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Published on Sep 23, 2008
In Buddhist philosophy, anatta (Pāli) or anātman (Sanskrit) refers to the notion of "non-self" or "absence of separate self".In the Nikayas it is not meant as a metaphysical assertion, but as an approach for gaining release from suffering. In fact, the Buddha rejected both of the metaphysical assertions "there is a self" and "there is not a self" as ontological views that bind one to suffering.An agglomeration of constantly changing physical and mental constituents ("skandhas") is thoroughly analyzed and stated not to comprise a self.
In the Pali suttas and the related āgamas (referred to collectively below as the nikayas) the Buddha repeatedly emphasizes not only that the five skandhas of living being are "not-self", but that clinging to them as if they were an immutable self or soul (ātman) gives rise to unhappiness.