Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa


Introduction to 3.2.9
Anattalakkhaṇasuttaṃ
(The Characteristics of No Self)


“……na meso attā’ti evametaṃ yathābhūtaṃ sammappaññāya daṭṭhabbaṃ

“……this is not myself - must be realized with full wisdom in its true characteristic”

There is no detailed historical prove how the Buddha dwelled after the preaching of the Dhammacakkappavattanasuttaṃ (see lesson 3.2.3) with the group of five before he delivered this important Anattalakkhaṇasuttaṃ, the second sutta that is handed down to us. After Koṇḍañña has got established in the path and was known as Aññāsikoṇḍañño, all of them settled down in the deer park of Migadāya and remained with the Buddha receiving his instructions: Atha kho bhagavā tadavasese bhikkhū dhammiyā kathāya ovadi anusāsi 1. While three others went round to collect alms for all six who thus then lived on what the three had collected: yaṃ tayo bhikkhū piṇḍāya caritvā āharanti 2, tena chabbaggo3 yāpeti4 till during the next proceeding days all the pañcavaggiyā bhikkhū in the order of Vappa & Bhaddiya, Mahānāma & Assaji had attained the fruits and got established as Sotāpanna, leaving behind the three lower fetters of sakkāyadiṭṭhi, vicikicchā, sīlabbataparāmāso5. (see lesson 5.13) Only after all the five had been thus established with the first fruit in the path the Buddha delivered this sutta, by the end of which all of them became Arahant, with minds being completely freed from all āsava, thus rewarding the world with six fully Enlightened Ones: Imasmiñca pana veyyākaraṇasmiṃ6 bhaññamāne7 pañcavaggiyānaṃ bhikkhūnaṃ anupādāya8 āsavehi cittāni vimucciṃsu. Tena kho pana samayena cha loke arahanto honti.

The concept of I, of self, the understanding that oneself or others are living entities with a soul, ego or self is a general belief. Even if one might, on intellectual, conceptual level or as a result of logical analyses be convinced, that there may be no self, real understanding that supports liberation has to result from the experience of anicca, dukkha and then anattā. Although the Buddha opens this enlightening discourse with an apparently intellectual and logical approach easily comprehensible for any rationality…:

“Rūpañca hidaṃ, bhikkhave, attā abhavissa, nayidaṃ rūpaṃ ābādhāya saṃvatteyya, labbhetha ca rūpe – ‘evaṃ me rūpaṃ hotu, evaṃ me rūpaṃ mā ahosī’ti. Yasmā ca kho, bhikkhave, rūpaṃ anattā, tasmā rūpaṃ ābādhāya saṃvattati, na ca labbhati rūpe – ‘evaṃ me rūpaṃ hotu, evaṃ me rūpaṃ mā ahosī’’’ti9. – “Were body self, then this very body were not subject to disease and the body could be obtained thus: ‘Let my body be such and such, let my body be not thus.’ But as body is not-self, so it is subject to disease, and the body cannot be obtained thus: ‘Let my body be such and such, let my body be not thus.”

... he emphasizes in the second part of the sutta that this proper understanding of anattā is preceded by realizing the impermanent nature of each of the pañca khanda which in itself yields the realization of suffering and thus lays a base for experientially derived perfect knowledge of anattā:

“……na meso attā’ti evametaṃ yathābhūtaṃ sammappaññāya daṭṭhabbaṃ

“……this is not myself - must be realized with full wisdom in its true characteristic”



1 anusāsi: anusāsati (aor.): instruct; teach, admonish

2 āharati: bring, take

3 chabbaggo: six + group of

4 yāpeti: yāti (caus.): to make someone go, to live by

5 sakkāyadiṭṭhi, vicikicchā, sīlabbataparāmāso: illusion of self, doubt, and clinging to rites and rituals and such things

6 veyyākaraṇasmiṃ: explanation, exposition

7 bhaññamāne: bhaṇati (pass./pr.p.): being spoken to, being told, preached

8 anupādāya: an + upādāya: not + clinging to existence; non-attachment

9 For the vocabulary please refere to the lesson itself.



Pāli lesson (with audio) 3.2.9

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Last modified: Tuesday, 21 February 2017, 7:07 PM