Nibbāna

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Nibbāna

Postby cooran » Wed May 13, 2009 8:06 pm

Hello all,

It is said that our language is unable to describe Nibbāna using the concepts we are familiar with. My understanding always comes up against a brick wall when thinking about Nibbāna. Is it extinction, is it immortality? Is it immortality of an everchanging stream of consciousness?

Is anyone, using the scriptures which have been preserved for us, able to give a relatively coherent explanation for the unenlightened?

metta
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Re: Nibbāna

Postby clw_uk » Wed May 13, 2009 8:25 pm

Isnt this just going to be a repeat of the parinibbana discussion?
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Re: Nibbāna

Postby cooran » Wed May 13, 2009 8:32 pm

No
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Re: Nibbāna

Postby kc2dpt » Wed May 13, 2009 8:39 pm

Chris wrote:Is it extinction, is it immortality?

Extinction of what? Immortality of what? I think we have to be careful to not hide a self in questions like these.

Chris wrote:Is anyone, using the scriptures which have been preserved for us, able to give a relatively coherent explanation for the unenlightened?

"The end of suffering" has always been good enough for me. What little I know of suffering seems like a good thing to end. I think, and this is the key for me, that as my understanding of the full breadth and depth of suffering expands so does my understanding of the end of suffering. In other words, I think in order for one to fully understand cessation one must first fully understand what has arisen.

I do wonder why the word "nibbana" has been rarified. Why not nirodha? Or any of the other words in the third noble truth? Why don't we capitalize "dispassion" or "cessation" like we do "Unbinding"? I wonder if we haven't created for ourselves a red herring by focusing on this one word "nibbana".

"The goal of Buddhism is Nibbana."
"Oooh, Nibbana! What is that? Is it heaven?"

"The goal of Buddhism is the remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of the craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming."
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Re: Nibbāna

Postby Dhammanando » Wed May 13, 2009 10:49 pm

Hi Peter,

Peter wrote:I do wonder why the word "nibbana" has been rarified. Why not nirodha? Or any of the other words in the third noble truth? Why don't we capitalize "dispassion" or "cessation" like we do "Unbinding"?


The different terms are understood by abhidhammikas to be all related to Nibbāna, but focussing upon different aspects of it. And so Nibbāna is the unconditioned dhamma itself, while nirodha is (usually) the cognizing of Nibbāna at the moment of path consciousness. I guess there's no need to capitalize an experience that lasts only a moment.
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Re: Nibbāna

Postby kc2dpt » Thu May 14, 2009 3:50 am

Dhammanando wrote:Nibbāna is the unconditioned dhamma itself, while nirodha is (usually) the cognizing of Nibbāna at the moment of path consciousness.

I guess I don't understand why it is understood this way. When I look at a quote like this...

"This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Nibbana." — AN 3.32

...to me "nibbana" looks like just one word in a string of words and that usually means they are all to be taken as either synonyms or at least referring to the same thing. But it seems you are saying that is not the case? I admit my knowledge of abhidhamma is minimal.
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Re: Nibbāna

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu May 14, 2009 4:16 am

Hi Chris,

The typical answer from the Suttas is:

'Reappears' doesn't apply.
'Does not reappear' doesn't apply.
'Both does & does not reappear' doesn't apply.
'Neither reappears nor does not reappear' doesn't apply." (MN 72 and at other places too)

But I suppose that would not be satisfactory to the difficult and important questions you raise in the OP.

For those of us who don't like the sound of a permanent end and complete non-existence, the second line can be comforting.

Perhaps it is our craving for existence and want of a self that makes us ask these things and I mean that for me too. :tongue: I imagine these questions come up for most of us, from time to time.
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Re: Nibbāna

Postby Jechbi » Thu May 14, 2009 5:26 am

Hi Chris,

Chris wrote:It is said that our language is unable to describe Nibbāna using the concepts we are familiar with. ... Is anyone, using the scriptures which have been preserved for us, able to give a relatively coherent explanation for the unenlightened?

I doubt it.

From here, I like this:
Consciousness without feature,
without end,
luminous all around:
Here water, earth, fire, & wind
have no footing.
Here long & short
coarse & fine
fair & foul
name & form
are all brought to an end.
With the cessation of [the activity of] consciousness
each is here brought to an end.'"

But I'm sure you've seen that several dozen times, if not more.

I'm with Peter on this one. According to the scriptures that have been preserved for us, it's the cessation of dukkha. Wow. That alone is pretty powerful. Beyond that, I'm not sure a whole lot of explanation is useful. It can't be that complicated.

Metta
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Re: Nibbāna

Postby Dhammanando » Thu May 14, 2009 6:07 am

Ven. Mahākaccāna on the two Nibbāna-dhātus:

    Herein, living beings have two diseases: ignorance and craving-for-existence. Two medicines have been prescribed by the Blessed One for the curing of these two diseases: samatha and vipassanā. Using these two medicines one realizes two cures: deliverance-of-the-heart due to the fading of attachment and deliverance-by-wisdom due to the fading of ignorance.

    Herein, samatha is the medicine for the disease of craving, whose cure is deliverance-of-the-heart due to the fading of attachment. Vipassanā is the medicine for the disease of ignorance, whose cure is the deliverance-by-wisdom due to the fading of ignorance.

    For the Blessed One has said:

    “Two dhammas must be fully known: nāma and rūpa.”
    “Two dhammas must be abandoned: ignorance and craving-for-existence.”
    “Two dhammas must be cultivated: samatha and vipassanā.”
    “Two dhammas must be realized: knowledge and deliverance.”
    (Dasuttara Sutta, DN. 34)

    Herein, one cultivating samatha understands rūpa; understanding rūpa he abandons craving; abandoning craving he realizes deliverance-of-the-heart due to the fading of attachment. One cultivating vipassanā understands nāma; understanding nāma he abandons ignorance; abandoning ignorance he realizes deliverance-by-wisdom due to the fading of ignorance.

    When a bhikkhu has fully known two dhammas: nāma and rūpa, then likewise has he abandoned two dhammas: ignorance and craving-for-existence. Two dhammas have been cultivated by him: samatha and vipassanā, and two dhammas have been realized: knowledge and deliverance.

    At this point a bhikkhu becomes one who has completed his task. This is the extinction-element with stuff remaining (sa-upādisesā nibbānadhātu).

    Upon the termination of his life-span and surcease of his life-faculty, this dukkha ceases and no further dukkha arises. Herein, the cessation, the subsiding, of these aggregates, elements and sense-bases, and the absence of rebirth-linking and absence of manifestation of any further aggregates, elements and sense-bases – this is the extinction-element with no stuff remaining (anupādisesā nibbānadhātu).
    (Peṭakopadesa 123-4)
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

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Re: Nibbāna

Postby Dhammanando » Thu May 14, 2009 6:12 am

Hi Peter,

Peter wrote:When I look at a quote like this...

"This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Nibbana." — AN 3.32

...to me "nibbana" looks like just one word in a string of words and that usually means they are all to be taken as either synonyms or at least referring to the same thing.


Yes, that's why I inserted the qualifier "usually". Nirodha actually gets glossed in various ways by the commentators and there are some contexts where it is taken as identical to nibbana.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
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    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
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Re: Nibbāna

Postby kc2dpt » Thu May 14, 2009 2:44 pm

there are some contexts where [nirodha] is taken as identical to nibbana.

As opposed to nibbana being taken as identical to nirodha?

What I don't understand is why NIbbana is taken to mean something more than simply "end of suffering". Is there a particular scripture which highlights this distinction?

In other words, if I were to assert that nibbana is nothing more than another way of saying "end of suffering", what scripture could we look at which would clearly show my assertion to be wrong (or at least highly suspect)?

Thanks for the help. :)
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Re: Nibbāna

Postby piotr » Thu May 14, 2009 3:29 pm

Hi, :smile:

Chris wrote:It is said that our language is unable to describe Nibbāna using the concepts we are familiar with. My understanding always comes up against a brick wall when thinking about Nibbāna.


That's not strange because expressions and speech are results of perception:

    "And what is the result of perception? Perception has expression as its result, I tell you. However a person perceives something, that is how he expresses it: 'I have this sort of perception.' This is called the result of perception." — Nibbedhika-sutta (A. 6:63)

But final unbinding in the here and now is a cessation of perception and feeling:

    "'Unbinding in the here and now, unbinding in the here and now' it is said. To what extent is unbinding in the here and now described by the Blessed One?"

    "Now there is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters & remains in the first jhāna: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He remains touching with his body in whatever way there is an opening there, and he knows it through discernment. It is to this extent that unbinding in the here and now is described by the Blessed One, though with a sequel."

    "Furthermore, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhāna... the third jhāna... the fourth jhāna... 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. He remains touching with his body in whatever way there is an opening there, and he knows it through discernment. It is to this extent that unbinding in the here and now is described by the Blessed One, though with a sequel."

    "Furthermore, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, he enters & remains in the cessation of perception & feeling. And as he sees with discernment, the mental fermentations go to their total end. And he knows it through discernment. It is to this extent that unbinding in the here and now without a sequel is described by the Blessed One." — Diṭṭhadhammanibbāna-sutta (A. 9:47)

So when perception is ceased there is no cause by which expressions, speech, or words might arise afterwards to describe such event.
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Re: Nibbāna

Postby Dhammanando » Sat May 16, 2009 2:06 am

Hi Peter,

Peter wrote:What I don't understand is why NIbbana is taken to mean something more than simply "end of suffering".


The short answer is that some suttas do seem to suggest that, while others suggest that nibbana is something more than that. Since different suttas might be read as supporting different conceptions of nibbana, a major part of the interpretive task is to determine which utterances should be taken as requiring further elaboration or qualification and which should be treated as definitive. Disagreement on this question appears to have been a major cause of the controversies regarding nibbana among the Indian Buddhist schools.

I have to go out now, but I have more to write later in reply to your question. In the meantime you might find the attached article of interest. It's an excerpt from Noa Ronkin's recent book, Early Buddhist Metaphysics.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

nibbana&individuation.pdf
(263.09 KiB) Downloaded 53 times
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Nibbāna

Postby Ben » Sat May 16, 2009 2:33 am

Thanks Ajahn for that article.
Metta

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Re: Nibbāna

Postby kc2dpt » Sat May 16, 2009 8:31 pm

Dhammanando wrote:Disagreement on this question appears to have been a major cause of the controversies regarding nibbana among the Indian Buddhist schools.

OK, well at least I know it's not an easy issue. :thinking:

In the meantime you might find the attached article of interest.

I'll take a look. Thanks for the help. :)
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