Nibbana-element with no residue

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Nibbana-element with no residue

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:16 am

Greetings,

I was reading through John Ireland's translation of the Itivuttaka when I came across the following interesting sutta.

Chapter 2 (Section of the Twos) - Sutta 17
(From pages 139-140 of John Ireland's translation of the Udana and the Itivuttaka, published by BPS)

Nibbanadhatu Sutta

This was said by the Lord...

"Bhikkhus, there are these two Nibbana-elements. What are the two? The Nibbana-element with residue left and the Nibbana-element with no residue left.

"What, bhikkhus, is the Nibbana-element with residue left? Here a bhikkhu is an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed, the holy life fulfilled, who has done what had to be done, laid down the burden, attained the goal, destroyed the fetters of being, completely released through final knowledge. However, his five sense faculties remain unimpaired, by which he still experiences what is agreeable and disagreeable and feels pleasure and plain. It is the extinction of attachment, hate and delusion in him that is called the Nibbana-element with residue left.

"Now what, bhikkhus, is the Nibbana-element with no residue left? Here a bhikkhu is an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed, the holy life fulfilled, who has done what had to be done, laid down the burden, attained the goal, destroyed the fetters of being, completely released through final knowledge. For him, here in this very life, all this is experience, not being delighted in, will be extinguished. That, bhikkhus, is called the Nibbana-element with no residue left.

"These bhikkhus, are the two Nibbana-elements."

Verse:
These two Nibbana-elements were made known
By the Seeing One, stable, and unattached:
One is the element seen here and now
With residue, but with the cord of being destroyed;
The other, having no residue for the future,
Is that wherein all modes of being utterly cease.

Having understood the unconditioned state,
Released in mind with the cord of being destroyed,
They have attained to the Dhamma-essence.
Delighting in the destruction (of craving),
Those stable ones have abandoned all being.


A couple of questions...

1. Traditionally I've heard that "Nibbana without residue" or "Nibbana without remainder" as referring to parinibbana, but that does not seem to be the case in this sutta as it talks about the "Nibbana-element with no residue left" being experienced "here in this very life". Is this a contradiction? Am I missing some subtle distinction here?

2. In the instances where the translation reads as "being", is this referring to "bhava", also translated elsewhere as "becoming"?

Any other comments or questions on the sutta welcome as always.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Nibbana-element with no residue

Postby Jechbi » Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:28 am

Hello Retro,

There's another translation here that you might already have seen. It does not contain the phrase "in this very life." I wonder if the phrase "in this very life" is meant to convey some wording for which there is no direct English translation.

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Re: Nibbana-element with no residue

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:29 am

Hi Retro,

retrofuturist wrote:1. Traditionally I've heard that "Nibbana without residue" or "Nibbana without remainder" as referring to parinibbana, but that does not seem to be the case in this sutta as it talks about the "Nibbana-element with no residue left" being experienced "here in this very life". Is this a contradiction?


No, the sutta doesn’t contradict the usual identification of “nibbāna without residue” with parinibbāna.

The Pali says idh’eva which Ireland translates as “in this very life”. The literal meaning would be “just here”. His translation is not wrong, but it is susceptible to being misread. In sutta usage when “here” carries the sense of “this life”, it nearly always implies this life as opposed to any future life. It doesn’t mean “during this life” (for which the standard phrase is diṭṭhe’va dhamme — “in the here-and-now”; lit. “in the presently seen thing”).

2. In the instances where the translation reads as "being", is this referring to "bhava", also translated elsewhere as "becoming"?


I’m not sure which sentence in the sutta you are referring to. If it’s the same one I’ve already covered, then it’s possible that a translator might use the word “being” if he were translating according to the commentarial gloss on idh’eva, which is imasmiṃyeva attabhāve — “in this very existence”, “in this very state of being.”

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
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Re: Nibbana-element with no residue

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:52 am

Greetings venerable Dhammanando,

Thank you for the explanation... that helps clarify things.

Greetings Jechbi ~ thank you for providing the alternative sutta quotation... it actually answers in the affirmative, my 2nd question about whether "being" could have been alternatively represented as "becoming".

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Nibbana-element with no residue

Postby Element » Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:37 am

Bhikkhu Buddhadasa's view:
To be incapable of hotness is to be a Noble One, according to the particular level or state: Stream-Enterer (sotapanna), Once-Returner (sakadagami), Non-Returner (anagami), or Worthy One(arahant). Ultimately, the mind can't get hot at all. It gets hot less and less until it's unheatable and nowhere hot. The Noble One's feelings are thoroughly cooled. That's the meaning of the highest level of "Arahant," the level of anupadisesa-nibbana-dhatu (the nibbana element with no fuel and heat remaining): thoroughly cool.

The second of two distinctions in how nibbana is experienced. The first is sa-upadisesa-nibbana-dhatu (the nibbana element with fuel remaining). "Fuel" refers to the seeds of positive and negative which are the bases of desire, attachment, and suffering. There is no difference in nibbana itself.


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Thus nirodhadhatu is the final element it is the element of extinguishing. It is the utter extinguishing of 'I' and 'mine'. If there is an absolute and final extinction (anupadisesanibbanadhatu) then one becomes an arahant. If the extinction is incomplete (sa-upadisesanibbinadhatu) then one becomes one of the lesser Noble Ones, for there is still a remnant of ego, it is not the true ultimate emptiness of paramamsunnam.

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When none of the defilements remain in the least way, but still the mind discriminates between positive and negative, this is the first aspect or stage of Nibbana. Then when the defilements of greed hatred & delusion have been cooled completely and the mind has no feeling or sense of positive & negative, that is the second aspect or stage of Nibbana. The first stage is called sa-upadisesa nibbana, with a little fuel remaining, meaning the 'positive' & the 'negative'. But when there is no defilement and no 'positive' & 'negative', this is called anupadisesa nibbana, nibbana without any of the fuel, without any of that 'positive' & 'negative'.

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Re: Nibbana-element with no residue

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:55 pm

Hi Element,

Element wrote:Bhikkhu Buddhadasa's view:

[...]

Thus nirodhadhatu is the final element it is the element of extinguishing. It is the utter extinguishing of 'I' and 'mine'. If there is an absolute and final extinction (anupadisesanibbanadhatu) then one becomes an arahant. If the extinction is incomplete (sa-upadisesanibbinadhatu) then one becomes one of the lesser Noble Ones, for there is still a remnant of ego, it is not the true ultimate emptiness of paramamsunnam.


But this plainly contradicts the sutta, which states that both dhātus pertain to arahants,

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...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.
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Re: Nibbana-element with no residue

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Jan 07, 2009 5:50 pm

Hi Retro,

I forgot to mention it earlier, but the occurrence of "all that is felt... etc." in the conclusion to the Dhatuvibhanga Sutta (MN. 140) places the identification of anupadisesa-nibbana-dhatu with parinibbana beyond doubt:

    "If he feels a pleasant feeling, he understands: ‘It is impermanent; there is no holding to it; there is no delight in it.’ If he feels a painful feeling, he understands: ‘It is impermanent; there is no holding to it; there is no delight in it.’ If he feels a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he understands: ‘It is impermanent; there is no holding to it; there is no delight in it.’

    “If he feels a pleasant feeling, he feels it detached; if he feels a painful feeling, he feels it detached; if he feels a neitherpainful-nor-pleasant feeling, he feels it detached. When he feels a feeling terminating with the body, he understands: ‘I feel a feeling terminating with the body.’ When he feels a feeling terminating with life, he understands: ‘I feel a feeling terminating with life.’ He understands: ‘On the dissolution of the body, with the ending of life, all that is felt, not being delighted in, will become cool right here.’

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...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: Nibbana-element with no residue

Postby Element » Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:42 pm

Dhammanando wrote:But this plainly contradicts the sutta, which states that both dhātus pertain to arahants.

Dhammanando

I agree. It does. However, the other two views of Buddhadasa do not.

The distinction Buddhadasa is making, which accords to the sutta, is one Nibbana still experiences what is agreeable and disagreeable and feels pleasure and pain.

Regards,

Element
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Re: Nibbana-element with no residue

Postby Element » Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:01 pm

Dhammanando wrote:I forgot to mention it earlier, but the occurrence of "all that is felt... etc." in the conclusion to the Dhatuvibhanga Sutta (MN. 140) places the identification of anupadisesa-nibbana-dhatu with parinibbana beyond doubt:

Ajahn Dhammanando,

Your reasoning here appears fine. So, returning to the sutta, what is the 'residue' or 'fuel' the Buddha is referring to? It appears to be as follows:
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.

Why would Buddha make a distinction here? Why does Buddha refer to non-dukkha elements as 'fuel'? For example, about unsurpassed emptiness, MN 121 states:
He discerns that 'This mode of perception is empty of the effluent of sensuality... becoming... ignorance. And there is just this non-emptiness: that connected with the six sensory spheres, dependent on this very body with life as its condition.' Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: 'There is this.'


Regards,

Element
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Re: Nibbana before or after death of body?

Postby Will » Thu Jan 08, 2009 4:51 pm

Too technical & deep for me to follow.

Here is a passage from MN 140:

So he does not intend or think ‘to be’ or ‘not to be’ and does not seize anything and does not worry about it and is extinguished. He knows, birth is destroyed, the holy life is lived, what should be done is done, there is nothing more to wish. Feeling pleasant feelings knows, it is impermanent, is not bent to it and knows that he does not delight in it. Feeling unpleasant feelings knows, it is impermanent, is not bent to it and knows that he does not delight in it. Feeling neither unpleasant nor pleasant feelings knows, it is impermanent, is not bent to it and knows that he does not delight in it. Feeling pleasant, unpleasant or neither unpleasant nor pleasant feelings feels them unyoked. Experiencing feelings that end the body he knows, I experience feelings that end the body. Experiencing feelings that end life he knows, I experience feelings that end life. He knows, at the break up of the body, before the end of life that all feelings and enjoyments will be cooled.

Bhikkhu, on account of oil and a shred, the oily flame burns, when the oil and shred ends and no more fuel is fed, it extinguishes. In the same manner experiencing feelings that end the body he knows, I experience feelings that end the body. Experiencing feelings that end life he knows, I experience feelings that end life. He knows, at the break up of the body, before the end of life that all feelings and enjoyments will be cooled. The bhikkhu endowed thus has made the highest wise resolution. This is the highest noble wisdom, that is knowledge for the destruction of all unpleasantness.


Questions: 1) The phrase in bold above seems to say that as the body is dying, but before life is fully gone, Nibbana occurs. Is that correct? 2)If yes; then since Buddha and his Arahat disciples who knew Nibbana lived on for some years after that, how did they prevent life from ending when their body was dying? 3) Does N. with remainder simply mean Nibbana is known before the body dies and N. without remainder occurs after the body dies?
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Re: Nibbana-element with no residue

Postby Element » Thu Jan 08, 2009 8:02 pm

I still find it intriguing that Buddha has referred to non-dukkha elements, namely, the (five rather than six) sense spheres & vedana, as 'fuel' or 'residue'.

I wonder what the Pali is and how it is translated?

The term 'fuel' or 'fire' is usually a metaphor for dukkha elements, such as defilement, craving, etc.

For example, regarding the cessation of becoming, this occurs due to the cessation of craving. The cessation of becoming is unrelated to the sense spheres or vedana per se.

Thus, I find this sutta intriguing given I am not yet satisfied by its relevance.

The Buddha is saying there are two kinds of Nibbana: Nibbana with sense spheres & vedana and Nibbana without.

Maybe the translation "fuel" is inaccurate?
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Re: Nibbana-element with no residue

Postby Element » Fri Jan 09, 2009 11:17 am

Element wrote:I still find it intriguing that Buddha has referred to non-dukkha elements, namely, the (five rather than six) sense spheres & vedana, as 'fuel' or 'residue'.

From SN 12.62
Bhikkhus, just as heat is generated and fire is produced from the conjunction and friction of two fire-sticks, so too, in dependence on a contact to be experienced as pleasant...painful...neither....feeling arises.


"And how, O monks, should the nutriment sense-impression be considered? Suppose, O monks, there is a skinned cow that stands close to a wall, then the creatures living in the wall will nibble at the cow; and if the skinned cow stands near a tree, then the creatures living in the tree will nibble at it; if it stands in the water, the creatures living in the water will nibble at it; if it stands in the open air, the creatures living in the air will nibble at it. Wherever that skinned cow stands, the creatures living there will nibble at it.

"In that manner, I say, O monks, should the nutriment sense-impression be considered. If the nutriment sense-impression is comprehended, the three kinds of feeling are thereby comprehended. And if the three kinds of feeling are comprehended, there is, I say, no further work left to do for the noble disciple.

SN 12.63
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Re: Nibbana-element with no residue

Postby gavesako » Fri Jan 09, 2009 11:54 am

I think there is a confusion regarding the term sa-upādi-sesa which Buddhadasa takes as referring to upādāna. Therefore he interprets it as a state below the arahant level. However, there are passages in the Suttas which indicate otherwise:

The terms saupádisesa and anupádisesa nibbánadhátu, which sometimes give trouble, may be rendered 'extinction-element with/without residue'. Saupádisesa and anupádisesa occur at Majjhima xi,5 <M.ii,257&259>, where they can hardly mean more than 'with/without something (stuff, material) left'. At Majjhima i,10 <M.i,62> the presence of upádisesa is what distinguishes the anágámí from the arahat, which is clearly not the same thing as what distinguishes the two extinction-elements. Upádisesa must therefore be unspecified residue.
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Re: Nibbana-element with no residue

Postby Element » Fri Jan 09, 2009 12:22 pm

gavesako wrote:I think there is a confusion regarding the term sa-upādi-sesa which Buddhadasa takes as referring to upādāna.

To be clear regarding Bhikkhu Buddhadasa, his discrepancy regarding the term is found in the book Heartwood from the Bo Tree. However, in the other references quoted, Buddhadasa refers to arahants in both regards.
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