Author Topic: Nibbana v. Nirvana  (Read 2451 times)

Offline Dairy Lama

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Nibbana v. Nirvana
« on: September 09, 2018, 02:25:20 am »
In Theravada Nibbana is portrayed as distinct from samsara, while in Mahayana Nirvana is portrayed as being identical with samsara.  Can anyone explain this apparent contradiction?
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Offline Chaz

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2018, 05:24:42 am »
In Theravada Nibbana is portrayed as distinct from samsara, while in Mahayana Nirvana is portrayed as being identical with samsara.  Can anyone explain this apparent contradiction?

My understanding is that in the Mahayana, Nirvana and Samsara are "inseperable" and "of the same taste".  That's not the same as "identical".

To explain the "apparent" contradiction, I might offer that the Theravedin doctrine on the portrayal is simply wrong  :lmfao: so there is no contradiction, but that would be rude and overly provocative.

But so far we have only your word for it.  How about some texual refences that support your contention?

Offline Suiseki

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2018, 06:21:37 am »
 :headbow:

Thus Everyone may hear that Anyone could and most certainly did explain this and ALL things- screaming the Dharma of The Wordless Doctrine across the entirety of Universes, an eternity ago in the infinite present.

Fearing however in Absolute compassion, wisdom and kindness that in our ignorant ego-sentience we may never cease asking questions.... understand (stand-under)... be eternally tormented, Anyone became hidden-manifest within Everyone: Tat tvam asi; "That thou art". Suffering-dead at the very moment of conception, eternal bliss-presence at the very moment of extinction. Not this, not that, not both, not neither.  :chill:  :curtain:
Upon reflection, I feel as though my dear friends here deserve at minimum a humble explanation.

Suiseki: (Water and Stone), is a "True man of no rank" Zen and literati name (gago). It was presented to me in 1981 by my Zen and Shodo (calligraphy) teacher, the late Reiun Sensei.

I am humbled and profoundly fortunate to have had several superlative teachers, guides and true spiritual friends. "Swami-ji", the late His Holiness Shankaracharya of Kashmir Gaddi Swami Swanandashram, graced my personal presence here in America for 17 years.

Swami-ji guided me in the Yoga tradition of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism), specifically non-dual (Advaita Vedanta) philosophy. He named me Madan Mohan, although I prefer to remain religion-free to this day.

May we share here collectively in our individual spiritual plight with humility, respect, compassion and sincerity. :)

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2018, 09:40:11 pm »
Where's our Theravada friends?

For what it's worth, I think at that level concepts and differences such as Nirvana/Samsara, here/there, or same/different, no longer apply because Nirvana or Nibbana is complete total subjectivity.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Suiseki

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2018, 06:51:51 am »
Where's our Theravada friends?

For what it's worth, I think at that level concepts and differences such as Nirvana/Samsara, here/there, or same/different, no longer apply because Nirvana or Nibbana is complete total subjectivity.

Nicely observed! Thanks ZFZ.

Reminds me of our 8th century Chinese Zen friend, Huang Po- although he may have given us a well intended (verbal) WHACK!, to assist us in dissolving ALL of these precious concepts/opinions which we often hold so dearly in lieu of true understanding.

Imagine old (8 feet tall?) Huang Po here: "Parsing noises like Nibbana and Nirvana only produces new and LOUDER-noises"! "What you see AND hear before you IS IT. Begin to reason about it and at once you fall into error."

Just my opinion and a darned good one at that!  :teehee:

 :om:
Upon reflection, I feel as though my dear friends here deserve at minimum a humble explanation.

Suiseki: (Water and Stone), is a "True man of no rank" Zen and literati name (gago). It was presented to me in 1981 by my Zen and Shodo (calligraphy) teacher, the late Reiun Sensei.

I am humbled and profoundly fortunate to have had several superlative teachers, guides and true spiritual friends. "Swami-ji", the late His Holiness Shankaracharya of Kashmir Gaddi Swami Swanandashram, graced my personal presence here in America for 17 years.

Swami-ji guided me in the Yoga tradition of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism), specifically non-dual (Advaita Vedanta) philosophy. He named me Madan Mohan, although I prefer to remain religion-free to this day.

May we share here collectively in our individual spiritual plight with humility, respect, compassion and sincerity. :)

Offline Chaz

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2018, 08:01:32 am »
Where's our Theravada friends?

For what it's worth, I think at that level concepts and differences such as Nirvana/Samsara, here/there, or same/different, no longer apply because Nirvana or Nibbana is complete total subjectivity.

Quite right.  They could be identical, distinct, neither, or both, and ultimately, what difference does it really make?

Offline Anemephistus

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2018, 04:31:56 pm »
I once argued with my wife over drapes. She thought the green was sea foam, I thought it was mint leaf, we both got angry in disagreement over the name of the shade we could both see. We could clearly see the fabric, but we could not see past ourselves. Once we did we laughed at what we were doing, especially in light of the fact that we did agree that it would not look good in our living room.

I enjoyed this question a lot Dairy but I have no answer other than to express thanks that you asked it.

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2018, 01:20:14 am »
For what it's worth, I think at that level concepts and differences such as Nirvana/Samsara, here/there, or same/different, no longer apply because Nirvana or Nibbana is complete total subjectivity.

I'm not sure what you mean by "complete total subjectivity" - could you explain?

Here's a description of Nibbana from the suttas - note that the unconditioned is an epithet for Nibbana, which is presented as an escape from the conditioned ( samsara ):

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.8.03.irel.html

In any case there does seem to be a difference in the way that Nibbana and Nirvana are presented.  I'm not clear whether this represents a fundamental doctrinal difference, or just different ways of talking about the same thing.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2018, 01:22:31 am by Dairy Lama »
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Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2018, 03:02:58 am »
In Theravada Nibbana is portrayed as distinct from samsara, while in Mahayana Nirvana is portrayed as being identical with samsara.  Can anyone explain this apparent contradiction?

There is no contradiction. Nibbana is found while observing Samsara (rather than craving as Theravadans do for for billions of more reincarnations; kicking the tin can down the road; making excuses that they will attain Nibbana after billions of more lifetimes of clinging to sensuality, self & obstructive views about reincarnation; that "jati" and "marana" are "physical").

The Buddha said:

Quote
44. Who shall overcome this earth [of Samsara], this realm of Yama and this sphere of men and gods? Who shall bring to perfection the well-taught path of wisdom as an expert garland-maker would his floral design?

45. A striver-on-the path shall overcome this earth, this realm of Yama and this sphere of men and gods. The striver-on-the-path shall bring to perfection the well-taught path of wisdom, as an expert garland-maker would his floral design.

46. Realizing that this body is like froth, penetrating its mirage-like nature, and plucking out Mara's flower-tipped arrows of sensuality, go beyond sight of the King of Death!

58. Upon a heap of rubbish in the road-side ditch blooms a lotus, fragrant and pleasing.

59. Even so, on the rubbish heap of blinded mortals [in Samsara] the disciple of the Supremely Enlightened One shines resplendent in wisdom.

171. Come! Behold this world, which is like a decorated royal chariot. Here fools flounder, but the wise have no attachment to it.

174. Blind is the world; here only a few possess insight. Only a few, like birds escaping from the net, go to realms of bliss.

When the mind sees this Samsaric world is full of fools; Dispassion and Nibbana will be attained in this Samsara; because both Nibbana and Samsara are Emptiness.

The Buddha said:

Quote
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Kosambī at Ghosita's monastery. And on that occasion the inner quarters of King Udena's royal park had burned down, and 500 women, headed by Sāmāvatī, had died.

Then in the early morning, a large number of monks adjusted their under robes and — carrying their bowls & robes — went into Kosambī for alms. Having gone for alms in Kosambī, after the meal, returning from their alms round, they went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As they were sitting there, they said to the Blessed One, "Lord, the inner quarters of King Udena's royal park have burned down, and 500 women, headed by Sāmāvatī, have died. What is the destination of those female lay followers? What is their future course?"

"Monks, among those female lay followers are stream-winners, once-returners, & non-returners. All of those female lay followers, monks, died not without [noble] fruit."

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:


Bound round with delusion, the world
only appears to be competent.
Bound with acquisitions, foolish,
surrounded by darkness,
it seems eternal,
   but for one who sees,   
   there is nothing
.

 :teehee:



« Last Edit: September 11, 2018, 03:28:57 am by VisuddhiRaptor »

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2018, 04:45:24 am »
...because both Nibbana and Samsara are Emptiness.

What exactly do you mean by "Emptiness" here?   And where in the suttas is Nibbana described as "Empty"?

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Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2018, 07:38:28 pm »
What exactly do you mean by "Emptiness" here?   And where in the suttas is Nibbana described as "Empty"?
OMG! No idea.  :lmfao:  Is the above implying Nibbana is not empty of self & anything pertaining to self?  :teehee: This is, Nibbana is Self.  :D

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2018, 02:47:38 am »
In Theravada Nibbana is portrayed as distinct from samsara, while in Mahayana Nirvana is portrayed as being identical with samsara.  Can anyone explain this apparent contradiction?

It's just a difference in emphasis based on two different ideas about which is more effective in bringing people on along the path. Is it something that we can experience here and now, or is it something we have to work on for after we die? Most religions opt for the latter, so there must be some aspect of the human mind which is drawn to such an idea. There is also the notion that there must be something better than this world to look forward to, or things get too depressing.

Where nibbana is identical with samsara, we have to hope that something changes in us to see the world as a much better place than it appears to be. It's another powerful idea that uses the mind's capacity for finding patterns in a chaotic world. If there is a pattern to be seen, then maybe I can get to see it, and see the world as it should be seen, nibbana.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Chaz

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2018, 07:28:44 am »

In any case there does seem to be a difference in the way that Nibbana and Nirvana are presented.

It would be really good to present both arguments instead of simply repeating an assertion.

and the words - nibbana and nirvana -  are for the same thing.  One is Sanskrit, and the other, Pali

kind of like the differeence between "no" and "nein".

Offline Anemephistus

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2018, 04:32:22 pm »
Just some thoughts from a Zen source.

http://thezenuniverse.org/sunyata/

An excerpt I feel is relevant:

External emptiness (“form is emptiness”) means that the apparent objects of the so-called physical world are not real entities. There are no real boundaries between objects, and as the time goes and the elements mix and recombine, there are no identities carried over from moment to moment. All objects are imputations of the mind. If we start with any form (a generic object of thought) and engage into analytical decomposition we will never find any stable reference point; everything is defined against of, and in terms of, something else. In other words, phenomenal reality is an illusion.

Internal emptiness (“emptiness is form”) means that through the power of dependent-coarising, phenomenal reality spontaneously exists. In other words, the illusions are manifestations of the ultimate reality; our mind with its interpretations is a result of beginningless process. Our mind with all its experiences and emotions is but an interplay of forms. So not only all forms are empty imputations of the mind, the mind itself is empty interplay of forms.

Absolute emptiness is the Liberating Realization, what Gotama Buddha called “the final knowledge”.

Another way to explain the same progression is the Four Emptinesses of Completion Stage Meditation:

    Emptiness, experienced when the first five consciousnesses (of sense-organ experiences) dissolve into the sixth (the consciousness of mental experiences).
    Great Emptiness, experienced when the sixth consciousness dissolves into the seventh (emotional consciousness).
    Extreme Emptiness, experienced when the seventh consciousness dissolves into the eighth (ground consciousness).
    Total Emptiness, experienced when the eighth consciousness dissolves into primal wisdom

Quote
“Whatever can be conceptualized is, therefore, relative, and whatever is relative is Sunya, empty. Since absolute inconceivable truth is also Sunya, Sunyata or the void is shared by both Samsara and Nirvana. Ultimately, Nirvana truly realized is Samsara properly understood.” -Nagarjuna


The stages and interpretation of the understanding seems to me to be relevant to this discussion. One thing is described as separate, the other as the same, if these states are reliant on one point in any way (such as the mind contemplating the two) each much have a foot in the other, then at one point separate, at another, the same, and then again, separate.  Of course realization contained in empty form is empty, but I feel the application matters.

So, is Nirvana different or the same as Samsara or why is it portrayed with a difference, or without one, it seems like one thing must be understood before the other. This moment in eternity is as good as any other if an enlightened being is eternal. Is now Nirvana or was it later, and if time is not a factor except by perception taking a measurement which is empty, hasn't it always been here? The world looks quite different to me than before I knew anything at all about these things, I am not enlightened, but am I in the same world as I will be later or have been before? It feels like there are several answers to that for me, but only one which makes sense in the context of the separation or similarity of Nirvana and Samsara.

 

Offline VisuddhiRaptor

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Re: Nibbana v. Nirvana
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2018, 01:10:38 pm »
The Mahayana view is a misunderstanding constructed from a common (Theravadin) misunderstanding. The common misunderstanding is "samsara" is the external world. Therefore, the Mahayana say "form is empty" is Nirvana; therefore samsara is Nirvana.

But, in reality, "samsara" is only the mental state of clinging, as described below:
Quote
"Just as a dog, tied by a leash to a post or stake, keeps running around and circling around that very post or stake; in the same way, an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person — who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for people of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma — assumes form to be the self, or the self as possessing form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form.

"He assumes feeling to be the self...

"He assumes perception to be the self...

"He assumes (mental) fabrications to be the self...

"He assumes consciousness to be the self, or the self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in the self, or the self as in consciousness.

"He keeps running around and circling around that very form... that very feeling... that very perception... those very fabrications... that very consciousness. He is not set loose from form, not set loose from feeling... from perception... from fabrications... not set loose from consciousness. He is not set loose from birth, aging, & death; from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs. He is not set loose, I tell you, from suffering & stress.


https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.099.than.html

Two wrongs (misunderstandings) don't make a right. Nirvana is not samsara and samsara is not Nirvana. Wrong Theravadin views about samsara cannot be used by Mahayana as the basis to create a right view.

Form, feeling, perception, mere thought and consciousness are not samsara. Only clinging to these five aggregates is samsara.

 :namaste:

 


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