We are not Hindus but we have the concept of a soul, though the concept is not so strong because we follow the doctrine of the Buddha. We understand theoretically that there is no soul or self or that there is no everlasting entity, yet we believe that when a person dies, the soul comes out of the body and stays near his house or his corpse or his coffin. It Is a common belief that if we do not make offerings to the monks (bhikkhu ) and have not shared our meritorious deeds with the departed ones, the soul has to live around us.
Though we believe the doctrine of the Buddha, we still have this concept of atta ditthi, and based on this concept we have another concept of personality, individuality, a being, a man or a woman -sakkaya ditthi (sakkaya here means nama and rupa, ditthi means wrong or false view). We have this concept because we do not comprehend the specific and common characteristics of the mind body processes; we take them to be everlasting.
If you ask yourself, "Will I die tomorrow?" - you dare not answer the question. If I say you are going to die tomorrow, you will get angry with me because you have the idea of permanency of mental and physical processes. You think your mind body processes are permanent; at least until tomorrow. Yes, that is the idea of permanency. You hold it because you have not realised the appearance and disappearance of the process of mental and physical phenomena. If you see the constant, instant appearance and disappearance of mental and physical phenomena, you will not believe them to be permanent.
Theoretically you understand that none of the mental and physical processes last even a second according to the doctrine of the Lord Buddha, but practically you do not believe it because you have not realised their impermanent nature. Only if you have personal experience of the Dhamma, do you conclude that it is impermanent. You can then accept, "I may not even live until tomorrow. I may die this very second because every phenomena is subject to impermanence Actually, when a man has not realised the arising and passing away of mental arid physical phenomena, he takes them to be permanent. The idea of personality is based on the belief in a permanent entity within us. So atta ditthi and sakkaya ditthi are the same.
If we say, "Now I am lifting my hand", then you ask me who is lifting the hand. I will say, "I am lifting the hand." Who is that I? A bhikkhu, a man, or a being who is living? If we do not believe in the permanent nature of mind body processes, we do not take them to be a being. But actually, the dual process of mentality and physicality which constitutes a so called person is subject to change, arising and passing away but we do not realise it. We take this dual process to be a person, a being, a dog or an animal. This view is called sakkaya ditthi. Unless we can rightly comprehend these mind and body processes in their true nature we are unable to overcome or destroy this false view.
That is why the Buddha teaches us to be mindful of any activity of mind and body, or any mental and physical processes as they really are, so that we can realise the two processes as natural processes. This insight is called knowledge of Sabhava lakkhana (right understanding of the specific characteristics or individual characteristics of mental and physical phenomena). This insight knowledge destroys the concept of soul or self, person or being which is the main cause of defilements (kilesas) such as greed, anger, delusion and conceit and so on. So we can say that this concept of a soul or a self is the seed of all defilements. When we have exterminated the seed there will not arise any defilements and we have got rid of suffering. That is:
Sakkaya ditthi pahanaya sato bhikkhu paribbaje.
Sakkaya ditthi pahanaya means to overcome this false view of a soul, a self or a person; sato means mindful; bhikkhu means monk. A bhikkhu who is mindful of phenomena must strive or practise to overcome the false view. When he is able to destroy that sakkaya ditthi, he is sure to deliver himself from all kinds of suffering. This sakkaya ditthi is the cause of all kinds of defilements or the seed of all defilements. So we have to try to exterminate it through right understanding of mental and physical processes by means of mindfulness meditation.
May all of you practise this mindfulness meditation strenuously and attain the cessation of suffering.