The Meaning of Anatta - Each person lives with his own thoughts

As a person develops panna, he acquires more understanding of the excellent qualities of the Buddha and of the Dhamma he taught in all details. One can appreciate the teachings from the beginning level, the level of restraint, or “guarding,” of the senses (samvara sila) with regard to the Patimokkha, the Disciplinary code for the monks. This is the conduct through body and speech befitting the “samana,” the person who is a monk, who leads a peaceful life. We read in the Visuddhimagga (I, 50) about the restraint of the monk with regard to seeing:

What is proper resort as guarding?

Here “A bhikkhu, having entered inside a house,

having gone into a street,

goes with downcast eyes,

seeing the length of a plough yoke,

restrained, not looking at an elephant,

not looking at a horse, a carriage, a pedestrian, a woman, a man,

not looking up, not looking down, not staring this way and that.”

This is called proper resort as guarding.
This was said to remind us not to continue the “story” after the seeing and dwell on it for a long time, thinking in various ways of this or that person or matter. When we have seen, we should know that it is only seeing. No matter whether one looks no further than the length of a plough yoke ahead or not, there is seeing and then it is gone. In that way one will not be absorbed in the outward appearance and details. Panna can clearly understand that it is just because of thinking that we are used to seeing the outward world that is full of people. If we do not think, there is only seeing and then it is gone. Can there be many people at that moment? However, one is used to thinking for a long time, and thus one is bound to think time and again of many different subjects. In what way someone thinks, depends on the conditions that have been accumulated. People may see the same thing, but each individual thinks differently. When people see, for example, a flower, one person may like it and think it beautiful, whereas someone else may dislike it. It all depends on the individual’s thinking. Each person lives with his own thoughts, and thus, the world is in reality the world of thinking. When sati is aware of nama and rupa it will be clearly known that it is only a type of nama that thinks of different subjects. If the characteristic of the nama that thinks is clearly known, it can be understood that someone’s conception of people and beings is not real. When someone is sad and he worries, he should know that there is sadness just because of his thinking. It is the same in the case of happiness, it all occurs because of thinking. When someone sees on T.V. a story he likes, pleasant feeling arises because he thinks of the projected image he looks at. Thus, people live only in the world of thinking, no matter where they are. The world of each moment is nama that arises and experiences an object through one of the sense-doors and through the mind-door, and after that citta continues to think of different stories.

Topic 200