Anattà is a Pàli word consisting of a negative prefix, ‘an’ meaning not, plus atta, soul, and is most literally translated as no-soul. The word atta, however, has a wide range of meanings, and some of those meanings cross over into the fields of psychology, philosophy, and everyday terminology, as, for example, when atta can mean self, being, ego, and personality. Therefore, we will examine and elucidate the wide range of meanings which atta can signify in order to determine exactly what the Buddha denied when He proclaimed that He teaches anattà, that is, when He denied the existence of atta. We will examine both Buddhist and non-Buddhist definitions of the term soul, and we will also examine modern definitions of terms such as ego and self.
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