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Pali Term: Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 5:42 am
by Assaji
Hello Pali friends,

First I will reproduce partly the E-Sangha thread on this subject.

Piotr wrote:


recently Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu published his translation of Brahma-nimantanika Sutta (MN. 49), where viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ also appears. Besides his understanding of this term, I wonder if anybody can translate what Aṭṭhakathā, has to say about this?

Here is relevant passage:
Satthā pana etasmā brahmunā sataguṇena sahassaguṇena satasahassaguṇena vādītaro, tasmā ahaṃ sabbañca vakkhāmi, ananubhūtañca vakkhāmi, suṇāhi meti tassa vādamaddanatthaṃ kāraṇaṃ āharanto viññāṇantiādimāha. Tattha viññāṇanti vijānitabbaṃ. Anidassananti cakkhuviññāṇassa āpāthaṃ anupagamanato anidassanaṃ nāma, padadvayenapi nibbānameva vuttaṃ. Anantanti tayidaṃ uppādavayaantarahitattā anantaṃ nāma. Vuttampi hetaṃ –

‘‘Antavantāni bhūtāni, asambhūtaṃ anantakaṃ;

Bhūte antāni dissanti, bhūte antā pakāsitā’’ti.

Sabbatopabhanti sabbaso pabhāsampannaṃ. Nibbānato hi añño dhammo sapabhataro vā jotivantataro vā parisuddhataro vā paṇḍarataro vā natthi. Sabbato vā tathā pabhūtameva, na katthaci natthīti sabbatopabhaṃ. Puratthimadisādīsu hi asukadisāya nāma nibbānaṃ natthīti na vattabbaṃ. Atha vā pabhanti titthassa nāmaṃ, sabbato pabhamassāti sabbatopabhaṃ. Nibbānassa kira yathā mahāsamuddassa yato yato otaritukāmā honti, taṃ tadeva titthaṃ, atitthaṃ nāma natthi. Evamevaṃ aṭṭhatiṃsāya kammaṭṭhānesu yena yena mukhena nibbānaṃ otaritukāmā honti, taṃ tadeva titthaṃ. Nibbānassa atitthaṃ nāma kammaṭṭhānaṃ natthi. Tena vuttaṃ sabbatopabhanti. Taṃ pathaviyā pathavattenāti taṃ nibbānaṃ pathaviyā pathavīsabhāvena tato paresaṃ āpādīnaṃ āpādisabhāvena ca ananubhūtaṃ. Iti yaṃ tumhādisānaṃ visayabhūtaṃ sabbatebhūmakadhammajātaṃ tassa sabbattena taṃ viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ anantaṃ sabbatopataṃ ananubhūtanti vādaṃ patiṭṭhapesi.
Best wishes,

Re: Pali Term: Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 5:46 am
by Assaji
Kester (formerly Bh. Santi) wrote:
I wonder if anybody can translate what Aṭṭhakathā, has to say about this?

Best wishes,

I'm sorry to inform you that I'm not 'Bhikkhu Santi' anymore. I left mainly because I was dissappointed with the actual modern tradition. But that's another story. I will re-register by my lay name soon, which is Kester.

I can have a go at translating this comy, but no doubt I will get ticked off for muddling up the grammar a little as I usually do.

I would also like to mention that Ven. Brahmali of Bodhinyana monastery is preparing a paper on this topic comparing the variant readings in the Chinese translation of this sutra in the Agamas. It is quite significantly different in this passage, and could possibly be more authentic as well as easier to make sense of.

Ok I'll have a go:

The Teacher because Brahmā had thousands and hundreds of thousands of good qualities and was more teachable [?, a bit of a guess for vaadiitaro?], therefore he said to him “ I will tell you the All and what does not partake of that [?I’m just remembering Ven. Nyanamoli’s trs. of this slightly baffling term], listen to me’, for the reason of crushing his doctrine. ‘Consciousness’: Herein ‘consciousness’ is what is to be cognized. ‘Invisible’: means not approaching the entry path of eye consciousness, and in a second pada it is said to be nibbāna. ‘Endless’: endless here means the disappearance of arising and passing away. This also was said:

‘Beings in the power of the End, the non-become and endless,
When beings see the Ends, the end of beings is revealed.’

[This is mostly guesswork, I’m not fluent enough to translate this verse confidently. I’m guessing in pada a the End is a name for Death, that the non-become and endless is the extinguishment of repeated death, nibbāna. I’m not sure why the antāni in pada c appears to be neuter plural, and I’m guessing that the –e locative in pada d, ‘about’, is poetic license for ‘of’.]

‘Everywhere luminous’: everywhere perfected in luminence. There is no dhamma more self-luminous, radiant, pure, or wise [what the?] than nibbāna. Or, everywhere there was development, there was nothing whatever’, that is ‘sabbato pabhaṁ’ [development in the pejorative sense of bhava, continuation of the process of existence]. [‘]In the Eastern direction, and the other directions, it means there is no nibbāna[’] is not to be said. [I.e. ‘sabbatopabhaṁ’ means that nibbāna is not not anywhere.] Then also pabha is the name of a ford, ‘everywhere is a ford to it’ is ‘sabbatopabhaṁ’. Whoever as far as the great ocean wants to enter the mouth of nibbāna can enter it by that ford, for there is nowhere that is not a ford. Even so among the thirty eight meditation objects there is none that is not a ford to it. Therefore it was said ‘sabbatopabhaṁ’.

‘That does not partake of the earthiness of earth’: that nibbāna does not partake of the earthiness of earth, therefore the other āpādī [?] do not partake of the āpādīness of āpādī. Thus what is within yours and the other’s range, all of you [sabbe te] earthlings [bhūmaka], born of Dhamma [dhammajātaṁ], for in every way that consciousness is invisible, endless, everywhere radiant [sabbatopataṁ is clearly just a misspelling] not partaking of/ not become along with” he [the Teacher] established the doctrine.

Sorry I realise the last paragraph probably won’t make much more sense to you than it did in Pāli, but I’m tired and commentarial language is fiendish compared to the nice simple Suttas. I couldn’t find āpādi in the DPTS, I guess it’s referring to the other properties listed in the sutta but I don’t recognise the term.

If you’re seriously interested in this verse I highly recommend asking Ven. Brahmāli for a sneak preview of his paper on the version in the Chinese recension. He’ll be incommunicado until after the Vassa, but you could send a fax to +61 8 9525 3420 asking him to contact you about it after the Vassa (end of October).


Re: Pali Term: Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 5:50 am
by Assaji
Ven. Dhammanando wrote:

Hi Kester,
I can have a go at translating this comy, but no doubt I will get ticked off for muddling up the grammar a little as I usually do.
I'll tick you off later for the grammatical muddles; for now let me confine myself to the gravest error in your translation, which is an error of understanding, not grammar. This is your rendering of viññāṇaṃ as "consciousness", which in effect asserts the very thing the commentator seeks to deny.
tattha viññāṇan ti vijānitabbaṃ

Herein ‘consciousness’ is what is to be cognized
It ought to be:

Herein [in this sutta], viññāṇaṃ means "should be cognized".

The commentarial tradition strongly rejects the idea that nibbāna is any kind of consciousness and the commentator's point here is that viññāṇaṃ in this context is not to be understood in its more common sense (i.e. as a noun meaning "consciousness") but rather as an adjective qualifying the noun anidassanaṃ.

I have written on this subject many times already; see this thread for example.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

Re: Pali Term: Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 5:54 am
by Assaji
Kester wrote:
tattha viññāṇan ti vijānitabbaṃ

Herein ‘consciousness’ is what is to be cognized
It ought to be:

Herein [in this sutta], viññāṇaṃ means "should be cognized".

Hi Bhante,

I didn't mean to muddle the meaning of what the commentator is saying - I disagree with our beloved commentator, but that's another matter from translation - I should have just left the 'viññāṇaṃ' untranslated, like I did in the cases of 'sabbatopabha.m' being glossed as 'having fords everywhere', because pabha as a ford is unknown anywhere else.

If so, the revision would be:
'viññāṇaṃ': herein viññāṇaṃ is what is to be cognized.

I helped Ven. Brahmāli with the Chinese of his paper, we both use Dr.Eye 7 to get started, then we checked it with a classical Chinese expert. The results were really extremely interesting, but I'm sorry I can't remember the details. I will remind him after Vassa if no one else does to finish it off and publish it in the BSR as soon as he can.

Garavamettaya, Kester.

Re: Pali Term: Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 5:56 am
by Assaji
Piotr wrote:

Bhante, Kester,

thank you for your kind help. I am unable to contact with bhante Brahmāli, but I hope he will publish his paper, as soon as it is possible.

If anybody can polish up Kester's translation, it would be great help to me. :smile:

Best wishes,

Re: Pali Term: Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 6:01 am
by Assaji
Ven. Dhammanando wrote:

Hi Piotr,
If anybody can polish up Kester's translation, it would be great help to me. :smile:
Here's my attempt at the first half. I have followed the Thai and Burmese convention of leaving the words being commented on in Pali.

satthā pana etasmā brahmunā sataguṇena sahassaguṇena satasahassaguṇena vādītaro, tasmā ahaṃ sabbañca vakkhāmi, ananubhūtañca vakkhāmi, suṇāhi meti tassa vādamaddanatthaṃ kāraṇaṃ āharanto viññāṇan ti-ādimāha.

The Teacher, being more eloquent than Brahmā by a hundred times, a thousand times, a hundred thousand times, thus resorted to a device that would confute the latter's speech, saying: "I shall declare the all, and I shall declare that which nothing follows (alternatively: "that from which nothing proceeds/arises"). Listen to me!" He then spoke the words commencing "viññāṇaṃ ..."

tattha viññāṇan ti vijānitabbaṃ.

Herein, viññāṇan means to be cognized. (Alternatively: can be cognized; should be cognized; cognizable).

[Sub-commentary: vijānitabban ti maggaphalapaccavekkhaṇañāṇehi visesato sabbasaṅkhatavisiṭṭhatāya jānitabbaṃ.
vijānitabbaṃ means to be known by the [insight] knowledges of path, fruition and reviewing, due to its utter distinctness from all that is conditioned.]

anidassanan ti cakkhuviññāṇassa āpāthaṃ anupagamanato anidassanaṃ nāma, padadvayenapi nibbānameva vuttaṃ.

anidassanaṃ means that it is called "invisible" on account of its not entering the avenue of eye-consciousness. It is just nibbāna that is referred to by these two words [i.e. viññāṇaṃ and anidassanaṃ].

anantan ti tayidaṃ uppādavaya-antarahitattā anantaṃ nāma.

anantaṃ means that [nibbāna] is called "without an end" on account of the non-occurrence of arising and falling away.

vuttampi hetaṃ:
“antavantāni bhūtāni, asambhūtaṃ anantakaṃ.
bhūte antāni dissanti, bhūte antā pakāsitā” ti

And so it is said:
"Living beings have ends;
What is unproduced [nibbāna], is without an end.
Ends can be seen with respect to a living being;
The ends with respect to a living being are manifest."

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

Re: Pali Term: Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 6:05 am
by Assaji
Kester wrote:

Aha, so that's what vādītaro was about! I'll remember that one now.


Re: Pali Term: Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 6:06 am
by Assaji
Ven. Dhammanando wrote:
Aha, so that's what vādītaro was about! I'll remember that one now.
It's just vādī + comparative suffix -tara.

Comparative suffixes: -tara, -iya, -iyissaka
Comparative prefix: ati-

Superlative suffixes: -tama, -iṭṭha.
Superlative prefix: ativiya-

As for the construction "sataguṇena... etc.", this is covered in the PED's entry for "guṇa".

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

Re: Pali Term: Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 6:08 am
by Assaji
Piotr wrote:

Here's my attempt at the first half.

thank you very much!

Best wishes,

Re: Pali Term: Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 6:13 am
by Assaji
Piotr wrote:

Hi all,

in The Life of the Buddha Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli translates verse from MN 49:
Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ
anantaṃ sabbatopabhaṃ

The conciousness that makes no showing,
Nor has to do with finitness, claiming no being apart from all.

He also makes extensive explanation about this in one footnote:
7. The emphasis is all on the notion of being ("to be or not to be"). The allotment of utterances and the readings are taken from the Burmese ed., which is more reliable here than any other and has nāpahosiṃ instead of nāhosi. All the clauses from that with "earth" down to "all" should be read (e.g.) thus: sabbaṃ kho ahaṃ brahme sabbato abhiññāya yāvatā sabbassa sabbattena ananubhūtaṃ, tad abhiññāya sabbaṃ nāpahosiṃ, sabbasmiṃ nāpahosiṃ, sabbato nāpahosiṃ, sabbaṃ me ti nāpahosiṃ, sabbaṃ nābhivadiṃ ("Having had direct knowledge of all as all..."). In both this sutta and DN 11 the line, Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ anantaṃ sabbatopabhaṃ ("The consciousness that makes now showing...") is spoken by the Buddha (this page and also p. 146). The line has puzzled many. The Majjhima Commentary allows much greater latitude that the Digha Commentary and puts forward a derivation from the root bhū (to be) for pabhaṃ (or pahaṃ). Following this hint, though not quite on the lines suggested by the Comy., we could take sabbatopabhaṃ to be made up of sabbato and a contracted form of the present participle of pahoti (= pabhavati), i.e., pahaṃ (=pabhaṃ). This ties up with the preceding sabbato abhiññāya... sabbaṃ nāpahosiṃ; however, the sense the requires a suppressed negative, i.e., sabbatopahaṃ = sabbato apahaṃ ("claiming no being apart from all"). The letters h and bh are easily mistaken for each other in Sinhalese. In DN 11, in which the same line occurs, the Buddha is probably quoting from discourse. We have here material for the nucleus of an interesting ontological study.

Best wishes,

Re: Pali Term: Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 6:21 am
by Assaji
Kester wrote:

Here's the Chinese parallel, translated by Aj Brahmali, Sis Samacitta and me:

Chinese parallel to the Pali Kevaddha Sutta.

何由 - 無 - 四 - 大  地 - 水 - 火 - 風 - 滅
where - no - four - great (elements) earth - water - fire - wind - cease

何由 - 無 - 麤 - 細  及 - 長 - 短 - 好 - 醜
where – no – gross – subtle and – long – short – beautiful - ugly

何由 - 無 - 名 - 色  永 - 滅 - 無 - 有餘
where – no –name – form forever – cease – without - remainder

應 - 答 - 識 - 無 - 形  無 - 量 - 自 - 有光
should - answer - consciousness - without - form infinite - self - illuminating

此 - 滅 - 四 - 大 - 滅  麤 - 細 - 好 - 醜 - 滅
this - cease - four - great (elements) - cease gross - subtle - beautiful - ugly - cease

於此 - 名 - 色 - 滅  識 - 滅 - 餘 - 亦 - 滅
therefore - name - form - cease consciousness - ceases - remainder - also - ceases

CBETA, T01, no. 1, p. 102, c14-19. (T I 102,c14-19)

According to Sister Samacitta “this” in line 5 probably refers to the consciousness in the previous line. Also according to her, line 5 means: “when this ceases, then the four great elements cease”.

Note that according to the Chinese it is only when anidassana viññāna ceases that the four great elements etc. cease. This supports the idea that the Pali should be read as two questions with two answers.

I hope you won't object that 'This is the Pali Forum!' not the Chinese forum, because of course this Chinese parallel is called a parallel because it more or less corresponds with the same ancient source text as the Pali recension.

The implication, as far as I understand, of the interpretation that the verses contain two questions and two answers, not one, is that the contraversial term 'vinnanam anidassanam' refers to something closely related to nibbana but not nibbana itself, probably a meditation attainment of arahants known variously as 'a~n~naphaala-samaadhi' or the three 'vimokkhas' - animitta-, apa.nihiita-, and su~n~nata-vihaara.

The difference between the Pali Commentator's interpretation and the view that 'vinnanam anidassanam' refers to annyaphala-samadhi and not nibbana itself is extremely subtle and I don't imagine it means there's any real difference in intention between the Pali Commentator and those who say it refers to annyaphaala-samaadhi not nibbana.

The reason for prefering to avoid the interpretation that it refers to nibbana is that in modern times there are some who would like nibbana to mean a permanent state or level of consciousness - effectively a self or soul, and this verse is often used or misused by them for that purpose.

If there is any difference in intent from the Pali Commentator's position, then it would be this: in the viewpoint of those who say it refers to annyaphaala-samaadhi not nibbana, 'nibbana' means the principle that 'whatever is arisen by nature all of that is also of the nature to cease' or 'this is peaceful, this is sublime, that is, the stilling of all constructions, the relinquishment of all belongings, the exhaustion of craving, fading away, cessation, extinguishment' - i.e. without any external cause, things cease peacefully by their own nature, whereas in some passages of the Pali commentaries it appears as if the commentators advance a view that 'nibbana' is an entity - in a substantial, discrete, ontological sense. This is an extremely subtle difference, so subtle indeed that it may be merely a matter of a certain lack of precision in certain expressions in the traditional Pali commentaries and not a real difference in intent.

I'm going travelling in India for three months soon and will be busy until then, so it's unlikely I'll be responding much on this topic for a while.


Re: Pali Term: Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 6:34 am
by Assaji
Robertk2 wrote:

The phase viññanam anidassanam has been explained by the pali attakattha and tika. Suan Lu zwa, a Burmese pali scholar writes:

"Tattha viññatabbanti "Viññanam" nibbanassetam namam,.."
"There, to be known specially, so (it is) "Viññanam". This is the
name of nibbana."
And Kevatta Sutta Tika further explains the phrase "viññatabbanti"
as follows.
"Viññatabbanti visitthena ñatabbam, ñanuttamena
ariyamaggañanena paccakkhato janitabbanti attho, tenaha
"nibbanassetam namam"ti."
"(To be known specially) means to be extraordinarily known. The
meaning is 'to be known in the sense of realization by ultimate
wisdom, by noble path wisdom'". Therefore, (the commentator) stated
that 'This is the name of nibbana'"
Therefore, the term 'Viññanam' in the line of the original Pali
"Viññanam anidassanam, anantam sabbatopabham .." does not refer to
consciousness, the usual meaning of viññanam.
In fact, the same verse includes the following two lines
"Ettha namañca rupañca, asesam uparujjhati
Viññanassa nirodhena, etthetam uparujjhati'ti".
"Here (in nibbana), nama as well as rupa ceases without remainder.
By ceasing of consciousness, nama as well as rupa ceases here."
Nibbana does not become a sort of consciousness just because one of
its Pali names happens to be Viññanam.
In English language, the term 'object' can have different meanings.
For example, the term 'object' in visual object has no relation to
the term 'object' in my object of studying Pali.""

Re: Pali Term: Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 6:59 am
by Assaji
Bhikkhu Gavesako wrote:

Ven. Nyanananda offers an interesting explanation of the word anidassana viññāna in his Nibbana Sermon 7: (sorry if you don't have the right font)

It is in a consciousness, that is anidassana, ananta, and sabbato pabha, that earth, water, fire, and air do not find a footing. It is in this consciousness that long and short, fine and coarse, and pleasant and unpleasant, as well as name-and-form, are kept in check. It is by the cessation of consciousness that all these are held in check.

Let us now try to sort out the meaning of the difficult words in the first two lines. First of all, in the expression viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ, there is the term anidassana. The meaning of the word nidassana is fairly well known. It means `illustration'. Something that `throws light on' or `makes clear' is called nidassana. This is the basic sense.

We find an instance of the use of this word, even in this basic sense, in the first Kosalasutta among the Tens of the Aṅguttara Nikāya. It is in connection with the description of abhibhāyatanā, bases of mastery, where there is a reference to contemplation devices known as kasiṇa. It is said that even the flax flower can be used initially as a sign for kasiṇa meditation. A flax flower is described in the following words: Umāpupphaṃ nīlaṃ nīla­vaṇṇaṃ nīlanidassanaṃ nīlanibhāsaṃ,[iii] which may be rendered as: "The flax flower, blue, blue-coloured, manifesting blue, shining blue". Nīlanidassanaṃ suggests that the flax flower is an illustration of blue colour, or that it is a manifestation of blue. Anidassana could therefore be said to refer to whatever does not manifest anything.

In fact, we have a very good example in support of this suggested sense in the Kakacūpamasutta of the Majjhima Nikāya. There we find the Buddha putting a certain question to the monks in order to bring out a simile: "Monks, suppose a man comes with crimson, turmeric, indigo or carmine and says: `I shall draw pictures and make pictures appear on the sky!' What do you think, monks, could that man draw pictures and make pictures appear there?" Then the monks reply: Ayañhi, bhante, ākāso arūpī anidassano. Tattha na sukaraṃ rūpaṃ likhituṃ, rūpapātubhāvaṃ kātuṃ.[iv] "This sky, Lord, is immaterial and non-illustrative. It is not easy to draw a picture there or make manifest pictures there."

Here we have the words in support of the above suggested meaning. The sky is said to be arūpī anidassano, immaterial and non-illustrative. That is why one cannot draw pictures there or make pictures appear there. There is nothing material in the sky to make manifest pictures. That is, the sense in which it is called anidassano in this context. (...)

Now viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ is a reference to the nature of the released consciousness of an arahant. It does not reflect anything. To be more precise, it does not reflect a nāma-rūpa, or name-and-form. An ordinary individual sees a nāma-rūpa, when he reflects, which he calls `I' and `mine'. It is like the reflection of that dog, which sees its own delusive reflection in the water. A non-arahant, upon reflection, sees name-and-form, which however he mistakes to be his self. With the notion of `I' and `mine' he falls into delusion with regard to it. But the arahant's consciousness is an unestablished consciousness.

We have already mentioned in previous sermons about the established consciousness and the unestablished consciousness.[ix] A non-arahant's consciousness is established on name-and-form. The unestablished consciousness is that which is free from name-and-form and is unestablished on name-and-form. The established consciousness, upon reflection, reflects name-and-form, on which it is established, whereas the unestablished consciousness does not find a name-and-form as a reality. The arahant has no attachments or entanglements in regard to name-and-form. In short, it is a sort of penetration of name-and-form, without getting entangled in it. This is how we have to unravel the meaning of the expression anidassana viññāṇa.

There are a lot of good points in his text, and he draws together various strands of thought evident in the Suttas to point out the meaning of this term. The sabbato pabham gets translated differently, sometimes as "lustrous all around" and sometimes "not becoming anything at all". I'm still not sure about the etymology, it could be either one (although the "mystical approach" to the Pali Suttas will prefer the first).

Suguno, poo roo does not come directly from the Pali, it's a Thai word, although there are similar words in Pali that could be taken to mean the same thing (e.g. vedagu, which has been taken by some as a "self").

Bhikkhu Gavesako

Re: Pali Term: Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 7:11 am
by Assaji
Elohim wrote:

Venerable Santi, all,

Why would the Buddha even use a term that was synonymous with Nibbaana with the word in it?

While the Venerable Thanissaro's view concerning vinnyana.m anidassana.m certainly appears to be a type of experience in relation to Nibbaana, it doesn't seem so out of the ordinary to me considering other descriptions of Nibbaana throughout the Paali Canon and Commentaries. In the Abhidhammattha Sangaha, for example, the descriptions and explanations of Nibbaana lend their support to idea that Nibbaana is not always seen as merely being cessation of greed, hatred, and delusion and nothing more.

It is definitely strange for me to imagine that a commentary on the Abhidhamma Pitaka, of all things, would coincide with what people often tend to perceive as a heretical, eternalistic view of Nibbana (and/or the experience of such) these days, but on page 315 of the 1968 edition translated by the Venerable Narada Maha Thera it states:
Nibbaana (59)

Nibbaana however is termed supramundane and is to be realized by the wisdom of the Four Paths. It becomes an object to the Paths and Fruits, and is called Nibbaana because it is a departure (ni) from cord-like (vaana) craving.

Nibbaana is onefold according to its intrinsic nature.

According to the way (it is experienced) it is twofold-namely, the element of Nibbaana with the substrata remaining and the element of Nibbaana without substrata remaining.

It is threefold according to its different aspects-namely, Void (60), Signless (61), and Longing-free (62).

Great seers who are free from craving declare that Nibbaana is an objective state (63) which is deathless, absolutely endless, non-conditioned (64), and incomparable.

This, as fourfold, the Tathaagatas reveal the Ultimate entities:-consciousness, mental states, matter, and Nibbaana.
In the Abhidhamma Compendium this is the sixth chapter which deals with th analysis of matter.

From the notes on page 318:
Nibbana is also derived from ni + (symbol I can't make that looks like a check mark) vaa, to blow. In that case Nibbaana means the blowing out, the extinction, or annihilation of the flames of lust, hatred, and ignorance. It should be understood that the mere destruction of passion is not Nibbaana (khayamattam' eva na nibbaananti vattabbam). It is only the means to gain Nibbaana, and is not an end in itself.

Nibbaana is an ultimate reality (vatthudhamma) which is supramundane (lokuttara), that is, beyond the world of mind and body or the five 'aggregates'.

Nibbaana is to be understood by intuitive knowledge (paccakkha or pativedha ~naana and anumaana or anubodha ~naana). To express both ideas it is stated that Nibbaana is to be realized by means of the wisdom pertaining to the four Paths of Sainthood and that it becomes an object to the Paths and Fruits.

Intrinsically (sabhaavato) Nibbaana is peaceful (santi). As such it is unique (kevala). This single Nibbaana is viewed as twofold according to the way it is experienced before and after death. The text uses a simple but recondite Paali phrase-kaarana-pariyaayena. The Ceylon Commentary explains-the cause for naming it as such with respect to its having or not having the aggregates as the remainder (sa-upaadisesaadivasena pa~n~naapane kaaranabhuutassa upaadisesabhaavassa lesena). Adding a note on this term S.Z. Aung writes: "The Ceylon commentaries explain it by pa~n~naapane kaaranassa lesena - by way of device of the means (of knowing) in the matter of language" Compendium, p. 168, n. 6.
And, further concerning Nibbaana it states on page 319-20:
60. Su~n~nata - Devoid of lust, hatred, and ignorance, or of all conditioned things. Void here does not mean that Nibbaana is 'nothingness'.

61. Animitta - Free from the signs of lust etc., or from the signs of all conditioned things.

62. Appanihita - Free from the hankerings of lust etc., or because it is not longed for with any feelings of craving.

63. Padam - Here the term is used in the sense of an objective reality (vatthudhamma). State does not exactly convey the meaning of the Paali term. It may be argued whether Nibbaana could strictly be called either a state or a process. In Paali it is designated as a 'Dhamma'.

64. Asankhata - Nibbaana is the only Dhamma which is not conditioned by any cause. Hence it is eternal and is neither a cause nor an effect.

While I do not believe that any of this proves the Venerable Thanissaro's theory, it does go to show that there are certainly differences of opinion when it comes to the Goal of the holy life. We can find views supporting both sides of the coin (eternalistic vs. annihilationistic) in what we would call "Theravada" today, all of them canonical. There seems to be so many different questions and so many conflicting answers depending on what tradition, teacher, and text one chooses to reference.

So, interpreting vinnyana.m anidassana.m as a special type of consciousness that persists after the parinibbaana is perhaps going too far, but is it really fair to single the Venerable Thanissaro out as some rogue, possibly-heretical eternalist when similar views and ideas can be found throughout the Paali Canon? What makes his particular interpretations of the Dhamma standout any more than that of others, others such as the Venerable Narada Maha Thera or the Venerable Anuruddha Thera for example?

At the end of the day it all makes me wonder, what is truly the majjhima-patipada between these two extremes?



Re: Pali Term: Viññāṇaṃ anidassanaṃ

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 7:34 am
by Assaji
There are a number of threads on this forum with a relevant discussion:

Consciousness without surface, without end" onclick=";return false;

Experience (of?) Nibbana ... 568#p83542" onclick=";return false;

Luminous mind ... 280#p75280" onclick=";return false;