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The Characteristic of Not-Self —Bhikkhu Sujato

Linked Discourses 22

6. Involvement

59. The Characteristic of Not-Self

1.1At one time the Buddha was staying near Benares, in the deer park at Isipatana. 1.2There the Buddha addressed the group of five mendicants:

1.3“Mendicants!”

1.4“Venerable sir,” they replied. 1.5The Buddha said this:

2.1“Mendicants, form is not-self. 2.2For if form were self, it wouldn’t lead to affliction. And you could compel form: 2.3‘May my form be like this! May it not be like that!’ 2.4But because form is not-self, it leads to affliction. And you can’t compel form: 2.5‘May my form be like this! May it not be like that!’

3.1Feeling is not-self … 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5

4.1Perception is not-self …

4.2Choices are not-self … 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6

5.1Consciousness is not-self. 5.2For if consciousness were self, it wouldn’t lead to affliction. And you could compel consciousness: 5.3‘May my consciousness be like this! May it not be like that!’ 5.4But because consciousness is not-self, it leads to affliction. And you can’t compel consciousness: 5.5‘May my consciousness be like this! May it not be like that!’

6.1What do you think, mendicants? 6.2Is form permanent or impermanent?”

6.3“Impermanent, sir.”

6.4“But if it’s impermanent, is it suffering or happiness?”

6.5“Suffering, sir.”

6.6“But if it’s impermanent, suffering, and perishable, is it fit to be regarded thus: 6.7‘This is mine, I am this, this is my self’?”

6.8“No, sir.”

6.9“Is feeling permanent or impermanent?” …

6.10“Is perception permanent or impermanent?” …

6.11“Are choices permanent or impermanent?” …

6.12“Is consciousness permanent or impermanent?”

6.13“Impermanent, sir.”

6.14“But if it’s impermanent, is it suffering or happiness?”

6.15“Suffering, sir.”

6.16“But if it’s impermanent, suffering, and perishable, is it fit to be regarded thus: 6.17‘This is mine, I am this, this is my self’?”

6.18“No, sir.”

7.1“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.’

8.1Any kind of feeling at all …

9.1Any kind of perception at all …

9.2Any kind of choices at all …

10.1You should truly see any kind of consciousness at all—past, future, or present; internal or external; coarse or fine; inferior or superior; far or near: *all* consciousness—with right understanding: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’

11.1Seeing this, a learned noble disciple grows disillusioned with form, feeling, perception, choices, and consciousness. 11.2Being disillusioned, desire fades away. When desire fades away they’re freed. When they’re freed, they know they’re freed.

11.3They 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.’”

12.1That is what the Buddha said. 12.2Satisfied, the group of five mendicants were happy with what the Buddha said. 12.3And while this discourse was being spoken, the minds of the group of five mendicants were freed from defilements by not grasping.