Experience (of?) Nibbana

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Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:22 am

This poll: viewtopic.php?f=22&t=5336&p=82890#p82876

Raises some questions:
1. Does a stream-enterer (and other ariya below arahant) "experience" nibbana, of just "glimpse" it?
2. Is nibbana an object of consciousness (as in the Abhidhamma) or is it an absence of objects?
3. Does an arahant "experience" nibbana for a short time (like jhana etc) and then return to a more-or-less normal experience (this would be the Abhidhamma view), or does he/she "remain in nibbana"?

Accounts that I've seen, such as Peter Harvey's book, The Selfless Mind, argue that a logical reading of the Suttas gives the first option for 3, and probably the second option for 2.
The 'destruction of attachment, hatred, and delusion' is also given as the definition of Arahatta, or Arahat-ness (S.IV.252=SN38.1). One might expect this to refer to the general state of the Arahat, but the way the term is used shows that it actually means the crucial transformation which makes the person and Arahat. That is, it is the state in which attachment etc. and the cankers get destroyed, so that the person now is an Arahat...

And what is the Unbinding property with fuel remaining? There is the case where a monk is an arahant whose fermentations have ended, who has reached fulfillment, finished the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, ended the fetter of becoming, and is released through right gnosis. His five sense faculties still remain and, owing to their being intact, he is cognizant of the agreeable & the disagreeable, and is sensitive to pleasure & pain. His ending of passion, aversion, & delusion is termed the Unbinding property with fuel remaining.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#iti-044

I could quote more, but perhaps I'll let someone else comment..

Mike

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Re: Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:37 am

There was a big, long thread on the now quite dead Gray Forum that was entitled "Nibbana IS." I sure hope not.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby Kenshou » Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:11 am

This could be an interesting can of worms.

I'm personally unconvinced at the moment that there is any event in particular characteristic of nibbana, besides the ending of the fetters, and so also dukkha. One doesn't practice in order to see (or not-see) nibbana for a flash and allow it to remove the fetters, but through our practice we weaken and break them, removing the potential for dukkha as we go until there is none left. Not any particular experience or non-experience, but a change in the way we relate to experience.

By our practice we come to understand the 3 characteristics and the 4 noble truths, and as this knowledge deepens craving and aversion are proportionately weakened, until they along with delusion in regard to the 4 noble truths are gone totally, and with that there is no more cause for the mind to become perturbed. And I suppose that I would argue that the knowledge of the stream enterer consists of an understanding of how this change in the way one relates to experience and how it could end dukkha is possible.

'Least that's what I'm thinking nowadays.

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Re: Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:28 am

Hi Kenshou,

Don't the Suttas suggest an experience at a particular point in time?
There is that dimension where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor staying; neither passing away nor arising: unestablished, unevolving, without support (mental object). This, just this, is the end of stress.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

There is, monks, an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Where water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing:
There the stars do not shine, the sun is not visible, the moon does not appear, darkness is not found. And when a sage, a brahman through sagacity, has known [this] for himself, then from form & formless, from bliss & pain, he is freed.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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Re: Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:35 am

mikenz66 wrote:
There is, monks, an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
What the heck does this mean? It is a variation of a bad translation. See:
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=4396#p66445
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:42 am

Hi Tilt,

Sure, your translation is much nicer...

Mike

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Re: Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby Kenshou » Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:47 am

Mikenz-

I am unsure weather those passages are in reference to a particular event or not. Don't know at this point. The translation provided by Tilt in that link is how I tend to interpret all of that, but this is one of those weird things I'd like to translate for myself at some point, and since I haven't yet I guess I can't say much.

Anyway, there are also detailings of nibbana that take it from another angle, such as this from the Dhatu-vibhanga sutta:

...there remains only equanimity: pure & bright, pliant, malleable, & luminous. One discerns that 'If I were to direct equanimity as pure & bright as this toward the dimension of the infinitude of space, I would develop the mind along those lines...

One neither fabricates nor mentally fashions for the sake of becoming or un-becoming. This being the case, one is not sustained by anything in the world (does not cling to anything in the world). Unsustained, one is not agitated. Unagitated, one is totally unbound right within. One discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'


I think this is the sort of thing that I blabbed about in the last post. No particular nibbanic experience, but an ending of the mind's misguided pushing and pulling.

One important point that I neglected to get into, is that I think that there are multiple subtly different ways that nibbana can occur documented in the suttas. Nibbana doesn't have to be got in the exact same way by everyone, and I suspect that what we may have come across now, and other people might as this discussion goes on if it does, is that there are different ways by which the goal of the path is reached.

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Re: Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:52 am

Hi Kenshou,

Perhaps we're just talking past each other.
Kenshou wrote:I think this is the sort of thing that I blabbed about in the last post. No particular nibbanic experience, but an ending of the mind's misguided pushing and pulling.

My point was that, in the quote you give, this ending seems to happen at a particular moment. I wasn't so concerned about the nature of the ending.
Kenshou wrote:One important point that I neglected to get into, is that I think that there are multiple subtly different ways that nibbana can occur documented in the suttas. Nibbana doesn't have to be got in the exact same way by everyone, and I suspect that what we may have come across now, and other people might as this discussion goes on if it does, is that there are different ways by which the goal of the path is reached.

Good point...

Mike

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Re: Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby Kenshou » Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:56 am

this ending seems to happen at a particular moment. I wasn't so concerned about the nature of the ending.


Oh! Well while I did make a point about the whole gradual path thing, it does follow that there is a definitive point when there is no more distance on the path to be trod.

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Re: Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby Freawaru » Fri Aug 13, 2010 11:11 am

mikenz66 wrote:This poll: viewtopic.php?f=22&t=5336&p=82890#p82876

Raises some questions:
1. Does a stream-enterer (and other ariya below arahant) "experience" nibbana, of just "glimpse" it?
2. Is nibbana an object of consciousness (as in the Abhidhamma) or is it an absence of objects?
3. Does an arahant "experience" nibbana for a short time (like jhana etc) and then return to a more-or-less normal experience (this would be the Abhidhamma view), or does he/she "remain in nibbana"?



1) According to this sutta the difference between putthujana and aryan is not experiencing nibbana or not but the difference between perception (sanna) and directly knowing (???)

MN 1: Mūlapariyāyasutta - Discourse on the Root Sequence Translated by Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu (edited):

http://www.dhammavinaya.com/sutta/mn/1.html

So it seems to me that the moment a person experiences nibbana and "directly knows" it rather than "perceives" it marks the entrance to aryanship.

2) Again according to this sutta Nibbana is an object like earth or the states of jhana or the luminous gods and treated in that way.

3) It seems to me that for an arahant nibbana is stable INSTEAD of the experience of birth and dhukkha. The identification process is cut of but not the directly knowing of the various dhammas. The dhammas still arise but grasping and clinging to them does not happen - what happens instead: directly knowing of nibbana is experienced permanently and regardless of what other dhammas arise.

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Re: Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby Will » Fri Aug 13, 2010 4:44 pm

Evidently Ajahn Sumedo teaches that cessation of attachment is nibbana and can be known by non-buddhas or non-arhats. This is from his little booklet on the Noble Truths:

We are blinded, caught in this becoming process on the sensual plane. But through knowing desire without judging the beauty or ugliness of the sensual plane, we come to see desire as it is. There's knowing. Then, by laying aside these desires rather than grasping at them, we experience nirodha, the cessation of suffering. This is the Third Noble Truth which we must realise for ourselves. We contemplate cessation. We say, 'There is cessation', and we know when something has ceased.
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta

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Re: Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Aug 13, 2010 6:04 pm

Hi Mike

I go for the sudden moment explanation- a good similie from the suttas is the one about the chick cracking out of the egg. We just have to incubate.

When complete cessation of all sensory phenomena is 'seen' this is nibbana, at the end of the vipassana nana crescendo, (not at any other time).

It is accompanied by a withdrawal of attention ..to anything (since EVERYTHING is dukkha)... hence not unconscious... but not conscious either... all objects cease (Sabba sankhara samatha).

This 'middle path' in consciousness of the nibbana element seems to be root of debate amongst academics- not so among meditators. With meditative experiences sometimes concepts/words fail.

This ceasing is pleasant as much as when going from constant repititive noise (dhammas) to silent place (nibbana).

Some stream entrants can access this again and again in what is called 'phalasamawatha' (fruition absorption) and soon after stream entry there is a tendency to 'retreat' into nibbana again and again.

Arahanth and anagamins can access it in nirodhasamapatti if they have access to the arupa jhana. This can last as long as 7 days- but as long as they have a body they need to come back to it within this time.

The Buddha may have been able to access nibbana and not come back when he chose (Which is what he did).

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Re: Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby Kenshou » Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:44 pm

Rowyourboat-

If the experience of nibbana is the momentary cessation of all sensory phenomena, what they term "fruition", what is the difference between that and nirodha-samapatti?

Additionally, what is the difference between the "fruition" of the sotapanna vs sakadagami vs anagami vs arahant? My understanding of this scheme is that the stream entrant experiences a cessation/fruition, which breaks the first 3 fetters upon experiencing it, and so on for each of the stages of enlightenment. Clearly there must be a difference if one can attain a fruition again and again and yet not progress from one stage to the other upon having it.

What makes one experience of cessation cut off certain fetters while another experience of the same thing cut off other fetters? All consciousness zwoops on and off and then all of a sudden you no longer have any sense-craving or ill-will? I'm suspicious that such a thing can be done through anything but gradual practice. Or is it that you do need the gradual practice but the fruition is the "crescendo" which finally breaks the fetter? But then... why is that even necessary?
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Re: Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:59 pm

Kenshou wrote:I dunno, this model of the path is rather awkward to me. I believe you're quite in line by Theravada standards but for multiple reasons I can't articulate this seems odd.

Well, yes, the details of the progress of insight is described in great detail in the Visuddhimagga, and by various modern teachers. Whether or not it "seems odd" doesn't seem relevant to me. The whole idea of the Dhamma "seems odd" at the start, doesn't it?

If the Visuddhimagga and the writings of modern teachers is based on true experience it is worth paying attention to. If not...

I've tried to indicate some of the Sutta passages that are reasonably consistent with the commentarial version. Can you point to any Suttas that contradict these?

I would take the difference between cessation of perception and feeling and nibbana is that the former is still a subtly-conditioned state.

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Re: Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby Kenshou » Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:16 pm

Apologies, not trying be hostile or insulting to anyone, really. But I am curious.

I've tried to indicate some of the Sutta passages that are reasonably consistent with the commentarial version. Can you point to any Suttas that contradict these?


Where? I'm not so sure exactly how much information on the details of practice can be drawn from the short passages you've posted in this thread so far. Maybe you mean in general outside of the scope of this thread?

I think the fact is that we're drawing different conclusions from the same sources, so it's not so easy as to just find a refuting sutta. Completely different views on the same material. Tricky.

I would take the difference between cessation of perception and feeling and nibbana is that the former is still a subtly-conditioned state.


Maybe. But, from an experiential standpoint?

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Re: Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Aug 14, 2010 12:05 am

Hi Kenshou,

I'm not sure exactly which issue you are addressing, so I'll assume it's the issue that nibbana is experienced, then "normal stuff" is resumed. As I quoted:
And what is the Unbinding property with fuel remaining? There is the case where a monk is an arahant whose fermentations have ended, who has reached fulfillment, finished the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, ended the fetter of becoming, and is released through right gnosis. His five sense faculties still remain and, owing to their being intact, he is cognizant of the agreeable & the disagreeable, and is sensitive to pleasure & pain. His ending of passion, aversion, & delusion is termed the Unbinding property with fuel remaining.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... ml#iti-044

So the red part says that nibbana has been attained. The orange that there are still conditioned experiences arising. And other passages talk about some sort of cessation experience, where there is no conditioned experiences. I'm not sure how you can interpret this combination as other than an "experience of nibbana", followed by "normal stuff".

And, of course, this matches reports from ancient and modern commentaries.

Mike

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Re: Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby Kenshou » Sat Aug 14, 2010 12:48 am

mikenz66 wrote:
I'm not sure exactly which issue you are addressing, so I'll assume it's the issue that nibbana is experienced, then "normal stuff" is resumed.


Actually not quite. My argument is that there is no particular "experience of nibbana" necessarily to the exclusion of normal sense experience, but simply a change in the way experience is related to.

So, I would agree that the red section of your quote from the Itivuttaka says that nibbana has been reached, through whatever means the fermentations are ended. But, I think that the orange section mentions how the individual's sense faculties remain in order to compare and contrast sa-upādi-sesa-nibbāna against an-upādi-sesa-nibbāna, nibbana with and without fuel remaining. But I would disagree that there is the necessary implication in this passage that the senses ceased at some previous point.

And other passages talk about some sort of cessation experience, where there is no conditioned experiences.


I'm guessing you mean like the passages quoted earlier in the thread, right? Unfortunately there is no context given in the short Nibbana suttas you linked to. However you also linked to the Bahiya sutta in which that same passage about nibbana is given in a little more context. After Bahiya's arahantship and subsequent death, someone asks of the Buddha about Bahiya, "What is his destination? What is his future state?" And then the Buddha replies in reference to that, "Where water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing...", the same old pesky passage in question. It appears to me that this is referring to parinibbāna/an-upādi-sesa-nibbāna, the result of the final cessation of the aggregates, the "destination" of Bahiya and any other arahant.

I would disagree that this can be applied some pre-death experience of nibbana. Besides of course the nirodha-samapatti.

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Re: Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby Ben » Sat Aug 14, 2010 1:07 am

Hi mike

Is there an embargo or disinterest in examining Abhidhamma material? The reason I ask is that I think, if memory serves me well, Abhi literature may have addressed this point of discussion.
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Re: Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Aug 14, 2010 1:30 am

Hi Kenshou, how about these:

"But how, lord, could a monk have an attainment of concentration such that he would neither be percipient of earth with regard to earth... nor of the next world with regard to the next world, and yet he would still be percipient?"

"There is the case, Ananda, where the monk would be percipient in this way: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' It's in this way that a monk could have an attainment of concentration such that he would neither be percipient of earth with regard to earth, nor of water with regard to water, nor of fire... wind... the dimension of the infinitude of space... the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness... the dimension of nothingness... the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception... this world... nor of the next world with regard to the next world, and yet he would still be percipient."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


I have heard that on one occasion, when the Blessed One was newly Self-awakened, he was staying at Uruvela on the bank of the Nerañjara River, at the foot of the Goatherd's Banyan Tree. Then, while he was alone and in seclusion, this line of thinking arose in his awareness: "This Dhamma that I have attained is deep, hard to see, hard to realize, peaceful, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise. But this generation delights in attachment, is excited by attachment, enjoys attachment. For a generation delighting in attachment, excited by attachment, enjoying attachment, this/that conditionality and dependent co-arising are hard to see. This state, too, is hard to see: the resolution of all fabrications, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding. And if I were to teach the Dhamma and if others would not understand me, that would be tiresome for me, troublesome for me."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


These references come from comments by Ven Nananda in his SN collection, which is here: http://seeingthroughthenet.net/eng/gen. ... =other&p=1 and here:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el183.html

In particular, the comments at the end of:
SN1.2 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... #passage-2
When delight and existence [8] are exhausted
When perception and conciousness[9] are both destroyed
When feelings cease and are thus appeased [10] - thus, O friend,
Do I know, for them that live
Deliverance, freedom, detatchment.

[Note 8] Delight (nandi) is said to be the root of existence (bhava), and hence the fading away of the former results in the cessation of the latter. It amounts to a realization, here and now, of the fact that one has crossed over all forms of existence (bhavass paragu - Dhp v. 348). This experience that hte consciousness is not established anywhere - neither here (neva idha), nor beyond (na huam), no in between (na ubhayamantara - Ud. 81) - provides for the arahant certitude often expressed in the words: 'Extinct is birth, lived is the holy life, done is the task, and there is nothing beyond this for (a designation of) the conditions of this existence.'

[Note 9] This refers to the experience of the cessation of consciousness (vinnananirodha DI.213) with the removal of its support name and form. The experience is described in the Suttas as a very unusual kind of 'jhana' or 'samadhi', since it does not partake of any perceptual data. (A.IV.427, V.7,8,318,319,324f,353ff).

[Note 10] The cessation of appeasement of feelings is yet another aspect of this experience. Thereby the arahant realizes the extinction of all suffering, mental as well as physical, which in effects is the bliss of nibbana as the deliverance from all samsaric suffering. What is most significant about this paradoxical jhana is that, despite the extinction of all that normally constitutes our waking experience, the arahant is still said to be mindful and aware. It is sometimes referred to as 'the sphere' (ayatana) in which the six sense spheres have totally ceased (See MIII.218, S.IV.98)

Mike
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Re: Experience (of?) Nibbana

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Aug 14, 2010 1:36 am

Hi, Ben,
Ben wrote:Is there an embargo or disinterest in examining Abhidhamma material? The reason I ask is that I think, if memory serves me well, Abhi literature may have addressed this point of discussion.

Sure, but that would be too easy... You just need to look up CMA to see nibbana as the object the mind takes at the culmination of each path.

Peter Harvey spends a couple of chapters going through the Sutttas to argue that the Suttas are quite compatible with the Abhidhamma views, with the exception of nibbana being an object of conciousness. He argues, roughly, that the Suttas seem more compatible with the idea that nibbana is the absence of an object.

Part of my "agenda" here is looking at which Abhidhamma/Commentary passages are easy to see from the Suttas, and which are not. Helpful for discussing things with some people...

Mike


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