What is a self?

This may be an old question, but I like to know what do we really think what is it? Here are also some ideas

What Is a ‘Self’? Here Are All the Possibilities,

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From the essay posted a message of analysis paralysis and implicit affirmation of self:

After all, we can never leave the “self” to examine the “self.”

I prefer the following and have found it quite useful in dealing with stuff:

“This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self” – The Buddha

What have you found personally?:pray:


Not much. I’d like to hear different views.

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So far i haven’t found a definition for atta in the suttas. But i found a definition for satta (a being).

A being,’ lord. ‘A being,’ it’s said. To what extent is one said to be ‘a being’?”
“Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for form, Rādha: when one is caught up [satta] there, tied up [visatta] there, one is said to be ‘a being [satta].’
“Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for feeling… perception… fabrications…
“Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for consciousness, Rādha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be ‘a being.’



Mara. Why now do you assume ‘a being’?
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.’

SN 5.10


A convention, but not an ultimate reality.

It seems to me that a self is a name for whatever you take to be your most precious possession. The function of a self is to stop us from letting go; it’s a necessary condition for us to feel we have a stake in samsara :slight_smile:


Wowzers! Thanks for finding that. I’ve been listening to DN33 wondering about the definition of “sentient being”. It seems obvious but it isn’t. The SN23.2 quote clicks in perfectly. Thank you. :pray:


“When the aggregates exist” seems to suggest a living sentient creature, given the inclusion of form ( rupa ). So I’m not sure there is a direct correlation between satta ( a sentient being ) and sakkaya-ditthi ( self-view ).

Note also the use of “being” in SN14.14, for example:
"At Sāvatthī. “Mendicants, transmigration has no known beginning. … It’s not easy to find a sentient being who in all this long time has not previously been your mother. Why is that? Transmigration has no known beginning. … This is quite enough for you to become disillusioned, dispassionate, and freed regarding all conditions.”

I guess not. Does a cat or dog have sakkaya-ditthi ? I don’t Know

But a more interesting question ; Does a chimpanzee have sakkaya-ditthi?

Indeed, though a rather useful convention in practice.

“Look out for that chariot!” is a more effective warning than: “Look out for that collection of parts, including wheels, axle, frame, body, yoke etc etc…” :yum:


Is a chimp sentient? That seems to be the requirement. I think there are degrees of sentience in higher mammals.

I have a distinct sense of “me” as an individual “being”, though it varies quite a bit. I think a lot of it is based on having a physical body, or at least identifying with it.


All mammals. Indeed, everyone through insects:

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? Amazon.com: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? (Audible Audio Edition): Frans de Waal, Sean Runnette, Inc. Blackstone Audio: Books


Being the body or as a gentle custodian of the body? :wink:

This is very interesting. I remember reading some thing where sakkaya-ditthi was translated as embodiment-view.

What do you think sakkaya-ditthi is compared to
Asmi-māna(‘I am’-conceit)?

Supposedly, a sotapanna has eradicted sakkaya-ditthi but still has ‘I am’-conceit(Asmi-māna).

I don’t think my body will be of much use to anyone else once I have finished with it. :yum:

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To me it looks like a question of degree. “I am” seems to be the important one, it’s like a deep-seated conviction or belief in a “me”. I assume this is what is referred to in the suttas when they describe assuming the aggregates to be “me” and “mine”, ie identification.

For me this identification is centred on “my” body, I assume because it includes the sense-organs and therefore what I experience via the sense bases. For example, I know that if I drop a brick on my foot it is going to hurt, I know that if I cover my eyes I won’t be able to see, and so on.


Agree. Building on what you said. sakkaya ditthi must be the attributes we assign to this sense of “I”. Sri lankan, Male , lazy , stubborn…………………


Yes, could be - the underlying sense of “me”, then ideas about what “me” is like. Actually I don’t find the suttas very clear on the distinction.
In a way the sense of “me” seems like a natural consequence of being an individual biological organism, though it also causes us problems. And we all have a unique point of view, both physically and mentally.
I don’t regard the sense of “me” as something “bad”, or even something to be got rid of - more like something to be properly understood, and perhaps eventually transcended.

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