I think the problem here is that Songhill is arguing from a theravadin perspective which does not recognize the emptiness of "other" phenomena, thus, the aggregates are not viewed as being empty of intrinsic nature, but are regarded as "things" experienced by a being who experiences them as real objects which are to be discarded.
In that context, it is a legitimate perspective because "objects" such as skhandas ("khandas", in the Pali) can only exist in relation which arises due to to some notion that one already experiences, that of an existent "self". Once they are abandoned, the "true nature' of the "self' which has, (merely as an experience) actually arisen, can be seen for what it is. So, a statement such as "your true self" is not inaccurate, although it shouldn't be confused with the Mahayana concept of "Buddha nature".
It's sort of like when you are dreaming, and you take what is in the dream to be real, but at some point you realize that you are only dreaming, that those appearances aren't real after all, and you wake up. In other words, the approach is applied within the context of the experience one is having, that being the reality of "self" and the objects.
The Mahayana perspective, by contrast, regards both the self and (external) objects to be void (sunyata)of any intrinsic self-nature to begin with. Since this is not directly experienced at first, one must assume this from a hypothetical point of view, which is why what we would call "faith" seems to be so much more predominant in Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions. It is, however, realized intellectually by deduction, and that acts as a support toward actual, non-conceptual realization.
In this context, one could say that the Mahayanist doesn't care if what one is experiencing is a dream or not, because that is a moot point since either way the phenomena experienced has no intrinsic 'self' nature anyhow, and that the only thing that actually does matter is whether or not one clings to the appearances that arise as "real".
So, depending upon which approach one is taking,
one either regards the aggregathes themselves (skhanda/khanda) to be abaondoned,
or they see clinging to the aggregates as what should be abandoned.
It's like with computers, PC vs. Mac. They are not very compatible, but each is a valid way to understanding.
Again, "self" as regarded in the context of appearances should not be confused with "Buddha nature" (tathagatha).
That is where confusion is likely to occur.
To say "buddha nature" as referred to by the Mahayana is the "true self" as referred to by the Theravada (whether it actually is or not) is an erroneous statement.
Last edited by PadmaVonSamba
on Sun Jan 06, 2013 7:49 pm, edited 7 times in total.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth. Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.