Mahasi Sayadaw

A Discourse on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta

A Discourse on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta

All teachings or beliefs outside of the Buddha’s Dispensation fall under the category of beliefs in a self, attā. They hold to the view that there is such a thing as a soul, a living entity, which actually resides in all living creatures.

In the midst of the world holding fast to notions of self or soul the Buddha declared, “Attā, soul or living entity, is not a reality; it is only a conventional nomencla-ture. What really exists, in the ultimate sense, is a continuous flux of corporeal and mental processes, impersonal phenomena.”

It is essential to thoroughly and comprehensively understand anattā, the doctrine of impersonality propounded by the Buddha. He first touched on the doctrine in his elaboration of the Four Noble Truths in the Dhammacakka Sutta. He touched on it again when he taught the Hemavata Sutta, explaining that “with the arising of the six sense bases, (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind) there arises a world, a being.” Then the Buddha brought forth the doctrine of not-self explicitly and comprehensively in this Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta.

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About Mahasi Sayadaw

Mahasi Sayadaw U Sobhana, born on 29-07-1904 and deceased on 14-08-1982, was a Burmese Theravāda Buddhist monk and meditation master who had a significant impact on the teaching of vipassanā (insight) meditation, both in the West and in Asia.

In his style of practice, derived from the New Burmese Method of U Nārada, living according to Buddhist morality is a prerequisite for the practice of meditation. The meditation itself invokes Satipaṭṭhāna, the foundation of mindfulness. In developing this, the vipassanā meditation practitioner focuses on the sensation of the rising and falling of the abdomen during breathing, while being alert and attentive to other sensations or thoughts.

Mahāsi Sayādaw was a questioner and final editor at the Sixth Buddhist Council on May 17, 1954. He helped establish meditation centers all over Burma as well as in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, and by 1972 the centers under his guidance had trained more than 700,000 meditators. In 1979, he travelled to the West, holding retreats at newly founded centers such as the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts, U.S. In addition, meditators came from all over the world to practice at his center in Yangon.

When the Mahāsi Sayādaw died on 14 August 1982 following a massive stroke, thousands of devotees braved the torrential monsoon rains to pay their last respects.

You yourselves must strive, the Buddhas only point the way

Buddha, Dhp 276