Advayavada Study Plan – week 28 (2228) – anatmalakshana

The second preliminary subject of this third quarter of 2022 is again this week, week 28, anatta (Pali) or anatman (Sanskrit), which literally means no-self and is traditionally considered the second of the three (in Advayavada Buddhism, four) lakshanas, i.e. signs or marks or basic facts of being. The Buddhist anatta or anatmata doctrine teaches that no immutable and immortal soul, spirit or self exists ‘in the sense of a permanent, eternal, integral, and independent substance within an individual existent’.

In Mahayana Buddhism, the nissvabhava doctrine teaches further that, as all things without exception are produced by interdependent origination (pratityasamutpada, all-conditionality), indeed all are, therefore, in fact, empty (shunya) of self-nature (svabhava); thus the ego (pudgala) e.g. is ‘no more than a transitory and changeable empirical personality put together from the five aggregates (skandhas): form, feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness’.

Svabhava-shunyata (lit. self-nature emptiness) is a central notion in Madhyamaka philosophy: in Advayavada Buddhism, the selflessness [and, therefore, finitude] of all things is, as stated above, the second of the four lakshanas, the first one being the impermanence or changeability of everything (as explained last week, week 27), and the following two the ubiquity of existential suffering (see next week, week 29), and evolution or, in human terms, progress (in Sanskrit pragati, see week 30).

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The savage Russian invasion of Ukraine of course continues to weigh heavily on our minds and hearts (see facebook dot com/advayavadastichting).