A Special Kind of Suffering

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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A Special Kind of Suffering

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Sep 26, 2009 3:00 pm

I am currently editing a book by the late Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw on the nature of nibbāna. For the benefit of those who might imagine what it would be like to stay with the Bodhisattas and Buddhas in the Pure Land, I thought I would post this passage:
In nibbāna there are no such things as mind or mental concomitants, which can be met with in the sense-sphere or form-sphere. It naturally follows that mind and matter that belong to the thirty-one planes of existence are totally absent in nibbāna. However, some would like to propose that after the parinibbāna of the Buddha and the Arahants, they acquire a special kind of mind and matter in nibbāna. Such an extraordinary way of thinking may appeal to those who cannot do away with self or ego.

With regard to this proposition a learned Sayādaw reasoned that if there is a special kind of mind and matter in nibbāna, there must also be a special kind of rebirth which gives rise to a special kind of old age, disease, and death, which in turn bring about a special kind of sorrow, lamentation, suffering, distress, and despair. When the teachings explicitly say cessation, it will be improper to go beyond it and formulate an idea of a special kind of existence. Extinction points to nothing other than Nothingness. Nibbāna, which is not involved in mind and matter, cannot be made to get involved either in this world or in other worlds.

The book is not yet ready for publication, but I will add it to my site on this page when it is ready. I have recently added a couple of new publications: A Discourse on the Sammāparibbājaniya Sutta, and A Discourse on Worldly Vicissitudes.
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David N. Snyder
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Re: A Special Kind of Suffering

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Sep 26, 2009 3:43 pm

Sadhu!

Hi Bhante,

Excellent! Much merit!

:bow:

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Jechbi
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Re: A Special Kind of Suffering

Postby Jechbi » Sat Sep 26, 2009 4:36 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Extinction points to nothing other than Nothingness.

I'm surprised that this so often seems to be a point of confusion. At a certain point we have to be really, truly ready to abandon everything, holding onto nothing at all. Some folks think physical death is scary. Well, when that kind of fear is present, death has nothing on nibbāna. Thanks, Bhante, for the beautiful and humorous reminder.

:anjali:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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appicchato
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Re: A Special Kind of Suffering

Postby appicchato » Sat Sep 26, 2009 6:32 pm

'In Nibbana'...in?...

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Ben
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Re: A Special Kind of Suffering

Postby Ben » Sat Sep 26, 2009 8:49 pm

Thank you Bhante for all te great work that you are doing.
metta

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Re: A Special Kind of Suffering

Postby BlackBird » Sat Sep 26, 2009 9:53 pm

Thanks for the update Venerable Sir.

:anjali:
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta

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Re: A Special Kind of Suffering

Postby Individual » Sun Sep 27, 2009 4:36 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:I am currently editing a book by the late Venerable Mahāsī Sayādaw on the nature of nibbāna. For the benefit of those who might imagine what it would be like to stay with the Bodhisattas and Buddhas in the Pure Land, I thought I would post this passage:
In nibbāna there are no such things as mind or mental concomitants, which can be met with in the sense-sphere or form-sphere. It naturally follows that mind and matter that belong to the thirty-one planes of existence are totally absent in nibbāna. However, some would like to propose that after the parinibbāna of the Buddha and the Arahants, they acquire a special kind of mind and matter in nibbāna. Such an extraordinary way of thinking may appeal to those who cannot do away with self or ego.

With regard to this proposition a learned Sayādaw reasoned that if there is a special kind of mind and matter in nibbāna, there must also be a special kind of rebirth which gives rise to a special kind of old age, disease, and death, which in turn bring about a special kind of sorrow, lamentation, suffering, distress, and despair. When the teachings explicitly say cessation, it will be improper to go beyond it and formulate an idea of a special kind of existence. Extinction points to nothing other than Nothingness. Nibbāna, which is not involved in mind and matter, cannot be made to get involved either in this world or in other worlds.

The book is not yet ready for publication, but I will add it to my site on this page when it is ready. I have recently added a couple of new publications: A Discourse on the Sammāparibbājaniya Sutta, and A Discourse on Worldly Vicissitudes.

It's a valid point.

"Whatever is subject to origination is also subject to cessation"

On the other hand, realization of Nibbana might also be misconstrued as the annihilation of self.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: A Special Kind of Suffering

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Sep 28, 2009 12:28 am

Greetings bhante,

You quoted the following...

In nibbāna there are no such things as mind or mental concomitants, which can be met with in the sense-sphere or form-sphere.


Setting aside the "In nibbāna..." which has already been raised as a concern above, how is this quotation reconciled with supramundane mind-states, such as that which are detailed in the Abhidhamma?

Metta,
Retro. :)
Through corruption of the Dhamma comes corruption of the discipline, and from corruption of the discipline comes corruption of the Dhamma. This is the first future danger as yet unarisen that will arise in the future. You should recognize it and make an effort to prevent it. (AN 5.79)

"If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good." - Thomas J. Watson

Never again...

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: A Special Kind of Suffering

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:19 am

The web page for On the Nature of Nibbāna is uploaded now, and the PDF. There are still probably plenty of typos. You may need the Gentium font installed to read the Pali text on the web page, but the PDF should have the Pali font embedded.

The web page is rather long — I could split it into six pages, but I don't think that helps much. I prefer to read from the PDF anyway.

We talk about a meditator being in jhāna or about a person as being in error, so I think you all know what is meant when we say "In nibbāna." Elsewhere in the book, the Sayādaw talks about Nibbāna being "In this fathom long body", but it is clearly meant to be taken figuratively. If not "In nibbāna" how else would one express it?
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Jechbi
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Re: A Special Kind of Suffering

Postby Jechbi » Mon Sep 28, 2009 4:22 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:If not "In nibbāna" how else would one express it?

Maybe: "In the context of nibbāna." ? Or maybe that presents the same problems ...
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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David N. Snyder
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Re: A Special Kind of Suffering

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Sep 28, 2009 6:26 pm

Jechbi wrote:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:If not "In nibbāna" how else would one express it?

Maybe: "In the context of nibbāna." ? Or maybe that presents the same problems ...


It's just a matter of the differences between conventional truth and absolute truth, as I mentioned in another thread:

conventional truth (Sammuti Sacca)
ultimate truth (Paramattha Sacca)

Anatta is ultimate truth, when "I" talk about it, the I refers to conventional truth.

We are limited by language and sometimes it is difficult to describe the absolute un-conditioned in the conditioned form of language.

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appicchato
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Re: A Special Kind of Suffering

Postby appicchato » Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:02 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:If not "In nibbāna" how else would one express it?


Perhaps it's not that big of a deal, semantics and all...'in' infers (to me) 'being' somewhere...which (to my understanding) is not the case concerning the nature of nibbana...it's a tough nut to crack, as the topic (so we're told) is 'beyond' everything (as we know it)...using the analogy of the extinguished flame on a candle, where does it go? (what's it 'in'?)...

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Re: A Special Kind of Suffering

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Sep 29, 2009 12:17 am

Greetings,

Yes, well said venerable Appicchato.

As nibbana is unconditioned, how could there be any 'becoming' or 'existence', for which the term "in" could apply?

SN 12.15 ( http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/acces ... .than.html ) comes to mind.

It's much easier to speak of "in" when speaking about conventional reality, rather than ultimate reality... but there's nothing much conventional about nibbana.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Through corruption of the Dhamma comes corruption of the discipline, and from corruption of the discipline comes corruption of the Dhamma. This is the first future danger as yet unarisen that will arise in the future. You should recognize it and make an effort to prevent it. (AN 5.79)

"If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good." - Thomas J. Watson

Never again...


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