Assess The Arguments For The No-self Doctrine.

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Assess The Arguments For The No-self Doctrine. Are Annata And Karma Reconcilable? Essay, Research Paper The Buddhist theory of no-self (annata) is perhaps one of the most alien, complex and misunderstood concepts for the westerner to grasp. Essentially the “no self” refers to the denial of a soul. In this sense the soul is “the abiding, separate, constantly existing and indestructible entity which is generally believed to be found in man…it is the thinker of all his thoughts, the doer of all his deeds and the director of the organism generally” (Malalasckera 1957). Buddhists assert that you can only be happy once you have discarded the view of a self ; a paradoxical situation that seems absurd. The Buddhists see the idea of “I” as a figment of the imagination

with nothing real to correspond to it. If I conjure up another figment of imagination like the idea of “belonging” the “I” concludes that some portion of the world belongs to me. The doctrine of annata assumes two basic propositions ; that nothing in reality corresponds to words like “I” or “mine”, as there is no fact in self and that nothing in our empirical self is worthy of being regarded as the real self. `There are three basic ways of viewing the self. These are best summarised by a leading figure in reformed Buddhism, Nyanatiloka, who says : “there are three teachers in the world. The first teacher teaches the existence of an eternal ego-entity outstanding death : that of the eternalist, as for example the Christian. The second teacher teaches a temporary

ego-entity which becomes annihilated at death : that is the annihilationist, or materialist. The third teacher teaches neither an eternal nor a temporary ego-entity : that is the Buddha. Annata is an essential point of Buddhist philosophy, and is interestingly unique to almost all other beliefs and philosophies in the world today (with the possible exception of David Hume, some 2000 years later). The importance of annata to Buddhists and it’s implications for all human actions, ethics and morals is staggering. Rahula, a Sinhalese monk, believes that a view of a permanent self/soul is “the source of all the troubles in the world…in short, to this false view can be traced all the evil in the world” (Rahula 1967). In this essay I hope to accomplish a number of things.

Firstly to provide the arguments for the no-self theory and explain how Buddhists construct personality. Secondly, I intend to look at the arguments refuting annata, especially Descartes “I think therefore I am”. Thirdly, I hope to draw some parallels to Buddhism with Western philosophy and finally conclude the essay. `An important part of understanding how Buddha came to dismiss the concept of self is to see how he constructed the personality of the individual. Buddhist’s outline five factors (Khanda’s) which relate to a state of grasping and attachment that identifies with “I” or “myself”. The first is rupa, material shape, which takes its form in the outer world or in the living body. It is composed of earth, wind, fire and water that are the components from

which are bones, flesh and tissue are created etc. The other khanda’s are all mental in nature. The second factor, vedanna, is “feeling”; the pleasant, unpleasant or indifferent “taste” of an experience. The third khanda is sanna, or cognition, which allows us to label things “man” “blue” “tomato” etc It informs us of what we are conscious of. Sankhara (constructing activity) refers to mental states that initiate action ; like attention, anger and most importantly “will”. The final khanda, vinnana, is discriminative consciousness, or mentality (see later). Via meditation and virtue, it is possible to transcend the interpretation of “self” which the khanda’s provide and reach Nibbana (a permanent state of bliss). `What then are the arguments which