Does modern Theravada accept that no real person ends with the break up of the body of a realized one? That the moment after the break up of the body of a realized one is the same as the moment before?
Now at that time a mendicant called Yamaka had the following harmful misconception: “As I understand the Buddha’s teaching, a mendicant who has ended the defilements is annihilated and destroyed when their body breaks up, and doesn’t exist after death.”
Several mendicants heard about this. They went to Yamaka and exchanged greetings with him. When the greetings and polite conversation were over, they sat down to one side and said to him:
“Is it really true, Reverend Yamaka, that you have such a harmful misconception: ‘As I understand the Buddha’s teaching, a mendicant who has ended the defilements is annihilated and destroyed when their body breaks up, and doesn’t exist after death.’” “Yes, reverends, that’s how I understand the Buddha’s teaching.”
“Don’t say that, Yamaka! Don’t misrepresent the Buddha, for misrepresentation of the Buddha is not good. And the Buddha would not say that.” But even though admonished by those mendicants, Yamaka obstinately held on to that misconception and insisted on stating it.
After talking with Sariputta it seems Yamaka has a change of heart after this question by Sariputta:
“What do you think, Yamaka? Do you regard the Realized One as one who is without form, feeling, perception, choices, and consciousness?” “No, reverend.” “In that case, Reverend Yamaka, since you don’t acknowledge the Realized One as a genuine fact in the present life, is it appropriate to declare: ‘As I understand the Buddha’s teaching, a mendicant who has ended the defilements is annihilated and destroyed when their body breaks up, and doesn’t exist after death.’?”
Here is the same portion in Venerable Bodhi's translation:
“But, friend, when the Tathagata is not apprehended by you as real and actual here in this very life, is it fitting for you to declare: ‘As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed is annihilated and perishes with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death’?”
So does this mean the break up of the body is just like any moment in this very life where moment to moment no person truly ends or changes because a real person doesn't truly exist in the first place?
I'm aware that orthodox Theravada tenet systems posit the selflessness of persons, but are either agnostic or outright reject the selflessness of phenomena. However, most pali canon suttas seem to stop at the coarse level of selflessness, but here Sariputta seems to be speaking about the subtler levels of the selflessness of persons if only in embryonic form. Is this true?
Also, if the body of a person is regarded as a real substantial thing in Theravada how about the consciousness of a person? Is that regarded as a real substantial thing?