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Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!

Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
awareness
Answer
10/18/13 4:02 AM
I have read the passage in MCTB on True Self vs. No self and still cannot grasp this fundamental concept in Buddhism.

If all the 5 aggregates (including consciounsess) are impermanent, then who is watching the aggregates arise and pass away? Is it awareness? If so, then what is awareness, isn't is subject to the 3Cs as well?

Does this relate to reincarnation in any way? I never really understood this...What exactly reincarnates?

Anyone can help?

Thanks.

RE: Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
Answer
10/18/13 4:11 AM as a reply to George S. Lteif.
George S. Lteif:
I have read the passage in MCTB on True Self vs. No self and still cannot grasp this fundamental concept in Buddhism.

If all the 5 aggregates (including consciounsess) are impermanent, then who is watching the aggregates arise and pass away? Is it awareness? If so, then what is awareness, isn't is subject to the 3Cs as well?
The process itself rolls and knows, there isn't a knower. There isn't an 'awareness' that exists in and of itself, there isn't any awareness besides 'in the seen just the seen, in the heard just the heard, in the cognized just the cognized'. The seen/heard/sensed without a knower is lucid and vivid. The 3Cs apply.

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/joel-agee-appearances-are-self.html

Joel Agee: "I don't find an ever-present awareness that observes anything, or that experiences thoughts, etc. Seeing, hearing, smelling, etc. happen spontaneously on their own. Attention is an afterthought. A moment ago some leaves in a flower box outside my window were quivering in a breeze. The immediacy of that movement -- or of any occurrence in the micro-instant of its arising -- is all the awareness and presence there is."
Does this relate to reincarnation in any way? I never really understood this...What exactly reincarnates?

Anyone can help?

Thanks.
As Ven. Dhammanando puts it:


http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index.php?showtopic=41811&mode=linear

---------------------------
QUOTE(Darkknight @ Jan 8 2007, 06:17 AM)
Q. So there is no self (Atman). so what exactly is it that is reborn, and how does what is reborn pass from one body to another?
Thanks in advance for any answers received. bow.gif

-----------------------------


The question is wrongly put and the Buddha's reponse when asked such a question was to reject it as an improper question. Having rejected the question he would then inform the questioner of what he ought to have asked: "With what as condition is there birth?"

The reason that it is an improper question is that rebirth is taught as the continuation of a process, and not as the passing on of any sort of entity. For a more complete exposition of the subject see Mahasi Sayadaw's Discourse on Paticcasamuppada.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

....................

http://newbuddhist.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4215

Continuing consciousness after death is, in most religions, a matter of revealed truth. In Buddhism, the evidence comes from the contemplative experience of people who are certainly not ordinary but who are sufficiently numerous that what they say about it is worth taking seriously into account. Indeed, such testimonies begin with those of the Buddha himself.

Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that what’s called reincarnation in Buddhism has nothing to do with the transmigration of some ‘entity’ or other. It’s not a process of metempsychosis because there is no ‘soul’. As long as one thinks in terms of entities rather than function and continuity, it’s impossible to understand the Buddhist concept of rebirth. As it’s said, ‘There is no thread passing through the beads of the necklace of rebirths.’ Over successive rebirths, what is maintained is not the identity of a ‘person’, but the conditioning of a stream of consciousness.

Additionally, Buddhism speaks of successive states of existence; in other words, everything isn’t limited to just one lifetime. We’ve experienced other states of existence before our birth in this lifetime, and we’ll experience others after death. This, of course, leads to a fundamental question: is there a nonmaterial consciousness distinct from the body? It would be virtually impossible to talk about reincarnation without first examining the relationship between body and mind. Moreover, since Buddhism denies the existence of any self that could be seen as a separate entity capable of transmigrating from one existence to another by passing from one body to another, one might well wonder what it could be that links those successive states of existence together.

One could possibly understand it better by considering it as a continuum, a stream of consciousness that continues to flow without there being any fixed or autonomous entity running through it… Rather it could be likened to a river without a boat, or to a lamp flame that lights a second lamp, which in-turn lights a third lamp, and so on and so forth; the flame at the end of the process is neither the same flame as at the outset, nor a completely different one…

~ rizenfenix

RE: Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
Answer
10/18/13 3:45 PM as a reply to George S. Lteif.
In my personal practice, the issue of self has become increasingly irrelevant in the last few years. This has perplexed me quite a bit --- I never really understood what is all the fuss about selves and not selves, but it is absolutely everywhere you turn in the meditation world.

I don't particularly think there is a self, or that there isn't, it depends on what level you look at and answer the question. Sure, none of the events that happens is a self, but, on a normal everyday level --- a level that does matter for decisions and has consequences much more real than me realizing none of the aggregates is a self --- there is a self, and he has to pay taxes.

As far as I have been able to ascertain, the question of whether there is a self or not, or what that self is if it's there, is not fundamental or in any way central to buddhism, and that self views are only relevant to the extent that they help or hinder development. Though I am not certain of this, and I am pretty sure Daniel disagrees, and he knows better even if he hasn't convinced me.

Here is a quote by Thanissaro that I find relevant (link):

Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
Books on Buddhism often state that the Buddha's most basic metaphysical tenet is that there is no soul or self. However, a survey of the discourses in the Pali canon — the earliest extant record of the Buddha's teachings — suggests that the Buddha taught the anatta or not-self doctrine, not as a metaphysical assertion, but as a strategy for gaining release from suffering: If one uses the concept of not-self to dis-identify oneself from all phenomena, one goes beyond the reach of all suffering & stress. As for what lies beyond suffering & stress, the Canon states that although it may be experienced, it lies beyond the range of description, and thus such descriptions as "self" or "not-self" would not apply.

The evidence for this reading of the Canon centers on four points:

The one passage where the Buddha is asked point-blank to take a position on the ontological question of whether or not there is a self, he refuses to answer.
The passages which state most categorically that there is no self are qualified in such a way that they cover all of describable reality, but not all of reality which may be experienced.
Views that there is no self are ranked with views that there is a self as a "fetter of views" which a person aiming at release from suffering would do well to avoid.
The person who has attained the goal of release views reality in such a way that all views — even such basic notions as self & no-self, true & false — can have no hold power over the mind.
What follows is a selection of relevant passages from the Canon. They are offered with the caveat that in ultimate terms nothing conclusive can be proved by quoting the texts. Scholars have offered arguments for throwing doubt on almost everything in the Canon — either by offering new translations for crucial terms, or by questioning the authenticity of almost every passage it contains — and so the only true test for any interpretation is to put it into practice and see where it leads in terms of gaining release for the mind.


Here is another (link):

Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
So instead of getting into a discussion as to which type of self is your true self — or your ultimate self or your conventional self — the Buddha is more interested in showing you how your sense of self is an action. The adjectives he uses to describe actions are not "ultimate" or "conventional." They're "skillful" and "unskillful." These are the terms in which he wants you to understand your selves: Are they skillful? Are they not? And because skill can be understood only through mastery, the Buddha wants you to master these actions in practice.

(...)

So, to repeat, the issue is not, "What is my true self?" but "What kind of perception of self is skillful and when is it skillful, what kind of perception of not-self is skillful and when is it skillful?"



So I have pretty much dropped this self and not self stuff, as they don't seem important to me at this time. The main theme of my practice are the seven sets. For instance, I look at how well I am developing the five faculties: getting the right ideas and beliefs that make me want to practice (conviction), finding the energy and disposition to stick with the practice (persistence), being able to keep a meditation object in mind (mindfulness), having mental tranquility and power (concentration) and being able to distinguish skillful from unskillful actions (discernment).

This kind of approach seems much more practical and concrete --- to me --- than the issues of self or no self or true self or whatever, which have come to feel like they are borderline-meaningless. Of course, it is possible that I may be lacking a certain perceptual finesse...

RE: Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
Answer
10/19/13 1:25 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Insight into no self is greatly transformational, I think Daniel would rank that as one of (if not THE) greatest achievement/attainment he had, despite having come across so many different states/stages of insights/jhanas/experiences etc. The full release of all view/sense/conceit of self/Self is liberation as stated in Bahiya Sutta. Also as Buddha said, "Blissful is passionlessness in the world, The overcoming of sensual desires; But the abolition of the conceit "I am" — That is truly the supreme bliss"

A traditonal stream enterer is said to have permanently put an end to self view being one of the first three fetters. It is obvious that direct insight into the nature of dharma is necessary for this to occur.

I wrote an article Anatta: Not-Self or No-Self?

This might be relevant:

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com.au/2011/10/anatta-not-self-or-no-self.html

Cooran (moderator of Dhammawheel) pointed out that a note to Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of this sutta is worth considering:

‘’We should carefully heed the two reasons that the Buddha does not declare, ‘’There is no self’’: not because he recognizes a transcendent self of some kind (as some interpreters allege), or because he is concerned only with delineating ‘’a strategy of perception’’ devoid of ontological implications (as others hold), but (i) because such a mode of expression was used by the annihilationists, and the Buddha wanted to avoid aligning his teaching with theirs; and (ii) because he wished to avoid causing confusion in those already attached to the idea of self. The Buddha declares that ‘all phenomena are nonself’’ (sabbe dhamma anatta), which means that if one seeks a self anywhere one will not find one. Since ‘’all phenomena’’ includes both the conditioned and the unconditioned, this precludes an utterly transcendent, ineffable self."

(Part of Note 385 on Page 1457 of The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (A New Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya by Bhikkhu Bodhi).)


....

The Vajira Sutta states:

Then the bhikkhuni Vajira, having understood, "This is Mara the Evil One," replied to him in verses: "Why now do you assume 'a being'? Mara, have you grasped a view? This is a heap of sheer constructions: Here no being is found. Just as, with an assemblage of parts, The word 'chariot' is used, So, when the aggregates are present, There's the convention 'a being.' It's only suffering that comes to be, Suffering that stands and falls away. Nothing but suffering comes to be, Nothing but suffering ceases."

....

Anuradha Sutta:



..."What do you think: Do you regard the Tathagata as form-feeling-perception-fabrications-consciousness?"

"No, lord."

"Do you regard the Tathagata as that which is without form, without feeling, without perception, without fabrications, without consciousness?"

"No, lord."

"And so, Anuradha — when you can't pin down the Tathagata as a truth or reality even in the present life — is it proper for you to declare, 'Friends, the Tathagata — the supreme man, the superlative man, attainer of the superlative attainment — being described, is described otherwise than with these four positions: The Tathagata exists after death, does not exist after death, both does & does not exist after death, neither exists nor does not exist after death'?"

"No, lord."...

RE: Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
Answer
10/19/13 3:22 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Just for the sake of clarification, in the subject I have made a distinction between Self (or awareness) and self.

There is a talk by Thanissaro Bhikkhu on http://www.dhammatalks.org/mp3_collections_index.html called mindstorms where he discusses that there is a part of the mind that is continuously aware.
My conclusion (could be wrong) was that he is saying:

"Through the practice you will come to experience this awareness that will lead you to transcend suffering (death included). "

I always thought that Buddhism dismisses the view of a fixed entity.

RE: Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
Answer
10/19/13 3:35 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
The process itself rolls and knows, there isn't a knower. There isn't an 'awareness' that exists in and of itself, there isn't any awareness besides 'in the seen just the seen, in the heard just the heard, in the cognized just the cognized'. The seen/heard/sensed without a knower is lucid and vivid. The 3Cs apply.


Not sure I fully understand this point. How can the 3Cs apply to all 5 aggregates (consciousness included) if there is no knower?
What does it mean when people sometimes say that they can experience/see their thoughts? Is it just one part of the mind knowing another part?

RE: Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
Answer
10/19/13 7:22 AM as a reply to George S. Lteif.
yeah
screw that whole chapter
just practice well

daniel

RE: Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
Answer
10/19/13 7:37 AM as a reply to George S. Lteif.
George S. Lteif:
Just for the sake of clarification, in the subject I have made a distinction between Self (or awareness) and self.

There is a talk by Thanissaro Bhikkhu on http://www.dhammatalks.org/mp3_collections_index.html called mindstorms where he discusses that there is a part of the mind that is continuously aware.
My conclusion (could be wrong) was that he is saying:

"Through the practice you will come to experience this awareness that will lead you to transcend suffering (death included). "

I always thought that Buddhism dismisses the view of a fixed entity.
First of all, it must be said that Thanissaro does not hold the view that "Awareness is Self". For example, in his commentary to MN 1: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.001.than.html , Thanissaro Bhikkhu criticized the view that "I am Awareness" and says that,

Although at present we rarely think in the same terms as the Samkhya philosophers, there has long been — and still is — a common tendency to create a "Buddhist" metaphysics in which the experience of emptiness, the Unconditioned, the Dharma-body, Buddha-nature, rigpa, etc., is said to function as the ground of being from which the "All" — the entirety of our sensory & mental experience — is said to spring and to which we return when we meditate. Some people think that these theories are the inventions of scholars without any direct meditative experience, but actually they have most often originated among meditators, who label (or in the words of the discourse, "perceive") a particular meditative experience as the ultimate goal, identify with it in a subtle way (as when we are told that "we are the knowing"), and then view that level of experience as the ground of being out of which all other experience comes.

Any teaching that follows these lines would be subject to the same criticism that the Buddha directed against the monks who first heard this discourse.



It is clear that Thanissaro Bhikkhu's view is informed by the Buddha's view of Anatta, and thus he does not accept the view of a True Self that is Awareness.

However, having said that, it does appear from his articles that he still holds a dualistic view of Awareness, much like many of the Thai Forest traditions masters that hold the view that Mind is the "Poo Roo" or That Which Knows. This dualistic knower would imply that he has not realized and actualized the view of anatta in direct experience. There might be direct apprehension of the Luminous Mind (which is the mind's awareness, cognizance), but it is still being distorted by dualistic view and self-view.

With regards to the True Self teaching of Vedanta, I can say that I have been through those phases of insights/realization. But Anatta is a very peculiar realization that is different from that of Vedanta's True Self. After which there is no more sinking back to a conceived Source or Ground of Being or Background, instead there is only full actualization as the forms, textures, details of each moment of experience without an agent, seer, perceiver.

Here are some references that discusses these issues in more details:


Writings by my friend/mentor Thusness:

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html
http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com.au/2007/03/mistaken-reality-of-amness.html


By Soto Zen priest and teacher Alex R. Weith:

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com.au/2011/10/zen-exploration-of-bahiya-sutta.html


Joel Agee:

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/joel-agee-appearances-are-self.html


My own journal (warning: super lengthy):

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2010/12/my-e-booke-journal.html

RE: Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
Answer
10/19/13 10:22 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
Does this relate to reincarnation in any way? I never really understood this...What exactly reincarnates?


Is your question what do buddhists believe reincarnates? AEN gives an answer (though I am not sure if actually believes this?)

You probably haven't understood this because it doesn't make much sense. Candles can't light other candles if the candle is out, to make use of a bad metaphor.

Selves (whatever level you describe them at) don't like the thought of no longer existing. And so they make stuff to make themselves feel better (commonly taking the form of religions).

RE: Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
Answer
10/19/13 10:42 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Right, and that explains why most if not all religious assumptions about 'afterlife' scenarios include and even emphasize terrifying awful stuff?

And what exactly is so bad about oblivion at death? No possibility of suffering or regret or sorrow? Wow, a 'self' could *never* imagine oblivion at death as a defense mechanism could it?

RE: Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
Answer
10/19/13 11:26 AM as a reply to . Jake ..
I wouldn't say that people assume rebirth because oblivion itself is scary, but because it can generate nihilist amorality and existential doubt which is scary.

RE: Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
Answer
10/19/13 12:47 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
Does this relate to reincarnation in any way? I never really understood this...What exactly reincarnates?


Is your question what do buddhists believe reincarnates? AEN gives an answer (though I am not sure if actually believes this?)

You probably haven't understood this because it doesn't make much sense. Candles can't light other candles if the candle is out, to make use of a bad metaphor.

Selves (whatever level you describe them at) don't like the thought of no longer existing. And so they make stuff to make themselves feel better (commonly taking the form of religions).
I believe in literal rebirth, and there are countless practitioners that have memories of them. I do not believe they are merely imagining them. Even some of the non-practitioners of Dharma do have memories of past lives.

Take for instance also, Dr. Ian Stevenson's research into the past lives of children. These children have vivid memories and are 'proven' to be accurate, and they have no prior knowledge or contact with those places (in their present lifetime) or people and so on. These reports were published in well known scientific and medical journals.

RE: Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
Answer
10/19/13 12:45 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
. Jake .:
Right, and that explains why most if not all religious assumptions about 'afterlife' scenarios include and even emphasize terrifying awful stuff?

And what exactly is so bad about oblivion at death? No possibility of suffering or regret or sorrow? Wow, a 'self' could *never* imagine oblivion at death as a defense mechanism could it?
Buddhists do not "like" rebirth.

In fact, the purpose of Buddha's teachings is to end it. Not to perpetuate it.

RE: Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
Answer
10/19/13 12:53 PM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
"Life is like a passing cloud, when it comes to an end, a hundred years is like yesterday, like a snap of a finger. If it is only about one life, it really doesnt matter whether we are enlightened. The insight that the Blessed One has is not just about one life; countless lives we suffered, life after life, unending. Such is suffering.

It is not about logic or science and there is really no point arguing in this scientific age. Take steps in practice and experience the truth of Buddhas words. Of the 3 dharma seals, the truth of suffering to me is most difficult to experience in depth.

May all take Buddhas words seriously.

~ Thusness*, 2006"


*My friend and mentor, Thusness, has memories of plenty of his past lives. Many of my other dharma friends too.

RE: Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
Answer
10/19/13 1:32 PM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
An Eternal Now:
. Jake .:
Right, and that explains why most if not all religious assumptions about 'afterlife' scenarios include and even emphasize terrifying awful stuff?

And what exactly is so bad about oblivion at death? No possibility of suffering or regret or sorrow? Wow, a 'self' could *never* imagine oblivion at death as a defense mechanism could it?
Buddhists do not "like" rebirth.

In fact, the purpose of Buddha's teachings is to end it. Not to perpetuate it.


Exactly, AEN. Maybe I should edit my post to include a #sarcasm lol?
Anyhow I would think this is common knowledge amongst folks into buddhism?
I just think it's funny how many secular moderns talk about various afterlife theories as escapist and rarely consider that oblivion at death-- the secular modern assumption-- can also be a defense mechanism (against the actual uncertainty of what if anything is experienced after death). So personally I'm agnostic although some experiences definitely point to the possibility of rebirth, which is rather troubling (and not at all comforting).

RE: Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
Answer
10/19/13 1:37 PM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
An Eternal Now:


Take for instance also, Dr. Ian Stevenson's research into the past lives of children. These children have vivid memories and are 'proven' to be accurate, and they have no prior knowledge or contact with those places (in their present lifetime) or people and so on. These reports were published in well known scientific and medical journals.


I'm not sure if this is the same study but I remember reading one where they tested a large number of folks with hypnotic regression and then catalogued their remembered 'past lives'. After analyzing the results the authors were surprised to discover that they were consistent with what we knew about the time periods in question in terms of demographics and statistical likelihood of leading various lifestyles. In other words there were no or very very few exciting memories of being even moderately wealthy or interesting; and certainly no Cleopatras etc. Also there were some memories which were corroborated through subsequent research when details were checked etc. Pretty interesting stuff.

RE: Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
Answer
10/19/13 1:50 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
. Jake .:
An Eternal Now:
. Jake .:
Right, and that explains why most if not all religious assumptions about 'afterlife' scenarios include and even emphasize terrifying awful stuff?

And what exactly is so bad about oblivion at death? No possibility of suffering or regret or sorrow? Wow, a 'self' could *never* imagine oblivion at death as a defense mechanism could it?
Buddhists do not "like" rebirth.

In fact, the purpose of Buddha's teachings is to end it. Not to perpetuate it.


Exactly, AEN. Maybe I should edit my post to include a #sarcasm lol?
Anyhow I would think this is common knowledge amongst folks into buddhism?
I just think it's funny how many secular moderns talk about various afterlife theories as escapist and rarely consider that oblivion at death-- the secular modern assumption-- can also be a defense mechanism (against the actual uncertainty of what if anything is experienced after death). So personally I'm agnostic although some experiences definitely point to the possibility of rebirth, which is rather troubling (and not at all comforting).
Yeah I realized it was sarcasm right after I posted but I guess my reply applies for sawfoot.

Agree with your points.

RE: Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
Answer
10/19/13 1:55 PM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
Paweł K:
literal interpretations are never good when it comes to religions ...
Literal interpretation of the Quran or the Bible may be dangerous.

Literal interpretation of the Suttas are not (in my opinion). I consider the Buddha's teachings as an exceptional one.

RE: Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
Answer
10/20/13 3:42 AM as a reply to George S. Lteif.
George S. Lteif:

If all the 5 aggregates (including consciounsess) are impermanent, then who is watching the aggregates arise and pass away? Is it awareness? If so, then what is awareness, isn't is subject to the 3Cs as well?


One simple but useful perspective on this is that awareness/consciousness arises together with its objects. That is: Consciousness/awareness only arises if there are certain conditions in place, most importantly, if there is something to be aware of. And conversely, objects only arise if there is consciousness/awareness (as well as some other conditions). If you look at it this way, you don't need the assumption of a lasting awareness/consciousness into which / out of which phenomena arise. Instead, consciousness/awareness can be seen to be tied to its objects, and therefore as being causal, dukkha, impersonal.

I like this viewpoint because it seems to be more or less consistent with the Pail Canon view and it also helps explain what happens at fruition: The conditions for consciousness and objects to arise are suspended, because the 3Cs are seen clearly for a moment - and so, consciousness and its objects temporarily cease.

RE: Awareness, True Self, No self - Really Confused!!!
Answer
10/20/13 4:49 AM as a reply to Christian Calamus.
I came across this explanation somewhere. I like it as well. With the same approach and simplicity, how do you think rebirth can be explained?