eventually, preached Dhamma noble in the beginning noble
in the middle and noble in the end. His concern was
about His preaching it to the masses, who are used to
believing in the conventional words and terms, which
blindfold them from the ultimate truth.
years ago in The Golden Lotus published in the United
States, there was a controversy as to what was meant by
the Buddha in exhorting his followers, in such terms, as
in the Dhammapada - 157, One should protect well
oneself, if one holds oneself dear; 158, let one first
establish oneself well; 159 as one instructs others, he
should himself act; 160 oneself, indeed, is one’s
saviour, etc. - while he had proclaimed the doctrine of
Anatta (No-self), which is a contradiction of Self.
This controversy, it must be remarked, is quite in
accordance with the Buddha’s exhortation to His
followers to analyse His teachings without accepting
them blindly. In view of the apparent contradictions in
the contents of the four extracts quoted above, to the
doctrine of Anatta, let us examine how and why these
contradictions happen to occur.
It must be admitted that He had nowhere in His doctrine
contradicted Himself on any vital or fundamental point.
On the other hand, there is universal agreement in all
His teachings converging on the three fundamentals of
Impermanence, Infelicity and Soullessness.
Before the Buddha’s enlightenment the immortality of a
soul and a creator of it was accepted as a universal
teaching by almost the whole world. On being All
Enlightened, when the Buddha discovered that there was
no immortal soul, he was hesitant to proclaim this
doctrine to the world, because of the blindness of the
Blind is this world;
Few are those who clearly see.
As birds escape from a net,
Few go to a Blissful State. - Dhammapada 174
The Buddha, eventually, preached Dhamma noble in the
beginning noble in the middle and noble in the end. His
concern was about His preaching it to the masses, who
are used to believing in the conventional words and
terms, which blindfold them from the ultimate truth.
Says Dr. W. F. Jayasuriya in the Psychology and
Philosophy of Buddhism:
“The Abhidamma Pitaka, the book of higher teachings,
which contains the teachings on science and philosophy,
is written in an idiom that is intricate, subtle and
full of technical and scientific language, such as
units, elements, relations etc., but suited to the
subject matter of its inquiry, namely, the nature of
things themselves and why things happen as they do. So,
in Abhidamma, we speak, not of men, animals or houses,
but of the elements, which singly or in combination,
constitute these complex phenomena of mental and
physical events and of Masses, Fields, Faculties,
The conventional term Self was used by the Buddha and
his Arahats only after proclaiming the doctrine of
Anatta, in order to make the masses understand this
concept, when put to them in conventional words. In the
Dhammapada 62, he clinched the issue thus: “Sons have I.
Wealth have I. Thus is the fool worried. Verily, he
himself is not his own.
Whence sons, Whence wealth?”
In his controversy with Saccaka, the Buddha makes his
teachings crystal clear, thus:
Saccaka: I am told that the Venerable Gautama teaches
His pupils that except the five aggregates of Form,
Feeling, Perception, Formations and Consciousness, a
sentient being has no Soul.
The Buddha: Yes, I teach them so. Will Saccaka expound
his thesis, if He has any?
Saccaka: My thesis is, just as so many kinds of trees
grow on this earth, the five aggregates grow on Self.
The Buddha: Do you admit that an order of expulsion on
one of His subjects by the King of Kosala will be
respected in his kingdom?
Saccaka: Yes, I admit that it would be respected
The Buddha: Do you say that an order by you to your Form
to change to another Form will be respected by it?
The Truth of Anatta by Dr. G. P. Malalasekera has that:
“Whatever be the theories enunciated by various thinkers
regarding the Self before the Buddha’s day, during his
life time and thereafter, it would seem correct to say
that the Buddhist teaching of Anatta or non-self
contradicts them all in an -all-embracing sweep. The
Buddha made no concessions at all to the doctrine of
He denied the view that there is in man a self that is
permanent and unchanging, possessed of bliss and
autonomous. He denied equally emphatically that at death
man is utterly destroyed...”
In the same way that the terms, sun rises, sun sets,
blindfold those ignorant of astral movements from
ultimate truth, because of the conventional terms, by
far the largest number of people today, including
Buddhists use the conventional terms, I, mine, man
exists, Devas exist etc., in the full belief that they
are ultimate truths, though, in reality, they are not
After Self was dethroned by the Buddha, 2555 years ago,
Peace and Tolerance dominated the East. There had been
no war of any magnitude to speak of. In Ceylon, the
favoured land of the Buddha Dhamma, except for driving
away of a few invaders there have been no wars to speak
of. Culture, and economy built only on agricultural
industry, raised Ceylon to such giddy heights that it
became the envy and admiration of the whole world.
If, once again, Self is dethroned from the world, and,
thereby, Peace with Tolerance is enthroned, the world
will be a paradise to live in.