Whats bound to be another wildly popular observation around here:

Apart from brief exhortations to develop anattā as a perceptual strategy, equal or equivalent to the perceptions of impermanence, ugliness, drawbacks, fading, renunciation and cessation, as at:

DN16

I will teach you seven more principles that prevent decline. … Aparepi vo, bhikkhave, satta aparihāniye dhamme desessāmi, taṁ suṇātha, sādhukaṁ manasikarotha, bhāsissāmī”ti. “Evaṁ, bhante”ti kho te bhikkhū bhagavato paccassosuṁ. Bhagavā etadavoca:

As long as the mendicants develop the perceptions of impermanence … “Yāvakīvañca, bhikkhave, bhikkhū aniccasaññaṁ bhāvessanti …pe… not-self … anattasaññaṁ bhāvessanti … ugliness … asubhasaññaṁ bhāvessanti … drawbacks … ādīnavasaññaṁ bhāvessanti … giving up … pahānasaññaṁ bhāvessanti … fading away … virāgasaññaṁ bhāvessanti … cessation, they can expect growth, not decline. nirodhasaññaṁ bhāvessanti, vuddhiyeva, bhikkhave, bhikkhūnaṁ pāṭikaṅkhā, no parihāni.

DN33

Five perceptions that ripen in freedom: Pañca vimuttiparipācanīyā saññā— the perception of impermanence, the perception of suffering in impermanence, the perception of not-self in suffering, the perception of giving up, and the perception of fading away. aniccasaññā, anicce dukkhasaññā, dukkhe anattasaññā, pahānasaññā, virāgasaññā.

Six perceptions that help penetration: Cha nibbedhabhāgiyā saññā— the perception of impermanence, the perception of suffering in impermanence, the perception of not-self in suffering, the perception of giving up, the perception of fading away, and the perception of cessation. aniccasaññā anicce, dukkhasaññā dukkhe, anattasaññā, pahānasaññā, virāgasaññā, nirodhasaññā.

Seven perceptions: Satta saññā— the perception of impermanence, the perception of not-self, the perception of ugliness, the perception of drawbacks, the perception of giving up, the perception of fading away, and the perception of cessation. aniccasaññā, anattasaññā, asubhasaññā, ādīnavasaññā, pahānasaññā, virāgasaññā, nirodhasaññā.

and

DN34

What seven things should be produced? Katame satta dhammā uppādetabbā? Seven perceptions: Satta saññā— the perception of impermanence, the perception of not-self, the perception of ugliness, the perception of drawbacks, the perception of giving up, the perception of fading away, and the perception of cessation. aniccasaññā, anattasaññā, asubhasaññā, ādīnavasaññā, pahānasaññā, virāgasaññā, nirodhasaññā. Ime satta dhammā uppādetabbā.

anattā does not occur in DN as a doctrinal term. It’s first occurrence in MN is MN2 where it appears to be asserted to be a wrong view:

This is how they attend improperly:
So evaṁ ayoniso manasi karoti:

‘Did I exist in the past? Did I not exist in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? After being what, what did I become in the past?
‘ahosiṁ nu kho ahaṁ atītamaddhānaṁ? Na nu kho ahosiṁ atītamaddhānaṁ? Kiṁ nu kho ahosiṁ atītamaddhānaṁ? Kathaṁ nu kho ahosiṁ atītamaddhānaṁ? Kiṁ hutvā kiṁ ahosiṁ nu kho ahaṁ atītamaddhānaṁ?

Will I exist in the future? Will I not exist in the future? What will I be in the future? How will I be in the future? After being what, what will I become in the future?’
Bhavissāmi nu kho ahaṁ anāgatamaddhānaṁ? Na nu kho bhavissāmi anāgatamaddhānaṁ? Kiṁ nu kho bhavissāmi anāgatamaddhānaṁ? Kathaṁ nu kho bhavissāmi anāgatamaddhānaṁ? Kiṁ hutvā kiṁ bhavissāmi nu kho ahaṁ anāgatamaddhānan’ti?

Or they are undecided about the present thus:
Etarahi vā paccuppannamaddhānaṁ ajjhattaṁ kathaṅkathī hoti:

‘Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? This sentient being—where did it come from? And where will it go?’
‘ahaṁ nu khosmi? No nu khosmi? Kiṁ nu khosmi? Kathaṁ nu khosmi? Ayaṁ nu kho satto kuto āgato? So kuhiṁ gāmī bhavissatī’ti?

When they attend improperly in this way, one of the following six views arises in them and is taken as a genuine fact.
Tassa evaṁ ayoniso manasikaroto channaṁ diṭṭhīnaṁ aññatarā diṭṭhi uppajjati.

The view: ‘My self exists’ arises in them and is taken as a genuine fact.
‘Atthi me attā’ti vā assa saccato thetato diṭṭhi uppajjati;

The view: ‘My self does not exist’ arises in them and is taken as a genuine fact.
‘natthi me attā’ti vā assa saccato thetato diṭṭhi uppajjati;

The view: ‘I perceive the self with the self.’ arises in them and is taken as a genuine fact.
‘attanāva attānaṁ sañjānāmī’ti vā assa saccato thetato diṭṭhi uppajjati;

The view: ‘I perceive what is not-self with the self.’ arises in them and is taken as a genuine fact.
‘attanāva anattānaṁ sañjānāmī’ti vā assa saccato thetato diṭṭhi uppajjati;

The view: ‘I perceive the self with what is not-self.’ arises in them and is taken as a genuine fact.
‘anattanāva attānaṁ sañjānāmī’ti vā assa saccato thetato diṭṭhi uppajjati;

Or they have such a view:
atha vā panassa evaṁ diṭṭhi hoti:

‘This self of mine is he who speaks and feels and experiences the results of good and bad deeds in all the different realms. This self is permanent, everlasting, eternal, and imperishable, and will last forever and ever.’
‘yo me ayaṁ attā vado vedeyyo tatra tatra kalyāṇapāpakānaṁ kammānaṁ vipākaṁ paṭisaṁvedeti so kho pana me ayaṁ attā nicco dhuvo sassato avipariṇāmadhammo sassatisamaṁ tatheva ṭhassatī’ti.

This is called a misconception, the thicket of views, the desert of views, the trick of views, the evasiveness of views, the fetter of views.
Idaṁ vuccati, bhikkhave, diṭṭhigataṁ diṭṭhigahanaṁ diṭṭhikantāraṁ diṭṭhivisūkaṁ diṭṭhivipphanditaṁ diṭṭhisaṁyojanaṁ.

An uneducated ordinary person who is fettered by views is not freed from rebirth, old age, and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress.
Diṭṭhisaṁyojanasaṁyutto, bhikkhave, assutavā puthujjano na parimuccati jātiyā jarāya maraṇena sokehi paridevehi dukkhehi domanassehi upāyāsehi;

They’re not freed from suffering, I say.
‘na parimuccati dukkhasmā’ti vadāmi.

(I have modified sujato’s translation to remove “in an absolute sense” from the first two views, as this rendering begs the question under discussion, and restored “is taken as a genuine fact” as it is actually there.

for the original see MN2.

Now this is where it gets interesting, MA10 has:

彼作如是不正思惟,於六見中隨其見生而生真有神,此見生而生真無神,此見生而生神見神,此見生而生神見非神,此見生而生非神見神,此見生而生此是神,能語、能知、能作、教、作起、教起,生彼彼處,受善惡報,定無所從來,定不有、定不當有,是謂見之弊,為見所動,見結所繫。凡夫愚人以是之故,便受生、老、病、死苦也。

Which cdpatton renders as:

“Thus, they incorrectly contemplate. As a result of those six views, this view arises: ‘There really is a soul.’ That view gives rise to [this view]: ‘There really is no soul.’ That view gives rise to [this view]: ‘The soul sees the soul.’ That views gives rise to [this view]: ‘The soul sees what’s not the soul.’ That view gives rise to [this view]: ‘What’s not the soul sees the soul.’ That view gives rise to [these views]: ‘The soul speaks, knows, acts, teaches, initiates actions, and initiates teachings. It’s born in one place or another and receives the results of good and bad [actions],’ ‘It certainly comes from nowhere … certainly doesn’t exist … certainly won’t exist.’ “This is called the downfall of views, being moved by views, and being tied by the bond of views. As a result, ordinary foolish people are subject to the pain of birth, old age, illness, and death."

Now two things:

first:

the first five of the six views are;

exists
doesn’t exist

and then;

A is known with A
not A is known with A
A is know with not A

and the sixth option is given as;

an everlasting and eternal self by the Theravada, and
an unreal certainly non-existant and doomed self by the Sarvastivada!!

second:

A is know with A
not A is known with A
A is known with not A
"some other theory but definitely not “not A is know with not A”

looks awfully familiar if we have been spending time with the tetralemma and the undeclared points.

In conclusion we look in vain for the doctrine of anattā in the first Big Book of Buddhism, and in the second Big Book of Buddhism where the term first occurs the doctrine is not explicated and is even potentially contradicted, and the place where it would most glaringly contradict the doctrine appears to have been edited in 2 completely different ways by the Nikaya and Agama redactors.

The next occurrence, MN35 has some “interesting” aspects too:

“It’s when one of my disciples truly sees any kind of form at all—past, future, or present; internal or external; coarse or fine; inferior or superior; far or near: all form—with right understanding: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’ And having seen this with right understanding they’re freed by not grasping.

“Idha, aggivessana, bhikkhu yaṁ kiñci rūpaṁ atītānāgatapaccuppannaṁ ajjhattaṁ vā bahiddhā vā oḷārikaṁ vā sukhumaṁ vā hīnaṁ vā paṇītaṁ vā yaṁ dūre santike vā sabbaṁ rūpaṁ ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti evametaṁ yathābhūtaṁ sammappaññāya disvā anupādā vimutto hoti;

Firstly it’s parallel in the Agamas is in SA, not MA, secondly it gives;

“佛告火種居士:「我為諸弟子說諸所有色,若過去、若未來、若現在,若內、若外,若麁、若細,若好、若醜,若遠、若近,彼一切如實觀察非我、非異我、不相在;受、想、行、識亦復如是。”

"The Buddha told the fire monk, “I’ve explained for my disciples that all forms, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, crude or fine, beautiful or ugly, and distant or near, are truly observed by them as not being self, not different than self, or not mutually inclusive, and so are feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness.”,

So once again we have an Agama parallel rather than corroborating anattā, giving something that looks a lot more like the tetralemma in it’s place.

anattā next occurs in MN at MN109, the Agama parallel for this is again in SA, not MA at SA58, and here again we have the difference:

MN:

“But sir, how does identity view come about?”
“Kathaṁ pana, bhante, sakkāyadiṭṭhi hotī”ti?

“It’s when an uneducated ordinary person has not seen the noble ones, and is neither skilled nor trained in the teaching of the noble ones. They’ve not seen good persons, and are neither skilled nor trained in the teaching of the good persons.
“Idha, bhikkhu, assutavā puthujjano ariyānaṁ adassāvī ariyadhammassa akovido ariyadhamme avinīto sappurisānaṁ adassāvī sappurisadhammassa akovido sappurisadhamme avinīto They regard form as self, self as having form, form in self, or self in form. rūpaṁ attato samanupassati rūpavantaṁ vā attānaṁ attani vā rūpaṁ rūpasmiṁ vā attānaṁ;

They regard form as self, self as having form, form in self, or self in form. r
ūpaṁ attato samanupassati rūpavantaṁ vā attānaṁ attani vā rūpaṁ rūpasmiṁ vā attānaṁ;

That’s how identity view comes about.”
Evaṁ kho, bhikkhu, sakkāyadiṭṭhi hotī”ti.

SA:

“云何生我慢?」”,
“How did conceit of self arise?”",

“佛告比丘:「愚癡無聞凡夫於色見我、異我、相在,於受、想、行、識見我、異我、相在,於此生我慢。」”,
"The Buddha told the monks, “Foolish, unheard worldlings see a self, what’s other than self, and what’s present in form, and they see a self, what’s other than self, and what’s present in feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness, which gives rise to conceit of self.”,

MN:

“So you should truly see any kind of form at all—past, future, or present; internal or external; coarse or fine; inferior or superior; far or near: all form—with right understanding: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’
“Tasmātiha, bhikkhave, yaṁ kiñci rūpaṁ atītānāgatapaccuppannaṁ ajjhattaṁ vā bahiddhā vā oḷārikaṁ vā sukhumaṁ vā hīnaṁ vā paṇītaṁ vā yaṁ dūre santike vā sabbaṁ rūpaṁ: ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti evametaṁ yathābhūtaṁ sammappaññāya daṭṭhabbaṁ.

SA:

“佛告比丘:「諸所有色,若過去、若未來、若現在,若內、若外,若麤、若細,若好、若醜,若遠、若近,彼一切非我、不異我、不相在;受、想、行、識亦復如是。”
"The Buddha told the monks, “All forms that exist, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, coarse or fine, beautiful or ugly, and distant or near are not self, not different than self, nor are either present in the other; likewise are feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness.”

So it is not until MN148, the next and last occurrence of anattā that the positive doctrine of anattā really gets going in MN. Once again the Agama parallel is in SAN, not MA, so we can now assert that as a positive doctrine MN lacks any examples of anattā with parallels in the equivalent Agama.

Next, the SA equivalent has, for the first time, equivilents to the “not self” phrasing of the MN version, that is it does not say “not self, not different than self” but unambiguously agrees with the MN version:

If anyone says, ‘the eye is self,’ that is not tenable.
‘Cakkhu attā’ti yo vadeyya taṁ na upapajjati.

The arising and vanishing of the eye is evident,
Cakkhussa uppādopi vayopi paññāyati.

so it would follow that one’s self arises and vanishes.
Yassa kho pana uppādopi vayopi paññāyati, ‘attā me uppajjati ca veti cā’ti iccassa evamāgataṁ hoti.

That’s why it’s not tenable to claim that
Tasmā taṁ na upapajjati:

the eye is self.
‘cakkhu attā’ti yo vadeyya.

So the eye is not self.
Iti cakkhu anattā.

This analysis is repeated for the entire 6 sets of 6, and then there is:

Now, mendicants, this is the way that leads to the origin of identity. Ayaṁ kho pana, bhikkhave, sakkāyasamudayagāminī paṭipadā— You regard the eye like this: ‘This is mine, I am this, this is my self.’ cakkhuṁ ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassati;

You regard sights … rūpe ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassati; eye consciousness … cakkhuviññāṇaṁ ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassati; eye contact … cakkhusamphassaṁ ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassati; feeling … vedanaṁ ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassati; craving like this: ‘This is mine, I am this, this is my self.’ taṇhaṁ ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassati; You regard the ear … sotaṁ ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassati …pe… nose … ghānaṁ ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassati …pe… tongue … jivhaṁ ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassati …pe… body … kāyaṁ ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassati …pe… mind … thoughts … mind consciousness … mind contact … feeling … craving like this: ‘This is mine, I am this, this is my self.’ manaṁ ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassati, dhamme ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassati, manoviññāṇaṁ ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassati, manosamphassaṁ ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassati, vedanaṁ ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassati, taṇhaṁ ‘etaṁ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassati.

But this is the way that leads to the cessation of identity. Ayaṁ kho pana, bhikkhave, sakkāyanirodhagāminī paṭipadā— You regard the eye like this: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’ cakkhuṁ ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati.

You regard sights … Rūpe ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati. eye consciousness … Cakkhuviññāṇaṁ ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati. eye contact … Cakkhusamphassaṁ ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati. feeling … Vedanaṁ ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati. craving like this: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’ Taṇhaṁ ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati. You regard the ear … Sotaṁ ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati …pe… nose … ghānaṁ ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati …pe… tongue … jivhaṁ ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati …pe… body … kāyaṁ ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati …pe… mind like this: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’ manaṁ ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati. You regard thoughts … Dhamme ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati. mind consciousness … Manoviññāṇaṁ ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati. mind contact … Manosamphassaṁ ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati. feeling … Vedanaṁ ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati. craving like this: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’ Taṇhaṁ ‘netaṁ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā’ti samanupassati.

and fnally:

Seeing this, a learned noble disciple grows disillusioned with the eye, sights, eye consciousness, eye contact, feeling, and craving. Evaṁ passaṁ, bhikkhave, sutavā ariyasāvako cakkhusmiṁ nibbindati, rūpesu nibbindati, cakkhuviññāṇe nibbindati, cakkhusamphasse nibbindati, vedanāya nibbindati, taṇhāya nibbindati. Variant: cakkhusmiṁ → cakkhusmiṁpi (sya-all, km)

They grow disillusioned with the ear … Sotasmiṁ nibbindati, saddesu nibbindati …pe… nose … ghānasmiṁ nibbindati, gandhesu nibbindati … tongue … jivhāya nibbindati, rasesu nibbindati … body … kāyasmiṁ nibbindati, phoṭṭhabbesu nibbindati … mind, thoughts, mind consciousness, mind contact, feeling, and craving. manasmiṁ nibbindati, dhammesu nibbindati, manoviññāṇe nibbindati, manosamphasse nibbindati, vedanāya nibbindati, taṇhāya nibbindati. Being disillusioned, desire fades away. When desire fades away they’re freed. When it is freed, they know it is freed. Nibbindaṁ virajjati, virāgā vimuccati. Vimuttasmiṁ vimuttamiti ñāṇaṁ hoti.

They understand: ‘Rebirth is ended, the spiritual journey has been completed, what had to be done has been done, there is no return to any state of existence.’” ‘Khīṇā jāti, vusitaṁ brahmacariyaṁ, kataṁ karaṇīyaṁ, nāparaṁ itthattāyā’ti pajānātī”ti.

That is what the Buddha said. Idamavoca bhagavā.

here is the most complete and exauhstive treatment of anattā in the first 2 Big Books of Buddhism. The context makes clear that what is being examined is the notion of a permanent stable self not prone to arising and ceasing, an such entity is found. Apart from the concluding phrases, like “so the eye is not-self” etc we never get a positive claim to the effect that “there is no such thing as self” just that there is no such thing dicoverable in the eye, etc.

This is a subtle but important distinction. denial that there can be a self discovered in phenomena is not the same as the assertion that a not-self can be discovered in phenomena, and the Agama parallels to the preceding suttas make this clear with thier “not self, not different than self”.

If a not-self can be dicovered in phenomena then the tetralemma and the undeclared points don’t make sense and can’t be reconciled with the rest of the canon. anatta is either merely the refusal to positivly assert a Self, without a commitment to it’s negation as a metaphysical postion, or anatta and the undecalred points represent 2 different Buddhisms, the undeclared points one being predominant in DN and MN, and the anatta one being predominant in the last part of MN and SN.

Metta.

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https://suttacentral.net/dn16/pli/ms?layout=plain&reference=main&notes=asterisk&highlight=false&script=latin#1.10.5

https://suttacentral.net/dn33/pli/ms?layout=plain&reference=main&notes=asterisk&highlight=false&script=latin#2.1.139

https://suttacentral.net/dn33/pli/ms?layout=plain&reference=main&notes=asterisk&highlight=false&script=latin#2.2.127

https://suttacentral.net/dn33/pli/ms?layout=plain&reference=main&notes=asterisk&highlight=false&script=latin#2.3.24

https://suttacentral.net/dn34/pli/ms?layout=plain&reference=main&notes=asterisk&highlight=false&script=latin#1.8.43

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Every Moment is an Event Horizon because of Destructive Change, even for things that remain the Same.

Thank you @CurlyCarl !! I have updated my original post to include your examples!

Also, anattasaññ is quite interesting isn’t it?

VN: 0
DN: 7 (in DN16, DN33 and DN34)
MN: 0
SN: 3 (SN46.73, SN55.3)
AN: 30
KN: 18 (once in the Udana, once in the Theragatha, the other 16 in late books)
AB: 0

The SN occurrences are also “perceptual strategy” type occurrences like the ones in DN:

“Mendicants, when the perception of not-self in suffering is developed and cultivated it’s very fruitful and beneficial. …” “Dukkhe anattasaññā, bhikkhave …pe…”

in a sewuence with the impermanence, ugliness, giving up etc ,and

You should meditate observing the impermanence of all conditions, perceiving suffering in impermanence, perceiving not-self in suffering, perceiving giving up, perceiving fading away, and perceiving cessation. Idha tvaṁ, dīghāvu, sabbasaṅkhāresu aniccānupassī viharāhi, anicce dukkhasaññī, dukkhe anattasaññī pahānasaññī virāgasaññī nirodhasaññīti. That’s how you should train.” Evañhi te, dīghāvu, sikkhitabban”ti.

Ud4.1

They should develop the perception of ugliness to give up greed, love to give up hate, mindfulness of breathing to cut off thinking, and perception of impermanence to uproot the conceit ‘I am’. asubhā bhāvetabbā rāgassa pahānāya, mettā bhāvetabbā byāpādassa pahānāya, ānāpānassati bhāvetabbā vitakkupacchedāya, aniccasaññā bhāvetabbā asmimānasamugghātāya.

When you perceive impermanence, the perception of not-self becomes stabilized. Aniccasaññino hi, meghiya, anattasaññā saṇṭhāti, Perceiving not-self, you uproot the conceit ‘I am’ and attain extinguishment in this very life.” anattasaññī asmimānasamugghātaṁ pāpuṇāti diṭṭheva dhamme nibbānan”ti.

Thag10.7

Developing the perceptions Bhāveyya ca aniccanti, of impermanence, non-self, and unattractiveness, Anattasaññaṁ asubhasaññañca; and displeasure with the whole world—Lokamhi ca anabhiratiṁ, this is appropriate for an ascetic. Etaṁ samaṇassa patirūpaṁ.

So it definitely seems like AN has the majority of occurrences, I will have to investigate some more and see whats of interest.

Metta.

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There are similar teachings in the DN and MN. For example:

  • In DN 1, many of the wrong views listed generally are wrong views because they believe a self is eternal, or a self is annihilated, or a self attains a type of nibbana here & now.
  • In DN 15, not regarding things as ‘self’ is a salient theme.
  • In DN 22, the phrase “Or mindfulness is established that the body… feelings… states of mind… dhammas exist, to the extent necessary for knowledge and mindfulness” refers to not regarding these things as self.

Or at least MN 62 and MN 118 contain the following teaching on aniccasanna:

  • Meditate on impermanence. For when you meditate on impermanence any conceit ‘I am’ will be given up. Aniccasaññañhi te, rāhula, bhāvanaṁ bhāvayato yo asmimāno so pahīyissati. :slightly_smiling_face:
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Interesting thoughts. I’m finding your analysis of the various Nikayas at the very least thought provoking, even if none of this is 100% certain.

I think you missed one mention of anatta though, in MN 22, which is very similar to the accounts found in SN. Would be interested to see what you think of that.

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Yes, thanks again @CurlyCarl , this is true, in the second half of the sutta, after dealing with conditionality, the talk moves on to selfs:

DN15:

When there’s no feeling at all, with the cessation of feeling, would the thought “I am this” occur there?’”
Sabbaso vedanāya asati vedanānirodhā api nu kho tattha ‘ayamahamasmī’ti siyā”ti?

“No, sir.”
“No hetaṁ, bhante”.

“That’s why it’s not acceptable to regard self as that which is liable to feel.
“Tasmātihānanda, etena petaṁ nakkhamati: ‘na heva kho me vedanā attā, nopi appaṭisaṁvedano me attā, attā me vediyati, vedanādhammo hi me attā’ti samanupassituṁ.
Yato kho, ānanda, bhikkhu neva vedanaṁ attānaṁ samanupassati, nopi appaṭisaṁvedanaṁ attānaṁ samanupassati, nopi ‘attā me vediyati, vedanādhammo hi me attā’ti samanupassati.

Not regarding anything in this way, they don’t grasp at anything in the world.
So evaṁ na samanupassanto na ca kiñci loke upādiyati,

Not grasping, they’re not anxious. Not being anxious, they personally become extinguished.
anupādiyaṁ na paritassati, aparitassaṁ paccattaññeva parinibbāyati,

They understand: ‘Rebirth is ended, the spiritual journey has been completed, what had to be done has been done, there is no return to any state of existence.’
‘khīṇā jāti, vusitaṁ brahmacariyaṁ, kataṁ karaṇīyaṁ, nāparaṁ itthattāyā’ti pajānāti.

It wouldn’t be appropriate to say that a mendicant whose mind is freed like this holds the following views:
Evaṁ vimuttacittaṁ kho, ānanda, bhikkhuṁ yo evaṁ vadeyya:

‘A Realized One exists after death’;
‘hoti tathāgato paraṁ maraṇā itissa diṭṭhī’ti, tadakallaṁ.

‘A Realized One doesn’t exist after death’;
‘Na hoti tathāgato paraṁ maraṇā itissa diṭṭhī’ti, tadakallaṁ. ‘

A Realized One both exists and doesn’t exist after death’;
‘Hoti ca na ca hoti tathāgato paraṁ maraṇā itissa diṭṭhī’ti, tadakallaṁ.

‘A Realized One neither exists nor doesn’t exist after death’.
‘Neva hoti na na hoti tathāgato paraṁ maraṇā itissa diṭṭhī’ti, tadakallaṁ.

Why is that?
Taṁ kissa hetu?

A mendicant is freed by directly knowing this: how far language and the scope of language extend; how far terminology and the scope of terminology extend; how far description and the scope of description extend; how far wisdom and the sphere of wisdom extend; how far the cycle of rebirths and its continuation extend. It wouldn’t be appropriate to say that a mendicant freed by directly knowing this holds the view: ‘There is no such thing as knowing and seeing.’
Yāvatā, ānanda, adhivacanaṁ yāvatā adhivacanapatho, yāvatā nirutti yāvatā niruttipatho, yāvatā paññatti yāvatā paññattipatho, yāvatā paññā yāvatā paññāvacaraṁ, yāvatā vaṭṭaṁ, yāvatā vaṭṭati, tadabhiññāvimutto bhikkhu, tadabhiññāvimuttaṁ bhikkhuṁ ‘na jānāti na passati itissa diṭṭhī’ti, tadakallaṁ. Variant: yāvat

but contrast:

DA13:

  1. “Therefore, Ānanda, some postulate a self and say feeling is not self, the self is not feeling, and what feels is not self, but craving is self. They are incorrect.

  2. “Ānanda, this is the extent of language, the extent of answers, the extent of limits, the extent of explanations, the extent of wise observation, and the extent of sentient beings.

  3. “Ānanda, when monks truly and correctly observe this [series of] principles, their minds will be uncontaminated and liberated. Ānanda, these monks should be called ‘those liberated by wisdom.’ Such a liberated monk will know the existence of the self, the non-existence of the self, both the existence and non-existence of the self, and neither the existence nor non-existence of the self. Why?

  4. “Ānanda, this is the extent of language, the extent of answers, the extent of limits, the extent of explanations, the extent of wise observation, and the extent of sentient beings. Thus, having fully known it, a liberated monk whose mind is uncontaminated doesn’t know or see such knowing and seeing [of those four alternatives].”

So again, the actual word anattā does not occur, and what is critiqued is regarding things as self, the Agama parallel then explicitly claims that all four of “self” “not self” “both” and “neither” are understood (in the negative) by the wise monk.

So I think here we definitly see the idea of self critiqued, what I don’t think we see is anything like a positive doctrine of a metaphysical absence.

DN1 is just too complicated to deal with here, I will build up to it in a later post.

DN22 I think is imported from MN10 which in turn is imported from SN.

I totally agree that the Buddha %100 percent taught the total destruction of the conceit “I am” and the rejection of the view “A Self exists”.

What I don’t agree with is the idea the Buddha taught the view “A self does not exist”.

Metta

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Yes! this is an excellent one that I did miss, because there is no occurrence of anattā in it, but it is one of the best and most direct articulations of anattā in the canon.

I am afraid I will have to get back to you, as this might change everything I have been saying (for starters the parallel is in MA)

probably the first thing to say is that MN22 is one of the rare occurrences of anupalabbhamāne (“not a genuine fact”) which occurs only here and at SN22.85 and SN44.2 in the EBT’s.

sabbaṃ viññāṇaṃ (all consciousness) does not occur in DN, and in MN only occurs here (MN22) and the previously mentioned MN35 and MN109, it occurs once in the Vinaya, 3 times in AN, zero times in the early books of KN, never in the Abhidhamma, and 17 times in SN.

yampi taṃ diṭṭhiṭṭhānaṃ occurs:

VN: 0
DN: 0
MN: 1 (MN22)
SN: 0
AN: 0
KN: 0 (including the late books)
AB: 0
VM: 0 (Visuddhimagga)

paripūro bāladhammo occurs:

VN: 0
DN: 0
MN: 1 (MN22)
SN: 0
AN: 0
KN: 0
AB: 1 (qouting MN22)
VM: 0

attaniyaṃ me occurs:

VN: 0
DN: 0
MN: 1 (MN22)
SN: 0
AN: 0
KN: 0
AB: 1 (qouting MN22)
VM: 0

na uppajjeyyuṃ sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā occurs:

VN: 0
DN: 0
MN: 1 (MN22)
SN: 0
AN: 0
KN: 0
AB: 0
VM: 0

diṭṭhinissayaṃ nissayetha yaṃsa diṭṭhinissayaṃ nissayato na uppajjeyyuṃ occurs

VN: 0
DN: 0
MN: 1 (MN22)
SN: 0
AN: 0
KN: 0
AB: 0
VM: 0

ttavādupādānaṃ na samanupassāmi yaṃsa attavādupādānaṃ occurs:

VN: 0
DN: 0
MN: 1 (MN22)
SN: 0
AN: 0
KN: 0
AB: 0
VM: 0

pariggahaṃ pariggaṇheyyātha occurs:

VN: 0
DN: 0
MN: 1 (MN22)
SN: 0
AN: 0
KN: 0
AB: 0
VM: 0

ajjhattaṃ asati aparitassanā hoti occurs:

VN: 0
DN: 0
MN: 1 (MN22)
SN: 0
AN: 0
KN: 0
AB: 0
VM: 0

ucchijjissāmi nāmassu

vinassissāmi nāmassu

tathāgatasāvakassa vā sabbesaṃ

so loko so attā (this one is qouted in AB again)…

diṭṭhiṭṭhānādhiṭṭhānapariyuṭṭhānābhinivesānusayānaṃ samugghātāya

taṃ vatāhaṃ na labhāmī (this one is qouted in the Nidessa)…

taṃ vata me natthi

So evaṃ samanupassanto asati na paritassatī

sassatisamaṃ tatheva ṭhassāmīti (this one gets a shout-out in the Kathuvatthu)…

diṭṭhiṭṭhānāni just here in MN22 and in the patisambhidamagga

So I guess I would just say that there are quite a lot of words and phrases that appear to be unique to this sutta.

Perhaps after @sujato 's Pali course I will be in a better position to asses the import of this fact.

Even antarāyikā is quite interesting;

VN: 28
DN: 0
MN: 8 (once in MN12 and all the rest in MN22)
SN: 0
AN: 2
KN: 3 (once in the Theri, then in Netti and Pet)
AB: 0
VM: 1

as is yathā yeme

VN: 18
DN: 0
MN: 6 (all in MN22)
SN: 0
AN: 0
KN: 0
AB: 0
VM: 0

Metta

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Given that I don’t know Pali, I wouldn’t know how to assess all this information. The only thing I could get was that the word antarayika, whatever that means, seems to occur in the vinaya describing the same event, I’m guessing the story is used to explain a certain rule? I don’t know.

Is there any specific reason you chose to search those specific words? One thing I would take into consideration is that searching for entire sentences may not be appropriate, since word combinations are endless. So it’s not surprising that that specific word combination is only found once. I don’t know what those sentences are, so I’m not sure what to make of them.

Perhaps a more fruitful way of investigating the sutta is to look at it’s narrative structure, which is very similar to MN 38, in the sense that both have the same story. The only difference is between their views. Sati says “As I understand the Buddha’s teachings, it is this very same consciousness that roams and transmigrates, not another.”
Meanwhile, Arittha says, "“As I understand the Buddha’s teachings, the acts that he says are obstructions are not really obstructions for the one who performs them.”

Alexander Wynne has an article on MN 38

And Another on MN 22

Just a few pointers that might help you on your research. Btw. MN 22 is one of my favorite suttas in the canon :grin: So I hope no one thinks I’m “out to get” this sutta :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

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This view is not the Buddha’s doctrine on anattā, rather an annhilationist view.

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Thanks, thats all good advice, I was just sort of going through and pasting words at random into digital pali reader, lookimg for anything of interest. My impression is that MN22 has a large number of phrases and vocabulary that are unique, and alo a large number that it shares with the Vinaya that are not shared with other suttas. I havent really gotten all that far- I had just realised that the reason the Vinaya shared several words was because it was describing the same incident when my laptop went flat. I will spend some more time today polishing it up.

My tentative conclusion is that the sutta is compiled late relative to the bulk of MN though.

This is consistent with my speculation that anatta/aggregates is a “revised” version of the teaching, with jhana/kamma/conditionality being the first, primary exposition.

My speculation is that a “Brahman equals Atman” rose to pre-eminence and became the default view while some of the other schools faded and Buddhism had to focus on it as an opponent hence the change in emphasis.

This all starts to reinforce the impression for me that the EBT’s reperesnt a fairly long period, and probably dont directly reflect the statements of the Buddha, but rather his ideas.

I see no reason to reject the teachings in later texts, I just think its useful for me to get a picture in my head of whats what.

MN22 is one of my favourites too, in particular the similie of the raft, which i have found very useful.

Metta

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Natthi me attā’ti vā assa saccato thetato diṭṭhi uppajjati

That’s the question I am interrogating though @stephen, to get to an annhiliationist position from Natthi me attā’ti vā assa saccato thetato diṭṭhi uppajjati seem to require some mental gymnastics, even @sujato’s ahem, robust, gloss on the passage “‘My self does not exist in an absolute sense.” looks on the face of it to be the anatta position as a positive assertion of the non-existence of a self.

I guess what I am suggesting is that the line is not in fact a position along the lines “there is a real self which gets annihilated” rather the position “there is no such thing as a real self”.

I thin that texts are almost always scrupulous to avoid any assertion along the lines “a self does not exist” and rather elect to exhaustively reject all positive assertions of self as failing to obtain.

Even the most “extreme” (and in my opinion late) lines of argument stop short of anything like natthi atta rather attacking the converse view i.e attaniye ca saccato thetato anupalabbhamāne

I think that this is because of the 4 undeclared points, and as I point out above there seem to be plenty of places in the EBT’s where this tension was keenly felt.

Metta.

I think if you search, if my memory serves, there is a discussion on. this sort of Pali construction, with Vens Sujato, Sunyo, and myself.

But aside from the grammar, I think one can infer that it expresses the opposite of the first view offered.

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So. MN22. Further thoughts.

ariṭṭhassa first appears at Bu Pc 68 and is quoted for elaboration at Kd 11. In the suttas they appear only at MN22.

The Vinaya account includes the list of similes, but omits the raft and the not self parts.

The similes are rare outside of the three above mentioned texts:

Aṭṭhikaṅkalūpamā occurs only in the above, MN54, An5.76 and the Nidessa.
Maṁsapesūpamā the same plus once in the Therigatha.
tiṇukkūpamā the same as Aṭṭhikaṅkalūpamā
aṅgārakāsūpamā is slightly more common, occuring also at DN34, SN35.244, An8.28 and AN10.90
supinakūpamā as Aṭṭhikaṅkalūpamā
yācitakūpamā as Aṭṭhikaṅkalūpamā
rukkhaphalūpamā as Aṭṭhikaṅkalūpamā
asisūnūpamā as Aṭṭhikaṅkalūpamā
sattisūlūpamā is slightly more common, occurring also at SN5.1 and the Therigatha
sappasirūpamā also occurs in the Therigatha and Jataka.

After the first list of similes the Vinaya account stops, MN22 adds the raft and a lengthy discourse on not self:

kullūpamaṃ itself (“similar to a raft”) is attested only here (MN22) and at MN38.

diṭṭhiṭṭhānāni has it’s sole occurrence in the EBT’s at MN22 (it also occurs in the patisambhidamagga)
paritassatī has it’s sole occurrence in the EBT’s at MN22 (it also occurs in the visuddhimagga)
bahiddhā asati (thing not existing externally) has it’s sole occurrence in the EBT’s at MN22
ajjhattaṃ asati (thing not existing internally) has it’s sole occurrence in the EBT’s at MN22
so loko so attā (the self and the cosmos are the same) has it’s sole occurrence (apart from one quote in the Abhidhamma) in the EBT’s at MN22
diṭṭhiṭṭhānādhiṭṭhānapariyuṭṭhānābhinivesānusayānaṃ has it’s sole occurrence in the EBT’s at MN22
nassu nāma bhavissāmī has it’s sole occurrence in the EBT’s at MN22
pariggaṇheyyātha has it’s sole occurrence in the EBT’s at MN22
diṭṭhinissayaṃ (apart from the Nidessa) has it’s sole occurrence in the EBT’s at MN22
attaniyaṃ me has it’s sole occurrence in the EBT’s at MN22 (apart from an Abhidhamma qoute)
diṭṭhiṭṭhānaṃ occurs only here at M22, at AN10.96, an Abhidhamma qoute and the patisambhidamagga

MN22 then goes on to list a number of epithets for the monk who has reached final understanding:

bāladhammo occurs only here at MN22, the Nidessa and the Abhidhamma qoute
ukkhittapaligho occurs only at MN22, AN5.71 and AN5.72, the Nidessa and the Abhidhamma
saṃkiṇṇaparikkho occurs only at MN22, AN5.71 and the Nidessa
abbūḷhesiko occurs only at MN22, AN5.71 and AN5.72, the Nidessa and the Abhidhamma
niraggaḷo occurs only at MN22, AN5.71 and AN5.72, the Nidessa and the Abhidhamma
pannaddhajo pannabhāro visaṃyutto ccurs only at MN22, AN5.71 and AN5.72
ananuvijjoti vadāmi is unique to MN22

So in conclusion, the initial list of similes is rare, the language used for the doctrinal portion is even rarer, sometimes unique, and the list of epithets is also rare. I think this gives good evidence to suggest the sutta is a late addition to the pre-sectarian canon.

Metta

Sorry, an incorrect copy and paste. I was, of course referring to this view.

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yes I figured as much!

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Yes, the first 2 views in Sabbasava sutta are rather ‘dogmatic’ assertions, eternalism and annihilationism. The following 3 are more subtle, expressing the feeling of a ‘one who knows’ and what is known.
The 5th view is almost exactly what Sāti expresses in Mahatanhasankya sutta.

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In a sense, the first 2 views expressed in Sabbasava sutta are very similar, as they seem to assert a ‘solid self’ during a lifetime. The difference being that the first view states that this ‘solid self” continues on after death, and the second one states it ceases to exist after death.
Of course, the Buddha rejected both views (this is probably inconceivable to most), and is said to teach ‘by the middle’.
The Buddha’s idea of anatta is understandable via dependent origination.

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Ooh thanks for the link @stephen !

Yes i think this is absolutely right! But this means that selves arent fictions, they are just conditional.

I think the central criticism is not about Self or Soul but about Identicalness that is the incoherence of asserting any of

A is identical to B
A is not identical to B
A is both identical to and different from B
A is niether idential to nor different from B

Metta.

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