Home » Excerpts » Rebuttal of Arguments Against Identitylessness

As there is self only conventionally,
there is no self ultimately.

– Stonepeace

(70) One might [mistakenly] say that in the absence of a [ultimate; substantial and thus unchanging] self, there would be no proper relationship between an action and its result. If the agent vanishes upon having performed an action, who will [experience] this result? (71) Since we [one who believes self exists, and one who does not] both agree that an action and its fruition have different bases, and that the [conventional] self [in the moment] who performs the action does not function at the time [of its fruition], is it not pointless to dispute this issue?

(72) It is not possible that the very possessor of the cause can be seen to be ‘endowed with the effect [at the same time].’ Rather, agent and experiencer are designated depending on their oneness of continuum [of consciousness. E.g. Yesterday’s conventional self has passed, and today’s dependently originated conventional self has newly arisen, but are of the same continuum of change, without an ultimate self.] (73) The past or future mind is not the ‘I,’ for it is not found. Moreover, the present mind is not the self; [for if it were,] upon its passing, the self, too, would not exist. (74) When the trunk of a banana tree is cut into pieces, there is nothing left over. Just so, the ‘I’ is not [found to be] really existent, when sought after analytically.

(75) You might ask [mistakenly]: If no sentient being is found, towards whom would one feel compassion? For practical purposes [one feels compassion for conventionally existing beings] who are imputed by acknowledged delusion [e.g. of clinging to the illusion of self]. (76) You may ask [mistakenly]: If there is no sentient being, whose is the goal? We grant that such desire [for liberation, etc.] is indeed delusive [as it arises from clinging to the illusion of self]. Still, in order to eradicate suffering, effective delusion, whose result [is understanding of the ultimate truth e.g. of non-self] is not prevented. (77) Grasping onto the ‘I’ which is a cause of suffering, is strengthened due to delusion about the self. You may think that you cannot rid of it, [but for this,] meditation on selflessness is ideal.

Transcendent Wisdom
(Exposition on Wisdom Section of Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life)
by H.H. the Dalai Lama, translated, edited and annotated by B. Alan Wallace
Get it at Awareness Place shops or Amazon

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