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What is a person (puggala) in Buddhism?

What is the difference between a person (puggala) and other terms like self (atta) and sentient being (satta)?

Is a person (puggala) reborn into future lives?

How do we reconcile the concept of person (puggala) with "sabbe dhamma anatta" (all phenomena is not self)?

There was an ancient Buddhist philosophical school called Pudgalavada which posited the existence of a person (puggala) based on SN 22.22, who has continued existence, experiences the result of his kamma, gets reborn and finally becomes liberated etc. Other Buddhist schools apparently criticized this view for being too close to self or atman / atta.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the carrier of the burden? It should be said: the person (puggala), this venerable one of such a name and clan. This is called the carrier of the burden.
SN 22.22

One person (ekapuggala) roaming and transmigrating for an eon would amass a heap of bones the size of this Mount Vepulla, if they were gathered together and not lost.
SN 15.10

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  • the dhamma was never taught for the above questions to arise. this is the problem of publishing sutta to puthujjana. they makes such bad kamma and they don't even know they do. they cannot practise the supramundane and they befuddle the supramundane with the mundane. MN 117 says there are two types of dhamma - mundane & supramundane. the supramundane is not for puthujjana; who, like using a master carpenters tools, just end up cutting their hands. Jul 8 at 12:37
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What is a person (puggala) in Buddhism?

It's just a concept, e.g. like a "being".

What is the difference between a person (puggala) and other terms like self (atta) and sentient being (satta)?

There is no difference - they are all concepts with no real reference point to reality.

Words such as a person, a being etc. is used for conventional sake only. If you go look for these things you won't find them anywhere.

There was an ancient Buddhist philosophical school called Pudgalavada which posited the existence of a person (puggala) based on SN 22.22, who has continued existence, experiences the result of his kamma, gets reborn and finally becomes liberated etc. Other Buddhist schools apparently criticized this view for being too close to self or atman / atta.

This sounds very much like "Wrong-view" (Miccā Diṭṭhi) and is basically a misunderstanding of how reality works (and of the Buddha's Teaching).

The view about "... Pudgalavada which posited the existence of a person (puggala), who has continued existence ..." might fall under the 2nd of the 62 Wrong Views, namely the Eternalist view.

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  • persons are the referents of names, not simply conventions. they appear directly and validly to the purified perfected minds of nonbuddhists. to deny them is simple nihilism. what the buddha taught is investigation upon the validly appearing self using not-self. this is for the sake of revealing the true nature of persons and placing the directly into nirvana upon successful completion of the investigation. arriving at nothing when looking for a person only occurs when u fail to notice urself when saying urself doesnt exist
    – bw tho
    Jul 6 at 0:33
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the person is the thing that when u say 'i dont exist' observes that referent object freshly

the self is the innate misapprehension we have always had when the person appears.

for instance the power that endured you into this next moment is such a grasping of a self to the person

like everything else the person is hard to notice without much concentration and extremely obvious with pretty good concentration

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Each mind can know one in 3 kinds of objects...

  1. Arising&Vanishing Realities (trillion moments per second;sankhata)
  2. Imagination (pannatti)
  3. Nibbana Reality (asankhata)

(All of them have names[nāma] which is a kind of pannatti)

Everybody, included the noble one, must know Sankhata and Pannatti switching rapidly to live their life.

The Arising&Vanishing Realities means only 89 minds 52 mind factor 28 forms.

One know every realities by 6 doors then imagine of them as the only one by Ghanasaññā(1)(2) (Thinking of the whole as one; Perception that it is one and the same).

  1. āramaṇaghana -- conceiving the conglomeration of sensations (of sight, of sound, of smell, of taste, of touch) as a palpable entity
  2. santatighana -- consciousness of a series of sensations which seemingly merge into a continuum
  3. kiccaghana -- concept of a soul, entity or being engendered by by taking the total physical and mental experiences as a unified whole
  4. samūhaghana -- conceiving the body-organs and the body as a solid-entity when the body-octad including the four great essentials (mahābhūta consisting of: pathavī, āpo, tejo, vāyo ) are always in a flux of generation, stasis, and dissolution.

For the example, we know uncountable colors, sounds, smells, hardness, softness which arising&vanishing rapidly now, everybody imagine "a person is typing, a person is reading, a computer are touched by a person", but we has not enough concentration to see the truth whether it's only realities, 6 minds doing duties on 6 objects at 6 doors, arising and vanishing rapidly trillion times per second.

And the only way to see the truth is listen to the Buddha.

The Buddha is the only one who can understand Abhidhamma by seeing realities on every lives himself and has enough abilities to tell people to enlighten follow him.

He see the trillion moments per second of Nama and Rupa by himself and he know how can see like that on every past and future lives as Nama and Rupa by his 3 and 8 Vijja, especially VipassanaNanaVijja, at his enlightened night.

He can understand why the reincarnation still going on because of analyzing Nama and Rupa by CutupapataNana as dependent origination (Paticcasamuppada).

The world never has one like him before for long long time.


Don't think only listening is enough. The reader maybe understand while reading, but most of them don't know how to meditate and analysis everything as Nama and Rupa in the dependent origination cycling in the real entire life. That's why we need to meditate both concentration meditation and insight meditation with the tipitaka memorizer like Pa-Auk tawya.

The left analysis means uncountable left unwholesome mind moments.

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  • i think it is wrong to say 'Arising&Vanishing Realities, trillion moments per second;sankhata' because 'sankhata' is discerned to be changing as it persists. In example a pleasant feeling doesn't arise & cease as one thing, it becomes unpleasant when it changes. Manocittavinna is also said to arise as one thing & cease as another, by day & by night, like a monkey in the forest seeking fruit grabbing one branch before letting go of another.
    – user8527
    Jul 5 at 22:55
  • an arising & vanishing of the sankhata is only discerned by the dhamma-eye that sees the 4 noble truths in connection with the pathfruition attainments.
    – user8527
    Jul 5 at 23:03
  • Bhikkhus, there are these three characteristics that define the conditioned. What three? An arising is seen, a vanishing is seen, and its alteration while it persists is seen. These are the three characteristics that define the conditioned.
    – user8527
    Jul 5 at 23:06
  • Therefore normally people speak of the alteration while it persists when they are speaking of things like cessation of a night, or cessation of a fire. These terms are way to think about the perceived changes in the persistent.
    – user8527
    Jul 5 at 23:08
  • What you are talking about still be the imagined conceptual in Abhidhamma.That's why what you are talking about always appear as an example in Sutta, not main idea. The sutta is taught to people who collected their Parami, abilities, for many past lives. People who the Buddha taught each Sutta has an abilities to understand Nama & Rupa arising&vanishing as realities. It's like when an unskillful newbie tests the science's professional level test, so he tests it so perfunctory, then he is going get many mistake for the test. The left analysis means uncountable left unwholesome mind moments.
    – Bonn
    Jul 6 at 1:58
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Is a person (puggala) reborn into future lives?

A person can not be pinned down as a truth or reality even in this life, let alone a future life.

However if you are talking in terms of the doctrine of self, then you can talk about real things being grasped with wrong view to be personal or a person, a self or a being.

If you are then talking about a person, a self or a being, then you can talk about it in various contexts.

You can talk about a being's birth being dependent on another being's actions as if those were his own actions in a past life.

Understanding the doctrine of self as wrong view completes general understanding, does this make sense?

It is a delusion but it is the delusion that we are trying to unwind and we must understand & navigate it as it is but we don't have to be slave to it because we know it is a false doctrine.

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King Pasenadi was taught,
"Four people are found in the world"
Wandering from life to life,
In the darkness or in the light.

Worldly established by the Teacher,
How can it be said they don't exist?
Worldly established as the wandering four,
How can it be said they don't wander?

Holding to acquired and pernicious views,
Some misguided people understand
The profound view as discordant
With the world; insisting "none exists!"

Slandering the Realized One,
They hold to extremes.
Wrongly grasping a snake
They insist, "none wanders!"

Misunderstanding the emptiness
Of people and phenomena
They fall to nihilistic tendencies,
Like Kesakambali, bereft of fruits.

Misunderstanding Vajira,
They hold the four as non-existent.
With Mara acquired conceptions,
They hold the four as non-wanderers.

Misidentifying the profound,
They proclaim the existence
Of the wandering four to be like that of
The son of a barren woman.

Understanding the profound,
Correctly grasping a snake,
Anurādha knew mere existence,
To be free of the impossible.

Not regarding the four
As real and genuine facts,
The wandering of the four
Should be properly established.

Not regarding wandering
As a real and genuine fact,
The mere existence of the four
Should be properly established.

Arguing not with the world,
The Buddha perfectly knew
The complete concordance of both
Profound and conventional truths.

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