Analytical Buddhism: The Two-tiered Illusion of Self by M. Albahari

By M. Albahari

Does the self - a unified, separate, persisting thinker/owner/agent - exist? Drawing on Western philosophy, neurology and Theravadin Buddhism, this booklet argues that the self is an phantasm created via a tier of non-illusory realization and a tier of desire-driven inspiration and emotion, and that separateness underpins the self's illusory prestige.

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Unconditioned nibb¯ ana is experienced directly by the mind of the Arahant This premise implies that nibb¯ ana is not a logical abstraction that is merely inferred by those who have eliminated tan a and ignorance from their mind. h¯ set; it is something that is ‘personally experienced by the wise’ (AN III. 55),4 known directly by the Arahant. This also finds support in the previous sutta, for example, ‘an escape is discerned from what is born, brought-to-being, made, conditioned’ (my italics). It is the mind of the Arahant that ultimately discerns an ‘escape’ from the bindings of conditioned existence, including those increasingly subtle objects of concentrated meditation states (jh¯an¯as) listed in the sutta below, and is percipient of nibb¯ana, the unconditioned: ¯ Once the Venerable Ananda approached the Blessed One and asked: ‘Can it be, Lord, that a monk attains to such concentration of mind that in earth he is not percipient of earth, nor in water is he percipient of water, nor in fire ...

Put another way, it means that no object has the potential to elicit in someone a level of satisfaction or fulfilment that is free from potential dukkha¯. In this way, all conditioned objects are deemed in Buddhism to be unsatisfactory as a source of dukkha¯-free happiness. To see why this is so, we must turn to the Second Noble Truth. ha¯. ha¯ is an attachment to things being one way rather than another. , anger, disappointment, sadness, anxiety) if the desire is frustrated. ha¯ in relation to physical dukkha¯.

In SN some suttas explain Nibb¯ana as the destruction of lust, hatred, and delusion, which emphasizes the experiential psychological dimension; elsewhere it is called the unconditioned, which seems to place the stress on ontological transcendence. h¯a and ignorance) or the unconditioned reality, depending upon the context in which the term is used. I also hold that the suttas support a plausible reading in which nibb¯ana, when construed as the unconditioned, is essentially experiential, although its full experience is literally beyond imagination.

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