If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

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If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby Wind » Sun May 16, 2010 2:04 am

I was just thinking if Nibbana doesn't exist but everything else is still true, would Buddhism still be worth practicing for you?
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Re: If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 16, 2010 2:13 am

Greetings Wind,

For a while I doubted whether nibbana was actually possible.

Even when I was unsure about this I still knew Buddhism was worthwhile for the benefits it brings here and now.

At Dharma Wheel, m0rl0ck recently posted this little animated Dharma comic... http://www.buddhanet.net/flash/toc/index.html ... which concludes with the following words...

"Truth is subject to practice and testing. If it is proper Truth, we definitely should be able to acquire sweet fruits through practice right away. If it only abstractly promises a reward in the next life, this may be an irresponsible trick to delude the Ignorant."

I agree with the sentiment of this. If Buddhism did nothing for me here and now, on what basis would there be for regarding it any more highly than any other religion which promised fruits in the afterlife? If that's all Buddhism offered, I would never have bothered with it.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby Kenshou » Sun May 16, 2010 2:37 am

Depends on the extent that the eightfold path retains it's usefulness in ending suffering, under these hypothetical conditions. If it's just that arahantship proper/completion of the path is impossible for whatever reason (dharma ending age oh no!), I think it would still be useful. Not-quite-nibbana still cuts out a lot of dukkha.

However, in the context of the entire doctrine, if there's no nibbana then there's no ending of rebirths, so if one wants to really end becoming, then we've got a problem. In that situation the effectiveness of buddhism in the long term is basically nonexistent.
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Re: If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby Wind » Sun May 16, 2010 2:40 am

Good response there retro. I agree. Buddhism has bear many good fruits for me here and now. I have overcome my anger, greed, and self-delusion to some extent ever since I started learning and practicing. I have a much more serene mind. I accept change in my life whether it's good or bad with equanimity. I used to suffer so much because of my desires for this or that life... not knowing the true way out of it, I kept pursuing sensual pleasure that gave me no more than just brief moments of joy. Buddhism has gave me the way out here and now. I feel much more free. And I find myself becoming a better person, a more honest person. These are the positive changes I received through Buddhism.

By the way Retro, how did you overcome the doubt that nibbana was possible?
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Re: If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby bodom » Sun May 16, 2010 3:01 am

"The disciple of the Noble Ones, Kalamas, who has such a hate-free mind, such a malice-free mind, such an undefiled mind, and such a purified mind, is one by whom four solaces are found here and now."'Suppose there is a hereafter and there is a fruit, result, of deeds done well or ill. Then it is possible that at the dissolution of the body after death, I shall arise in the heavenly world, which is possessed of the state of bliss.' This is the first solace found by him."'Suppose there is no hereafter and there is no fruit, no result, of deeds done well or ill. Yet in this world, here and now, free from hatred, free from malice, safe and sound, and happy, I keep myself.' This is the second solace found by him."'Suppose evil (results) befall an evil-doer. I, however, think of doing evil to no one. Then, how can ill (results) affect me who do no evil deed?' This is the third solace found by him."'Suppose evil (results) do not befall an evil-doer. Then I see myself purified in any case.' This is the fourth solace
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby Anicca » Sun May 16, 2010 3:40 am

Wind wrote:...if Nibbana doesn't exist but everything else is still true, would Buddhism still be worth practicing

Yes. Why? - in one word -sila. If Nibbana existed without sila - IT would not be worth it.
(edit: i know Nibbana is unconditioned - but you get my drift...)
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Re: If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun May 16, 2010 4:08 am

I guess many of our answers are a Buddhist version of this cartoon: "What if there is no Nibbanna and we liberate our minds for nothing...? "

Image

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Re: If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby Anicca » Sun May 16, 2010 4:22 am

Wind wrote:By the way Retro, how did you overcome the doubt that nibbana was possible?

I love listening to the wind....
You listening, Retro?
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Re: If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby Shonin » Sun May 16, 2010 6:54 am

There is no need to rely on faith and hope. Nibbana is the extinction of greed, hatred, and delusion. We can all taste that here and now for periods in our lives. As for final Nibbana, the permanent cessation of these three fires, we may or may not get there, but if we're practicing then we're moving in that direction, the fruits of which can be experienced here and now.

If I was not experiencing this tendency in my own life through Buddhist practice I would probably have lost interest to be honest.

But thanks to Lord Buddha it does what it says on the tin. :jumping:
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Re: If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby retrofuturist » Sun May 16, 2010 7:50 am

Greetings Wind,

Wind wrote:By the way Retro, how did you overcome the doubt that nibbana was possible?

sabbe sankhara anicca, sabbe sankhara dukkha, sabbe dhamma anatta.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby Pannapetar » Sun May 16, 2010 9:17 am

Wind wrote:I was just thinking if Nibbana doesn't exist but everything else is still true, would Buddhism still be worth practicing for you?


Of course not. It would be like attempting to square the circle. However, since small pieces of nirvana are readily realisable and can be experienced by anyone even with a little bit of practice, the question is hypothetical.

Cheers, Thomas
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Re: If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun May 16, 2010 12:01 pm

Wind wrote:I was just thinking if Nibbana doesn't exist but everything else is still true, would Buddhism still be worth practicing for you?


Nibbana exist? What sort of thing is a nibbana? The question seems loaded with that kind of nibbana as an unconditioned existent type of idea. I'll leave that for others.

On the other hand, if you were to ask me, "... if nibbana = extinction were not possible, but ..." then that is a different matter.

In this case, the extinction of a given dukkha is its nibbana. The extinction of the totality of dukkha is full nibbana. If the extinction = nibbana of a given dukkha were not possible, what Buddha dhamma would there even be in the first place? When one truth is not possible, the other three are not possible. When the four truths are not, the Dhamma is not.

I can't even make sense out of the question. :tongue:
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Re: If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby Prasadachitta » Sun May 16, 2010 3:30 pm

Paññāsikhara succinctly summed it up.

I will only add comment because Wind has asked "would Buddhism still be worth practicing for you?"

There are those activities which are no doubt a manifestation of my "practicing" Buddhism. Whether or not some of these activities turn out not to be an adequate manifestation of the way to end all stress they are still done for this purpose. And since stress here represents all that is unsatisfactory in existence what else is there to do but strive to bring it to an end. In my opinion such an effort is in itself "worth it" regardless what we call it as long as we reassess and refine it.

So that is my objective assessment in the abstract.

My subjective assessment involves my particular understanding and practice of Buddhism and is therefore anecdotal. That being said its value has no adequate way of being measured. It instantly surpasses any attempt to bring it into comparison with my other objects of value. I don't even have the ability to imagine something of greater value because my imagination becomes subsumed by the goal of the practice. And so you see regardless of where the practice leads me it is already "worth" practicing.


Metta

Gabe
Last edited by Prasadachitta on Sun May 16, 2010 8:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
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Re: If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby Virgo » Sun May 16, 2010 3:43 pm

Pannapetar wrote:
Wind wrote:I was just thinking if Nibbana doesn't exist but everything else is still true, would Buddhism still be worth practicing for you?


Of course not. It would be like attempting to square the circle. However, since small pieces of nirvana are readily realisable and can be experienced by anyone even with a little bit of practice, the question is hypothetical.

Cheers, Thomas

Which Ajahn have told you that?

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Re: If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby Tex » Sun May 16, 2010 4:45 pm

Yes, even if there were no cycle of rebirth and no Nibbana, Buddhism would still be a system that teaches a practitioner to sharpen his concentration and act ethically toward others.

This question reminds me of why we as Buddhists are encouraged to have respect for other faiths -- even if there is no Jesus and no Heaven, that doesn't mean that Christians can't learn valuable life lessons from their practice. The same would hold true for us if the Buddha had been incorrect about Nibbana.
"The serene and peaceful mind is the true epitome of human achievement."-- Ajahn Chah, Living Dhamma

"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi
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Re: If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby Pannapetar » Mon May 17, 2010 1:33 am

Virgo wrote:Which Ajahn have told you that?


Ajahn Brain, the one who is always with me. Some questions can actually be solved by thinking about them.

Cheers, Thomas
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Re: If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby PeterB » Mon May 17, 2010 7:19 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Wind,

For a while I doubted whether nibbana was actually possible.

Even when I was unsure about this I still knew Buddhism was worthwhile for the benefits it brings here and now.

At Dharma Wheel, m0rl0ck recently posted this little animated Dharma comic... http://www.buddhanet.net/flash/toc/index.html ... which concludes with the following words...

"Truth is subject to practice and testing. If it is proper Truth, we definitely should be able to acquire sweet fruits through practice right away. If it only abstractly promises a reward in the next life, this may be an irresponsible trick to delude the Ignorant."

I agree with the sentiment of this. If Buddhism did nothing for me here and now, on what basis would there be for regarding it any more highly than any other religion which promised fruits in the afterlife? If that's all Buddhism offered, I would never have bothered with it.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Nor me.
Time spent in meditation in hours per day...2
Average number of retreats per year .. 4
Time in minutes spent thinking about Nibbana in the course of an average month ? Nil.
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Re: If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby Goofaholix » Mon May 17, 2010 8:27 am

Wind wrote:I was just thinking if Nibbana doesn't exist but everything else is still true, would Buddhism still be worth practicing for you?


The problem with this question is that Nibbana is not a thing or a place, if it were a thing or a place then it would be appropriate to ask whether it existed or not.

A more real challenge for us is not so much believing that it exists but knowing what it's really like. We've all got ideas in our heads that have come from a combination of sources combined with our own imagination and ideals about what it would be like, but that's just a finger pointing at the moon and the reality of it could be very different.

So I think for most of us a little bit of nibbana and a little bit less samsara in our present lives is what keeps us going.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby christopher::: » Mon May 17, 2010 9:44 am

Lots of excellent responses here.

Paññāsikhara wrote:
Wind wrote:I was just thinking if Nibbana doesn't exist but everything else is still true, would Buddhism still be worth practicing for you?


Nibbana exist? What sort of thing is a nibbana? The question seems loaded with that kind of nibbana as an unconditioned existent type of idea. I'll leave that for others.

On the other hand, if you were to ask me, "... if nibbana = extinction were not possible, but ..." then that is a different matter.

In this case, the extinction of a given dukkha is its nibbana. The extinction of the totality of dukkha is full nibbana. If the extinction = nibbana of a given dukkha were not possible, what Buddha dhamma would there even be in the first place? When one truth is not possible, the other three are not possible. When the four truths are not, the Dhamma is not.

I can't even make sense out of the question. :tongue:


:bow:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: If Nibbana doesn't exist, would Buddhism still be worth it?

Postby chownah » Mon May 17, 2010 2:20 pm

Buddhism is not worth it regardless.
Nothing is worth it.
It's all dukkha.
Give it up.
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