Can we say that Nibbana unequivocally exists?

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Can we say that Nibbana unequivocally exists?

Postby dhammapal » Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:16 am

Hi,

The Buddha left undeclared whether he or any other arahant exists after death, does not exist, both, or neither.

But is it safe to say that Nibbana exists:
Samyutta Nikaya 43:14 wrote:the far shore, the subtle, the very difficult to see, the unaging, the stable, the undisintegrating, the unmanifest, the unproliferated, the peaceful, the deathless , the sublime, the auspicious, the secure, the destruction of craving, the wonderful, the amazing, the unailing, the unailing state, the unafflicted, dispassion, purity, freedom, the unadhesive, the island, the shelter, the asylum, the refuge..."

Thanks / dhammapal.
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Re: Can we say that Nibbana unequivocally exists?

Postby BlackBird » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:12 am

Well Nibbana is described as the going out of a flame. Would one say: When I blow out a candle - The going out of the flame exists?
The correct answer is that such terms do not apply.
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

Nanavira Thera's teachings - An existential approach to the Dhamma | Ven. Bodhesako's essay on anicca
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Re: Can we say that Nibbana unequivocally exists?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:28 am

dhammapal wrote:Hi,

The Buddha left undeclared whether he or any other arahant exists after death, does not exist, both, or neither.

But is it safe to say that Nibbana exists:
Samyutta Nikaya 43:14 wrote:the far shore, the subtle, the very difficult to see, the unaging, the stable, the undisintegrating, the unmanifest, the unproliferated, the peaceful, the deathless , the sublime, the auspicious, the secure, the destruction of craving, the wonderful, the amazing, the unailing, the unailing state, the unafflicted, dispassion, purity, freedom, the unadhesive, the island, the shelter, the asylum, the refuge..."

Thanks / dhammapal.
Make sure you put those words into their actual context.
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: Can we say that Nibbana unequivocally exists?

Postby BlackBird » Mon Jul 22, 2013 1:53 pm

There is the real danger of reifying nibbana into some kind of 'place' that 'you' go. That should not be done.
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

Nanavira Thera's teachings - An existential approach to the Dhamma | Ven. Bodhesako's essay on anicca
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Re: Can we say that Nibbana unequivocally exists?

Postby SarathW » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:14 pm

Not unless you unequivocally realise the following: :)


fabrications have ignorance as their prerequisite,
consciousness has fabrications as its prerequisite,
name-&-form has consciousness as their prerequisite,
the six sense media have name-&-form as their prerequisite,
contact has the six sense media as its prerequisite,
feeling has contact as its prerequisite,
craving has feeling as its prerequisite,
clinging has craving as its prerequisite,
becoming has clinging as its prerequisite,
birth has becoming as its prerequisite,
stress & suffering have birth as their prerequisite,
conviction has stress & suffering as its prerequisite,
joy has conviction as its prerequisite,
rapture has joy as its prerequisite,
serenity has rapture as its prerequisite,
pleasure has serenity as its prerequisite,
concentration has pleasure as its prerequisite,
knowledge & vision of things as they actually are present has concentration as its prerequisite,
disenchantment has knowledge & vision of things as they actually are present as its prerequisite,
dispassion has disenchantment as its prerequisite,
release has dispassion as its prerequisite,
knowledge of ending has release as its prerequisite.


— SN 12.23
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... part3.html
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Re: Can we say that Nibbana unequivocally exists?

Postby dhammapal » Tue Jul 23, 2013 12:55 am

I found the following from the Questions of King Milinda:
Miln 326-328, (E.W. Burlingame trans.) wrote:“Reverend Nagasena, is this region in the East, or in the South, or in the West, or in the North, or above or below or across – this region where Nibbana is located?”

“Great king, the region does not exist, either in the East, or in the South, or in the West, or in the North, or above or below or across, where Nibbana is located.”

“If, Reverend Nagasena, there is no place where Nibbana is located, then there is no Nibbana; and as for those who have realized Nibbana, their realization also is vain. Let me tell you why I think so:

“Reverend Nagasena, just as on earth, a field is the place of origin of crops, a flower is the place of origin of odors, a bush is the place of origin of flowers, a tree is the place of origin of fruits, a mine is the place of origin of jewels, insomuch that whoever desires anything, has but to go to the proper place and get it precisely so, Reverend Nagasena, if Nibbana really exists, it also follows that a place of origin of this Nibbana must be postulated. But since, Reverend Nagasena, there is no place of origin of Nibbana, therefore I say: There is no Nibbana; and as for those who have realized Nibbana: Their realization also is vain.”

“Great king, there is no place where Nibbana is located. Nevertheless, this Nibbana really exists; and a man, by ordering his walk aright [practising wisely], by diligent mental effort, realizes Nibbana.

“Great king, just as there is such a thing as fire, but no place where it is located – the fact being that a man, by rubbing two sticks together, produces fire – so also, great king, there is such a thing as Nibbana, but no place where it is located – the fact being that a man, by ordering his walk aright [practising wisely], by diligent mental effort, realizes Nibbana...”

“Reverend Nagasena, let it be granted that there is no place where Nibbana is located. But is there a place where a man must stand to order his walk aright [practise wisely], and realize Nibbana?”

“Yes, great king, there is a place where a man must stand to order his walk aright [practise wisely], and realize Nibbana.”

“But what, Reverend Sir, is the place where a man must stand to order his walk aright [practise wisely] and realize Nibbana?”

“Morality, great king, is the place! Abiding steadfast in Morality, putting forth diligent mental effort – whether in the land of the Scythians or in the land of the Greeks, whether in China or in Tartary, whether in Alexandria or in Nikumba, whether in Kasi or in Kosala, whether in Cashmere or in Gandhara, whether on a mountain-top or in the highest heaven – no matter where a man may stand, by ordering his walk aright [practising wisely], he realizes Nibbana.”

“Good, Reverend Nagasena! You have made it plain what Nibbana is, you have made it plain what the realization of Nibbana is, you have well-described the Power of Morality, you have made it plain how a man orders his walk aright [practises wisely], you have uplifted the Banner of Truth, you have set the Eye of Truth in its socket, you have demonstrated that Right Effort on the part of those who put forth diligent effort is not barren. It is just as you say most excellent of excellent teachers! I agree absolutely!”
From: The Island: An Anthology of the Buddha's Teachings on Nibbana by Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro

With metta / dhammapal.
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Re: Can we say that Nibbana unequivocally exists?

Postby dhammapal » Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:02 am

Udana 5.5 wrote:(5) "Just as, although the rivers of the world flow into the great ocean and showers of rain fall from the sky, no lessening or filling up of the great ocean is evident, so also, although many bhikkhus attain final Nibbana in the Nibbana-element with no residue left, no lessening or filling up of the Nibbana-element is evident. This is the fifth wonderful and marvellous quality in this Dhamma and Discipline, seeing which bhikkhus delight in this Dhamma and Discipline.
From: Uposatha Sutta translated from the Pali by John D. Ireland

With metta / dhammapal.
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Re: Can we say that Nibbana unequivocally exists?

Postby BlackBird » Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:13 am

It might be noted that the Debate of King Milinda is not the work of the Buddha and as such it is not authoritative. The work was 'attributed' to an arahant much in the same way that the commentaries were, and yet the commentaries are at odds with the suttas in several places and acknowledge such by stating that where they differ, the suttas are to be given primacy. Thus such attributions should be taken with a grain of a salt.

I have encountered more than one problematic assertion contained within the Milindapanha, and the above quotation may profitably be added to the pile.

As for your quote of the Udana sutta, it has been mistranslated by John D Ireland. Compare the exact same passage in Ven. Thanissaro's translation:

[5] And furthermore, just as the rivers of the world pour into the ocean, and rains fall from the sky, but no swelling or diminishing in the ocean for that reason can be discerned; in the same way, although many monks are totally unbound into the property of unbinding with no fuel remaining, no swelling or diminishing in the property of unbinding for that reason can be discerned... This is the fifth amazing & astounding quality of this Dhamma & Vinaya because of which, as they see it again & again, the monks take great joy in this Dhamma & Vinaya.

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

In the Thanissaro translation, unbinding is indeed synonymous with nibbana, but unbinding is a verb, it is an action, the property of unbinding is thus not a 'thing' or a 'place' but something that happens. If we leave nibbana untranslated, and call it an 'element' then we are one step closer to reification which is completely at odds with what the Buddha intended. If we are to call nibbana an existing element, then it is at once eternal and atemporal. But the Buddha has said that anything that exists is impermanent, furthermore everything that exists is not self, and both of these statements would contradict the idea that nibbana is an 'existent thing'. Whatever exists can only do so because it is anicca. Anicca is a structural necessity for existent things. But Nibbana is not anicca.

No, nibbana is the going out of the flame of greed hatred and delusion. It is the end of suffering.


Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

There is, monks, an unborn[1] — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that escape from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, escape from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned.[2]

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

Nibbana is one of those things that must be experienced in order to be understood. So 'Does nibbana exist or does it not exist, or does it neither exist or not exist or does it both exist and not exist' - The answer is that it does not apply.
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

Nanavira Thera's teachings - An existential approach to the Dhamma | Ven. Bodhesako's essay on anicca
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Re: Can we say that Nibbana unequivocally exists?

Postby chownah » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:21 am

Since the Buddha defined the World and The All in ways that are markedly different from how people usually think of them I think it would be helpful if a definition of "exist" was agreed on for the discussion...but I doubt we could find a definition that could be agreed on....and if you can't agree on the definition of THE key concept in a discussion then.......?
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Re: Can we say that Nibbana unequivocally exists?

Postby dhammapal » Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:18 am

Hi Chownah, Blackbird,
chownah wrote:Since the Buddha defined the World and The All in ways that are markedly different from how people usually think of them I think it would be helpful if a definition of "exist" was agreed on for the discussion...but I doubt we could find a definition that could be agreed on....and if you can't agree on the definition of THE key concept in a discussion then.......?
chownah

Yes existing for aeons doesn't appeal as an ultimate spiritual goal. The Christians' eternal life in heaven sounds like a state of limbo.

An arahant after death wouldn't exist as Nibbana as Nibbana is not-self.

Thanks for the replies.

With metta / dhammapal.
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Re: Can we say that Nibbana unequivocally exists?

Postby BlackBird » Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:57 am

You cannot say an 'arahant after death' at all. Strictly speaking there's no person there in the arahant, so death does not apply. That is why the Buddha had the epithet 'Tathagata - The one thus gone.
"And so, because this Teaching is so different from what Westerners are accustomed to, they will try to adapt the Teaching to their own framework. What they need to learn to do is not to adapt the Teaching to their own point of view but to adapt their own point of view to the Teaching. This is called saddhá, or faith, and it means giving oneself to the Teaching even if the Teaching is contrary to one’s own preconceived notions of the way things are."- Ven Bodhesako

Nanavira Thera's teachings - An existential approach to the Dhamma | Ven. Bodhesako's essay on anicca
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Re: Can we say that Nibbana unequivocally exists?

Postby Mindstar » Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:07 pm

BlackBird wrote:You cannot say an 'arahant after death' at all. Strictly speaking there's no person there in the arahant, so death does not apply. That is why the Buddha had the epithet 'Tathagata - The one thus gone.


What about if we say the arahant is a consciousness process that doesn't get reborn anywhere after death (of the body) therefor vanishes like a blown out candle?
Wherever he goes, there he is unafraid.. Wherever he sleeps, there he is unalarmed!
The nights and days does neither touch nor burn him. He sees nothing in this world
that is to be kept or lost.. Therefore his mind dwells in goodwill and gentle kindness
towards all beings until he falls asleep.
SN I 110
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Re: Can we say that Nibbana unequivocally exists?

Postby acinteyyo » Tue Jul 23, 2013 10:21 pm

Mindstar wrote:
BlackBird wrote:You cannot say an 'arahant after death' at all. Strictly speaking there's no person there in the arahant, so death does not apply. That is why the Buddha had the epithet 'Tathagata - The one thus gone.


What about if we say the arahant is a consciousness process that doesn't get reborn anywhere after death (of the body) therefor vanishes like a blown out candle?

What about if we stop trying to describe someone who has been freed from the classification of craving?
SN 44.6 wrote:"But, my friend, would there another line of reasoning, in line with which that has not been declared by the Blessed One?"

"Now, what more do you want, friend Kotthita? When a monk has been freed from the classification of craving, there exists no cycle for describing him."


best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.

:anjali:
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Re: Can we say that Nibbana unequivocally exists?

Postby reflection » Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:19 am

BlackBird wrote:Well Nibbana is described as the going out of a flame. Would one say: When I blow out a candle - The going out of the flame exists?
The correct answer is that such terms do not apply.

:goodpost:

Although conceptually you could say it exists and there may be some suttas that do. But we have to keep in mind the meaning of nibbana and see beyond concepts. Just because a few sutta quotes may say "nibbana exists" doesn't mean it is a place or thing. It would mean the potential for nibbana-ing exists, that there is a way out of suffering. Just like I can say "freedom" exists. Freedom is not a thing or place. Freedom is only defined by what it is free off.

:anjali:
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