vinasp wrote: Perhaps I have misunderstood the later Theravada position, I was thinking
of this passage:
From: What the Buddha taught, by Walpola Rahula - online version - Link:
http://www.quangduc.com/English/basic/6 ... ht-04.html
"Some popular inaccurately phrased expressions like ‘The Buddha entered into Nirvāna or Parinirvāna after his death’ have given rise to many imaginary speculations about Nirvāna. The moment you hear the phrase that ‘the Buddha entered into Nirvāna or Parinirvāna’, you take Nirvāna to be a state, or a realm, or a position in which there is some sort of existence, and try to imagine it in terms of the senses of the word ‘existence’ as it is known to you. This popular expression ‘entered into Nirvāna’ has no equivalent in the original texts. There is no such thing as ‘entering into Nirvāna after death’. There is a word parinibbuto used to denote the death of the Buddha or an Arahant who has realized Nirvāna, but it does not mean ‘entering into Nirvāna’. Parinibbuto simply mean ‘fully blown out’ or ‘fully extinct’, because the Buddha or an Arahant has no re-existence after his death."
That seems entirely consistent with the suttas. Nibbana is not a realm where arahants go. An arahant is not reborn. Where's the inconsistency with the suttas in that?
The book actually continues with a discussion of the relevant suttas:
Rahula wrote:Now another question arises: What happens to the Buddha or an Arahant after his death, parinirvāna? This comes under the category of unanswered questions (avyākata).[http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn44/sn44.001.than.html] Even when the Buddha spoke about this, he indicated that no words in our vocabulary could express what happens to an Arahant after his death. In reply to a Parivrājaka named Vaccha, the Buddha said that terms like ‘born’ or ‘not born’ do not apply in the case of an Arahant, because those things-matter, sensation, perception, mental activities, consciousness- with which the terms like ‘born’ and ‘not born’ are associated, are completely destroyed and up-rooted, never to rise again after his death.[http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.072.than.html]
An Arahant after his death is often compared to a fire gone out when the supply of wood is over, or to the flame of a lamp gone out when the wick and oil are finished.[see above reference] Here it should be clearly and distinctly understood, without any confusion, that what is compared to a flame or a fire gone out is not Nirvāna, but the ‘being’ composed of the Five Aggregates who realized Nirvāna. This point has to be emphasized because many people, even some great scholars, have misunderstood and misinterpreted this smile as referring to Nirvāna. Nirvāna is never compared to a fire or a lamp gone out.
Of course, it would be foolish to claim that every pronouncement by every ancient or modern commentator is consistent with the suttas, if only because, as you can see from the discussion on this board, there is no common agreement on exactly what some suttas mean...