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Jul 13th
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Home Teachings Non-Self The Teaching of Non-Self - Introduction

The Teaching of Non-Self - Introduction

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Article Index
The Teaching of Non-Self
Material Body
Belief in Creation
Attachment to Self
Vipassana Meditation
Volitional Activities
True Dhamma
What Five Aggregates Are Like
Summary of Processes
All Pages


"At that time, when the Blessed One was staying in the deer sanctuary in the township of Varanasi, the Blessed One addressed the group of five bhikkhus, 'Oh, Bhikkhus' and the group of five Bhikkhus answered, 'Revered Sir.' Then the Blessed One taught the Dhamma which is presently to be recited."

This is the introduction given by the Venerable Ananda in response to the question asked by the Venerable Maha Kassapa. The Buddha's words in the first part of the Anattalakkhana Sutta.

"Bhikkhus, rupa, the material body is not self; soul, or a living entity."

People in general think that they and others are living entities with a soul, self, or ego. What is taken to be a soul is called Atta in Pali, which is derived from the Sanskrit expression Atman. This Atta is also known as Jiva, life; thus Atta conveys the concept of life, soul or living entity. Holding the view that there exists a soul or a living entity in man is known as misconception of self or wrong belief of Self, Attaditthi.

Ordinary common worldling cannot be said to be freed from this wrong belief of Self. The only difference from person to person with regard to this wrong belief lies in whether it is firmly hold or manifested plainly by each individual. In a person who has become accomplished in the knowledge of mental and physical phenomena (rupa, nama), this belief in Self may be considerably attenuated; but it cannot be said that he is completely devoid of the notion of self. He is still liable to misconceive that it is the soul or self in him that is the thinker of his thoughts, the doer of his actions, the speaker of his words, and the feeler of the pleasant sensations.

In order to remove this misconception of Self and make it clear that there is no such thing as soul or living entity in one's own body and mind, the Blessed One began the discourse with the pronouncement,

"Bhikkhus, rupa, the material body is not self, soul, or living entity."


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The Dhammapada

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