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nairātmya (T. bdag med; C. wuwo) is translated as "selflessness," etc. It is a term used in Buddhist philosophy that is synonymous with "not-self" (anatman).[1]

Nairātmya is used as a noun to refer to the absence of self.[1]

In Buddhist philosophy, two types of selflessness are identified:

  • selflessness of self (pudgalanairātmya) - refers to "the absence of a permanent and autonomous entity among the aggregates of mind and body (nama-rupa) that transmigrate from lifetime to lifetime"[1]
  • selflessness of phenomena (dharmanairātmya) - refers to "the absence of any kind of enduring element in the factors that make up the universe"[1]

In the Mahayana, these two types of self are used to distinguish between the realization of sravakas and bodhisattvas.

  • the sravaka realizes only "selflessness of self"
  • the bodhisattva realizes both "selflessness of self" and "selflessness of phenomena"


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. nairātmya.