Nibbana = universal consciousness?

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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby Buckwheat » Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:02 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
Buckwheat wrote:Where does Venerable say that?

In the passage provided by EmptyShadow: "The second level of unbinding, symbolized by a fire so totally out that its embers have grown cold, is what the arahant experiences after this life."

Oops. I didn't realize that was the writing of Ven Thanissaro.

Ñāṇa wrote:
Buckwheat wrote:The only things I have read are that the consciousness of an arahant is outside the realm of time, so any statement for experience after parinibbana would be rendered meaningless due to it's dependence on time.

I would suggest that the notion of consciousness existing outside the realm of time is itself meaningless. Consciousness is designated according to the particular condition dependent upon which it arises. If there are no such conditions, there is no basis for designating the existence of any consciousness whatsoever. MN 38 Mahātaṇhāsankhaya Sutta:

    Bhikkhus, consciousness is reckoned by the particular condition dependent upon which it arises. When consciousness arises dependent on the eye and forms, it is reckoned as eye-consciousness; when consciousness arises dependent on the ear and sounds, it is reckoned as ear-consciousness; when consciousness arises dependent on the nose and odors, it is reckoned as nose-consciousness; when consciousness arises dependent on tongue and flavors, it is reckoned as tongue-consciousness; when consciousness arises dependent on body and tangibles, it is reckoned as body consciousness; when consciousness arises dependent on the mind and mind-objects, it is reckoned as mind-consciousness.

Doesn't this view completely disregard viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ (consciousness without feature)?
Disciples, this I declare to you: All conditioned things are subject to disintegration – strive on untiringly for your liberation.

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby Nyana » Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:42 pm

Buckwheat wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:I would suggest that the notion of consciousness existing outside the realm of time is itself meaningless. Consciousness is designated according to the particular condition dependent upon which it arises. If there are no such conditions, there is no basis for designating the existence of any consciousness whatsoever. MN 38 Mahātaṇhāsankhaya Sutta:

    Bhikkhus, consciousness is reckoned by the particular condition dependent upon which it arises. When consciousness arises dependent on the eye and forms, it is reckoned as eye-consciousness; when consciousness arises dependent on the ear and sounds, it is reckoned as ear-consciousness; when consciousness arises dependent on the nose and odors, it is reckoned as nose-consciousness; when consciousness arises dependent on tongue and flavors, it is reckoned as tongue-consciousness; when consciousness arises dependent on body and tangibles, it is reckoned as body consciousness; when consciousness arises dependent on the mind and mind-objects, it is reckoned as mind-consciousness.

Doesn't this view completely disregard viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ (consciousness without feature)?

Not at all. Conventionally speaking, nibbāna is considered an object of mental perception. AN 10.6:

    "Bhante, could a bhikkhu obtain such a state of concentration that (1) he would not be percipient of earth in relation to earth; (2) of water in relation to water; (3) of fire in relation to fire; (4) of air in relation to air; (5) of the base of infinity of space in relation to the base of the infinity of space; (6) of the base of infinity of consciousness in relation to the base of the infinity of consciousness; (7) of the base of nothingness in relation to the base of nothingness; (8) of the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception in relation to the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception; (9) of this world in relation to this world; (10) of the other world in relation to the other world, but he would still be percipient?"

    "He could, Ānanda."

    "But how, Bhante, could he obtain such a state of concentration?"

    "Here, Ānanda, a bhikkhu is percipient thus: 'This is peaceful, this is sublime, that is, the stilling of all activities, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, nibbāna.' It is in this way, Ānanda, that a bhikkhu could obtain such a state of concentration...."

This same meditative state is called the perception of cessation (nirodhasaññā) in AN 10.60. There's no need to posit some sort of dimension existing outside time and space to account for viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ or Buddhist liberation. The very assertion of such things is contrary to the answer given in SN 48.42 (and elsewhere):

    "But master Gotama, what is it that nibbāna takes recourse in?"

    "You have gone beyond the range of questioning, brāhmaṇa. You were unable to grasp the limit of questioning. For, brāhmaṇa, the holy life is lived with nibbāna as its ground, nibbāna as its destination, nibbāna as its final goal."

Any view regarding the postmortem existence or non-existence of an awakened arahant is not conducive to actually attaining the goal. It does not lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, calmness, direct gnosis, full awakening, nibbāna. It's considered a fetter of view (diṭṭhisaṃyojana).
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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby Buckwheat » Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:59 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:I would suggest that the notion of consciousness existing outside the realm of time is itself meaningless. Consciousness is designated according to the particular condition dependent upon which it arises. If there are no such conditions, there is no basis for designating the existence of any consciousness whatsoever.

And yet... (link)
Consciousness without surface, endless, radiant all around, has not been experienced through the allness of the all.

My understanding is that the consciousness associated with nibbana is without feature, radiant, timeless, dimensionless, and not based on the six senses. I don't see this as some Sci-Fi or mystical realm, but simply to speak in terms of time or space would be meaningless in reference to nibbana. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Ñāṇa wrote:Any view regarding the postmortem existence or non-existence of an awakened arahant is not conducive to actually attaining the goal. It does not lead to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, calmness, direct gnosis, full awakening, nibbāna. It's considered a fetter of view (diṭṭhisaṃyojana).

Agreed.
Disciples, this I declare to you: All conditioned things are subject to disintegration – strive on untiringly for your liberation.

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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby reflection » Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:13 pm

How many confusion can arise because of some quotes in a 2500 old text? Buddhism is not a religion that should base its view on texts. Some suttas even explicitly say we shouldn't. Because who's to say these words "consciousness without feature" were ever spoken by the Buddha? It's clear the suttas have been modified quite a lot over the years, so to base our views on such a line is silly. I personally think the Buddha never said these words. They don't fit in the big part of the teachings at all. The gross of the suttas never hints at a consciousness outside of the six senses or outside of the five khandas, outside of body and mind. Neither have I ever experienced it, and I suggest those who support such a view to reconsider if they ever have. Why go by ancient text if you can go by experience?

With kindness,
:anjali:
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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby polarbuddha101 » Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:42 pm

reflection wrote:Why go by ancient text if you can go by experience?


Why call yourself a buddhist if you don't use the suttas to understand your experience? The whole of buddhism is based on texts, the Sangha wouldn't even exist if it weren't for the memorization of oral 'texts' like the vinaya and the sutta-pitaka. If you want to posit that one or two suttas seem to be additions and should be disregarded that's one thing but to disregard the texts is to not be a buddhist. Also, people can be led astray by their personal views.

But certainly I don't think the suttas are pointing to any transcendental consciousness outside space and time, as if that even has meaning.

"'Consciousness, consciousness': Thus is it said. To what extent, friend, is it said to be 'consciousness'?"

"'It cognizes, it cognizes': Thus, friend, it is said to be 'consciousness.' And what does it cognize? It cognizes 'pleasant.' It cognizes 'painful.' It cognizes 'neither painful nor pleasant.' 'It cognizes, it cognizes': Thus it is said to be 'consciousness.'"

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


Cognizing doesn't occur outside of time, because it takes time to cognize data, and hence the term consciousness doesn't apply outside of time.

:namaste:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby SamKR » Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:55 pm

reflection wrote:Why go by ancient text if you can go by experience?
:anjali:

We need texts (also) to verify our experiences, and to make sure we are in line with the Buddha's original teachings. Otherwise we could be lost in the jungle of experiences.
Nevertheless, it is quite possible that a few suttas may not be precisely in line with the Buddha's teachings, or we may have not understood them deeply enough.
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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby Buckwheat » Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:51 am

reflection wrote:How many confusion can arise because of some quotes in a 2500 old text? Buddhism is not a religion that should base its view on texts. Some suttas even explicitly say we shouldn't. Because who's to say these words "consciousness without feature" were ever spoken by the Buddha? It's clear the suttas have been modified quite a lot over the years, so to base our views on such a line is silly. I personally think the Buddha never said these words. They don't fit in the big part of the teachings at all. The gross of the suttas never hints at a consciousness outside of the six senses or outside of the five khandas, outside of body and mind. Neither have I ever experienced it, and I suggest those who support such a view to reconsider if they ever have. Why go by ancient text if you can go by experience?

With kindness,
:anjali:


I can not, at this time, through personal experience, examine the consciousness of an arahant. That is why I rely on the text.

I am not qualified to assert that this text is corrupt, and have never heard anybody suggest it was. What is wrong with saying that the arahant remains conscious while experiencing nibbana, and that this consciousness is not dependent on the sense-bases?

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
There is that dimension, monks, where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor staying; neither passing away nor arising: unestablished,[1] unevolving, without support [mental object].[2] This, just this, is the end of stress.
Disciples, this I declare to you: All conditioned things are subject to disintegration – strive on untiringly for your liberation.

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby Buckwheat » Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:57 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:
reflection wrote:... it takes time to cognize data ...


This seems like a bit of an assumption here. Obviously, most cognizing does indeed happen over time, but is it actually necessary? When I have a lucid moment, simply aware of the breath, time does not seem to be a necessary component, but I could be wrong.
Disciples, this I declare to you: All conditioned things are subject to disintegration – strive on untiringly for your liberation.

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby Nyana » Sun Apr 28, 2013 2:53 am

Buckwheat wrote:My understanding is that the consciousness associated with nibbana is without feature, radiant, timeless, dimensionless, and not based on the six senses.

Where does this consciousness that is independent of the six senses originate from? Surely it doesn't emerge ex nihilo?

Buckwheat wrote:I don't see this as some Sci-Fi or mystical realm, but simply to speak in terms of time or space would be meaningless in reference to nibbana.

To say that Sāriputta realized nibbāna at a certain time and place isn't meaningless at all.
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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby Sylvester » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:06 am

piotr wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:Moreover, even when the nine meditative attainments are given, such as the the sequence from AN 9.47 to AN 9.51, the cessation of perception & feeling isn't equated with nibbāna. The relevant phrase in this case being "and having seen with wisdom, his taints are utterly destroyed." This seeing with wisdom and elimination of āsavas occurs after one has emerged from the attainment of the cessation of perception & feeling.


But this passage suggests that seeing with wisdom (i.e. seeing noble truths) and elimination of taints happen because of cessation of perception and feeling. In other words I disagree that in this passage what is refered to as ‘nibbāna’ is only seeing with wisdom and destruction of taints.

There's another point which comes to my mind in relation to this passage. It's said that cessation of perception and feeling is attainable only by arahants as a special meditative attainment. But if, as it seems to be, taints are destroyed (arahantship is attained) only after emergence from cessation of perception and feeling, then this attainment must be achieved by non-arahants.


Good point, piotr.

I think the phrase "and having seen with wisdom" is predictive, given that the optative cassa is used. Some thoughts here -

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=16141&start=20#p230895

If the optative were fully rendered into English, the phrase would probably look like "and [it would be] having seen with wisdom", the phrase in parenthesis being the optative of the silent copula hoti. I suppose this might suggest that the attainment of cessation guarantees awakening, whereas the preceding 8 attainments could go either way.
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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:56 am

Buckwheat wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:I would suggest that the notion of consciousness existing outside the realm of time is itself meaningless. Consciousness is designated according to the particular condition dependent upon which it arises. If there are no such conditions, there is no basis for designating the existence of any consciousness whatsoever.

And yet... (link)
Consciousness without surface, endless, radiant all around, has not been experienced through the allness of the all.

Are the couple of mentions in the suttas of viññanam anidassanam really a compelling basis for a "nibbana is outside space and time" interpretation? They sound to me like an attempt to describe an experience for which normal concepts don't apply.

See Bhikku Bodhi's translation and discussion here:
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=12510#p189583

I'm sure Ven Nananada must discuss it in the Nibbana Sermons, but I can't find it right now...

:anjali:
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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby Sylvester » Sun Apr 28, 2013 4:27 am

Buckwheat wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:I would suggest that the notion of consciousness existing outside the realm of time is itself meaningless. Consciousness is designated according to the particular condition dependent upon which it arises. If there are no such conditions, there is no basis for designating the existence of any consciousness whatsoever.

And yet... (link)
Consciousness without surface, endless, radiant all around, has not been experienced through the allness of the all.

My understanding is that the consciousness associated with nibbana is without feature, radiant, timeless, dimensionless, and not based on the six senses. I don't see this as some Sci-Fi or mystical realm, but simply to speak in terms of time or space would be meaningless in reference to nibbana. Please correct me if I am wrong.




Hi

You might find a helpful alternative to Ven T's interpretation of MN 49 if, instead of reading the "sabbam" as a reference to the Buddhist "sabba" (ie the 6 pairs of internal and external bases, given in footnote 8), we actually consider the possibility that this sutta was criticising the Upanishadic concept of "sarvam". In the Upanishads, "sarvam" also functions as the name for the ground of Existence/Sat, and sarvam is directly equated with Brahman (see Upanisads, ed P Olivelle, p 297). Sarvam as "the ALL" would thus be whatever metaphysical principle that underlies Brahman in Upanishadic theory, and the Buddha refuses to affirm this metaphysical notion as the base for "self" (since He was aware that the Upanishads also made the equation between Brahman and Atman).

I personally prefer this reading, as the Upanishad thinkers were not known to have been much interested in the 6 sense bases and their objects as the seats of Atman. Most of their musings were directed to either Brahman or Sarvam. MN 49 as an allegorical critique of a brahma's misconceptions would likely have been directed to this mode of thinking. I think the ayatana approach would have been wasted on the Upanishadic thinkers, since they did not make a great fuss over these 12 elements.
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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby Buckwheat » Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:37 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Buckwheat wrote:My understanding is that the consciousness associated with nibbana is without feature, radiant, timeless, dimensionless, and not based on the six senses.

Where does this consciousness that is independent of the six senses originate from? Surely it doesn't emerge ex nihilo?

Where does nibbana originate?


Sylvester, that seems like a reasonable interpretation.

Mike, thanks for that link.
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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby Buckwheat » Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:55 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
EmptyShadow wrote:
The second level of unbinding, symbolized by a fire so totally out that its embers have grown cold, is what the arahant experiences after this life. All input from the senses cools away and he/she is totally freed from even the subtlest stresses and limitations of existence in space and time.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... bbana.html
So an arahat can experience the freedom of the cessation of nama/rupa after parinibbana?

That seems to be Ven. Ṭhānissaro's opinion.

This conclusion seems to miss the entire point of this article.
The Buddha insists that this level is indescribable, even in terms of existence or nonexistence, because words work only for things that have limits. All he really says about it — apart from images and metaphors — is that one can have foretastes of the experience in this lifetime, and that it's the ultimate happiness, something truly worth knowing.

When TB says "experience after this lifetime" he is describing something that could almost be called "non-experience" based on the description in this essay. Symbolized by a fire gone completely cold, it would be contrasted with the non-arahants experience after this lifetime, which can be summarized as craving leading to rebirth. The arahant is free from craving, free from rebirth.

One thing is for sure: this essay is not espousing an eternal consciousness ala Brahmanism. Ven Thanissaro is known for his blunt speech, not his subtlety. If he wanted to postulate eternal consciousness, he would do it without veil.
Disciples, this I declare to you: All conditioned things are subject to disintegration – strive on untiringly for your liberation.

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby Sylvester » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:23 am

Buckwheat wrote:This conclusion seems to miss the entire point of this article.
The Buddha insists that this level is indescribable, even in terms of existence or nonexistence, because words work only for things that have limits. All he really says about it — apart from images and metaphors — is that one can have foretastes of the experience in this lifetime, and that it's the ultimate happiness, something truly worth knowing.


When TB says "experience after this lifetime" he is describing something that could almost be called "non-experience" based on the description in this essay. Symbolized by a fire gone completely cold, it would be contrasted with the non-arahants experience after this lifetime, which can be summarized as craving leading to rebirth. The arahant is free from craving, free from rebirth.

One thing is for sure: this essay is not espousing an eternal consciousness ala Brahmanism. Ven Thanissaro is known for his blunt speech, not his subtlety. If he wanted to postulate eternal consciousness, he would do it without veil.



Hi again.

What if for a moment we question the conventional wisdom about how SN 12.15 should be interpreted? That reading posits that the Buddha was presenting a Universalisable anti-ontology.

However, it's also possible, if not more probable, that the Buddha was not setting up a Universalisable analytical framework but a very specific response to the Chandogya Upanisad. What is presented in SN 12.15 as atthita (existence) and natthita (non-existence) finds its clearest expression in the debate recorded in the Chandogya concerning Sat and Asat (the Vedic analogs of atthita and natthita). There the debate did not wander into the existential status of things out there, but focused on whether Sat or Asat was the source of Brahman. It was a Genesis, not an ontology.

Quite different from the issue of the status of an arahant post mortem, or of anything else for that matter.
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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby Zom » Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:11 pm

When TB says "experience after this lifetime" he is describing something that could almost be called "non-experience" based on the description in this essay. Symbolized by a fire gone completely cold, it would be contrasted with the non-arahants experience after this lifetime, which can be summarized as craving leading to rebirth.


I see this as a clinging to a subtle "self-idea". There is some "fire", that "extinguishes, but still exists somehow out of space and time :quote: ". To put it bluntly: "And this is mine, this is what I am, this is my Self". 8-)

Ven Thanissaro is known for his blunt speech, not his subtlety.


Indeed. But not when he is speaking about nibbana, consciousness out of space and time, eternal fire, etс, etс, etс. ,)
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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby Nyana » Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:32 pm

Buckwheat wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:
Buckwheat wrote:My understanding is that the consciousness associated with nibbana is without feature, radiant, timeless, dimensionless, and not based on the six senses.

Where does this consciousness that is independent of the six senses originate from? Surely it doesn't emerge ex nihilo?

Where does nibbana originate?

Nibbāna is a cessation.

Now please answer my question: Where does this consciousness that is independent of the six senses originate from?

Buckwheat wrote:When TB says "experience after this lifetime" he is describing something....

And that is precisely where he is off into conceptual proliferation (papañca) about non-proliferation (nippapañca = nibbāna). By describing something.
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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby EmptyShadow » Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:59 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:Now please answer my question: Where does this consciousness that is independent of the six senses originate from?


May be it's just like nibanna - unconditioned, that doesnt depend on anything conventional.
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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby Buckwheat » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:17 pm

Ñāṇa wrote:
Buckwheat wrote:
Ñāṇa wrote:Where does this consciousness that is independent of the six senses originate from? Surely it doesn't emerge ex nihilo?

Where does nibbana originate?

Nibbāna is a cessation.

Now please answer my question: Where does this consciousness that is independent of the six senses originate from?

Buckwheat wrote:When TB says "experience after this lifetime" he is describing something....

And that is precisely where he is off into conceptual proliferation (papañca) about non-proliferation (nippapañca = nibbāna). By describing something.

The "something" he describes has exactly the same properties as nibbana: cessation, peace, non-clinging, not dependent on anything in the world. That was the point of my rhetorical question about nibbana.
Last edited by Buckwheat on Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Disciples, this I declare to you: All conditioned things are subject to disintegration – strive on untiringly for your liberation.

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Re: Nibbana = universal consciousness?

Postby Buckwheat » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:18 pm

Zom wrote:
When TB says "experience after this lifetime" he is describing something that could almost be called "non-experience" based on the description in this essay. Symbolized by a fire gone completely cold, it would be contrasted with the non-arahants experience after this lifetime, which can be summarized as craving leading to rebirth.


I see this as a clinging to a subtle "self-idea". There is some "fire", that "extinguishes, but still exists somehow out of space and time :quote: ".

Again, he says, in sililar terms to what the Buddha says repeatedly, that the arahant neither exists nore does not exist after death, so you are accusing him of saying something that he did not say.

In several talks, TB makes clear that there is a difference between the fire analogy and what happens with an arahant. In the fire analogy, there is always to potential to respark, and that is why it always exists. But the arahant is finally liberated, never to be reborn. There is no way to rekindle the suffering. He explains this as why the term pari-nibbana is used, which goes a step beyond the fire analogy.
Disciples, this I declare to you: All conditioned things are subject to disintegration – strive on untiringly for your liberation.

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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