Is my understanding correct?
Yes, that sounds right to me.
- Anattā is one of the three marks of existence and I relate it to the other two, when I describe it.
There's a related term, suññatā translated as emptiness or voidness.
Wikipedia says "In Theravada Buddhism, suññatā often refers to the not-self (anattā) nature"; and I don't think I usually make a meaningful distinction between suññatā and anattā, though other people might.
I asked about it in this question and one of the comments was that it means "empty of disturbances".
The Dalai Lama writes that there's more than one kind of self or ego. There are for example unrealistic expectations or 'having a very high idea about ourselves' ... which is extreme, a false path, and leads to trouble. The other is a feeling of 'I can do it', 'I should do it', 'I should take on this responsibility' which he says is a basis of human determination and courage, the loss of which would provoke discouragement, self-doubt, self-hatred.
So to use an example. If i express anger ...
I rarely become angry these days. When I do, I think:
- This (feeling or expression of anger) is unusual. It wasn't here (I wasn't expressing or feeling it) a minute ago. It it noticeable, transient, impermanent, not me. I needn't keep it.
- This (feeling or expression of anger) is unpleasant for me and for anyone who is with me. I needn't continue it.
I think that Buddhism teaches (and you can verify for yourself) that thoughts and feelings come and go. I therefore don't see 'myself' as being some kind of solid/permanent thing, which reacts robustly and justifiably e.g. with anger to any adversity. Instead I see myself as a hollow, leaky boat. Sometimes anger will leak in and if it ever does then as far as I'm concerned it can go and leak out again.
I suspect that a view of anattā may be necessary or helpful, but not sufficient. For example the beginning of the Dhammapada says,
5. Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.
I think that teachings like that, i.e. about non-hatred (as well as teaching about non-self), help to deal with anger.
I should mention that "anger" (and "hatred") are extremes within a continuum. It can similarly take the form of dislike or aversion. I might congratulate myself on not manifesting much anger these days, but there's 'dislike'.
One more thing: if I get angry it's often when feeling thwarted or frustrated -- e.g. when I wanted to do something, had planned or hoped to do something, but someone else wants to do something else with me. Well I see that as an example of attachment (my being attached to preconceived plans); and I think that attachment is a form of self ("my" desires, "my" plans), and letting go of attachment is related to letting go of (false) views of self.
The view of the five aggregates themselves might contribute to a view of anattā and dispassion. Consider the difference between "I am hurt" and "I am feeling hurt": the latter implies perhaps just a transient feeling, whereas the former implies some perhaps-permanently damaged self. So for example this video is I think about "mindfulness" and involves the mind identifying the feeling ("hearing", "pain", or whatever the feeling is) ... which I guess might have the effect of helping to separate the feeling from the self, helping to see the feeling as being external/separate/non-self.
... or sadness,
That might be similar to 'anger', above. Depending on the sadness, maybe the sadness is caused by loss, caused by attachment, cause by a false sense of self (e.g. by seeing 'self' within something that was impermanent). And maybe the feeling of sadness too is not-self, and the idea which caused the feeling of sadness, etc.