The Self and Emptiness

An extract from Old Path White Clouds

The Buddha gave Rahula the teaching on the emptiness of self in great detail. He said, “Rahula among the five skandhas —body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness—there is nothing that can be considered to be permanent and nothing that can be called a ‘self.’ This body is not the self. This body is not something that belongs to the self either. The self cannot be found in the body, and the body cannot be found in the self.

“There are three kinds of views of self. The first is that this body is the self, or these feelings, perceptions, mental formations, or consciousness are the self. This is ‘the belief in skandha as self,’ and it is the first wrong view. But when one says, ‘The skandhas are not the self,’ one may fall into the second wrong view and believe that
the self is something that exists independently from the skandhas and that the skandhas are its possessions. This second wrong view is called ‘skandha is different from the self.’ The third wrong view consists in the belief that there is a presence of the self in the skandhas, and there is the presence of the skandhas in the self. This is called ‘the belief in the presence of skandhas and self in each other.’

“Rahula, practicing deeply the meditation on the emptiness of the self means looking into the five skandhas in order to see that they are neither self, belonging to self, nor interbeing with self. Once we overcome these three wrong views, we can experience the true nature of ‘emptiness of all dharmas.”’

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