34. The 'anatta' Principle

The principle of 'anatta' ('non-self') is the basic leitmotiv of Gotamo's teachings and it is of extreme importance for all schools of thinking and viewing, past or present.

It describes the circumstance that an observer can only observe an object that is completely different from the observer.

This may not seem too significant at first glance but the consequences are of such a basic importance that this principle can be witnessed throughout the world of phenomena.

Two examples:

(Note, that in the examples above the phenomena 'lens' and 'pivot' have a special role. Their function is comparable to Gotamo's 'citta' [-] concept.)

Since this law is so basic in this Universe, it must apply also to the relation between 'Self' and 'Universe':

'Self' cannot be experienced via the Universe.

Any quest for finding the 'True Self' from within this world  must fail and is likely to end in a self-reflexive lock.   Consequently, Gotamo's approach is to recognize non-self (an-atta) as the only means of complete liberation.

Applying this simple (but subtle!!!) principle, a vast number of 'nirvana' claims fall apart instantaneously.

For example, 'enlightenment' is a mental experience (of a light world). It cannot be 'self' because it is experienced. Similarly, the perception of 'voidness' or 'emptiness' [-] are mental processes and cannot be equated to 'the self'. Note: the latter perception has some vicious traps and is dangerously close to 'nihilism' [-], which, according to Gotamo, "...is the most filthy of all coats.." (of the mind).

Many contemporary 'enlightenment' or 'clearing' processes are lacking the viewpoint of this basic law. This results in a person settling at a stage where it cannot perceive anything that it thinks it is not.  

A person can only process items (or be 'audited' on them) that it perceives as different from itself.  Even if the person becomes indoctrinated by viewpoints of others who assert the existence of entities or circuits where the person sees none, the person will run the process correctly only to the degree that it learns to recognize the 'non-self' features of 'itself' on the fly during the process.

In the worst case, the person will mock-up whatever it was indoctrinated to expect. Now the person has false ownerships on a new case on top of the old one.

Most of these pitfalls can be avoided by incorporating the 'anatta' principles in programmes of that sort.

Because of its basic importance, the degree of perception of the world and its phenomena as non-self is the turning point for a Being. Once the Being realizes the 'anatta-view' to a certain extent, there is no turning back. Therefore, to pass this threshold is the explicite goal set by Gotamo for his listeners.

On any level, the 'anatta-view' or 'perception of non-self' is resolving identifications of the Being with things that are different from it. Therefore, this approach is working its charme in every situation, even in engineering or modern science.

Copyleft 1998 by Maximilian J. Sandor, Ph.D.