What is "the deathless"?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation
User avatar
m0rl0ck
Posts: 1051
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:51 am

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".
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html

Samma
Posts: 169
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:47 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001

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)

User avatar
m0rl0ck
Posts: 1051
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:51 am

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?
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html

User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 3829
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

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

.
Last edited by Aloka on Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
manas
Posts: 2192
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:04 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6
Location: Melbourne, Australia

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.

User avatar
m0rl0ck
Posts: 1051
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:51 am

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.
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 20082
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001

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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

User avatar
m0rl0ck
Posts: 1051
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:51 am

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 :)
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html

Samma
Posts: 169
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:47 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1001

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.

User avatar
Aloka
Posts: 3829
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

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


User avatar
ancientbuddhism
Posts: 687
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:53 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1006
Location: Cyberia

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.
Anuvicca papañca nāmarūpaṃ
ajjhattaṃ bahiddhā ca rogamūlaṃ,
sabbarogamūlabandhanā pamutto
anuvidito tādi pavuccate tathattā
.

“Having known the naming of objects,
With its proliferation, its root in illness – within and without;
One is released from bondage to the root of all illness.
And thus is called the Knowing One – the Such.

– Sn. 3.6 (Sabhiyasuttaṃ)

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

A Handful of Leaves

User avatar
reflection
Posts: 1115
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1006

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'.

User avatar
manas
Posts: 2192
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:04 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6
Location: Melbourne, Australia

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:
Last edited by manas on Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
reflection
Posts: 1115
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1006

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!

User avatar
kirk5a
Posts: 1826
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:51 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 1006

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

User avatar
m0rl0ck
Posts: 1051
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:51 am

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.
"When you meditate, don't send your mind outside. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things. Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... eleft.html

User avatar
Spiny Norman
Posts: 3208
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6
Location: Spam, wonderful spam

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.
"I ride tandem with the random, Things don't run the way I planned them, In the humdrum."
Peter Gabriel lyric

alan
Posts: 2624
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:14 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6
Location: Miramar beach, Fl.

Re: What is "the deathless"?

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

Thanissaro uses it as a definition of Nibbana.

User avatar
IanAnd
Posts: 399
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 5:19 am
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6
Location: the deserts of Arizona

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

chownah
Posts: 3022
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm
Which number is larger than 1000 and less than 1002: 6

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....
chownah


Return to “Open Dhamma”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: silver surfer and 10 guests