[I: The First Teachings]

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[11: The Characteristic of Non-Self]
(The First Arahants)

Then the Gracious One addressed the group-of-five monks (saying):

“Bodily form, monks, is not Self, It is the supposed Higher or Cosmic Self that is being denied. The first proof of lack of Self in this sense is that we do not have ultimate control over the constituent parts (khandha).01 for if this bodily form, monks, were Self this bodily form would not lead to affliction, and regarding bodily form it might be possible (to say): ‘Let my bodily form be thus, let my bodily form be not thus.’ But because bodily form, monks, is not Self, therefore bodily form does lead to affliction, and regarding bodily form it is not possible (to say): ‘Let my bodily form be thus, let my bodily form be not thus.’

Feeling is not Self, for if this feeling, monks, were Self this feeling would not lead to affliction, and regarding feeling it might be possible (to say): ‘Let my feeling be thus, let my feeling be not thus.’ But because feeling, monks, is not Self, therefore feeling does lead to affliction, and regarding feeling it is not possible (to say): ‘Let my feeling be thus, let my feeling be not thus.’

Perception is not Self, for if this perception, monks, were Self this perception would not lead to affliction, and regarding perception it might be possible (to say): ‘Let my perception be thus, let my perception be not thus.’ But because perception, monks, is not Self, therefore perception does lead to affliction, and regarding perception it is not possible (to say): ‘Let my perception be thus, let my perception be not thus.’

(Mental) processes This is given in the plural, whereas the others are all in the singular form.02 are not Self, for if these (mental) processes, monks, were Self these (mental) processes would not lead to affliction, and regarding (mental) processes it might be possible (to say): ‘Let my (mental) processes be thus, let my (mental) processes be not thus.’ But because (mental) processes, monks, are not Self, therefore (mental) processes do lead to affliction, and regarding (mental) processes it is not possible (to say): ‘Let my (mental) processes be thus, let my (mental) processes be not thus.’

Consciousness is not Self, for if this consciousness, monks, were Self this consciousness would not lead to affliction, and regarding consciousness it might be possible (to say): ‘Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.’ But because consciousness, monks, is not Self, therefore consciousness does lead to affliction, and regarding consciousness it is not possible (to say): ‘Let my consciousness be thus, let my consciousness be not thus.”

 

What do you think of this, monks: “(Is) bodily form permanent or impermanent?” “Impermanent, venerable Sir.” “But that which is impermanent, (is) that unpleasant or pleasant?” “Unpleasant, venerable Sir.” “But that which is unpleasant and changeable, is it proper to regard it thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my Self?’ ” “Certainly not, venerable Sir.” It is interesting that the second argument against the concept of a Self relies on the notion of suitability to uphold its truth.03

“(Is) feeling permanent or impermanent?” “Impermanent, venerable Sir.” “But that which is impermanent, (is) that unpleasant or pleasant?” “Unpleasant, venerable Sir.” “But that which is unpleasant and changeable, is it proper to regard it thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my Self?’ ” “Certainly not, venerable Sir.”

“(Is) perception permanent or impermanent?” “Impermanent, venerable Sir.” “But that which is impermanent, (is) that unpleasant or pleasant?” “Unpleasant, venerable Sir.” “But that which is unpleasant and changeable, is it proper to regard it thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my Self?’ ” “Certainly not, venerable Sir.”

“(Are) (mental) processes permanent or impermanent?” “Impermanent, venerable Sir.” “But that which is impermanent, (is) that unpleasant or pleasant?” “Unpleasant, venerable Sir.” “But that which is unpleasant and changeable, is it proper to regard it thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my Self?’ ” “Certainly not, venerable Sir.”

“(Is) consciousness permanent or impermanent?” “Impermanent, venerable Sir.” “But that which is impermanent, (is) that unpleasant or pleasant?” “Unpleasant, venerable Sir.” “But that which is unpleasant and changeable, is it proper to regard it thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my Self?’ ” “Certainly not, venerable Sir.”

 

“Therefore monks, whatever bodily form (there is) in the past, future or present, internal or external, gross or fine, inferior or excellent, whether far or near, regarding all form: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my Self,’ in just this way, as it really is, it should be seen with full wisdom.

Whatever feeling (there is) in the past, future or present, internal or external, gross or fine, inferior or excellent, whether far or near, regarding all feeling: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my Self,’ in just this way, as it really is, it should be seen with full wisdom.

Whatever perception (there is) in the past, future or present, internal or external, gross or fine, inferior or excellent, whether far or near, regarding all perception: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my Self,’ in just this way, as it really is, it should be seen with full wisdom.

Whatever (mental) processes (there are) in the past, future or present, internal or external, gross or fine, inferior or excellent, whether far or near, regarding all (mental) processes: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my Self,’ in just this way, as it really is, it should be seen with full wisdom.

Whatever consciousness (there is) in the past, future or present, internal or external, gross or fine, inferior or excellent, whether far or near, regarding all consciousness: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my Self,’ in just this way, as it really is, it should be seen with full wisdom.

 

Seeing in this way, monks, the learned, Noble disciple, grows tired of bodily form, and tired of feeling, and tired of perception, and tired of (mental) processes, and tired of consciousness, through tiredness he becomes dispassionate, through dispassion he is liberated, in liberation, there is the knowledge that such is liberation:

‘Destroyed is (re)birth
accomplished is the spiritual life
done is what ought to be done
there is no more of this mundane state - this he knew.’

The Gracious One said this, and the group-of-five monks were uplifted and greatly rejoiced in what was said by the Gracious One.

Moreover, as this sermon was being given, the group-of-five monks' minds were liberated from the pollutants, without attachment, and at that time there were six Worthy Ones in the world.

The First Section for Recital (is Finished)