ok, take a different example...
A human, animal, preta and hell being all see a glass of water - they are all aware of a common object. At the same time they all see it differently.
On a level of awareness - there is nothing beyond the knowing of the thing - nothing beyond that awareness, no hidden secret that deceives the mind, no true substance.
Their differing perceptions of the water is due to dependent origination. The fact that the water has no ultimate reality behind its appearing is because it is empty of essence - its essence is empty appearance.
They are all perceiving a dependently arisen object
/phenomenon, their interpretation of what the object
"is" differs. Both their interpretation and the object
are dependently arisen, but this fact does not make the experience or the object
seem any less real. So we agree at the level of experience, but do not agree at the level of apparent existence? You say that the object
has no existence (at all
) outside of the experience and I say that it must have a dependently arisen existence outside of the experience otherwise there could be no experience (albeit that the experience is seen to be differing, with the variety of experience also being due to dependent arising)?
Or are we actually just agreeing? I mean I have no problem with agreeing to disagree, just trying to figure out if we are actually in disagreement.
Actually that is quite a big debate between schools as to whether the difference in perception is due to an aspect of the object
or of the perceiver.
I was simply trying to suggest that the doctrine of anattā was about more than just whether there is such a thing as an eternal awareness or not. The idea of "self" here is about much more than just the conventional idea of "me" and whether there is some kind of indestructable awareness built into us which can be found - making claims about whether it exists and whether it is to be seen as eternal or non-existent, etc.
The far more wide reaching consequences is that nothing is ever identical to itself in subsequent moments. A table is not identical from moment to moment, it only appears so to the obsever who fails to perceive it is in a constant state of flux. The observer is also not identical from moment to moment.
So the Buddha did not give an answer to the question of whether there is an eternal "self" or not because its the wrong question. It is irrelevant whether there is something actually there or not, because as soon as we enter into a subject-object
relationship with it, we create the very illusion that we could somehow grasp the truth in that way.
To form the illusion of self/identity requires both an observer and a perceived object
, neither of which have any consistency, yet an illusion of consistency is formed by the relationship between them, as if the "self" and its object
were something other than an original unity of appearance and essence.
That "there is no self to be found" therefore means that whether there is a self or not, it definitely cannot be taken as an object
All claims about it are by definition null and void before the fact.