The Dhamma: a rebellion against the body

Right, and perhaps the fundamental non-understanding that doesn’t see the danger in the attraction (gratification), and possibility of escape.

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Okay. But then, who am I? If I am not the body, who am I? If my identity is not the body, what is my real identity?
What does the Theravada say? And the Mahayana?

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For an answer from the Pali canon, consider reading the second sutta from the Middle Length Discourses, ‘All the Taints’, and the ‘Anattalakkhana Sutta’ found in the Connected Discourses.

Absolutely. And really illustrates why virtue is necessary. Without the withholding of certain action there is no space to reveal that the pressure to act is coming from the senses, and the preference from the mind (citta).

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Basically the answer is “don’t think about it, it’s just opinions”?

This doesn’t really seem like an option, does it?

The ‘thinking about it’ has occurred because of certain conditions. So how do we address these vexing (and sometimes painful) questions? Maybe by understanding why they have arisen.

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The Buddha repelled against the body through extreme asceticism, then broke his fast and discovered the teachings.

Oh yes, I see. In the first sutta you gave, the Buddha explains that “ideas asserting what our true identity is” are only opinions, speculations. And in the second sutta, the Buddha explains that consciousness, form, perception (etc.) are non-self, are not our identity.

Ok, but in the end, he doesn’t say that it is our real identity. He just says that everything that is conditioned is non-self. I guess it’s so that we don’t get attached to it?

Another question please: in the Mahayana, our true identity is the Buddha nature?

Thanks in advance

designated dependently upon the five aggregates (i might add something like “in motion” to that)

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Hi. Let’s back you up a little bit. So you are assuming that there is an identity there and the problem is simply to find the true of it? There are suttas that discuss things like identity views. @sujato mentioned one recently that is in MN, which, for the moment, escapes me, but maybe this essay of his will help …

The Pali contains many different words about ‘origin’, ‘cause’, ‘condition’, ‘influencing factor’, ‘support’, etc. In the four noble truths, what exactly is the Pali word being referred to that means ‘source’? If the physical body was not a ‘source’ of suffering, why would the suttas give it special attention, such as in AN 9.15? :saluting_face:

In relation to Non-Returning, it seems the physical body is given special attention in SN 12.63.

I prefer @Thito 's perspective. While I have offered AN 9.15 & SN 12.63, I think the Buddha-Dhamma does not offer enough tying/relating the mental defilements to the physical body. For example, in modern secular parlance, if a person is very emotional, this is often attributed to “hormones” or “brain chemicals”. For example, its quite plainly obvious the primary motivation of life-forms (aka ‘beings’) is the search for food & reproductive sex, which is also thus the historical source of conflicts, wars, etc. Thus, the “rebellion” your comment seemed to emphasize was a “rebellion” against the mental defilements. However, if there is insight into “the body”, this can generate much dispassion & make the rebellion against the mental defilements easier; similar to the bhikkhus in SN 54.9 . :dizzy:

Sure. I imagine carrying those written texts in backpacks from India to China hundreds of years after the Buddha was quite heavy therefore they needed to lighten the load. :surfing_man:t2:

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It seems this teaching in AN9.15 is not found in SN/SA sutta/s?

SN/SA is not “from India to China” suttas!

Why must there be a real identity? And why does it matter at the end of the day? My personal opinion is that speculating the universe is a luxury that people in pain can’t afford. Someone dying of a painful disease couldn’t care less about the universe, they just want the pain to go away. So speculating about a true self is indulging in sensuality, and thoughts are sense objects.

The Buddha is warning you that sooner or later your body is going to fail, and it’s going to hurt, and life will become miserable to anyone who hasn’t sufficiently developed their mind (unclung from the aggregates).

Now this, monks, is the noble truth of stress:[1] Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful, separation from the loved is stressful, not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful.

That’s why health and youth are intoxications,

Monks, there are these three forms of intoxication. Which three? Intoxication with youth, intoxication with health, intoxication with life.

"Drunk with the intoxication of youth, an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person engages in bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, & mental misconduct.

What is happening is that when dukkha is not present people think they’re safe, like playing with toys in a burning house but forgetting that the house (body) is going to eventually collapse on them. Mindfulness means remembering that there is a body (burning house) here that doesn’t care about your universal questions (toys), it’s going to bring pain upon you when it breaks down, and you’re strapped along for the ride. So what do you do in this predicament? what’s your escape?

The body is eventually going to “give you what you don’t want” as the first noble truth says, how are you going to handle it? and that’s where one starts to develop “Proper Attention” (Yoniso Manasikara). Speculating whether there is a true self or an infinite universe does nothing to stop suffering. Realizing that the body is not self is different, because it’s in relation to the body, something that is directly knowable, and not an abstract concept like the universe.

Answering the question “what is our true identity?” can lead us to suffer less. Just as answering the question “Is the body the Self?” can lead us to suffer less (and the Buddha did), even if a very sick man does not think about this question.

For example, for advaita vedanta (= school of Hinduism), we are not what is perceived. Advaita Vedanta assumes that our true identity is not what is perceived, is not a perception. That is why, according to advaita vedanta, we are not an apple, because an apple is something perceived, it is a perception. Similarly, that is why we are not the body, because the body is something perceived, it is a perception. Also, we are not the mind, because the mind (thoughts, desires, etc.) is something perceived, it is a perception.
So who are we? As I said, advaita vedanta assumes that our true identity is not what is perceived. And advaita vedanta also assumes that our true identity is to be the thing that perceives what is perceived, the thing that observes perceptions, the thing that is aware of what is aware. Thus, our true identity is to be the consciousness that perceives perceptions. But beware: this consciousness is not a perception, it is not part of human perception. It is therefore useless to try to find this consciousness in our perception. The consciousness is not a perception: it is the observer of perceptions. And that is what we are: we are the observer of perceptions. So we are supra-human, because we are not human perception, but we are pure consciousness beyond perception.
If you can feel this idea inside you, it detaches you from the body, the mind, and the world. You feel less involved, because for you the world is just a stage. The human being that you perceive is not you, it is just a thing that moves in all directions, filled with impurities, performing impurities, but it is not you. Imagine a theater scene. For advaita vedanta, we are the spectator of this theater scene. And when you become aware of this, you stop identifying with the stage, and therefore you suffer less.

For anyone interested in criticisms of Advaita Vendanta:

NOTE: I am not sure if it was the original intention of @DeadBuddha but there is an implication in his post that:

From the angle of “not-self”, Buddhism would be considered almost identical to Advaita Vedanta (which is false because of the uniqueness of the Four Noble Truths).

Hi. You are in a completely different zone of thinking with Buddhism. Buddhism isn’t advaita vedanta. It doesn’t posit Maya (as an ultimately unreal projection of Brahman). It also isn’t samkhya and doesn’t posit the cosmic dance of purusa (pure consciousness) entranced by prakriti’s gunas (even though this does carry into tantra). Classical advaita developed later than Buddhism and is influenced by it. So too classical samkhya (the syncretism of the Bhagavad Gita is most accessible).

I am not saying that Buddhism is compatible with advaita vedanta. That’s not what my post says. What I am saying is simply that answering the question “Who am I?” in a positive way can reduce attachment to the world, and thus reduce suffering.

And I’m not a vedantist, and I don’t assert that my identity is to be the consciousness that perceives perceptions. I feel closer to Buddhism. But I found this idea of advaita vedanta to be very illustrative. And I find it very interesting.

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Shall we go back to discussing the original topic of the thread, namely how the Dhamma is related to the body?

If needed, feel free to open new threads to discuss related topics.

With Metta,


from the collective consciousness point of view, body prioritizes survival over enlightenment. depending on if the planet is going through cycles of golden age or dark age, body allows room for enlightenment. body inherently contains the seed of enlightenment to transcend itself but it is programmed primarily for survival. as much as survival mode is a trap we can’t look down on it because it is the reason we are alive through the evolution.