“ The equality-conceit (thinking of oneself as the same as others).
The inferiority-conceit (thinking of oneself as lesser than others).
And the superiority-conceit (thinking of oneself as better than others).
This three-fold conceit
should be overcome.
One who has overcome this,
through the full investigation of conceit,
is said to have put an end to suffering.”
~ A 6.49
Investigation of the
conceit: ‘I am’
Can feel like trying to split a hair with a pin.
It can be very subtle
Hard to see.
Anatta (not-self) is a negation tool used in Buddhism to reveal what is not the self, like the practise of neti neti (not this, not that).
Anatta investigates the five khandhas (skandhas in Sanskrit), these are: the body; feelings; perceptions; mental formations; consciousness (of the six senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and mental objects).
The khandhas (also known as the five aggregates of clinging) are conditioned phenomena, uncertain, unstable, fragile. Changing. Interdependent. And largely outside our control. Their impermanence causes attachment to them to be bound up with the pain of wanting, frustration, dissatisfaction, stress and sorrow.
There is some gratification in them otherwise we wouldn’t cling to them. But that gratification is transient and when it goes, we suffer and thirst for more, feel pain at loss and separation.
Still, it's not all bad, because some of the aggregates are within our ability to change, we
can make a path out of them that leads to the end of suffering: the noble
Seeing the skandhas do not last, are empty of self, and bound up with suffering. One becomes less attached to them, less enthralled by them. One feels dispassionate towards them and stops identifying with them. Stops taking things personally.
Knowing the khandas are not me, not mine, not self, one lets go, stops clinging to them –
and what remains then is the deathless.
It is not meant to be depressing. If done correctly this will bring rapture and peace to the mind. Bliss. The relief of letting go, of relinquishment, of releasing it all. Liberation. Freedom. It's not a dry unemotional experience.
To think of nibbana or nirvana as annihilation is incorrect. If
this were the case, it wouldn't be called the deathless.
Nibbana is a conscious experience. Said to be the finest experience that any being can have. If it was about annihilation, it would not be an experience.