Spin-Off from Bhante Sujato’s Essay: Self, no self, not-self…

Like the EBT teach…one must know sankhata and asankhata. Here on the forum almost all attention goes to sankhata. To what is seen arsing and ceasing and changing. All is always about formations seen coming and going…

Any talk about something stable (the EBT do mention it), something that is not seen arising, ceasing and changing, not desintegrating… seems taboe or immediately related to the concept of atta. But atta and asankhata are very different concepts.

In my opinion it is also ignorance to denie, not accept, reject asankhata, or turn it into something that is also arising and ceasing.

I believe sankhata as well as asankhata are not some atta, but EBT teach for a reason that the Buddha taught a Path to the unconditioned, to the stable, the not-desintegrating, the deathless etc.

I think the problem is that we want to grasp all intellectually, rationally.

What is a atavistic condition?

The suttas are daunting. Many people are still getting a handle on how to approach them even, so. In my experience, spending time on the Unconditioned leads to via negativa, mysticism and concepts of void … and burnt crepe, because I am busy paying attention to this instead of it :neutral_face:

Recently, I have been looking at the Upanisasutta SN12.23. Myself I replaced the term vital condition with proximate cause, revised SN12.21 to this

When this exists, that is (iti imasmiṁ sati idaṁ hoti); when this has arisen, that arises (imassuppādā idaṁ uppajjati). When this does not exist that is not (imasmiṁ asati idaṁ na hoti); when this has ceased, that ceases (imassa nirodhā idaṁ nirujjhati).

and am eyeballing the two side by side.

Definitely a problem with Westerners - obviously this was rejected by the post-structuralist opposition to grand narratives, including and probably especially Reason - but well, the dialectic there has become the rational and irrational - I got big doses of that in my spanking hot avant garde MA. Total headache.

I don’t suppose I could have written anal.


It may be useful to for me to identify the “secret name,” or naturalist principle, in Agni that can be found in the Rgveda. It is mentioned about 30 times: Apām Napāt, Child of the Waters. It also appears as apā́ṃ gárbhaḥ embryo or seed of the waters.

RV II.35 - which is in one of the family books and definitely much older the Mandala X - is dedicated solely to him and figures him nicely.

I’ve looked into Apām Napāt a bit and think his trace goes all the way back to Egyptian religion and comes from Sirius, whose appearance on the horizon marked the beginning of the annual flood of the Nile.

Yes, although a great challenge to understanding an-atta is to understand what is meant by atta.
It’s telling that although the Pali suttas seem to make this clear, and describe the benefits of understanding it at length, there is a huge amount of perplexity and debate on the matter.

From Ven. Sunyo:
“The relevant passage is the sutta’s opening line which says the following: “Bhikkhus, indeed whatever recluses or brahmans (who) regard the self in different ways, in so regarding, they all regard the five aggregates subject to clinging or a certain one of these” (see Bodhi 2017, 33).20 This passage is attempting an exhaustiveness claim; any recluse who has any view of the self will actually be mistaking the self for one or more of the aggregates”

So perhaps my point is that this seems to go beyond questions of vocabulary or translation, and is about our ability to reckon with these ideas.

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Yup. It’s pretty advanced stuff and highly radical in its thinking, even to this day. So, there’s no need to rush, because … "Just as the great ocean has one taste, the taste of salt, so also this teaching and discipline has one taste, the taste of liberation.”

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Yes. It’s hard to understand the solution (‘what exactly is nibbana…’) if we’re still struggling to comprehend and articulate the problem.

It’s very difficult for me to say anything. I had a moment, though when I was in seclusion and was being subjected to kind of forced teaching, I was sitting there thinking along the lines of “am I being neurolinguistically programmed,” and kind of freaking. So I was thinking about my freaking. I walked away from that and said, “You know what it’s like? It’s like in Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back when Luke goes into the cave and encounters Darth Vadar and fights him and then sees his own face underneath the mask.”

I was so excited. I was like that is wow, crazy now and awesome. It’s extremely important to do all of this in a safe space. You can’t have people who aren’t good, doing this or trying to carry it forward in any way.


Yes atta is self while sankhata is conditioned. they are two different concepts. When sankhata is seen as atta is due to ditthi, mana and lobha arises. Sankhata is not seen as atta when dosa, moha or alobha, adosa or amoha arise.

What about asankhata? Where does that refer to?

In my opinion these ideas that a Buddha has no sense of self at all are wrong. Also a Buddha thinks…if i do this, i will reap this and that results. It shows a normal sense of self. “If i go teaching and people do not understand me, that will only be burdensome for me”…or…“if i do not seek some shade now, i will get sunburned”…“let me stretch my back because it hurts and if i do that the pain will vanish”…“let me go some time in seclusion now”, etc.

My mother has Alzheimer and i can tell you from experience that when one literally sees, for example, the body as not me, and not mine, one is really sick. Such a person sees in the mirror, and does not recoginise that person as ‘that’s me’. Or, this also happens, some people with braindamage see body parts as not me, not mine, and even try to remove them.

For me it is quit sure that when one literally sees the body and mind as not me, not mine, one has a huge problem. But i believe a Buddha sees body and mind as me and mine, just in as far needed to stay alive, healthy, not hurt etc. Unlike the defiled mind this is not based anymore upon slavery, force of habit. It is not an instinct of me and mine making anymore.

That instinctive nature of me and mine making (anusaya) is gone but not a me and mine making that is just needed from day to day.

The crux is, i feel…there is just a great difference between the mind that makes use of identity, me and my making, emotions in a free manner, unfettered, no slavery, and the mind that is fettered by identity, rigid, slave of anusaya, governed by a blind and blinding will.

To think about the uprooting of all anusaya as some inability to become emotional, an inability to deal with body and mind as me and mine, is, i believe probably wrong. The difference is: one is rigid and habitual, forced, instinctive (when all anusaya are not uprooted) and the other is free, unfettered, playful, not forced, not instinctive (all anusaya are uprooted)

I have for long also seen it differently and also believed these stories about an inability of becoming emotional, a total absence of any me and mine making and sense of self. Now i think these stories are wrong.

I feel the above is based upon EBT and much better corresponds with how Buddha’s life is described in the sutta’s.

The taste of Nibbana is a taste of freedom not of inability.

That refers to unconditioned, Nibbana

Yes, but if this Nibbana refers to the state of an arahant, lets say it does, which some buddhist also see as something temporary, why even use the word asankhata?

I feel, reading the sutta’s, it is not difficult to understand that the Buddha did not search for something that is unstable, liable to arise and cease. In this sense he did not even seek the highest heavenly realms with a an almost endless lifespan. Nor was he satisfied with temporary states of happiness as in jhana.

He clearly sought the unconstructed, non-manifestive, that what is not liable to arise, cease and change. That what is…reliable and can function really as protection, a refuge because it will never fall apart. The Stable.

If even Nibbana would only be some name/designation for a temporary conditioned state that ceases at death of the arahant, that does not at all correspond to what he sought and probably we all seek:

"the truth …the far shore …the subtle …the very hard to see …the freedom from old age …
the constant …the not falling apart …that in which nothing appears … the unproliferated …
the peaceful …the freedom from death …the sublime …the state of grace …the sanctuary …
the ending of craving …the incredible …the amazing …the untroubled …the not liable to trouble …
Nibbana…the unafflicted …dispassion …purity …freedom …not clinging …the island …the protection …the shelter …the refuge …” (SN43.14-43)

How can one equate this with a mere cessation with nothing remaining or arahanthood?

Nibbana is the great goal of Buddhism.

Although there are many hints, what it really ‘is’ cannot be described by the conditioned world.

So, surely, the role of faith or saddhā is of tremendous importance here. Trusting and believing that the goal is worth the journey is a major component of practice. In fact, doubt is one of the first 3 fetters.

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A very common case involves those who mistake the aggregates as a group for the self; maybe this is even the most common case? If you believe the aggregates exist in a way that a self does not, then it is easy to see how the view forms that the aggregates taken as a group are the self. :pray:

In the Pali suttas, it is frequently stated that the 5 aggregates should not be taken as self, me, or mine.

It is, however, the reflexive and natural point of view.
‘These are my thoughts’, ‘that’s my leg’.
So the Dhamma can seem quite counterintuitive.

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A rational and mindful approach of mind is stated in DN22. It is to have an eye for how mind can feel very different from moment to moment or day to day. It can be felt as extremely contracted or as open as the sky; rigid or flexible, freed and unfreed, supreme and not supreme, expansive, non-expensive etc (DN22)

This describes states of mind. Those can rapidly change.
These states of mind, they arise and cease, day in day out. It depends on what defilement come flowing (AN1.51) in the mind. A worried mind feels very different from a mind without worries.

The mind with hate really becomes very narrow, restricted, heavily burdened. The same with greed and delusion. Like defilement they coarsen the mind. These mind states are mentally felt, as it were, and often also bodily ofcourse in bodily tension etc.

But what happens when there is no greed at all, no hate at all, no delusion at all incoming?
Is that pure mind still felt like the angry mind can be felt, or the jalous mind etc?
Is it really an aggregation?

Is this pure mind, mind without limits (AN10.81), still a state of mind that can be seen coming and going

I do believe there’s a sutta that says when any one of the aggregates is taken up, all are. I can’t remember where, except that it’s likely in the SN. I think some of the difference you are pointing to goes back to the language thing we just began to touch upon. It’s one thing to just say “that’s my leg,” it’s another thing to embrace that leg as an essential part constituting the whole marvelous me, you or whoever.

We see this type of identification occurring all over the place. In many different ways. As well, just as an FYI on the topic of medieval POV, there was a belief that an ugly person was ugly by virtue, and a beautiful person was beautiful by virtue. Even today, we see a witch with a big warty nose, she’s bad. That’s all there is to it. The evil music plays, the villain in black twitching his moustache comes out. You know it. He’s bad. The blond super hero with the golden aura and wings descends from the heavens. Oh swoon. Rescued!

I’m pretty sure if I lost my leg, I would be in for some kind of rehab making sure to ease whatever adjustments were necessary. This stuff is called trauma for a reason.