Does nibbana involve perfection of compassion?

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Balderdashy
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Does nibbana involve perfection of compassion?

Post by Balderdashy »

My background is in Mahayana, but I am interested to know...

(1) Does Theravada understand nibbana to involve the perfection of compassion?

(2) For beings who have realized nibbana, do they continue to be involved in the liberation of beings, at least in the sense that they are now unified with the dhamma that leads beings to liberation? Or would this idea be considered misguided or speculative?
santa100
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Re: Does nibbana involve perfection of compassion?

Post by santa100 »

Balderdashy wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2024 7:27 pm My background is in Mahayana, but I am interested to know...

(1) Does Theravada understand nibbana to involve the perfection of compassion?

(2) For beings who have realized nibbana, do they continue to be involved in the liberation of beings, at least in the sense that they are now unified with the dhamma that leads beings to liberation? Or would this idea be considered misguided or speculative?
#1. Depends on which context of "compassion" is being used. If it's meant a component of the Brahmavihara, then yes. But if it's meant one among the Paramis then only one aspiring toward Sammasambuddha-hood would be required, but not for the Four Fruits. ( CORRECTION: after reading the Paramis link more thoroughly, it says: "In Vis.M. IX it is said that through developing the 4 sublime states (loving-kindness, compassion, altruistic joy, equanimity; s. brahma-vihāra), one may reach these 10 perfections". So I'd say that even for the level of the Four Fruits, the Paramis would technically need to reach the level of perfection. Sorry for the confusion and thanks to Cesiwr's post that clarified it! )

#2. Yes. The Buddha and many of His noble disciples after realizing Nibbana still very much involved with daily teaching/instructing/guiding many other disciples, both lay and monastics. Notice the subtle difference in terms as opposed to the more Mahayanic term of "liberating beings". For in Theravada, an enlightened being can only instruct/guide others toward enlightenment, but cannot "liberate" them. They can "show the door", but the individual would have to "walk thru it by themselves" with their own two feet.
Last edited by santa100 on Sat Apr 20, 2024 9:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Does nibbana involve perfection of compassion?

Post by Ceisiwr »

Balderdashy wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2024 7:27 pm My background is in Mahayana, but I am interested to know...

(1) Does Theravada understand nibbana to involve the perfection of compassion?
Traditional Theravāda recognises 10 pāramīs
  • Dāna pāramī: generosity, giving of oneself
  • Sīla pāramī: virtue, morality, proper conduct
  • Nekkhamma pāramī: renunciation
  • Paññā pāramī: wisdom, discernment
  • Viriya pāramī: energy, diligence, vigour, effort
  • Khanti pāramī: patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance
  • Sacca pāramī: truthfulness, honesty
  • Adhiṭṭhāna pāramī: determination, resolution
  • Mettā pāramī: goodwill, friendliness, loving-kindness
  • Upekkhā pāramī: equanimity, serenity
Different to Mahāyāna though in that these aren't practiced to reach Buddhadhood only. Rather anyone who wants to awaken has to perfect them, so they apply to Arahants too.
(2) For beings who have realized nibbana, do they continue to be involved in the liberation of beings, at least in the sense that they are now unified with the dhamma that leads beings to liberation? Or would this idea be considered misguided or speculative?
The Buddha went on to teach for over 40 years. His disciples went on to teach their own students, and so on to this day. There is no concept of not entering nibbāna though in order to save other beings. The goal in Theravāda is nibbāna.
“There is happiness arising from sensual pleasures and pain arising from seclusion; the pain springing from seclusion is better than the happiness arising from sensual pleasures”

Godattattheragāthā
Balderdashy
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Re: Does nibbana involve perfection of compassion?

Post by Balderdashy »

I used the term nibbana when I meant parinibbana. When one has realized parinibbana, does one continue to work for the liberation of other beings in any way, or is one simply "gone" and not involved anymore? Or is this one of those questions that cannot be answered?
santa100
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Re: Does nibbana involve perfection of compassion?

Post by santa100 »

Balderdashy wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2024 9:48 pm I used the term nibbana when I meant parinibbana. When one has realized parinibbana, does one continue to work for the liberation of other beings in any way, or is one simply "gone" and not involved anymore? Or is this one of those questions that cannot be answered?
Again, from the Theravada standpoint, the physical presence of the Enlightened One is not the pre-requisite for the liberation of other beings, as the Buddha clearly stated in His instruction to Ven. Vakkali:
SN 22.87 wrote:"For a long time, Lord, I have wanted to come and set eyes on the Blessed One, but I had not the strength in this body to come and see the Blessed One."

"Enough, Vakkali! What is there to see in this vile body? He who sees Dhamma, Vakkali, sees me; he who sees me sees Dhamma. Truly seeing Dhamma, one sees me; seeing me one sees Dhamma."
Just FYI to Balderdashy: if you have many questions that need quicker response, consider asking them in forums outside of this "Theravada for Beginners", cuz this forum requires administrators/moderators to review and approve all replies before you can see them.
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Does nibbana involve perfection of compassion?

Post by Ceisiwr »

Balderdashy wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2024 9:48 pm I used the term nibbana when I meant parinibbana. When one has realized parinibbana, does one continue to work for the liberation of other beings in any way, or is one simply "gone" and not involved anymore? Or is this one of those questions that cannot be answered?
If you mean does the Buddha or Arahant continue to liberate beings after their life span has ended, then no according to Theravāda. They are no longer reborn into any state of being.

“If he feels a pleasant feeling, he feels it detached; if he feels a painful feeling, he feels it detached; if he feels a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he feels it detached.

“When he feels a feeling terminating with the body, he understands: ‘I feel a feeling terminating with the body.’ When he feels a feeling terminating with life, he understands: ‘I feel a feeling terminating with life.’ He understands: ‘With the breakup of the body, following the exhaustion of life, all that is felt, not being delighted in, will become cool right here; mere bodily remains will be left.’


This occurs quite frequently in the suttas, when talking about the death of an Arahant or Buddha.
“There is happiness arising from sensual pleasures and pain arising from seclusion; the pain springing from seclusion is better than the happiness arising from sensual pleasures”

Godattattheragāthā
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Goofaholix
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Re: Does nibbana involve perfection of compassion?

Post by Goofaholix »

The Mahayana view is that a compassionate teacher somehow continues to work after his death maintaining a dependency of the students on a central figure for their "salvation".

The Theravadin view is after decades of compassionate service the Buddha passed to his students responsibility to look after themselves and maintain his legacy and his teachings.
At Sāvatthī.

“Mendicants, be your own island (sometimes translated as lamp), your own refuge, with no other refuge. Let the teaching be your island and your refuge, with no other refuge.- SN 22.43
Pronouns (no self / not self)
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.”
― Ajahn Chah
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Re: Does nibbana involve perfection of compassion?

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For beings who have realized nibbana, do they continue to be involved in the liberation of beings, at least in the sense that they are now unified with the dhamma that leads beings to liberation? Or would this idea be considered misguided or speculative?
Depends on an individual. Some will help and do more, some will do less. Even Buddha, according to Pali texts, didn't want to start teaching Dhamma, and later he didn't care about how many people could be saved by Dhamma, he just knew that those who follow his advice move towards full liberation. It was up to people - to follow him or not. In very rare cases he put personal effort to save certain people (with great awakening potential) from falling into lower realms and instead guided them to full liberation.
Suddh
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Re: Does nibbana involve perfection of compassion?

Post by Suddh »

Balderdashy wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2024 7:27 pm My background is in Mahayana, but I am interested to know...

(1) Does Theravada understand nibbana to involve the perfection of compassion?

(2) For beings who have realized nibbana, do they continue to be involved in the liberation of beings, at least in the sense that they are now unified with the dhamma that leads beings to liberation? Or would this idea be considered misguided or speculative?
1) The suttas make no mention of Perfections, although the elders who wrote the Theravādā commentaries added the idea c.1000yrs later. The Buddha recommends viewing the suttas' as authoritative, and only accepting the words of elders as true Dhamma when they're found to conform with the suttas. Since the Commentarial position has been explained above to you, I'll give you what I know of the suttas' position.

An arahant entirely abandons all roots of harmful impulses, which is equal to rather perfect compassion in my book. Buddhas are the one type of person said to arise out of compassion for the world (AN 1.170). MN 31, however, gives an example of the Buddha declaring that a group of his arahant disciples are practising out of compassion for the world, and when reading the context it's hard not to imagine this wouldn't apply to all arahants.

2) The subject of how an awakened being's compassion might manifest after the passing of the body would seem to lie in the realm of possibilities that the Buddha refused to answer and advised against guessing at.

He refused to answer the question of whether or not an awakened being exists after death on the basis that such speculation doesn't lead out of suffering. To believe that they do falls into a form of unhelpful speculation, as does believing that they don't exist (this would include believing that they don't ultimately exist at all) - even believing that they neither do nor don't exist/both do and don't exist after death is misguided.

He also said that the range of a Buddha is acinteyya - you shouldn't think about it. This is a warning that shouldn't be taken lightly - he said such speculation can drive you insane. Anyone who speculates about whether an awakened is or isn't able to help after parinibbāna has fallen into the trap. As the Buddha said, Tathāgatas are deep, boundless and unfathomable, like the ocean.
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mjaviem
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Re: Does nibbana involve perfection of compassion?

Post by mjaviem »

Balderdashy wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2024 7:27 pm ...
(1) Does Theravada understand nibbana to involve the perfection of compassion?
...
In the Suttas you can find there is a progression from plesant abidings to peaceful abidings. And yes, this involves perfecting non-cruelty, considerateness and humanity among other virtues.
Balderdashy wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2024 7:27 pm ...
(2) For beings who have realized nibbana, do they continue to be involved in the liberation of beings, at least in the sense that they are now unified with the dhamma that leads beings to liberation? Or would this idea be considered misguided or speculative?
Balderdashy wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2024 9:48 pm I used the term nibbana when I meant parinibbana. When one has realized parinibbana, does one continue to work for the liberation of other beings in any way, or is one simply "gone" and not involved anymore? Or is this one of those questions that cannot be answered?
An speculative and passionate idea not appropriate to reach the goal and out of scope. The teachings are about understanding suffering and liberating from it. They don't give answers to playful thoughts about what ifs.
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammā Sambuddhassa
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