The Five-Minute Buddhist Books

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No-Self or Anatman


Who are you? Who am I?

Are you the same person you were five minutes ago? Five seconds ago? Who will you be tomorrow?

Would you believe me if I told you there is no you at all? This is the Buddhist idea of anatman, or no-self.
Buddha himself said, “form is not the soul, sensations are not the soul, perceptions are not the soul, assemblages are not the soul, consciousness is not the soul. Seeing thusly, this is the end of birth, the Brahman life has been fulfilled, what must be done has been done.”

This has been built upon over the ages to to mean in modern times that our attachment to ourselves, physically, spiritually, and so forth is one major cause of conflict and suffering. If one can only realize that there is actually no self at all, these problems can be overcome. All ideas of “self” are based on ignorance of the true nature of the universe.
This idea is also a big part of dependent origination, which we will cover tomorrow.

This is one of the most complex and difficult of all subjects in Buddhism. If you’d like to discuss the topic, leave your comment below.

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