about seeing how things arise, exist and cease, alse the sense of self.

Just to denie a stable sense of self is not wise. One must first connect to how one perceives things and if one perceives a stable self, that is completey oke. Because that is your world at that moment.
Many here prefer theory above experience but i feel that is not the Path.

My experience is, a sense of self can be totally absent or present but if present it is always the same kind of sense of self. It does not rely on the content of the mind.