I would like to recapitulate and go on with the sutta, maybe to finish it eventually… Key take-aways so far are
- The sutta sees attā as something that is possessed - by which entity does not concern the sutta. It just assumes a subject that would be the possessor without addressing it.
- The sutta says that it would be great to have an eternal possession, but that this is impossible. Whatever can be possessed must be of impermanent nature, and hence any attā must be of an impermanent nature.
- It further generalizes its conclusion by stating that any attā-theory must lead to suffering basically because it is based on a non-real axiom.
The flaw of the reasoning is somewhat hidden in the text, but clear from the above: It all rests on the assumption that any conceivable attā or attā-theory has at its center an attā that is possessed - my attā.
Some theories/convictions might follow that, but in this generalized form this is an unbased assumption, and it’s relatively easy to conceive an attā-conviction where the attā/soul/self is not possessed by a mysterious subject.
It is not even true that all attā-theories at the Buddha’s time were of this nature. The Upanisads at least (especially the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad that circulated in a similar area as the Buddha) prove differently.
Out of any context a non-buddhist position is presented, rejected and ridiculed: “The self and the cosmos are one and the same. After death I will be permanent, everlasting, eternal, imperishable, and will last forever and ever”. Supposedly this is a or the brahmin/vedic position - but not to our knowledge at least. Maybe it’s a statement of an influential brahmin teacher at that time, but 1.it is taken out of context and 2.it surely doesn’t represent all attā-views.
Imagine someone would take one sentence of the Buddha out of context. Any teenager could reject and ridicule it. In short: This is not how you treat the position of someone you respect or are interested in a serious conversation, it’s how you treat an adversary you want to look stupid, foolish and see destroyed - which is inconceivable as the position of the Buddha, but very conceivable for later generations where different religious movements competed for superiority, following, and economic support.
SC 27 - SC 29.3 ends with the core buddhist practice of dis-owning the khandhas, which results in dispassion, freedom, and enlightenment.
SC 30-36 come from AN 5.71/72
SC 36.1-2 strangely equate any arahant with a tathagata.
Where usually the content of the sutta would have ended with enlightenment (SC 29.3) the sutta opens the case again in SC 37.1 with the misrepresentation of the Buddha to be an annihilist.
SC 40.1 - SC 41.28 goes back to the practice of disowning the khandhas - this time coming verbatim from SN 22.33/34 (the same take on the salayatanas can be found in SN 35.101-102, SN 35.138-139).
The sutta ends with proclaiming the result of the teaching (arahantship, non-, once-return, streamentry, dhamma-/faith-follower, heavenly rebirth).