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Uk Tn w1-4 Transcript 08 Wnal Nalbp

Uk Tn w1-4 Transcript 08 Wnal Nalbp

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Subtle selflessness and subtle selflessness of persons are asserted to be equivalent.

These are of one meaning for all non-Prasangika schools.

A selflessness of phenomena is not accepted because it is accepted that if it is an established
base it is necessarily a self of phenomena.

They don‟t accept selflessness of phenomena because if something is an established base,

it is necessarily a self of persons.

Among them, the Followers of Vatsiputra, [one of the eighteen sub-schools,] accept a
selflessness of person that is [a person] being empty of being permanent, unitary, and
independent. However, they do not accept a selflessness of person that is [a person] being
empty of being self-sufficient substantially existent because they accept a self-sufficient
substantially existent self that is inexpressible even in terms of being one entity with or a
different entity from the aggregates, and being permanent or impermanent.


Nal: Changed throughout from “self-supporting substantially existent self”, by Ven. Sonam Tharchin.

unchecked transcript

Presentation of Tenets

Page | 25

QUESTION: What is the Vatsiputrins basis for their refutation of subtle-selflessness?

They assert that you cannot say that the self is one entity, or nature, with the

aggregates, nor that it is a different entity, you also can‟t say whether it is permanent or

impermanent, but you can say that it is self-sufficient.
All the other sub-schools of Vaibashika accept both selflessnesses: the gross
selflessness of the self being empty of being permanent, unitary, and independent; and the
subtle selfless of the self being empty of a self-sufficient substantial existent self.
Because the Vatsiputrins accept such an inexpressible self and don‟t accept what the
other Vaibashika‟s accept, we need to investigate whether they are Buddhists. A Buddhist

tenet accepts the following four seals:

All compounded phenomena are impermanent.
Everything which is contaminated is in the nature of suffering.
All phenomena are empty and selfless.
Nirvana is peace.

Vatsiputrins would accept the first, second, and fourth seal. With regard to the third, they
would accept that phenomena are empty of being permanent, unitary, and independent self, but
would not accept selfless, which refers to lacking a self that is self-supporting
substantially existent. This means that Vatsiputrins are Buddhists in terms of their
practice because they take refuge; but only half-Buddhist‟s in terms of their view.
They accept that the self and the five aggregates are empty of being permanent,
unitary, and independent.
• Permanent: Whatever is a product arises and disintegrates, which means that there is
momentary change, and is therefore impermanent.
• Unitary: The self and aggregates are not one, which means not unitary, or partless.
Something is one when it is not dependant on its parts.
• Independent: Something is independent if it is not reliant on causes and conditions.
• Summary: With regard to the self and the five aggregates, they are changing
momentarily, so they are not permanent, but impermanent. As they are dependent on
their parts, they are not unitary. They arise due to causes and conditions, so they are not
independent but dependent on other factors.
Whatever is compounded is necessarily impermanent in that it changes momentarily.
This refers to disintegration, which is not something that we can necessarily see, but
refers to momentary disintegration. In this way, such phenomena are impermanent.

Gen Losang Jamphel lightly edited transcript

Page | 26

QUESTION: Is it not that Vaibashika have a different understanding of disintegration
because they posit a factor of duration with regard to products?

Vaibashika accept this definition of impermanence and that compounded
phenomena are impermanent, because as Buddhists, they have to accept the four seals,
and this refers to the first seal. They accept that all contaminated phenomena are in the
nature of suffering and that nirvana is peace. Vatsiputrins accepted that all phenomena
are empty, but not that all phenomena are selfless.

Vaibashika accept that there are moments of: arising, production, abiding, and then
disintegration. This is similar to how we perceive things too. We would say that we were
born, we then live or abide, and finally we die.
Vaibashika do accept impermanent things as they have a division of things into
impermanent and permanent. Their definition of impermanent is momentary; however,
there is a lot of discussion about what is meant by momentary.

Self-sufficient, in self-sufficient substantial existent self, refers to a self that stands out amongst
the momentarily changing aggregates and has power over the five aggregates. Whilst the
self is not dependent on the five aggregates, it is in charge, or has power over, the five
aggregates. They reject that such a self exists.
If such a self that is a different entity from the aggregates and had control over them,
existed, liberation from samsara would be impossible and nirvana couldn‟t be attained.
This is because such a self-sufficient „I‟ would have been self-sufficient since
beginningless time and not dependent on anything. If this were the case, such a self would
have been liberated from the very beginning. No such self exists.
As such a self does not exist, a mind holding such a self is ignorance, or could be
called the view of the transitory collection. When such a mind is present, ignorance,
attachment, and aversion will be generated towards self and others. This results in the
performance of negative acts and cyclic existence being perpetuated.
What we call self or „I‟ is not established within the self-sufficient substantial existent
self, but it does exist in other ways. If we look for it we will see that it is a mental
consciousness and if we investigate we will see that this mental consciousness is
dependent on the other aggregates.
Being dependent on causes and conditions and dependent on parts is something that
all Buddhists would accept, and as a result, something being independent from causes and

unchecked transcript

Presentation of Tenets

Page | 27

conditions and independent from parts is not something that any Buddhist would accept.
Therefore, this self-sufficient substantial existent self does not exist. This lack is called
subtle selflessness.

QUESTION: According to Vaibashika, the person is an ultimate truth and therefore is
substantially existent, so how can subtle selfless be a lack of a self-sufficient substantial
existent self?

What is negated is the self-supporting self, not the substantially existent self
because a person is an ultimate truth which is substantially existent. The self that does
exist is a self which is not self sufficient, but is substantially existent. This is a self that is
not able to support itself, but is substantially existent.

QUESTION: What makes the self substantially existent?
GEN: The person is substantially existent because any portion of it is a person. This is
like when form is divided into its individual particles, the individual particles remain as
form or if you divide happiness into all forms of happiness, each of the individual forms
of happiness are happiness. It is the same with suffering, and therefore suffering and
happiness are ultimate truths. This is only the view of Vaibashika.

Gen Losang Jamphel lightly edited transcript

Page | 28

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