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Dhamma Wheel • View topic - Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby kc2dpt » Fri Apr 03, 2009 4:16 pm

By chance I read this last night and thought it relevant. Sutta Nipata 5.6

[The Buddha:]

As a flame overthrown by the force of the wind
goes to an end
that cannot be classified,
so the sage free from naming activity
goes to an end
that cannot be classified.

[Upasiva:]

He who has reached the end:
Does he not exist,
or is he for eternity
free from dis-ease?
Please, sage, declare this to me
as this phenomenon has been known by you.

[The Buddha:]

One who has reached the end
has no criterion
by which anyone would say that —
for him it doesn't exist.
When all phenomena are done away with,
all means of speaking
are done away with as well.
- Peter

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Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby clw_uk » Fri Apr 03, 2009 5:13 pm

Greetings


I couldnt find that on sutta but i found another good one


On one occasion Ven. Sariputta and Ven. Maha Kotthita were staying near Varanasi in the Game Refuge at Isipatana. Then in the evening, Ven. Maha Kotthita emerged from his seclusion and went to Ven. Sariputta and exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to Ven. Sariputta, "Now then, friend Sariputta, does the Tathagata exist after death?"

"That, friend, has not been declared by the Blessed One: 'The Tathagata exists after death.'"

"Well then, friend Sariputta, does the Tathagata not exist after death?"

"Friend, that too has not been declared by the Blessed One: 'The Tathagata does not exist after death.'"

"Then does the Tathagata both exist and not exist after death?"

"That has not been declared by the Blessed One: 'The Tathagata both exists and does not exist after death.'"

"Well then, does the Tathagata neither exist nor not exist after death?"

"That too has not been declared by the Blessed One: 'The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death.'"

"Now, friend Sariputta, when asked if the Tathagata exists after death, you say, 'That has not been declared by the Blessed One: "The Tathagata exists after death."' When asked if the Tathagata does not exist after death... both exists and does not exist after death... neither exists nor does not exist after death, you say, 'That too has not been declared by the Blessed One: "The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death."' Now, what is the cause, what is the reason, why that has not been declared by the Blessed One?"

"'The Tathagata exists after death' is immersed in form. 'The Tathagata does not exist after death' is immersed in form. 'The Tathagata both exists and does not exist after death' is immersed in form. 'The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death' is immersed in form.

"'The Tathagata exists after death' is immersed in feeling...

"'The Tathagata exists after death' is immersed in perception...

"'The Tathagata exists after death' is immersed in fabrication...

"'The Tathagata exists after death' is immersed in consciousness. 'The Tathagata does not exist after death' is immersed in consciousness. 'The Tathagata both exists and does not exist after death' is immersed in consciousness. 'The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death' is immersed in consciousness.

"This is the cause, this is the reason, why that has not been declared by the Blessed One."


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Metta
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Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby Individual » Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:44 pm

AdvaitaJ wrote:Having read Ajahn Brahm's book, Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond, this question keeps haunting me. With parinibbana described as the remainder-less cessation of everything, what is the difference between that and annihilation? I understand that as long as you're subject to rebirth, annihilation is wrong view. What I don't understand is how the results are different when you're no longer subject to rebirth. Everything ceases, right? The flame is extinguished, out, gone. It didn't go anywhere, it's just gone. So, how is this different from annihilation? :?:

Regards: AdvaitaJ

I think it's worth noting that in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, the Buddha entered into and returned from the "cessation of perception and feeling". If total cessation was annihilation, this would not be the case.

The "total cessation" of Buddhism is the eighth liberation, which is disciplined through and based upon mastering the previous liberations, which includes the ability to see form and form, to see things as being "outside" of ourselves, and to see beauty. The Buddha also said (and demonstrated) that it is possible to move freely between these eight modes of perception.

Although the Mahayana conception of mystical worlds (i.e. Buddha lands, where Buddhas live) beyond the three worlds (tiloka) is at best speculatory (but plausible), it would also be misleading for a Theravada Buddhist to describe parinibbana as merely annihilationistic. Annihilation is a means of ending individuated existence and it is not something one can return from. But there is no such thing as "individuated" existence and the Buddha and the Arahants were capable of returning from the death-like state of complete cessation.
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Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby cooran » Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:50 pm

Hello all,

Annihilation is the belief that there is a self who is annihilated upon death

and

Eternalism is the belief that is a self who lives forever.

The Buddha taught that there is no self - just kammic accumulations and latent tendencies ... a process.

What is there when the process ceases?

metta
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Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby clw_uk » Sat Apr 04, 2009 12:09 am

Greetings


What is there when the process ceases?



Any definite answer given will just be one that comes from a conditioned mind that is clinging to one or more of the aggregates since (unless one is enlightened) there will be these latent tendencies, subtle or great


The way out of these speculative views of "what happens after" is just to see clearly,

form, perception, formations, feeling and consciousness

Their origin and their passing away

The truth of form is anatta, perception is anatta, formations are anatta, feeling is anatta and consciousness is anatta

This applies to any speculation about death, be it eternalist, annihilationist, rebirth or parinibbana since to say

"I will live forever"
"I will be annihilated"

And even "I will be reborn" or "there is exsistence after parinibbana" or "there is no exsistence after parinibbana"

All involves some kind of clinging and so self identification with one or more of the aggregates

Metta
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Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby Jason » Sat Apr 04, 2009 5:22 pm

AdvaitaJ,

Yes, but only if you consider Theravada realist.

It has often been asserted that Theravada, particularly "classical" Theravada in which the entire Tipitaka and its commentaries are considered authoritative, is ultimately realist. Nevertheless, this criticism, which for the most part comes from Yogacara and Madhyamika, is heavily disputed. For example, in his Introduction to Buddhism, Harvey explains, "'They are dhammas because they uphold their own nature [sabhaava]. They are dhammas because they are upheld by conditions or they are upheld according to their own nature' (Asl.39). Here 'own-nature' would mean characteristic nature, which is not something inherent in a dhamma as a separate ultimate reality, but arise due to the supporting conditions both of other dhammas and previous occurrences of that dhamma. This is of significance as it makes the Mahayana critique of the Sarvastivadin's notion of own-nature largely irrelevant to the Theravada" (87).

Personally, whether or not Harvey is correct in his characterization of the Theravada position, I believe this quasi-realistic view is the result of early Abhidhammikas attempting to reify certain concepts that should never have been reified, e.g. dhammas, khandhas, etc.

In my opinion, the core of texts that constitute the Sutta Pitaka are not realist per se, but there are certain concepts found within Theravada that do appear to present themselves as such. Essentially, I think that classical Theravada, in which the entire Tipitaka and its commentaries are considered authoritative, borders on realism depending on how you understand the terms "dhamma" and "sabhava." All I can say is that Theravada does not go as far as Sarvastivada, although it does push the boundaries and can easily be interpreted as being realist, which then opens the door to accusations of nihilism.

In one of the ways that I like to look at it, the conventional viewpoint explains things through subject, verb and object whereas the ultimate viewpoint explains things through verb alone. In essence, things are being viewed from the perspective of activities and processes. This, I think, is incredibly difficult to see, but perhaps what happens here is that once self-identity view (sakkaya-ditthi) is removed, the duality of subject and object is also removed thereby revealing the level of mere conditional phenomena. Nibbana would then be regarded as the end of this conditional phenomena, or in other words, the cessation of the activity of samsara (perpetual wandering).

This is where one can insert any claims of nihilism if one is able to substantiate that this cessation of activity is the destruction of something real, substantial, etc. In other words, if the five aggregates of clinging (khandhas) are real in the sense that they are concrete, existing entities, conditioned or otherwise, then their cessation would be a type of nihilism. In addition, within classical Theravada, the the goal is said to be the utter extinction of all consciousness per the verse in DN 11: "Ettha namanca rupanca, asesam uparujjhati. Vinnanassa nirodhena etthetam uparujjhati" (Here [in nibbana], nama as well as rupa ceases without remainder. By ceasing of consciousness, nama as well as rupa ceases here) (Suan Lu Zaw).

The arguments on both sides become very complex and voluminous at this point. For example, there are arguments that claim that everything is an illusion, i.e., perceived reality is ultimately unreal, hence there is no actual cessation; there are arguments that claim the complete cessation of all consciousness is only nihilistic if one takes consciousness as being "me," "mine," or "myself," etc.

For me, "real" simply means an existing cognizable experience. Going back to my statement concerning how I like to look at this, I understand the five aggregates of clinging to represent things that we do as opposed to just things. In other words, there is an act of intention that goes into our experience. In SN 56.11, for example, the Buddha summarizes stress and suffering (dukkha) as the five aggregates of clinging. Furthermore, in MN 43 the five aggregates of clinging are described in their verb forms, or in other words, not as things but as activities.

Therefore, when looking at the arising of the five aggregates of clinging in this way, we are effectively looking at the arising of [the activity of] stress and suffering; when looking at the cessation of the five aggregates of clinging in this way, we are effectively looking at the cessation of [the activity of] stress and suffering. Thus, all that ceases is [the activity of] stress and suffering, not an independently existing entity of any kind. Since this cessation is cognizable, it too can be considered "real." Moreover, since only an activity has been stopped, there is no actual destruction of any "thing."

My view is probably not in line with classical Theravada on this point, however, so please consider my thoughts with that caveat in mind.

Best wishes,

Jason
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby Jechbi » Sat Apr 04, 2009 5:44 pm

Chris wrote:The Buddha taught that there is no self - just kammic accumulations and latent tendencies ... a process.

What is there when the process ceases?

Right.

From the article Chris posted earlier:
“Bhikkhus, there is an unborn, an unbecome, an unmade, an unformed”. (Ud 73; It 45)

Personally, I think it's a safe bet to assume that anything we think of as "me," anything we regard as ourself, everything that we are in this moment, will not last. From our unenlightened perspective, it is annihilation. Gotta let it all go, cuz it's going away any way. And then don't worry about it.

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Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby AdvaitaJ » Sat Apr 04, 2009 11:55 pm

Elohim wrote:Therefore, when looking at the arising of the five aggregates of clinging in this way, we are effectively looking at the arising of [the activity of] stress and suffering; when looking at the cessation of the five aggregates of clinging in this way, we are effectively looking at the cessation of [the activity of] stress and suffering. Thus, all that ceases is [the activity of] stress and suffering, not an independently existing entity of any kind. Since this cessation is cognizable, it too can be considered "real." Moreover, since only an activity has been stopped, there is no actual destruction of any "thing."

Elohim,

A very intriguing view. If you permit the substitution of "process" for "activity" in your definition above, this tends back to another point of anatta I'm wrestling with. Specifically, I'm to the point of wondering why the unique collection of responses that each of us presents to causes could not be considered the "self". Rather than seeking an individual entity as a self, why not the very large number of behaviors that each of us responds with when triggered to do so by causes. As has been pointed out elsewhere, we are different people in differing circumstances. To the point, this could imply a definition of nibbana as the elimination of the inputs that trigger the resulting output responses. No inputs = no response. Nothing was destroyed because nothing was triggered to start. :idea:

Regards: AdvaitaJ
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Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby pt1 » Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:56 am

Thanks clw, Ven.Appicchato, Chris, and all for your replies and links. Also, thanks sukhamanveti for explaining the mechanics of your conclusion – that’s what I’ve been really after, and I apologise to all if I have dragged the thread towards the whole issue of self and nihilism and all that - I was really just interested in the mechanics of parinibbana since I think we all agree that arahat has no self anymore to worry about.

I’m still unclear on how is it that an arahat “keeps” nibbana attainment beyond parinibbana in mechanical terms, since my understanding of classical Theravada so far is that nibbana as a dhamma can only be taken up as an object of citta (with help from cetasikas). So after parinibbana, this seems to become impossible, because there’s no more cittas or cetsikas to perform that function. So, I would appreciate if someone can show where and how exactly am I wrong in this understanding.

Once more, this is not to do with annihilationism or eternalism, self and all that, but just how the dhammas work so that nibbana can be “experienced” after parinibbana (if it can be).

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Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby pt1 » Sun Apr 05, 2009 5:04 am

Hi Chris,
Chris wrote:The Buddha taught that there is no self - just kammic accumulations and latent tendencies ... a process.

What is there when the process ceases?

Personally, I love the reference to a process. However, lately I’m getting jitters if perhaps I’ve unknowingly brainwashed myself through reading a bit too many mahayana posts on e-sangha and thus taken up all sorts of mahayana understandings of Dhamma :stirthepot:

As I’m finding out, dhammas in classical theravada are pretty much really real, as elohim also mentions, so dhammas are not illusions and illusory as it is thought in mahayana I think.

Therefore, I’m wondering about the “process” sayings and how relevant they are to Theravada. I mean, does it refer to dhammas being unreal, or dhammas having the three charactersitcs, or something else?

Sure dhammas are dukkha, anicca and anatta (except for nibbana which is only anatta), but in classical theravada that apparently doesn’t mean that they are an illusion like in mahayana.

And relevant to this thread, nibbana is a reality, and as such it can be experienced by these other dhammas (citta and cetasikas), which are also real while arahat still has functional aggregates. After the aggregates are gone, again this brings me to the same question – how is it that nibbana as a reality can be experienced (if it can be)?

Anyway, I’m not asserting anything, just wondering about things.

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Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby kc2dpt » Sun Apr 05, 2009 1:42 pm

pt1 wrote:I’m wondering about the “process” sayings and how relevant they are to Theravada. does it refer to dhammas being unreal, or dhammas having the three charactersitcs, or something else?

As far as I know, it refers to things which we normally take as static, existing entities but which actually aren't. Talking about "processes" is a way of making clear the teaching on anicca.

Sure dhammas are dukkha, anicca and anatta...

Are they? The teaching I'm familiar with says:
sabbe sankhara anicca.
sabba sankhara dukkha.
sabbe dhamma anatta.

Perhaps you are conflating sankhara and dhamma?

And relevant to this thread, nibbana is a reality, and as such it can be experienced by these other dhammas (citta and cetasikas), which are also real while arahat still has functional aggregates. After the aggregates are gone, again this brings me to the same question – how is it that nibbana as a reality can be experienced (if it can be)?

I don't now. Talk of what an arahant experiences or doesn't experience post parinibbana seems to me to fall squarely in the category of topics the Buddha said cannot be meaningfully talked about. I guess this won't satisfy your urge to know. :shrug:

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Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby pt1 » Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:50 am

Peter wrote:
pt1 wrote:I’m wondering about the “process” sayings and how relevant they are to Theravada. does it refer to dhammas being unreal, or dhammas having the three charactersitcs, or something else?

As far as I know, it refers to things which we normally take as static, existing entities but which actually aren't. Talking about "processes" is a way of making clear the teaching on anicca.

Thanks Peter, I think you’re right, and my mistake was to read a bit too much into the “process” meaning, ending up with understanding it to mean illusion, smoke and mirrors, and those sorts of things.

Peter wrote:
pt1 wrote:Sure dhammas are dukkha, anicca and anatta...

Are they? The teaching I'm familiar with says:
sabbe sankhara anicca.
sabba sankhara dukkha.
sabbe dhamma anatta.

Perhaps you are conflating sankhara and dhamma?

Possibly. Afaik, in abhidhamma all paramattha dhammas (citta, cetasikas, rupa and nibbana) are considered to have the three characteristics, except nibbana which is not anicca and dukkha, but is anatta. Interesting though, in the sutta you quote, does “sankhara” include citta (consciousness)? Afaik, in abhidhamma sankhara stands for cetasikas and includes three aggregates – feeling, perception and volitional formations. So, from that POV, your quote would be saying that these three aggregates are anicca and dukkha, but consciousness isn’t anicca and dukkha?

Peter wrote:
pt1 wrote:And relevant to this thread, nibbana is a reality, and as such it can be experienced by these other dhammas (citta and cetasikas), which are also real while arahat still has functional aggregates. After the aggregates are gone, again this brings me to the same question – how is it that nibbana as a reality can be experienced (if it can be)?

I don't now. Talk of what an arahant experiences or doesn't experience post parinibbana seems to me to fall squarely in the category of topics the Buddha said cannot be meaningfully talked about. I guess this won't satisfy your urge to know. :shrug:

"When all phenomena are done away with, all means of speaking are done away with as well."

I see what you’re saying, but still it is hard to shake off the doubt – the feeling that arahatship is not the best of solutions as it seems only short-lived – until parinibbana. I guess that shows lack of faith on my side. I’m wondering how do others deal with this issue considering that it can't be meaningfully talked about.

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Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:58 am

Hi Pt,

pt1 wrote:Afaik, in abhidhamma sankhara stands for cetasikas and includes three aggregates – feeling, perception and volitional formations.


I think you have it the wrong way round.

The sankharakkhandha makes up 50 of the Abhidhamma's 52 cetasikas. Vedanakkhandha and saññakkhandha make up the remaining two.

Vedana and saññå are included in sankhara in any context where sankhara means conditioned thing, but not in contexts where it means sankharakkhandha.

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Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Apr 06, 2009 2:45 am

pt1 wrote:I see what you’re saying, but still it is hard to shake off the doubt – the feeling that arahatship is not the best of solutions as it seems only short-lived – until parinibbana. I guess that shows lack of faith on my side. I’m wondering how do others deal with this issue considering that it can't be meaningfully talked about.

I dunno. I guess I don't worry about what "nibbana" means. I think I know what "stress" means, though, and I know what "lessening stress" means and I think that "end of all stress" sounds like a good thing... and so I focus on that.

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Unbinding is the foremost ease.
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Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby sukhamanveti » Mon Apr 06, 2009 5:09 am

pt1 wrote:I’m wondering how do others deal with this issue considering that it can't be meaningfully talked about.


For me the issue is a pragmatic one. After enlightenment, we are told, one no longer craves existence and one no longer craves nonexistence. At that point, then, one doesn't care whether parinibbana is extinction or not. Right now, if there is even a small possibility that parinibbana is not total extinction, then looking to that possibility gives me greater motivation and encouragement to practice than the alternative. That to me is the tie-breaking argument.
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etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ.


Refraining from all wrong-doing,
Undertaking the good,
Purifying the mind,
This is the teaching of the buddhas.

Dhammapada v. 183/14.5
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Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby sukhamanveti » Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:20 am

Elohim wrote:In addition, within classical Theravada, the the goal is said to be the utter extinction of all consciousness per the verse in DN 11: "Ettha namanca rupanca, asesam uparujjhati. Vinnanassa nirodhena etthetam uparujjhati" (Here [in nibbana], nama as well as rupa ceases without remainder. By ceasing of consciousness, nama as well as rupa ceases here) (Suan Lu Zaw). Jason


There is more than one way to read the Kevaddha Sutta (DN 11). Bhikkhu Nanananda, in the BPS booklet Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought, analyzes the Pali in light of related passages in the Tipitaka and concludes that it addresses the consciousness of a living arahant, despite references to cessation: "It is very likely that the reference again is to the anna-phala samadhi (the 'Fruit of Knowledge' concentration) of the Arahant... The last line of the verse stresses the fact that the four great elements do not find a footing --and that name-and-form (comprehending them) can be cut off completely--in that anidassana-vinnana (the 'nonmanifestative consciousness') of the Arahant, by the cessation of his normal consciousness which rests on the data of sense experience." (pp. 65-66) He then discusses and rejects Buddhaghosa's "after-death" interpretation. If consciousness can cease in one sense (ordinary consciousness) and not cease in another (boundless or infinite consciousness), then this leaves open the possibility of some form of consciousness surviving parinibbana.
Sīlaṃ balaṃ appaṭimaṃ.
Sīlaṃ āvudhamuttamaṃ.
Sīlamābharaṇaṃ seṭṭhaṃ.
Sīlaṃ kavacamabbhutaṃ.


Virtue is a matchless power.
Virtue is the greatest weapon.
Virtue is the best adornment.
Virtue is a wonderful armor.

Theragatha 614


Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṃ,
kusalassa upasampadā,
Sacittapariyodapanaṃ,
etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ.


Refraining from all wrong-doing,
Undertaking the good,
Purifying the mind,
This is the teaching of the buddhas.

Dhammapada v. 183/14.5
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Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby nathan » Tue Apr 07, 2009 6:48 am

"There is, monks, that base where there is neither earth, nor water,
nor heat, nor air; neither the base of the infinity of space, nor the
base of the infinity of consciousness, nor the base of nothingness,
nor the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception; neither this
world nor another world; neither sun nor moon. Here, monks, I say
there is no coming, no going, no standing still; no passing away and
no being reborn. It is not established, not moving, without support.
Just this is the end of suffering."
(Ud 8:1;80)

I like this one drawn from Chris' quotations from previous discussion.

There are many ways this presented more positively. The worldly incline to a view tainted by a sense of self be it gross or subtle which is forever anxious and agitated about it's fate [nail it to the wall and meditate on it I say : ) ]. When this is fully defeated to the root, the inclination is to this other base instead, non-arising. Awakening to an actual non-arising Dhamma; and also, the non-arising of any such of the former inclinations to identify with any arising samsaric conditions as I, me or mine, samsara is emptied of self and so too of suffering thereabouts thereafter. Some go on to say samsara is then also nibbana, say it's 'whatever man', as it is no longer suffering the stain of ongoing kamma making and suffering. Samsara is clearly and fully known and seen for what it is ongoing instead of a sense of lost-ness and loss. Life would linger on but the 'penalty' for living would be gone until even the 'tally' or 'score', the result of a living form is gone. It makes sense but not in the sense of identifying with it either, the path applies at the end as well except that the full application is entirely realized.

Does it continue to be realized? Why not? It has no beginning and no end.
I say go for it, what do we have to loose except our pain and sorrow? It must be wonderful to say the least!
:anjali:
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby pt1 » Wed Apr 08, 2009 7:27 am

Dhammanando wrote:I think you have it the wrong way round.

The sankharakkhandha makes up 50 of the Abhidhamma's 52 cetasikas. Vedanakkhandha and saññakkhandha make up the remaining two.

Vedana and saññå are included in sankhara in any context where sankhara means conditioned thing, but not in contexts where it means sankharakkhandha.


Thank you for the correction Bhante. Also thanks Peter, Ed and Nathan, your replies are encouraging each in its own way.

Best wishes
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Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby nathan » Wed Apr 08, 2009 6:16 pm

pt1 wrote:...still it is hard to shake off the doubt – the feeling that arahatship is not the best of solutions as it seems only short-lived – until parinibbana. I guess that shows lack of faith on my side. I’m wondering how do others deal with this issue considering that it can't be meaningfully talked about.

Best wishes
Hi pt1;

Well, I don't trouble with talking about it much or even thinking about it much either anymore. Intellectually, issues around nibbana are frustrating short of some kind of actual experience and then they aren't frustrating at all any more. So my advice is to pour that effort into steam entry. As I see it the question of what is what will resolve itself experientially. If the theravada are correct then existence ends with arahatta magga, if the mahayana are correct then that is simply one level of existence being "over" and the beginning of another kind of work. In either case it makes sense to get that done first if one is going to provide the maximum benefit to all beings. If theravada is correct about bodhisattas and you are one, then that is going to become clear in the same way, through attempting to complete the work of a disciple. If the mahayana is right then even becoming an arahat isn't an impediment to being a bodhisattva. So that is how I am approaching it. One step at a time.

As for nibbana as a 'real' dhamma, I think that an identification with nibbana is only realizable in the context that in the realization of nibbana, one (in a sense) IS nibbana. That is, the mind is not arising at that moment as mind in any conventional sense but as nibbana instead - which has no qualities or characteristics comparable to consciousness or mind. So, in theory, upon death, the arahat does not arise as any other dhamma because there is no cause but also the arahat does not cease to 'not arise' as nibbana (I say 'not arise' instead of 'arise' because paradoxically nibbana is a non-arising dhamma but it is still an 'existing' dhamma, just not a conditionally dependent dhamma).

Because nibbana has no relation to time or space or consciousness it is not a dhamma which comes and goes, either for the arahat or in any absolute sense at all. It is entirely consistent in the sense that it is as accessible from anywhere in time and space but it is not 'connected' to time and space in any way at any time or anywhere. So, parinibbana, in this context, is an escape from conditional dhammas and also an escape from space, time and consciousness. Nibbana is therefore everpresent and unchanging but also non-arising and un-manifest conditionally.

The mind simply cannot relate to it. Before 'being nibbana' instead of 'being mind', mind has no clue how or why or what or where nibbana could possibly be and in a very real sense after 'becoming nibbana' mind has no clue how or why or what or where nibbana could possibly be either, but mind does know that this is so and that it is a dhamma with no beginning and no end, that it is timeless, space-less, condition-less and consciousness-less. Mind does understand itself in the light of nibbana as entirely conditional and temporary in all times and spaces and that for nibbana to arise mind must cease or acquiesce it's existence in preference to abiding (or in a more 'real' sense, non-abiding) as nibbana instead.

So my advice is always to follow the instructions that get you there, to an actual experience of nibbana, after that you will not have any fewer questions about nibbana but you will never again be dissatisfied, about that inability to express the nature of these things, because you will understand why it is that nibbana defies the conscious mind's capacities to comprehend dhammas.

Conditional dhammas are the province of mind. Nibbana is the province of only nibbana.

This is simply the way it is. Arguments about what is actually going on, even between those who can reference nibbana in this way will likely continue for so long as other dhammas and sentient mind does, simply because mind cannot resolve some of these things at all. Conditional dhammas change and change considerably (because the compounding of the conditional dhammas allows for such vast diversities of compounded forms), the one unconditional dhamma will never change in any way, will never arise, and will never cease either.

I hope that helps a little.
upekkha
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Is the result of Parinibbana Annihilation?

Postby robertk » Thu Apr 09, 2009 2:54 am

Dear Pt
You do understand that there are only citta cetasika and rupa, no self. Upon death of the arahat all that remains is the bone fragments, i.e. some rupa.

Thus in no way is there anilhilation as there never was a self, ever.

BTW there are some hilarious things on the internet about people talking with past Buddhas, or searching through relics of monks to find crystals which "show" they were arahats. I used to find these things a bit sad but it is better to enjoy a laugh (albeit rooted in lobha).
Edit to add this links. After writing this post I came across this thread:
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=1096

robert

Oh I just remembered the best one yet. One article I read claims that an arhats citta or consciousness or whatver is some special type that is unbound and floats around somehow after death, presumably outside of samsara. :rofl: :rofl: Darn now I feel sad again:tantrum:
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