Looking for description of Arahant after death

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jackson
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Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby jackson » Sun Nov 04, 2012 1:44 am

Greetings everyone,
In a recent talk by Ajahn Amaro he mentioned that there was only one sutta where the Buddha described the experience of an Arahant after death, and if I remember correctly the Buddha said that the deceased Arahant was experiencing indescribable bliss. I`d like to read the sutta Ajahn Amaro quoted but haven`t been able to uncover it online, so would appreciate it if anyone could point me towards it.
Thanks!
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah

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cooran
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby cooran » Sun Nov 04, 2012 2:35 am

Hello Jackson,

I haven't been able to find any sutta referring to bliss after the death of an arahant. Maybe others will contribute. It is a difficult subject. Here are some writings by Lily de Silva:

''The state of Nibbana after the death of the arahant is nowhere discussed in the Paali Canon. The four alternatives put forward regarding this state, namely: Does the Perfect One exist after death, does he not, does he and does he not, does he neither exist nor not exist after death, are all left aside unanswered. These questions are put aside because they are not useful to human happiness and understanding, not concerned with the Dhamma, not helpful for the higher life, not conducive to disenchantment and detachment, not conducive to cessation of misery, to tranquillity of the mind, to higher knowledge, to insight, and to peace (Nibbana).[94]
The Aggivacchagotta Sutta cites a simile in this connection which illustrates that the questions themselves are meaningless.[95] If there is a fire burning and if the fire goes out without fuel, can one ask the question: "In which direction did the fire go, east, south, west, or north?" The question itself is inappropriate as it assumes that fire can have existence independent of fuel. The nun Khemaa points out that the state of the Tathaagata after death is immeasurable. Just as it is impossible to calculate the drops of water in the ocean and the grains of sand in the earth, so is it impossible to conceptualize the state of Nibbana after the demise of the arahant.[96] The Anuraadha Sutta states that the five aggregates of grasping, or the personality factors, are impermanent, unsatisfactory, and non-self. Therefore the noble disciple is detached from them. He wins freedom, and after death becomes completely untraceable.[97] The Alagadduupama Sutta maintains that the Tathaagata cannot be identified with the personality factors even during his lifetime, so how can he be identified after death?[98]

A plausible explanation is necessary for the traditional silence regarding the state of the arahant after death. Existence in the world implies time and space. One exists within a particular period in a particular space or locality. If one passes beyond time and beyond space, it is not possible to speak of existence with reference to such a one. To speak of both time and space one needs a point of reference, e.g. A is 50 years old. This means 50 years have passed since the event of A's birth. If A is not born, it is impossible to speak of "time" or existence with reference to him. Similarly with space. Without points of reference it is not possible to grasp space. There is a definite distance between any two specific points. Nor can one speak of direction without a point of reference. When the notion of "I," which is the point of personal reference, is eradicated, one goes beyond time, beyond space, and beyond causality. Therefore it is not possible to speak of the liberated being as existing or not existing.

Here we are reminded of a statement made by Fritjof Capra in his Tao of Physics relevant to our present context. He states: "Physicists can 'experience' the four dimensional space-time world through the abstract mathematical formalism of their theories, but their visual imagination, like everybody else's, is limited to the three-dimensional world of the senses. Our language and thought patterns have evolved in this three-dimensional world and therefore we find it extremely hard to deal with the four-dimensional reality of relativistic physics."[99] Thus, when the four-dimensional reality too eludes the perceptual experience of the average man, how can Nibbana, which transcends all these four dimensions, come within mere verbal experience? Therefore it is impossible to speak of the arahant's state in terms of existence or non-existence.

At this point an observation can be made from another point of view. Buddhism describes the characteristics of all things in three statements: Sabbe sa"nkhaaraa aniccaa, sabbe sa"nkhaaraa dukkhaa, sabbe dhammaa anattaa, meaning all conditioned things are impermanent, all conditioned things are unsatisfactory, all phenomena are non-self.[100] Here the change of terminology in the last statement seems important. The Sa.myutta Commentary explains the last statement as: Sabbe dhammaa anattaa ti sabbe catubhuumakaa dhammaa .[101] The Visuddhimagga explains the four bhuumis or planes as kaamaavacara, ruupaavacara, aruupaavacara, and lokuttara, meaning the sensual sphere, the fine-material sphere, the immaterial sphere, and the supramundane.[102] Therefore dhammaa in our statement can be interpreted as including the supramundane state of Nibbana as well. Commenting on this statement Ven. Narada Thera observes: "Dhammaa can be applied to both conditioned and unconditioned things and states. It embraces both conditioned and unconditioned things including Nibbana. In order to show that even Nibbana is free from a permanent soul the Buddha used the term dhammaa in the third verse. Nibbana is a positive supramundane state and is without a soul."[103] It is significant that dhammaa was not used in the first two statements. The purpose seems to be to exclude Nibbana which is permanent and blissful. Therefore we can surmise a condition that is permanent and blissful, but it is not a self. That state is Nibbana. It has to be a dimension completely different from all that is worldly. The permanence that is conjectured here has no reference to time and space, and the bliss that is spoken of has no reference to feelings, vedanaa .

Further, there is a great difference between the death of an ordinary worldling and that of an arahant. To indicate this, a different terminology is used: mara.na/miyyati is used for the death of a worldling, while parinibbaana/parinibbaayati is used in the case of an arahant. In fact the Dhammapada specifically states that the vigilant ones, meaning arahants, never die (in the ordinary sense of the word).[104]

Let us first see what happens when a worldling dies. It is an accepted fact that everybody fears death.[105] We also fear the unknown; therefore death is doubly fearful because we know least about it. It seems reasonable to assume that at the root of all fear there lurks the fear of death. In other words we fear everything which directly or indirectly threatens our life. So long as our bodies are strong enough, we can either fight or run away from the source of fear, with the intention of preserving life. But when ultimately we are on the deathbed face to face with death and our body is no longer strong enough to flee from death, it is highly unlikely that we will mentally accept death with resignation. We will struggle hard, long for and crave for life (ta.nhaa), and reach out and grasp (upaadaana) a viable base somewhere as the dying body can no longer sustain life. Once such a viable base, for instance a fertilized ovum in a mother's womb, has been grasped, the process of becoming or growth (bhava) starts there, which in due course gives rise to birth (jaati). This is what is referred to in the twelve-linked pa.ticcasamuppaada as "craving conditions grasping, grasping conditions becoming, becoming conditions birth."[106] Thus a worldling dies and is reborn.

Now let us consider the last moments of an arahant. As an arahant has no fear whatsoever from any source (akutobhaya), he would not be agitated (na paritassati) as he has no craving for life.[107] He will watch the process of death with perfect equanimity and crystal-clear mindfulness.[108] Further, the Mahaaparinibbaana Sutta, which explains the final moments of the Buddha, states that the Buddha passed away immediately after rising from the fourth jhaana.[109] The fourth jhaana is characterized by purity of equanimity and mindfulness.[110] It is not known whether all arahants attain parinibbaana after the fourth jhaana, but certainly they cannot have a deluded death.[111] As they do not grasp another birth the state they attain after final passing away has to be described as unborn (ajaata) . Similarly it is uncaused (asa"nkhata).[112] As it is no ordinary death it is called the deathless state.[113] It is beyond elemental existence, beyond brahmalokas, neither in this world nor the next, beyond the radiance of the sun and moon.[114] It is beyond what we know of in the three worlds of kaama, ruupa, and aruupa . Therefore, as it is beyond the ken of ordinary human understanding, any attempt to define the state is bound to end in failure. The course of liberated ones cannot be traced like that of birds in the air.[115] '' http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el407.html

Yamaka Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby appicchato » Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:56 am

Ashes...

jackson
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby jackson » Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:21 am

Greetings Cooran, Venerable,
I'll be the first to admit I have a fairly faulty memory, so may in fact be quite wrong about this and would hate to misquote the The Buddha and Ajahn Amaro so perhaps I'll have to go through the talks I've listened to and try and find where he brings this up. Ajahn Amaro has been talking about stream-entry and enlightenment so much recently though that it may take a long time to find it. Thank you for your replies.
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah

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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:40 am


jackson
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby jackson » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:32 am

Hi everyone,
I found where Ajahn Amaro mentions it, it starts at 1:01:40 of this excellent YouTube video. . I can't recognize the name he says and he doesn't cite the sutta number, but this is definitely the talk I was thinking of.
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah

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Dmytro
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby Dmytro » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:50 am



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tiltbillings
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:10 am


jackson
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby jackson » Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:25 am

Greetings Dmytro, Tiltbillings, all,
It sounds to me like he's saying Dabba the Malian or something like that, but that very well may be the sutta Ajahn Amaro was talking about. The way he put it made it sound to me like there was someone experiencing unutterable bliss, which seemed to contradict my understanding of Nibbana and does not seem in line with Thanissaro Bhikkhu's translation. Thank you all for your replies so far,
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah

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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:41 am

in that video it does sound like Dabba "Damalian" to me but I have heard him speak of this before and he did say mallaputta on that occasion.
although Ajahns interpretation of it refering to parinibbana for me seams off, I read it at the time and it seams more to be about when one attains nibbana, for them any further destination can be describe... but that is just my reading.

(edited for clarity)
Last edited by Cittasanto on Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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DAWN
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby DAWN » Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:55 am

Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...

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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby santa100 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:11 pm


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mikenz66
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:21 pm


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daverupa
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby daverupa » Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:39 pm

Parsing doctrinal minutiae from poetry is probably a good way to make a mistake.

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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby SarathW » Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:32 am

“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

jackson
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Re: Looking for description of Arahant after death

Postby jackson » Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:47 am

Thank you everyone for your replies. Now that I know what Ajahn Amaro was quoting I have no further questions. Thank you for your help and for clearing things up.
With gratitude,
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah


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