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Anattalakkhaṇa Suttaṃ

(S.iii.66)

The Discourse on the Characteristic of Not-self

Recited by Sayādaw U Nyanika.

Download a PDF file (345K)Thus have I heard: At one time the Blessed One was staying at the Deer Park at Isipatana, near Benares. Then he addressed the group of five monks:

“Material form, monks, is not self. If material form were self, material form would not lead to affliction. It would be possible to say regarding material form, ‘Let material form be like this. Let material form not be like that.’ However, since material form is not self, material form leads to affliction. And it is not possible to say regarding material form, ‘Let material form be like this. Let material form not be like that.’

“Feeling is not self. If feeling were self, feeling would not lead to affliction. It would be possible to say regarding feeling, ‘Let feeling be like this. Let feeling not be like that.’ However, since feeling is not self, feeling leads to affliction. And it is not possible to say regarding feeling, ‘Let feeling be like this. Let feeling not be like that.’

“Perception is not self. If perception were self, perception would not lead to affliction. It would be possible to say regarding perception, ‘Let perception be like this. Let perception not be like that.’ However, since perception is not self, perception leads to affliction. And it is not possible to say regarding perception, ‘Let perception be like this. Let perception not be like that.’

“Mental formations are not self. If mental formations were self, mental formations would not lead to affliction. It would be possible to say regarding mental formations, ‘Let mental formations be like this. Let mental formations not be like that.’ However, since mental formations are not self, mental formations lead to affliction. And it is not possible to say regarding mental formations, ‘Let mental formations be like this. Let mental formations not be like that.’

“Consciousness is not self. If consciousness were self, consciousness would not lead to affliction. It would be possible to say regarding consciousness, ‘Let my consciousness be like this. Let my consciousness not be like that.’ However, since consciousness is not self, consciousness leads to affliction. And it is not possible to say regarding consciousness, ‘Let my consciousness be like this. Let my consciousness not be like that.’

“What do you think, monks? “Is material form permanent or impermanent?”
“impermanent, Venerable sir.”

“Is that which is impermanent pleasant or unpleasant?”
“Unpleasant, Venerable sir.”

“Is it fitting to regard what is impermanent, unpleasant, subject to change as: ‘This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am’?”
“Indeed not, Venerable sir.”

Is feeling permanent or impermanent?”
“Impermanent, Venerable sir.”

“Is that which is impermanent pleasant or unpleasant?”
“Unpleasant, Venerable sir.”

“Is it fitting to regard what is impermanent, unpleasant, subject to change as: ‘This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am’?”
“Indeed not, Venerable sir.”

“Is perception permanent or impermanent?”
“Impermanent, Venerable sir.”

“Is that which is impermanent pleasant or unpleasant?”
“Unpleasant, Venerable sir.”

“Is it fitting to regard what is impermanent, unpleasant, subject to change as: ‘This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am’?”
“Indeed not, Venerable sir.”

“Are mental formations permanent or impermanent?”
“Impermanent, Venerable sir.”

“Is that which is impermanent pleasant or unpleasant?”
“Unpleasant, Venerable sir.”

“Is it fitting to regard what is impermanent, unpleasant, subject to change as: ‘This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am’?”
“Indeed not, Venerable sir.”

“Is consciousness permanent or impermanent?”
“Impermanent, Venerable sir.”

“Is that which is impermanent pleasant or unpleasant?”
“Unpleasant, Venerable sir.”

“Is it fitting to regard what is impermanent, unpleasant, and subject to change as: ‘This is mine. This is my self. I am this’?”
“Indeed not, Venerable sir.”

“Thus, monks, any material form whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; gross or subtle; inferior or superior; far or near: every material form is to be seen as it really is with wisdom as: ‘This is not mine. This is not my self. I am not this.’

“Any feeling whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; gross or subtle; inferior or superior; far or near: every feeling is to be seen as it really is with wisdom as: ‘This is not mine. This is not my self. I am not this.’

“Any perception whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; gross or subtle; inferior or superior; far or near: every perception is to be seen as it really is with wisdom as: ‘This is not mine. This is not my self. I am not this.’

“Any mental formations whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; gross or subtle; inferior or superior; far or near: every mental formation is to be seen as it really is with wisdom as: ‘This is not mine. This is not my self. I am not this.’

“Any consciousness whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; gross or subtle; inferior or superior; far or near: every consciousness is to be seen as it really is with wisdom as: ‘This is not mine. This is not my self. I am not this.’

“Seeing thus, the well-instructed disciple of the Noble Ones grows disenchanted with the body, disenchanted with feelings, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with mental formations, disenchanted with consciousness. Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, he is freed. With freedom, there is the knowledge, ‘I am free.’ He knows ‘Birth has been destroyed, the holy life has been fulfilled, what should be done has been done. There is nothing further to be done here.’”

That is what the Blessed One said. Delighted, the group of five monks rejoiced in what the Blessed One had said; and while this exposition was being given, the minds of the five monks were fully released from the corruptions, without any remainder.

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