An Introduction to the Doctrine of Anatta
by SAYĀDAW U SILĀNANDA
Size: 5.5” X 5.5”
Pages: 68 pages
Anatta, the theory of no-soul or non-self, is a tough nut to crack. Yet only with a correct understanding of this key Buddhist issue we can open the door to the profound and liberating teachings of the Buddha. Knowing about the crucial importance of the doctrine of anatta, the reader might gather his or her courage to work through Sayādaw’s scholarly introduction to this central teaching. Do not feel disheartened should the text be difficult for you at a first reading. If you want to practice insight meditation it is good enough to have a basic right feel about anatta. It is the suspension of disbelief in the idea of anatta, non-self, which is the key to the door of insight. Once you are inwardly open to the possibility of there being no soul or lasting ego-entity in you, then your investigation of reality through insight meditation will be free to unfold. It is actually only through such a meditation investigation and resulting personal, intuitive experience of anatta that your preliminary openness and theoretical understanding can graduate into a verified and direct one. You should return to Sayādaw’s text after having had your own insight into the selfless nature of things, you will find understanding the text would be much easier for you.
— by Bodhisara Stephen Gerber
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The Venerable Sayadaw U Silananda was selected by the late Most Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw of Burma to carry out the honourable task of spreading the Dhamma in the West, more than 30 years ago.
Today, the Venerable Sayadaw is the Abbot of Dhammananda Vihara in California and the Spiritual Director of the Theravada Buddhist Society of America, Dhammachakka Meditation Center, Berkeley and the Tathagata Meditation Center of San Jose. In Mynmar, the Venerable is also one of three spiritual directors (Ovadacariya Sayadaws) of the Mahàsã Meditation Center in Yangon.
Born to a devout Buddhist family in Mandalay on 16 December, 1927, the Venerable received his early education at Kelly High School, an American Baptist Mission School for boys. In 1943, at the age of 16, he ordained as a novice monk and began formal religious training with his preceptor and other renowned monks. Full bhikkhu ordination followed in 1947.
The Venerable holds two Dhammacariya (Master of Dhamma) degrees and has taught at the Athithokdayone Pali University. He was an External Examiner at the Department of Oriental Studies, University of Art and Sciences in Mandalay, Myanmar.
The Venerable was the Chief Compiler of the Tipitaka Pali-Burmese Dictionary and was one of the distinguished editors of the Pali Canon and associated Commentaries at the Sixth Buddhist Council held in Rangoon (Yangon) from 1954 to 1956. He is the author of seven Burmese Buddhist books and nine in English. Three of his English books had been translated into Chinese.
Well-regarded as a compassionate, knowledgeable and wise teacher, the Venerable Sayadaw teaches Vipassana meditation, Abhidhamma and other aspects of Theravadian Buddhism in English, Burmese, Pali and Sanskrit. He has led meditation retreats throughout the USA, Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Europe.
In 1993, the Venerable was awarded the title of Agga Maha Pandita by the Burmese religious authorities and in 1999 the title of Agga Maha Saddhamma Jotikadhaja. He was also appointed as Rector of International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University of Yangon in Myanmar. More recently, in 2000, he was conferred Honorary Doctorate (D.Litt.) by Yangon University.