Sunday, April 26, 2015

Anatta - A shockingly little known but Important Buddhist Concept

Speaking to many lay followers of Buddhism, I am quite shocked to find that hardly anyone is aware of the teachings of Anatta, the concept of No Soul. Yes, no soul.....the impact is that this very concept will nullify the rationale of the ritualistic practices for the dead commonly practiced by contemporary lay Buddhists. So it is crucial to know about it.

You can read more from this free ebook ( but here are some extracts to start with:

  • "Buddhism teaches that there is no such thing as a soul or true, permanent self."
  •  "Buddha denied the àtman theory. According to Buddha, there is nothing we can call an inner core which is eternal and blissful. There is also nothing we can call upon to exercise authority over the nature of things."
  • “The controversy over the anattà doctrine seems to be based on a deep fear of the denial of the existence of a soul. People are often very attached to their lives, so they like to believe that there exists something everlasting, eternal, and permanent inside them. When someone comes along and tells them that there is nothing permanent in them, nothing by which they will continue eternally, such as a soul, they may become frightened. They wonder what will become of them in the future –they have the fear of extinction. Buddha understood this, as we can see in the story of Vacchagotta, who, like many other people, was frightened and confused by the anattà doctrine.”
  • “Buddha taught that there are only five aggregates (khandhas): (1) corporeality (material process, or form); (2) feelings; (3) perceptions; (4) mental formations; and (5) consciousness.”
  • “We are a compound of five aggregates, and after we analyze and observe them one by one with the deep insight of meditation, we will realize that there remains nothing: no soul, no self, apart from the aggregates. The combination of the five aggregates is what we call a person, a being, a man, or a woman."
  • “Buddha teaches that belief in atta is a wrong view which will lead to misery.”

Alvin Chua

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