It is generally taught in Mahayana monastic universities that Theravada does not posit the selflessness of phenomena. There it is taught a dichotomy exists between the tenet systems employed by various Buddhist traditions:
- The selflessness of persons
- The selflessness of phenomena
In Mahayana texts it is often said that the self of persons and the self of phenomena comprise the "two selves" that are refuted. It is said that Theravada only posits and thus refutes the self of persons.
This is a commentary on a textbook used in Buddhist monastic universities in India/Tibet written by a Geshe Lharampa:
For the, "Vaibashika school, there are 3 divisions and 18 subschools, one of which is the Theravadan school)"
Selflessness of phenomena is not asserted because the Vaibashikas assert that an established base is pervaded by self of phenomena i.e. even though the V assert selflessness of person, they do not assert the selflessness of phenomena.
Within existence, there are two aspects – person and phenomena. When one talks about selflessness of person, one is referring to the concept of “I”. When one talks about the selflessness of phenomena, one is referring to one’s 5 aggregates, all outer objects and everything other than concept of “I”. The V school doesn’t assert the selflessness of phenomena because they hold the view that phenomena is truly existent from its own side.
Emphasis in the original. The point I think is that a dichotomy is made between persons and external objects. The former is said to lack a self, but external objects are considered to be real or truly existent. Some Mahayana tenet systems say the latter also are unreal and not truly existent.
What do self-identified Theravada proponents think of this? Is this how you'd characterize your school or you understanding? Do you identify with the Vaibashika school?