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It's often used, this argument, for a good or a bad: "there are no people" equal to "there is no self": My person doubt either out nor for wisdom.

Did the Buddha ever use such abstract arugents?

What are possible bad impacts if arguing in such a way?

How would people react if you tell them that they are just an illusion? Whould they be free of fear from you who thinks of others in such a way?

Didn't the Buddha teaches cause and effect? It seems that an "is" argument is far away from Dhamma: How would people aruge valid to maintain such ideas?

Can those who tell such things bear it to get beaten while the harming person says "Nobody get's beaten"?

Would my person fails if saying that's the "Dhamma" of the foolish Jhains?

There are the contemplatives called the Niganthas (Jains). They get their disciple to undertake the following practice: 'Here, my good man. Lay down the rod with regard to beings who live more than 100 leagues to the east... more than 100 leagues to the west... more than 100 leagues to the north... more than 100 leagues to the south.' Thus they get the disciple to undertake kindness & sympathy to some beings, but not to others.

"On the Uposatha day (medi sessions, discussions....), they get their disciple to undertake the following practice: 'Here, my good man. Having stripped off all your clothing, say this: "I am nothing by anything or of anything. Thus there is nothing by anything or of anything that is mine."' Yet in spite of that, his parents know of him that 'This is our child.' And he knows of them that 'These are my parents.' His wives & children know of him that 'This is our husband & father.' And he knows of them that 'These are my wives & children.' His workers & slaves know of him that 'This is our master.' And he knows of them that 'These are my workers & slaves.' Thus at a time when he should be persuaded to undertake truthfulness, he is persuaded to undertake falsehood. At the end of the night, he resumes the consumption of his belongings, even though they aren't given back to him. This counts as stealing, I tell you. Such is the Uposatha of the Jains, Visakha. When this Uposatha of the Jains is undertaken, it is not of great fruit or great benefit, not of great glory or great radiance.

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma and not meant for commercial purpose or other low wordily gains by means of trade and exchange.]

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    I don't like when a question is asked with no interest in receiving an answer, then the author does not upvote answers and starts arguing in comments under almost every answer. Bad pattern, in my opinion. The purpose of questions here is to receive answers, not to teach with questions. Should we discuss this on meta? – Andrei Volkov Nov 10 '17 at 11:22
  • My person is not here for gain, maybe some are, but that's their suffering with it. A gathering that has release as object is a gathering worthy to take part. If up for reputations, intellectual gain, ... feel free, it's your demerit., the same demerit as well if dealing gifts like drugs. There are planty out there who you can bind with your ways to get not lacking on reasons to help and continue the "hero" trip, Mr. Andrei. Fear that nobody to help any more? And yes, discuss it and take the Buddha and SE as guidline. Such would be good to get more ride of defilements if having cern authority. – Samana Johann Nov 10 '17 at 15:01
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Yes. If you consider a person to be a living being, then, in the Diamond Sutra.

Just as the Buddha declares that form is not form, so he also declares that all living beings are, in fact, not living beings.

People (and specific individuals) do in fact exist, but just not the way we think they do. This is the uniquely buddhist concept that all phenomena are empty, or devoid of self existence.

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The statement that "there are no people" sounded to me too similar to one of the definitions of "wrong view":

There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no brahmans or contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.

Therefore I wouldn't have said this phrase to you: I guessed you could find it disagreeable.

One possible (perhaps not certain) bad impact is that it may lead to inhumane actions ("humane" means "having or showing compassion or benevolence"), even a disregard for "human rights".

"Nobody gets beaten" is the subject of one of the famous Zen (teaching) stories:

Nothing Exists

Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Dokuon of Shokoku.

Desiring to show his attainment, he said: "The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of phenomena is emptiness. There is no relaization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received."

Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe. This made the youth quite angry.

"If nothing exists," inquired Dokuon, "where did this anger come from?"

I can't tell you whether it's Jain.


I suppose your question must be based on this comment:

When I said to one of my teachers that I wanted to help other people, her response was, "There are no other people." So I would say that asking: is this action skillful for me? has the same misunderstanding.

  • First, I should mention that the author of that comment says, "I am not a Buddhist"; and quite probably his teacher, too, is not.

  • Second, I note that the quote is, "There are no 'other' people" -- that's a not unusual teaching among "mystics" -- something like that is found in Christianity, for example ("love thy neighbour as thyself" and "what you do unto others you do unto me"). I think that similar teaching is even hinted in sila doctrines of some of the Pali canon, for example:

    All tremble at violence; all fear death. Putting oneself in the place of another, one should not kill nor cause another to kill.

  • Also the Dalai Lama said something like (in an interview: sorry I can't quote or reference it properly), that he likes to see himself as being "like other people" and "not special" (I think that's in order to avoid dukkha associated with selfish views).

Anyway if the phrase is a little bit Buddhist, maybe it's more like a Mahayana answer.

Note that the converse of the statement (i.e. "there are other people") may be a bit problematic too -- perhaps that view implies some self-view or conceit.


In summary I don't recall that the Buddha did use such abstract arguments.

I also find it difficult to think of any argument he used that is as short as that one -- there are only a few short formula I can think of at the moment, "Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress." (or some verses from the Dhammapada).

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    Well balanced and good prepared, Nyom Chris. Sadhu! – Samana Johann Nov 10 '17 at 14:53

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