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While Nihilism and the Uposatha of the Jains lead to no prosperity at all (and is said to stand far from the Path), the Uposatha of the cowherds (cow-boys) is said to have still chances (that seems at first glance equal for both, but the context makes clear, i mentions the comments in other suttas an commentaries of the Arahats).

Given that Self-view is actually not included in the grave wrong views leading upward, maybe an argument that might help out of taking a stand.

Are the answers which could challenge: is a tendency toward hope of lasting self a far better bet and anchor for most? Without that hope might be people be cut off from the path, before they actually waking to it with sure ideas of no-self? What about vibhava-tanha?

There are some views of non-self which are actually wrong:

The so-called 'evil views with fixed destiny' constituting the last of the 10 unwholesome courses of action (kammapatha), are the following three:

  • (1) the fatalistic 'view of the uncaused ness' of existence (ahetukaditthi),
  • (2) the view of the inefficacy of action' (akiriyaditthi),
  • (3) nihilism (natthikaditthi).

from: How to address wrong view?

Maybe this is a reason why the Buddha never really taught the higher Dhammas to "householder"(1), not beyond holding on world?

What is taught at large where you dwell? And to whom from whom?

When ever possible, try to answer without getting caught in papanca and self-defense, holding a stand, as a householder. Refuge first might help, or the other recollections if available.

1) Housholder means a person who has not left the sphere of six sense and has not come to a borderland (i.e. accessconcentration). Discussions whether an othwardly householder can access the Dhamma or not are useless and it's known that Dhamma is taught in steps, i.e. amount of ones release/liberty of mind and never the Dhamma of the Arahat has been taught to housholder, standholder, since they can not understand it right at all. The Ariya Uposatha serves exactly this purpose but of cause need refuge first and not the ironic approach of the modern Jain "Make your self an island", yet drifting away on an island build of conceit "I am not, I am nothing...".

[note that this is not given for trade, exchange, stacks or ;uddh-ism, but simply for a tiny door to liberation]

  • I edited a bit (just for grammar and spelling), I hope it's still the question that you wanted to ask, but a bit clearer – ChrisW Mar 1 at 18:37
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    Perhaps I misunderstood what you wrote though because what's currently written in the first paragraph seems to contradict what's in the Muluposatha Sutta -- i.e. I think the sutta says that there are three Uposathas, that the Uposathas of the Jains and of the cowhers are both of no great benefit, only the Upothosa of the Noble Ones is beneficial i.e. cleansing the mind. But it says that includes e.g. thinking, "The same sort of virtue that is present in the Devas is present in me as well" -- and maybe that's the kind of thing you mean by saying that some self-view might be fruitful/beneficial. – ChrisW Mar 1 at 19:41
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Your premise is that the Buddha taught a different Dhamma to householders, compared to monks.

This is incorrect, as according to SN 42.7, the Buddha taught the same Dhamma to monks, lay followers and non-Buddhists alike:

“Sir, doesn’t the Buddha live full of compassion for all living beings?” “Yes, chief.” “Well, sir, why exactly do you teach some people thoroughly and others less thoroughly?”

“Well then, chief, I’ll ask you about this in return, and you can answer as you like. What do you think? Suppose a farmer has three fields: one’s good, one’s average, and one’s poor—bad ground of sand and salt. What do you think? When that farmer wants to plant seeds, where would he plant them first: the good field, the average one, or the poor one?” “Sir, he’d plant them first in the good field, then the average, then he may or may not plant seed in the poor field. Why is that? Because at least it can be fodder for the cattle.”

“To me, the monks and nuns are like the good field. I teach them the Dhamma that’s good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, meaningful and well-phrased. And I reveal a spiritual practice that’s entirely full and pure. Why is that? Because they live with me as their island, protection, shelter, and refuge.

To me, the laymen and laywomen are like the average field. I also teach them the Dhamma that’s good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, meaningful and well-phrased. And I reveal a spiritual practice that’s entirely full and pure. Why is that? Because they live with me as their island, protection, shelter, and refuge.

To me, the ascetics, brahmins, and wanderers who follow other paths are like the poor field, the bad ground of sand and salt. I also teach them the Dhamma that’s good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, meaningful and well-phrased. And I reveal a spiritual practice that’s entirely full and pure. Why is that? Hopefully they might understand even a single sentence, which would be for their lasting welfare and happiness.

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Householders may generally be able to practise the dhamma less effectively than the monks, but in some cases it can be the opposite. A householder can realize Nibbana in a very short period of time If s/he has the right conditions and time to practise the dhamma. There are some lay people living in all around the world (Buddhist or non-Buddhist) that realizes Nibbana and even attains high stages of enlightenment. So I think that it is not a right thing to alienate the householders and say that they are unable to practise dhamma good or they can't go beyond self-view. Also it is not possible to not have thoughts about non-self even for the relatively advanced meditators. Practising the dhamma would eventually lead people to the same direction, so telling any dhamma follower to cling to self view can not work.

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I suppose your mentioning "safe bet" is a reference to a different sutta, by the way, MN 60 -- part of that is (or it seems to be) about whether or not there's a "next world".

I think that some of the Westerners who may be interested in Buddhism might be (almost by definition) dissatisfied with the traditionally-Western religions (e.g. Christianity etc.) -- so they're sceptical of a message like, "Believe in God, obey God's laws, then you will have eternal life in Heaven after you die".

For such a person, a doctrine like "You'll be reborn in heaven or hell after you die" might make them sceptical of Buddhism too -- "What is the evidence for that?! Buddhism is just another religion or superstition."

So I don't think it's beneficial to push "belief in a lasting self" on everyone, if that's what you're suggesting -- perhaps at least some Westerners might find it off-putting.

Also this kind of line of thinking -- i.e. "a safe bet" -- might not be a persuasive argument at all. There's something in the Christian tradition, i.e. Pascal's Wager -- perhaps you've heard of it before -- which may be a close analogy: if that wager (about God) doesn't convince people to be Christians. then I'm not sure that equivalent Buddhist logic (about Self and/or a next world) would persuade them to be Buddhist.


But I'm not sure how the question (what I think is the question), e.g. ...

A tendency toward hope of lasting self is a far better bet and anchor for most

... is at all related to the Muluposatha Sutta (AN 3.70) which you referenced in the first paragraph.

I'm guessing that the most "selfish" (or the only "selfish" bit) of that sutta is something like ...

There is the case where the disciple of the noble ones recollects the devas, thus: 'There are the Devas of the Four Great Kings, the Devas of the Thirty-three, the Yama Devas, the Contented Devas, the devas who delight in creation, the devas who have power over the creations of others, the devas of Brahma's retinue, the devas beyond them. Whatever conviction they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of conviction is present in me as well. Whatever virtue they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of virtue is present in me as well. Whatever learning they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of learning is present in me as well. Whatever generosity they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of generosity is present in me as well. Whatever discernment they were endowed with that — when falling away from this life — they re-arose there, the same sort of discernment is present in me as well.' As he is recollecting the devas, his mind is calmed, and joy arises; the defilements of his mind are abandoned, just as when gold is cleansed through the proper technique.

I suppose that's a form of bhavana -- like metta-bhavana (or even tantrayana).

That's also a form of conceit (i.e. comparing oneself to a Deva), like as you know from the Bhikkhuni sutta,

This body comes into being through conceit. And yet it is by relying on conceit that conceit is to be abandoned.

'The monk named such-and-such, they say, through the ending of the fermentations, has entered & remains in the fermentation-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known & realized them for himself in the here & now. Then why not me?

According to the sutta, it is a means of "cleansing of the defiled mind through the proper technique".

I don't think the doctrine of that sutta (i.e. the "the Uposatha of the Noble Ones") is necessarily related to a doctrine of a lasting self (e.g. "I will be reborn as a Deva").

I suppose too that conceit might be quite wrong if it's misused (e.g. "I am like a Deva and you are not -- you, you are like a hungry ghost") -- wrong to say and wrong to hear, too easy to misunderstand.

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