attaniya: what is [in reality] mine/his own/ours

attaniya: what belongs to an [absolute] Selfhood

attaniya: what could belong to an [absolute] Selfhood

attaniya: [in reality] mine

anattaniya: not [in reality] yours


Attaniya: DOP vs. PED

Our renderings are close to DOP’s ‘belonging to’, and far from PED’s ‘nature of.’

1) DOP:

attaniya (adj): belonging to one’s self, one’s own; belonging to an (enduring) self or soul.

attaniya (noun): what belongs to one’s self; what belongs to an (enduring) self or soul;

anattaniya (adj): not belonging to a self; not concerned with oneself.

2) PED:

• attaniya (adj): ‘of the nature of soul, soul-like’

attaniya (noun): ‘anything of the nature of the soul’

You and yours are interchangeable

The Buddha compared the five aggregates to the sticks and grass of Jeta’s Grove which people carried off, burned, and made good use of (jano hareyya vā ḍaheyya vā yathāpaccayaṃ vā kareyya). The Buddha asked the bhikkhus why they did not think ‘People are carrying us off, burning us, making good use of us’ (amhe jano harati vā ḍahati vā yathāpaccayaṃ vā karotī ti). The bhikkhus said this was because with sticks and grass there was ‘neither ourselves nor what belongs to ourselves’ (na hi no etaṃ bhante attā vā attaniyaṃ vā ti). The Buddha concluded that each of the five aggregates ‘is not [in reality] yours. Abandon it’ (rūpaṃ… viññāṇaṃ bhikkhave na tumhākaṃ. Taṃ pajahatha).

So, whereas the question concerned people carrying ‘us’ off, the conclusion was that the aggregates are ‘not yours.’ Thus ‘you’ and ‘yours’ are interchangeable (M.1.141; S.3.34).

‘Could,’ not ‘would’

Horner’s translation of M.1.138 reads:

• “If, monks, there were a Self, could it be said: ‘It belongs to my self’?”
attani vā bhikkhave sati attaniyaṃ me ti assā ti? (Horner, M.1.138).

Bodhi’s translation reads:

• “Bhikkhus, there being a self, would there be for me what belongs to a self? Or, there being what belongs to a self, would there be for me a self?”
attani vā bhikkhave sati attaniyaṃ me ti assā ti? attaniye vā bhikkhave sati attā me ti assā ti? (Bodhi, M.1.138).

He justifies this by saying there is a “mutual dependence” between the “twin notions ‘I’ and ‘mine’” (Bodhi, MLDB n.264).

But the first of his ‘would’s is not easily justified, and here we follow Horner’s ‘could.’ Our translation therefore reads:

―Bhikkhus, if there were an [absolute] Selfhood, could there be for me what belongs to an [absolute] Selfhood?
attani vā bhikkhave sati attaniyaṃ me ti assā ti?

―Yes, bhante.

―If there were what belongs to an [absolute] Selfhood, would there be for me an [absolute] Selfhood?
attaniye vā bhikkhave sati attā me ti assā ti?

―Yes, bhante.

―Bhikkhus, since neither an [absolute] Selfhood, nor what could belong to an [absolute] Selfhood are apprehended as real and actual,
☸ attani ca bhikkhave attaniye ca saccato thetato anupalabbhamāne

… then this view: ‘The world [of phenomena] is my [absolute] Selfhood. Having passed on, that I will be―everlasting, enduring, eternal, of an unchangeable nature; I will endure like unto eternity itself’:
☸ yampidaṃ diṭṭhiṭṭhānaṃ so loko so attā so pecca bhavissāmi nicco dhuvo sassato avipariṇāmadhammo sassatisamaṃ tatheva ṭhassāmī ti

… is it not an utterly and completely foolish teaching?
☸ nanāya bhikkhave kevalo paripūro bāladhammo ti? (M.1.138).


Illustration: attanīyaṃ, [in reality] mine

Among these five grasped aggregates, I do not consider anything as [in reality] myself or as [in reality] mine
imesu khohaṃ āvuso pañcasupādānakkhandhesu na kiñci attānaṃ vā attanīyaṃ vā samanupassāmīti

Illustration: anattaniyaṃ, which is not [in reality] yours

You should abandon fondness

• for that which is void of personal qualities
Yo kho bhikkhu anattā tatra te chando pahātabbo ti.

• for that which is not [in reality] yours
Yaṃ kho bhikkhu anattaniyaṃ tatra te chando pahātabbo ti (S.3.77-78).

Illustration: nāttaniyaṃ, [in reality] his own

Suppose, friend, a man needing heartwood, seeking heartwood, wandering in search of heartwood, would take a sharp axe and enter a forest. There he would see the trunk of a large banana tree, standing erect, young, without a fruit-bud core. He would chop it down at the root, sever the crown, and unroll the coil. As he unrolls the coil, he would not find even softwood, let alone heartwood.
☸ So tattha pheggumpi nādhigaccheyya kuto sāraṃ.

Likewise, a bhikkhu does not consider the six senses to be either [in reality] himself or [in reality] his own.
☸ Evameva kho āvuso bhikkhu chasu phassāyatanesu neva attānaṃ nāttaniyaṃ samanupassati (S.4.167-8).

Illustration: attaniyena, what could belong to an [absolute] Selfhood

‘Void [of personal qualities] is the world [of phenomena]’: on what grounds, bhante, is this said?
☸ suñño loko suñño loko ti bhante vuccati kittāvatā nu kho bhante suñño loko ti vuccatī ti?

Because, Ānanda, it is void of an [absolute] Selfhood and of what could belong to an [absolute] Selfhood, therefore it is said that the world [of phenomena] is void [of personal qualities].
☸ Yasmā ca kho ānanda suññaṃ attena vā attaniyena vā tasmā suñño loko ti vuccati


The subject of this reflection is the world [of phenomena]
(loko), namely the eighteen elements of sensation.