Cakkhum, Etam mama, eso'ham asmi, eso me attā ti samanupassati. Cakkhum, N'etam mama, n'eso'ham asmi, n'eso me attā ti samanupassati. Majjhima xv,6 <M.iii,284>
'This is mine; this am I; this is my self'—so he regards the eye. 'Not, this is mine; not, this am I; not, this is my self'—so he regards the eye.

If N'etam mama is translated 'This is not mine' the implication is that something other than this is mine, which must be avoided. These three views (of which the sotāpanna is free) correspond to three degrees or levels of appropriation. Etam mama is the most fundamental, a rationalization (or at least a conceptual elaboration) of the situation described in the Mūlapariyāyasutta (Majjhima i,1 <M.i,1-6>) and in the Salāyatana Samyutta iii,8 <S.iv,22-3>. Eso'ham asmi is a rationalization of asmimāna. Eso me attā is a rationalization of attavāda—it is full-blown sakkāyaditthi. Though the sotāpanna is free of these views, he is not yet free of the maññanā of the Mūlapariyāyasutta (which is fundamental in all bhava) or of asmimāna, but he cannot be said to have attavāda.[a] See DHAMMA [d] & PHASSA. The sotāpanna (and the other two sekhā), in whom asmimāna is still present, know and see for themselves that notions of 'I' and 'mine' are deceptions. So they say N'etam mama, n'eso'ham asmi, n'eso me attā ti. The arahat is quite free from asmimāna, and, not having any trace of 'I' and 'mine', does not even say N'etam mama, n'eso'ham asmi, n'eso me attā ti.


[a] The Mūlapariyāyasutta is as follows. (i) The puthujjana 'perceives X as X; perceiving X as X, he conceives X, he conceives In X, he conceives From X, he conceives "X is mine"; he delights in X...'. (ii) The sekha 'recognizes X as X; recognizing X as X, he should not conceive X, he should not conceive In X, he should not conceive From X, he should not conceive "X is mine"; he should not delight in X...'. (iii) The arahat 'recognizes X as X; recognizing X as X, he does not conceive X, he does not conceive In X, he does not conceive From X, he does not conceive "X is mine"; he does not delight in X...'. This tetrad of maññanā, of 'conceivings', represents four progressive levels of explicitness in the basic structure of appropriation. The first, 'he conceives X', is so subtle that the appropriation is simply implicit in the verb. Taking advantage of an extension of meaning (not, however, found in the Pali maññati), we can re-state 'he conceives X' as 'X conceives', and then understand this as 'X is pregnant'—pregnant, that is to say, with subjectivity. And, just as when a woman first conceives she has nothing to show for it, so at this most implicit level we can still only say 'X'; but as the pregnancy advances, and it begins to be noticeable, we are obliged to say 'In X'; then the third stage of the pregnancy, when we begin to suspect that a separation is eventually going to take place, can be described as 'From X'; and the fourth stage, when the infant's head makes a public appearance and the separation is on the point of becoming definite, is the explicit 'X is mine (me, not mama)'. This separation is first actually realized in asmimāna, where I, as subject, am opposed to X, as object; and when the subject eventually grows up he becomes the 'self' of attavāda, face to face with the 'world' in which he exists. (In spite of the simile, what is described here is a single graded structure all implicated in the present, and not a development taking place in time. When there is attavāda, the rest of this edifice lies beneath it: thus attavāda requires asmimāna (and the rest), but there can be asmimāna without attavāda.) Note that it is only the sekha who has the ethical imperative 'should not': the puthujjana, not 'recognizing X as X' (he perceives X as X, but not as impermanent), does not see for himself that he should not conceive X; while the arahat, though 'recognizing X as X', no longer conceives X. See KAMMA. [Back to text]