Nibbana, Paranibbana and the Fruits of Practice

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Nibbana, Paranibbana and the Fruits of Practice

Postby Lazy_eye » Tue Apr 15, 2014 2:58 pm

All:

This is an offshoot of the previous discussion here. I thought it might be better to start a new thread, in order to keep the other one closer to the OP.

In the previous discussion, some of us were arguing that the goal of cessation in Theravada has rebirth and the traditional Buddhist as a premise. Take that premise away, and we run into a serious doctrinal obstacle: cessation as a goal no longer makes sense, because everyone will reach that goal at the time of death anyway, regardless of whether they followed the Buddhist path (with all its austerities) or not. Buddhism is also deprived of an argument against suicide, since in effect it becomes possible to parinibbana by more expedient means. "Go directly to paranibbana, do not pass nibbana-with-remainder".

I was thinking about the discussion last night, and it occurred to me that there is another way to approach this issue. We can ask the following question: "suppose it were possible to achieve instant paranibbana, without any practice at all. Would something then be lost?"

So I wanted to put this question before the group. It seems to me that indeed there are some things that would be lost, although this partly depends on how we interpret aspects of Buddhist practice.

1. The knowledge (gnosis) of Unbinding would be lost. One might technically have achieved a state equivalent to Unbinding, but one would be no wiser for it. Indeed, someone who ends his or her life may spend their final moments of consciousness in a state of intense affliction and confusion.

2. The actual experience of release, which the suttas present as somethingr remarkable and different from any sort of mundane experience.

Prior to these, there are also rewards along the path that are worth seeking in and of themselves, e.g.

3. The jhana states. Even an ordinary lay practitioner has the potential to reach first jhana. They can go on retreat or practice assiduously with the help of manuals like Shaila Catherine's.

4. Calm arising from anapanasati practice.

5. Feelings of lovingkindness arising from metta practice.

6. Insight and control over one's thought processes arising from noting practice.

What else could be added to this list?

My overall point is that it may be a mistake to construe the path simply in terms of an end-goal. The fact that the Buddha incorporated jhana into the scheme at all indicates that the dhamma is to be construed as a path rather than simply as a means to achieve a result.

It's true that Theravada is goal-oriented compared to, say, Zen (where the practice and goal are seen as one and the same thing). Even so, from the point of view of the beginning or intermediate practitioner, there are incentives prior to nibbana (let alone parinibbana), while the advanced practitioner has gnosis in sight.

This does not negate the centrality of rebirth to the dhamma, but it does avoid a potential caricature of Buddhism as a "religion for people who would prefer to be dead but don't believe suicide works".

Thoughts?
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Re: Nibbana, Paranibbana and the Fruits of Practice

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Tue Apr 15, 2014 3:29 pm

I have never, even for one instant, believed or construed 'the path simply in terms of an end-goal', in precisely the same way that I have never believed you can have a garden without some back-breaking soil-shifting first.

The concept of reaching Nibbana without the prior work, is frankly inconceivable....Ergo, attaining Parinibbana, similarly so.

And another way, in which Gardening and walking the Path are the same:

No 'Gardener' ever drew back looking at all their hard work, beheld their immaculate garden, and arms crossed, declared, "My work here is done!"

Gardening - like the Path - is always a work-in-progress, even when one believes one has reached the end of Effort.




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Re: Nibbana, Paranibbana and the Fruits of Practice

Postby fivebells » Tue Apr 15, 2014 3:43 pm

My experience has been that there are many, many little Third-Noble-Truth events along the way, which make for a very worthwhile practice regardless of whether I attain the final goal.
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Re: Nibbana, Paranibbana and the Fruits of Practice

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Tue Apr 15, 2014 4:31 pm

fivebells wrote:My experience has been that there are many, many little Third-Noble-Truth events along the way, which make for a very worthwhile practice regardless of whether I attain the final goal.


*Like* - !! :goodpost:
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Re: Nibbana, Paranibbana and the Fruits of Practice

Postby Alex123 » Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:40 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:In the previous discussion, some of us were arguing that the goal of cessation in Theravada has rebirth and the traditional Buddhist as a premise. Take that premise away, and we run into a serious doctrinal obstacle: cessation as a goal no longer makes sense, because everyone will reach that goal at the time of death anyway, regardless of whether they followed the Buddhist path (with all its austerities) or not.


Correct.


We can ask the following question: "suppose it were possible to achieve instant paranibbana, without any practice at all. Would something then be lost?"


Yes, all dukkha and useless effort.

I don't believe that Awakening is anything special. In fact, it could be the most mundane thing: "chop wood, carry water" and don't create mental sufferings by trying to make situation any different from what is.

    ""Then, Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."" Ud1.10
”Even the water melting from the snow-capped peaks finds its way to the ocean."
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Re: Nibbana, Paranibbana and the Fruits of Practice

Postby Nikaya35 » Tue Apr 15, 2014 7:12 pm

The practice of buddhism like any religion is a gamble. Lay buddhists like myself are in the gamble but in much less extent than monastics. Being a lay buddhist is much simplistic and requires much less sacrifice than being a monk. The refuge of the 3 jewels ( a matter of faith) , following the 5 basic precepts , making merit , studying the sutras are enough for practicing lay buddhism. There isn't much sacrifice in being a lay buddhist , we can live a fairly normal or ordinary lives. The chance of enlightenment for a lay buddhist is slim. Even most monks will not reach the goal. We can only expect to create the conditions in future lives for advancing in the path. If death is the end , lay buddhists don't lose much because again most of us are not making great sacrifices. Monks in another hand are making a HUGE gamble. They are making a huge sacrifice with their entire lives for the sake of the dharma and the goal. Becoming a monk would be silly and extreme if death is the end. Like I said many times before, I'm aware that karma and rebirth are part of the Buddha teachings according to the sutras. I'm agnostic about the issue because I can't remember past lives , I can't see the workings of karma , I can't see beings getting reborn according to their karma. I take this by faith . I know there is a chance that death is the end or oblivion for all living beings. We can't know for sure.
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Re: Nibbana, Paranibbana and the Fruits of Practice

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Tue Apr 15, 2014 7:39 pm

maitreya31 wrote:The practice of buddhism like any religion is a gamble. Lay buddhists like myself are in the gamble but in much less extent than monastics. Being a lay buddhist is much simplistic and requires much less sacrifice than being a monk.


I disagree - and HH the DL would also disagree. He has said as much....

It takes far more self-discipline to be Mindful every day and to practise diligently, with all the worldly materialistic things which surround us.
A monk needs initial discipline, but after a while, the monastic life becomes the norm, and detachment is a daily routine.
While certainly the monastic life is austere, and deprived by normal social stanbdards, it is a choice.
it takes dedication, but a monk is surrounded by like-minded individuals, all working towards the same end.

A layperson not only commits to observing the first 5/8 precepts, but needs tot strive to incorporate the 8Fold path as daily practice, all the while coping with the tempting distractions he - or she - has to contend with.
The temptation to stray from discipline never ceases;
we are beset by so many things which, in a moment of Mind-less carelessness, can sway us and divert our attention in a nano-second.

No; the life of the lay Buddhist is a lot more difficult; which is precisely why it may well be so much more difficult to achieve enlightenment....
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....
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Re: Nibbana, Paranibbana and the Fruits of Practice

Postby Nikaya35 » Tue Apr 15, 2014 7:56 pm

TheNoBSBuddhist wrote:
maitreya31 wrote:The practice of buddhism like any religion is a gamble. Lay buddhists like myself are in the gamble but in much less extent than monastics. Being a lay buddhist is much simplistic and requires much less sacrifice than being a monk.


I disagree - and HH the DL would also disagree. He has said as much....

It takes far more self-discipline to be Mindful every day and to practise diligently, with all the worldly materialistic things which surround us.
A monk needs initial discipline, but after a while, the monastic life becomes the norm, and detachment is a daily routine.
While certainly the monastic life is austere, and deprived by normal social stanbdards, it is a choice.
it takes dedication, but a monk is surrounded by like-minded individuals, all working towards the same end.

A layperson not only commits to observing the first 5/8 precepts, but needs tot strive to incorporate the 8Fold path as daily practice, all the while coping with the tempting distractions he - or she - has to contend with.
The temptation to stray from discipline never ceases;
we are beset by so many things which, in a moment of Mind-less carelessness, can sway us and divert our attention in a nano-second.

No; the life of the lay Buddhist is a lot more difficult; which is precisely why it may well be so much more difficult to achieve enlightenment....

Ell
Dl = Dalai Lama ? I don't care what the Dalai Lama says. We aren't making huge sacrifices really. I work , pay my bills, live with my friends and family. I follow the precepts , make merit and study the sutras. In a sense being a lay buddhist is harder because we can't practice the dharma 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The progress of the path is much slower for most of us. Monks in another hand are making a huge sacrifice . They aren't living their normal lives.
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Re: Nibbana, Paranibbana and the Fruits of Practice

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Tue Apr 15, 2014 8:56 pm

maitreya31 wrote:....
Dl = Dalai Lama ? I don't care what the Dalai Lama says. We aren't making huge sacrifices really. I work ,
Right Living? All the time?

pay my bills,
creates attachment,
live with my friends and family.

Further attachment
I follow the precepts ,

Diligently, all the time?

In a sense being a lay buddhist is harder because we can't practice the dharma 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Every moment of every day, is an opportunity to practise the 4 Noble truths, the 8Fold path and the 5 precepts. We just don't take the opportunities.

The progress of the path is much slower for most of us.
Hence, more difficult - Right Concentration....?
Monks in another hand are making a huge sacrifice . They aren't living their normal lives.
They live lives by eating, thinking, sleeping and living the Dhamma, because that's what they are trained to do.
It is far easier for them to focus upon their chosen calling, than it is for us.
They have the opportunity to be One with the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, for 100% of the time.

The struggle, is for us.
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....
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Re: Nibbana, Paranibbana and the Fruits of Practice

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Apr 15, 2014 9:05 pm

I don't think you guys are disagreeing, just talking about different things:

NoBS is saying that being a lay person is difficult and harder to make progress in the Dhamma = true.
maitreya31 is saying that it is a bigger gamble, giving up the luxuries and pleasures of lay life for that of a monastic and what if rebirth is not true? = also a true concern
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Re: Nibbana, Paranibbana and the Fruits of Practice

Postby Nikaya35 » Tue Apr 15, 2014 9:13 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:I don't think you guys are disagreeing, just talking about different things:

NoBS is saying that being a lay person is difficult and harder to make progress in the Dhamma = true.
maitreya31 is saying that it is a bigger gamble, giving up the luxuries and pleasures of lay life for that of a monastic and what if rebirth is not true? = also a true concern

Thank you . Your post is spot on . English isn't my first language. Maybe my posts arent expressing my ideas very clearly.
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Re: Nibbana, Paranibbana and the Fruits of Practice

Postby Lazy_eye » Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:10 am

Another possible angle to explore: why did the Buddha refer to "craving for non-existence" (vibhava-taṇhā) as something to let go of?

It seems puzzling at first glance, since non-existence (as in paranibbana) is actually the end-point on the Buddhist path, the final cessation. Why not desire it?

The seeming paradox, though, could be explained if the goal of the path is the knowledge and experience of Unbinding, the actual experience of release, the state (inconceivable in mundane terms) known as nibbana. Parinibbana would follow naturally in due course -- "downstream", as Daverupa put it elsewhere. But the arahant or buddha would neither crave it nor resist it.

By contrast, a suicidal person may be afflicted by craving for non-existence, or (paradoxically) by an intense craving for existence.
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Re: Nibbana, Paranibbana and the Fruits of Practice

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:47 am

Lazy_eye wrote:Another possible angle to explore: why did the Buddha refer to "craving for non-existence" (vibhava-taṇhā) as something to let go of?


Non-existence "doesn't apply" as the Buddha said in at least a few places.

I know, though, the descriptions of paranibbana sound an awful lot like non-existence, at least in every way we think of non-existence in terms of our conventional self.
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Re: Nibbana, Paranibbana and the Fruits of Practice

Postby pegembara » Wed Apr 16, 2014 4:45 am

Lazy_eye wrote:Another possible angle to explore: why did the Buddha refer to "craving for non-existence" (vibhava-taṇhā) as something to let go of?

It seems puzzling at first glance, since non-existence (as in paranibbana) is actually the end-point on the Buddhist path, the final cessation. Why not desire it?

The seeming paradox, though, could be explained if the goal of the path is the knowledge and experience of Unbinding, the actual experience of release, the state (inconceivable in mundane terms) known as nibbana. Parinibbana would follow naturally in due course -- "downstream", as Daverupa put it elsewhere. But the arahant or buddha would neither crave it nor resist it.

By contrast, a suicidal person may be afflicted by craving for non-existence, or (paradoxically) by an intense craving for existence.


Existence and non existence polarity (or self/no self) are two sides of the same coin. Denying existence merely reaffirms it and is not the solution to the problem, hence the teaching of dependent origination. The realisation of the true state of affairs is the endpoint, not the desire for non existence(or existence).

"'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

Now from the remainderless fading & cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications......Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering."

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