Thus a stanza of the Sūtra of the Questions of the Devas (Devaparipṛcchāsūtra) says:
If he is an arhat bhikṣu
Whose impurities have been destroyed,
And who is in his very last existence,
Can he say: It is I?
The Buddha replies:
An arhat bhikṣu
Whose impurities have been destroyed
And who is in his very last existence
Can say: It is I.155
In current usage (lokadharma), we speak of the ātman, but not from the absolute (paramārtha), true point of view, for all dharmas are empty (śūnya) and devoid of substantial self (anātmaka). In current usage there is nothing wrong in speaking of ātman.
155 Sutta, entitled Arahaṃ, of the Saṃyutta, I, p. 14; Tsa a han, T 99 (no. 581), k 22, p. 154b-c; T 100 (no. 166), k. 9, p. 435c: yo hoti bhikkhu arahaṃ.... pi so vadeyya (iti devata). yo hoti bhikkhu katāvī.... vohāramattena so vohareyya (iti Bhagavā). Buddhaghosa interprets this sutta in the same way in the Sārattha, I, p. 51.
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