Looking for description of Arahant after death

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Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby jackson » Sun Nov 04, 2012 1:44 am

Greetings everyone,
In a recent talk by Ajahn Amaro he mentioned that there was only one sutta where the Buddha described the experience of an Arahant after death, and if I remember correctly the Buddha said that the deceased Arahant was experiencing indescribable bliss. I`d like to read the sutta Ajahn Amaro quoted but haven`t been able to uncover it online, so would appreciate it if anyone could point me towards it.
Thanks!
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby cooran » Sun Nov 04, 2012 2:35 am

Hello Jackson,

I haven't been able to find any sutta referring to bliss after the death of an arahant. Maybe others will contribute. It is a difficult subject. Here are some writings by Lily de Silva:

''The state of Nibbana after the death of the arahant is nowhere discussed in the Paali Canon. The four alternatives put forward regarding this state, namely: Does the Perfect One exist after death, does he not, does he and does he not, does he neither exist nor not exist after death, are all left aside unanswered. These questions are put aside because they are not useful to human happiness and understanding, not concerned with the Dhamma, not helpful for the higher life, not conducive to disenchantment and detachment, not conducive to cessation of misery, to tranquillity of the mind, to higher knowledge, to insight, and to peace (Nibbana).[94]
The Aggivacchagotta Sutta cites a simile in this connection which illustrates that the questions themselves are meaningless.[95] If there is a fire burning and if the fire goes out without fuel, can one ask the question: "In which direction did the fire go, east, south, west, or north?" The question itself is inappropriate as it assumes that fire can have existence independent of fuel. The nun Khemaa points out that the state of the Tathaagata after death is immeasurable. Just as it is impossible to calculate the drops of water in the ocean and the grains of sand in the earth, so is it impossible to conceptualize the state of Nibbana after the demise of the arahant.[96] The Anuraadha Sutta states that the five aggregates of grasping, or the personality factors, are impermanent, unsatisfactory, and non-self. Therefore the noble disciple is detached from them. He wins freedom, and after death becomes completely untraceable.[97] The Alagadduupama Sutta maintains that the Tathaagata cannot be identified with the personality factors even during his lifetime, so how can he be identified after death?[98]

A plausible explanation is necessary for the traditional silence regarding the state of the arahant after death. Existence in the world implies time and space. One exists within a particular period in a particular space or locality. If one passes beyond time and beyond space, it is not possible to speak of existence with reference to such a one. To speak of both time and space one needs a point of reference, e.g. A is 50 years old. This means 50 years have passed since the event of A's birth. If A is not born, it is impossible to speak of "time" or existence with reference to him. Similarly with space. Without points of reference it is not possible to grasp space. There is a definite distance between any two specific points. Nor can one speak of direction without a point of reference. When the notion of "I," which is the point of personal reference, is eradicated, one goes beyond time, beyond space, and beyond causality. Therefore it is not possible to speak of the liberated being as existing or not existing.

Here we are reminded of a statement made by Fritjof Capra in his Tao of Physics relevant to our present context. He states: "Physicists can 'experience' the four dimensional space-time world through the abstract mathematical formalism of their theories, but their visual imagination, like everybody else's, is limited to the three-dimensional world of the senses. Our language and thought patterns have evolved in this three-dimensional world and therefore we find it extremely hard to deal with the four-dimensional reality of relativistic physics."[99] Thus, when the four-dimensional reality too eludes the perceptual experience of the average man, how can Nibbana, which transcends all these four dimensions, come within mere verbal experience? Therefore it is impossible to speak of the arahant's state in terms of existence or non-existence.

At this point an observation can be made from another point of view. Buddhism describes the characteristics of all things in three statements: Sabbe sa"nkhaaraa aniccaa, sabbe sa"nkhaaraa dukkhaa, sabbe dhammaa anattaa, meaning all conditioned things are impermanent, all conditioned things are unsatisfactory, all phenomena are non-self.[100] Here the change of terminology in the last statement seems important. The Sa.myutta Commentary explains the last statement as: Sabbe dhammaa anattaa ti sabbe catubhuumakaa dhammaa .[101] The Visuddhimagga explains the four bhuumis or planes as kaamaavacara, ruupaavacara, aruupaavacara, and lokuttara, meaning the sensual sphere, the fine-material sphere, the immaterial sphere, and the supramundane.[102] Therefore dhammaa in our statement can be interpreted as including the supramundane state of Nibbana as well. Commenting on this statement Ven. Narada Thera observes: "Dhammaa can be applied to both conditioned and unconditioned things and states. It embraces both conditioned and unconditioned things including Nibbana. In order to show that even Nibbana is free from a permanent soul the Buddha used the term dhammaa in the third verse. Nibbana is a positive supramundane state and is without a soul."[103] It is significant that dhammaa was not used in the first two statements. The purpose seems to be to exclude Nibbana which is permanent and blissful. Therefore we can surmise a condition that is permanent and blissful, but it is not a self. That state is Nibbana. It has to be a dimension completely different from all that is worldly. The permanence that is conjectured here has no reference to time and space, and the bliss that is spoken of has no reference to feelings, vedanaa .

Further, there is a great difference between the death of an ordinary worldling and that of an arahant. To indicate this, a different terminology is used: mara.na/miyyati is used for the death of a worldling, while parinibbaana/parinibbaayati is used in the case of an arahant. In fact the Dhammapada specifically states that the vigilant ones, meaning arahants, never die (in the ordinary sense of the word).[104]

Let us first see what happens when a worldling dies. It is an accepted fact that everybody fears death.[105] We also fear the unknown; therefore death is doubly fearful because we know least about it. It seems reasonable to assume that at the root of all fear there lurks the fear of death. In other words we fear everything which directly or indirectly threatens our life. So long as our bodies are strong enough, we can either fight or run away from the source of fear, with the intention of preserving life. But when ultimately we are on the deathbed face to face with death and our body is no longer strong enough to flee from death, it is highly unlikely that we will mentally accept death with resignation. We will struggle hard, long for and crave for life (ta.nhaa), and reach out and grasp (upaadaana) a viable base somewhere as the dying body can no longer sustain life. Once such a viable base, for instance a fertilized ovum in a mother's womb, has been grasped, the process of becoming or growth (bhava) starts there, which in due course gives rise to birth (jaati). This is what is referred to in the twelve-linked pa.ticcasamuppaada as "craving conditions grasping, grasping conditions becoming, becoming conditions birth."[106] Thus a worldling dies and is reborn.

Now let us consider the last moments of an arahant. As an arahant has no fear whatsoever from any source (akutobhaya), he would not be agitated (na paritassati) as he has no craving for life.[107] He will watch the process of death with perfect equanimity and crystal-clear mindfulness.[108] Further, the Mahaaparinibbaana Sutta, which explains the final moments of the Buddha, states that the Buddha passed away immediately after rising from the fourth jhaana.[109] The fourth jhaana is characterized by purity of equanimity and mindfulness.[110] It is not known whether all arahants attain parinibbaana after the fourth jhaana, but certainly they cannot have a deluded death.[111] As they do not grasp another birth the state they attain after final passing away has to be described as unborn (ajaata) . Similarly it is uncaused (asa"nkhata).[112] As it is no ordinary death it is called the deathless state.[113] It is beyond elemental existence, beyond brahmalokas, neither in this world nor the next, beyond the radiance of the sun and moon.[114] It is beyond what we know of in the three worlds of kaama, ruupa, and aruupa . Therefore, as it is beyond the ken of ordinary human understanding, any attempt to define the state is bound to end in failure. The course of liberated ones cannot be traced like that of birds in the air.[115] '' http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el407.html

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

with metta
Chris
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby appicchato » Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:56 am

Ashes...
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby jackson » Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:21 am

Greetings Cooran, Venerable,
I'll be the first to admit I have a fairly faulty memory, so may in fact be quite wrong about this and would hate to misquote the The Buddha and Ajahn Amaro so perhaps I'll have to go through the talks I've listened to and try and find where he brings this up. Ajahn Amaro has been talking about stream-entry and enlightenment so much recently though that it may take a long time to find it. Thank you for your replies.
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:40 am

    Since a tathagata, even when actually present, is incomprehensible, it is inept to say of him – of the Uttermost Person, the Supernal Person, the Attainer of the Supernal – that after death the tathagata is, or is not, or both is and is not, or neither is nor is not -- SN III 118-9

For the full text, see:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/su ... 2-086.html

(SN III 116: a tathagata is describing a tathagata.}

Of this Bhikkhu Bodhi states: “This should establish that “the Tathagata” here is not just “a being” [as the commentary states], but a Buddha or an arahant…” pg 1080 n163.

    There is the case where a monk's conceit 'I am' is abandoned, its root destroyed, like an uprooted palm tree, deprived of the conditions of existence, not destined for future arising. This is how a monk is a noble one with banner lowered, burden placed down, unfettered.

    "And when the devas, together with Indra, the Brahmas, & Pajapati, search for the monk whose mind is thus released, they cannot find that 'The consciousness of the one truly gone
    (tathagata) 11/226 is dependent on this.' Why is that? The one truly gone (tathagata) is untraceable even in the here & now. – MN I 139

Ven Thanissaro’s FN: 11. The term "tathagata" is often, but not always, reserved for the Buddha. Sometimes, as in the case here, it is used to refer to the arahant.

Bhikkhu Bodhi’s fn 226, p 1210: “Thus Gone” is, in Pali, Tathagata, the usual epithet of the Buddha, but here applied more broadly to the arahant [following the commentary].”

In other words, the texts suggest that there is no basis for a desrcription of the arahant/tathagata after death.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby jackson » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:32 am

Hi everyone,
I found where Ajahn Amaro mentions it, it starts at 1:01:40 of this excellent YouTube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NXXQU7u898 . I can't recognize the name he says and he doesn't cite the sutta number, but this is definitely the talk I was thinking of.
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby Dmytro » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:50 am

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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:10 am

Dmytro wrote:Hi Jackson,

That's Udana 8.10.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Dmytro
That is the text I thought of, but it does not sound quite like the name he mentioned other than Dabba.


    Just as the destination of a glowing fire
    struck with a [blacksmith's] iron hammer,
    gradually growing calm,
    isn't known:
    Even so, there's no destination to describe
    for those rightly released
    — having crossed over the flood
    of sensuality's bond —
    for those who've attained
    unwavering bliss.
    -- Ud 93
In light of other texts quoted above, I think one needs to tread with some care concerning what conclusions might be drawn from this.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby jackson » Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:25 am

Greetings Dmytro, Tiltbillings, all,
It sounds to me like he's saying Dabba the Malian or something like that, but that very well may be the sutta Ajahn Amaro was talking about. The way he put it made it sound to me like there was someone experiencing unutterable bliss, which seemed to contradict my understanding of Nibbana and does not seem in line with Thanissaro Bhikkhu's translation. Thank you all for your replies so far,
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:41 am

in that video it does sound like Dabba "Damalian" to me but I have heard him speak of this before and he did say mallaputta on that occasion.
although Ajahns interpretation of it refering to parinibbana for me seams off, I read it at the time and it seams more to be about when one attains nibbana, for them any further destination can be describe... but that is just my reading.

(edited for clarity)
Last edited by Cittasanto on Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby DAWN » Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:55 am

Dmytro wrote:Hi Jackson,

That's Udana 8.10.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Dmytro


Just for complete the link.

Just as the destination of a glowing fire
struck with a [blacksmith's] iron hammer,
gradually growing calm,
isn't known:[1]
Even so, there's no destination to describe
for those rightly released
— having crossed over the flood
of sensuality's bond —
for those who've attained
unwavering bliss.
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby santa100 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:11 pm

And Ven. Thanissaro's note in "Mind Like Fire Unbound" ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... e/2-1.html ):

Instead of using the subsistence of latent fire as an image for immortality, he(the Buddha) uses the diffuse, indeterminate nature of extinguished fire as understood by the Vedists to illustrate the absolute indescribability of the person who has reached the Buddhist goal.


and..

The person who has attained the goal is thus indescribable because he/she has abandoned all things by which he/she could be described.


Ven. Bodhi clarifies it in MN 72 ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html ):

Note 723: It seems that at this point in the dialogue, the Buddha resorts to imagery to suggest what concepts cannot convey. The 2 images of the extinguished fire and the deep ocean, establish between themselves a dialectical tension, and thus both must be taken into account to avoid falling into one-sided views. The image of the extinguished fire, taken alone, veers in the direction of total extinction, and thus must be balanced by the image of the ocean; the image of the ocean, taken alone, suggests some eternal mode of being, thus must be balanced by the image of the extinguished fire. Again, the truth lies in the middle that transcends untenable extremes.
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:21 pm

Here are the comments on Udana 8.10 by Ajahns Amaro and Pasanno
"The Island", page 350 (available on-line: http://forestsanghapublications.org/viewAuthor.php?id=6), very end of the book...
All the teachings compiled in this collection are for aiding us in our search for
well-being and peace. Having recognized that Nibbæna is a possibility for ourselves,
we are able to take the seeds, prepare the ground, and cultivate the fruit. The bliss of
tasting and being nourished by this fruit is a principle of nature that we are all able to
realize. A last example illustrating this principle of Nibbæna as a state of intrinsic well-
being also comes in the Udæna. In the previous sutta passage Bhaddiya describes the
bliss of Nibbæna as experienced in this life. In this passage – after the passing away of
Dabba the Mallian – the Buddha affirms that that Nibbænic bliss is not affected or
altered by the death of the body.

    Just as the bourn is not known
    Of the gradual fading glow
    Given off by the furnace-heated iron
    As it is struck with the smith’s hammer,
    So there is no pointing to the bourn
    Of those perfectly released,
    Who have crossed the flood
    Of bondage to sense desires
    And attained unshakeable bliss.
    ~ Ud 8.10 (John D. Ireland trans.)

:anjali:
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby daverupa » Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:39 pm

Parsing doctrinal minutiae from poetry is probably a good way to make a mistake.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby SarathW » Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:32 am

jackson wrote:Greetings everyone,
In a recent talk by Ajahn Amaro he mentioned that there was only one sutta where the Buddha described the experience of an Arahant after death, and if I remember correctly the Buddha said that the deceased Arahant was experiencing indescribable bliss. I`d like to read the sutta Ajahn Amaro quoted but haven`t been able to uncover it online, so would appreciate it if anyone could point me towards it.
Thanks!
Jackson


Hi Jackson
According to my understanding there is no place called Nirvana and there is no person to attain Nirvana. Nirvana is the name given to a state when the flow of consciousness ceased to exist due to cessation of attachment. When a person (in conventional terms) attain Sotapanna state he will realise the meaning of first fetter - belief in a self (Pali: sakkāya-diṭṭhi) and completely discard with the elimination of the tenth fetter - ignorance (avijjā )
The Arahant, who’s corporeal body, still alive, will experience the bliss of Nirvana. Can you imagine how happy you will be if you do not have any attachment? As Ven. Appichato said, only the ash will be left after Parinibbana of an Arahant.

Please read from attached link - chapter 33 to 37 for more info.


2)”The Buddha and His Teachings” by Narada, http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/buddh ... gsurw6.pdf
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby jackson » Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:47 am

Thank you everyone for your replies. Now that I know what Ajahn Amaro was quoting I have no further questions. Thank you for your help and for clearing things up.
With gratitude,
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah
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