The Meaning of Anatta - Only a matter of thinking

Questioner: You just said that happiness and sadness are only a matter of thinking. I do not understand this yet. Who likes to think of something that makes him unhappy? Nobody likes to be unhappy. In what way does a person think so that he is unhappy?
Sujin: It is not so that a person thinks in order to be unhappy. There are conditions for the arising of unhappiness due to the thinking.
Questioner: Does this mean that there are conditions for sadness when someone, for example, has to part with his possessions or when he has lost a horse-bet? He returns home and thinks of the horse-bet he has lost. Then the horse-bet may be a condition for his unhappiness.
Sujin: If he would not think about the horse which has lost the race could there be sorrow about it?
Questioner: No, there would not.
Sujin: When there is seeing or hearing and after that thinking, panna should know that thinking is only a type of nama which thinks about different subjects and then falls away. When someone thinks about a horse, there is no horse at that moment. There is remembrance of an idea or conception of a horse and this causes the arising of unhappiness. Thus, unhappiness arises because a person thinks about something he does not like, and happiness arises because he thinks about something he likes.
The Dhamma we study, the whole Tipitaka, together with the Commentaries and subcommentaries, have been taught so that panna can arise and understand the realities that are naturally appearing at this moment, just as they are. People may have listened and studied much, they may have had many Dhamma discussions and pondered over the Dhamma very often, all their learning should aim at accumulating conditions, all good qualities included in sankharakkhandha, for the arising of right awareness. Then sati can be aware, study and consider the characteristics of the realities appearing at this moment through the sensedoors and the mind-door. People may have heard this time and again, but they need to be reminded to investigate the dhammas which are real, one at a time. Sati should be aware so that there can be right understanding of dhammas, otherwise they cannot be realized as anatta. Day in day out there are only nama and rupa, arising and falling away each moment. When they have fallen away, there is nothing left of them, they do not last even for a moment.
We should know that our enjoyment or sorrow that arose in the past have fallen away, that they are completely gone. Now there is just the present moment and it is only at this moment that we can study realities and understand them as not self, not a being or a person. Some people say that they do not wish to meet a particular person again in a next life. If they would have right understanding of the Dhamma, they would not have such thoughts. In a next life there will not be this or that person one meets at the present, nor will there be “I”. After death the existence of someone as this particular person in this life has definitely come to an end. Only in this life there is this person and in a next life he is another person. Therefore, one should not worry nor have anxiety about meeting a particular person again. This is impossible, since the existence as this or that person does not continue on to the next life.
If someone has irritation or annoyance about another person he should understand that in reality there is not that person. There are only dhammas, citta, cetasika and rupa, which arise and then fall away. Life, in the ultimate sense, lasts only as long as one single moment of citta.
If we reflect time and again on death it can support the development of satipatthana. If we consider that we may die this afternoon or tomorrow, it can be a supporting condition for sati to be aware of the characteristics of nama and rupa that appear. For those who have not realized the noble Truths, thus, for those who are not ariyans, it is not certain whether, after the dying- consciousness has fallen away, the rebirth-consciousness will arise in a happy plane or in an unhappy plane of existence. It is not certain whether there will be again an opportunity to listen to the Dhamma and to develop satipatthana.
At death a person parts with everything in this life, it is all over. There is nothing left, not even remembrance. When a person is born into this life he does not remember who he was, where he lived and what he did in his former life. His existence as a particular person in a former life has come to an end. Even so in this life, everything comes to an end. A person performs kusala kamma and akusala kamma, he may have conceit about his race, family, possessions, honour and fame, all this comes to an end. There will be no ties left with all the things in this life. All that we find so important in this life, all that we are holding on to and take for self, will come to an end. If people realize the true   characteristics of paramattha dhammas that arise because of their own conditions, they will eliminate the inclination to take them for beings, people or self.
Even remembrance that arises and falls away is only a type of nama. If sati is aware of nama and rupa and panna understands them clearly, one can let go of the wrong view of a self or person who exists in this life. One has realized the characteristic of “momentary death” (khanika marana) of realities, their passing away at each moment. There are three kinds of death: momentary death, khanika marana, which is the arising and falling away of all conditioned dhammas; conventional death, sammuti marana, which is dying at the end of a lifespan; final death, samuccheda marana, which is parinibbana, the final passing away of the arahat who does not have to be reborn.

Topic 200