What is "the deathless"?

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What is "the deathless"?

Postby m0rl0ck » Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:38 pm

I see this term used in ways that make me think that its definition is similiar to "awareness" the way the tibetans use it, or "true nature" or "Mind" the way the zennies use it, or "emptiness" the way it used in mahayana, that is as a positive something that might be better called everythingness.
Then again, i see most of the concepts above refuted and picked apart. So what do theravadans mean when they refer to "the deathless".
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: What is "the deathless"?

Postby Samma » Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:49 pm

Its one of many synonyms for nibanna. I'd guess that it comes from description of death as experienced by a tathagata:

Death as experienced by a Tathagata is described simply as, ‘All this, no longer
being relished, grows cold right here.’ All attempts to describe the experience of
nibbana or the state of the Tathagata after death—as existing, not existing, both,
or neither—are refuted by the Buddha (Thanissaro, Mind life fire)
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Re: What is "the deathless"?

Postby m0rl0ck » Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:02 pm

Samma wrote:Its one of many synonyms for nibanna. I'd guess that it comes from description of death as experienced by a tathagata:

Death as experienced by a Tathagata is described simply as, ‘All this, no longer
being relished, grows cold right here.’ All attempts to describe the experience of
nibbana or the state of the Tathagata after death—as existing, not existing, both,
or neither—are refuted by the Buddha (Thanissaro, Mind life fire)


So then a stream enterer has seen nibbana?
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: What is "the deathless"?

Postby Aloka » Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:03 pm

In his book "The Sound of Silence" Ajahn Sumedho described "the Deathless" as "the unconditioned". It doesn't mean anything to do with physical death. I think it was also called "'Unconditioned awareness"

Its also described in more detail with quotes from the suttas in "The Island - An anthology of the Buddha's teachings on Nibanna " by Ajahn Pasanno & Ajahn Amaro.

http://forestsanghapublications.org/viewBook.php?id=10&ref=deb

.
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Re: What is "the deathless"?

Postby manas » Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:05 pm

Hi Morlock,
examining this excerpt

"'I tell you, the ending of the mental fermentations depends on the first jhana.' Thus it has been said. In reference to what was it said? There is the case where a monk, secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He regards whatever phenomena there that are connected with form, feeling, perception, fabrications, & consciousness, as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self. He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'


It appears to me that the property of deathlessness has been given synonyms that describe it: "the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding." So maybe it's simply the state of the arahant, freed from craving, clinging etc., that state of freedom in the here-and-now that, while an experienced reality for the arahant, lies beyond the range of words and concepts and can't be pinned down. So from this shore, we can try to find a word or concept to express it positively, but will not be able to, and so only negating descriptions can be used: the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding." Because on this side, those qualities (such as craving, clinging etc) can be known and described by us, so they form the only reference point we've got, in describing something that is beyond all words and concepts.

That's my take on it, but if I've misrepresented anything, someone please let me know.

manas :anjali:
Last edited by manas on Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is "the deathless"?

Postby m0rl0ck » Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:06 pm

Aloka wrote:In his book "The Sound of Silence" Ajahn Sumedho described "the Deathless" as "the unconditioned"



.


Thats helpful, thank you.
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: What is "the deathless"?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:07 pm

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: What is "the deathless"?

Postby m0rl0ck » Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:08 pm

manas wrote:


That's my take on it, but if I've misrepresented anything, someone please let me know.

manas :anjali:

Good stuff ty :)
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: What is "the deathless"?

Postby Samma » Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:16 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:So then a stream enterer has seen nibbana?


[Immediately after attaining the stream] Sariputta the wanderer went to Moggallana the wanderer. Moggallana the wanderer saw him coming from afar and, on seeing him, said, "Your faculties are bright, my friend; your complexion pure & clear. Could it be that you have attained the Deathless?"

"Yes, my friend, I have..."
— Mv I.23.5
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/stud ... tream.html


viewtopic.php?f=14&t=7359&start=0
Last edited by Samma on Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is "the deathless"?

Postby Aloka » Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:29 pm

There's this sutta:


SN 47.41 Amata Sutta: Deathless

At Savatthi

"Monks, remain with your minds well-established in the four establishings of mindfulness. Don't let the deathless be lost to you.

"In which four? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — subduing greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings... mind... mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — subduing greed & distress with reference to the world.

"Monks, remain with your minds well-established in these four establishings of mindfulness. Don't let the deathless be lost to you."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn47/sn47.041.than.html

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Re: What is "the deathless"?

Postby ancientbuddhism » Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:26 pm

‘deathless’ (amaro) was also an epithet for the ātman of the Upaniṣads:

    sa vāeṣa nahān ajātmā, ajaro, amaro’ mṛto’bhayo brahma; abhayaṃ vai brahma, abhyaṃ hi vai brahma bhavati ya avaṃ veda. || Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad IV. 4.25 ||

    “This is that great unborn Self who is undecaying, undying, immortal, fearless, Brahman. Verily, Brahman is fearless. He who knows this becomes the fearless Brahman.”

    (Translation by Ś. Radhakrisnan The Principle Upaniṣads)

This may be one of many instances where the Buddha punned on the epithets of ātmavāda contemporary to him.
Katamo ca bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo: samatho ca vipassanā ca. Ayaṃ vuccati bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the path leading to the unconditioned? Calm and insight. This, bhikkhus, is called the path leading to the unconditioned.” SN. 43.2 – Samathavipassanāsuttaṃ

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Re: What is "the deathless"?

Postby reflection » Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:35 pm

Good replies already.

As (if I remember correctly) Tilt quite well explained in the topic he posted, the Deathless is not a thing or a state or something like that, but just to describe the "no more dying", freedom from death. It's a simile for parinibbana. Although in the suttas it may also be used as a simile for nibbana with life remaining, I'm not sure. Still, it would refer to the same.

It does describe the absence of something rather than the presence. Like we could say going on pension is 'the jobless'.
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Re: What is "the deathless"?

Postby manas » Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:57 pm

reflection wrote:It does describe the absence of something rather than the presence. Like we could say going on pension is 'the jobless'.


I haven't just seen 'the jobless state', I've attained it. My problem is in trying to get back to what I had before. :|

But I like the analogy :)

metta :anjali:
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Re: What is "the deathless"?

Postby reflection » Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:01 pm

Dang, left a loophole ;)

Hope you find your way out of the jobless soon!
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Re: What is "the deathless"?

Postby kirk5a » Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:38 pm

"There is the case, Ananda, where a disciple of the noble ones considers this: 'Sensuality here & now; sensuality in lives to come; sensual perceptions here & now; sensual perceptions in lives to come; forms here & now; forms in lives to come; form-perceptions here & now; form-perceptions in lives to come; perceptions of the imperturbable; perceptions of the dimension of nothingness; perceptions of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception: that is an identity, to the extent that there is an identity. This is deathless: the liberation of the mind through lack of clinging/sustenance.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: What is "the deathless"?

Postby m0rl0ck » Mon Apr 15, 2013 8:43 am

Well i know this isnt going to sit well with a lot of you guys who think thervada has a superior understanding of such things, but what you say is about what i get from the chan/zen concepts.
"Even if you've read the whole Canon and can remember lots of teachings; even if you can explain them in poignant ways, with lots of people to respect you; even if you build a lot of monastery buildings, or can explain inconstancy, stress, and not-self in the most detailed fashion ... The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering.

"And you'll be able to gain release from suffering only when you know the one mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html
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Re: What is "the deathless"?

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:55 pm

Samma wrote:Its one of many synonyms for nibanna.


I think that's the general view, though it may also be pointing to pari-nibbana - literally the end of birth, aging and death.
Well, oi dunno...
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Re: What is "the deathless"?

Postby alan » Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:19 pm

Thanissaro uses it as a definition of Nibbana.
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Re: What is "the deathless"?

Postby IanAnd » Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:37 pm

ancientbuddhism wrote:‘deathless’ (amaro) was also an epithet for the ātman of the Upaniṣads:

    sa vāeṣa nahān ajātmā, ajaro, amaro’ mṛto’bhayo brahma; abhayaṃ vai brahma, abhyaṃ hi vai brahma bhavati ya avaṃ veda. || Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad IV. 4.25 ||

    “This is that great unborn Self who is undecaying, undying, immortal, fearless, Brahman. Verily, Brahman is fearless. He who knows this becomes the fearless Brahman.”

    (Translation by Ś. Radhakrisnan The Principle Upaniṣads)

This may be one of many instances where the Buddha punned on the epithets of ātmavāda contemporary to him.

:thumbsup: This is most likely the original intended meaning and explanation of how this term came into use in its association with Gotama.

All too often, people look for contemporary explanations for things said in the past without giving proper due consideration to the actual personalities who uttered them and what may have been a more likely (and realistic) account of the influences of the time (era).
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: What is "the deathless"?

Postby chownah » Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:51 pm

All things that are born will die. When birth is abandoned the deathless arises.......I guess.....don't know for sure....
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