作者] 坦尼沙罗尊者


No-self or Not-self?

by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu


One of the first stumbling blocks that Westerners often encounter when they learn about Buddhism is the teaching on anatta, often translated as no-self. This teaching is a stumbling block for two reasons. First, the idea of there being no self doesn't fit well with other Buddhist teachings, such as the doctrine of kamma and rebirth: If there's no self, what experiences the results of kamma and takes rebirth? Second, it doesn't fit well with our own Judeo-Christian background, which assumes the existence of an eternal soul or self as a basic presupposition: If there's no self, what's the purpose of a spiritual life? Many books try to answer these questions, but if you look at the Pali Canon the earliest extant record of the Buddha's teachings you won't find them addressed at all. In fact, the one place where the Buddha was asked point-blank whether or not there was a self, he refused to answer. When later asked why, he said that to hold either that there is a self or that there is no self is to fall into extreme forms of wrong view that make the path of Buddhist practice impossible. Thus the question should be put aside. To understand what his silence on this question says about the meaning of anatta, we first have to look at his teachings on how questions should be asked and answered, and how to interpret his answers.

The Buddha divided all questions into four classes: those that deserve a categorical (straight yes or no) answer; those that deserve an analytical answer, defining and qualifying the terms of the question; those that deserve a counter-question, putting the ball back in the questioner's court; and those that deserve to be put aside. The last class of question consists of those that don't lead to the end of suffering and stress. The first duty of a teacher, when asked a question, is to figure out which class the question belongs to, and then to respond in the appropriate way. You don't, for example, say yes or no to a question that should be put aside. If you are the person asking the question and you get an answer, you should then determine how far the answer should be interpreted. The Buddha said that there are two types of people who misrepresent him: those who draw inferences from statements that shouldn't have inferences drawn from them, and those who don't draw inferences from those that should.

These are the basic ground rules for interpreting the Buddha's teachings, but if we look at the way most writers treat the anatta doctrine, we find these ground rules ignored. Some writers try to qualify the no-self interpretation by saying that the Buddha denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self, but this is to give an analytical answer to a question that the Buddha showed should be put aside. Others try to draw inferences from the few statements in the discourse that seem to imply that there is no self, but it seems safe to assume that if one forces those statements to give an answer to a question that should be put aside, one is drawing inferences where they shouldn't be drawn.

So, instead of answering "no" to the question of whether or not there is a self interconnected or separate, eternal or not the Buddha felt that the question was misguided to begin with. Why? No matter how you define the line between "self" and "other," the notion of self involves an element of self-identification and clinging, and thus suffering and stress. This holds as much for an interconnected self, which recognizes no "other," as it does for a separate self. If one identifies with all of nature, one is pained by every felled tree. It also holds for an entirely "other" universe, in which the sense of alienation and futility would become so debilitating as to make the quest for happiness one's own or that of others impossible. For these reasons, the Buddha advised paying no attention to such questions as "Do I exist?" or "Don't I exist?" for however you answer them, they lead to suffering and stress.

To avoid the suffering implicit in questions of "self" and "other," he offered an alternative way of dividing up experience: the four Noble Truths of stress, its cause, its cessation, and the path to its cessation. Rather than viewing these truths as pertaining to self or other, he said, one should recognize them simply for what they are, in and of themselves, as they are directly experienced, and then perform the duty appropriate to each. Stress should be comprehended, its cause abandoned, its cessation realized, and the path to its cessation developed. These duties form the context in which the anatta doctrine is best understood. If you develop the path of virtue, concentration, and discernment to a state of calm well-being and use that calm state to look at experience in terms of the Noble Truths, the questions that occur to the mind are not "Is there a self? What is my self?" but rather "Am I suffering stress because I'm holding onto this particular phenomenon? Is it really me, myself, or mine? If it's stressful but not really me or mine, why hold on?" These last questions merit straightforward answers, as they then help you to comprehend stress and to chip away at the attachment and clinging the residual sense of self-identification that cause it, until ultimately all traces of self-identification are gone and all that's left is limitless freedom.

In this sense, the anatta teaching is not a doctrine of no-self, but a not-self strategy for shedding suffering by letting go of its cause, leading to the highest, undying happiness. At that point, questions of self, no-self, and not-self fall aside. Once there's the experience of such total freedom, where would there be any concern about what's experiencing it, or whether or not it's a self?



西方人了解佛教的过程中经常遭遇的第一个障碍是有关 anatta 的教导这个词常被译成无我(no-self)。这个教导成为障碍有两个理由。首先没有自我这个观点与佛陀的其它教导并不吻合比如业与轮回。假如没有自我是什么承受业的后果继续轮回? 第二它与我们自己的犹太-基督教背景也难以吻合后者把永恒的灵魂或者自我当成一个基本前提。假如没有自我灵性生活的目的又是什么?  许多书籍试图解答这个问题但是如果查看记载着现存最早的佛陀教导巴利文献你在经中根本找不到与此相关的陈述。实际上只有一处有人当面直接问佛陀自我是否存在而他却拒绝回答了。后来有人问他为什么他说认定有我、无我两个观点中的任何一个均属极端妄见不可能走上佛法修持之路。因此这样的问题应该放在一边。为了理解他对这个问题保持缄默意味着anatta 的释义是什么我们首先必须阅读他的教导有关怎样提出问题、解答问题、以及怎样理解他的答复。  


佛陀把一切问题分为四类: 一类值得明确答复(直接的是与否); 一类值得分析式答复对该问题加以定义与限制; 一类值得反问把球送回提问者的场地; 一类值得放在一边。这最后一类则包括那些不能终止苦与紧张的问题。一位老师接到问题时首要责任是弄清这个问题属于哪一类之后以相应方式作答。比如你对一个该放在一边的问题便不以是与否作答。假如你是提问者得到一个答复后便要决定对其推论该走多远。佛陀说误解他的人有两类:  一类对不该作推论的陈述去作推论还有一类该作推论却不作。  


这些便是理解佛陀教导的基本原则不过如果看看多数作者对 anatta 学说的解释我们发现这些基本原则给忽略了。有些作者试图对无我的铨释加以限定说佛陀否定的是永恒自我或者独立自我的存在不过这样做是对一个佛陀表明该放在一边的问题给出分析式答复。其他人则试图从经文中几个似乎暗示自我不存在的陈述里作推论不过可以肯定迫使这些句子对一个该放在一边的问题给出答案那么他是在作不当推论。   


因此与其对自我是否存在这个问题回答不存在无论这个自我是指相关、独立、是否永恒佛陀认为这个问题从一开始就有误导性。为什么无论你怎样划定的界线自我这个概念包含了某种自我认同与执取因素因此就带着苦与紧张。这个分析适用于一个独立的自我也适用于一个与外界相通的自我这样的自我不承认。假如一个人认同自然的一切他便为每一株落木而苦。这个分析也适用于对整个其它宇宙[的认同]在那里的隔绝感与徒劳感极其有害使人对快乐的追求(无论为己为他)成为不可能。出于这些原因佛陀的忠告是不要去注意我存在吗? 、或者我不存在吗?这类问题因为无论你怎样回答都会导致苦与张力。


为了避免有关问题内部隐含的苦他提出另一种解析经验的方式: 有关苦、苦因、灭苦、灭苦之道的四圣谛。  他说不要把这些事看成与我、与他有关而应该把它们看成存在现实本身、直接的经验本身接下来对它们各自施行相应的责任。  应当去理解张力、消除其因、实现其止息、培养止息之道。 这些责任构成了理解 anatta 学说的最佳背景。如果你培养了戒德、定力、明辨达到一个宁静的状态这个状态下以四圣谛的原则看待经验在心中升起的问题就不是有没有自我我是什么? 而是我在受苦是不是因为我执着于这个特别现象?  它真的是我、我自己、我的吗如果它是苦但实际上却不是我或者我的又为什么要执着呢?  后面那组问题就值得一个直接了当的答复了因为这时的答案能帮助你理解苦放下导致苦的追求与执着放下残余的自我认同直到最后一切自我认同的痕迹消失剩下的是无限的自由。  


在这个意义上anatta 教导并非是个无我(no-self)的学说而是一个非我(not-self)的策略藉着放下苦因、走向最高快乐这样来消解苦。在那时我、无我、非我这些问题就落到了一边。有了这样彻底自由的经验又何必关心是谁、是不是我在经历它呢?




Source : http://www.theravadacn.org/


Home | Links | Contact

Copy Right Issues DhammaTalks.net